Road Warrior 2 - A return to business travel

Business travel, as I've mentioned, is sometimes about brilliant moments when an impossible-to-get-into restaurant becomes available and is paid for with someone else's credit card. At other times – like tonight – every element of time and space conspires against your best intentions of, not just eating well, but of eating at all.

I arrive at my unremarkable hotel in Orlando at 10:50 p.m. on a Sunday; already a bleak scenario in all but the biggest cities. Dining options are looking sparse. Those who are bound to partake in the nearby Magic Kingdom are usually in bed before 9:00 as are their parents as they try to temper the expectations of the kids wanting to go see what’s-his-mouse RIGHT NOW.

I asked about room service. I was handed a stack of menus, 4 from Chinese restaurants (one Chinese and Sushi bar), the other two were pizza. Oh, and most stopped delivering at 11:00; a fact I recognized at 10:56 p.m. Yeah, that’s not room service. Room service is an incredibly predictable collection of the safest foods on earth; Club sandwiches and hamburgers, previously-frozen pizzas and chicken fingers, wings, deep-fried mozzarella sticks, and usually some attempt at a salad (with chicken or shrimp).

None of the 4 interconnected hotels has any form of food past 11:00. No room service, no “café”, nothing. One would expect that with that many potentially empty stomachs, the urge to make money from such a captive and overweight audience would prevail. No dice.

The pizza arrived 40 minutes later, the vending machine down the hall provided the "Coke", and at a desk under a fluorescent bulb, I prepared for my presentation the next day.

Heck of a welcome back.


bobgirrl said…
Yes, but let's not forget those delightfully sublime and totally unexpected dinig experiences that can result from business travel when forced to eat in a locale that one might not have considered otherwise.

For instance, Memphis. I'd never been to Memphis and probably will never be back. But I did a series of business trips there in 1999-2000 resulting in my discovery of Memphis bbq. Prior to that, my experience with bbq was what Dad grilled every Saturday night. It was nothing like the deliciousness served on paper plates at Rendezvous or Corky's.

Or Prague and the pigeon at Allegro in the 4 Seasons with a PERFECT view of the Charles Bridge. And the fallow deer wrapped in BACON at Bellevue the next night. (A dish I dubbed "bambi wrapped in porky.")

And let's not forget Saint Pierre in Singapore. When bored on a Saturday, I called the Singapore equivalent of Gary Danko late in the afternoon thinking there is NO WAY I'm going to get a table. Suprise suprise when a lovely woman with a French accent said "but of course, what time would you like to dine?" And then the menu just of foie gras. I mean at least FIVE different preparations just of foie gras. Oh, and did I mention that it cost less than dinner at Lavanda? And the hot chef stopped by my table at least twice.

And last but certainly not least, the charming bartender in the Sofitel Zurich who made us all the Swiss equivalent of grilled cheese and ham at midnight long after the kitchen had closed.

So I look at business travel dining like a lot of other things in life - good times and bad times. Let's just hope at the end of the day the scale is slightly more tipped in favor of the good. (Lady justice may have been blind folded, but as far as I know, her taste buds weren't amputated.)

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