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Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Travelling Season

Taken from today's Costa Levante headlines: "Britons arrested over fake hotel compensation claims." This strikes a chord with me as I worked in the hotel and catering business for over twenty-five years and have just about seen it all.. Everybody is familiar with the ole "fly in my soup" ploy. As hotels cater to the general public it follows that just about every type of person will pass through your lobby including those who try and get something for free.

To be a survivor in the hotel business you have to try really hard to impress the travelling public. If you aim for Five Stars to your name that means in the mind of your guests that they will experience the ultimate in comfort and luxury. To the hotelier he is expecting the very best in behaviour from his cultured guests. It does not always work out that way.

First there are the genuine la crème de la crème visitor who will be rich or super rich and cultured. They will pay your top rates and they quietly demand the very best. They tip the staff well and are welcome back at any time. If all hotels existed to cater to this class of visitor the hotel business would be an absolute joy. But no, life is more varied than that.

The travelling public is made up of those people for whom some require that the price be right and others who look for quality, and others who are not clear at all as to what they want. Perhaps the largest group of all are those who check in to hotels only to be a real pain in the ass to all the staff. They seem to get their joy from bossing people around and trying to extract every iota of freebie the hotel has to offer. However in every country there is an hotel association and its members regularly meet. Can we imagine that they share their experiences and that even those stories get around internationally, so often while the traveller is concocting his scheme at home the hotelier has seen it all before.

It's true that they will tolerate nuisance claims just to get rid of the problem with their reputation intact. Probably if your claim stays under $5,000 you may get away with it with the top hotels. They can insure against that as a cost of doing business. However, I often wonder about the Bed ¨N Breakfast club where  very few people actually work. Often these are run by two people and their profit margin is paper thin. It is so easy to threaten to make a false claim against these people who work so hard that it must break their hearts.

There are so many people like that who really don't know what they are doing and what the risks are, but they have a go anyway. Then they take in the wrong visitor and they encounter a very unhappy experience and suddenly they shut down. Very sad!

Even at the top end it's not unusual for your guests to walk out having packed those wonderful robes and towels. You really wouldn't want the people to come back, but you would like to get your towels and robes back.

That headline in the paper alluded to a racket that drew departing visitors to enter into a scheme to defraud the hotel. Third parties encouraged them to make false claims and to share the ill-gotten gains. Sometimes things do not work out so well for visitors and it becomes incumbent on the hotel to make that experience good for the visitor, but when a scam is being run against the establishment it is enough to make you want to give up.

This Summer it is hoped that your travels will be pleasant and you bring home lasting and wonderful memories. Should you be contacted and asked to partake in a fake claim scheme it's important to remember that the hotels are starting to fight back. Enough is more than enough!

On a hopeful note it's good to realise that the vast majority of people who check into hotels are good, solid honest people who only want reasonable value for money, and a smile. Long may it last.

Copyright (c) 2017
Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A rich man's Conundrum

I was once friends with a guy who was wealthy. He was a really pleasant person to be around and he taught me a number of things. For instance he said that he invested heavily in gold when the price was fixed at $35 per ounce. He was convinced the price would move from being fixed to reflect the market forces. He continued to build his stock and to bear the cost of storage and insurance for over twenty years until what he predicted became an actuality. Now that's faith!

Needless to say payday grew to be huge for him. I have no idea to what degree his net profit turned out to be but he was a very happy fellow.

Where he was not happy was in his personal life. His money was an absolute curse in his pursuit to secure a happy relationship with a woman. He was away so much in the course of building his fortune that his wife grew weary of being on her own to the point that she could no longer see the point of being married. They divorced, and as he admitted he was constantly with other women so she was absolutely right.

His was a name well known in the circles of business so he was never short of female company but they were not women who cared for him. They were narcissistic creatures who were only interested in themselves and their comforts that he could afford, but they were empty of any real love and warmth. They bored him to such a degree that he would have nothing to do with that type of woman.

He had a wonderful island home that by its very nature determined him to be a super rich person. Even those local ladies whom he spent time with got ideas but at least they were suitably impressed by him and his wealth, and they generally enjoyed time spent.

He seemed to be happy and content in so far as his carnal nature was concerned. The ladies did well from their association with him, but as he said it was all on his own terms. He had turned his back on his high society circle and spent his days on my island home living a life of simplicity. He and I would often spend time working on his boats doing things he could well have paid someone else to do, but he needed to have something to do so he found solace in doing simple things.

As we worked on cleaning the bottom of his boats he would tell me stories of his experience with some of the women he had known from the high society set. Women who did nothing to actively contribute to his happiness or even to their own surroundings. They seemed to think that just by the fact that they were there was all that was necessary.

