Dave, Boz and Lee are three relatively well-off brothers. Every year they like to spend a few weeks living it up at the 7-star Resort Europa. They have been going for years and all the staff know them well. They are sometimes a little badly behaved and have, on occasions, been quite rude. However, they are among the resort’s highest spending customers, which tends to mitigate any bad feeling their eccentric antics might cause.
This year, though, things have been worse than usual. Dave has been muttering about what a dump the place is and Lee has been telling everyone he could get a better deal at any one of dozens of other posh resorts. Boz has been especially rude, telling racist jokes and making up offensive ditties about the staff. It all came to a head this morning when the three brothers decided they were leaving. They wrote a terse note to Donald, the resort manager, then they packed their bags and walked out.
“But gentlemen, you have not paid your bill,” cried the receptionist as the lads walked out of the lobby.
“Whistle for it!” replied Boz as he flicked a v-sign.
But once outside, the boys had a bit of a surprise.
“I say,” said Boz, “it’s a bit parky out here.”
The boys had been so absorbed in the delights of the resort that they hadn’t realised the temperature had dropped considerably since they arrived and was now hovering somewhere just above zero.
“Let’s get ourselves a cab to the airport pronto. Who’s got the tickets?”
“I thought you’d got them,” said Dave.
“So did I,” said Lee.
“Sooo, you didn’t book the flight back Boz?” asked Dave.
“Well, ah, right, hmm. A minor problem. Look, we can just call the airport and book flights. I mean, how hard can it be to get a flight out of here?”
“I’ll get on it,” said Lee.
One hour later, Lee was looking a bit sheepish.
“Actually, this is turning out to be a bit more difficult than I thought. I spoke to some bloke called Roberto who said that it’s not that easy to arrange flights from here on the spur of the moment. He told me that usually people plan for these things well in advance and getting a flight out of here could take weeks.”
“Typical unimaginative and inflexible bureaucrat,” grunted Boz. “Oh well, let’s go and stay at one of those other places you were talking to.”
“Well I haven’t actually sorted any of them out yet….”
“Stuff this,” said Dave, “I’m not standing freezing to death out here. I could do with a drink. Let’s go back inside.”
“Yes, I fancy some cake,” said Boz.
“And I could do with a massage,” said Lee. “Holding that phone to my ear for an hour has given me a stiff neck. I think I’ll head for the health spa.”
The trio marched back into the hotel.
“Bloody door won’t open,” fumed Boz, as he waved his key card over the security pad.
“Neither will mine,” muttered Dave”
“I say, you,” shouted Boz as he grabbed one of the staff. “Why won’t my key card work?”
The concierge examined it with his hand-held device. “It appears you have checked out, Sir. The card won’t work once you have checked out.”
“But we only want to pop in for a drink and some cake. And we have spent a lot of money here over the past few weeks.”
“You can’t use the hotel facilities once you have checked out,” replied the concierge.
“More bloody red tape! Do you want our money or not? It’s no wonder this place is going down the pan when you turn away people who are trying to buy stuff from you.”
“Look, this is getting us nowhere. Let’s go and sort it out at reception,” said Dave.
“Bugger,” muttered Boz, “they’ve got Michel the head receptionist on the desk and he’s a right miserable sod.”
“Hi Michel,” said Dave , “we’ve got a bit of a problem. We’d like to grab a quick drink and something to eat but we can’t get in because our cards don’t seem work.”
“But you have checked out,” said Michel. “That’s why your keys won’t work.”
“Yes but we only want to pop to the bar and restaurant,” said Dave.
“Do you now want to check back in again? If you do, it would help if you paid your bill as well,” said Michel.
“Typical inflexible and unimaginative jobsworth,” shouted Boz, “Look, do you want our money or not?”
“Of course, you are good customers, replied Michel, “but the normal practice is to pay your bill.”
“Normal practice,” scoffed Boz. “You don’t conquer empires by going on about normal practice.”
“But I’m not trying to conquer anybody,” replied a bemused Michel, “I just want you to pay your bill.”
“Over there!” shouted Boz. “Dieter the barman will make you see sense. We spend so much with him, he’ll tell you to let us back in. Hey, Dieter. DIETER! We want a drink. Tell this idiot to let us through this bloody door.”
Safe behind reinforced glass, Dieter studiously ignored the commotion in reception and carried on rearranging his bottles.
“Hey Dieter, you big fat sauerkraut-munching wankerer. Do you want to keep selling us that premium German lager or what? Do you want the bar tips to keep coming? You know you need us more than we need you. Tell Michel to let us in.”
Dieter seemed to have gone deaf.
“OK, what about Carlo, the restaurant manager? Hey Carlo, do you want us to keep buying your grub and all that prosecco we’ve been throwing down our necks? Come on, you need our money. Tell jobsworth Michel here to let us in.”
Carlo hunched his shoulders and concentrated hard on laying the tables.
“They’ll soon come round when they see their profits walking out the door,” muttered Boz.
“OK, here’s a suggestion,” said Dave. “We’ll check back in for another week or so at the full whack. How does that sound?”
“But it is normal to pay when you stay somewhere,” said Michel. “Paying for next week doesn’t get you out of paying for the last six.”
“OK then, just let us in for the next few hours for a drink and something to eat. Oh and a massage. Come on. You know you want our money.”
