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Thursday, 21 August 2014

Imogen Edwards-Jones - hotel/air/beach Babylon

review written & read live on the bookshow by Ro Bennett 21st August 2014
I’m going to review  a compilation of books: 
Hotel Babylon 2005, Air Babylon  2006 and Beach Babylon 2008 by Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous. 

Starting with Air Babylon  which came out in 2006

The blurb: Heard the one about the airline that has introduced 'corpse cupboards' on new planes to cope with the number of people who die in the air? Heard the story about the First Class air hostess who got fired for sitting on the face of a passenger during a long haul flight? Heard about the amount of knickers and false teeth that are left behind in the body of the plane? Heard how pissed-off stewards put laxatives in your drinks? Heard about the pilot who ran out of runway? Heard of the disabled passengers who miraculously walk again?

Do you know the best place to have sex on a plane? Do you know how to dress for an upgrade? Do you know that one drink in the air equals three on the ground? Do you know who is checking you in? Who is checking you out? Do you know exactly what happens to your luggage once it leaves your sight? Is it secure? Are you safe? Do you really know anything about the business that you entrust your life to several times a year?

I found the book interesting and very funny in parts and it was crammed with anecdotes to shock and make you shake your head in disbelief - read about the luggage handlers and the food producers for a start… I enjoyed it, it’s a relaxing, easy read which is perfect for in between the more literary stuff. 

Next, Beach Babylon- this book takes you behind the scenes at a six-star tropical island resort on a private island somewhere in South East Asia. How does it feel to live and work in the world's most beautiful and luxurious tropical island resort, surrounded by white sandy beaches and aquamarine seas? How does it feel to be in the lap of luxury when you're thousands of miles from anywhere else? And when the guests are some of the richest and most demanding people in the world, where do you find the energy every day to smile, smile and smile again? (Sound familiar???) 

In the bestselling tradition of her previous Babylon books, Imogen Edwards-Jones investigates the rivalries and alliances between the staff at a resort where they of course have to pander to the guests' most extravagant whims. With a cast of millionaires, celebrities, hangers-on and prostitutes, Beach Babylon takes you to a world where extreme luxury is the norm and where excess somehow isn't always enough…

Here are extracts from a couple of reviews: this resort is six stars for the serious high flyers and high spenders. Decadence reigns at this resort, from personal villa attendants, yachts at the disposal of guests, barbeques on sandbars dripping with food and alcohol. A crisis is when the Cristal champagne shipment fails to arrive or there’s a Sheikh Attack (which is an unexpected arrival of a sheikh). 

Another interesting and light read and I enjoyed it.

Finally, Hotel Babylon, which is very similar in many ways.
This is the blurb: 
Something strange occurs to guests as soon as they check in. Even if in real life they are perfectly well-mannered, decent people with proper balanced relationships, as soon as they spin through the revolving hotel doors the normal rules of behaviour no longer seem to apply.’

All of the following is true.Only the names have been changed to protect the guilty. All the anecdotes, the stories, the characters, the situations, the highs, the lows, the scams, the drugs, the misery, the love, the death and the insanity are exactly as was told by Anonymous - someone who has spent his whole career working in hotels at the heart of London's luxury hotel industry. However, for legal reasons, the stories now take place in a fictitious hotel known as Hotel Babylon. More than a decade is compressed into a day. Everything else is as it should be. The rich spend money, the hotel makes money and the chambermaids still fight the bellboys over a two-pound coin. It's just another twenty-four hours in an expensive London hotel.

Here are a couple of excerpt from reviews:
A string of brilliant anecdotes ranging from big name celebrities and the Royal Family to seedy businessmen will keep you turning page after page, making this a hugely entertaining read. The picture that emerges is that the hotel industry is a bizarre microcosm of the real world. It is ruled by cash and fuelled by greed. It embraces sex, death and pretty much everything else. The more decadent and luxurious the hotel, the more extreme the experience.

The anonymous author has encountered lavish drug parties, gorgeous call girls, naked guests falling out of windows, $9,000 bottles of wine, astronomical telephone porn bills, bathtubs of Evian, and on more than one occasion, dead sheep - (these had been ritually slaughtered for rich Arab guests to eat) 

Coming from a hotel background, I can really appreciate this from one of our favourite and most successful local authors. I worked with Thistle Hotels in Central London for a few years and all the way through this book, I was nodding along and scoffing and chuckling with the main characters. Nothing surprised me and that is the problem with the industry, you have to learn to have a strong stomach and an open mind. The characters are loveable, the customers are hateful and demanding
and as an insider for many years in hospitality I think this is (albeit in its odd 24hr format) a brilliant expose that, I can assure you, not fiction in the slightest but a fantastic tell all and a must read for all reality addicts. 

Rich people behaving badly and squandering money in an obscene decadent manner, staff grovelling and being obsequious for tips and hand outs - for example one Texan handing out £50 notes to all and sundry, buying double shots of Napoleon cognac for £750 a shot for himself and two prostitutes and an Arab ordering a £5,000 bottle of Chateau Petrus and diluting it with Perrier water.

Some of the things shared will make you cackle, while others will make you despair a little for the human race

I enjoyed this book as well but despite that I do agree with a reviewer who wrote: 
After a while this formula is becoming a bit of a cliche..

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