It’s incredible that a TV show that first aired in the UK in 1975 with a run of only 12 episodes is still almost as popular and well-known today as it was 35 years ago. So you would think that when a resort promotes itself as, ‘a small exclusive luxury resort’, it would recognise what it is that makes Basil Fawlty’s resort ‘faulty’ and aim to be as dissimilar as possible.
Recently good friends of mine saved their pennies to travel to ‘a small exclusive luxury resort’ in Fiji to celebrate their milestone wedding anniversary. They arrived in Nadi unscathed but then had to board a light aircraft to the resort. The light aircraft was very light indeed as most of the metal was missing and holes could be seen in the walls and the floor.
Here’s what someone on Trip Advisor had to say about the same flight:
It’s ‘a journey that can only be described as the closest I’ve ever come to breaking down big-style in an plane…I was instructed to stand on the weighing scales holding all carry-on luggage. My initial laughter at what I assumed to be a joke soon turned to horror as I realised it was in fact a reality and I hauled ass up onto the bag weighing machine (all excess weight was of course attributed to my exceptionally heavy hand-baggage!) The subsequent flight can only be described as the Flight from Hell. The plane was a DHC-6 Twin Otter = 18 seats = Indiana Jones style VERY VERY SMALL PLANE..and the flight was 1hr 30 mins long. I swear I’ve never been swayed or moved or shunted or TERRIFIED as much as I was in this paper aircraft with gaps where the stairs pulled up and no cockpit door. It was 90 minutes of sweat-drenched terror that only subsided when we shuddered to a stop on the runway. AND I’ve since discovered that the return journey by boat takes like a day and a half and is twice as expensive as flying so I have to make this same death-defying journey back to Nadi again on Saturday. ARGH!’
Tim and Ali arrived relieved just to have survived and met the Kiwi couple who were running the resort and then a Fijian escorted them to their ‘luxury bure’. They were expecting it to be authentically Fijian looking but it had the architectural finesse of a kit home. Ali noticed there were no shower caps provided and as she hadn’t thought to pack one, phoned and asked for a shower cap only to be rubbished for even wanting one, ‘What would you want one of those for when wet hair can dry so quickly?’
The resort had a beautiful wet-edge pool and as soon as Tim and Ali were unpacked they headed over for a swim. They were about to unwind in the pool when the manager’s two enormous dobermans with mouths open wide, salivating with tongues extended, galloped past them and launched themselves into the pool where they splashed around, barked, cooled off, then climbed out and shook themselves all over the guests.
Then it was dinner time. On the resort’s website it says, ‘Our chefs…create a delight of culinary experiences’. Well there was chicken or there was fish. And Ali doesn’t eat fish. And so twice a day for five days she had chicken, ‘So much that I think I’m sprouting feathers’, she told me. And every meal started with soup and they just couldn’t understand it because they thought the meal would start with cuisine more suited to the climate like something cool, light and refreshing.
The next day was their anniversary and so we thought we would organise for a bottle of champagne to be sent to their room with a card. I phoned to organise it and followed this up with five emails. You would think nothing could go wrong with that kind of attention to detail but just like Fawlty Towers, everything unraveled.
They received the card at lunchtime minus the champagne. They had brought their own bottle of Moet with them and had a glass in their bure as a pre-dinner drink. They then went to the restaurant for the chicken or the fish option and at the end of the meal, were presented with the champagne. As they had already consumed a few alcoholic beverages, the moment of its arrival was wasted. I sent an email to the resort asking, ‘please explain’ and this was the reply:
‘We were waiting for your friends to leave their villa to give them the champagne but when they arrived they were quite late and had already had a bottle of Champagne which they had brought with them (I think it was Moet) in their room, before coming down to dinner. We had no idea of this private celebration, and we do not disturb guests before dinner as many take a sleep.
I do apologise for our incompetence.
We did prepare a romantic dinner for them, which they declined and the staff made a special cake, which they presented to them and sang happy anniversary and they cut it and wished. Your friends appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves that evening for the celebration.
The reason they ‘appeared to be thoroughly enjoying themselves’ is because they were in hysterics at being serenaded by a ukulele and dining on more chicken.
The next day they went on one of the many tours offered, this one a day out on a boat. The boat driver, (who was actually the gardener because they’d seen him with a wheelbarrow but he also masqueraded as the tour director) accidentally filled the motor with petrol instead of diesel so they couldn’t go anywhere.
So the boat driver/gardener/tour director suggested instead they trek down to the waterfall. He said you could get there in 10 minutes in bare feet. Tim and Ali headed there in thongs stepping cautiously over the cane toads and it was 50 minutes before they arrived.
The rest of their holiday was spent bracing themselves for the return flight to Nadi.
This holiday made Tim and Ali feel like they were on the set of the 13th episode of Fawlty Towers. And perhaps this is not too hard to believe given the inspiration for the brilliant creation came from John Cleese’s own experiences of staying in a hotel in Devon in 1971 where the hotel manager was, ‘“the most wonderfully rude man I have ever met.” And it was his antics and the way he treated guests that led to the wonderful six hours of television we all surely treasure.
Here’s just a little snippet of some stellar TV for your Saturday night – it’s John Cleese talking about his favourite episode:
Now, I wanted to make sure Arabella was well-fed before she was transported to her study camp and so knowing she wouldn’t eat ‘meat and three veg’ I turned chops into a lamb casserole. The results were wonderful and only dampened by the fact she went out for a cheeseburger.
Lamb with Leeks and Carrots:
Degree of Difficulty: 2/5 (because this is a one-pot meal)
Cost: For me it was minimal because I used ingredients I had in my fridge and pantry, only having to shop for the leeks.
- 2 tbspns olive oil
- 8 lamb chump chops
- 2 leeks washed, rinsed and sliced
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1/2 cup dry red wine
- 375mls chicken stock
- 1 can tinned tomatoes
- handful of freshly chopped herbs like parsley and thyme
Pre-heat oven to 160C.
Heat a large casserole dish on the stove over high heat. Add the olive oil and sear the chops in batches on both sides until golden. Remove and set aside.
Turn down the heat and add leeks, carrots and garlic and stir until softened (about 5 mins).
Add red wine and bring to the boil. Add stock, tomatoes and herbs.
Cover and place in the oven for 1 1/2 hours or until lamb is tender and falling off the bone. Serve as is or with a herby mash (I added finely chopped herbs to the mash including chives, parsley and thyme).
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