“It is true that you have been good customers,” said Michel, “but you chose to check out. Use of the resort facilities is restricted to paying guests. If we let people in off the streets, we would no longer be an exclusive hotel. We would simply be running pay-as-you-go bars and restaurants. The whole point of Resort Europa is exclusivity. That is what you have been paying for all these years. If we offered everyone the exact same benefits as those who pay, our brand and business model would be destroyed.”
“You can take your business model and shove it up…”
“OK, Boz, let me deal with this,” said Dave.
But Boz was on a roll, “Inflexible sclerotic bureaucrats! I’ve spoken to Mummy and she’s going to go over the heads of these suited nonentities and talk to the owners. That’ll sort them out.”
An hour later, though, the news wasn’t good…,
“Oh FFS!” said Boz, “I’ve just had a note from Mummy. She’s spoken to the owners and she thinks we will probably have to pay at least some of our bill.”
“And I’ve had a text from Uncle Phil,” said Dave. “He thinks we should pay up too.”
“Well Uncle Phil always was a boring old fart,” snorted Boz.
“Look chaps,” said Lee, “There are 60 hotels queuing up for our custom. I’ll ring round and see what deals I can do.”
“60? I thought you said 42,” replied Dave.
“60, 42, whatever,” said Lee. “Just leave it with me.”
Two hours later…..
“Well this is all a bit bloody strange,” said Lee. “I can’t get through to anybody. I’ve left messages but no-one is getting back to me. Must be these dodgy foreign phone systems.”
“What about the Orange Man at the Stars and Stripes?” asked Boz. “He always said he’d do us a good deal.”
“The Orange Man is behaving really oddly. One minute he loves us and the next he’s calling us names and telling us he’s going to increase the price by 220 percent.”
“But Mummy held his hand and everything,” said Boz.
“Excuse me gentlemen,” said Michel, “I am trying to be as flexible as possible here but you can’t hang around in the hotel lobby forever. You have checked out so you must make preparations to move on. Sooner or later I’m going to have to insist that you leave. The clock is ticking.”
“Well bugger you!” said Boz. “Come on chaps. When it comes to this dump, no deal is better than a bad deal. We’re out of here.”
“OK, so what now?” said Dave, as the cold late afternoon air sliced through his thin jacket. “It will be dark soon and we’ll freeze our nuts off if we don’t sort something out.”
“I’ll get on the phone to the other resorts,” said Lee. “There will be loads of deals on offer.”
Another hour went by and, with the sun sinking, the boys were running out of time.
“Still can’t get through to anyone,” said Lee. “It’s either straight to voicemail or I’m put on hold for ages. CAn’t understand it.”
“Well we need to think of something. It will be dark soon,” said Dave.
Just then, three SUVs with blacked-out windows pulled up across the road. Seven Chinese men in identical dark suits got out and began walking towards the lads.
“Wait a minute. I know him,” said Boz, pointing to the group’s leader. “Hi, Mr Xi! Remember me? We met at a conference in London.”
“Of course,” said Mr Xi, as he shook hands with Boz. “An interesting few days and a visit to one of your excellent English pubs with your boss, as I remember.”
“That’s it. And a spiffing banquet,” said Boz.
Mr Xi glanced at the boys’ cases. “Are you moving on somewhere?”
“Fancied a change of scene,” said Boz. “There are much better places than this one on offer.”
“So where are you headed?” asked Mr Xi.
“Oh, not sure yet, but there are plenty of sunlit uplands out there,” said Boz.
“Cut the bullshit, boys,” said Mr Xi. “It’s all over town. You’ve had a row with the Europa, done a runner and now no-one will do business with you. As I see it, you’re in a bit of a hole.”
“Well I don’t think that’s quite fair…” began Boz.
“Save it!” said Mr Xi. “I haven’t got time for this. Look, why don’t you stay at my place. It’s an up-and-coming hotel called the New Han Empire.”
“The New Han Empire, eh? Sounds swanky,” said Boz.
“Wait a minute,” said Dave, “I read a review of that place. ‘A gulag that treats its staff and guests like peasants’ was the verdict.”
Mr Xi bristled. “I find the term gulag highly offensive. OK, I had to lean on a few people for the star-rating but we hosted a very successful international sporting event recently. We had our conference a few weeks ago and I asked repeatedly if there were any complaints. There were none. Not a single one. You should not believe everything you read in your western guide books.”
“Look lads, why don’t we stay at Mr Xi’s place until I can get some of these other deals sorted out,” said Lee.
“Ah, those ‘other deals’,” chuckled Mr Xi. “Good luck with that.”
“OK. How much?” asked Dave.
“There’s no point in asking,” said Mr Xi. “You can’t afford it. Your reputation has spread and no-one out here will offer you banking facilities or extend you credit. You will pay your way by working for me. You are all fairly well-connected so you can help me build my global business empire. I may also have some other little jobs and errands I need doing.”
“What sort of jobs and errands,” asked Boz.
“That’s for me to say and you to do,” snapped Mr Xi. “In any case, I don’t see that you have much choice. You can either get in the car and come with me our freeze to death out here. What is the English saying? Ah yes. Beggers can’t be choosers. It’s your call.”
And there, dear readers, we must leave it, with our heroes on a cliff edge. Will Michel and the Resort Europa relent and let the boys back in? Will Lee’s deals come off in the nick of time? Will the boys freeze in the cold night air? Or will they throw themselves on the tender mercies of Mr Xi and the New Han Empire?
Watch this space for the next exciting instalment of Dave, Boz and Lee’s Global Adventure.