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It’s been a while since we’ve had a good old poke around the Fast Lane postbag but thankfully it was waiting for me when I checked in at the Peninsula in Tokyo on Wednesday and I had a good half-day to go through the various comments and questions from the past few months. First off, thanks to the many, many readers who responded to last week’s column about the threatened Okura Hotel.
More than 1,000 of you have signed the petition at savetheokura.com (there’s still time to sign if you haven’t yet) and many of you have written passionate letters about the importance of preserving modernist architecture, leaving well enough alone and recognising the value of doing it right first time and never having to do it again.
As the holidays beckon, quite a few of you have already received direct responses to your vacation questions (you should be happy that this paper doesn’t – yet – charge for this unique bespoke service).
For everyone else, I’ve found five broad themes for this instalment of Fast Lane’s Frequently Asked Questions (FLFAQ). Here they are:
I’ve noticed that it’s become more common to wear flip-flops (or jandals if you’re a Kiwi) in the city. Do you find this acceptable or should they stay poolside and beachside?
I’m not a big fan of flip-flops in the city as they’re too open and you never know what you’re going to step in, or on, in the mean streets of Milan, London, Lisbon or Hong Kong. Flip-flops also demand good-looking feet and one must be very brave to display them in an urban environment. And while I’m all for Made in Brazil and Havaianas, I prefer Island Slippers from Hawaii. Better yet, I’ll go for a good suede espadrille from Ludwig Reiter if I want something light on the foot.
Recently one of my receptionists made the rather absurd decision to get her nose pierced (I thought that stopped in 1998) and finds it acceptable that everyone should look at her glittering, slightly infected, nose. My assistant said I should just go with it but I think it’s wrong. What’s your view?
Seriously? Do you even need to ask? It is absolutely wrong and she must remove it immediately. And no, I don’t care if it’s not in the staff handbook, you are the boss. Also, your assistant needs a talking to as well: she/he should have already advised the receptionist to remove it before the boss spotted it.
If you are particularly worried about your front of house, then I’d suggest introducing uniforms and proper hair and make-up guidelines.
I’m quite concerned about what to do when my current BlackBerry dies. While I am not a big user of apps and I’m quite happy with a decent browser I’m very concerned I might have to opt for a ridiculous touch screen. I really need to have a keyboard. What are you going to do?
That’s funny. I was going to ask you the same question. While there’s much I like about Apple, I already spend enough money with them on a corporate level and I don’t like being tethered to one brand. Also, I like the reassuring clatter of keys. I’m thinking about sampling Nokia’s offer but I reckon I’ll hold out and see what happens. I really don’t believe in touch screens and I’m convinced they make you lazier, more curt and cause diplomatic incidents because people can’t be bothered to express themselves properly.
Who do you think has the best frequent flyer programme?
This might sound strange but you’re asking the wrong person. I don’t really care about mileage programmes as I don’t feel there’s one alliance that suits all my travel needs. I tend to book according to the quality of the product on a given route and will go out of my way to avoid an airline that might be a first choice on a different route somewhere else in the world. More importantly, none of the alliances stand for anything any more as they all have a few dodgy airlines they’ve managed to let in.
I’ve recently moved my company to a new building and some of my partners have suggested that we make our new premises an alcohol-free zone. I think a few drinks after hours is perfectly acceptable but some of my management team disagree. Do you have a view on this?
For heaven’s sake! How did you get lumped with these partners? You might want to contact your lawyers to review the terms of your partnership. Then ask the objecting partners to explain to the entire company – on a very hot day on the back of a big business win – why they’re not allowed to crack open a few cold ones and uncork the rosé.
Tyler Brûlé is editor-in-chief of Monocle magazine