Mission Impossible

by Kip Brook

This story is part of our 'Funniest hotel experiences' series, featuring tales from luxury hotel guests which were sent in for our recent travel writing competition.


Tom Cruise, eat your heart out. I have applied to the Guinness Book of World records for the most impossible missions accomplished. I had to set air, land and sea records, sleep under the same roof as royalty and then beat the world’s elite sporting best.

I scoured the world to see where this could be achieved and suddenly found I could do the lot in one of the best cities in the world: Sydney, Australia.

So to the air record first. I needed to get to Sydney from Christchurch, New Zealand, without delay. It’s almost impossible these days to depart and arrive on time. So I picked their national carrier, Qantas, and flight QF46 which took off and landed on time – just about a world first these days. They slipped me a piece of paper that whisked me from my seat to the arrival hall in record time. First mission accomplished.

The next attempt was to sleep under the same roof as royalty. I trawled the gossip columns and lo and behold read that King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia of Spain were in town staying at the Shangri-La Hotel where Cindy Crawford, Sophia Loren, and Sean Connery want to bed down when they are in town. Carlos and Sophia have an entourage of 209 people with them, a bit like the Spanish armada, but with 563 rooms in the ‘house’ sleeping just above me that night were the royal heads of Spain.

The next hurdle was to beat one of the world’s sporting elite on the squash court. I nail down Australian rugby union coach Robbie Deans, who was in the headlines for lifting the Wallaby rugby weights, for a game.

I needed to carbo-load so headed to the Shangri-la’s Altitude – the highest restaurant in Australia that is closest to the Harbour Bridge. Views to die for, service for Africa. I didn’t see Juan or Sophia dining but was in the kingdom of food-heaven eating roasted quail breast, pressed pheasant and squab terrine with foie gras and herb crusted barramundi.

Next morning I entered the Sydney Football Stadium where Argentinean soccer player Diego Maradona once played a World Cup qualifier. Now Deans and I face off in a squash match. He is the best squash player in Australia umpiring under his own rules. He shakes hands leading 17-16 in the fourth but mission accomplished; I win, according to my rules. The Shangri-la Blue bar is a haven that victorious balmy night as I soak in success.

On my last day I aimed to get from Darling Harbour to the Opera House – from one end of the city CBD to the other – faster than the fastest Aussie Holden V8, on the road. Bonza Bike tours get me on the peddles and I begin pounding the pavement – no stop lights for me – and get to the steps of the Opera House faster than any car. Mission accomplished. Exhausted, I sent a note to Juan and Sophia back to say I was too tired to dine with them tonight; but we do sleep under the same roof. Mission accomplished.

I have one record left to set: to become the 14 millionth passenger for the year to ride one of the Sydney ferries. This is easy. The shimmering waters of Sydney harbour take me to and from Watson’s Bay, Neutral Bay, Lavender Bay, Darling Harbour and back to Circular Quay. I am told I am the 14th million passenger. Phew. Final mission accomplished. I am floating in paradise at the Shangri-la that night.

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