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I started writing this from my room in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Key Biscayne, Florida and finished it while seated in first class on my flight home. This entire experience has been filled with “pinch me” moments.

When I learned that I would be staying at the Ritz-Carlton for a work assignment, I was giddy. (Almost as giddy as when I learned I’d be flying for the first time at the age of 16 recounted in this blog post.) The Ritz is the place Macaulay Culkin stayed in Home Alone. It’s a place my husband and I referenced as a tourist attraction when we lived in California as newlyweds. It’s been written about in The New Gold Standard by author Joseph Michelli, and expert on customer experience and someone I’ve gotten the chance to work with over the past 2 years.

Five star hotels, first class flights and concierge service are not things I thought about growing up in Republic, Ohio. Luxury shows up in different ways when you grow up in a rural Ohio town like I did. Here is how I remember luxury while growing up in a small town:

Small Town Luxury List

  • Swimming in a pool versus a pond
  • Staying in a hotel versus camping
  • Eating at sit down restaurants
  • A new outfit instead of hand-me-downs from my sister
  • A new coloring book and box of crayons

Here is a quick documentation of my recent brush with luxury:

Documenting the trip via Facebook

Returning to the Ritz after a cancelled flight

Trip to the spa after flight cancellation

Even though my recent experience differs drastically from my small town luxury list, the feelings I experienced were the same, namely extreme gratitude and joy. I never want to take things for granted and continueally remind myself of where I came from to keep myself grounded.

Small Town leadership lesson: Think of ways to experience luxury wherever you are. A warm cup of coffee on a rainy day. A new book from the library. A pedicure. A home cooked meal. Perhaps you will find yourself at the Ritz-Carlton or seated in first class soon, too. When you experience it, relish it and be grateful.

What is the greatest luxury in your life? What feelings show up for you when you experience it?


Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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