Lobsters, oysters and five star hotelsPosted: March 3, 2012
The pic is of the oysters at yesterday’s Lobster Buffet at the Sheraton Hotel.
Despite living literally in the shadows of the place we probably only actually visit it a couple of times a year – in particular for this buffet which is chronically expensive by local standards and internationally pretty cheap. Eat as much as you like lobster, oysters etc for $50 a head.
That’s thirty quid each. That’s not much more than a decent British pub lunch.
Eating there is odd, despite the incredible food, it has all the atmosphere of a work canteen. While eating I become very aware that for us, paying for our own food, we’re very keen to stomach our money’s worth of oysters. But for those passing through on business it’s all expenses. Watching them pick at the food, at that price, it seems an unforgivable waste.
I soon become a little embarrassed at the number of return trips to the buffet we make as compared to them.
Nearby, in the smoking section, there is always a table of loud whiskey-faced businessmen drinking copious amounts when it’s $5 for just a small glass of beer.
Despite the fact that our visits are rare these big five star hotels seems to be an unavoidable part of expat living. My home city in the UK has a Hilton but I’ve never been there and I don’t recall friends ever mentioning visits either.
But here if you work for an NGO or Embassy then these hotels are the go-to places for events. An NGO-working friend recently told me of his despair at his employer hosting an event in a five star hotel despite requests to cut costs. But that’s how it is.
Recently we received a catering order at The Cart for lunchtime sandwiches for an NGO. Reading from the bottom the email started with two colleagues musing – “We can’t just ask the Sofitel to provide lunch like we used to – it doesn’t look right any more – does anyone know somewhere that’s cheap?”
The expat community also includes those who manage and market the hotels. Sooner or later, whether you want to or not you’re liable to get on their email list.
Yesterday when we left the Sheraton, a loud, extravagant wedding was taking place. The Aston Martin pictured below was in the car park. You couldn’t help but think it wasn’t just a wedding car, it was a wedding present.