Khalidiya Palace Resort, Abu Dhabi
My list made me do it. That’s how I ended up in one of these fancy places I really had no business being in. Nobody really stays at 5 star hotels on a regular basis, do they? Not in my circles anyway.
Here’s why: 4 star hotels meet normal people’s requirements just fine. Exceed them, even.
That extra star is rewarded for over-the-top things that nobody cares about. There’s the guy who opens the taxi door for you on arrival. The turndown service, for those of us who are too exhausted after a long day to peel back our own bed sheets. And the pillow menu, really? It seems like they are trying too hard. If 5-star hotels were people, I wouldn’t want to hang out with them at all. They’d be all clingy and uptight and obsessive and I’d just want them to chill out. I mean, I’m pretty much excited about the prospects of not making my own dinner, and that someone will be serving it to me without expecting me to ask for the recipe or offer to lend a hand with the washing up.
Lobby and Atrium, Khalidiya Palace, Abu Dhabi
These places also employ a ton of extra people, to the point where the staff to guest ratio borders on ridiculous. The point, apparently, is to provide a more personalised service and attend to your every whim. The staff greet you by name, then begin to overuse it- Of course Ms. Frayne, right away Ms. Frayne -until it becomes an irritation. What’s left to do only play their game? So you steal an obvious glance at their name badge and come back with-That would be great Marcus, thank you so much Marcus – sounding like a pretentious idiot.
It is the kind of setting that brings out the brat in people; the perfect backdrop for obscure requests delivered in calm, steady voices. Maybe that only offends me because I’m a teacher, but I firmly believe you should only get exactly what you want if its a reasonable request. Mint ice-cream with the chocolate chips removed at 5 in the morning? Of course Ms. Frayne, right away Ms. Frayne!
I don’t have any brattish tendencies (I don’t!) and when I stayed at Khalidiya Palace, I found myself being overly thankful to people for things I didn’t really want in the first place. It’s like that feeling when someone holds the lift doors for you but you’re still 20 metres away and you were going to take the stairs anyway, but their kindness forces you into an awkward jog of gratitude towards them. I was in that awkward jog for a whole weekend. You know that saying that people were ‘falling over themselves’ to help us out? Well, that actually happened. At one point, two members of staff literally fell over one another when both went to help us with our luggage at the exact same moment. Can you imagine how guilty I would have felt if anyone suffered any injuries at my expense? That’s something I don’t need to be dealing with.
No, 4 stars is just fine with me.
Private Beach, Khalidiya Palace, Abu Dhabi
€5 has been donated to UNICEF Ireland for the completion of this ‘thing’. Click here if you too would like to donate online.