I like to travel, so I consider myself lucky to be one of those people who get to do it as part of my day job. I seldom get to travel in luxury, however. I’ve spent three weeks on an Indonesian fishing vessel without any toilet paper, a month sleeping in a bunkhouse patrolled by ants the size of my thumb, and two weeks in tent in the rainforest with nothing but tin fish and chicken-flavored crackers to eat. This isn’t a complaint, mind you, just an observation. I wouldn’t have traded any of those places for a room in a Hyatt.
On a recent “routine” business trip, I was expecting nothing special—a standard hotel room, little muffins from Costco, lousy coffee… So you can imagine my surprise when at the end of a long day of travel and meetings, I walked into a three-bedroom luxury suite that was larger than my house, had marble counters, restaurant grade kitchen (complete with wine refrigerator that could hold at least a dozen bottles of wine), walk-in closets in all of the rooms, a balcony overlooking the ocean, and even a built-in sound system that had separate remote controls in every room. The first thing I wondered was how long it would take for the front desk to call and tell me they had made a mistake.
I realize place like this are an every-trip occurrence for some people, but I’m not one of them. The experience was, to say the least, surreal. It was like I had switched bodies with someone—I pity the investment banker who was wondering how he ended up in the room with a crocheted blanket on the bed that smelled like mildew. If my co-workers hadn’t been there, I would have thought I imagined the whole thing.
In many ways the place was too nice for me; I found it a little difficult to unwind—it didn’t seem right to put my feet on the bed while wearing my shoes, and I fussed about returning the mint and rosemary shampoo and conditioner bottles back to their spot in the shower rack. I actually made sure to run the dishwasher every night and put the dishes away. Still, it was an enjoyable stay, if for no other reason than to experience such a place—kind of like that time I spent two weeks staying in a quasi-military camp next to an active nerve gas facility (they gave me a gas mask just in case).