Over the years that I have travelled, I have had the pleasure of staying in all sorts of accommodation, from tents to 5-star hotels. There has even been the odd occasion when I was in college and, later in bakery sales, that I slept under the skies with nary a roof (or tent) to cover my head. It was us on the highway, with the stars in the night above.
As I progressed up the corporate ladder, I moved from cheap accommodation to 5-star accommodation, including some very nice fancy resorts.
Ever since I left the corporate world, and started venturing into the photographic world, life has come full circle in many ways. When I travel with Big Boss Man, we budget to spend between 40-50 USD per night on the hotel room. When split two ways, it comes to 20-25 USD per night on hotel accommodation. This is not bad, and it allows us to travel more.
As I was climbing that long corporate ladder, I used to feel that getting to be allowed to stay in 5- and 6- star hotels was the ultimate dream. It was like reaching for the stars. Soft sheets, marvellous food and impeccable service awaited me, and I would stroll down those marbled corridors like a corporate captain, smelling nice and looking good.
5-star service, I dreamt, was the best. There is no doubt at all that the service that you get in 5-star hotels is very good. The general assumption was always that service in the smaller hotels is worse than that you get in 5-star hotels. The fact is that 5-star hotels do invest a lot in training their staff, and insist on certain service standards that have to be maintained.
What you get is indeed very polished service. You get the little dance of politeness, and this dance turns into a virtual pirouette if you are rich or a frequent guest.
However, what I have discovered is that the service that you get in these smaller places is not to be sneezed at. I was at the Rishikesh Inn last year, where the service was outstanding. The same goes for the Hotel Holiday Home in McleodGanj. Even in Panipat, where we stayed at the State Tourist Bungalow, there was excellent service.
Why do I say that the service was excellent? If you compare their service standards with that you get in 5-star hotels, you will have a lot to quibble about.
Yet, the smile that I got from these gentlemen was genuine, and reached the eyes. I could see the genuine effort that they made, to provide me with good service. In McLeodGanj, when my car went into the nullah, after the first fateful ‘Zweeee’, it was the hotel owner who was under my car, to ensure that the jack fit well so that they could get it out.
Training helps, and it does make your stay infinitely more comfortable when you are in a hotel. Yet, when the service comes from the heart, when the smile touches the eyes, and when you establish a human connection during your stay, then you know that this is service that goes beyond what you would normally get.
Plastic melts, and you feel the warmth.
There is good service…….. and again, there is good service.