Many were socially refined but sex was a dry, cold unemotional affair that made him wish he were some place else. That they gave him sex at all seemed to depend on the quality of gifts given by him. Their main contribution was being seen on his arm looking their best, but that was probably only so they could attract other men. At least the local women were totally involved and showed him love and warmth whether he gave them anything or not.

For those of us without monetary wealth we think how much we would love to come into a great deal of money, but the truth is that with money comes problems that usually don't exist otherwise.

So, if you are a person with true love in your life you, and I need to recognise how lucky we are. We should do ourselves a favour and protect what we have and preserve it.

True love is so difficult to find that when you do that can be defined as wealth of the highest magnitude even if the woman who loves you has a bit too much around the waist.

Love is love. Enjoy!

Copyright (c) 2017
Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, June 10, 2017

AC35 and The Big Flop

I was determined not to write about the AC35 this week but I feel I must make an observation about the big talking point that occurred this past week.

Winds in the Great Sound were up at 21knts and there were white caps. The race was on so it made compelling watching as there was no room for error. The captains were on their game as they handled their spirited boats. Remember these boats potentially can get up to four times the wind speed.

I am very familiar with Great Sound sailing. Conditions can be extremely volatile in that relatively small enclosed body of water. During an all out hurricane it becomes like a boiling pot of water as the waves can get up to quite challenging proportions.

The day was going fine with race after race elapsing the course in great time. For all of us who watched it was the start of the fourth race of the day, Emirates vs Land Rover BAR. The boats approached the start with Land Rover ahead when suddenly a freak gust struck Emirates and she appeared to rear up as though on her way over backwards but skillful handling caused her to change her mind but instead she dug  her head down deep into the trough and just came to a dead stop. It was sort of like watching a horse in a jumping event suddenly refuse to jump the hurdle, instead digging its forelegs into the dirt sending its rider flying.

It happened so fast that no one saw the captain and the navigator and one of the grinding crew go flying but there they were, in the drink. The good news was that none of the crew suffered any physical harm that was obvious, but they must have suffered shock, as did all who watched. It seemed to me to be one of the worst types of dunking which looked like it destroyed the boat.

As someone said it was a real shame and I'm sure no one wanted to see that happen, but it certainly did make for good television. I didn't have to include that in this blog as it has been widely reported, as have other exciting incidents.

The reason I decided to return to AC35 was because on hand to witness it was a very special visitor who, it is believed arrived on a private jet. Normally, during a six week period Bermuda is not visited by a great number of private jets but over this racing six week period some 250 private jets will fly in and out. What a difference.

The thing about Spain's King Juan Carlos I (Retired) is that is was his country that originally discovered Bermuda. One of Spain's explorers, Juan de Bermudez, from Cartagena first came upon the uninhabited island back around 1509. He apparently did not remain there that long, but in the custom of Spaniards he left Bermuda some jamon in the form of live pigs. He claimed the island for Spain but could never find it again. Consequently Spain renounced its right to the island.

I suspect that the retired king must surely think what a mistake that was. He certainly saw it at its best. In fact most people living there were seeing it at its finest. It's not everyday we have AC racing on the Great Sound.

If the king should ask Britain to return Bermuda to Spain I say let them have it. Bermudians, under Spanish rule your lives will take a turn towards continuous excitement because here in Spain we live for the fiesta.

However, some of Spain's fiestas might take a bit of getting used to, but try them, you'll like 'em.

Trust me!

Incidentally, Emirates and Land Rover BAR did resume their race two days later and Emirates handily beat Land Rover BAR. That just might have been a matter of winning their pride back.

Copyright (c) 2017
Eugene Carmichael

Saturday, June 3, 2017

America's Cup, Number 35 Bermuda continues

I'm sitting here in my Spanish home just aching because I would really like to be in Bermuda at this moment. For the past week sailing has been going great with only one day when winds were too light to race. However, the weather has been glorious and Bermuda has looked just wonderful on television.

We can see many of the private ocean going yachts in the background, as well as regularly scheduled cruise ships at dock. Today, the 3rd of June there are nineteen Tall Ships in Bermuda as a salute to America's Cup as they partake in their own Ronde-Vouz 2017 event. Somehow I had the impression that there would only be four, but the number is nineteen.

Meanwhile, on shore there are all sorts of complimentary events celebrating the presence of so much excitement from abroad that it must be difficult to know where to look. America's Cup is being broadcast throughout 165 locations around the world and it is estimated that more than one billion people have their eyes focused firmly upon my tiny but oh so beautiful Bermuda home.

You guessed it, I'm proud to be a Bermudian!

I trust you are enjoying the event from wherever you are viewing it and I offer my best wishes to organisers and participants for good luck and smooth sailing.

Copyright (c) 2017
Eugene Carmichael