Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, Reykjavik Iceland

The Drowned Nordica Club

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Ordered via room service at the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica in the capital of Iceland.

Overall Score 76.7/100
Presentation 8.6/10 Meat Quality 9.4/10
Fruit / Vegetable Quality 8.9/10 Bread Quality 8.7/10
Mayo / Sauce Usage 2.5/10 Value 8.2/10
Ingredients Ratio 8.8/10 Sides 7.8/10
Ambiance 7.9/10 Overall Taste 5.9/10

The perks of being an expert – a true thought leader – in your industry. Only few know this well. How long does it take? Depends how hard you work. And the industry you’re trying to become a leader in. Less mature industries take less time, however, require more focus and persistence among key intellects that support the industry. But no matter the industry, no matter the person, it truly takes dedication and commitment, patience and persistence.

2 years ago I was unknown in the tourism industry. No key officials knew of me. No leaders sought my expertise. No businesses wanted my input. I was not seen as an expert. Of course, this sort of went hand in hand with the industry’s lack of focus on the booming Chinese tourism market.

Yet today, I am being flown around the globe, labeled a world leading authority on the subject of Chinese tourism. But it’s not just me, it’s our company that has created this label for all of us who proudly work for Attract China.

How did this happen?

I could write a book on this subject. And perhaps one day I will. And perhaps this is the beginning chapter of that book. Being typed on my Blackberry as I fly from Iceland to Boston after presenting at an annual tourism conference.

But alas, this is not the story of how I put my stake in the ground, launched a company, and became a world leading expert on Chinese outbound tourism surrounded by a team of incredible of incredible individuals, smarter than me in more ways than one. Oh no. That’s just the preamble.

This is the story of a club sandwich.

And while the world doesn’t yet know Evan Saunders as the world’s leading authority on the club sandwich, perhaps one day the human race will look back on this post with a chuckle, the same way I do when I look upon my move from Beijing to Boston just over 2 years ago to become the leading authority on Chinese tourism.

Iceland. Just a few days before my bachelor party in Montreal. And just a week before my business trip to Beijing. And exactly 3 weeks and 6 days until I get married. Someone pinch me.

As perfect as these moments are, sometimes we want what we don’t have. And after presenting at the conference, all I wanted was a club sandwich, a stark contrast from the meal being provided to all of the attendees for lunch. Luck was on my side, as I was staying at the Hilton Reykjavik Nordica, essentially the only international chain hotel in Reykjavik, and a property I knew would have a club sandwich on the in room dining menu.

I placed my order and watched the rain fall over the city, as tourists got in and out of busses to go on their adventures for the day. It reminded me of my conversation with the taxi driver on the way in: “There’s no bad weather in Iceland, only bad gear,” he told me.

Rain wasn’t the only thing drowning out the day. The Hilton’s Nordica Club Sandwich, as great as it is, was drowned out by an overdose of mayonnaise combined with a suffocating layer of melted cheese. So unfortunate. I had mayo dripping all over my fingers after each bite. With such great ingredients, each bite nearly brought tears to my eyes. Who in the kitchen let this happen?

Top notch bacon, really some of the best I’ve had. Moist, delicious chicken. Crisp and slightly bitter rocket. Ripe tomatoes. Crunchy yet soft grilled panini bread all being held together by a toothpick. Everything about this club sandwich was great, except the sauce and cheese usage, which totally ruined the experience. A pity, really.

I couldn’t recommend the club sandwich to any of the other attendees, but I did recommend the bacon and chicken that came with it, which was available in other dishes.

I look forward to coming back to Iceland, again, as it is truly such an easy trip from Boston, but I will be on the hunt for a different club sandwich, one that isn’t drowned out.

SIDE NOTE: Of course, I always question: what makes a world leading authority, an authority? Is it simply acceptance by a majority of people who work in the industry that the “expert” is leading in? Or just key individuals in that industry who are experts themselves? It’s a multitude of points. Chapter 2 in my book, I suppose. One day…


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