Speaking Out Jonna Simon
SOME of us are creatures of habit. Although I am often teased about traditions, I want to know: What is wrong with returning to a hotel which provided you with superb service on your last visit?
Or to a restaurant where the head waiter goes out of his way to find you a nice table and then proceeds to ensure that you are served a great meal?
When I choose an airline and travel in Business Class, for example, I expect the cabin crew to address me with my real name. Perhaps, it is the recognition factor which appeals to me. When I revisit the Mamas and Papas Restaurant on the Tomb of the Kings Road in Paphos, Cyprus, I suppose it is not only for the good food and cheerful ambience, but the fact that one or two of the waitresses always recognise me and come over for a chat about what is new, since we last met.
When I pop into Chamchad’s Pub & Restaurant in a small seaside resort in England, the owner wanders over to welcome me back to Mablethorpe and he knows I have no need to look through the menu, as I have my favourite dishes here too. We are slightly disappointed, if we return to the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok to find inevitably a new management team and different waitresses in the lounge area… only to be relieved when we arrive in the room to find the small white sheet is laid out in front of the bed and the chocolates still on the pillows… a reassuring sign of continuity.
We do miss the good old days of Bangkok, when we could travel around in a phut-phut without being smothered by exhaust fumes, though the new flyovers have eased the pollution problems somewhat.
We find ourselves lost-in-translation with the present-day Japan, which is changing so rapidly into yet another Western-style country, although the county still has many of the traditional tea-houses operating.
We long for the days in Denmark when only a few TV channels were available instead of the present-day multi-access channels, which just emphasised the new culture, which pervades so much of Europe today.
But change can be positive too. We remind ourselves, as we walk around Downtown New York that this activity could sometimes be a risky business after dark in years gone by.
We are relieved that Paris with all its grand museums and allurements now offers prices to suit our pockets. Same for Singapore, which has again become consumer-friendly as far as prices are concerned.
Located in the Gulf region, we are mother of all changes. Dubai is the prime example of scenery changing by the moment. But so too is Qatar, which has recently announced that billions of dollars will be invested in the country to attract visitors and Bahrain is also ensuring that it will not be left behind as the Gulf region becomes the “hottest” topic and destination on the tourist scene.
We cherish the photos in your albums of whirling Dervish-style dancers on the corniche in Tripoli, the campsite on the Adricatic coast of Italy, where we enjoyed the best pizzas ever made, the pictures of Palmyra in Syria, where we arrived after a long bus journey years before the new hotels were built there and the once almost-tourist-free lovely islands of Spetses in Greece with its horse-and-carriage lifestyle.
But the travel industry moves on and though clients will still need the personal experience of many years of travelling, today’s internet generation wants speed and fast decisions. Thankfully, the travel trade is responding to the “Immediate Generation”, checking that hotels have internet plug-ins and that their GSM phones can be used in the particular region visited. Adaptation is the name of the game… and though the management may change, the brand and reputation remain mostly solid… though more buildings sprout up, the smiles of the residents continue… though the costs rise in some cities, we know, we can find lower costs in other cities… but we are creatures of habit and that is why we become regular customers and why companies and businesses, particularly in the hospitality and service industries, attract so many regular clients.