Sunday 3 April 2011

REVIEW: Beach Babylon, by Imogen Edwards-Jones and Anonymous (4*)

(Bantam Press, 2007)

This book was such great fun! I read Hotel Babylon on holiday years ago, but I think this one was even better. In this exposé the anonymous whistle-blower is once again a manager in the hotel industry, but this time of a luxury island resort rather than a London establishment - and it takes things to a whole new level! As in the other Babylon books, all the people, places and madcap events that appear in the book are real, but names and locations have been changed (obviously!) and the bizarre situations the manager finds himself having to cope with have been condensed into one crazy 'week in the life'.

The reader is swept into a world of incredible luxury and privilege. This is a resort where the villas can cost up to $6000 a night, and the guests are so wealthy that they can afford to blow $20,000 on a afternoon's entertainment or $1,500 on a bottle of champagne without batting an eyelid. Not only does our intrepid manager have to cosy up to each and every one of his guests and bend over backwards to keep them happy, but he must also deal with their more outrageous requests, make sure the isolated island has everything it needs on a daily basis, and try to keep his staff functioning and content in the face of daily difficulties.

This is a wonderful piece of escapism, managing to capture both the little bubble of island life, with its daily champagne parties and beach barbeques and celebrity guests, and the all-consuming nightmare of trying to keep such a large resort in the impossibly perfect condition expected by the demanding clientele. Despite the 'world apart' nature of the island, the characters will be painfully familiar to anyone who's ever been on holiday! It's funny, it's dry, it's cringeworthy - and it's brilliant!

Source: I borrowed this book from our shop shelves.