What’s a Stay List?

How often do you get out of the shower in your own home, put your robe and slippers on and find they don’t fit?  Unless the milkman has been over recently, the answer is likely never.  So why would you expect the same in a luxury hotel?  Why do you want your first experience to require effort when luxury is about making it as seamless for you as possible?  Do you really want to come into your room and then immediately be on phone with reception, asking them all kinds of things?  Like the pillows you like, or that it’s not the 1920s and a shower shouldn’t be in the bath or politely request them to get rid of that guy that’s standing in the corner of the room, that keeps phoning you and is wearing a Scream mask and waving a knife.

So, what is it?

Very simply, it’s a document that outlines your personal preferences that can be sent to the hotel before your arrival.  It’s either the perfect way to start your trip, or just more information for ol’ Zuckerberg to get his hands on and give to the NSA.

You can use it to mention anything you think is relevant; anniversaries, room setup, activities you enjoy, favourite snacks, even your thoughts on that latest conspiracy theory your mum sent you.  If the hotel has a good customer relationship management tool (CRM), they will keep hold of it, along with anything else they noted during your stay, to help build a profile.  That means your next stay is even better.

This is something I’ve been doing for the last 10 years and is something that we use daily at Dorsia Travel .  Hotel’s are becoming better and better at their own pre-arrival questionnaires to figure out preferences, but often the questions focus on their priorities, not the guests.  It’s also a right pain to fill these in each time, so having a single document saves time.

First impressions count, so if someone can be bothered to get things right, the stay is off to a good start.  It rarely goes downhill if the room setup is amazing, but is the first sign of danger if they’ve done nothing.  Sometimes I like to see whether they’ll get me any of the more unusual, cheap options, like the sweets, and other times I won’t bother sending anything, as I’d hope they would have all the information from prior stays at either the same hotel or the same company.  This often results to the disappointment – the kind you can feel in your bones – when you read my reviews.

What I care about

We’re all particular people, so let me tell you what makes me tick.

  • I don’t like drinking plain, boring water.  Blame my mum – I was raised with cordial and squash.  This is less of an issue since the gods at Robinson’s made airport-friendly squash, but I’ll often forget it so rely on the generosity of strangers at the resorts
  • Tempur pillow
  • Blackout blinds
  • A ginormous amount of snacks- the likely culprit for my holiday weight gain
  • Still/sparkling water.  Sparkling is the devil’s juice, so should not be anywhere near me.
  • Food allergies – I’m not publishing them, as someone will kill me before I get a chance to review their property
  • Food preferences.  Get those motherfucking olives off my motherfucking plate.
  • Environmental – no need to change my sheets daily, I was a teenager once and survived changing them every other year
  • A strong emphasis on my hatred of mosquitos.  I expect the equivalent of the Terminator employed to protect me.
  • Sandals.  I have annoyingly large feet and rarely find the hotel’s sandals fit, but I’m also too lazy/cheap to buy my own.  It’s a Mexican standoff.
  • Room temperature
  • UK Plug adapters
  • Toothpaste, not toothbrush
  • If there’s a private pool, the maximum temperature it can go to.  That only backfired the once, in Amangiri, when the pool felt like it was on fire.
  • Don’t you dare give me a shower within a bath


You’ve gotta be reasonable.  Yes, that’s even coming from me.  As much as I want a 5m chocolate statue of David of Michelangelo, but with my face on it, I appreciate that’s not likely to happen on a two night stay in a Deluxe King Room.  However, on a three night stay…

With exception to the Tempur pillow, nothing on my stay list costs more than a few dollars and most properties would have most items already.  Even in the case of the Tempur pillow, it’s something other guests can use after I depart, should they not have one.  It’s not about seeing how much you can get out of the hotel, but getting the room to feel like home.


Here’s just a few moments where sending preferences ahead of time worked out nicely.

  • The only thing my Dad ever asks for is some beer in his minibar, whereas Arijiju is a home and, alcoholics aside, not many people have a minibar in their bedrooms, so they moved an entire refridgerator in there for him.
  • Laucala imported Robinson’s Orange Squash from the UK
  • North Island bought me a Tempur pillow, which was cool enough.  Yet then they sent it via helicopter to Fregate, so I’d still be comfortable there.
  • Velaa imported an obscene amount of sweets, then sent them onto our next stop at Four Seasons Landaa


May the Lord have mercy on my soul for what I have unleashed on hoteliers.  Godspeed and good night.

Anyone keen to share their own idiosyncrasies?  


  1. I call this list, non negotiables while travelling with my wife: proper ski in-ski out properties, no adjoining rooms, away from the elevator bank, a good wine opener that won’t break within 3 uses, jetted hot tub in room for soothing sore leg muscles after skiing, 1.5 bathrooms without having to get a 2 bedroom suite, and absolutely no 1 ply or 2 ply toilet paper (looking at you all properties on Maui). Other than that the hotel greeting you properly, for instance at the W South Beach, which I have been to at least 10 times since they opened and always have been greeted with something stupid, especially infuriating since I phone the day before to make sure that when my wife arrives before me that they greet her with a simple “Welcome back, thanks for staying with us again, etc…” I don’t understand whey they cannot do this and have this set up in their computer system. They know that we are a certain level within SPG and I challenged the GM that they cannot physically do this, he showed me on a terminal that they can see exactly what our spend has been at that property and it was north of $70K since we started staying there!! I guess it is that area of the world, where the employees really don’t give a damn about anything unless one is a famous actor, musician, or influencer. Totally different from Aspen, Colorado, where we have been 3 times in the past 5 years and every hotel, restaurant or shop, they know that you have stayed or dined with them before and greet you by name or at least say welcome back, glad to see you again. It’s a little thing, but makes a huge difference in how you know you will be treated. Sorry for the quick rant.

  2. Another tip – don’t request sexual paraphernalia in muslim countries. Learnt this one the hard way…

  3. Once a property noticed I travelled with a rubber duck (don’t judge, everyone has the right to have some sort of travel mascot) and upon arrival in my suite a mere 2 hours after they found out about my travel companion they had a whole setup made for him. A proper nest, personalised welcome card, even sweets were all laid out for him while mine was waiting in another corner of the room.
    As you mentioned, things like these do make a difference and will make you want to come back or at least recommend it to any future guests.

    • That. Is. Amazing. What property was it?

      • Sorry Tom, only saw your answer now.
        It was at Tswalu which I know you are rather reluctant to visit but recently I saw they are opening Loapi Tented camp in their reserve so that might just hit the sweet spot for you. We all know you like sweets so there’s no excuse really 🙂

  4. 4 extra wash cloths, 4 extra hand towels, 2 extra bath towels at each service – in the morning and also at evening turn down.
    Extra large bathrobe and XL slippers.
    No music or wake up alarm set on the radio at evening turn down.
    New soap, shampoo, and body lotion every day at the sinks and in the shower and by the tub
    Morning make up service at 9:30 a.m. each morning
    Evening turndown at 5:30 p.m. each evening
    Clean sheets and pillowcases every day.
    Butler to help with unpacking suitcases upon arrival, and for packing for departure. Acid free Tissue paper to be used.

  5. thank you. was wondering. not quite as extensive as i had hoped for you.

    as for me, i’m pleased if the property is still open for business when i show up.

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