How the Oscar Gaffe Equates to Luxury Travel

Accountant Martha Ruiz, far left, and stage manager Gary Natoli observe as the cast of "Moonlight" takes the stage after winning the award for best picture at the Oscars on Sunday. // Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

It was one of those times when you knew something was wrong and got a sick feeling in your stomach. Then you realized something had gone wildly, irreversibly astray and your brain felt like it was expanding outside of your head.

That was the feeling I had last night watching the final moments of the Oscars. The cast and crew of La La Land were on stage, accepting the award for Best Picture when it was announced that they hadn’t actually won. Moonlight had. Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, the two glamorous movie star veterans who had given out the erroneous award, stood on a stage that had all evening been elegant and pristine, but was now chaotic. La La Land people were standing near Moonlight people and no one knew where to go. It was kind of like when you go to a wedding at a venue hosting more than one event and two brides bump in to each other in the lobby. Not pretty.

Ruthanne Tererro
Ruthanne Terrero, Vice President–Content/Editorial Director

Watching Betty and Dunaway, I wondered if after all of their years and years of accomplishments in film, this blunder would be what they were remembered for.

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I felt sick.

Then Warren Beatty grabbed the microphone, trying to explain what had happened (not his fault!) and Jimmy Kimmel, the host, yelled at him, joking (not joking), “Warren, what did you do?”

In the scope of where things in the world are now, this was not tragic. No one died. It was no doubt heartbreaking, though, for the La La Land folks. And possibly very embarrassing for some, depending on how you look at these things.

Yet, this morning I woke up feeling as if something really terrible had happened. I think it was because I love to hate the Oscars. They drag on. Moments of sheer drudgery are interrupted by flashes of brilliance and humanity in its most positive light, but not often enough.

But love it or hate it, the night is usually kind of perfect. Everyone looks fabulous. Men in tuxedos, women in dresses of glitter and silk that look as if they’re melting on to their perfect bodies. The makeup is demure, the shoes are gorgeous and the up-dos in the hair department usually look pretty gracious. It can all be a rather lovely thing to watch if you allow yourself several hours of escapism. At the very least it makes me reconsider wearing black almost every single day.

Which is why the insanity at the end of the entire evening was so excruciating. A perfect stage with perfect people, made so because of the thousands of hours of labor put in behind the scenes to make it come off without a hitch, was marred and my fantasy bubble was popped.

I didn’t like it. I didn’t like it at all.

It made me realize how, when we’re in a luxury environment and something really slips up, we feel betrayed. I’m not talking about the little “oopses” that occur. Luxury hotels are pretty good at fixing those and usually going above and beyond to make things better. I’m talking about when you encounter someone on a trip you paid a lot of money for, who just doesn’t care. Perhaps they tell you, “No,” when you make a simple request, instead of designing their response so it offers you alternatives to what you’re asking for. (It’s still a “no” but it feels awesome!). There’s an art to that. True luxury hoteliers know how to create a bubble for their guests by ensuring their hotel is a stage on which only beautiful movements are choreographed.

It doesn’t have to just be about ultra-luxury travel. When we’re on any type of vacation, we try to suspend our daily worries to give our minds and emotions a rest. We’ve taken a gamble by requesting vacation time, slapping down some of our savings, finding a pet sitter or a babysitter and leaving the security of our homes, all so we can feel happy (gasp!), if only for a few days.

But things can get really messed up. Perhaps a travel agent didn’t double check the transfers to the hotel and the client stood at the curb at the airport for an hour, waiting for a car that wasn’t coming.

Maybe the hotel didn’t honor the request to have connecting rooms for a traveling family, and in fact, put a seven-year-old and an eight-year-old in a separate tower that’s under renovation. Glitches like this make emotions and hopes come tumbling down mighty fast. You feel nauseous and your head hurts; it’s all as if an accident is unfolding before you.

It makes you realize how, as a purveyor of travel, how you execute is vital. It helps you recognize how important it is that that final detail (think, Oscar envelope with the wrong winner imprinted on it), can mar so much, simply because we’ve allowed ourselves to believe that life can be magical, if only for a short time.

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