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You know that feeling you get when you’re driving to a hotel and you have no idea what to expect. You’re filled with a mix of excitement, curiosity and sometimes unease. Were the reviews accurate? Did I make a good choice? Will the hotel be what I’m looking for?
Well when I arrived at my hotel in Nuwara Eliya on a recent trip to Sri Lanka a few of these questions were quickly answered.
It was raining, it was cold, it was late and there was no reception desk. No one to check us in and give us a complimentary drink, or a friendly welcome after our long car journey. There were however some people hanging around outside who looked like they (possibly) worked at the hotel. They quickly picked up our suitcases, threw them over their shoulders and started heading down some narrow stairs.
We were then informed by another onlooker that dinner would be ready in an hour and for now we had to go to our room. Looking at the row of unappetising buffet plates behind said bystander, we asked if there were any restaurants or bars around. An amused look crossed his face and he quickly ushered us down the stairs behind the men with our suitcases.
We soon realised it wasn’t just a few stairs but in fact a short hike to get down to our room. Despite the lack of light, with the help of my iPhone’s handy torch, we made it to our room without incident.
Sometimes things in life are worth the walk, like when you climb a mountain to get to the top and take in the fantastic view. This room was not worth the walk. This room was basic, had more bugs than I would care to spend a night with, and we ended up sleeping fully clothed on top of the bed sheets, so you can only imagine how clean it was.
The saving grace? A bottle of wine we had bought at duty free a couple of days earlier and a pack of playing cards that kept us entertained that evening.
Luckily we had only booked this hotel for one night so the thought of being able to check out the next morning was what got us through the night. And when I say check out, I mean we gave some cash to a guy who we were still dubious about if he worked there or not, before we made a swift exit.
A reward hunter is defined as someone who seeks an enjoyable and rewarding experience and a return on their hard earned investment in the office or their day-to-day lives. For me, a reward doesn’t necessarily mean a luxury 5 star spa or bungee jumping from a helicopter. For me a reward is enjoying something I don’t get to do on a day-to-day basis, being able to reward myself with new experiences, new destinations and new memories.
A reward is definitely not a short hike to breakfast and a night spent wondering if a large unknown insect might crawl into my mouth while I’m sleeping.
Ok so when we woke up the next day, the spectacular views we hadn’t be able to appreciate the night before when we arrived almost made up for it.
But what could have made my experience better? How could I have made sure that the hotel I booked was what I was looking for?
A virtual tour would have been good. The opportunity to see more than the cleverly taken photos and a chance to virtually ‘walk around the hotel’ and more specifically, around the room I was about to book. Reviews and photos online can only get you so far, and they can also be subjective. Perhaps my friends the Cultural Purists would find my hotel in Sri Lanka their idea of heaven, living with the basics to take in a great view. For me, not so much.
Luckily the next few days were spent enjoying Sri Lanka’s beautiful coastline, and the stunning beaches and sunsets were definitely reward enough.