The problem with staying at upscale hotels is that they try to protect you from your own shadow.
“Don’t take a taxi off the street, you may get mugged,” the bellman at the Intercontinental in Joberg told me.
“You need a security guy with you if you are going to go to see the River Plate soccer match,” the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires cautioned.
“Don’t even look out the window!” the manager at the Caesar Park Ipanema warned.
Two out of the three above are true but the message has been the same everywhere I stay in style, “Hide your kids, hide your wife.”
Thus the conundrum: stifle yourself with 5 star amenities or risk death by breaking free.
That is not an exaggeration if you believe the mocking eyes of the concierge that proclaims, “You don’t stand a chance on the outside.”
Softened by the swanky points lifestyle, you have lost your travel swagger and all that is left is a shell of your former travel self. How did you ever stay at a 40 person hostel in Europe? How did you go on a nonguided tour of the city? How did you ever take the local bus not a private car from the airport?
Putting the dead bolt on the hotel door and connecting to the $35 a day Wi-Fi you type in travel.state.gov and the name of your host country to check the State Department’s travel warning.
Your fears are confirmed when you read, “Beware of pickpocketers and locals targeting tourists.”.
A quick ring to room service and you are dining in this evening.
Points opened the world of travel to me because it eliminated the fundamental hindrance of gallivanting across the globe- money. But the more skilled I became at the points game the more I realized that I was doing a disservice to myself. What I found besides well appointed rooms and rain showers both onboard and on the ground was that I had lost sight of the reason I traveled in the first place- adventure.
It is true that there is a certain element of danger from leaving your palazzo to intermingle with the peasants but this is justified by the people you meet, the trouble you encounter, and the bad decisions that, without exception, lead to great stories.
“Yeah hi, room service? Yes, cancel that order. I am going out tonight.”