Resuming my typical routine in New York after a long trip begins with taking a very long escalator up and out of Penn Station onto 34th Street. Seeing the busy scene again after many days away usually makes me smile in appreciation as I observe the rushing commuters and the petite, loud woman shouting out the headlines of AM New York, all in an effort to encourage us to take a free copy.
That smiling, fresh perspective is a big switch from when I’m stuck in the daily grind. Usually I’m rushing past everyone, wondering how the person in front of me could be so spectacularly slow. And that woman with the newspapers? I find her super annoying because she’s so loud and it’s so early.
Being away from what’s normal can even make you yearn for something you’re not crazy about. In the elevator the other day I heard a gentleman with a lovely British accent saying he couldn’t wait to get back to London’s cold and rainy weather because at least it wouldn’t be as hot and humid as it was here in New York.
But savoring the normal can be delightful, and that’s made easier when you’re on a luxury vacation where the stage has been set in such a lovely, peaceful manner that your psyche lets go of all life’s irritations. You can finally just breathe and smile.
My favorite part of Victoria Boomgarden’s terrific review of her trip to Piemonte, Italy in this issue is when she and her husband, Michael, decided they needed a break from the amazing chef-prepared dinners they’d enjoyed throughout their journey and headed to a pizza joint down the street from their hotel where they dined with locals and families with children and workmen coming in for a slice or two. That’s likely a memory the couple will hold on to for a long time and I’m sure it will be difficult for them to find pizza that compares with what they enjoyed in that little restaurant.
In our June issue of Luxury Travel Advisor, I quizzed Marriott’s president and CEO, Arne Sorenson, on his definition of luxury. By way of example, he cited a trip he and his well-traveled family had taken to Zanzibar where they dined two days in a row at a beach restaurant and enjoyed incredibly fresh seafood and cold beers that the owner’s son would retrieve on his bicycle from a remote locale. Sorenson said his family has enjoyed many a vacation that included Michelin-star dinners, and yet it’s that memory of Zanzibar in that rustic setting that very often gets the vote for “best meal ever” from the Sorenson clan.
Memories forged from simple moments can happen spontaneously but they don’t occur by chance. They’re usually made possible because an itinerary has provided a luxury experience so smooth and flawless that the traveler gives themselves permission to relax. By relaxing, the ordinary becomes spectacular and it’s possible to once again appreciate the simple things. Sometimes it’s a slice of pizza, sometimes it’s fresh seafood, other times it’s hearing that morning’s AM New York headline.
Victoria Boomgarden explained it so aptly in her report. “One might wonder what a pizza joint in a tiny village has to do with luxury travel. Well, this is luxury; experiences comprised not only of meticulously appointed suites and Michelin-star restaurants, but of moments that you create and that will stay with you forever, because it was about as real as you can imagine.”