Wed, Jan 04, 2006 - Page 13 News List

How to feel at home when you're away

It's not the point of travel for most people, but feeling at home does make a business trip easier

NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

The Algonquin Hotel in Manhattan figures the best way to be a home away from home is to preserve its appearance, down to the last piece of molding. The Algonquin underwent a US$4 million lobby renovation in 2004 "with meticulous care to keep it looking exactly as homey as it has always been," said Anthony Melchiorri, the general manager. "If we'd changed a stitch, people would have felt like we redecorated their living room while they were gone."

If pampering counts, then Clarence McLeod, manager of the exclusive Gold Floor at the Fairmont Washington hotel, may have mastered the art. "We would feel lost in Washington without him," said Judi Smith, who comes for 10-day stretches with her husband, Terry Smith, chief executive of the Federal Home Bank of Dallas, and their son. During a recent stay, McLeod sent chicken noodle soup and a teddy bear to the Smiths' quarters when their son was sick.

"Guests want a psychic hug and a lot of TLC after a day of being run over in Washington," he said.

A common trick that frequent travelers use to ward off feelings of isolation is to return to the same eateries and, perhaps, to order the same dishes. When he visits Paris, Geoffrey Zakarian, the executive chef at Country restaurant in New York, has dinner at Chez George; tea at a salon called Mariages Freres; hot chocolate at Le Grand Colbert, a brasserie at the Palais Royale; and a drink atWilli's Wine Bar. "These places become my moveable feast," he said.

Security blankets come in all sizes and shapes. For some travelers, a ring or a locket can be all the consolation they need. For Hironori Hozoji, who moved to San Diego from his native Tokyo three years ago to become an investment officer for Jafco Life Science Investment, it is the atmosphere of his favorite airline that makes the difference.

"Just to look at the Japan Airlines logo on a plane makes me relax," he said. "And when I get on, I feel like I am home already. It's like a little Japan. They know how to steam the rice just like my mother makes it."

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