Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back to the Intercontinental

I used to work in an office, in Wellington, with a boss who’d read one too many yet one too few self help books about how to be a great manager. The office was going to hell in a handcart but he’d been appointed recently and was convinced he could turn things around. One day he held an internal competition where you had to come up with the best idea for improving the business. He told us he wanted ‘out of the box thinking’. Ironically, we had to write our idea down on a piece of paper and drop it into a box.

My colleague and I, being comedians both professional and hobbyist, decided to subvert the competition by writing the most clichéd business-speak we could and submitting it as revolutionary thinking.

“Zig when the others Zag”, wrote my buddy with a straight face.

“Make excellence a point of difference”, I wrote halfheartedly.

Well fuck me if the two of us didn’t win the competition. It was a tie! Our prize? A night each at The Intercontinental Wellington, the capital’s premium five-star hotel.

The company never really took our advice. While others were zagging, we held week long witch hunts to find out who’d stolen a carton of Up-and-Go from the prize cupboard. Was excellence a point of difference? I don’t know, do signs up in the toilet reminding men to scrub the bowl after they’d used it count? In a way, you could say that excrement was a point of difference.

But me and my mate got a night at The Intercontinental, and it was lush. Everything about it was classy apart from the two of us – both 25ish, single, with a suite to ourselves each and a real incentive to pull that night in town.

How does having a five star hotel room help your game? It doesn’t actually. You can’t stop talking about it. You meet some young woman and can’t stop yourself telling her that you have a room at the Intercontinental tonight, no biggee. You start repelling people with your invisible but palpable need to make the most of that room. Honestly, hotels are made for people who bring sex with them, not people who hope to find it later.

So I was most pleased to return to that hotel this weekend and enjoy it with someone who was obligated to share a bed with me. How good is Wellington, with its walkability and its harbour views and its ridiculous coffee?

The Intercontinental, as well as being a beautiful place to stay with someone who’s already agreed to have your babies, has a class A restaurant in The Chameleon. In anticipation of the New Zealand Chocolate Festival next week, The Chameleon is doing a five course chocolate degustation. You can read all about it here – it’s just one of the many events and special menus on for Visa Wellington on a Plate, but it’s a bloody good one.