Are Five Star Hotels Really Worth it?

DSCF0036 gz-w hotel welcome-2015

*The W Hotel pictured is not one I visited for this piece it was chosen for the W in this case representing Worth.

During my time as travel journalist I have covered many hotels in the luxury sector. The most common thing I hear when visiting one to enquire about an article is ‘They are in a meeting right now.’ In other words whoever you are please fuck off.

At a recent travel event I was not surprised to see many hotels present but I was surprised that the elusive marcoms people were absent. They were instead fronted by sales people which begs the question what do these mysterious marcoms folk do all day?

As you may have seen from this blog I covered the Mandarin Oriental not long ago. It’s an amazing hotel mainly due to the professionally designed decor and this can be said for most upmarket hotels around the globe. The out sourced design team make the experience not so much the personnel.

Speaking of staff, everyone at the MO was very nice; the concierge, the reception, the guest relations officer yet the so called communications team were lethargic and their praise for my blog was cloaked in sarcasm. There are a number of high-end hotels in my area of town and on visiting another of them I soon found that being a glowing charlatan was order of the day.

Guest: Hi, I’m a frequent visitor, it’s a pleasure to meet you.

Hotel personage (smiling): The pleasure’s all mine.

Right there I could see it all, the five star experience is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. The more fake the better – for some at least. Perhaps there is a new hotel niche to be discovered here; luxury for grounded or down to earth people. Does such a thing exist? Or could it?

Along the way I’ve learnt that the best way in to this glamorous world for a newbie is to be part of the pre-opening team. On learning there was a new hotel opening my quest was to angle myself into position, so I enquired about this to not one but THREE MO communications staff in different cities and countries. I sent the same email and not one responded.

That says it all, obviously the above staff are set to the same programme; ignore anyone coming from Yahoo or Gmail, or perhaps anyone not coming through the ranks of hotel college. Even the head of global communications couldn’t be bothered!

The questions I now asked myself were these…

1 What good are communications professionals if they have a phobic reluctance to communicate?

2 Why would I want to work in such a regime? And…

3 Why does anyone want to invest their money in upholding the myth by staying in such a place?

The answer is probably this: hotels are a microcosm of the world, a dirty machine dressed in a beautiful skin. Great decor ultimately designed to appear salubrious and staffed by soulless people with sparkly eyes trying to claw their way up a burning ladder under the guise of career development. Put simply a designer drug for the affluent seeking a natural high.

Is the five star experience worth it?

Not really; try an independent three star or a higher end backpackers – they might be lacking in amenities (pool, gym, spa or jacuzzi) however if you can do without they’re sufficient enough. No hotel room is worth the figures being charged even with a great view and aforementioned services at additional costs.

There are two things that come from this:

1 I don’t think I will cover any more hotels (unless I can see a degree of integrity in them).

2 I am happy to continue with teaching and although it’s not perfect and has plenty of smiley fraudsters, it’s (mostly) honest.

To conclude on a somewhat philosophical note I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to cover the hotels I did (bearing in mind my efforts were unpaid due to my employer going bust). However, from my current standpoint I’d say the experience is not in the stay but the visit. Be a hotel tourist; the design or view is the best memento you could ever want.

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