Crafted and curated to perfection
On holiday in Bali a fortnight ago, a hotel’s “leisure concierge” accompanied me on a “tailored” shopping excursion around the hot new shopping precincts. What fun it was, especially as our vehicle was thoughtfully equipped with roof racks sturdy enough to stow, say, a dozen batik bedspreads. Everything is “tailored” these days in the funny old world of tourism and hospitality and rarely does it involve a needle and thread. Ditto for bespoke, which is no longer the preserve of London’s Savile Row.
I had a bespoke breakfast omelette in Bali, too, which means it was “customised” just for me by removing the bacon and adding chilli. You can just imagine the staff training manual. This agreeable “outcome” would have been “facilitated” after my “engagement” with the waiter, aka the “service executor”.
The leisure concierge no doubt reported direct each cheery morn to the “cultural engineer”, the traffic-controller chap with the Mission: Impossible headset who oversaw every aspect of the hotel’s 24/7 “guest delivery excellence”. My holiday was full of craftsmen and artisans, too, and not one of them had a tool kit or, say, a potter’s wheel. Sightseeing tours were hand-crafted, the bricks at an almost-finished hotel were artisan-made. In hotels, bars and beach clubs, menus were “curated” by culinary “creatives” and mixologists. When a lychee martini I had ordered failed to materialise, the lovely young waitress whispered to me that it was “still under construction”. I looked across to the bar, half-expecting to see heavy earth-moving equipment. The organic free- range mixologist engaged me with a wave, I think, but it was so hard to tell in the half-light.
Oh, yes, the lighting. At one resort, pathways and gardens were so poorly illuminated that guests could venture forth at night only if armed with a torch or iPhone app. Around dinner time, the whole estate flicker-flashed as if colonised by fireflies. The owner claimed it was all about “atmosphere” and seemed astonished that guests would inconveniently twist their ankles or demand standard lamps be brought to their cabins so they could read in bed or find the patchouli-scented macrobiotic soap.
Ah, patchouli. Retro is all the rage but it is disconcerting to realise the 1980s are back, when it seems like yesterday that we farewelled shoulder pads and powercharged hair. Who knew we should have kept those Marimekko curtains? Even tiki bars are fashionable again, all lava stone, glass floats and lurid drinks served in chopped-top pineapples and coconuts.
At the almost-finished hotel, the artisans were up at sparrow’s yawn engaging with their bricks, finishing the top-storey guestrooms and terraces. The noise of handcrafting was tremendous, involving saws and drills and jackhammers. But it didn’t matter as there was a beach to be walked along, heart-starter coffees to be enjoyed at sunrise, and long, full and enjoyable days ahead, trying to avoid using creative as a noun, side-stepping discarded hula maiden swizzle-sticks, and being careful not to recline too long in lobbies and bars. So easy, you see, at a certain age, just to disappear into the mid-century decor.