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Mykonos Grand Hotel

October 2, 2009

I’m a potential nightmare of a holiday guest. I need luxury. I deserve luxury. Hoteliers won’t realise it when they accept my booking, but I demand luxury.

This state of mind is a result of the self-flagellation I inflict for fifty weeks of the year. Guilt propels my motivation to fill every waking hour pursuing an ill-defined, largely elusive dream. I have to keep trying, I tell myself. If I just do this little bit extra that might be the magic bullet. That ‘little bit extra’ is usually the bit which tips me over the edge. It drives me and others around me mad. As a result, when me and The Significant Other holiday for the remaining two weeks of the year, everything has to be perfect. I allow myself to indulge.

It’s during those two weeks all my usual English preoccupations with value for money, customer satisfaction and recompense for mild inconveniences must vanish. I don’t want my escape from the tyranny of London life to be marred by niggles which chip away at perfection. If it does I’ll just ramp up the sarcasm. Any hotel which take a booking from me has a tough job ahead. (If I fail in the media industry, I’ll make a stab at being a hotel reviewer. I’m sure I’ll be very good at it.)

The staff at the Mykonos Grand hotel clearly take such high expectations in their stride, possibly because there’s little to complain about the basics at this five star hotel. (I came with two new notebooks and have spectacularly failed to make an impression on either.) Each spacious and tastfully decorated room has a view of the glistening Agean and the nearby island of Delos provides an electrifying backdrop at sunset. The mattresses are firm, the pillow selection never ending. Room service is so prompt you might be forgiven for thinking the staff are camped outside your bedroom door, providing a vital support network for guests for who disabled by the beauty visible from the balcony. Staff don’t hover for tips either – always a cast-iron gurantee of a five-star mindset.

And breakfast? A varied buffet – constantly restocked by the hotel director himself – cooked by a selection of chefs who not only understand the secret of perfect scrambled eggs but can also whip up fried eggs without the usual laissez-faire attitude to runny uncooked whites. For the British traveller abroad such small details are as welcome as a firm handshake or a reassuring pat on the back.

It’s clear. I should have been a hotel reviewer. It’s obvious, isn’t it. I could be a different kind of critic. One who’s positive instead of tiresomely negative about all and sundry.

Another bonus is the hotel’s location. Greece’s equivalent to St Tropez with it’s designer clothing and jewellery shops, eateries and art galleries nestle comfortably alongside the tacky souvenir shops in the narrow streets of the old town. Mykonos town is close enough from the hotel for a glamorous evening excursion and just far enough away to avoid the baseball caps and tossed sweaters from the visiting cruise ships.

Where the hotel steals a march on most of the competition is the high level of service it maintains. Guests at the Grand aren’t just sunseekers renting rooms, swiming in the pool and frequenting the bar. The sauna, jacuzzi and steam room are services expected from a five-star hotel anyway. As skin bronzes in the sun, the guests at the Mykonos Grand are also basking in the friendliness of the staff who seem tireless in their desire to make sure guests are happy.

Nothing is too much effort, especially sincerity. That’s why meal times provide an opportunity for interaction, not just guiding the guest to the breakfast table but to indulge in a spot of conversation. That same spirit permeates throughout the day. It’s no surprise check-out day feels like the end of school term saying goodbye to friends you’re not going to see for the whole of the summer holidays. In the space of two weeks this simple approach to customer service leaves a lasting impression on the guest and further enhances the brand of the hotel.

The disappointing truth is that I know of nowhere in the UK where the same level of personal attention is lavished on the guests. Some might argue that the higher the room rack rate the more chance there is of personal attention. My experience is that the higher the price the more aloof the hotel staff are.

No such problem at the Mykonos Grand. And it’s that fundamental reason we’ll be back here again.

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