It’s a funny ol’ business, hospitality. Never a dull moment, after all we continuously deal with people either as part of the hotel team or the public in general, and it takes all sorts.
In my nearly 30 years in the hotel business I’ve come across a bit of everything: met with superstars and royalty, catered for major events, organised countless meetings, calmed confrontational guests, dealt with strange requests and even kissed Shakira (ok, so it was the traditional Spanish welcome of two kisses, but I still love the way it sounds).
Now, something strange happens to people when they stay at hotels. Some get kinky, probably due to the excitement of doing it somewhere different. Others do things in their rooms that they wouldn’t do at home, like using the sheets or curtains to wipe certain bodily parts.
Some turn to stealing, from the contents of the minibar to the bathrobe (I thought they were included in the room). I will always remember the comment of the late Irish comedian Frank Carson when I asked him if his stay was comfortable: “I don’t like your towels”, he retorted, “they’re so fluffy I can’t close my suitcase”. Brilliant.
And then there are those that think they know it all, that have delusions of grandeur and importance. After all, they are paying good money to stay in a hotel…which brings me to my true story of an incident that occurred to my late father, Charles, distinguished hotelier and much loved and respected wherever he worked.
It was the 1992 World Expo in Seville, Spain and Charles had just opened a hotel a few days before. As he was wandering past the reception desk, he heard the irritated and angry voice of a guest.
“This is incredible, a disgrace! After what I’ve paid to stay in this hotel, I find this intolerable. In all my travels I have never seen anything like this. I demand to see the manager!!”
The receptionist was doing her best to calm down the guest, but he would not listen. She saw Charles approaching, her knight in shining armour at that precise moment, and cried out to him with her eyes.
“Sir, Charles Padina, General Manager at your service, what seems to be the trouble?”