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Day 6 at my Moodie Davitt Report Interim Riyadh Bureau, aka the Marriott Riyadh Airport Hotel, and I feel increasingly like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
I have now dined at the airport restaurant on no fewer than 15 occasions and by my reckoning I have a further five to go before I leave for Dubai and Vietnam.
I’m not complaining – the food is good and the staff simply lovely – and anyway it is nice to slow down in one place for a while.
And I’m better off for sure than someone else who is spending an extended stay in a hotel – though not of his choosing.
That someone is Sunil Tuli, King Power Group (HK) CEO and APTRA President. As I have written before, Sunil must surely rank as travel retail’s most-quarantined individual, having clocked up a total of 115 days (and counting), mostly in Hong Kong, in his various sojourns during the pandemic.
With hotel quarantine having been recently reduced to a comparatively manageable seven days in Hong Kong, the hitherto COVID-free Sunil made the fateful decision to fly to the Special Administrative Region from Singapore. He arrived, tested negative for COVID at the airport and was taken to his quarantine base, the usually excellent Lan Kwai Fong hotel.
Alas, not so excellent this time as COVID-negative Sunil turned COVID-positive Sunil on Day 5 of his confinement. He wasn’t the only hotel guest whose health status changed. A cluster involving the Omicron BA.2 subvariant saw several guests who were staying on the hotel’s 32nd and 33rd floors infected.
The infections were traced to a couple and a father and son who later tested positive for BA.2.12.1 after arriving from San Francisco and Nepal, respectively, each staying on one of the floors in question.
Government pandemic adviser Professor Yuen Kwok-yung told the South China Morning Post that vertical transmission between the two rooms was likely to have occurred as the hotel’s pipe duct was blocked by concrete.
“The pipe duct has positive pressure, which means that in a smoke test, we saw air was flushing out [from the duct]. When the hot air reached the 33rd floor, it had nowhere to go and was flushed out on the 32nd or 33rd floor,” he said.
Sunil was in room 3303. As a result of the cross-infection (so-called as it made him very cross indeed), he was taken to a compulsory isolation facility – the Tung Chung Novotel – where he has to stay for a minimum seven days and have two successive daily negative tests before being let out.
Understandably, he, like the other infected guests, is none too happy about that. Especially as he is not allowed to have any creature comforts delivered to him.
However, Sunil is an experienced campaign planner. As a result, he did have (from his time at the Lan Kwai Fong Hotel), some useful anti-COVID blues treatment in his suitcase. To be specific, a magnum of Prosecco rosé; and bottles of Campari, Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, and Somrus Mango Cream Liqueur, all outstanding spirits. No room for any spare clothes but there you go.
What a combination! And even some egg, ham and cheese on the side.
But what to do with it? We’re offering readers the chance to win one of those fine tipples by coming up with a combination of the best recipe (and name) involving any or all of those elements on show and any other ingredient that might be to hand in your average compulsory isolation facility (Health warning: Do not mix toothpaste with Gunpowder Irish Gin as it can cause an incendiary reaction).
And we are offering yet another bottle for the best caption to the photo below.
Alas, Quarantini is already taken but I have no doubt that the individual and collectivity creativity of the travel retail community will come up with something better to help banish the Tuli COVID blues.
To help readers, here is an example.
The Soon-ill-pour BA.2.12.1 Sling
- Take one boiled egg (remember to discard the shell) and insert into the Prosecco rosé bottle (gently please, this does not require Magnum Force).
- Shake vigorously – the bottle not your body – while taking care to keep your thumb on top of the bottle.
- Take a large glug to make room for a double measure of Campari. Oh, go on, make it a triple.
- Add two small portions of cheese (again, insert carefully as you don’t want to leave any de Brie behind) to add texture. Any cheese will do (frankly I don’t give Edam which one), including the house brand if you are staying at the Stilton.
- Take a large slug (as in a drink not the tough-skinned terrestrial) again.
- Now add a healthy measure of Somrus Mango Cream liqueur to give your Soon-ill-pour BA.2.12.1 Sling a delightful creamy texture and the perfect velvety finish.
- Except you’re not finished. Shake again (this time you, not the bottle).
- Reglug while turning a full 360 degree circle (clockwise rather than anti-clockwise), which by now you should find easy.
- Now pour in a triple measure of Drumshambo Gunpowder Irish Gin for a really explosive finish.
- Garnish with whatever you have to hand in your compulsory isolation facility or, if you really want to ham it up, a Tuli joke