Off the Record

"Just when you thought it was safe to go back out on the highway (well, at least after they install that left turn signal in Freeland sometime around Independence Day), along comes another threat to our landscape and lifestyle. It's not gas pumps this time...that's a done deal. The latest potential intruder is arches. Color? Golden.Aroma? Money.Company? McDonald's.Is that the type of break we deserve today?I don't know what possessed those Boyz N The County to let those clowns in the door...don't they know that this is only the beginning? We're not just talkin' Mad as a Cow Happy Meals here...we're talkin' McHotels. According to an article in The Washington Post last month, French fries aren't the only things that McDonald's is cooking up:Fast-food junkies who feel as if they're practically living at McDonald's can actually start doing that, beginning next month. The first of the McDonald's Golden Arch hotels opens March 18 near Zurich airport. A second is slated to open April 5 in western Switzerland on the shores of Lac de Nauchatel. The hotel restaurant is, natch, a McDonald's. Rooms are in the $100-a-night range. Seems the perfect place for the Accidental Tourist, the Anne Tyler character who wrote travel books for people who hated traveling and strive to avoid anything unfamiliar.McDonald's is a big deal in Switzerland. They opened their first outlet 25 years ago, and today there are more than 100 arched wonders blighting this postcard-like country. When it comes to Helvetica's pristine Alpen image, maybe it just doesn't Matterhorn anymore.So what will you get for the 174 Swiss Francs it costs for a double room (that's the Internet special...approximately $105 US dollars)? Jack Greenberg, chairman and CEO of McDonald's Corporation, described his new hotels in a press release as in the range of four-star hotels, targeted at business travelers during the week and at families and young adults on the weekends. And yes, you'll be able to order your favorite Mickey D's food items at the on-site McDonald's Restaurant. No word if room service is available. The hotels' highlights include:Solid structural quality, top-class materials, sparkling hygiene and a touch of Feng Shui. Can't argue with that; but I hope the Feng Shui doesn't result in placing the bed facing the window. Although I suppose that having the glow of the Golden Arches would help guests sleep soundly through the night. I'm dreaming of an Egg McMuffin... A special $4,000 dollar bed called Sit 'n Sleep. It comes complete with a Bico-brand mattress, and with fingertip ease turns into a comfortable TV lounge chair. Plus, three motors for an infinite number of posture positions! And, an absolute novelty, the mattress with a replacement date. Can you imagine how many Big 'N Tasties w/Cheese you could inhale seated in those various positions? Now, if only they'd put replacement dates on their Quarter Pounders.A hygiene concept that holds water, with parquet in the living area and a granulate floor in the bathroom. Perfect! It must be difficult for the housekeeping staff to vacuum up all those Chicken McNuggets every day. A good hosing down and... voila! The room is like brand new. No stinky carpets to clean or replace, either.Extra soundproofed walls for more privacy; soothing colors. I don't know what you think about McDonald's colors, but their bright hues of red and yellow are anything but soothing. Hence the soundproof walls, I'm sure. The minute you walk into one of these rooms, you'll be screaming Ronald! at the top of your lungs. A fitness room designed especially for movers and shakers. And the best way to unwind after a hard day's work...a cordial welcome at the Golden Arch Bar! Well, it's gonna take a whole lot of movin' and shakin' to get rid of those fat grams you've consumed during your weekend getaway. But after working up a lather, head for the Golden Arch Bar. I've always wanted to say, I'll have a Big Mac, Large Fries and a Maker's Mark Manhattan...up...with one cherry, please. So to the deciders that be: It's not just about's a (hotel) lot more.Plus, do you really want a big sign on Highway 525 screaming, Over 10 Million People Slept Here?Sue Frause can be reached by e-mail at "

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