Monday, November 13, 2006


November 13, 2006

So, Jeff and I just spent a fabulous week in Hawaii, courtesy of a free business trip. We stayed at the Four Seasons and I just have to tell you about this kind of place for those of you who may be reluctant to spend the $600-$1,000 a night a room goes for. I have now stayed at the Four Seasons on two occasions--once in Nevus (Carribean) and now Hawaii and both times corporate America footed the bill and both times the experience was nearly other-worldly.

I remember someone once said about Fred Astaire, "The rest of us were dancing; I don't know what Fred was doing." Well, similarly I say "The rest of those places provide service; I don't know what they're doing at the Four Seasons."

Here are just a few examples--and no, I am not wrangling for a freebie from the Four Seasons though if that were to come my way, who am I to say no?

- On the first night there was a reception on the main lawn. With a sweeping view of the infinity pool that leads into the majestic ocean it was breathtaking. We were met by several waiters and waitresses with trays of Mai Tais and Midori Coladas as the sun set over their shoulders. Just as dinner was to be served it began to rain. Even the rain was pleasant--a slight drizzle--not that crazy midwestern cold splash we're used to. We all waited to see if someone would suggest we move inside, reluctant to leave the beautiful setting. Just as the rain picked up, dozens of hotel workers came out with enormous golf umbrellas--enough for each of us to have our own. As they handed them to us they greeted our thanks with their signature response, "It's my pleasure" without a trace of irony in their voices.

-The next morning, as Jeff went deep-sea fishing, I wandered out to the pool. I started to sit down on a luxurious chaise longue when a hotel worker came up with towels. "Do you need a set-up?" she asked. "Sure," I said. She took out a towel sewn like a fitted sheet and tucked it on my chair leaving me with ice water and a second towel. "If you need anything, just turn the wooden block down so the turtle picture can't be seen." I told her I needed a fruit smoothie and off she rushed to get that for me. As she left, another woman approached with a tray. "Would you care for a fruit kabob?" she offered. This was all before 9:00 am. The next day I would learn that a woman with a cooler comes by in the late afternoon to offer popsicles. I cannot think of the last time someone offered me a popsicle and it is delightful.

- That night our hosts arranged to have us driven to a local beach for a beach party. The tables were made of surf boards and the stools had grass skirts. Our servers were all Four Seasons staff. I have no idea how they got there or how all the food got to the beach. It was magic. There was a band playing and we danced barefoot in the sand. When it was time to go, I realized as I boarded the bus that my bladder was full and I would not make it the twenty minutes back to the hotel. I asked our event coordinator if they would wait while I went back to the bathroom. "Okay," he said, "but hurry or you'll have to take the next bus." I assured him that I was very quick and I ran back a ways but realized I wouldn't make it all the way back to the bathrooms so I squatted like a sorority girl in a dark corner. Unfortunately, I forgot I was wearing a festive glow stick around my neck. A concerned hotel worker shouted over to me, "Are you alright ma'am?" Hmm, there was a downside to attentive service. I assured him I was fine and he discretely left me alone but I think if I'd asked for toilet paper he would have gotten some. When I got back to the bus the driver said, "Hey you are quick! You didn't go all the way back to the bathroom did you?" and the bus erupted in applause.

- The next night we went to the bar on premise, "The Lava Lounge". When I excused myself to find the bathroom I was unable to find it. As I stood there looking confused, a hotel worker came by and asked if he could help me. "Umm, yes, where are the restrooms?" "Follow me," he said and he walked me there--really at the Four Seasons you don't just give someone directions to the bathroom! As I thanked him he said, "It's my pleasure" and I believed him.

- At the pool on Wednesday I was seated one cabana away from Frank Thomas and his trophy wife. Frank Thomas is a very famous baseball player, in case you didn't know. Hotel workers went by periodically to offer us cold towels and spritz us with cool Evian water. I loved that I was getting the exact same service as Frank Thomas. When he was getting ready to leave I heard his young wife say, "I can't go yet, I haven't had my popsicle." Of course, she didn't have to wait long.

I am back in the real world now. My first night home my youngest woke up barfing and I was up all night with her, cleaning up puke and holding her head. At one point she lifted her head from the toilet and said, "Momma, thank you for taking care of me" and I replied, sincerely, "It's my pleasure."