A few years back I stumbled into a beautiful, old-style boutique hotel in the middle of nowhere in a less-visited wealthy Arab Gulf country.
It was run by an elderly Indian gentleman whose goggle-eyed hospitality knew no limits. From rushing to the car to help us unload the luggage, to proactively showing every single room in the hotel, to having a long, deep conversation about life, people and the origins of the various birds who pass by the hotel surrounded by desert – he knew everything about the place he ran and his curiosity and eagerness to learn new things had no boundaries. It was outstanding. No St Regis or Four Seasons gets you that kind of personnel and energy.
Two years later I passed by again and found the hotel closed, sealed and cordoned off with a government notice. I phoned my Indian friend and he told me that they were forced to close since a new regulation came into force, allowing only hospitality degree holders to manage a hotel – he didn't have that, and they couldn't find one that wanted to relocate.
After another year I ended up driving past again, and to my surprise it had reopened. I walked in, hoping to see my Indian friend. What I found was a younger guy slumped into his seat and pulling a booger out of his nose while staring into his smartphone. That must be the hospitality degree holder, I thought. And I was right. I inquired where the Indian gentleman was. "Old man went back to India," he mumbled. I then asked him what made him take his new job and he said "Well, ya know, better than nothing, but I’m made for something better."
As far as I know the hotel is now closed again.
Degrees, shmegrees. Are we moving into the right direction?