Free the Kerry One – meet travel retail’s most-quarantined man

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Martin Moodie
Martin Moodie is the Founder & Chairman of The Moodie Report.

Take me back, take me back to the Kerry
To the hotel that’s been home to me
Just lay me to rest, the quarantine’s best
In the heart of the hotel of Kerry.

– (Sort of) from The Kingdom Of Kerry by Declan Nerney

29 January. Remember the date. That’s when travel retail’s most quarantined man makes his latest break for freedom. Hong Kong you have been warned. This man is armed (he has two in fact) and dangerous.

We’re talking about Sunil Tuli, industry veteran, Group CEO of King Power Group (Hong Kong) and President of the Asia Pacific Travel Retail Association (APTRA), currently hunkered down in that popular Hong Kong quarantine spot, the Kerry Hotel in Hung Hom (the very spot where I performed so well in the Modern Pentathlon Quarantine Olympics) last August.

The Kerry Hotel has seem some very high-level sporting performances under strict quarantine conditions over the past two years. This outstanding demonstration of trampolining skills, for example, nearly led me to creating adjoining rooms between 549 and 649 last August.

Having arrived in Hong Kong recently from Singapore, Sunil is currently into day 6 of his compulsory 21-day incarceration. By midnight on 28 January he will have not only completed his 3-week stint but an astounding 105 days of hotel quarantine during his various travels between Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai over recent months.

The view from Cellblock K

That is nearly one third of a year since June 2020. Two weeks at Le Méridien Cyberport (HK); two weeks at the Mandarin Oriental (Singapore); three more at the Sheraton (HK); a fortnight at Raffles Hospital (combined quarantine and ankle surgery) in Singapore; two more weeks at the Sheraton again; another seven days in Singapore and now 21 days in the Kerry.

Now, let’s put things in context, those hotels are hardly uncomfortable and Sunil is a resourceful fellow who ensures he has a treadmill in his room to keep fit as well as plenty of creature comforts. He also keeps himself amused by watching endless repeats of his smash-hit video programme, Sunil Tuli’s Virtual Golf Academy (see episodes 1 and 2 below) while preparing for a widely touted second series featuring trick shots mastered over various bedroom obstacles while in hotel quarantine.

Rather than waste any leftover food, for example, Sunil has perfected his chips and wedges at the Kerry, proving particularly adept with Lay’s and Pringles and masterful from around the fringes of his greens with his butter. He has also become a dab hand with the one iron (the Kerry have refused to give him another), and mastered the art of laying up thanks to a well-placed King-size bed and sofa.

[In today’s lesson, Sunil takes readers through some key thoughts when addressing the ball. The master keeps it simple, offering some deeply insightful thoughts on how to ‘snap load’ the power package; and about how to reach maximum centripetal force with minimum pivotal resistance.]

[Click on the YouTube icon to learn how to spin a golf ball courtesy of Sunil Tulis Virtual Golf Academy. Sunil is one of the finest golfers to have emerged from his tiny home village of Skuru in India’s Nubra Valley (population 230 or 229 since Sunil moved to Singapore). However, he gave up the professional game at an early age (7) to instead carve a high-profile career in the duty free industry. This video helps explain that decision.] 

How to cheer Sunil up then as he grapples with the prospect of yet another 15 days forced isolation? Knowing him to be a bon viveur, I decided to send him a gift of some good New Zealand wine, including a superbly apposite choice for such a venerable travel retail figure who has contributed so much to the industry Trinity, and now undergoing prolonged confinement.

Trinity Hill Prison Block Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 from Hawke’s Bay in New Zealand’s North Island is named after a correction facility that was originally planned to be built on the vineyard site which produced the wine. Deep and dense (the wine, not Sunil), bursting with cassis and blackcurrant flavours and beautifully titled, it’s the kind of tipple that is simply made for travel retail’s most illustrious and longest-serving inmate.

To cheer him and readers up, I’m offering a bottle of this fine wine (or a close likeness if unavailable in your market) for the best caption to the picture below, where Sunil demonstrates why he narrowly missed out on a career as a sommelier. Send your entries to me by e-mail at headed ‘Free the Kerry One’.

Put in a prison block, but one time he could-a been the champion of the world (from Hurricane by Bob Dylan)

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  • Sunil is a legend. There is an entire play being developed on his life in Singapore and there is immense curiosity about him. People use the name “Tuli” as a verb – example , “ ah, you are doing a Tuli” or “ this is so Tuli-ish”. His legend grows and he is writing a chapter in the history of mankind ; not a footnote. May his legend grow !