remembering the ladies and gentlemen...

doormen at The Goring (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

So much has changed since last I wrote you a little more than two weeks ago about travel in the age of the coronavirus.
  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average, which closed at 27,090 on March 4th, is currently at 20,212, down over 25%.
  • Countries around the world are closing their borders to tourists. Americans can't travel to Europe. Europeans can't travel to the U.S. The Governor of Hawaii asked visitors to stay away. The US-Canada border is closed.
  • The list of hotel closures is growing daily. Even the iconic George V in Paris has closed its doors through May 4th.
  • Cruise lines are shutting down operations, and two clients are currently stuck on a Seabourn Cruise off the coast of South America waiting for an evacuation plane to fly them home to the US.
  • The entire State of California has been ordered to shelter in place.

The world has changed profoundly over the past two weeks. My original assessment was clearly overly optimistic. We are all disappointed at long-anticipated trips we've had to cancel. I had intended to travel to Hawaii this Sunday and to Amsterdam next month, but when the Conservatorium in Amsterdam emailed to inform me the hotel was closing and my reservation was canceled, that pretty much settled matters. I'm "sheltering in place" in California, and that seems like the wisest thing for me to do.

But my deepest concern is not my own disappointment. It is for the many people in the travel industry who truly are hurting right now. We love the experience of staying at luxury hotels. Our stays are made so comfortable by doormen who greet us and offer to carry our bags, front desk agents who show us to our rooms, concierges who make restaurant reservations and arrange transportation, housekeeping staff who clean our rooms daily, and restaurant staff who serve our breakfasts and keep our coffee cups full. So many of these people are out of work for the time being, missing out on paychecks and gratuities. And hoteliers themselves are facing massive financial pressures.

So let us be mindful of those ladies and gentlemen who make our hotel stays so special. When we travel again — and we will — let us regard them with new eyes, with true appreciation for the service they provide us. They are gracious hosts. Let us be grateful guests.

copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

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