Reid’s Hotel, Madeira: Could I bring my bush pigs with me?
Researching the history of famous hotels is hard work. The more welcome is the occasional finding of true gems in past correspondence. Here is a diamond of that collection, a unique masterpiece of hotel communication:
The following correspondence entailed from a letter, received by the manager of the legendary Reid's Hotel (Madeira, Portugal) in November 1989.
James C. Wade III
1000 Lausanne 19
Att: the Manager
Do you accept animals in your hotel? I would be interested in a three-week stay in May of next year if my bush pigs could stay in an adjoining room.
I would appreciate your reply as soon as possible.
James C. Wade III
The Manager of Reid's Hotel,
Thank you very much for your letter of 20th November the content of which had our best attention.
We would very much appreciate if you could inform us what you really mean by "bush pigs" as we do not know that kind of animal. We do accept small dogs, but they are not allowed to be in public areas; such as Restaurants, Bars, Swimming Pools and Salons.
Looking forward to hearing from you in order to give us a definite answer in respect of your query, in the meantime, we remain,
Deputy General Manager
December 6, 1989
Dear Mr Margeridon,
Thank you for your letter to me dated November 27. I apologize for any confusion which my letter may have caused; sometimes I forget that not everyone knows what a bush pig is.
Yolanda and Boris, my two bush pigs, have been travelling with me for years. Sadly, their brother Edgar died in the sauna at the Mandarin five years ago. As bush pigs go, they're actually rather small; three feet long and around 200 lbs., although Yolanda has a tendency to gain weight if I don't keep an eye on her asparagus intake.
May I assure you that my hogs are very well-behaved. In fact, I'm afraid that all three of them have been spoiled rotten by attentive hotel staffs all over the world. Usually they stay in their room listening to the radio, but on a hot afternoon, they do like a dip in the pool. Most other hotel guests don't mind much.
In fact most people find them lots of fun. Three or four years ago, the pastry chef of the Oberoi told me that Boris had finished off the entire dessert buffet in less than two minutes, while all the other guests clapped and cheered him on.
We would all love to come stay with you and look forward to your confirmation.
The following reply was much shorter, ending with the polite lines:
We do sincerely regret, but we can not submit you an offer as only small dogs are accepted at Reid's.
We are so sorry not being able to comply with your wish and remain with kind regards,
Deputy General Manager
James C. Wade III* never replied. And we do not have any record of him arriving at any other famous hotel on the planet in the company of one or more bush pigs**.
* James Wade is currently the Director of Marketing and Communication at the Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne. He has lived in Switzerland since 1982, previously working as head of marketing for a Swiss private bank and before that, serving on the Executive Board of the World Economic Forum in Geneva, where he helped develop the programme for the annual Davos conference. A graduate of Harvard Business School, he founded a one-man communication company in 1993 specialising in CEO speechwriting and other communication projects in the areas of marketing and public affairs, working for some of Switzerland's largest corporations. He is also the author of "P.S. My Bush Pig's Name is Boris" and "Drop Us A Line, Sucker", two somewhat off-the-wall humour books which have each been rated 5 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com."
** Bush pig (also African bush pig) is wild pig native to the forests and savannas of Africa and Madagascar. Potamochoerus porcus and P. larvatus, family Suidae.
More about Reid's and its fabled Afternoon Tea can be found in our little book I had Tea at Reid's.