Not being—and never having been—a 10-year old girl, efforts by whoever performs the (unnecessary) turn-down service in hotels and on cruise ships to please (?) guests are wasted on curmudgeons like me. The cynical part of me suspects that this is an effort to boost the chance of a gratuity.
These are the same "establishments" that claim to be doing everything to save the environment by using less detergent. They ask guests to accept their sheets and towels being changed less-frequently than daily. Of course, towels used for gimmicks must be washed, despite not being soiled by guests. In my opinion, these are a few animal species that do not need to be saved from extinction.
I am sure that this takes skill, but I do not appreciate the talent or the effort. Unfortunately, my wife (who was a 10-year old and still displays some of the characteristics) likes these “things” and does not appreciate my lack of appreciation and/or enjoyment. At times like this, when we return to our room and comment of what confronts us, she might mention how she cannot understand why she married me. I must, then, remind her how lucky she was!
Why is there no internet site—something like Guestadvisor, instead of Tripadvisor--that provides space for hotels to comment on guests?
Hotels are not able to choose their guests, but they should be able to praise nice ones and warn other hotels of horrible ones. Even better would be if guests could find out who has booked into the same hotel and decide if they want to risk sitting near such people in the hotel restaurant or beside the pool. Hotels can see what kind of people have received a room and treat them accordingly upon check-in…such as putting them in a bad room.
Rating could include polite/arrogant; neat/messy; easily pleased/demanding; thankful/entitled; pleasant to staff/nasty; scrounge amenities/demand more; generous tipper/stingy; steal towels, bathrobe, etc; spend on extras/bring own alcohol; and so on.
A glimpse of this chandelier is enough to convince me that the budget--if there was one--to build the Jumeirah Al Qasar Hotel in Dubai was huge to open-ended. Where a simple lamp would have been sufficient to light the stairway, they chose the biggest bunch of crystal available.
This provides an idea of the opulence and evidence that US accounting principles and financial controllers were not involved. No pennies were pinched...
Dubai is a place where concerns about the environment take a back seat to fulfilling human desires for comfort and enjoyment. This hotel caters to many visitors from Russia, a country not leading the charge to save the planet. Not wishing to upset guests, no efforts are made to limit towel use or linen changes. Only food wastage exceeds towel generosity. Trailer loads pass by each evening on the way to a washing machine, the size of which I cannot imagine. Multiply that by the number of hotels and that's a bunch of wash powder and water and electricity.
Of course, one does tend to want to leave real-world concerns behind when on vacation--especially at the price one pays for the privilege--even if one resides in a country known for its Green movement. One does try, but the majority tends to rule this roost, so I have been known to use a towel or two more than needed.
One of the nice things about staying in hotels outside the United States is that all drawers hotel rooms are available for a guest’s use. No space is taken up by worthless books of ancient mythology that no one wants to read.
The hotel in which I am staying in Dubai, The Palace, has the most amazing breakfast buffet with the largest selection. There is too much choice, especially for someone happy with a croissant or piece of toast and tea, but it is interesting to see the variety. There is something for people of all cultures, from corn flakes to miso soup to goat’s milk, not to mention Indian, Chinese, and vegetarian fare. The only thing missing is pork bacon, because only beef and turkey varieties is offered (which do not taste as good).
The photo does not do justice to the size of this breakfast offer. The main buffet is 15 meters long, but there are also six islands each with four sides. In addition to the food, the service is equally impressive. Busy-bee workers immediately replenish any plate/bowl as soon as one persons takes something.
As I sipped my tea, I thought about the logistics behind such a buffet. One must plan and order the ingredients, all of which must be imported to this desert land (with, perhaps, the exception of goat’s milk). I have a hard time keeping milk in the refrigerator and have the luxury of being able to pop out to a nearby grocery store.
Habits and practices at hotel pools around the world is interesting to observe. At most, some Germans rise very early, go to the pool, and lay towels and a book or bottle of sun cream on the lounges they want to hog...and then go to breakfast or back to bed or shopping. People who rise late or eat breakfast arrive at the pool to find the best spots “occupied”, but with no people in sight. I have been know to move the book/bottle and plop myself down on the “reserved” loungers, only to claim innocence when the incensed Germans finally arrive to use the pool. Of course, I lie and say that I found them unoccupied and without accoutrements.
At some hotels, one tips the pool boy and he will do the towel/book or magazine ploy and guard against people like me. This was the case at the Palace Hotel in Dubai. When we arrived for our morning swim, the pool boys were blocking lounges with towels and books/magazines or bottles. These would be released to tipping guests.
After the pool boy wandered off to the other end of the large pool, I watched two American ladies arrive. I watched one pick up a bottle of suncream left by the pool boy, not knowing that this was a dummy, and heard her comment to the other about the great service of the hotel to provide suncream for guests, not realizing that she was the dummy. She sat herself down, only to be rousted by the pool boy, who rushed back to save his handiwork and explain the rules. They moved to a less-favorable location, which I would not have done.
Hotels in the Maldives have a difficult time pleasing everyone. They must attract all types of paying customers, willing to pay higher prices than charged at other beach resorts. Rooms must be filled, costs covered, and profits generated. Unfortunately, people with opposing needs/desires meet at these hotels. One group--honeymooners and old couples--come seeking peace and quiet; the other--families with children--want fun and excitement.
The hotel, in which we stayed, had one of the best kids’ club I have seen anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, many families insisted on having their unruly and loud kids with them at the big pool...ruining the tranquility sought by couples (like us).
The worst seem to be Chinese families, unfamiliar with Western etiquette and not used to disciplining children. Russian families, uninterested in other cultures, display a certain arrogance toward others, with adults as loud and unruly as children.
Adding to the problem is the fact that most have too much money, causing them to be demanding and uncaring of anyone but themselves. Bad behavior is seen as a right...which is a strong current against which no hotel can swim.
Upon arrival, I was surprised to learn that the hotel has a doctor in residence. I hoped that I would not need his service. I also learned that a photographer is in residence, something I knew that I would not need. I take my own photos.
During our stay, I have noticed that the photographer is kept busy, mostly by guests of Asian origins. I smirk when I see the contortions families go through at the command of the photographer.
I also notice that young girls, seemingly of slavic descent letting themselves be snapped.
All guests at this resort have travelled some distance and any number of time zones.
Restaurant discrimination at this resort is not by race, creed, or tax bracket. Breakfast is served from 7:00 to 10:30, and seating is all about time zone
The first to arrive are people haling from countries to the east. Jet lag causes them to wake early. The latest to arrive are those having trouble getting out of bed, because their bodies are still in some time zone to the west of the Maldives. We arrive around opening time, so we see the gradual filling to the tables. Despite being jet lagged (we should have stayed in bed), we do not want to miss any of the daylight. Being close to the equator, the sun rises around 6 and sets around 6: there are only so many hours of light.
We usually have breakfast with Japanese, Chinese, and Australians. We finish in time to avoid the Russians and Germans. We want an early start to enjoy this....
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.