Four-Star Hotel Blues

April 15, 2007

Starting last July until I became unemployed last October, Shin and I put away 400 yen (about $3.50) into a used jar of Nescafe everyday. We watched the coins pile up and over the course of three months, we amassed a considerable stash, over $300, for a very specific purpose – several nights in luxury hotels.

Two days ago, we tasted the fruits of our labor for the first time in Koh Lanta, a backpacker retreat turned up-market resort island.

Luxury came at $66 per night, at Holiday Villa on Lanta’s main beach. Since booking two nights over the internet a week ago, I’d been having nightmares – it would be a flophouse, no better than the bamboo bungalows where we normally stayed. They’d serve the same nauseating deep-fried eggs that we’d been eating for breakfast for three months and there would be roaches in the room. $66 times two, wasted!

I needn’t have worried.

We checked in and the staff – from the front desk girls, to the waiters, to the gardeners – were some of the friendliest we’d come across on our trip. They upgraded us from the cheapskate Deluxe Room to a Junior Suite. The room looked out onto the garden shed and next-door villa, but I didn’t care. Junior Suite, baby! Talk about rags to riches.

There was a bathtub. In three months, I’d only taken one bath but I evened out the score a bit during our two-day stay. There was a shower booth. Two sets of fluffy, rose-scented towels. Scalding water, which I wasted with glee. Not one, but two air conditioners, which felt so nice after a soak in boiling water. The room had furniture, too. Sofas and chairs and tables that all matched and didn’t look like they’d been pulled out of yesterday’s garbage. The four-poster bed was king-sized heaven, with pristine white linens. A 25-inch television with cable and a mini-fridge. A scale and full-length mirrors, which some might consider more of a curse than a luxury. Not so when you’ve been subsisting on an Asian diet for three months in 98-degree weather, doing athletic things like walking everywhere.

Of course, there was the luxury of all luxuries: a swimming pool. For two days, I didn’t even see the beach, ironic since that’s one of Lanta’s only draws. Beaches, however, are free. You have to pay $66 a night for a swimming pool. Although small, the pool had all of the necessities: waterfall, Jacuzzi, floaty toys, landscaped exterior, and lounge chairs. It was so, so good, swimming in serene, chlorinated waters.

Shin and I were most excited about the buffet breakfast, which would have had to consist of moldy bread and banana peels to have disappointed us. Granted, I’ve eaten better, but the four words “all-you-can-eat” make anything taste good. I shoveled copious amounts of bacon, home fries, and cheese omelets down; I will make some cardiologist very rich one day.

But we all know how the story goes.

We checked out, with leaden hearts.

Back to the bamboo bungalows, with their cold showers and dark, dingy rooms. I may not be the toughest girl on the block, but since January, I think that I accustomed myself to zero-star accommodations pretty well. In two days, all of my training has been ruined. By all respects, our room now is perfectly acceptable. But once you’ve tasted champagne, you can’t go back to malt liquor. So here I sit, depressed, lethargic from bacon withdrawal, and reminiscing, with the ocean roaring a few yards away, of a swimming pool where I was, once upon a dream.

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2 Responses to “Four-Star Hotel Blues”

  1. Keiko said

    My favorite part about this luxury hotel experience is the pool. It’s so funny to me that you were excited about the pool, especially since we grew up in a city that probably has the most swimming pools in the world AND you had one in your own patio. Where are you off to next? Oh yea and sorry I haven’t been commenting much. I’ve been busy but I do read all the postings!!!
    p.s. bacon is sensational!

  2. sailorjes said

    Of course this is the real irony, isn’t it? I have a pool in my own house that I turn my nose up at, yet have to fly half-way around the world and PAY for the experience to enjoy it. I’m so weird.

    Next is Koh Lipe, a small island in Thailand’s very south (closer to Malaysia than Thailand.) It’s supposed to be paradise so we’ll see. I have high hopes (which usually means I’ll be disappointed in some way.) :P

    Thanks for always commenting, Keikus. It makes my day!

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