It sounds so easy to become a member of the leisure class.
All you need is an idea with a time that has come and the kind of determination that leads you to bicycle around southwest Louisiana, stopping along the way for private gourmet-dining and a leisurely stay at a National Historic Plantation House like Madewood.
On a recent Saturday morning, several fit-as-a-fiddle midlifers gathered for breakfast in Madewood’s dining room. I was regaling our guests with the standard innkeeper’s lament about Trip Advisor, the website that allows guests to review hotels, restaurants and off-the-beaten-track venues like Madewood.
“My friend — just across the table there,” a tall, reed-slim man said. “He and I had a hand in that.”
Whoops, I thought, mentally scrolling back through what I’d just said. We’d all laughed when I described my recent “Trip Despiser” article on Nolavie. Hmm. And I’d gone so far as to print out and distribute the “Vetted Guest Registry” piece that followed. Humorous but questionable.
Objectively, I’d given both sides of the story. Good. Angie had adhered to the speaker’s diet requests. Even better. Probably no bad online review from these guests.
Besides, no one was associated any longer with such an old-fashioned venture, which I assume had been worth mega bucks.
Now there’s a new site, Trover (pronounced as the French trouver, to find), a figurative marriage of Instagram and Trip Advisor, which allows users to post photos and a brief description of dramatic/memorable/astonishing sites around the globe.
“Only positive things,” our guest assured me, promising he’d post a shot of the facade of Madewood he’d taken.
Oh great, I thought: After all these years of agonizing when the words “Review Alert on Trip Advisor” appear in the subject line of an e-mail you’ve received, now someone decides to create a site that allows only positive postings — a venture that will probably, one day soon, be worth millions, if not billions.
Although comments on Trip Advisor are overwhelmingly favorable, we all fret about the occasional unhappy guest who refrains from voicing a complaint until after his or her departure, when it’s too late to do something about it.
I was reminded of Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, whom a writer once described as a true Southern Belle (from the heart of the original South, Baltimore) — the type of woman who would cast a glance over her shoulder at the battlefield littered with the hearts of swains she’d conquered and sigh dismissively, “Wouldn’t Mother have loved this.”
Bye-bye, heartbreak of Trip Advisor.
Now, someone wants us only to wallow in the good — and trover.com, overflows with scores of both amusing and breathtaking photos. Including that of me and Miss Clio.
The description isn’t bad either: Madewood’s proprietor, we’re told, ” knows how to tell a slow meandering story, like the Mississippi.”
As I’ve just done.