Luxury When Traveling

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Luxury When Traveling
In these days of travel dollars not buying what they once did, the price of oil adding surcharges to everything, and the dollar in the dumps, perhaps it’s best to fantasize about what luxury travel means. There are still destinations where things are available for relatively moderate prices. But the reality is that even destinations in developing counties such as Indonesia don’t sell luxury cheap. Nor do India and China. Because of the price of labor, it’s a fair bet that the hotel’s employees are paid less, but more staff is on hand—and of course that’s one of the signs of luxury. Hotels that market to well-to-do American and European tourists aren’t out to give anyone a bargain. More service, perhaps, and that’s always a pleasure. But the cost of dining in a luxury hotel’s dining room or ordering room service is pretty constant in hotels (or compounds) that cater to the rich the famous… and the wannabes. Luxury means so many different things at different times. When traveling, flying first-class on a long trip can be a luxury or a necessity. If you’re going to attend a meeting within hours of arrival, flying coach with screaming babies can kill executives who need to being in fighting shape as soon as they disembark at their destination. Here are some of my ideas of luxury—a few offered in the form of earnest prayers. Some of these luxuries may seem absolutely essential to some, frivolous to others. But all of them have a common thread: they are the touches, some of them small, that improve the business or pleasure of travel and take the focus off the gears and pulleys that make travel work. May your luggage arrive with you. Let there be a driver meeting you after quickly clearing customs. He should be visible as you exit so you don’t have to hike through the airport looking for him (or her). Paris’s Charles de Gaulle’s Terminal 1 is so confusing that even if you have a driver waiting, you might miss encountering one another. Construction is in progress and (hopefully) this problem should be rectified. Even though it’s common knowledge that no binding business contracts should be signed within 24 hours of arrival, not everyone has that kind of time, and it’s better to get off the plane having slept. More than likely, it’s off to another country before the ink is dry on the papers sealing the deal. One man I know who’s constantly on the road is asleep before the plane takes off. He rarely eats airline food, never drinks, and once he arrives at his hotel, jogs for an hour, showers, and dresses and goes slam-bang into meetings. Some of the things I appreciate and consider enormous pluses: Please let me be upgraded to a suite on an executive floor where the staff is attentive without being "in your face." Executive (or concierge) floors typically have lounges where you can grab a quick breakfast and have a drink at night. Most importantly, they are trained to deal with all types of problems and do mundane things such as make dinner reservations and generally expedite everything from obtaining translation services to checking you out of the hotel within minutes. If you’re a regular, it’s already in their computer what papers you like and even the little things that make a difference such as the firmness of the pillow you prefer. If the hotel is part of a chain or booking group and you’re a frequent traveler, you’re invariably in their database. Do tip these miracle workers. They have long memories and can make stays so much more pleasurable—especially for road warriors. I bless the times I can be online within seconds rather than having to call the hotel’s IT staff. May the rooms be really clean and the bathrooms even more so. Please let there be double-insulated windows and small corridors protecting me from the hallways and NOISE. Blackout curtains are appreciated if I am jet lagged or spending down time in the city. I’m a sucker for turndown service and being able to have clean towels should I need them. Little amenities, like shampoo and tooth paste, can make a big difference. I love water spa showers so I may really relax. Being treated to an in-the-room massage is an ultimate pleasure. How I love being greeted with a bowl of fruit and being spoiled with something sweet to eat before crawling under the pressed sheets covered by a duvet when it’s finally time to sleep. All of the above is nice. Sharing it with someone whom you love is the icing on the cake. If it’s a resort, please let there be a special children’s area. I love children. I don’t love hearing choruses of “Marco Polo” resonating from the pool unless I happen to have a child in tow. I appreciate the possibility of being able (to try) to adopt a more Zen state of mind. Not all type-A personalities are able to become calm and tranquil. Others assume an immediate tranquility. Wish I were one of them. Everyone has fantasies when it comes to traveling and what luxury means and how important it is to you….
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