A Guerrilla Abroad

Ok, I admit it, I felt like James freaking Bond.

It’s 6 a.m., sun’s coming up, just in from the airport and I’m ushered into my home away from home for next two weeks: the Metropolis Tower, with an amazing view of Waitemata Harbor and the City of Auckland from my 23rd floor balcony. Damn, if weren’t this early, I’d expect a chilled bottle of Stoly and a matching 26er of very dry vermouth sitting in the corner.

All cool woods, restrained elegance and even classical music piped into the elevator through multiple speakers – not average elevators these, they even have monitors in ’em showing local natural scenery, and doors that snap open and snap closed.

When I checked in downstairs, my preferences for wake up calls (two thank you, one at 5:30 and one at 6:30) and pillows (no feathers, thanks) had already been downloaded into the hotel’s system, electronically relayed per the travellers profile they downloaded from AMEX travel.

Great room, with multiple phone lines and a high speed Internet connection ready to go.

First impressions: this is a city that knows how to use technology the way its supposed to be used: subtly.

Now that I think about it, it started right when I got into the cab at the airport. I gave the cabbie my AMEX card, a few miles out from my destination, expecting that he’d have to root around for an AMEX slip in the glove box (or worse yet, the trunk) and dig out one of those clunky machines that take an imprint of the card.

Worse than that, I thought I might get the usual surly look I get from most U.S. cabbies (“Ya sure you don’t have the cash?” they whine “I get charged seven per cent from my own pocket…) It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to figure out why these “cash only” guys are the most frequent targets of hold-ups…

Back to the cab in Auckland. “Thank you sir” he says as he swipes my card through a small reader built into the console. Number is confirmed almost instantly, and on rolling up to the hotel, he pushes a button that prints out a neat little receipt, including date, time, pickup and drop off location. Now if I could only get him to beam that info directly into my expense account spreadsheet…

Having a quick breakfast at a sleek little caf