What's so special about the welcome drink? What does it really mean? I recently wrote about welcome drinks on Grantourismo: "Immediately after your arrival at a hotel in Thailand – after you’ve been greeted with a “sawadee-kaa” from all the hotel staff accompanied by the traditional ‘wai’ gesture (hands shaped as if ready for prayer) – you’re ushered to a comfy seat and offered an icy cold face towel, usually scented with aromatic lemongrass, along with a welcome drink. While the icy face towels are particularly welcomed in Thailand’s sultry heat, it’s the welcome drinks we really enjoyed. We love the variety, from the Four Season Koh Samui’s frothy pink cocktail of guava, mango juice and sparkling ginger ale, to the Muang Kulaypan’s whole coconut filled with fresh sweet coconut juice (pictured)..." So what is it really about welcome drinks that we love? Apart from how refreshing they might be? Do we really place that much importance on them? Would we really care if we weren't offered one? And what do they mean? They're a gesture of hospitality, it goes without saying. And hotels are in the business of 'tourism and hospitality' so it's a gesture we should expect. Then why are we so delighted to be handed a glass of water and damp face cloth? Is it because someone has shown us that they care? Some cultures place more emphasis on these gestures of goodwill than others. We've lived in the Middle East for ten years and everything that's said about Arab hospitality is true. You can't enter a carpet shop in Dubai, Cairo, Damascus, or Marrakesh without being offered tea. Water is brought automatically without asking. It goes without saying you can expect the same in most shops and businesses, in banks even, and, naturally, in people's (even stranger's) homes. Is it that in 'the West' we appreciate the hotel welcome drink so much more because these gestures of hospitality are missing from our everyday life?