They reached Salisbury in one hour’s time. It was a nice old town with beautiful fields on the way. They went straight to the place Nikloi wanted them to check out. It was in one of the market places but still very different from anything Chrissy had imagined. Definitely unlike any of his other hotels she had heard of.
It was actually a three storied building which probably was residence of some Lord many years ago. It had a homely feeling to it even though it had already been converted into an inn.
The manager at the place was an aged lady, Mrs Adler, who was delighted to receive them. She was working there for past many years saying it was like second home for her. But the owners were shifting to another place to be with their kids and hence the place was on the market.
She told them that the inn was quite a hit with the tourists as well as the locals because of two reasons. One of them was its proximity to the Stonehenge since that area was almost on the city end. The other reason was their kitchen which served various types of cakes and cones apart from other things. She added smilingly that British loved their tea and cakes and tourist loved trying the famous English high tea.
Chrissy like the old lady and found her very entertaining and thought that that would probably be the reason why the place was so popular.
Mrs Adler took them around the entire explaining the nuances of the functioning of all the departments. Nikloi asked questions about the financial stability of the place and Mrs Adler was up to date on most of the questions.
Chrissy was mesmerized with the rich cultural vibes of the place. The walls were covered in floral wallpaper, wooden furniture decorated the lounge as well as the dining area. While the décor was old and medieval but the condition of all the stuff was of high quality, the place had obviously been well maintained.
The party moved on the rooms which were linedup both sides of the corridor. Checking out the rooms, she found the rooms had been style in a simple yet impressive manner. The colour palate was soft and the lighting room gave an impression as if they were in pre-electricity era.
The prints on the upholstery was again traditional yet comfortable type. Most of the things of comfort were provided in the room.
While Nikloi and Mrs Adler were engaged in the details about their vendors and business partners, Chrissy moved into the hall which had a large piano at one end near French windows and life sized vases, fixed one in each corner. On closer examining the vases she realized they have been modelled in female human forms.
Even the work on the walls and ceiling was similar to human forms among a bouquet of plants and flowers. She couldn’t place where she had seen this work but she was sure it something rare. She was struggling with her memory when Mrs. Adler and Nikloi walked inside the hall.
Mrs Adler was explaining it was the place for evening gatherings. Patrons liked having their dinner served here for special occasions.
She joined them and together they went through all the three floors. Chrissy was quite impressed with the place and its essence. There were other special artefacts as well even though they were not all organized properly. The place had kept its glorious past alive with the inanimate things and of course the efficient manager, Mrs Adler herself.
She asked if they would like to go through the books of accounts to which Nikloi answered his team would get in touch to get those details. It had taken them over two hours to round the entire place and inspect it to Nikloi’s heart content. When he asked if Chrissy wanted to ask anything she was embarrassed by her lack of experience in such dealings.
She had really like the place and was already bowled over with what she had seen. In fact she would like to go back to her records to trace if she can find out more about the pieces. She answered in the negative hoping Nikloi was also done and she could be free of her obligatory visit soon.
st when she thought Nikloi would actually be satisfied by now and willing to leave, Mrs Adler told them it was lunch time already and that they shouldn’t leave without trying their famous delicacies.
Chrissy wanted to politely decline but was surprised when Nikloi accepted the invitation. Mrs Adler was delighted with his decision and said she woold quickly get the lunch served.
She rushed out to go to the kitchen. Nikloi and Chrissy followed behind at a slower pace. When Mrs. Adler was out of ear shot,
Chrissy questioned him, “Why should we stay for lunch?”
She didn’t want to stay but she didn’t want to hurt the old lady by letting her know that she was not interested in eating at her kitchen.
Nikloi answered her, as usual with another question, “Why? What is wrong?”
Chrissy gave him her surprised look and said, “We didn’t come here to eat”.
Nikloi stopped walking and turned to look at her. “Mrs. Smith, if I am putting my money into something, I have to be certain about everything. Mrs. Adler herself mentioned that one of the reasons for this place’s success is its food and she appears to be quite confident too. I would like to confirm that myself”.
“And it is indeed lunch time, so we shall have a lunch here”, with that he walked ahead towards the dining area next to the kitchen. It was not as large as the dining hall but big enough to accommodate 10 square tables with chairs around them.
It was on the ground floor and some tables were already occupied with people having their lunch.
Chrissy thought he was right and went inside after him. He selected a table close to a window and both of them sat down. Very soon Mrs Adler and a younger lady came to their table with food. Mrs. Adler said she hoped they didn’t mind as she had ordered for them herself some of the most liked items.
