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Live the 'steamer trunk lifestyle' and turn a hotel into your home base while you explore

Joszi Meskan calls it "the steamer trunk lifestyle" for aging boomers. And I'm ready to sign up.

Forget "assisted living," she said. Don't think about a "retirement" home. Instead, travel the globe, spending several months in New York City, for example, maybe a few more in Paris or Rome or Beijing.

Joszi Meskan Associates, interior decorators in San Francisco, visualize hotel space such as this offering a life "the way the rich used to live" on a monthly rate for elders who want to travel, who must go to assisted living, etc. The design concept is turning an 18- by 30-foot average hotel room into a one-room permanent or semipermanent living space.

Instead of renting a hotel room by the day, find hotels that have adapted rooms to rent on a monthly basis.

In case you wonder what those rooms might look like, Meskan, a San Francisco interior designer, has created a sample that she showcased at the recent Boomer Business Summit, part of the American Society on Aging conference, in San Francisco.

"Hotel rooms are, for the most part, only 50 percent occupied today so this seems like a win-win solution," she said.

Her model room is the standard hotel size. But instead of a bed taking up the center, there's a sofa bed with drawers underneath and a desk with pullout space for a computer.

All very modern, compact, efficient, friendly. A comfortable sitting chair with ottoman, ample lighting and stylish accoutrements make the space even more inviting.

Yes, it's similar to living in a furnished apartment but with a difference. There's the opportunity to have a maid make your bed, a chef do your cooking, even a friendly bartender to chat with while you have an evening cocktail.

"It's the way the rich used to live," Meskan said. "Use the hotel as a base camp. Spend your money traveling."

She has a point.

With expected life spans stretching into the 80s now, why pick an age-segregated lifestyle until disabilities force that upon you?

Meskan figures she has a win-win idea for a recession-plagued economy. Hotels, she points out, have huge payrolls to meet whether rooms are rented or not. Renting rooms by the month gives the operator some guaranteed income.

"Put your personal stuff in storage," she said. "You should think about ridding yourself of stuff anyway."

She has another point there. We all have too much stuff. Everything from drawings our kids made in first grade to photo collections that span the decades to souvenirs from long-ago vacations.

I went through those boxes about a decade ago, when we downsized from what I called our "Brady Bunch house" with 3,000 square feet and four bedrooms to about half that space.

There was something liberating about putting photos on CDs, sending my kids their mementos, tossing and shredding and discarding junk.

"It gives your life purpose and freedom," Meskan said.

And then you can take off for places known and unknown.

You can live downtown near the hub of cultural events, shopping and the special attractions of whatever city you choose.

In your hotel room, you should have a small refrigerator and a microwave oven, which is all you'll need, Meskan said. "If you pick some sort of assisted living or retirement home you'll be eating in the dining room anyway," she said.

Meskan's model room is all white, which may not be the choice for everyone. But it's a start.

I like the idea of the "steamer trunk lifestyle."

Yes, you get tired of traveling. Weary of seeing the sites and the sights.

So then it's time to settle down. To maybe go back to your original hometown.

Weary of traveling. What a concept!

Meskan sold me. Now she just has to sell the hotel industry.

And I hope to report more on that later.

Jane Glenn Haas is the founder of She can be reached at

Live the 'steamer trunk lifestyle' and turn a hotel into your home base while you explore 07/26/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 4:30am]
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