Here’s a familiar scenario. The hotel foyer is palatial, the floors are marble, the chandeliers are dazzling, the receptionists are charming, the establishment is indeed splendid, with a pool, spa, gym, boutiques and restaurants.
You accompany the porter up the lift and down a long hallway to your room. It’s perfectly adequate, but tiny and entirely predictable, just like any other hotel room the world over: a bed, desk, chair, bathroom, a view of the car park, a tiny fridge, an electric jug and a couple of thick-rimmed wineglasses. It’s a far cry from the opulence of the grand entranceway, and the room is nothing like those pictured on the website.
This is a top-class hotel, so the rate for even a standard “box” is typically $400-$500 a night, not to mention surcharges for car parking, weekend nights, laundry service, an extra person beyond two, a late check-out and an upgrade to get a glimpse of the sea, lake, mountain or city lights. And don’t touch the food and drinks in that fridge or mini-bar or you will pay an arm and a leg … or at least a couple of fingers.
You grudgingly tip the porter and close the door.
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You have just experienced the What-You-See-Is-NOT-What-You-Get factor, and it doesn’t feel good.
Another scenario. The villa foyer is palatial, the floors are marble, the chandeliers are dazzling, the manager is charming, the establishment is indeed splendid, with a pool, spa and gym. There’s no restaurant but there is a fabulous state-of-the-art kitchen, and a private chef at your disposal should you so desire.
There’s still a mismatch in the What-You-See-Is-What-You-Get factor here too but this time, the reality far exceeds expectations – and it feels extraordinarily good.
It’s all part of a trend that is sweeping the vacation and business accommodation market, converting die-hard hotel-inhabitors in their droves.
We were converted a few years ago and seldom set foot in hotels these days.
In the lead-up to our daughter’s recent wedding, our family group of six (three couples) stayed at Amazing Accom’s Rock on Gibraltar in Parnell where we had so much space we couldn’t find each other at times.
Instead of cramped hotel rooms with predictable layouts and decor, we had the keys to a huge architecturally-designed three-storey private home with four-bedrooms, four-bathrooms, a magnificent kitchen and adjoining dining area, lounge-family room, home theatre, library and study-office.
Glass doors opened onto a generous deck with a spa pool, outdoor fire, reflection pool, loungers and a 10-seater teppanyaki table. Downstairs, there’s a full laundry, secure off-road car parking and a fully self-contained studio, and it was all ours – no surcharge for an early check-in, late check-out, extra guests, weekend nights, the spectacular view or the lavishly-provisioned fridge and pantry.
Business travellers appreciate the walk-in, walk-out nature of Amazing Accom properties which include linen, towels and cleaning services like a hotel, but the greatest benefits are for families or friends sharing costs – they love the space, privacy and the option of cooking and dining at home, or entertaining using the services of a chef in their own kitchen.
You don’t have to compromise on services either. Most five-star properties come with staff who can assist with airport transfers, daily servicing and concierges to arrange excursions and activities.
As luxurious as they may be when you divide the nightly rate by the number of people you can sleep in a four-bedroom house, it’s far cheaper than the equivalent number of hotel rooms.
Breaking the hotel habit also provides an incentive to venture beyond the tourist bubble and rub shoulders with local people, and the culture and cuisine of the region where you are holidaying or doing business.
Secluded, private and secure, The Rock is in Gibraltar Crescent, a quiet suburban street just a few minutes’ walk from Parnell’s main street which has some of Auckland’s finest restaurants, fashion and jewellery boutiques, art and design galleries, beauty spas, delicatessens and homeware shops.
Where to then for your next holiday or business trip? A hotel room – or your own beachfront villa in Bali, a golfers’ paradise in the US, a ski chalet in Queenstown or a riad in Morocco. It’s a no-brainer.
* The Rock on Gibraltar by Amazing Accom: details here.
* Amazing Accom has over 3000 3.5 to 5 star, quality private properties around the world and has recently partnered with Airbnb, Expedia and Booking.com and later this year, HomeAway.