Another Neopian Landmark That Needs a Make-Over?
Has your owner ever put you in the Neolodge in Central Neopia for a week or more? Well, my siblings and I, Harry_the_Toothless, go to the Neolodge on a regular basis. My sister, Kokariia, says that our owner must be worried that we might starve to death, so that’s why he puts us in. Like doing his dailies, almost, only it’s a monthly thing -- and it's a good thing that he’s concerned about our health, right? But this past holiday weekend we were surprised to find that, of all the Neopians that could show up to this established landmark, my favourite fashionista and patron of the Arts, Ms_Peppa -- or Ms. P, as she prefers to be called -- was there as well.
Our very Purple Diva of Divine seems to have picked up an assistant, a young Stealthy Cybunny with lots of energy (she’ll need it to keep up with Ms. P.!). The two of them were going over some type of plans when Ms. P. caught sight of my siblings and me, and, of course, rushed over to greet us at our outdoor picnic table that we were all crowded around.
“Well, Fyora bless my soul -- how are you, Harry and Harrund? And -- oh my! Your siblings have multiplied?! Kokariia, dear, hand me that beautiful baby Aisha and tell me about this large group you have here,” Ms. P. gushed as she used her wings to scoop up Fateemah_7 into her lap and placed herself in the middle of the picnic table’s bench.
Kokariia chuckled as she began the introductions. “Well, you are holding Fateemah_7, and this is Ehlam_Warrior, a Candy Lutari, and Bowie_Zeppelin, a Candy Aisha.”
“Why, Ms. P., you are all Kokariia and the boys ever talk about! I am so glad to finally meet someone who has made such a lasting impression on my siblings,” Ehlam exclaimed as she shooed Harrund to the other side of the table so she could sit next to Ms. P.
Harrund made a sulky noise, but Bowie just pulled him down next to her and hissed, “Chill!” and then nodded at Ms. P. “What’sup?”
The Cybunny assistant had followed Ms. P. over to the bench and clearly wasn’t quite sure if she was going to fit on the bench. Ehlam noticed her hesitation and said, “I’ll take Fateemah now, Ms. P. It’s time for her nap, so I’ll take her to my room where her crib is set up. I’d love to enjoy a nice dinner with you and your assistant after Baby’s nap… what was your name, my dear?” She turned to the Cybunny, who seemed grateful for the opportunity to sit next to Ms. P.
“Oh, who me? My name is Maranda_Kynd, and I’m pleased to meet friends of Ms. P. I will gladly set up our evening’s dinner together,” she shyly offered as she frantically scribbled down more notes into her tablet.
“Well, I have got to get our precious cargo settled down, but I look forward to meeting up with you ladies at the Burger Bar later. Boys, try to behave yourselves,” admonished Ehlam with a quick, stern look to signal that she meant it as she carried the sleeping baby towards the Mountain Lodge area.
“Oh, Ms. P., I was just saying to Harry and Harrund that we should try to visit you, but you never seem to be at home,” Kokariia wistfully mentioned. “I don’t think that I ever properly thanked you for helping Harry and Harrund with my Christmas Sweater.”
“You want to thank her for THAT thing?” Bowie burst out in disbelief.
“Uh, it’s her favourite sweater now, Bowie! Ms. P. helped Harry and I to learn how to make it…” Harrund began, defending his pride.
“And it was a lovely sentiment that has brought the three of them closer together and exemplifies the true nature of gift-giving and receiving, wasn’t it, my dear… Bowie, was it?” Ms. P. interjected before any more hurt feelings could erupt.
“I guess so,” Bowie muttered.
“Well, I still want to know what keeps you so busy that we can never find you at your home, Ms. P?” Kokariia asked, trying to steer the conversation to a different topic.
“Oh, hunny, I am busier than the Slushie-Slinging Tuskaninny in the middle of the Altador Cup season, you know!” She laughed at her own joke which made us all laugh along with her, relaxing everyone.
“Perhaps Miss Bowie has heard of a musical group I’m trying to track down, the Pink Yurbles ?” Ms. P. ventured.
“Oh, you mean The Pretty Pink Yurbles? Yeah -- it’s three Yurble teenagers that started a band. They’re mostly playing at pop-up concerts as they haven’t broken into the Tyrannian Concert Hall yet,” Bowie answered, proud of her knowledge.
“Thank you. That’s exactly my point -- we need new talent in that Concert Hall! Ah, don’t get me started on that topic, or we will be here long enough to have missed Altador Cup XVII!” clucked Ms. P. with another of her random sayings. “The thing that I would love for you to help me with right now, my dears, is this business with the Neolodge.”
“Haven’t you stayed at the Neolodge before?” I inquired. “Especially with all of the tracking of artists and musicians you do, all over Neopia?”
“I must admit that this is actually my first visit, and my owner just gave brief instructions to pick a lodging and send him the bill, with only a hint of not to spend all of his neopoints,” Ms. P. confessed. “So I was going over all of these choices and I’m embarrassed to say -- I find it all overwhelming! Could you help out your oldest friend here and make some suggestions?”
“Your owner said just send him the bill?” Harrund exclaimed, “Cool! Why not stay at the Astrovilla?”
“Is that where you stay?” asked Ms. P.
“Umm, no. We always stay at the Mountain Lodge,” Harrund quietly admitted.
