Angels bring bubbly

We all need a little pick-me-up from time to time, you know the sort of thing, champagne, chocolates and a big smile… Well, if you don’t get it at home, it’s nice to get it in the office just occasionally, and that’s exactly what we got this week when Liz Chromniak and Shubhra Halliday of Prestige Holidays called in.

The girls had been sent on a mission by their boss, Colin Sanderson, to visit their best performing agents and reward them. Forget Charlie’s Angels, they never brought champagne, but Colin’s Angels are perfectly divine in their generosity!

Having driven for more than three hours, Liz and Shubhra looked as fresh as a daisy; not a hair out of place and none of those wrinkles where your skirt rides up while you’re driving. Clearly, these are not the kind of girls who put their mascara on at the traffic lights. So, quite apart from what they had to tell us about Prestige, I knew there were other secrets they held that were worth knowing…

The last time Liz came in to see us, she was accompanied by Phillipe from Choupana Hills Resort and Spa, Madeira, whom Liz told me all the agents just adore, describing him as ‘one fit fella’ (and this I can, in my objective, journalistic role, confirm). This time however, Shubhra was Liz’s glamorous companion, looking as fabulous as ever, combining her roles as mum to 18-month-old Lalani Isabella and sales rep for Prestige.

It appears that on the domestic front, both Liz and Shubhra have had little time for relaxation. Shubhra told us she had her in-laws staying with her and, far from her little girl having everybody up in the middle of the night, it was actually they who made them rise early, as they needed to be dropped off at the airport for a 3am check-in. Mind you, I guess most of us wouldn’t mind going to those kinds of lengths to put the in-laws on a plane…

Meanwhile at Liz’s house, a Polish builder is resurfacing the drive. Fortunately, Liz is half Polish and speaks the language fluently (she’s available to translate for agents booking Polish clients on Prestige trips, she says!).

It’s proving to be a bonding experience for her as she has taken her Eastern European worker under her wing, preparing a breakfast, lunch and dinner for him each day. The relationship between her husband and the builder is rather less successful however, as each time Liz’s husband offers him a drink, he asks for vodka, which he doesn’t take with milk and two sugars, apparently.

Mind you, vodka is readily available at Liz’s house; let’s not forget this is the woman who had a chocolate and a vodka fountain at her wedding. Now you don’t often see that in the bridal magazines! Liz also told me she has a photo of a colleague lying under the vodka fountain open mouthed so as not to waste any. This business drives you to it…

It was great to listen to the girls’ news and they didn’t forget to tell us how their boss Colin and his wife Elizabeth managed to make it into the Bermuda Sun newspaper.

Apparently Colin and Elizabeth were married in Bermuda at a splendid wedding attended by 11 guests including four children. Unfortunately, at the point where the guests said goodbye to the happy couple and left them to get on with the whole being-married-in-sun-drenched-paradise bit, the weather went topsy turvy and instead of sun-drenched, everything was just drenched, thanks to Hurricane Florence. Being too dangerous to fly, the guests stayed with the newly weds at Cambridge Beaches, no doubt playing scrabble while the honeymooners tried not to look self-conscious. Not quite front page news, but Bermuda’s journalists saw the funny side!

I felt rather guilty when I heard this story, because it reminded me the last time I saw Shubhra she was on honeymoon in the Pimalai Resort, Koh Lanta, Thailand. Let’s face it, when you’re on honeymoon, you only have eyes for each other. A stray travel agent is the last person you want to clap eyes on. Especially one as loud and indiscreet as myself!

Ideal for the silly season

The great thing about visitors from the outside like Liz and Shubhra is they give you a break from the punters. Sometimes I am left wondering who these people are that share the planet with me. We exist in the same place at the same time, but many of them are clueless as to what goes on in the world. Take the two couples who came in to see me this week.

The first couple was planning a trip to Australia.

“We’ve always wanted to go,” said the wife, “but the trouble is their year’s the wrong way round, isn’t it?”

“They have their summer while we have our winter, if that’s what you mean?” I said.

“Yes, you see, that’s just it. Do Australians celebrate Christmas?”

“Only at Christmas,” I said, smiling, “haven’t you seen it on Neighbours?”

“Oh, I don’t watch that,” she replied, “I can’t stand the accents…”

Tourist-eating tigers

The second pair wanted to go somewhere ‘a bit different’. They came up with Cuba, Borneo or Sri Lanka. Juggling with costs I offered them a price for each and, as I relayed the details of the Sri Lanka holiday, the wife piped up, “Is it safe there?”.

“Are you referring to the Tamil Tigers?” I replied. They both looked alarmed.

“Why?” asked the husband, “Are the tigers eating tourists?”

No, I thought. But I might. Grrrrrrr!!