Monday, March 06, 2006

You can't buy love, but you can buy discretion

Yesterday I went to a press event at the very posh, very beautiful, very service-oriented King David Hotel, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary. The owner, the Dan hotel chain, brought together a bunch of reporters to learn about the history of the King David - which was, indeed, extremely interesting. I hope to pitch a story about it -- yes, these press parties really work, I guess-- so I won't write too much here, but I'm sure a little Googling will reveal much, for those interested in the history of Jerusalem.

Anyhow, after breakfast (in the wise words of a New York Times columnist, "if it ain't catered, it ain't journalism") we learned about the significance of the hotel in Jerusalem's history, and the Sales and Marketing Director gave us a lovely pitch about the high quality of service at Dan hotels.

Point: a man arrived without his luggage because his airline had misplaced it. In the middle of the night, the airline called the hotel to say the luggage had been found. Rather than wake up the guest, the hotel manager drove to the airport, picked up the suitcases, and deposited them outside the guest's door.

Point: A jetlagged woman woke up at 4 am and started working in her room. The switchboard operator noticed there was phone activity all of a sudden in that room, and took the liberty of sending up orange juice, coffee, and a croissant at 4 a.m.

Point: For $1800 per night, you too can rent the two-floored Presidential Suite, complete with sauna, large jacuzzi, and tremendous art-work thingy in the middle of the room. Sleep in the very bed that Clinton stayed in when he came over for Rabin's funeral. Sleep in the very bed that Madonna was going to sleep in, except that she made her reservation on too-short notice and so the hotel could not provide her with an entire floor to herself and her entourage. As they were entering the Presidential Suite, a guest across the hall emerged and snapped Madonna's photo, proving that just because you have enough money to stay at the King David does not mean you have any class. So Madonna switched to the Dan Continental in Tel Aviv. The very bed Madonna was going to sleep in! If that sort of thing is worth $1800 to you. Per night. And if it is, I want to know: Do you have a son? Who is single? And remotely cute? And not the bearer of any contagious diseases?

Point: The breakfast at the King David is incredible. Oh. My. God. This was actually my second time at breakfast there -- I'd done an interview there once before, for a story unrelated to the hotel itself -- and I must say, it's the lap of luxury. It is amazing. Having breakfasted at the King David, I can die a happy woman.

Point: Half the rooms have perfect views of the Old City.

Point: Did I mention the marble bathrooms? The bidets? The unobtrusive waitstaff? The clerks and waiters who treat you like royalty?

Point: Looking out the window from one of the luxury suites, onto the hotel's pool, tennis court, landscaped gardens, and garden cafe, I thought "this is the way I should live." I think in a past life I was an Edwardian-era socialite, a la Kate Winslet in Titanic, and standing in this room brought back latent memories. I also think I was a General in a war-time cavalry somewhere in Europe hundreds of years ago, but that's neither here nor there. The point is, luxury is something I could get used to, if only I were an heiress to a large fortune instead of a freelance journalist.

I used to want to be a hotel manager. Betcha didn't know that, now did you. Yes, I did. If I couldn't stay in a luxury hotel, I wanted at least to spend all day in one, providing to others the type of service that I myself deserve. I searched fruitlessly for a job in a good hotel where the fact that I can't work on Saturdays didn't matter. Such a thing does not exist. So I started working for NCSY instead. But this meeting at the King David brought it all back. I seriously thought for about 5 seconds about begging for a job there. But, you know, working at the King David, lovely as it sounds, would involve having to be somewhere all day every day. That is, giving up the life I have right now, in which I earn peanuts and live in one room and can't afford to buy a laundry dryer but can do whatever I want with my time. It is a tough call.

Anyhow, the Sales and Marketing man had been boasting that every room in the hotel is different, and that he is familiar with the layout of every room. And that he knows which rooms are the favorites of which "regulars." So as we were about to embark on the tour, I said "All I want to know is, which room was Natalie Portman's?"

Sales Guy: "Natalie Portman?"

"Yes, I'm a huge fan of hers."

"The movie star?"


"When did she stay here?" (He looked serious.)

(Dude,) "She lived here for six months. Remember, she was studying at Hebrew University for a semester? And lived here?" (Sheesh)

"Well, I am not familiar with that . . . but it is possible, of course, that she was travelling incognito."


Chayyei Sarah: "Herschlag. Natalie Herschlag."

Sales Guy: "Ah, yes, Miss Herschlag. Of course. Second floor. A lovely young lady."

Which just goes to show, money can't buy you love, but it can buy you a hotel staff who won't admit to knowing you. If I were a movie star . . . or an heiress to a large fortune . . . I would value such a thing. And I would look out my window onto the Old City every day and think "Wow, I'm in Israel, and I have everything I need."

. . .

Oh, yeah. I do that now.

I live in Israel, and I have everything I need.

And I had breakfast at the King David.

Not a bad life.

And now, for a funny sketch with Natalie Portman in it, click here.

No comments:

Post a Comment