The secret of Frenchman’s Cove; better the devil you know than the one you don’t

8 Jul

TheFrenchman’s cove resort was a pretty big deal back in the 60’s. Set in the beautiful surroundings of the Jamaican coastline, it was used by anyone and everyone who had the money to stump up for the privilege. At it’s height it cost the equivalent of a years salary (today) for a two week stay. Steep stuff, but apparently worth it.

Being tucked away from the main hustle and bustle of the island (which was actually possible in the 60’s), it was luxuriously isolated, so much so that this was one of the main selling points. If you didn’t have the right money, you wouldn’t get anywhere near the place. Quite an attractive prospect for the monied class, seeing as they only wanted to associate with their own type and avoid all those awkward “So what is it you do? Stocks, bonds or good old fashioned national pillage?” questions…it’s just undignified. Best to go somewhere you don’t even need to ask the question.

But, the absolute main draw of the resort was its luxury: there were no menus, choices or options. You could do or have anything your heart desired. Once you paid for your stay you could, at no extra cost, ask for a boat to take you fishing, order a selection of dishes from around the world, request a specific make and model of car to use during your stay, ask reception to entertain you during dinner with a blood sacrifice etc… you get the idea. It was the first place to embody the “have anything you want” mentality of luxury.

I saw a documentary on the hotel industry recently, and it had an enlightening interview with the owner/manager of the Frenchman’s cove resort. While answering the question of his resorts attraction, success and the matter of it’s luxurious stasus, he said something incredibly canny. I can’t remember his exact words, but it was something to the effect of

“…well because we don’t offer any menus to our guests, they’re given the choice of anything in the world. They can ring up reception and request absolutely anything they want for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, as is usually the case when someone is offered limitless options, they almost always end up asking ‘Well, what do you have?’, in which case we end up serving everyone baked beans on toast”

It’s an incredibly insightful thing, especially coming from an industry that bends over backwards to use the most convoluted of management speak. Although in fairness, he did say this back in the 60’s; it’s probably the last known example of a hotel manager speaking truthfully.

I was struck by the statement, and how brutally honest it is. Give someone the choice of anything in the world, and they’ll probably go for what they know.

It’s a sad thing, that most people are too afraid of the unknown that they won’t try and actively get away from what could be damaging or destructive routines and behaviour.  “Better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t”, is a classic justification for staying in one spot. It pretty much boils down to saying “Hey, it could be worse!” as a good reason to carry on letting your mind dull, your body melt and your soul wither.

And it’ll work. It’s a nice fix, reassuring yourself like this. Many, many people get through life doing it, and it works for them. They might end up feeling  a little awkward everytime they put down their friends in a passive-aggressive manner because it makes them feel better about themselves for, oh I dunno, a couple of minutes. But it could be worse. They might get a little down when they get out of the shower and notice that flab under their arms jiggling for a few seconds more than it did a year ago, but it could be worse. They might wonder quietly about the world outside, and maybe even pine for it a bit, when they accidentally catch sight of a documentary on television but it’s alright because it could be worse.

Yeah; it could be worse, but it could be better. A lot better. A Whole lot better.

 

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One Response to “The secret of Frenchman’s Cove; better the devil you know than the one you don’t”

  1. Deeone July 8, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    I don’t think I would have the same problem as the people in your post who couldn’t decide what it is they wanted, if I had the chance to visit The Frenchman’s Cove and order whatever my little heart desires. Oh man, there are so many things that I would like to try from around the world. But, I can totally understand what management had to say…. if given that much freedom, your mind probably would go blank. I still don’t know though, I think I would be right on point with what I wanted to have during my stay. They would probably have to put restrictions upon me. :)

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