My All New Authentic Fugacious Self
Greetings from Tweetland. The following in a piece that orginally appeared in Bikinis and Martinis magazine, and is gratefully allowed to reprint. I have some tragic news my Instagram account has been hacked which means I cannot regale you with selfies of bottles of Veuve Clicquot blowing their tops like some overheated volcano, or that oh so comfy posh business class seat en-route to Frankfurt.
"Woops!" made some places more exotic Istanbul for example although I have to say "Midnight Express" still gives me the shivers.
Mankind or shall we say humankind, or perhaps the more depictive 'totally us' are seemingly hell bent on a pathway to regression. I'm not referring to returning to caves or starting to walk like monkeys. (Apologies to those creationists amongst you; the Jesus thing is entirely too hard to work into this article so let's stick with an evolutionary theme).
What hotel chains, glossy magazines and brandkind are now telling us is that travelers no longer care about standards, uniformity or that higher plain of thinking which has led to bathroom telephones, turn down chocolates, neatly folded toilet paper, and of course, the ominous hanging bag on the doorknob containing a newspaper.
Don't you know that print media is dead. Just the mere act of reading this magazine makes you obsolete. Okay, I'm going to give you a break just this once, but please don't let it happen again. There will be consequences, and if a maid called Judy knocks twice on the door, for God's sake don't answer it. Stick your head back under the sheets and try to sleep through the night. Yes, we have digressed, so let's get back on topic….
Just yesterday, I received an email from a friend asking for recommendations for another friend. Ah yes, the ominous and loathsome creature known as a friend of a friend (i.e. what is now known as a FOAF). Anyway, this person was actually a FOAF, but to complicate the matter they were getting advice for the FOAF's soon-to-graduate daughter. Hence, we now have the term DOFOF (daughter of friend of a friend). She is traveling to Bali in a few months and wanted advice on hotels but stop there for a moment things were about to get out of control. The email had all the sprinklings of a disaster waiting to happen, which in this case referred to being authentic, going local and creating memorable experiences. I'm not saying of course that the instruction was over the top, as there was no mention of artisan, glocalness, and worse still, a left turn into the quest for spiritual vision, or the absolute worst thing of all homestays.
Referring to the latter, frankly speaking I absolutely hate people who want to stay at my own house. There is a reason why God created hotels (this is one for our Christian readers). Did he get it right? Late on the sixth day before knocking off for a Saturday night boozefest, he noted the dangers of drink-driving and decided to make a place for the truly intoxicated to sleep it off.
Mind you, friends can come over to visit, but please make sure there is an escape plan. Show up with a suitcase at my door and you can expect to be left standing in the rain while you wait for a taxi to the nearest hotel. Yes, I fully advocate the full use of such an accommodation choice. This of course now brings us to the subject of Airbnb. While there are some great deals to be had, photos of dead relatives and dusty antiques are not my idea of a holiday abroad. In fact, the mere thought of not being able to order a late night cheeseburger is beyond comprehension. Mind you, who the hell is Lester?
Now getting back to this whole authentic experience. I'm not so sure all travelers want to shed their inner inhibitions and live like the locals. Go to any tropical island and the idea of getting up before dawn to get to the market to buy meat which has been stuck unrefrigerated on a tricycle since the night before, or those eggs basking in the hot sun all day, whipping up a tasty dish pretty much consisting of rice and mystery meat, and then taking a cold shower outside as the mosquitos nip at your ankles before doing the laundry in a rusty bucket. Once all this is done it's still only 5:46 in the morning. For God's sake this is a holiday, go back to bed.
You must be getting my gist, and while I am all in favor of the banishment of loud color in hotels rooms, bad brand standard and the ilk, there still has to be a specialness attached to hotels or travel to transport us away from the dull and the ordinary. I mean this in a good way, and not waking up to the sound of roosters or making my own toxic three-in-one Nescafe coffee.
Thankfully, in the end authenticity will fall on deaf ears in the short span of a year or so maybe less. It will soon be replaced by something even more dreadful, full of hash tags and urban dictionary angst. The reality remains that the tweetersphere is full of all things fugacious and wild, so please understand we are only looking for a place to stand in line, waiting for the next selfie to appear.
Bill Barnett is Managing Director of C9 Hotelworks, a Phuket based hospitality consulting firm. He also writes the popular online blog www.thephuketinsider.com. Over the past decade he has amassed an extensive wardrobe of shorts, and flip-flops.