My wife always had a taste for finer vacation accommodations, while I had always been perfectly happy with the more budget-conscious selections. The reason is that my wife has always had more class than I.
So when our wedding rolled around in 1998, we decided to visit Hawaii for our honeymoon. I was content to sun myself at one of the StarwoodHotels and Resorts
Still, I'm glad I gave in. Everything I'd heard about Hawaii was true, and the Four Seasons spoiled me to the point where I will not settle for much less on a vacation. Why? Everything about these resorts was absolutely perfect. Employees who passed me on the grounds would say, "Good morning, Mr. Meyers," yet I was mystified as to how they knew my name. It was almost too perfect. "What else might they know?" I wondered. As a precaution, I checked for missing credit cards and in-room hidden cameras, but everything seemed OK.
Waitresses offered Evian spritzes and iced towels as we lay in the hot sun. Cocktails were made to my exact specifications. Years later, when we returned to Maui with our first child, the staff had spelled out our daughter's name -- which I'd told them in advance -- in little sponges on the bathtub. Four Seasons wasn't just a luxury hotel chain but a vacation experience.
So I investigated the stock. Besides having an outstanding product, Four Seasons preferred managing resorts to owning them, so they didn't (and still don't) carry billions in mortgage debt. As the price had mysteriously tumbled during our honeymoon because of some transitory bad news (and not, as I feared, my poor table manners), I bought shares. The price I bought at has since turned out to be a six-year low. I recently sold it for a five-bagger, returning the cost of my honeymoon several times over. This was a classic example of buying a product I knew, understood, and which had a clear advantage over competitors.
As investors, we should always be alert to sampling new products to find new stock ideas. That may mean venturing outside the comfort zone of your own Motel 6, but you may just stumble into the lobby of a Four Seasons -- and reap a hefty reward.
Planning a vacation? Make sure your first stop is the Fool's Travel Center.
Fool contributor Lawrence Meyers does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned herein but would give his right arm for a week in Maui.