1: a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort: a sumptuous environment
lived in luxury
2 a: something adding to pleasure or comfort but not absolutely necessary
one of life’s luxuries
2 b: an indulgence in something that provides pleasure, satisfaction, or ease
3 archaic: LECHERY, LUST
In the vacation rental world, we are often presented with the word luxury. Luxurious accommodations, luxurious stay, luxury surrounds you, and stay an absolute luxury. What do these words really mean to today’s traveler? What do these words convey when they are speaking about an older home versus the new modern design aesthetic. All of these questions have come up in my mind during a stay at what is arguably a very high-end luxury resort. I am speaking of the 5-star Silversands in Grenada on the Grand Anse beach. You can read the reviews of the Silversands on Trip Advisor.
One of the highlights of our stay was a unique way that the Silversands team worked to assure our satisfaction. As soon as we arrived they put us all onto a group text. They checked it all the time and if anything came up they were on it. This was a lot easier than calling the front desk and then them calling someone. There were numerous issues that came up or were caused by the focus of the hotel on achieving a truly high-end luxury experience. The drawback was, of course, the constant visits by staff.
The kitchen was ultra modern with tons of storage and very high-end appliances. The Gaggneau refrigerator worked very well and was built into the far wall. The Miele induction stove top, dishwasher, microwave, and oven. They all required a call to our team for an explanation. There was no manual or cheat sheet to be able to assist us. Each of these appliances required navigating a menu and then pressing several choices and then buttons. I’m not sure whether constant calls to a team and tech support is exactly what one wants to do on vacation. Simpler appliances seem to have gone away and we are faced with dishwashers without any visible controls. The words on and off no longer exist.
It’s all well and good to have a large kitchen with tons of storage but when you are on vacation you really shouldn’t have to open twenty cupboards to find the plates. Anyone familiar with kitchens knows about the kitchen triangle. This is the distance from fridge to sink to stove. When this distance gets too long you waste steps and creating a meal becomes a struggle. Knives should be where you expect them to be. Glassware and plates are located close to the dishwasher for easy emptying. Spices close by the stove and food prep areas. All of these add up to a kitchen that is easy to use and a joy to cook in. We purposely provide a nice selection of oils, spices, and condiments so that you can be creative with whatever meals you choose to produce. Sadly this resort had created such a large (luxurious) kitchen that working in it became a cross between a treasure hunt and a scavenger hunt.
It is great to have good air conditioning. One thing that just amazes me is how hotels are now providing heavy down quilts even in the tropics where the temperature averages 80°. This means you have to run the air conditioning down to 68° in order to have a comfortable night’s sleep underneath a heavy quilt better suited to a Swiss chalet that is actually located in Switzerland. This low-temperature setting in turn reduces the humidity in the air to such an extent that one finds their throat getting horse, eyes dry, and nose bleeding. Again such a situation is not my idea of luxury but seems to be more the result of a trend. In our particular hotel room the air conditioning, no matter what the setting, would run constantly. It took multiple calls to explain this phenomenon.
Great hotels and rooms have great lighting. This is not an easy thing to do. A very cool feature is a master switch at the door that turns off and on all of the lights in a room. You sometimes see this implemented with a room key. That saves wondering where your room key is when it is time to leave. In a vacation home you will rarely see anything like this. What we found in this rental Villa in Grenada was a difficult and arcane system of lighting where the switch for something was not necessarily where you expected it to be. While I must admire the technical wizardry to wire this many circuits into a room (our room had 16 different switches and each switch with 3 positions for a total of 48 options) sometimes you just want to turn on a lamp.
I have already mentioned the large down quilts. We are against them but still provide them. In the summer we provide a Utopia Bedding lightweight thermal all-season blanket. Just this and a sheet are all one needs to provide a much better night’s sleep than a heavy down quilt in our opinion. It allows for a warmer house (70 to 72) to sleep in, saving energy and allowing more moisture to stay in the air.
What sometimes gets missed is the extra lux towels. Everyone wants to have a super plush towel but the sheer weight of these to wash and then dry is an enormous use of energy. We have recently started to stock Turkish beach towels for their ease of drying. We will accept that these will not be OK for in-house bath towels for the moment but they are better than the standard towels for the beach.
Luxury should not have to mean wasteful excess. Simple means easy to deal with and not difficult to use. Carefree sometimes means a familiar appliance and an HVAC system that does its job with a minimum of fuss and bother. Note that the dictionary definition speaks both of a condition of abundance but also great ease and comfort. In our property, we strive for great ease and comfort provided without being too overabundant; too much tech, too many appliances, and too much waste. After all, we are an antique home so the archaic meaning of Luxury should remain a somewhat cautionary tale.