Instant Hotel (2017)
“Why do you always have to turn everything into a competition?”
I’m sure you’ve heard those words uttered before, usually by an exasperated woman, her exhaustion directed at an over-competitive husband or boyfriend. And it was that voice which kept playing through my mind when we were watching ‘Instant Hotel’ on Netflix (originally aired on the 7 Network in Australia). Because as much as we love reality TV shows, sometimes we just have to question, why does it have to be turned into a competition? As we all know, competitions/competitiveness often brings out the worst in people.
Ok, before I get all hot and bothered, getting fired up on my ‘high horse’, here is a quick summary of the show. Instant Hotel is a reality TV show produced by the same company who brought us fan favourites like ‘My Kitchen Rules’ and ‘House Rules’; so you can expect that it’s going to be entertaining. (But are we being entertained for the right reasons?) The show is hosted by Luke Jacobz, where over 2 rounds, 10 pairs of competitors (split 5 and 5) travel around Australia, taking turns in hosting each other at their ‘Instant Hotel’ (an investment property or their own homes turned into a temporary place to stay for travellers). The 4 couples (partners, friends, siblings, or mother & daughter) all converge on the property, evaluating each element with a critical eye as both judge and guest. And after a full day’s stay, they give the accommodation a score out of 10 based on the property, location/available nearby activities, value for money, and the night’s sleep. And with an additional score from an industry professional (Juliet Ashworth) the usually low scores are puffed up a little bit like a fluffed-up pillow, to a semblance of semi-respectability. At the conclusion of the 2 rounds, the couple with the highest score meets their counterpart from the other round, and they do battle in a Grand Final round – hosting 5 couples (a mixture of couples from rounds 1-2) in a similar format – but this time their properties have been through a make-over, after taking on board the constructive feedback from the previous rounds. The winner of the series is flown to LA for an all expenses paid holiday, staying at a 5 star instant hotel, hinted to be owned by a celebrity.
With the growth of Air BnBs, this series taps into a growing interest and market for home owners wanting to make some extra cash, and economical travellers looking to save a few, so the show is very relevant at the moment. But the only thing that I really didn’t like about the show, was how ‘ugly’ the contestants became in the show, displaying bitchiness and poor sportsmanship, which reflects poorly on our otherwise laid-back Australian nature. Granted, we’re all competitive to a certain extent, and a competition and a prize brings out the worst in us. But perhaps it’s because we’ve now grown up watching reality TV competitions, therefore the younger contestants enter these competitions with a cunningness and a strategy, so when the cameras start rolling, the claws are already out and stay out until it’s all over.
In the first group, there were 2 couples who were particularly bitchy, grating, and annoying. While in the second group there were also another 2 couples who were also bitchy, arrogant, and willing to do anything to pull others down, so they could step all over them in attempts to climb to the top. And the thing which I particularly didn’t like about this fact, was what it did to me, the feelings which it invoked? I found myself getting worked up, annoyed, frustrated, and frankly wanting to see them all ‘crash and burn’ when it came to their turns being the host. And I felt elated when they did do poorly, gaining satisfaction in their failure! And I had to stop and reflect on my own attitudes; if I was gaining satisfaction from their pain and humiliation, then aren’t I just as bad as them? So the feelings and emotions which arose during the filming of the show, then these ill feelings are shared in all the people who end up watching it (which is around the 650K mark), multiplying these ill feelings….Surely this isn’t a healthy thing? With all that is going on in our society at the moment (both in Australia/New Zealand and internationally) where there is so much hate, derision, and angst, we have to wonder, is all that is bad in this world, being perpetuated by shows like this? Broadcasting, and showcasing, and encouraging hate, when there really shouldn’t be any reason for hate?
The question comes to mind, do the creators behind ‘Instant Hotel’ and ‘My Kitchen Rules’, do they have a social responsibility to the public (and also to protect the reputations of the contestants), to step in when they sense that the show is sinking too far down a nasty path, and they need to intervene and tell poorly behaving contestants to ‘pull their heads in’? Or should they cut/edit the program in post-production to take out some of the bitchiness? And if they’re not going to do this, at least not encourage these behaviours? Or should contestants be more savvy, and understand when these shows go to air, and being depicted as vindictive, two-faced, and a general a-hole is not going to be good for their reputations, public profile, and/or future job prospects? But I think these calls will fall on deaf ears, as according to the viewer ratings – 3 of the 4 bitchiest groups, their episodes were all ranked in the top 5 most viewed episodes from the series (rank 1, 4 and 5 respectively). Which suggests that this is what the viewing public want to see? While the ‘nicer’ contestants, their episodes on the whole were watched by fewer people (it is true, nice guys do finish last! *headshake*).
And one other aspect which didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me was the actual prize, considering each contestant probably devoted a number of weeks/months to the filming of the show. The actual prize seemed a little meagre? An all-expense paid trip for 2 to LA? Even if they fly first class and the trip is for 10 days, surely the entire value of the prize is no more than $25K? Considering some of these home owners were charging $1500 per night, the prize didn’t seem valuable enough to fight over, for me at least. If I was pulling $3K each weekend with my investment property, I can easily pay my own way to LA, and I wouldn’t be stooping that low, just to win a prize like that?
But in short, the show was entertaining enough but not recommendable, especially if you want to feel at peace and zen in the evenings after a stressful day at work. In my opinion, give Instant Hotel a miss. But what is recommendable, is:
Stay Here (2018)
On the other hand, a show in a similar genre as ‘Instant Hotel’ which was just as entertaining, but highly recommendable, is ‘Stay Here’!
‘Stay Here’ is a Netflix production where interior designer Genevieve Gorder and marketing specialist Peter Lorimer swoop into one of 8 home stay hotels, and through the duration of the show they make-over the property. Their home improvements start with renovating (from a fresh coat of paint, to knocking down interior walls); to redecorating (from purchasing a few new items, to replacing everything within with all new furniture and white goods, I think at the owner’s expense); to personalising (from visiting local establishments to obtain inspirations for guest welcome packs, to hiring a professional chef to test-run the offering of an on-site chef for hire, if holiday makers so choose). At the conclusion of each episode, a brand new listing of their property is uploaded onto the net, with professional pics and catchy copy designed to bring in more customers and more income for the individuals.
It’s like Queer Eye, but for tired properties! Over 8 episodes, Genevieve and Peter criss-cross the States, dropping in on a houseboat in Seattle, a beach house in Malibu, South to Austin Texas to a pool pad, a carriage house in upstate New York, and a historic firehouse in D.C. just to name a few.
Why this show is worth watching, is due to the fact that it’s both entertaining and heart-warming, it’s well produced, it has a meaningful outcome, and if you’re a viewer with your own B&B, it’s educational as there’s practical lessons you can take-away, and apply it to your own property to increase your returns! Seeing the expressions and excitement when the home owners come back, to see their properties utterly transformed, it made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside! And for us who are always looking for new places in the States to visit, it also put a few new places on the map for us, that we might want to check-out on a future trip. So it’s a win-win show for all! Unlike ‘Instant Hotel’, where basically everyone is a loser, 9 from 10 contestants, us the viewing public, and the Seven network (if you can base it on viewership).