Indulging ideals versus indulging vices

This morning I read about a hotel that’s under construction. There’s an art museum going up around the corner, and the hotel is designed to complement it by displaying contemporary art in the rooms and common areas. Construction is partly financed by a local nonprofit focused on downtown revitalization. The husband-and-wife operators are excited — Steve Wilson, the husband, says, “We have a totally embracing experience where [people] walk into the hotel and they’re in the middle of an art gallery.”

Sounds cool, right?

Here are some more details: The hotel will have 120 rooms, going for roughly $190 per night. The husband-and-wife team are building this hotel (and two others) as extensions of their 21c Museum Hotel brand, which started in Louisville, Kentucky. The other two hotels are going up in Austin and Cincinnati; this hotel will be in Bentonville, Arkansas. Along with 21c and the local nonprofit, the third financier/owner will be the Walton family, founders of Wal-Mart. You can bet that most of the rooms will be booked by business travelers visiting Wal-Mart’s Bentonville headquarters.

Still want to go?

I do. The late-night hotel bar conversations will be bizarre, with a chance of cute account exec from Atlanta. There’s the thrill of renting your own personal art gallery. You can be a voyeur to the flip side of People of Wal-Mart (and no, I’m not linking). Plus, Wal-Mart’s my guilty pleasure (sad but true).

But then there are the ethics and ideals that argue against such a splurge. Reconciling the $190 with my usual spending habits. The one-place-at-a-time trade-off: It’s Bentonville or a dream destination du jour. The rat-guilt of funneling my hard-saved travel dollars into the pockets of the Wal-Mart clan.

So this brings us to the main question (and thanks for hanging in there):

How many people use travel as an opportunity to get closer to their ideals — ideals that might get pushed in the direction of the back burner during normal “at home” making-a-living time — and, after having lived nearer to these ideals for as long as possible, can return to the grind with minimal psychological/ethical turmoil?

And how many people use travel as a pressure-release opportunity to indulge their vices? After having lived their ideal good-clean-hardworking-responsible-familyfriendly lifestyle for the bulk of the year, how many people hit the road and swill booze, smoke cigars, sunburn their bellies, roll dice, and all-around blow off steam in the name of sanity maintenance?

It’s hard to always travel one way or the other, although sometimes┬áround these parts there’s a feeling that we should. If you catch yourself where you think you don’t belong, go easy on yourself. It’s probably just some sort of balancing act.

Photo by superbomba via Flickr.

Semi-related: Family travel: Holiday makers versus travelers

Posted by | Comments (1)  | June 9, 2010
Category: Ethical Travel, Hostels/Hotels, North America, Notes from the collective travel mind

One Response to “Indulging ideals versus indulging vices”

  1. Thi Jorden Says:

    I cant agree more!