Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Is there something the matter with me....?

De Etta Sanchez performs a hot stone massage a...                           (Photo credit: Wikipedia)A rash question....so there will be a pause to allow for the cries of
'Damn right there is......' followed by examples illustrating the point.

Calm having been restored by judicious use of chair and whip I shall explain why this thought has just occurred to me.

Young members of the family are visiting Costa Rica and see it as an unmissable part of the experience to stay at a 'boutique hotel and spa' on the coast.
Puzzled by my lack of enthusiasm they explain that they are both busy people - true - and need time to 'chill'.
In which case why not try a cruise to Alaska, one thinks but probably wisely does not say.

I take a look at the chosen resort.
It is miles from anywhere, so unless you call a taxi you are a prisoner of the hotel insofar as eating is concerned.
It is not at all clear from the hotel's website whether your food and drink are included in the astronomical room rates.
Hints garnered from Tripadvisor suggest that they are not.

It is on the beach.
Except that you can't swim off the beach in front of the hotel as it is decidedly rocky. You have to trot up the beach for some five minutes to find a spot where the waves are less likely to land you on something liable to impale you in a sensitive area.

The beach is empty, so the guests' feedback reads.
Yes, of course it is.
Totally illegally the hotel has wired off its stretch of beach which prevents local people from using it.

The hotel has a dojo.
Something Japanese....Sumo wrestling, perhaps, or an origami works....?
It's a space with stone Buddhas lurking just where they might catch the foot unwarily swung while undergoing yoga.
Two free sessions a day with a most sinister looking man covered in tattoos.

I have never understood the appeal of yoga.
Should I wish to have my limbs and body contorted into unnatural positions I would take up skiing which also has the advantage of apres ski as opposed to faddy health drinks and a distinct absence of people saying


The accommodation consists of separate units dotted about the grounds...one bedroom or two, closed in and air conditioned, with sitting area and - would you believe - shower and loo in the open air. There are head height walls but there don't appear to be any doors.
Hammocks are provided for every unit.

What happens in the rainy season? Nipping out of your air conditioned shelter for a quick pee while the thunderbolts sizzle overhead and the rain buckets down like Victoria Falls has very little going for it apart from desperation.
Follow that up by hoisting yourself into a wet hammock and you've got a head start on rheumatism at a young age.

Which is why, I suppose, they have a spa.
To me, a spa is somewhere you drink water which tastes foul, in the hope that your illness will also think it foul and shab off elsewhere.
However, things have changed.

It appears nowadays that a spa is somewhere where you are plastered with mud, wrapped in clingfilm and tenderised while having hot stones placed on your backbone.
Prices start at sixty dollars for an hour......oh, and another twenty dollars if you want exclusive use of a jacuzzi after the treatment. This, remember on top of the astronomical room rate.
I do not see the attraction.
Not at that price.
Come to that, not at any price. Put a hot stone on my backbone and you'll have lift off.

The hotel, in accordance with the image of Costa Rica as eco friendly, is itself eco respectable.
Thus your loo paper, once used, is placed in a bin in the open air loo to be collected by staff.
Bags me not that little task...
To me, that is not so much a mark of respect for the environment as an indication that the hotel's sewage disposal system leaves something to be desired.

Your towels and bedlinen will be changed only every three days - neatly coinciding with the average stay - so try to dry yourself in the sun if you don't appreciate damp towels.

Oh, and there's no television......giving you ample opportunity to read a book.
Just be sure to bring one along as there is no library.

Is it because I am retired, with plenty of time to 'chill' that all this strikes me as a waste of time and money?
Would I think differently if I were younger, my days and nights full with work and family?

When I was working at full capacity, my idea of 'chilling' was, depending on the time available, to read a book, visit an interesting garden, go to a cricket match, drop into a favourite museum or gallery, try a new restaurant or take off to a new area of France.

Under no circumstances could I have borne to be out of reach of a daily newspaper...even if local...and although in later life I took package holidays using hotels in wired in compounds, I used them as a base to explore. There would always be a local bus or taxi outside the security point - and I was away for the day.

And as for flopping about in spas...I can plaster mud on myself should I so desire.

The whole thing seems to me to be completely mindless.

Yet while I regard this sort of experience as a meretricious con trick, these hotels multiply across the globe, with people undertaking the horror of long haul flights to spend a week in their gilded prisons.

Clearly, there has to be something the matter with me....

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  1. Does the hotel manager resemble Kenneth Williams by any chance?

    1. No sign of the manager on the website....but in the Tripadvisor reviews there are some heartfelt thanks to him for'being there when we needed you' which sounds at the very least as if he rescued someone from a chainsaw massacre....

