I am great at Hotel Check-Ins. I have spent a little over 1000 nights at big and small hotels ever since I started to understand what a hotel is. Out of 1000, I may have spent 200 nights at Luxury Hotels like Sheraton, Marriott, Westin hotels.
When I was a kid, my father would take us to Ahmedabad once a month. We’d stay there for 2-3 nights. It was a routine. We took a train at 9 PM from Junagadh, reach Ahmedabad at 6 AM and take an Auto rickshaw to reach our regular hotel on Relief Road. This would go on for 5 years, until I moved to a hostel for high school and later on when my dad had to shut down the business due to health concerns.
The managers there knew me well. The staff would love to take me to the terrace and play cricket with me. I felt like the most popular kid at the age of 5 years. I was fascinated with the idea that one can have a room where everything is taken care of for you. Although Hotel Balwas on Relief Road is no JW Marriot near Mumbai Airport from where I am writing this post, it was like a second home to me. Today I would book an Oyo if I am in Ahmedabad as Relief Road just too far for my convenience.
But you see, it wasn’t until I started working at Infosys that I learnt what luxury truly means. The Infosys training centre in Mysore held us for 4 months and gave us amazing single bed rooms for our entire stay. It was fantastic. I got so used to automated taps that when I visited home the next time I forgot to turn the tap on at the sink and held my hands hoping for the water to just flow in my palms.
But it wasn’t until I joined Deloitte and moved to Krakow, Poland that I truly experienced Luxury of a Five Star Hotel. I spent 23 nights on my first work trip to Krakow at Hotel Sheraton, right in front of the river Vistula, next to the castle. You don’t know luxury until you’ve experienced it on someone else’s money. Those 23 nights were paid for by our client of course, somewhere around 12000 PLN or 240000 INR then.
From that day on, until my last day at Deloitte, I travelled to many places for work or pleasure and I stayed at only Luxury Hotels. My Suite in Malta, that I paid for, had three rooms, 2 bathrooms, 4 beds in it and I was alone. I got so used to staying at these brilliant hotels that I forgot to think about what will happen when I quit Deloitte and put a full stop to that big pay cheque.
Ain’t nothing like hard hitting reality to bring you back to senses. When I left Deloitte I had a few thousand points in my Sheraton and Marriott reward accounts. For the past three years I have been carefully using them to reward myself with the luxury that I truly fell in love with. It helps me escape the reality of the hardships that one faces when you don’t have a job and are trying to build a business. Every penny saved, counts.
I once used my points to book myself a room at one of Mumbai’s poshest hotel St Regis when I went to meet my future boss at Network18. The feeling that I am living in a room that people are paying 15000 INR per night for while I am in town to interview for a job that will get me 40000 INR take home salary is ironic to put it nicely. But it was a fun stay and I even made a parody video for it.
I went to UAE and stayed with my friends in Al Ain, but we spent our weekends in Dubai and I used my points to book us a Sheraton. After I left Mumbai, I started using my points often to book hotels when I visited Mumbai. Now, I only have enough points to spend for 7-8 more nights at Luxury hotels and I am rationing them for big events.
But today, today is different. Today I booked a room at Marriott because I was honestly missing the whole materialistic pleasure of being in a huge room and have a bathroom with a bathtub in it. After I quit Deloitte, I have learnt to spend less, I was always satisfied with what I had. Everyone has a vice, mine is Luxury hotels. The dopamine I get of being secluded from the world and yet surround myself with everything pricey is ironic to my otherwise very content nature.
But I want to change this feeling. I no longer want Marriott to be my Drug addiction but become a tool of empowerment. I am here today to remind myself of what I can offer my employees if I was running a successful company. What will actually drive them, motivate them to build a better work ethic. It is never the amount of salary, salary is great, but you wouldn’t know how to spend it until you have experienced luxury on other people’s money. YOU DESERVE IT.
I want to be able to offer the Marriott experience to my co-workers. I want them to live the large life and stay motivated. You know, I miss Infosys for its in house facilities and I miss Deloitte for its liberal policies on travel and stays. I want to create something that can balance these out for my team. I can only do that if I build something world class for the masses. THIS I WILL.
But today, I am going to soak myself in a warm bubble bath and relax. Work begins tomorrow. Wish me luck is creating a successful company that can allow its employees to really wind down at Marriotts of the world.