The first time I walked through the back door of a hotel, I was 15 years old and I walked in with visions of romance, dreams and glamour…I still have those visions today as they have never changed. After finishing cooking school, I left England and set off to Canada starting my life’s adventures that would eventually hand me a gift that only God could create and only an endless collection of jigsaw puzzle like decisions would put me in the right moment, at the right time, for me to be in the right position, to be able to accept this beautiful gift. When I was in Canada I spent a night on a frozen lake, sitting there, looking down at hundreds of feet of dark water moving beneath me whilst watching the full moon turn the entire lake white and then the sun rise turning the same lake into a wonderful sea of orange and red. I went on to the Bahamas, walked on pink beaches and swam in a sea that was so clean and untouched that it could only be described as breath taking. I sat on tiny islands that had the feeling that they had never, ever been walked on before which made me feel like I was somehow special and that I had accomplished something that others could only dream of. I then went to Hong Kong and laid on a car bonnet, staring into the sky whilst a jumbo jet came roaring over the top of the building I was parked outside before it landed in the city airport, the noise was so deafening it appeared as if the engine was in my lap and it was so close that I felt that it was possible to actually reach out and touch it.
I drove with break neck speed round a mountain road in Penang, after being promised to savour the king of fruits only to find fresh Durians waiting for me at the end of the journey. I stood in awe and watched millions of gallons of water flow over Niagara falls, I saw poverty in the Philippines that would break you in to tears and visions in India that I will carry to my grave. I played pool with Dustin Hoffman, Drank with Duran Duran, talked to Stevie Wonder, Steven Segal, Donald Trump and Charles Bronson. I saw friends die young and the wife who I thought at that time I would be with forever, walk out on me for another man on my birthday.
I then moved on to Penang, a broken man, heartbroken, devoid of all hope and forcing myself to push through life’s motions every single day. Every morning I woke up wanting to turn over, go back to sleep and not even bother getting up at all. The simple task of pulling my legs over the side of the bed ready to stand up became a task of monumental effort. On one fateful lunch time whilst eating my Caesar salad on Penang island, I looked up to see whose attention I could catch for some parmesan cheese and then I saw her. For a brief second, I was squinting as I tried to focus through blinding sunlight streaming right into my eyes. It made a direct hit on my face while brilliantly shining from behind her. A passing cotton wool cloud blocked the direct sunlight, dulling the glare, and there, through a ray of beautiful golden sunshine, I saw a woman with a perfect smile that could only derive from her soul.
For no reason at all, it just made my eyes well up with treacherous tears. Beatrice and I have now been together for over 12 years, married for 10 and have two beautiful daughters. How I ended up there after all I have been through and after working in over 9 different countries is beyond me. All it would have taken was one single decision to go somewhere else at any time and the meeting of my soul mate would never have happened. I would like to promise to all of my friends, colleagues and readers that there is always hope, always love and that you should never stop dreaming. I would like to say from the bottom of my heart that the hotel industry and life in general really is beautiful! Never, ever, ever give up.