The other lady served honey garlic baked chicken thighs, baked cauliflower cheese, mashed potato with two eggs sunny side up. Chrissy was surprised with the amount of food but it was only then she realized how hungry she really was. The food was very well cooked and quite relishing. Mrs Adler was not exaggerating when she said her food was a real hit.
By the time they were done with food, Mrs Adler came back with a plate full of Cornish pastries, saying these were liked very much by all guests. Even Nikloi was impressed with her cook.
After paying for their lunch and thanking Mrs Adler, they both stepped out of the inn. Nikloi told Mrs Adler, his team would be in touch with her.
Chrissy was very happy that she came for this visit. She had liked the place and was sure Nikloi should buy it. Seated inside the car, when Nikloi asked for her opinion she more than happy to share. She told him about the pieces she had seen at the rooms and hotel saying that she would need some time to able to get the exact details of their collection but by her first inspection she was sure they part of some rare series.
The original owner had been very careful with the décor and theme and over the years it had been maintained well. Nikloi nodded at her assessment focussing his eyes back on the road.
She added, “With very few changes, it could be converted into an elite classic theme resort”.
Nikloi commented, “Your excitement is heartening but the place is not of the level of luxury hotels I own”.
Chrissy was taken aback by his response. She had thought he like the place. In fact it was a good place worth investing even though it was not in his ultra-luxury hotel league.
She told him, it was different but it would give him a chance to target a new segment of patrons who were interested in a specialized theme place and were willing to pay for that unique experience.
Nikloi looked at her sharply as if she had said something silly making her think if she had said too much.
Turning his attention to the road Nikloi said, “People are willing to pay for the experience but they don’t want to do this as the cost of their luxury. They want all the materialistic comforts my hotels offer. They would expect similar levels here when they see my name associated with thi
Chrissy thought about what he had said and spoke after some consideration. “You are right. People who can afford it want that kind of luxury but that doesn’t mean you have to turn down this place”, she said thoughtfully.
“With your experience you can easily upgrade this place into an even higher end luxury hotel without compromising it’s the current theme. I feel it would be quite an experience and with your brand you will able to get the right people interested”, she added.
This time Nikloi appeared openly surprised. He kept looking at her strangely.
Chrissy felt that he had asked for her opinion about the place not her advice on business decisions. She should have kept this to herself and not become so passionate about the discussion.
Very likely, Nikloi would be going to mock her for limited understanding of the way hotel business worked. His expressions seem to be saying so as well. But then what he said, surprised her more than anything he had said till now. He said, “You seem to have a point. I will ask my team to look into it, then”.
She didn’t know if she had heard him right. He had agreed her point. He may even considered it. This was definitely a first; for her discussions with Nikloi were always decided one sided. He had never openly agreed to anything she said, not that she was complaining of this change.
Feeling quite pleased with herself and knowing that the journey was spent very well, she relaxed back in her seat and smiled at the outside scenery. They were making their way back and soon they were out of the city. Chrissy enjoyed the view happily until she realized they seem to be heading towards the Stonehenge.
She worriedly looked at Nikloi but he seem to not notice anything odd. She hoped she was wrong but she was getting a feeling otherwise.
Turning towards Nikloi again, she asked him in a low voice,
“Where are we going?”
“Stonehenge”, he confirmed her fears.
“Why? To visit the stone monument, of course”, he answered coolly.
Chrissy was speechless. Nikloi appeared as if visiting Stonehenge was the most natural thing to do but she knew differently. She couldn’t understand why he would go there. Was it because her mother had mentioned she liked the stone circle and wanted to visit it since long?
She didn’t want to ask him. What if he said yes? But she couldn’t even continue like this. This would mean they were on an outing.
That was something she never imagined she would be doing with Nikloi Swaroski.
He didn’t even like her. She didn’t like him! Or so she thought.
So what was going on here?
They had turned into the parking area and Nikloi was looking for a spot to park. Parking into a corner end, he was about to get to get out of the car, when Chrissy stopped him. She couldn’t go on and decided to get this out straight.
“Mr. Swaroski, why are we here? she asked him seriously.
“Ms. Smith, I think I already answered that question”, he replied equally seriously.
“No, I mean, why are we visiting stone circle? I had agreed to come with you because you wanted my opinion about Salisbury Inn. That is already done. Then why this? She asked incredulously.
“It is for the very same reason that we started this trip today and after the day, I would have thought you would have understood it quite well”, Nikloi said, still as cool as cucumber.
Chrissy wasn’t sure if she understood anything anymore. Was he hinting at her fear, confirming she was right all along? But that can’t be. Not after the way he had admonished her for not wanting to come.
“I.. I.. d don’t get it”, Chrissy squirmed in her seat.
END OF SEASON ONE