by Jane Lasky
I am a sojourning hypocrite. Although I advise fellow business travelers that on every trip he or she should roam around at will, capturing a real feel for their temporary work environment, I find that dictum doesn’t always apply to me. In fact, at times I have been known to hole up in my hotel during an entire visit even though I am far away from home turf.
One brief Australia trip was like that, my business agenda so crammed that I spent a two-night Melbourne stay stuck inside the glam Park Hyatt Melbourne. OK, being forced to get through those days in this lux hotel was hardly a hardship. Still, it was frustrating not to be able to get out and about to discover the Australian city’s soul; to explore the sprawling lakes and lawns of the iconic Royal Botanic Gardens, to meet the pretty fish who thrive at the Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium, to drop some cash for fun at the legendary Crown Casino or, to at least take a short shopping expedition to tempting Toorak.
No, none of that happened. At least not during this assignment that took me to Oz. Instead, when I wasn’t attending meetings in the glorious Hyatt property, I relegated myself to my assigned room, pouring over stacks of overdue paperwork while trying to catch up. To assist, my home office tagged along for the journey.
However, I still remained a happy business traveler who confidently knows how to get the most out of a hotel. Any hotel. A highlight in this instance? Swimming in the hotel’s edgeless pool, an architectural phenomenon in which the water flows over the sides, effecting the feeling of being afloat in some exotic ocean.
Another gift to myself at this memorable Hyatt: A spa treatment called Healing Hands which incorporated an organic scrub, a deep tissue massage using plants as moisturizers and a curiously refreshing hand mask. I also partook of a sublime cuticle conditioning and nail color application. No American made manicure ever looked so, well, polished.
A business dinner at the in-house Radii Restaurant was apt since the word “radii” defines as “the areas in which one can effectively exert their influence.” My struggle was real but delicious here as I also made friends with my proficient Aussie waiter. His name is Ryan and he loaded up dishes that carried a lot of weight, taste wise.
This was particularly true of my John Dory, served on a bed of buttered spinach with olive and basil mayo on the side. Likewise, my dessert: a passion fruit concoction which included pineapple sorbet, a tasty coconut wafer and lime syrup. Perfection.
In the end, I admit that even with that most memorable meal, my business trip Down Under did have its limitations, courtesy my hideous work load. However, due to the Park Hyatt Melbourne’s high end facilities and high service level, I checked out feeling as if I had been seduced by this extraordinary Australian outpost. That helped me accept my fate, as did vowing that my next trip to this part of Oz would take place as soon as possible to make up for what I missed this time around the world to visit such a glorious city.