Just an­other day at the front of­fice

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - SU­SAN KUROSAWA

Is there such a thing as Va­ca­tion Mad­ness Syn­drome whereby oth­er­wise nor­mal peo­ple just go nuts?

It is a mad world and es­pe­cially in the ac­com­mo­da­tion in­dus­try, where no day can be planned. “Any­thing can, and does, hap­pen,” a hote­lier friend says as he re­gales me with a few sto­ries about bark­ing crazy guests but I have promised not to re­veal the name of his prop­erty. He has enough strife in his life.

There is a fash­ion in­dus­try pro­fes­sional of some sta­tus who trav­els with her teddy bear. So far, so furry. But she treats said bear as a per­son. It sits with her at meals and she or­ders for two, right down to in­sist­ing that Teddy is gluten-free. The food con­geals and has to be re­moved. OK, whatever. She books the cou­ples room at the spa and they lie side by side. Teddy en­joys scrubs and wraps and shoul­der mas­sages. Teddy loses one of its lit­tle glass eyes af­ter a thor­ough pum­melling and it pings on to the floor and rolls away. The shocked ther­a­pist, who prob­a­bly has never had a client lose a body part dur­ing a re­lax­ation rit­ual, squeals and calls for re­in­force­ments. The main­te­nance team ar­rives and one chap ac­ci­den­tally crushes Teddy’s poor lit­tle for­saken eye.

My hote­lier friend says it takes sev­eral days to find an ex­actly match­ing re­place­ment. Seam­stresses ar­rive to do the in­vis­i­ble mend­ing of the socket. Must the guest pay? No, she’s loyal to us and we like her, he says with a shrug.

His next story is a cracker. A Florida lawyer stays ev­ery sum­mer and wrecks the joint. He does so much dam­age to his suite that ev­ery morn­ing he plonks down his black Amex card at the front desk and tells staff to just bill him for re­pairs. Ap­par­ently you can buy a he­li­copter, or per­haps all of Mi­ami, on a black Amex card. He breaks win­dows and TV screens, pulls towel racks and shower heads out of their fas­ten­ings, up­ends the fur­ni­ture. He claims he just needs to let off steam.

So is there such a thing as Va­ca­tion Mad­ness Syn­drome whereby oth­er­wise nor­mal peo­ple just go nuts, as if they’ve been let out of board­ing school on sum­mer hol­i­days? Let’s call it VMS. An­other guest at my friend’s ho­tel pre­tends to be a mi­nor royal of a small, un­known na­tion and staff must bow and curtsy, pol­ish her crown ev­ery morn­ing and strew rose petals as she passes. This seems pretty harm­less, as she causes no trou­ble.

But af­ter a week of the faux-royal’s pranc­ing, staff are in a fa­tigued mood when an­other fe­male guest ar­rives, beau­ti­fully at­tired and with two com­pan­ions. A few days pass and she is a model ho­tel cit­i­zen, speak­ing many lan­guages on her al­ways-in-use mo­bile phone and treat­ing ev­ery­one with ex­trav­a­gant cour­tesy. She or­ders a limou­sine to take her to a gov­ern­ment build­ing. There are no limos avail­able and the re­cep­tion­ist asks if per­haps a taxi could be called. The guest says no, as she is the pres­i­dent of (in­sert name of small Euro­pean na­tion). Oh, no you aren’t! The re­cep­tion­ist dis­creetly pulls up her reg­is­tra­tion de­tails and hops on to Google to find a pic­ture. Oh, yes you are! A limo, on the house, is con­jured more or less out of thin air. My friend even finds a few dis­carded petals to scat­ter in her path.

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