Friday, January 4, 2013

How The Other Half Holiday

Have you ever wondered how the other half live? Or indeed holiday?

I often envy those who head off to the pointy end of planes, or to the highest floor of hotels, where, in a lifetime long ago, I may once have been destined to end up, too.

Instead I grumble with the rest of the hoards in the economy area of the plane, or check into the bargain-basement priced rooms of the hotel. Here, my gentle requests for aioli with room service fries are ignored, and the concierges look like they would rather park themselves in the eyes than park my crappy car. (Can't say I blame them for that one). On a plane, only a polite request for extra vomit bags for an actively regurgitating child seems to spur anyone into action on my behalf.

And then there is the other half, many of whom have chosen to summer on Queensland's Gold Coast, where an exclusive cluster of five-star hotels and resort vie for attention.

As Australia's unofficial favourite playground for the rich and famous, concierges and other hotel and resort staff are kept busy meeting the needs of VIP guests. And let me tell you, no request is too demanding, indulgent, or unusual.

According to Gold Coast Tourism's Media Development Manager John Kaarsberg, 2012 guest requests ranged from romantic overtures to the more extravagant and out of the ordinary.

In fact, the top 10 special requests made of Gold Coast’s exclusive five-star hotels in 2012 involved staff being: 
1. Asked to purchase alpacas for a Middle Eastern royal family.
2. An overseas visitor asked if he could organise a day trip to visit Sydney, Melbourne, Alice Springs and the Great Barrier Reef all in the same day!
3. Staff organised a private jet for the Argentine Polo team to fly from Gold Coast to Malaysia with 6-hours’ notice
4. Booked rooms on different floors for wife and girlfriend
5. An elderly couple looking to renew their wedding vows at the hotel chapel asked two staff members to be bridesmaid and best man. (As regulars to the hotel the couple knew these staff members very well.)
6. Staff organised dinner for two at Gold Coast Hinterland hotspot, Table Mountain. Guests arrived by helicopter where a personal chef, waiter and Spanish guitarist were waiting.
7. A guest left his luxury sports vehicle to be sold by a hotel staffer as he had to unexpectedly leave the country
8. A unique wedding proposal, with a gentleman proposing to his girlfriend as staff from the resort all wearing t-shirts that spelt out MARRY ME appeared. Meanwhile, a beautiful rendition of Somewhere Over The Rainbow was played on the ukulele by a gentleman that 'just appeared to be walking by'.
9. Exclusive use of the gym for various celebrities
Other more common requests of Gold Coast hotels included:
• Unpack suitcases and hang clothes
• Run a warm bubble bath
• Arrange flowers for wife/girlfriend (or both)
• Arrange rose petals and candles on the bed
• Cook dinner in the room
• Arrange high protein foods and menus for athletes
• Arrange birthday cakes
• Stay in a certain room on a certain floor every stay
 
Readers, have you ever asked for and received something indulgent during a hotel stay?
 
I remember breakfast being wheeled in during a stay at The Savoy in London, during a period in my life when I was A Princess Who Clearly Didn't Know It. There were two men serving breakfast in bed, and one of them asked if I wanted coffee or tea.
 
"Coffee please," I replied.
 
"Excellent choice M'aam," he replied, serving coffee at my bedside with a flourish.
 
I didn't know whether to be embarassed or impressed.
 
(Impressed. I was impressed. Okay, and a little embarrassed too. But not as embarrassed as when the massage oil dropped out of my backpack, and someone worked out who it belonged to, and it was personally delivered back to me ....)
 
Oh how I dream of such indulgent service now ... but maybe you only get it in London or on the Gold Coast?
 
Readers, where did you last feel extra special?

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