Crossing time zones
There are few things worse than being jet lagged with nowhere to go. Maybe it’s time reputable hotels let rooms by the hour
You don’t need me to tell you about the pain of business travel when flying east. The prospect of landing at an uncivilised hour, with the knowledge that your hotel room will not be available until the afternoon is a familiar experience for the jet-lagged businessperson.
Hoteliers hate early arrivals. They clutter up the lobby, expect all the guests from the night before to leave after breakfast, and look as if they have just left the set of a horror film.
Often long-haul travellers have been up all night, so why don’t more hotels cater properly for early bird business travellers? They must know a proportion of guests will arrive before check-in. Yet the focus has always been on full-rate overnight stays. Hotel management rarely considers how much revenue could be made from selling rooms for a half-day or hourly rate. Even the most basic space with a small bed would be welcome for those who have been up all night.
EASING THE PAIN
There are various strategies you doubtless employ to try to combat jet lag, but I have a few of my own suggestions as to how to ease your discomfort at your destination.
As you might expect, hoteliers are keen to suggest you think about travelling a day or so earlier in order to aid recovery. Although this sounds like an extra cost, it may be cheaper for your company to fly you in economy over the weekend and take a discounted rate at a hotel, rather than take an overnight Sunday (to Monday morning) business flight.
Secondly, what you eat and drink should be a focus, and hotels can help. Everyone knows that it should be water on the flight rather than the Bordeaux. Breakfast is essential, and an early arrival at your hotel provides the opportunity to take in all the benefits of eggs and bacon, freshly baked goods, juice and buckets of coffee – assuming your hotel serves a good breakfast, and if it doesn’t, why are you staying there?
Thirdly, and more generally, it is my suggestion that you take your keep-fit gear or swimsuit with you, and use the hotel health facilities for an hour or so. I’m not necessarily advocating a hard workout, rather a little time in the hotel pool, perhaps a sauna and a steam. After that take the opportunity to rehydrate, but this time with some mineral water. Many quality hotels with these types of facilities c. an also offer you a massage at varying rates, the cost of which unfortunately can seldom be expensed. So you may, with planning, be better off choosing a hotel that recognises the needs of exhausted arrivals and offers a free massage experience. At Las Ventanas al Paraiso, a Rosewood Resort in Los Cabos, Mexico, you are offered a ten-minute neck and foot massage at check-in; and the welcome at Halekulani in Honolulu, Hawaii, includes a free 15-minute foot or scalp massage.
The jury will be out on whether a massage is going to ease sleep deprivation – in fact, it will probably send you to sleep rather than wake you up – but it’s an enjoyable way to kill time before your room passes the housekeeping check and is ready for occupation.
For the traveller with insomnia, one London hotel is offering a “Sleep Bracelet”. This claims to act as an antenna, connected to an embedded “Natural Frequency Technology disc”. The makers claim it tunes out bad frequencies from electronic devices and encourages only the good ones, thus presumably aiding the path to sweet dreams. I have yet to try one, and wonder what constitutes a “good frequency” rather than a “bad” one. Rather than struggle with that conundrum, thankfully some less esoteric sleep aids are being offered by savvy hoteliers. Among the sleep aids I have encountered are calming tinctures by the bedside, such as a “relaxing pillow mist” from a perfumery in Provence. One innovative property is also offering a jet-lag package including a music programme of relaxing bedtime themes and an automatic volume reducer that fades as you drift off. Hotels are not yet permitted to offer sleep-deprived guests any form of “knock-out drop”. This despite the unspoken wish of receptionists who are badgered by tired and irritated early morning arrivals demanding a bed.
Finally, if you are told your accommodation is not available until mid-afternoon and you’ve arrived at 8am, I suggest you go ahead and really clutter up the lobby. Find a comfy chair, take your shoes off, stretch your legs out, put on a pyjama top and pretend to go to sleep snoring loudly. They’ll find you a room soon enough. It always works perfectly for me.
Find a comfy chair, take your shoes off and clutter up the lobby. They’ll soon find a room for you...