When 2015 comes to a close I’ll have spent more than 300 nights in hotel rooms. Of course one’s got to eat too, and all of those breakfasts, lunches, dinners, snacks, meetings, cocktails, and late-night cravings add up to more than 1,000 meals out. I’ve been on this pace for north of ten years and while at times it can be a lot, I really do love it.
Naturally one develops preferences along the way: likes and dislikes, you hit speed bumps, you get sick, there are funky hotel rooms – a lot can happen when you’re at it so often.
Amongst it all, one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that loyalty pays. I don’t mean in the obvious or bankable ways like hotel points or frequent flier miles. I mean that doing something you like over and over breeds familiarity on many important levels.
In restaurants I learn the table numbers (and, naturally, which I prefer.) I find favorite floors in hotels (I like natural light and minimal traffic), favorite rooms, and the best gyms. This is all really useful and can be rewarding, but it’s not the best part. The best part comes from the relationships you build along the way.
While it’s true that the restaurant and hotel business has high turnover, it is also true that here you will find some of the most dedicated and caring people in any business anywhere. These are folks that have a true sense of- and love for- hospitality. They’re always there, eager to make your stay or your meal better, but more than this, they’re often open to connect and remind us of the goodness of humanity. This is worth an awful lot at any point but it is especially meaningful when you’re traveling.
People like Sam Lipp at Union Square, Ali at Frasca, Dionicio (and the entire team, really) at the Little Nell, Maru at Mori, Ari at the Pitcher Inn, Jonathan at the Chef’s Club, Marc at Bar Ferd’nand, Dan at Attaboy, Roger at MFK, Brad at Taquitoria, Thomas at the NoMad, Kimi at Bohemian and on and on. These are people who always make it special, but more than this, we have all gently woven ourselves into the fabric of each other’s lives. My life is so much richer for it and I am grateful.
At one point in my life I was on the other side of this equation and was providing my own brand of hospitality. In those years I met some of my best friends and business partners and, in addition, began to foster my belief in the goodness we all have to share. Take a moment, have a look – there are wonderful people all around you.