An alarm­ing turn of events

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

AN air­port prop­erty in Syd­ney is pro­mot­ing it­self as the city’s only ‘‘ter­mi­nal ho­tel’’. What ge­nius came up with that? The same nitwit who keeps ad­vis­ing op­er­a­tors to spruik des­ti­na­tions we need to go to be­fore we die?

I don’t in­tend to jour­ney any­where as a corpse, not even to check into a ter­mi­nal ho­tel. The whole bucket list thing is mak­ing us feel like losers be­cause we haven’t seen the Great Mi­gra­tion or even The Great Gatsby. I pre­fer the idea of a bucket-and-spade list with no dead­line at­tached.

Travel brochures and promotional cam­paigns usu­ally are trite be­yond mea­sure. Cliches abound, from ‘‘east meets west’’ to ‘‘pearl of the ori­ent’’ to many a ‘‘kalei­do­scope of cul­tures’’ and ‘ ‘ hid­den se­crets’’ be­tween. ‘‘Dis­cover Hawaii!’’ shrieks the Honolulu brochure, 235 years af­ter Cap­tain James Cook.

Ev­ery prod­uct needs a mar­ket­ing tag, but fre­quently th­ese fail and are swiftly for­got­ten or, worse, be­come the butt of jokes. Prime tourism ex­am­ples: the sug­ges­tive ‘‘I Feel Slove­nia’’ and the down­right un­true ‘‘Wales: The Big Coun­try’.

Then there are the great eu­phemisms and the bold ex­ag­ger­a­tions such as the ho­tel I once booked that falsely claimed to be in Vic­to­rian style when, re­ally, it just hap­pened to be in Mel­bourne. Put a few minia­tures of gin in the mini-bar and pop a par­lour palm in the cor­ner and you have ‘‘colo­nial planter at­mos­phere’’. In­clude a pool, jazzy-coloured drinks and plas­tic palms and it’s a ‘‘re­sort’’. My part­ner al­ways says that if home cook­ing is ad­ver­tised, it means they can’t af­ford a chef. Then there are the F words — fresh and fluffy. The lat­ter is a bug­bear of mine, not when ap­plied to clouds or cats, but bathrobes and tow­els. I have never seen an ex­am­ple of ei­ther item that looks like a cu­mu­lus or a Per­sian puss and nor do I want to. As long as they are not thread­bare, then any other de­scrip­tion is a re­dun­dancy, up there with ‘‘wa­ter­proof" rain­coats or ‘‘por­ta­ble" um­brel­las.

The word fresh has lost all mean­ing. Break­fast menus will sug­gest an omelet made with ‘‘fresh eggs’’. Re­ally? Not vile-smelling green ones? I am cranky about ‘‘per­sonal ser­vice’’, too. Not the idea or the de­liv­ery, but the thought there could be another kind, such as be­ing at­tended by ro­bots or called to desks by num­bers as they do at the David Jones Food Hall when you’re buy­ing an ‘‘ar­ti­san’’ pie. I find it alarm­ing and I am not alone. ‘‘This ho­tel is alarmed!’’ an­nounced a sign in In­dia years ago. But I re­ally smiled at the frank­ness of the no­tice be­low: ‘‘If this is your first visit to our ho­tel, you are wel­come to it’’.

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