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Click here to subscribe to the Pharr Out BlogHey y’all,When Brew and I REALLY indulge ourselves – like buying a soda or ice cream cone, we call our extravagance a “special treat.” Yesterday was our one-month wedding anniversary (yes, we keep track and yes, we celebrated it… for better or worse we are THAT couple) and it was full of special treats.The day started much like any other; I woke up at 5:30 AM, rolled over, kissed my husband adios and was off hiking before 6. About 3 hours into my morning hike I had a VERY special treat that I had been waiting on for a long time. I was a few miles from the VT/MA border when I heard something ahead of me on the trail. I looked up and- much to my surprise- saw a bear 30 yards away, my first bear ever on the East Coast. My initial thought was, “BEAR!!!” But then the more logical and conditioned side of my brain quickly chimed in: “No way. You’ve hiked over 5,000 miles on the East Coast and lived here your whole life and never seen a bear. You’re banned from bear sightings on this side of the Mississippi!” Then the two sides of my brain conferred through an intuitive checklist: Black? Check. Furry? Check. Rather large yet stalky? Check. Big, chubby ears? Check. (For some reason the ears were really important and this animal definitely had bear ears.) So yes, with requirements met, I decided that I was in fact staring at a bear. Then the creature spotted me, and bolted deep into the woods. But it was too late! I had seen it! I had spotted a bear! Yessss…!!!My next special treat of the morning came from entering a new state. Not a state of mind, mind you, but a literal state. That is, I crossed the border from Vermont to Massachusetts. I love Massachusetts because it brings on a slew of short states that you can hike across in 2 to 3 days and feel like you’re making real progress.When I finally reached the pre-appointed road, I ran into my husband’s arms and told him about the morning excitement (Yes, I literally ran into his arms and yes, I do it at every road crossing). Usually for lunch I grab some peanut butter and a banana, sit down for 10 minutes, then walk on, but on this day Brew had picked up a special anniversary lunch- a Subway sandwich! I love Subway! Some people are haters. In fact, I had to turn Brew onto the sandwich chain; but I say if you don’t like it, it’s your own fault… I mean you create your own meal – you’re your own Sandwich Artist, for goodness sake. And without prior guidelines, Brew had created a masterpiece.After lunch I climbed up Mount Greylock and Brew started up the mountain with me. Usually you can get water on top of the mountain at the lodge, but this summer all services at the summit are closed for renovations. Brew didn’t want me worrying about water, so before he hiked back to the car, he ran to a water source three-fourths of a mile off the trail to fill up my bottle. Talk about chivalry.Now I must have some kind of homing device that sets off rain clouds as I get close to the summit of Greylock. When I was a mile from the top, the sky opened up and I had to hike in a complete downpour. Unlike my ‘05 hike, though, there was no thunder or lightning or marble sized hail pelting me. And that in itself was a special treat.I met Brew that evening in Cheshire, MA. We found a place to sleep and shower before going out for pizza and ice cream. And when we got back to the tentsite while we were brushing our teeth, Brew discovered that his Vaseline jar had spilled all over his backpack. While he was cleaning things up, he had the nerve to laugh at me and say I “looked like Pocahontas” with my hair parted in the middle and my headlamp over it. He might have gotten the better of me if he hadn’t spit toothpaste into his beard then laughed so forcefully that he farted super-loud. But then that brought me to tears, and the tears blinded me and caused me to hit my head on the doorframe, which turned my tears of laughter into tears of pain and confusion. (This entire episode took place in about 2 minutes, sans alcohol. Amazing, eh?)Clearly, it was time for us to bring this day to a close. We ended it just how we began: in our tent lying beside each other. My favorite and best special treat of the trip is having Brew here to support me and share in this experience. Here’s to a great first month, and many more down the trail. read more
Inside a GTT LNG tank (Image: Archive)GTT, the French maker of LNG containment systems, announced Wednesday that Julien Burdeau, chief operating officer and innovation director, was leaving the company to “enter into a new stage in his career.”A temporary organization has been set up in order to ensure the continuity of innovation activities at GTT, the company said in its statement.“I want to thank Julien Burdeau for his involvement in the performance of his duties during his four year career at GTT,” said Philippe Berterottière, head of GTT.Burdeau joined GTT in 2013 as vice president, in charge of innovation. He was appointed COO in October 2014. read more
Dilshan Weheragoda (R) was presented with his ‘golden keys’ by Les Clefs d’Or New Zealand President Nick Steele (L)Crowne Plaza Auckland concierge presented with prestigious ‘Golden Keys’Crowne Plaza Auckland’s head concierge Dilshan Weheragoda has ‘struck gold’ with his membership of an internationally-renowned Hotel Concierge Society.Mr Weheragoda now proudly wears the distinctive ‘golden keys’ of the prestigious Hotel Concierge Society Les Clefs d’Or New Zealand after President Nick Steele bestowed the honour on him this weekend.Les Clefs d’Or membership recognises exceptional service to the hospitality industry.Mr Weheragoda, who can now be easily identified by the golden crossed keys on his lapel, joins a group of just 26 Les Clef d’Or members in New Zealand.The not-for-profit worldwide association recognises the very best concierges in each country. It is dedicated to promoting professionalism in the tourism industry and promoting the role of a concierge as an exceptional career.Members are identified by the golden keys each concierge wears with pride — recognised the world over it speaks to their experience and professionalism.Mr Weheragoda is the first concierge at Crowne Plaza Auckland to be presented with the keys, and said he was “honoured to raise the bar for guest services”.“I couldn’t be prouder to wear these keys!” he said. “They represent my commitment to providing the utmost professionalism and integrity at all times.“Since starting at the hotel eight years ago, my ultimate goal was to be a member of Les Clefs D’Or, and as the first ‘golden keys’ holder at the property I’m over-the-moon to be leading by example.”Originally from Sri Lanka, Mr Weheragoda and his family moved to New Zealand more than seventeen years ago in search of a better life and opportunities.His passion and dedication for the hospitality industry has seen him start ‘from the bottom up’, working first as a kitchen steward. He went on to become banquets food and beverage attendant, a waiter and a guest experience specialist, before embarking on his current role as head concierge.Mr Weheragoda’s seamless service is noticed by guests, who often leave feedback and personal notes thanking him for going the extra mile during their stay.Crowne Plaza Auckland General Manager Tim Pollock said it had been “a privilege” to support Mr Weheragoda in his application.“We’re committed to investing in our staff and encouraging success,” he said.“Dilshan’s eight years of service has seen him go from strength to strength, and he’s taken every opportunity presented to him to work his way through the ranks.“He’s an inspiration to staff and management at the hotel, and I’m delighted to have worked closely with him to sponsor his Les Clef d’Or application.”Les Clefs d’Or New Zealand President Nick Steele said it was a “great pleasure to recognise Dilshan’s success” by inducting him into Les Clefs d’Or.“I’ve eagerly watched Dilshan’s progression and commitment to his guests and the tourism industry,” he said. “It’s clear to those that know him or have been served by him that this recognition is very much deserved.”“Dilshan exemplifies the virtues of a Les Clefs d’Or Concierge, and it was a privilege to pin the Golden Cross Keys onto his lapel.”Les Clefs d’Or has approximately 4,000 members working in over 80 countries and 530 destinations across the world. Crowne Plaza Auckland for information, visit Source = Crowne Plaza Auckland read more