The W Hotel's un-mediocre water

Seth questions why restaurants bother to serve bland, mediocre bread/rolls, and more generally, why businesses bother to churn out “good enough” (or worse) products rather than chasing something special. Red Lobster’s cheesy rolls come to mind – they’re special. Sometimes I want to go to Red Lobster just for those biscuits.

This weekend, I’m at a conference at the W Hotel. Much like the Red Lobster biscuits, they’ve gone to great lengths to avoid being low-effort boring in any way. Some of the style here is a bit odd to me, I don’t love it, but you can tell they’ve spent time and money to really try. Rather than building a lobby that tries not to offend by looking like the least common denominator, they’ve built a lobby that will displease some people, but make raving fans out of others.
This attitude extends even to their water, pictured to the right. Look closely. Every pitcher of water on the tables here is in this unusual pitcher, with a slice of lemon, a strawberry, a slice of lime, and a sprig of mint. On a per-glass-of-water basis, does a unique pitcher cost that much more than a boring pitcher? Do a couple of pieces of fruit and mint in a pitcher really cost that much? Not at all. Do they risk alienating some folks who don’t want leaves and fruit flavor in their water? Sure. But it’s consistent. The W Hotel is proving they’d rather take risks and win fans by being distinctive than be boring and try not to offend. Good for them.