AKA - The Overlook
We are at a hotel in Slovakia and we are outraged.
“What on earth do you mean!?” a gobsmacked Zsuzsa asks the hotel attendant.
She has just informed us that the spa and wellness centre is located in another building. Whilst this might not sound like the biggest deal in the world to you, what you don’t realise is that this will require a 100 metre walk in the open air to reach it. That’s right! 100 metres! Outside! We’ll need to put our coats on!
Let that just sink in.
“But it doesn’t mention this on the website!” I say, shaking with rage.
“Sorry Mr Hutchins, but it’s just outside. We didn’t think it would be a problem.”
“Oh didn’t you!” I snidely retort.
Naturally I’m furious, but then, being the zen master that I famously am, I decide to take a step back and focus on the positives. “Come on Gareth. We’re on holiday. It’s New Year’s Eve tomorrow. Mila is three hours way with the in-laws meaning that we can finally get some sleep, and the ski slopes are just outside.” A calmness begins to creep over me. I breathe in the fresh mountain air and glance at Zsuzsa, but I notice that she is still seething. I take her to one side.
“Come on honey. It’s not that bad. We’re on holiday and we’re baby free! We can sleep! We can fudging well sleep!” I excitedly say, although I don’t actually say the word “fudging”. “We have three days of hitting the ski slopes and spa-ing. Then we can sleep!”
“But the spa! It’s in another building.” says Zsuzsa, fighting back the tears.
I put my hands on her shoulders and look her in the eye.
“We will find it.” I say.
Zsuzsa considers these words, my strength and positivity are visibly flowing into her. I notice something in her eye. Trust. She is beginning to trust my words. Together we will make it to the spa, despite the fact that it is situated in another building.
“Let’s just enjoy it. Picture it. We get up in the morning naturally! We have some breakfast and take a little stroll to the slopes. We strap some pieces of wood to our feet, hurtle down a mountain with very limited control, and then once we’re done we skip gleefully to the spa.”
A hint of a smile appears on Zsuzsa’s face. She takes a deep breath and tries to be a big, brave girl. We return to the hotel attendant.
“Okay. How do we get to the slopes in the morning?” I ask.
“It’s just thirty minutes on a train or a ten minute drive.”
The bottom falls out of my world.
“The train station is situated about ten minutes walk away.”
I’m struggling to breathe.
“But, the website says it’s a 70 metre walk away?” I say, voice cracking.
“Those are just the baby slopes. The real ones are ten minutes away by car.”
I don’t know what to say. The world begins to spin. My heart is beating ferociously. My eyes are getting watery. Outrage is returning once again. I can feel it growing in my belly.
“Are you seriously saying that we have to drive to the slopes? For ten minutes!”
“And then after a day on the slopes! We have to walk to the spa!?”
“What is this!? The bloody stone age!?”
“Come on honey. Let’s just go and enjoy it.” says Zsuzsa, taking my arm and leading me towards the room.
That night, in our pygmy sized room, which is roughly the size of a volvo, we lie down ready for a night of uninterrupted, blissful, natural sleep. The lights are turned off. The only sound we hear is the sound of the wind whistling through the Slovakian mountain air. That is, until…
“Hurrumph!” says Zsuzsa.
A light is turned on.
“What’s up?” I ask, through bleary eyes.
“This bed! It’s on an incline!” replies Zsuzsa. “I keep rolling towards you!”
“Yes! It’s sloping! I can’t stop rolling!”
I get up and examine our bed. It’s true. There is an incline. One side of the bed is at least 3 millimetres higher than the other.
“It’s only a tiny incline.” I say.
“I keep rolling!” an emotional Zsuzsa responds.
I realise what’s going on and I hold my hands out to calm her.
“This hotel.” I say. “It’s trying to come between us. It knows that together we are strong, but if we are apart it can defeat us.”
In that moment all we can do is hug each other and hold each other close.
“We’ll get through this honey. I promise” I whisper.
There and then I make myself a promise. I won’t let the hotel defeat us. We will stay strong. We will not be torn apart. And then, once we’ve left I will crush them. I will crush them with a scathing review. Sloping beds!? A 100 metre walk to the spa! ? A ten minute drive to the ski slopes!? Just who do these scoundrels think they are?
PS Happy New Year folks.