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Why a swan towel blog? The better question is, why not a blog dedicated to the art of swan toweling?

How it all started

I was helping a friend look for hotels online and was delighted to find that the hotel had candid traveler photos of swan towels. I think swan towels are supposed to be charming, and a way to welcome the traveler, and increase the tip the traveler leaves. The traveler is about to leave the hotel and starts to mentally calculate how the services should be rewarded: “Room was always kept clean, I got new shampoo each day, and yes, the swan towels…I better add some more to the tip!”

Then I did a google search for towel swans and swan towels and was thrilled to see so many images! One of the first images that drew me in was this classic swan towel arrangement:

Below the image read this caption: “We were greeted when we checked in to Couples Ocho Rios with a romantic detail: two kissing swans crafted from towel origami.”

From this we see swan towels can be romantic too! If swan towels can be perceived as romantic, what else can they do? I think this is an untapped area, ripe for discovery.  Perhaps this is the only swan towel blog in the USA, and maybe even the world. Is there a whole community of people interested in this rich tradition of specialized towel folding?  Maybe with this blog we can find out!

So it’s time for me to take on the responsibility of blogging about towel swans, to tell their story and the stories of the people who create them and the people who enjoy them! I promise to steal swan towel images from the world wide web to post here. I will also welcome your photos of towel swans, and your tales of swan towels.

Viva the swan towel!

Keep posted, more coming soon.

15 Comments »

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  1. Well, meri saheli, mubarak ho on your new endeavor! And what just ripped through my Indian-saturated mind was: “great, IF there are any swan towels at any of the places we stay on my upcoming trip to India, they will be documented photographically for Suzy-ji! And for that matter, anywhere else in the world/country I may be at any time!

    I hope that your additional blog doesn’t max you out completely to the point where you have to choose between filmi or towels… it seems it may be a hard decision to make!

    Geez, I’ll bet that Amitji & Jaya had swan towels in their suite in their ultra-fancy hotel in Paris this week; maybe you need to ask him to take some cool pix on his high-end iPhone!

    HAVE FUN!!!

  2. Never liked swan towels. My sisters used to make them. They’d do arrangements very similar to the ones I see here and leave them on my bed. A few times they even slipped into the bathroom while I was showering and turned my towel into a swan without my even noticing. I didn’t get it. Didn’t like it. Then I worked at a restaurant that wrapped people’s leftovers in foil shaped into swans.

    But you know what? I’m ready to take a second look! Maybe if you post a little about the lore of swan towels, my interest will be piqued and I’ll revisit my longstanding dislike of these sorts of flourishes.

    By the way, I wonder if swan toweling occurs in other countries. It wouldn’t surprise me if some dictator’s wife were a swan toweler who forced her subjects to do it as a sign of fealty to their leader. Kids might study it in school and compete against one another to see who could do it the most artfully. Like maybe Elena Ceausescu, wife of Nicolae in Romania swan toweled. Or Slobodan Milosevic’s wife, Mirjana Markovic. I’m not sure why I suspect it would be popular in the Balkans and Central Europe. Take Austria. Remember Jorg Haider, the Nazi sympathizer politician? I’m pretty sure he was married, and I’ll bet his wife swan toweled. But it’s not all Europeans, surely. Think about Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. He was hitched, I believe, to one Maria Lucia Hiriart Rodriguez, a woman who was at least twice arrested, once for tax evasion and another time for embezzlement and use of false passports. How many palaces do you think she had? And how many house guests of hers were treated to swan toweling? And speaking of palaces, you’ve seen what some of Saddam Hussein’s mansions looked like. His wife was probably swan toweling when the Coalition Forces rolled in there and swan-toweled her husband’s dictator ass!

    (By the way, it’s not a great distance between a swan towel and a rat’s tail. Just wet the end and snap! Just SNAP it! SNAP on someone’s ASS!)

    I’d be curious to know the demographics of swan towelers in America. Maybe a high percentage are actually men. Maybe a lot of teenage boys do what my sisters did to me: prank swan towel their friends and siblings.

    The more I think about it, the more I think there is to discover. Fine: I’ll bookmark your site. I just hope you post often and in detail. You got me curious, Pretty Lady. Don’t let a fella down.

