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What a concept


For most of my life - nearly all of it, really - I've been a great fan of room service, or, as it's called today (but not here in Puerto Rico, not yet), "In Room Dining." When I was a boy, room service was a big deal, by which I mean that waiters would roll in tables laden with cloches and warming ovens, push them to the center of the room, lock the casters, and set the table. When they were through, a little bit of restaurant had moved into the suite (my father always took suites). I loved the fuss, which was a kind of circus. And then there was the food. Everything tasted better from room service.

Lots of people hate room service, but I'm so addicted to it that whenever I used to travel by myself I would take dinner as well as breakfast in my room. Like all good travelers, I'm conscientious about filling out the long cards that major hotels supply for breakfast: you tick off the things you want, specify the desired delivery time, and hang the card on the outer doorknob. But it never occurred to me before the other night that you can do the same thing with dinner. There's no card to fill out, of course, but, thinking ahead, you can ask the room service operator to schedule your dinner for a certain time. Far from minding this request, the operator will be downright pleased by the move, for the same reason that prompts hotels to organize breakfasts the night before.

Last night, Kathleen and I were going to talk about what's on her mind, and I thought it would suit us to have dinner on our patio. So, at 6:30, I called in the order. Kathleen was very pleased that the kitchen would prepare the smoked salmon hors d'oeuvre platter for just one person, while I was in the mood for chicken. We split a deadly-looking chocolate something for dessert, and enjoyed a bottle of Merlot. I set the table, but there was a nice tablecloth, and the waiter uncorked the wine. The surf crashed in the distance while the coqui chirped nearby. Fragments of Schubert drifted from indoors. It was better than any imaginable restaurant.

Kathleen said that ordering ahead had never occurred to her, either; nor had she ever heard of anyone doing it. I'm sure I'm hardly the first genius to think of it, but I recommend it anyway. If you specify a time, you won't be bothered by wondering when dinner will arrive. On vacation, you shouldn't have to wonder about a thing.


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Wow, sounds fantastic! However, I've never heard the weird neologism "in-room dining."

Well, I'm with you. I love room service. Even in Managua they have it down really well at the Intercontinental.

Coincidentally, my first memory of room service is from PR, from the Caribe Hilton in San Juan, when my surrogate Father ordered up a second hot fudge sundae for each of us about one half hour after we had finished our first. We were caught by our respective guardians (my Mother, his wife) and yelled at, but I still remember, sort of, the room and thinking how neat it was that sundaes came on a cart with some guy dressed in white serving us. I was all of 11. I shudder to think of how long ago it was...

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