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.


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...

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