Is Alila Ventana Big Sur Becoming The New Maldives?
I had planned on writing this article for a week. A buddy inspired it when he said he “finally” booked Alila Ventana Big Sur. That, plus all of the coverage of availability and bookings with the property going to the diabolical category 8 got this ball rolling.
The article I intended to write has shifted some after the response to my article yesterday about me dropping Hyatt Globalist status. People, particularly on Twitter and Facebook, seemed to have their feathers ruffled by the post. To be honest, I was surprised by that. I wrote the piece more as a reminder for people to constantly be reevaluating their choices. Their choices on credit cards, status levels, programs etc. on a regular basis. I said ABC means always be crunching! What made sense for you last year, or the last five years, may not make sense for you this year. And, just because something is the best there is, which I think Hyatt Globalist is, and said as much, it doesn’t mean it makes sense for YOU.
Our buddy Paul S. said it best in our Facebook Group.
Back To Big Sur
I think all of this plays into what I wanted to discuss with Alila Ventana Big Sur, group think. In our little niche, well, all niches out there fall victim to this honestly, we have an issue with group think. A narrative is started and then people tend to fall in line with that narrative. Dissenters are stoned at the gates. While this is happening we create this sort of FOMO, or feeling that certain things need to be accomplished to be able to fit in with the pack. Almost like travel hacking is a video game and we need to unlock these badges along the way to be accepted.
We have seen this play out time and time again. Whether it be frequent flyer programs like American Airlines miles 5-6 years ago or Alaska Airlines shortly after that. Certain airlines first class seats or business class protects must be ridden. Hotel status, like Hyatt Globalist, has definitely reached that level. We have seen it with locations like the Maldives. Hotels have fallen into the trap like Park Hyatt NYC, Park Hyatt Vendome and now Alila Big Sur. The SLH property on Calala Island was totally heading there before the pandemic hit.
I talked about this same thing a few years back with the Maldives and how people felt like they had to go there because that is what you do when a miles and points elite. The next day I also touched on how social media, and influencers, have systematically changed the way we travel.
I Have Nothing Against Any Of These Places Or Programs
Don’t get it twisted here, I have nothing against these hotels, programs or locations. I also don’t have a problem with the people that visit or use them. All of these places look amazing. I was even considering checking out the Alila Big Sur when on my California baseball trip. I would be driving by anyway, going from LA to San Francisco, so why not stay a night and see what it is like. Assuming there was award space etc.
No, this is more about the culture that we have created in our space. A culture we at Miles to Memories have even played a willing roll in. Heck, we had our buddy Derrick from Travel on Point(s) on the podcast a few weeks ago to talk about his stay at this very hotel. Why? Because people are interested in it and it is a popular property. Even my buddy Adam, aka Travel Fan Boy, hit me with a killer joke on Twitter when I put a Maldives article in Around the Web:
— Adam Bauer (@TravelFanboy) February 3, 2022
I don’t think covering these things, or sharing experiences, is a bad thing in and of itself but it seems to snowball out of control at times. Just with certain programs, properties and destinations. It creates this travel hacker badge people feel like they need to unlock. Once that aura phenomenon is created around something it is hard to break from. Watch out for the pitchforks if you say anything against it too! That is what I have a problem with. That is what I want to remind people of.
Travel Where You Want, How You Want, But Make Sure It Is For YOU
My entire point yesterday, and again today, was that you need to do what is best for YOU! You need to remember that blogs and travel websites write to the masses. When we say Hyatt Globalist is the best hotel status that is saying it is the most rewarding for the masses. That doesn’t mean it is the best option for you. Maybe you can’t get an Ultimate Rewards earning card, or the places you want to travel doesn’t have Hyatt hotels etc. Alaska Airlines has a great program for certain redemptions, and some of the most valuable airline miles out there. If you aren’t planning a trip to Asia any time soon, and you can’t maximize their value, should you even care about the program though?
I know people are reading this right now and thinking, duh, I can see what works for me and what doesn’t. I’d bet that every single one of us has probably fallen trap to this at some point. I know I have. I booked the Park Hyatt NYC, not because it was the best option for our trip, but because of “the insane value you could get” and how revered it was. In the 10 trips to NYC since I haven’t stayed there again. That tells me it wasn’t a good choice for ME.
So I stand here on my pulpit now and say, go wherever you want however you want. Just make sure it is because YOU want to. Don’t fall victim to the aura phenomenon, or the feeling that you need to go somewhere, or collect something, simply because everyone else is. It is okay to stand alone sometimes if it is not really for you. Well, you won’t be alone…I’ll be standing there with you a lot of the time.