I Was Overserved
In 2014 my dreams came true when I was invited to the Toronto home of the Chairman & Founder of Four Seasons, Isadore Sharp. Over coffee, one of his first questions was why I loved Four Seasons so much, explaining he had never come across someone quite as obsessed with his hotels. I replied that it was incredible staff service from the Concierges at the then Berlin Four Seasons, after I had been living in Bermuda dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Fabian – no electricity, running water etc in Tucker’s Town – for the 6 weeks before my stay.
However, I think the story is more complex than this. I also adore The Dorchester in London and Mandarin Oriental hotels (eg Barcelona; Bangkok; New York; formerly San Francisco; London; Miami; DC etc) have a special place in my heart too. There is something magical about an incredible stay at a luxury hotel like The Goring in London. It is funny that when I read Mr Sharp’s autobiography, he admires The Dorchester in London too and wanted Four Seasons Park Lane, the first European Four Seasons, based on The Dorchester’s impressive service model.
I moved to Bermuda in 2000 and my lifestyle hit new heights. In one weekend I stayed at The Savoy, then flew London to New York on Concorde and then staying at The Plaza, before it was 1/2 apartments, and was upgraded to a suite. In Qatar, where I moved in 2005, my practice of pre-complaint letters evolved and I started initiating meetings with General Managers of hotels I admire. In my pre-letters I effectively explain what I feel the restaurant or hotel needs to do to mitigate the risk of a complaint.
Living and working in Qatar for much of 10 years enable me to stay in many of the world’s most iconic hotels more than once, including the Four Seasons George V in Paris; Park Hyatt in Tokyo; Beverly Hills Hotel & Bungalows; Copacabana Palace in Rio; Ritz, London; Claridge’s, London; St Regis, New York and others. I have also dined in many of the world’s most famous restaurants including Grant Achatz’s Alinea in Chicago; Albert Adia’s Tickets in Barcelona; Michel Roux Jr’s Le Gavroche in London; Alain Ducasse’s Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower in Paris, Adour which was in the New York St Regis & at The Dorchester; Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s formerly at the Manhattan Four Seasons; Daniel Humm's Eleven Madison Park in New York; Wolfgang Puck’s Spago in Beverly Hills to name just a few.
I have now stayed in New York at Four Seasons Manhattan or Downtown at New Year for 16 years running; been a member of the Doha Four Seasons spa for 10 years; had my 40th birthday party in the Penthouse at The Dorchester; had a private tour of the caves of Veuve Clicquot, while it was closed to the public for summer, from a man who is part of the family that owned it before LVMH acquired it; stayed at the Dubai at Jumeirah Beach Four Seasons before it was open to the public; was the first guest of the Bahrain Bay Four Seasons etc.
Hotels usually upgrade me to suites these days and this has led to me staying in the GBP4,000 a night Dorchester suites at The Dorchester, with prints by Prince Charles, and their Oliver Messel suite where Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor spent their 1964 honeymoon. Four Seasons George V, Four Seasons Baku, Four Seasons Downtown New York, Four Seasons Damascus, Four Seasons Beirut, Four Seasons Toronto, Four Seasons Bahrain Bay, Four Seasons Doha, Four Seasons London at Park Lane, Burj Al Arab in Dubai, Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Raffles Le Royal Phnom Penh; Raffles Dubai; the Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid, the Mandarin Oriental Doha etc have all given me stunning suites.
I have so many hotel, airline and restaurant stories (eg being thrown out of the George V during the Paris Air Show; lunch on the private 196ft three masted schooner Fleurtje off Bermuda; Whoopi Goldberg sending gifts to my godson after a meeting in Claridge’s in London; helping Mike Tyson work the satellite TV in the Concorde lounge at JFK in New York; the constant sound of glasses smashing at Cristal Room Baccarat in Paris; being shown around the GBP25,000 a night two story Bandar Seri Begawan suite at The Dorchester which has 22-carat gold thread in the carpets and a hairdressing room; seeing the stunning US$45,000 a night Ty Warner suite at the Four Seasons in Manhattan with platinum thread in its curtains; The Peabody Hotel in Memphis giving me their Presidential Suite & making me an Honorary Duckmaster etc) that friends have suggested I start recording them publicly and that is what this travel blog is aimed to do.
I hope you enjoy it but remember, as Barbara Kingsolver said
in Animal Dreams:
“Memory is a complicated thing,