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Don’t make people wear shoes on holiday.

When I go on holiday I like to relax.

That may sound like the most obvious statement anyone has ever made but strangely enough it’s not obvious to some hotels.

I’ve just returned from a trip to Sri Lanka and almost everywhere I went and everything I did helped me fall deeper and deeper into a peaceful and relaxed state of mind. Even the craziness of the bustling stalls, bartering with locals passionately trying to make a sale only served to make me feel like I had well and truly escaped my every day life.

But there was a moment when my serene state took a bit of a turn for the worse and oddly enough it was a hotel that did it. One of the most expensive hotels in the city in fact, where you’d think they would understand what hospitality looks like in 2014.

I arrived at the hotel with Henry beside me to meet some friends in the lobby before heading out for a bite to eat. Henry was wearing a lovely blue striped shirt, a beautiful new pair of chinos and some sandals.

And believe it or not the hotel wouldn’t let him in. They said they had a no sandals policy at the hotel.

I was astonished. Here we were in a country where the temperatures often reach high into the 30s and yet a hotel that only exists, like all hotels, because of the people that stay in it, has this ridiculous and antiquated policy.

I would hate to stay in a hotel that forced its guests to wear shoes at all times. Poor Henry didn’t seem to mind; he just laughed and said he’d wait outside. But, as ever, I was a little less calm.

For Henry shoes are an annoyance. Prisons for feet he calls them. He wears them for work and when it’s cold but the second he’s in a sunny climate socks and shoes disappear and they don’t go back on again until he’s back in the office.

So what message does this sort of archaic policy send out to people wanting a holiday? It says that guests are not the priority. The priority is something else, something from a 20th century gentlemen’s club that values policy and pomp over hospitality and comfort.

I won’t say which hotel it was as I don’t like to be mean. But what I will say is that when hotels get too big and too full of themselves it is the clients that suffer and this will always lead to a drop in bookings eventually.

We had the complete opposite experience when I stayed at Serene Pavilions in Wadduwa, Sri Lanka.

Serene Pavilions 2

Serene Pavilions in Wadduwa, Sri Lanka

It was beautiful, luxurious, had wonderful food, was tastefully decorated with every whim catered for. But the service was warm, snobbery non existent and every member of staff had a deep understanding of what it means to make people feel welcome.Most importantly for Henry of course was that they couldn’t have cared less what was on his feet, only that there was a smile on his face.

That’s what running a hotel is really about.

I bet I’ve made you want to go to Sri Lanka now haven’t I!

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