Maureen: the travel industry’s favourite columnist

Never too old for love

They say the older you get, the wiser you become, but my clients seem intent on proving this wrong. This week provided a number of case studies that simply go to show age and wisdom can be total strangers to one another.

In the first case, the daughter of an 88-year-old regular client of ours came in to warn us her father would soon be dropping in to book a holiday.

“There’s things you should know about his circumstances,” said his daughter. “They’ve changed.” I raised an eyebrow and she leaned in closer to tell me he’d just divorced his 47-year-old Ugandan wife.

“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,” I said.

“Don’t be! She used to beat him. That’s why he’s wanting a holiday. To find a gentler woman.”

“Right,” I said, somewhat bewildered. “And where is he planning on holidaying to find this next wife?”

“Butlins at Minehead.”

I don’t know whether to think Red Coats or straitjackets.

A bit overdressed

Not long after that, an elderly couple dropped in, looking for a five-day break. To say they’d made an effort with their appearance is to downplay the achievement. His hair was dyed a rich and luxuriant black, with sideburns to match, while she’d managed to create an almost plastic effect with the depth of her foundation.

Both of them had clearly bathed in a lake of their preferred fragrances and it was a wonder none of us in the office had suffered respiratory problems when they walked in. I offered a holiday that seemed to fit the bill and then mentioned the price. The old chap coughed. “How much? No, no, that’s far too much.”

His wife looked at him. “No it isn’t,” she ventured. “We’ve got that extra bit you put by.”

“That’s for the tattoo,” he snapped.

“Tattoo?” I echoed, “A break away from it all is surely more important. Anyway, where are you having it?”

The man looked confused. “In Edinburgh.”

“Isn’t the arm more usual?” I said.

“No, love, I want to go to the Edinburgh tattoo.”

Okay, so this time I agree, I was the one to look an idiot. But at least I looked an idiot in expertly applied make-up.

Thrifty travellers

My next clients came in to recount an episode from their recent holiday. They told a tale many will recognise. It concerned the boundary between the hotel restaurant and the rest of the world.

Eat within it and all is well. Remove items from it and that looks suspiciously like theft. Or, as they would more likely see it, saving money on lunch.

Following breakfast one morning, the client and his wife had wrapped some rolls in napkins and placed them in her handbag along with some fruit before exiting the dining room. Unfortunately, an eagle-eyed waitress had spotted the act and the couple were subsequently approached by the hotel manager who quietly informed them taking food from the dining room for consumption later was not permitted and lunch could be purchased at the hotel at lunch time.

The wife was mortified to have been approached in full view of other guests. “You could tell they’d all done the same thing,” she said. “Their pockets were bulging! But they all looked on smugly, watching us being dressed down like naughty schoolchildren.”

“What did you say to the manager in your defence?” I asked.

“I told him we don’t like to eat in front of other people. We don’t even like the smell of cooking!”

“Understandable,” I said. “But hadn’t you eaten before you went outside?”

“Er, yes, but when we saw the sun come out, it made us want to dine al fresco!” Or al freebie, if you ask me.

The toe’s the limit

I don’t know how you feel about the whole World Cup thing, but I was bored of it even before the first match kicked off. I don’t wish to be a killjoy but really, how can an entire nation be transfixed by the condition of one man’s toe?

It will come as no surprise I’ve parted company from the telly and the endless coverage of the beautiful game. I’m only sorry I didn’t book myself in to the Kamalaya before the event.

Jas Anand, director of Axis Sales and Marketing, has just returned from this Wellness Sanctuary and Holistic Spa on Koh Samui and, from the sounds of it, it’s just the place for a football widow.

Centred around a cave temple previously used by Buddhist monks, it offers a full mental, spiritual and physical overhaul via a diverse range of routes from lymphatic drainage to tai chi.

Jas said she pretty much tried the lot in her bid to attain J Lo-type proportions, though I didn’t press her on the colonic irrigation issue.

What is special about the place is the focus is entirely on the human being, and not on a football or indeed on television. The intention is to encourage interaction between the guests and to foster a sense of community (note: community not teams) and to this end there is a long, communal dining table, all of which sounds simply heavenly.

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