5 Ways Staying At A Hotel For The Rich Messes With Your Mind
For my wife's birthday, I planned a big relaxing spa and beach day at Miami Beach's historic Fontainebleau Hotel, a favorite of Frank Sinatra when he wasn't a corpse. (It's also where James Bond discovered the body of a woman painted gold in Goldfinger.) The hotel's in-house nightclub, Liv, is where every pro athlete who comes through Miami parties after soundly defeating one of the city's many terrible teams.
I have no business being there. I should have been thrown out on sight and told that my dirty poor people money might as well have been Confederate dollars. I would have continued to be completely cut off from this world of opulence without the help of a couple of promotions Miami does every year in August which reduce spa and restaurant prices so that normal non-billionaires can eat and be pampered like the rich.
At some point in your life, you're going to find yourself in one of these settings. A wedding, graduation party, company get-together, a splurge for an anniversary present. I want you to be prepared for when it happens, because though you may not know any rich people, you're going to eventually find yourself among them. And it is going to be awkward as hell, because ...
It Feels Like Entering A Parallel Universe
All of the physical stuff is just like you find it back home among the middle and lower classes, but just a little ... off. It's not only that everything is a much more expensive version of something you'd find anywhere else. It's that the design and placement of every object is specific to a certain mindset that has never existed in my circles. That a team of people decided to put two gold-and-diamond chandeliers, each the size of an above-ground pool, in a lobby is so far out of my frame of reference that it feels like a prank. "Yes, I have two enormous chandeliers. But never mind that. Come, pet my bear." That the only thing I can compare them to is an above-ground pool says a lot in itself.
Did I say two? I meant three -- three diamond-and-gold chandeliers.
It makes everything feel like a movie set. It's as if every gorgeous marble surface is secretly painted plywood that can roll away to reveal extras eating donuts by the catering table. Try to take a swim in the ocean, and I'll bump into a painted backdrop of the horizon. Careful, the gorgeous food is just wax. The concierge will add steam effects and a digitally rendered heaping of mashed potatoes in post.
I was so overwhelmed by this foreign land, where I understood every word and recognized every object, but which assembled together came off as gibberish. I didn't remember the details of the introductory spa tour seconds after it had ended. My brain was short-circuited by a table of infused waters and orange slices. Each new pool and hot tub and steam room further propelled me into a state of shock that I'm pretty sure I'm going to need therapy for. The spa employee could have led me into a big meat grinder to turn me into a $17 kids menu hot dog, and the only thing I would have noticed is the beautiful pearl handle on the grinder crank.
You'll Seek Solace In Other People Who Are Just As Overwhelmed
Once a year, Miami holds a city-wide promotional event called Miami Spice, in which hundreds of local restaurants offer a preset menu for a fraction of the normal price. It's so you can show off pictures of world-class meals to your Instagram followers while paying Applebee's prices. This and an overlapping promotion called Miami Spa Month is why my wife and I were able to do any of this. All us mole people who can't afford to do any of this fancy shit come crawling out of our sewer colonies for massages, then plunge our pale asses back into the stink before anyone notices.
Whenever we felt alienated by the opulence all around us, all we had to do was to see what other people were eating. If they were eating the exact same Miami Spice menu items as us, we'd look them dead in the eye and pound our chest in a display of solidarity. "Yes," we'd say with only a gesture, "we're also wondering what an aperitif is."
Apparently, it's a cocktail you drink before eating to simulate your appetite. Just sounds like an excuse to get drunk faster.
The sight of people walking laps around a pool area, trying to decide which of the 11 pools will satisfy them and knowing they'll never be back here again, kept us tethered us to reality. It's nice to know there are other people struggling to appreciate the experience before it's over.
You'll Be Confronted With The Rich/Beautiful Paradox
Women with the physicality of Tolkien's forest elves. Men so ruggedly handsome you have to duck under their eyeline when they stare at nothing so you don't ruin the magazine photo shoot you thought he was obviously posing for. Even with the cybernetic enhancements crossing into Uncanny Valley, it was easy to see they were born with all the building blocks of beauty already in place.
