Just another day at the front office
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.