The Most Expensive Hotel Suite in the World
Going Galactica in the Bahamas
Text and 16 photographs by Eric Pasquier
The seriously wealthy have long been coming to the Bahamas to escape the winter and splash out.
If you have money to burn, the Crystal Palace Hotel is a few notches above the average five-star resort.
Its Galactica Suite costs a breathtaking $25,000 per night and includes your very own robot (Ursula), Jacuzzi, menus catered to your tastes and VIP treatment at the hotel’s casino.
Oh, and Ursula is from – where else? – Galactica.
ERIC PASQUIER laps it up in the lap of luxury.
The Boeing 737 sporting the colours of Carnival Air Lines, owned by the same American company that owns the Crystal Palace Hotel, touches down gently onto the hot tarmac of Nassau International Airport. As the door is opened, warm tropical air rushes into the private jet. Waiting at the foot of the stairs is an enormous Cadillac stretch limo, its engine purring, a stream of cool air pouring out of its plush leather interior.
Ursula, the hostess reserved exclusively for guests staying in the Galactica Suite, the pride of the Crystal Palace Hotel, is standing by.
But Ursula is not your ordinary hotel hostess, combining the sultry drawl of Marilyn Monroe, the space-age hairstyle of Grace Jones with the rather stiff body of a mechanical E.T.
Ursula is a robot.
And so the space-age adventure of the lucky few guests of the Crystal Palace Hotel’s Galactica Suite begins – with its multi-functional electronic servant glistening under the Caribbean sun, ready to attend to your every wish and desire. But the most amazing thing is yet to come.
At the reception desk of the Crystal Palace Hotel, the magnetic key handed to Galactica Suite guests has a memory chip.
This chip stores all information the guests deem important for the duration of the stay; ranging from special tastes and hobbies to phobias. In this way, the private secretary, entourage or family of the lucky guest in this very special suite, can provide the hotel management with enough details to answer the new occupant’s every desire.
By storing this information in her specially-installed disc drive, Ursula, who remains at her “master’s” side for the duration of his stay, will be able to retrieve the information necessary to attend to her master’s every whim or wish.
Entering the Galactica Suite is sort of like walking onto the set of a Steven Spielberg movie, or at least what one would imagine such a movie set would look like. The Suite comes complete with multi-coloured fluorescent tubes, shiny steel and plexiglass walls, electronic doors that open automatically with a whoosh and giant video screens. You name it, it’s all here.
The immense bathroom is equipped with the very latest in Jacuzzi technology, not to mention steam baths, saunas, the whole kit and caboodle. The kitchen is crammed with so many glittering gadgets that it seems practically unusable. Finally, the “tour de force” is the electronic panel with all the buttons controlling every function of this space-shuttle paradise.
Press the white button…and zing, the fluorescent lights come alive; press the red button and thousands of stars glitter across the ceiling; the blue button, and the duplex circular bed begins to rotate; other buttons, pressed at random, light up the giant aquarium, or make the rotating sofa move, open and close the aluminium blinds, make the pre-selected music come blasting out of hidden speakers, or cause the various sculptures to come to life. The possibilities are truly mind-boggling. The push of a button can even initiate a tropical storm complete with pelting rain, thunder and lightning. To fully understand the multitude of control buttons would require at least a week of intensive study.
The Galactica Suite is a world of steel and chrome where everything seems grey and cold…but, when a booming laugh resonates through the room, a little human warmth is infused into this otherworldly universe. It is the voice of Vernauld. Vernauld is in fact, a living replica of Cassius Clay and is Ursula’s “terrestrial ambassador.” He too, is there to answer every whim or desire of the Galactica Suite guest. What service! Everything the guest could possibly desire is here, at the touch of a button.
Solitude is a rare thing in the Galactica Suite. In the bathroom, for example, after the guest’s well-deserved session in the Jacuzzi, Ursula slides silently up to the edge of the circular bath holding out a big fluffy towel for the happy bather, her head in the air and her “eyes” on the ceiling: a natural show of respect for the guest’s privacy.
Ursula explains that she is really quite old: 4,000 years to be exact. Her planet – Galactica, of course – is millions of kilometres from Venus, and she has been working on Planet Earth for almost a year. During this time, she has been storing the specific tastes of each client in her electronic memory, arranged by category and naturally, kept confidential, deep within her micro-processing brain.
For lunch, Ursula suggests that grilled lobster would be perfectly accompanied by a “Pouligny-Montrachet.” As the guest agrees, Ursula, without further ado, programs this into her memory banks. She and the client become inseparable. On the beach, by the side of the pool, Ursula is always there; ready to attend to every desire. This is only normal: at $25,000 a night, shouldn’t your every desire be attended to with such loving care?
Sometimes, Ursula goes beyond her master’s requests and takes the initiative. You could find her leading a charming female creature into the suite, skilled in the art of exuberant, or even brutal, caresses. She is “Crystal,” the hotel’s mascot – a white tigress.
Surprisingly, the occupants of the Galactica Suite often don’t actually have to pay. They are invariably ultra-rich – the crème de la crème of the millionaire crop from around the world – movie stars, models and celebrities. More often than not, the hotel management offers a “night with the robot” free of charge to these very highest of flyers. For the ones who gleefully lose hundreds of thousands of dollars on the green felt of the hotel’s casino, “It’s the least of things to offer them a $25,000 night,” says the Crystal Palace Hotel’s manager.
During this night everything is available and of course nothing is counted. The day’s big loser forgets his bad luck at the gambling tables and is already dreaming of tomorrow’s big winnings. For Ursula is perfect in every way: on the giant video screen, she has programmed the projection of his favourite paintings, is always nearby with his favourite drink at hand and plays his all-time favourite album on the hi-fi. The aim is relaxation and a state of blissful oblivion where thoughts of the many bad bets at the roulette wheel are banished. Still, not a bad way to lose your fortune.
Copyright © Eric Pasquier
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