European Road Trip: Munich
After a week on the road across Europe, we reached our final destination – the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski München. Throughout the course of our trip, we experienced luxury in many different forms – from fine leather bags and custom hats to lovely dinners with a true icon of men’s style – not the least of which was the new BMW 7 Series we were driving all week long. So it was fitting that at our final destination we found ourselves staying in one of the world’s most luxurious hotels.
During our travels that week, I thought a lot about the nature of luxury and what it means for something to be luxurious. Here’s what I came up with. Luxury is about quality. Luxury is about design. And it’s the quality and design of products that endure expressly because of their timeless appeal that makes them luxurious. But there’s one other component of luxury, in my opinion: luxury is about service.
We tend to think of luxury as relating to “nice things” – and there is certainly an element of truth that – but I came to realize how much of a role service plays into the luxury equation during a conversation I had with Bardia Torabi, the Hotel Manager of the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski München. With over 20 years in the luxury hotel business – the last five of those being with Kempinski Hotels – Mr. Torabi knows a thing or two about taking care of people. And that’s really what the business is all about.
He told me a story about a famous movie star who’d stayed at the hotel. Some of the staff’s first instincts were to provide champagne, caviar and other such stereotypically luxury items for this individual. But Mr. Torabi knew two things: 1) this person didn’t care for champagne and 2) that he had been away from his wife and young daughter for nearly two months. So instead of bubbly and fish roe, the first thing the gentleman saw upon entering his room was a photo of his family on his pillow. Talk about individual attention.
How does a hotel even know this kind of information? It’s because, as Mr. Torabi explained to me, they take the time to get to know and understand their guests prior to, during and after their stay.
On a personal note, as we were talking, I mentioned solely in passing that I was something of a cigar aficionado. Later that night when Robin and I went back to the room to get ready for dinner at Schwartzreiter, the hotel’s restaurant, there was a Cuban Cohiba waiting for me. Nothing gets by Mr. Torabi and his staff.
Luxury also means a sense of relaxation, of taking the “noise” of life for a moment so you can sit, think and actually accomplish something. And, personally, that is what I’ve come to appreciate and value most highly.
I work very hard. And I truly enjoy it. In fact, I can’t imagine my life without the level of activity and intensity that has found it’s way into my daily being since starting HSS nearly three years ago now. It can get overwhelming at times and the work never stops. Which is why when I have an hour to savor a fine cigar with Rob in the lounge at a hotel like Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten Kempinski München, I savor every second. Sometimes I wish I could hit ‘pause’ for a week and just disconnect.
That there’s always work to do, content to publish and emails to field is also why I was thankful to be driving a new 7 Series for this trip. Because even on the road, there are things to take care of. So when I had to tend to something HSS-related, it was great to be able to hand over the wheel to Rob and kick back in the car’s Executive Lounge.
And when I say “kick back,” I literally mean kick back and kick my feet up. With a touch of a button, the front passenger seat moves all the way forward and a footrest comes down for maximum legroom and comfort. There was a folding table for my laptop and every one of the car’s innovative functions – including my favorite seat massage – was available to me via BMW Touch Command, a 7-inch tablet integrated into the rear seat’s center armrest. When I finished my work, I could have enjoyed the rear seat entertainment system, but the view was too beautiful to pass up.
As our week in Europe came to an end, I reflected on the many experiences we had and the ways in which we experienced luxury and the interplay of quality, design, service and personality that contributed to making something luxurious. For me, this trip defined luxury. Actually, check that – it redefined luxury.
And that was the sentiment that really encapsulated our entire week, which is one I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I’m glad I was able to share these experiences and the stories of all the amazing people we met along the way with you. I hope you found them as exciting and inspiring as I did.
Thanks, as always, for reading.
He Spoke Style