Shopping with experts: remerchandising Paradise


One half of The Women’s Room team is fortunate enough to be on holiday at a glamorous beach resort somewhere hot this week, and very nice it is too, although….

Why is it that, despite investing in top of the range spas that smell and sound like you’ve walked into heaven (Enya will be playing at the Pearly Gates, I'm certain) and gyms so well equipped you feel fitter just by looking at the machines, the hotel shop is always crap?

As a retail obsessive I appreciate that I just need to chill out and get myself a good book, but this is such a wasted opportunity that I find the urge to break into the tiny overstocked shop and remerchandise it is overwhelming.

(There is a spa menu that includes a detox massage, a relax and unwind facial and a stress-busting pedicure, but I notice that no one if offering a ‘relax by remerchandising the shop’ option).

There is very little sign of the recession here on the beach, I see an affluent captive audience that gets slightly bored around 5.00pm and has a tendency to drink too much and become prone to an impulse buy. Excellent potential for a good retail offer.

But the little shop is a sad unloved place that looks more like a stock room than a place to have some holiday fun. There are some good things in it, Juliet Dunn Indian cotton kaftans, Vilebrequin trunks for boys and some great hats from Australian hat maker Helen Kaminski, but everything is piled up on shelves or stuffed onto rails so densely packed you’re exhausted just looking at them. And the pricing is stupendously high.

I remember once stumbling across a Theo Fennell store on the beach at a hotel in The Maldives, which seemed to cater for holidaymakers who could afford to purchase £18,000 earrings on impulse while making their way from the seashore to the shower before supper. Fair enough, but quadrupling the price of a cotton sarong just because you’re a captive of the hotel seems flagrant exploitation. And I can guarantee will not encourage a sale.

So as I sit on the beach I construct the perfect shop in my head and decided that it’s all about taste. A hotel shop needs to be an edited collection of stuff, but to be of any interest the whole thing (particularly in a five star resort) has got to have great taste. Just the best pieces, beautifully displayed and irresistibly priced. It could cause a riot. Now, did I pack my cat-burglar suit?…….

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