You may not have heard of the ATURA Hotel. In my job however, it’s infamous. It’s where we go for training and as such, a stint there is not to be taken lightly. In preparation for a week where time is measured by the consumption of food, I’ve gone hard on some personal training.
Each day at the Atura starts with ‘the dot’. The architect of this hotel wasn’t a fan of Kevin McCloud’s Grand Designs or the concept of warm and welcoming. Having a surplus of concrete and a lack of imagination, our man when straight for post-modern brutalist nuclear fall-out shelter. (See Das Bunker for an architectural post) When the luckless interior designers got the brief to cheer up the drab, poorly lit cubby holes that purport to be luxury rooms, they came up with painting a big yellow dot on the ceiling above the bed. Embracing the theme of industrial hip, the cleaners are armed with cans of yellow spray paint. I guess it’s to cover up the smiley face which gets drawn on after day two of confinement.
Each day’s menu is no less intense than waking up to ‘the dot’ looking back at you. It pays to prepare one’s body for the onslaught that begins with breakfast and continues unabated through morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, happy hour, dinner and nightcaps. Going straight from a low carb, small portion diet into the minefield of all you can eat, sugar loaded snacks and processed food is asking for diabetic disaster. My usual fifty grams of muesli with natural yoghurt isn’t going to help me when faced with a full English and continental breakfast combo, so I’m smashing down Mac-take away every day.
I’ve also cranked up my coffee intake from once a week to once a day, and because I believe in a balanced diet I always have a muffin or donut to go with. But training to survive the tough conditions inside the Atura should be holistic (whatever the hell that means), so now, when my alarm goes off each morning at 5.30am to go walking, I ignore it. Likewise, when I get home after work at three minutes past five, no matter how much it hurts, I forsake the cup of tea and go straight for a beer. On intense training days, I’ll go two. It’s crazy hard.
It needs to be; because the chefs at the Atura are miracle workers. They take fresh food and then, as though they have harnessed the power of transubstantiation, they turn it into yesterday’s left overs. Which we eat and continue to eat, five times a day, in the hope of dulling the pain of power point paralysis. The real fix for that of course is alcohol. But unless you’re a brickie, downing a long neck at 10am these days is frowned upon.
If my body is a temple then it’s about as sound now as the Great Mosque of al-Nuri. Which going on past experience, is perfect shape for a week at the Atura.