  3. I feel so stupid that I forgot to include Imelda Marcos in my list of dictators’ wives who are probably swan towelers. She more than anyone would be into them! Can you imagine the beatings her staff would get if she walked into a room and found, due to poor folding, a swan lying slumped on the bed?

    Imelda Marcos!
    Imelda Marcos!
    Imelda Marcos!

    Why am I so stupid!!!! Here I was racking my brain trying to remember Pinochet’s wife’s name and pulling Jorg Haider out of my ass while ignoring the biggest swan toweler of them all.

    By the way, you know that after the Marcoses left power and Corazon Aquino took over the palaces, there was no way she’d have continued the practice. It’s sad, kind of, because there was probably a lot of artistry to be seen — artistry spurred by the threat of a beating, but still — not just at the palace, but at guesthouses on the palace grounds, in lounges, and of course at the legendary Manila Hotel, once considered one of the world’s greatest properties and undoubtedly home to unbelievable swan toweling because Imelda Marcos presided over it like a Filippina Leona Helmsley.

    And think about THAT: You think Leona the Queen of Mean instructed her staff to swan towel? Don’t even argue with me on this one. Of course she did.

  4. OK, I must be staying in all the wrong places. I’ve never heard of (or seen) swan towels.

    Maybe it’s just as well; I mean, geez, just how much man-handling goes into making one of those things? I like my towels lightly fondled and clean, thank you.

    And yet… they fascinate me… I, too, need to know more… more.
    – Who thought this up — a chambermaid with origami experience and OCD?
    – Are there swan towel competitions; do housekeepers have “signature swans” (“Ah! What a delight! I see Benjamin Smithers made up my room; see that delicate 45 degree neck tilt? That’s known in the industry as “Ben’s Bend”)
    – Is employment based on a housekeeper’s ability to swan towel? (“I’m sorry LuAnn, we have to let you go – your swan towels are limp.”)
    – Does fabric softener affect the folding?
    – Does Egyptian cotton make a better swan?
    – Are facecloths and hand towels called “ducklings” (or is that “swanlings?)
    – Are bath sheets Canada Geese?

    And here I thought folding the toilet paper end into a point was classy…

  5. jen,
    Thanks for your visit to the blog! I hope this new blog won’t be too labor intensive so that I neglect more improtant duties in life, but I felt draw to blog about this. So be it! Of cousre I too wonder about superstars Amitabh Bachchan and Jaya Bachchan treatment at hotels as in relates to swan towels. I am not sure if swan towels have hit France, let alone Paris. But what do I know, Paris could be where this all started. I will be checking in to Amit-ji’s blog to see if he mentions it. With greater awareness of swan towels, or towel swans, we will certainly learn more. You know how stars have contract riders that include specifications about what they want back stage, or in their hotels? I remember reading that J-Lo and Mariah Carey were difficlut with their riders. Here’s an example of J-Lo’s:
    http://www.thesmokinggun.com/backstagetour/lopezrider/lopezrider1.html
    OK, so MY rider would ask for what? Multiple swan towels, back stage, in the hotel, everywhere. In fact if it’s a towel, it’s swaned! It’s in the contract!

