With the holidays coming up and my impending holiday, I started thinking about the holidays of Christmas past. The thing about living so far away from the rest of the world (nestled down in lil’ ol’ NZ) means that when you have time off, you want to go somewhere distant. You take your time and have a large trip. When you’ve got 20 days of annual leave per year, it gets a lot easier. A friend of mine recently published photos from a cruise he went on. Extreme opulence. The ship had its own central garden and a bar that ascended from a lower level to arrive in said garden. Big flashy resort kind of stuff. I’m not hugely into the resort idea, primarily because I’m constantly restless. The notion of staying in one place and relaxing fills me with a dense existential dread. I’m not entirely convinced that if I stop moving I won’t die. Who knows how I sleep at night?
We were a fortunate family. Once my parents moved into real estate and my two brothers left home, there was more money around and we got a bunch of nice things. That extended to holidays too. Every once in a while we’d go on big trips together. While I’m not a resort type person for the most part, we had a couple of truly wonderful Club Med vacations. There are two pillars of a Club Med resort that make sure you have a great time. 1) Everything’s all inclusive once you’re there. You don’t pay for food, activities or entertainment. After a few years of tapering profits they added alcohol to the all inclusive deal. The last time I went I was in my early 20s. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that I’d gotten my trip’s worth on alcohol consumption alone. 2) The staff are specifically hired to ensure you have a good time. I don’t know what their screening process was, but I found the G.Os (Gentil Organisateur) to be a rad bunch. They hired fun, friendly, personable people to help out. I’m sure it’s a quality gig. You take time off to work in a beautiful, sunny resort. At the end of the day it’s a job and it’ll have its detractors (who am I kidding? Like any profession, it’ll be the customers), but guests are generally in a cheery holiday mood, which should mitigate that a bit.
We’d vacation with close family friends, which meant that as a teenager I got to rampage around with my best friend for a week. We’d join up with the teen club and meet others from around the world. There were a ton of activities and games all day long. Things like archery, trapeze (which quickly became a minor obsession of mine), kayaking or sailing. There was a circus school that would put on shows and workshops. There’d be mini sport tournaments for guests.
My mate and I really did have the best time and the staff were a huge part of that. We got on a wavelength of being up for things pretty quickly. We joked around with the happy hour band, hyping the crowd and dancing along. They started to pull us on stage to perform Smooth with them (before it achieved meme status). Another time my friend and I organised a group of us to enter the volleyball tournament with the proviso that we’d just fuck around. On our last match of the tournament the ref announced that if we ended the tournament without a single point we’d have to wear dresses to our New Year’s Eve reservation at the resort’s classy restaurant. I wore a dashing, shimmery number that really brought out my eyes. This lead to the staff getting us to perform a racy “it’s raining men” number in tight yellow dresses and wigs.
They were idyllic vacations, plus our parents loved it because they didn’t have to worry about us at all for a week. We were doing our thing. We were kept busy, met people our own age and got out to try new things. I’ve thought every once in a while that it’d be a great type of holiday to revisit. Every time, I wonder. I’m a lot more exploratory than I used to be. Would I feel hokey doing a resort type holiday? I’m not even sure I could afford it. Still though, there are enough good memories and goodwill to keep it on my mind. Maybe not this year, but maybe not never either.