In the Philippines I stayed at two hotels – Traders Makati and Shangri La Cebu. These hotels are part of the same company, Traders being the cost-conscious little brother of the luxurious Shangri La brand. As such, Traders is a four start hotel and Shangri La is very much a five star experience. On this trip I was fortunate enough to have a client pay for my stay. Free from the worries of the price of a bottle of water or the breakfast buffet bill one would assume the Shangri La would provide the best experience. But on this trip I was shocked to realize that I prefer four start hotels to five star hotels.

The reason, I realize now, is simple – the atmosphere. The bottom line is at five star hotels everyone is uptight. The greetings seem forced and scripted. The guests all appear to be impressing and one uping one another. And no one smiles! At Traders everyone knows my name. I’ve made friends with the staff, from Karla and Arjie and the front desk to my new favorite massage therapist Anne. The atmosphere is casual and relaxed, and people aren’t aghast when I go to dinner in my pajamas. It feels like home.

I think that this philosophy can be applied to a lot of things in life. From consumer products to women, it is often wiser and more rewarding to go for good than “great”.

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