  6. Last year I went on a cruise around the Caribbean. I would never spend my own money on that kind of shit — lots of fat, ugly, retired unionists eating bland, starchy food; stuporous funkers waddling between slot machines and the nearest bar, which was never more then 10 feet away, for another goddamned fruity drink garnished with shiny, cheery baubles (imagine a run-of-the-mill Filipino taxi cab rear view mirror); shopping “give-aways,”; and the obligatory “formal night” — a friend won the cruise and took me along as his guest. We had a very fancy state room on the top deck with a big balcony and a separate sitting room. One of our ports of call was the shit hole town of Ocho Rios in Jamaica. When we returned from our day ashore, we found what looked in the dim light like a cobra wearing sunglasses ready to strike its prey. It was very shocking. Once we turned on the lights and realized that it was a twisted towel, or two, we were even less sure what to make of it. It was, to be sure, supremely ugly. But more than that, its function as a sign vehicle for meaning was completely beyond our ability to imagine. We weren’t sure if we were to delight in its cuteness, ponder the difficulty in and the skill required for its creation, or, as I thought, fear that we had been gifted with the Jamaican terrycloth equivalent of a severed horse head in our bed. Frankly, I found its weird shape very unsettling and disturbing. I immediately interpreted it as an act of hostility by the house staff. Jeremy, my host, assured me that it must surely be some form of folk art extracted from its grindingly poor original cultural context and rerendered “accessible” for us the tourists on the boat so that we might have a taste of some sort of authentic local color. I could not imagine, however, what sort of backwards culture might revere this sort of fabric folding as a gesture of peace and goodwill. It was so ugly and sinewy and contorted, it just didn’t strike me as a friendly gesture. I wondered if all the other first-class cabins had been so gifted or victimized. Clearly, the creature was an attempt to ramp up the potential for end-of-cruise tippage. Indeed, the house staff do just about anything to supplement the meager wages they are offered by the cruise lines. You just can’t feed your family of 13 on free pina coladas. The next day, as we returned from our day ashore in Grand Cayman, we found a towel dog, also wearing sunglasses (this time the creature was wearing Jeremy’s crappy sunglasses and not my YSLs . Oh, and I was furious that the housekeeper had used my YSLs on the fucking towel snake).

  7. I have friends at the new W Hotel in Minneapolis. I’m going to ask them if guests demand swan toweling.

  8. although I admit much skill and hand strength must be required to make such things as these, I still find them a little spooky. I get the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I used to get when visiting my grandmother and observing her carved rose soap collection resting in a dusty crystal bowl atop a yellowing doily. if I ever find one on my bed I will hit it with a tennis racket.

  9. Tim,
    I’ve stayed at that W. I’d be really surprised if a) they offer them and b) their guests request them. I would NOT be surprised, however, to learn that someone at the W will know what they are since they are a feature in a number “luxury” hotels (cf. Vegas, Niagara Falls, Atlantic City, etc.), and industry folk do talk.
    M

  10. […] Sorry for neglecting this blog, I got a bit sidetracked with work and with my new blog on swan towels, or should I say towel swans? […]

  11. Wow. I never knew how much I didn’t know about the art of swan towels. And YES it is an art, comparable to Michelangelo’s David, or the ceiling of the sistine chapel. In fact I would like to see a side-by-side comparison highlighting the details and intricacy of both. Viva la Swan Towels!

  12. Snip:”Jeremy, my host, assured me that it must surely be some form of folk art extracted from its grindingly poor original cultural context and rerendered “accessible” for us the tourists on the boat so that we might have a taste of some sort of authentic local color.”

    Local Color??? …”grindingly poor original cultural context …
    Ignorant…

  13. hello, i am from Perú and i love swan toweling. i have a small hotel. So i decided to made some changes and after research on google i found out those beautifuls ways to fold a towel…so now in all my hotel rooms we are doing that!

    😀 if somebody wanna gimme more ideas…are more than welcome 😀

    limabiz@hotmail.com

  14. I would like to go to Rome this year, what else except the Sistine Chapel should I visit? Any ideas for a great place to do some shopping with my girlfriend?

  15. Dear Sir,

    We are manufacturers and exporters made-ups and fabric and all kind of terry towels .Terry Fabric,Grey Fabric, Print Fabric

    I am deal only towel portion.

    We have managed all kind of towels and terry fabric

    Hand Towel

    Bath Towel

    Bath Sheet

    Face Towel

    Bath Mat

    Bath Robe

    CRT

    We are managed in dobby and jacquard in plain dyed and yarn dyed,

    we are working all kind of Embroidery in Toweling.

    We have power and shuttle less both looms are available.we have also a processing unit

    Stitching and packing with professional staff.

    Please give me a chance to prove my working style

    we are attach some picture of our Product

    Best Regards
    Tasuddaq Husain
    ———————————————————
    For, K.B. Enterprises (Head Office)
    Oeko-Tex 100 & ISO 9001 certified

    P-237, Hassan Arcade, Yarn Market,
    Montgomery Bazar, Faisalabad, Pakistan.

    Tel: 0092 (41) 2638226 / 2635904 (Ext. 109)
    Cell: 0092 (301) 7078320
    Fax: 0092 (41) 2642127
    Web: http://www.kbenterprises.com.pk


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