AGENDA

The fre­quent voy­ager on cre­at­ing a home away from home

Condé Nast Traveller Middle East - - Contents -

The Travel Connoisseur on cre­at­ing a home away from home; co­me­dian Mo Amer on in-flight eti­quette and his re­union with Kuwait

The Travel Connoisseur ex­am­ined the unique Art Deco in­te­rior of the pri­vate jet in great de­tail. Named The Man­hat­tan, it was de­signed to give pas­sen­gers a taste of the spirit of the Twen­ties – the era of true ro­mance in travel – when the most ad­ven­tur­ous no­mads crossed the At­lantic aboard the Graf Zep­pelin. The rich ma­hogany wood pan­els and the brass and gold trim­mings were to his taste, and the Cloud Club on-board lounge with three high chairs was the per­fect place from which to watch con­ti­nents float by through two win­dows set op­po­site them. Or, even bet­ter – through the large loft win­dow, unique to the air­craft.

“Cus­tomi­sa­tion at its finest,” he mur­mured to him­self, as he took a sip from his red flûte. “The lux­ury of feel­ing at home wher­ever you fly.” Sadly, the air­craft’s range of 4,600 nau­ti­cal miles was half the range of the new­est air­lin­ers, mean­ing he would still have to ac­cept the hur­dles of com­mer­cial avi­a­tion.

For TTC, fly­ing halfway around the world for a cup of tea was his own def­i­ni­tion of free­dom. Since he had the lux­ury of be­ing solo, he could spice up his week­ends with a bit of im­promptu travel. So he boarded a flight when­ever he had a cou­ple of days off, in his sig­na­ture style. Some found it charm­ing; to oth­ers it seemed, well, pompous. A vin­tage wooden trunk, a red crys­tal flûte and a wooden mu­sic box ded­i­cated just for rasp­ber­ries – even the most bor­ing cabin in­te­ri­ors be­gan to shine once TTC and his silent en­tourage were care­fully placed on board. He recre­ated pre­cisely the same mise en scene ev­ery time he was in the air – a trick that made fly­ing feel fa­mil­iar, com­fort­able and less ex­haust­ing.

The art of ar­rival be­came an­other care­fully or­ches­trated act. TTC chose ho­tels that re­mem­bered his tastes or those that took per­son­al­i­sa­tion to the next level. With sev­eral hote­liers fol­low­ing him on In­sta­gram, they knew pre­cisely what and when to pre­pare. A large bucket of ice, goose-down pil­lows, a tea set and an iron­ing board are sta­ples – even the ho­tels that most pride them­selves on ser­vice know he does not want a but­ler serv­ing him (luke­warm) tea or press­ing his clothes (ho­tels al­ways make hor­ri­ble creases along the sleeves – have you ever seen such creases on run­way mod­els?). In­stead, he ar­ranged the room to his lik­ing.

Re­cently in Muscat, he found him­self im­pressed with a ho­tel’s ex­tra-mile ser­vice: the prop­erty of­fered a rosepetal menu, sev­eral types of bath foams and oils, as well as a se­lec­tion of more than a dozen pil­lows. TTC was left pon­der­ing if sleep­ing on horse­hair or cherry stones was his el­e­ment, fi­nally choos­ing in­stead ones en­riched with vi­ta­min E, known for its anti-ag­ing prop­er­ties – surely that couldn’t do any harm.

The next morn­ing, as he hes­i­tated at the on-site café in the morn­ing, torn be­tween or­ganic lemon and gin­ger or Ja­panese green tea for break­fast, he heard a voice he’d come to know only too well.

“We pre­pared your break­fast in the room be­cause we know you en­joy… um… bub­bles,” said the but­ler with a cheery smile.

Mo­ments later, he was re­turned to his room where the but­ler got on with the busi­ness of cork-pop­ping. Air con­di­tion­ing was set to 16º C and the bal­cony door was closed to shut out any dis­rup­tive out­door buzz. TTC’s mea­gre diet was flaw­lessly served: rasp­ber­ries, tea and a bub­bly vin­tage. A fa­mil­iar scene, com­plete with the red crys­tal flûte. It was ab­so­lute per­son­al­i­sa­tion, metic­u­lously ex­e­cuted.

Yet as he sat back and ob­served the scene, he sud­denly felt a twinge of con­cern. This same break­fast setup could have been in Paris, Hong Kong or, as orig­i­nally in­tended, in his own home. He was left with a trou­bling ques­tion: Had his quest for cus­tomis­ing reached an ex­treme and made his trav­els bor­ing? Could a bit of ad­ven­ture in the form of a but­tery lo­cal pas­try at a street café have been a more mem­o­rable choice? Per­haps an oc­ca­sional in­con­ve­nience would add to the ro­mance of travel. A thought to be con­tin­ued…

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