JOSHUA COLE heard the unfamiliar sound and felt a quiver of pure feeling snake up and down his spine. So rare was that particular sensation that it took him a split second to identify it.
He was a man who prided himself on moving forward, rather than back, in any kind of stressful situation. It had turned out to be a strategy for success in the high-powered world he moved in.
Joshua hit the intercom that connected his office to his secretary’s desk in the outer lair. His office underscored who he had become with its floor-to-ceiling glass windows that overlooked the spectacular view of Vancouver, downtown skyscrapers in the foreground, majestic white-capped mountains as the backdrop.
But if his surroundings reflected his confidence, at this moment his voice did not. “Tell me that wasn’t what I thought it was.”
But the sound came again, through his closed, carved, solid walnut door. Now it was amplified by the intercom.
There was absolutely no mistaking it for anything but what it was: a baby crying, the initial hesitant sobs building quickly to strident shrieking.
“They say you are expecting them,” said his receptionist, Amber, her own tone rising, in panic or in an effort to be heard above the baby, he couldn’t quite be sure.
Of course he was expecting them. Just not today. Not here. Children, and particularly squalling babies, would be as out of place in the corporate offices of the company he had founded as a hippo at Victoria’s Empress Hotel’s high tea.
Joshua Cole had built his fortune and his company, Sun, around the precise lack of that sound in each of his exclusive adult-only resorts.
His office replicated the atmosphere that made the resorts so successful: tasteful, expensive, luxurious, no detail overlooked. The art was original, the antiques were authentic, the rugs came from the best bazaars in Turkey.
The skillful use of rich colors and subtle, exotic textures made Joshua Cole’s office mirror the man, masculine, confident, charismatic. His desk faced a wall that showcased his career rise with beautifully framed magazine covers, Forbes, Business, Business Weekly.
But this morning, as always, his surroundings had faded as he intently studied what he hoped would become his next project. The surface of his desk was littered with photos of a rundown resort in the wilderness of the British Columbia interior.
He’d had that feeling as soon as he’d seen the photos. Moose Lake Lodge could be turned into an adventure destination for the busy young professionals who trusted his company to give them exactly what they wanted in a vacation experience. His clients demanded grown-up adventure plus five-star meals, spalike luxuries and all against the backdrop of a boutique hotel atmosphere.
The initial overture to Moose Lake Lodge had not gone particularly well. The owners were reluctant to talk to him, let alone sell to him. He had sensed they were wary of his reputation as a playboy, concerned about the effect of a Sun resort in the middle of cottage country. The Moose Lake Lodge had run as a family-oriented lakeside retreat since the 1930s, and the owners had sentimental attachments to it.
But sentiment did not pay the bills, and Joshua Cole did his homework. He knew buyers were not lining up for the place, and he was already strategizing his next move. He would up his offer tantalizingly. He’d convince the Baker family he could turn Moose Lake Lodge into a place they would always feel proud of. He’d visit them personally, win them over. Joshua Cole was very good at winning people over.
And he was passionate about this game, in all its stages: acquiring, renovating, opening, operating.
To that end Joshua had a resort in the Amazon jungle that offered rainforest canopy excursions, and one on the African savannah featuring photo safaris. And, of course, he still had his original small hotel in Italy, in the heart of Tuscany, where it had all started, offering a very grown-up winery and tasting tours.
Most recently Sun had opened a floating five-star destination for water lovers off the Kona Coast, on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Water lovers and kid haters.
Well, not all kid haters. Some of his best clients were just busy parents who desperately needed a break from the demands of children.
As if that sound didn’t explain it all. Even his own sister, Melanie, domestic diva that she had become, had accepted his offer to give her and her hubbie a much-needed break at the newly opened Sun in Kona.
No wonder, with a kid whose howls could register off the decibel chart.
How could his niece and nephew be here? His crammed calendar clearly said tomorrow. The plane was arriving at ten in the morning. Joshua planned, out of respect to his sister, to meet the plane, pat his niece on the head and make appropriate noises over the relatively new baby nephew, hopefully without actually touching him. Then he was planning on putting them, and the nanny they were traveling with, in a limo and waving goodbye as they were whisked off to a kid-friendly holiday experience at Whistler.