Just entering the premises of the hotel, we caught glimpses of gorgeous people driving Teslas, Bentleys, Lamborghinis. Jaw-dropping folk floating in pools with iPhones in hand, because why would they care if it got wet? People give free crates of iPhones as offerings to these gods who walk among us. The closer we got to water, the more beautiful they became. Poolside is where they all perform their mating ritual of getting trashed on mojitos until someone ends up pregnant.
I don't understand how beauty and wealth wound up entwined, but I got the sense that if our lot in life is determined by the roll of a 20-sided die, they rolled mostly 20s, my die had no 20s due to factory error. But it gets you thinking about a weird "chicken or the egg" paradox. Surely all these rich people aren't beautiful by coincidence. So were they born beautiful and then became rich because of that? Or did they become beautiful because they could afford to make themselves look that way? I mean, it's a little too coincidental to not be connected, right? All I know is that you're eventually going to see it in person, and when you do, you'll remember this article and the question will drive you crazy.
You'll Turn Into A Calculator Fueled By Anxiety When You See The Price Tags
The closer you get to water, the more it costs to get drunk. An intricate craft cocktail in a renowned restaurant is somehow less expensive than a Slurpee with some rum in it by the pool. The difference is desperation. When you're eating indoors, you want an alcoholic drink to accompany your dining experience. Outside by the pool, they know you're thirsty and you want to get drunk, so they've got you by the balls. They could deduct a year of life per drink, and people would gladly die in a month if it meant they got wasted poolside at a fancy hotel. We wanted to get drunk too, but it's hard to enjoy a daiquiri when every sip tastes like $2.75.
My wife and I got facials. (The spa kind, not the money shot kind.) I've done some relaxing pampering stuff before, like massages. But if I get a massage, I use a Groupon deal, because yep, I'm that guy. I'm not ashamed. Besides, those massages usually happen in shady strip malls where I might wake up in a bathtub with my kidneys removed, but my shoulders are tension-free so I can't complain.
It doesn't help that these places have a vague aura of spending expectation which makes being cheap on their property seem like an offense that can get me escorted from the premises by large men with no fingerprints and a solid alibi. Every time I order the cheapest thing on the menu after mulling it over for ten minutes, I feel like my waiter knows. They know I didn't order the one-ounce steak because it's what my heart wanted; I ordered it because if I got anything else, I'd have to perform disturbing sexual favors on the line cooks if I ever wanted to leave the restaurant. I had my eye on the 50-ounce Australian tomahawk ribeye. I was scared off when I saw the letters MP instead of a price. It stands for "market price," but functions as a warning: "If you have to ask how much it is, you can't afford it."
I asked. It was $150 -- roughly the same amount it cost to clean my shit out of their chairs when I heard that number.
It's Amazing How Quickly You Get Assimilated
Four hours. That's all it took for me to go from overwhelmed to whining that on my second sauna session, the smell of the eucalyptus-infused steam wasn't as potent as the first. "Boo! This carafe of complimentary citrus-infused water isn't as refreshing as that carafe of complimentary mint-and-cucumber-infused water! Why is my life so hard?"
There's no extreme that we can't get used to, no matter how powerful the initial shock. Being treated like a king with full prima nocta privileges is one of the easiest things to get used to. Luxury quickly sets a high bar of stimulation. Once I adjusted and accepted all this as real, the whining commenced. And guys, it's so much fun to complain about wanting things to be better when they're already incredible. It's me yelling up at the hotel facade daring it to be more spectacular -- then I make clucking sounds to insinuate that it's too chicken to further impress me.
I'll never get to experience that higher standard, because I may never get the chance to write a bestselling series of erotic novels staring a thinly veiled version of myself with a penis as long as an above-ground pool is wide. But I'll settle for being able to complain.
If I had seen gold-plated cyborg parking attendants which dispensed claim tickets from their chests when I valeted my car, I'd think it was a disturbing case of man trying to play god. By the time I pick up my car, I'd be talking shit about the lackluster performance of its confetti-firing nipples. "Oh, it was a fine sendoff, and the performance of 'So Long, Farewell' from The Sound Of Music was appreciated. But the confetti didn't fire from the nipples with the appropriate exuberance my departure deserves. Those babies should pop like the night sky on the Fourth of July. Four stars."
You'll never feel out of place around rich people again with this monocle from Smiffy's. Cheerio!
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