  2. Is my son-in-law in the party? He can get his ten year old son enthused about these kind of retreats, but it's a little tougher with my daughter and grandaughter--unless there's a yurt involved.
    We are so outnumbererd I have to answer Yes, there's something wrong with us.

    1. Well, at least that's two of us!
      I am genuinely puzzled by the popularity of these things.

  3. Absolutely no. There is nothing wrong with you. Nor with Joanne. No with me. Nor, thank heaven, with the great majority. Nos sunt Magnus Maioritas!

    1. Well, that's a relief!
      But what is it that people see in all this rubbish?

  4. Can it be the pleasure of leaving and returning home to tell others where you have been? The gold topping could be when a friend or collegue checks out the web site and can see the prices!

    My holiday is made if the garden of our rented self catering property is enclosed and the dog is safe!

    1. So it's all show.....the way going to Jamaica for your winter hols used to be.
      Mr. Fly's first boss on the stock exchange used to be dragged there by his wife and hated every minute of it but it was part of the status thing.

  5. I can't help feeling it's all a con too, but people love feeling 'entitled' and devoting time to having themselves pampered, and the more it costs, the more they feel pampered.

    Plus all their friends do it and rave so they jump on the bandwagon and rave about it too...

    1. I'm sure you're right...but just how far can one carry self deception!
      Well, thinking about it, you can carry it pretty far!

  6. The young seem to have to learn the hard, not to mention, expensive way! To me it sounds like a vacation from hell -- but then I'm an old fart and have acquired the wisdom of reading between the lines -- not to mention Trip Advisor!

    1. The Trip Advisor reviews are overwhelming..how great it is, etc., with the exception of another old fart like ourselves who blew the emperor's clothes away.
      I think Lesley and Sarah (above) make good points....make it fashionable and the sheeple will come running.

  7. Think Lesley's right. Had to go to a conference in Mexico once [in my relatively young days]. Tagged on a couple of days at own expense to learn to scuba dive. Under water all was fine; fabulous, in fact I adored it. Above it was a hideous nightmare!! Hotel like mega gilded cage. Yes spa, yes chill zones, yes private beach etc etc etc YUK!

    1. Aha! Someone with experience of it all.....and not impressed!

      So it's just conspicuous consumption for the mindless, then...

    2. Nope not in the slightest.

      Absolutely! Although near Maastricht there is a spa [as in healthy water as well as treatments and mineral indoor/outdoor pool]; but it doesn't suffer from an once of 'zen' or 'designer boutique' syndrome. Did great lavender oil body wraps which were lovely and relaxing.

  8. Of course there's something wrong with you, Fly - at least as far as these con merchants are concerned. You'e intelligent and can think for yourself and see through their specious self-promotion. I pity your young relatives being choused out of all that money. Sigh...

    1. And so do I!
      They're a hard working pair, both successfully self employed so the amount of money isn't a problem....but what a waste!
      And why fly the Atlantic to visit a country for the first time and shut yourself into a ghetto?
      And why do so many people do it....
      Chunters off, chuntering.....

      Bet there's not one in the Orkneys.

    2. Probably because you'd freeze if you stripped off and got covered in mud..... :-)

    3. Ah, what a place to send spa owners to....as the Mikado says, let the punishment fit the crime...

  9. Hello again, nice lady who bought the donkey. I sent an award your way, but you have to pick it up over at my blog. Hopeing sincerely I have not overstepped....

    1. That's really kind of you...much appreciated.
      And now you've given me more blogs to look into....

  10. Hi,I'm River, I've come visiting via Joanne's Cup On The Bus.
    I like this story very much and have to agree that such a getaway is a waste of money. When I need to "get away" I stay home and lock the door, turn off the TV and spend more time in bed sleeping and reading. I don't even answer the phone until I'm refreshed enough to venture out again. Sometimes I'll take a bus trip to somewhere local and wander around with my camera.

    1. And having visited your blog I wish I was anywhere near as talented with a camera as you.

  11. Yikes – I'm going to duck my head here, because after interminable cold wet days in the Poitou-Charentes, with more forecast into the foreseeable future, I could easily be tempted to a little "pampering" and feeling special somewhere exotic and warm, as long as somebody else was picking up the tab. I've had the hot stone treatment, it was lovely. In fact I have a set of hot stones (Valentine's day pressie), but it's hell trying to put them on your back by yourself. :)

    1. Don't worry, you're safe...even I can't throw a hot stone the width of the Atlantic....
      Each to his or her own....my reaction to the cold used to be a quick getaway to warmer climes if Mr. Fly's health was up to it, and Turkish socks if not.
      So the exotic and warm I'm for all the way....the treatments not - I don't like people flobbering round me - but the hype of it all is what really bugs me.
      Screwing extraordinary money out of people for very ordinary services.