Wednesday, July 12, 2006
Its official. I am old.
I am craving silence. Nature's silence...the soft woosh of falling snowflakes, wind whistling through structures erected in its way and ice sliding down roofs and crashing- sounds in harmony with the soft, cloudy, muffled white landscape that my soul is drinking in.
I am on top of a mountain. Mount Hotham in the Victorian Alps.
But no matter to which far corner of the village I retreat, I can't escape the plasma TVs blasting with repeated monotony the latest concerts of Pete Murray, Jack Johnson, Norah Jones, Robbie Williams, Greenday. I don't mind any of them, I own music by all of them, but its not the kind of "blank canvas" that silence or classical music allows the mind to paint its own pictures on - it invades, claims, disrupts, and yes, annoys!
There is a White restaurant and a White Spa here. Perhaps some lounge where only White Noise (and no kids!) is permitted for old fogies like me to sit quietly and contemplate navels will be my contribution to the guest suggestions form?
But the above is my only gripe. And I should place it in the context of consistently excellent service, quality facilities and fun activities we have enjoyed on this spectacular mountain.
After our last dismal Australian holiday in the Whitsundays, I held low expectations of another local holiday in this sparsely populated land with accute labour shortage where a culture of egalitarianism seems to run contra to a service orientation.
But, I have been bowled over by Mt Hotham. Even before arrival, every contact I had with the Hotham Skiing Company and its Central Reservations office was a positive experience-and how many call centres could you say that about? Questions were answered in a friendly, patient and helpful manner, and when anyone needed to check on something, they actually rang ME back! Get that? And, they use sms to send you a snow report and activities schedule prior to your arrival.
Check-in cemented those first impressions, and every day since, we have been surprised and delighted by ultra-helpful staff in every corner of the resort. From the shuttle-bus drivers (and what a dull job they must have driving up and down a mountain every 10 minutes, 17 hours a day! yet they look like they genuinely love it), to the spa-staff (none of those snooty beauty parlour types here!) to the kitchen-hand in the coffee shop who found a guest service officer to answer questions she couldn't (not the usual snort and shrug of shoulders you'd get from busy cafe staff).
When I met the CEO over Welcome Drinks on Sunday night, I understood. A youthful and passionate Canadian with a clear purpose and message: "Everyone is here for a good time, not a long time! If the guests have a good time, the staff do too, and vice versa."He looks after BOTH!
The natural beauty of the mountains, great snowfalls and good food helped to create pleasure for every sense, and the Alpine Regional Council and resort developers have to be singled out for national recognition in creating something with a strong, distinctive and uniquely attractive Australian Design that dances in harmony with the environment and the snow culture. I can't wait to see the new Bale complex completed! Well done architects.
In short, we'll be back! And we'll be telling our friends and the world.