How To Make Any Hotel Seem Like The Four Seasons

by admin on May 5, 2011

Have you ever stayed at a Four Seasons Hotel?  Neither have I, but it’s on my list.  I hear they are spectacular and the service is out of this world.  Until then, however, I have a little trick that has served me well in making your average hotel seem like a world class resort.  Stay in a dump for a night or two.  It will re-adjust your hotel meter.

Let me explain.

I was on vacation, visiting my then girlfriend in Mexico.  She had moved to Mexico City to teach English.  I flew down to visit her in November, 1990.  I remember the approximate date because it was during a U.S. Presidential election.  I don’t know much Spanish—just enough to say “poquito” when someone asks me if I know Spanish.  I remember her television being tuned to news channels.  This is what it sounded like to me:  blah, blah, blah, blah, Beel Cleenton, blah, blah, blah…

Terri, my girlfriend, had planned a weekend trip for us.  The plan was to drive southeast to Tecolutle, a small coastal resort town on the Gulf side of Mexico.   Terri’s friend, Alejandro, accompanied us on the trip.

On the day of the trip we packed up the car and started driving.  It was Terri’s car, a Toyota Tercel.  I had no idea where we were going or how long it was supposed to take, and when you don’t have that knowledge, the drive invariably seems to take forever.  It appeared that Alejandro was the only person who really knew where we were going; at least that is my recollection.

We ended up driving through a tropical rainforest, which suddenly appeared out of nowhere as we crossed a mountain pass.  There were wild banana trees growing everywhere.  I had never before seen a banana tree, and to this day it is my benchmark for whether or not a place is truly tropical.  The road was full of hairpin curves and heavy, heavy fog.  It was both stunningly beautiful and horribly nerve-wracking.


The highway would roll in and out of one small town after another.  On this highway, and throughout Mexico, they have speed bumps called topes (pronounced toe-pays) on the highways near the towns.  They looked like half-basketballs lined up across the road in a staggered pattern.  They were huge and not very well marked, so if the driver was not paying attention, there would be a bone-jarring whack and a loud, angry thump as the wheels of Terri’s Toyota would collide violently with the topes.  Not surprisingly, there were dozens of scattered pieces of annihilated tires littering the street next to the topes.  There were also tire shops conveniently located adjacent to each one.

I think we drove until about midnight.  We all agreed at that point that we should stop and stay the night somewhere.  We were in another of, what seemed like, an endless procession of towns.  We stopped right on the main drag, where we found a hotel that was literally located above a tire shop.

The room was hot and sticky-humid.  There was no air conditioning.  There were a couple of queen-sized beds with threadbare sheets on them, but no blankets.  A small nightstand separated the beds and there was a lone ceiling fan in the room. We had to leave the window open for circulation, subjecting us to choking exhaust fumes and the loud, incessant revving of engines and honking of horns all night long as the locals raced up and down the street.

I managed to sleep for short spells.  The only sounds that managed to drown out the blaring of the raceway just outside our window were the guttural reverberations coming out of Alejandro.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I come from a long line of snorers, but I have never been exposed to sounds like this.  Alejandro would begin by rumbling in a normal, albeit very loud, pattern.  Then he would go silent for a minute.  Then there would be a thunderous SNORT!, which never failed to startle me.  I thought he was dying.  Every time I dozed off, SNORT!  It was a long night.

I was the first one up in the morning after what seemed like a night that would never end.  I was hot and sweaty and felt pretty dirty from the hotel bed and the long day we had endured prior to stopping for the night.  I made my way into the bathroom.  It was a rectangular room, quite large for a hotel bathroom, maybe 10 feet by 15 feet.  On one end was a toilet.  In the middle was a sink, and on the other end was a shower head protruding from the wall, with the faucet directly beneath it.  There was no shower curtain or anything else to separate the shower area.  A solitary drain punctuated the floor.  The floors and walls were completely covered in the same honey-colored six inch stone tiles.

I was groggy.  I closed the bathroom door and turned on the shower.  It was then that I first realized that the shower head was actually headless.  It was an angled pipe coming out of the wall.  The pipe had probably been attached to a shower head at some point, as it was the type of pipe that is used solely for that purpose, with no threads on the end.  The end of the pipe was bulbous, slightly larger in circumference than the pipe itself.  There was a hole in the end of the pipe about the size of a pencil.  Yes, it looked like what you are probably thinking it looked like.  You can’t make this stuff up.

The water came out in a furious jet stream.  The shower faucet had no volume control.  It was either on or off.  It felt I was being pelted by a machine gun stream of rubber bullets. Fortunately, I don’t bruise easily.   Oh, and there was no hot water.  It was, in fact, ice cold.  I have never understood how the water could be that cold in that particular climate.  It was the fastest shower I have ever taken.  I couldn’t get out of that hotel soon enough.  It sure made the simple little place we stayed the next few nights seem like the Waldorf.

Since that episode, and because of it, I have concluded that staying in a dive now and then will keep you happy in those average hotels.  No one else seems to be very enthusiastic about my theory though.


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