Ms. P. looked over to Maranda, her assistant, who nodded to show that she was indeed taking down this information to help them make their decision. Then Ms. P. asked us, “So your owner puts you in the Mountain Lodge because he prefers you to have clean mountain air and to enjoy snow-based events like skiing?”
Harrund and I exchanged a puzzled look before we burst out laughing. “I’m sorry, Ms. P. but he chooses the Mountain Lodge because it has three stars and is the lowest priced accommodation for 30 np per night, so it’s a good place for us to sleep without getting bugs, while also getting decent food. The one star Fleapit Motel or Cockroach Hotel are cheaper for a reason --“ I broke off, trying to explain to this dear lady who probably had never gone slumming in her life so probably wouldn’t even realize bugs were possible to have in a building.
“Their shame is in their name!” Harrund crowed, shouting bluntly the information I was trying to say more tactfully.
“Gross, Harrund! Do you think Ms. P. needed to hear that?” Bowie snapped at Harrund.
“You don’t think I’ve seen bugs before, Bowie? That is sweet, but I am trying to make an informed decision -- so honesty is exactly what I need to hear.” Ms. P. smiled, but then continued, “So why not place you at the four-star accommodations of Ye Olde Ship Inn, Hotel Opera, or the Royal Neopian? Or even the five-star accommodations of Faerie Castle, Presidential Palace, or Astrovilla? Aren’t they better since they’re more expensive? And also, there should be added benefits for choosing a higher accommodation for your stay -- especially if you stay the full 28 days?”
“The only thing a Neopet gets for staying in a high-priced hotel is paying more neopoints for the same treatment they get in a lower priced hotel, so the added benefit would be... they would be poorer?” I say, trying to keep a straight face before falling into laughter.
Kokariia was not amused with our joking, informal tone. “Boys, do you want me to tell Ehlam that you were not behaving?” After her hard stare at us, she went on to explain, “Ms. P., I do have friends whose owners do put their Neopets at the higher-priced hotels, but it doesn’t seem very practical to us to waste our owner’s neopoints for a place with more stars but have no real benefits.”
Ms. P. looked over at her assistant and declared, “Well, I appreciate your honesty with me -- Maranda, will you go change our accommodations to Mountain Lodge? Oh, but wait until I ask them about the amenities.”
“The what now?” Harrund and Bowie chimed in unison.
Kokariia waved them off and answered, “She wants to know about the ‘extras’ and this is where our owner does splurge on us. He always marks the Burger Bar, Fitness Center, Neopian Times Delivery, En-suite Bathroom, and Grooming. There are 12 add-ons in total, but those 5 are what our owner always picks for us.”
“Wait a minute! What do you mean En-suite Bathroom? What was the proprietor expecting a civilized Neopet to do without having proper bathroom accommodations?” Ms. P. exclaimed in utter disbelief.
“I guess that’s why there is so much dung in Neopia!” Harrund shouted before toppling to the ground, rolling in laughter, and I was instantly joining in.
“BOYS!” The sharp tone made our shoulders hunch up, and we turned to face our self-appointed Miss Manners Extraordinaire, our sibling, Ehlam. “Bowie was right to come take over caring for Fateemah so I could remind our siblings that their manners should always be impeccable and refined, not low and coarse! I’m so disappointed, and…” turning to Ms. P., “I can’t even begin to apologize for their lack of…”
Ms. P. had already jumped up and wrapped her wings around Ehlam. “Oh don’t be so upset, Ehlam. I know these two boys very well, and their bluntness and mischief-making are what I prefer to things like false pretences and sugar-coating. Especially when trying to figure out what to expect in a business transaction, like staying at this Neolodge. No apologies are needed, dear. Please, relax,” Ms. P assured Ehlam as she slipped back down on the bench and invited Ehlam to sit beside her.
“But let’s go back -- your owner ‘splurges’ on giving you those extras, putting aside the En-suite Bathroom fiasco. Am I to understand that the Burger Bar, Fitness Center, Grooming, and even reading the Neopian Times during your stay doesn’t improve your moods, nor even increase your intelligence? What is the purpose of these amenities if you aren’t benefiting from these items in some way?” Ms. P. inquired very thoughtfully.
“Ms. P. seemed genuinely confused about the Neolodge, because she probably was expecting that the star rating was meant to be a symbol of luxury,” Kokariia began to summarize for Ehlam as she patted Ms. P.’s wing, “It can come as a shock to realize that this glorious, well-loved establishment of Neopia is…”
“An illusion! It seems like it is providing luxurious care when it really is just basic care.” Kokariia nodded at Ehlam, as the returning sibling finished Kokariia’s thought. “When our owner pays 5np for each add-on, selecting 5 extras for each of his pets, for 28 days… it’s definitely a ‘splurge’ because we don’t get any real benefits or anything, not any more than a Neopet whose owner puts them in the cheapest lodging for the same 28 days. Buying the add-ons or not has no effect on us so it’s a bit of a waste.”
“Well, the whole system may seem like a grand illusion, but don’t forget that it actually is a necessity since we can’t really cook or feed ourselves in our Neohomes,” Kokariia pointed out.
Ms. P. just shook her head as her thoughts were coming together. “Why would you have such a wonderful concept of the Neolodge, an establishment that fulfils a valid need, and then let it fall flat, to be no more than a grand waste of time and neopoints? This makes no business sense whatsoever!”
Ms. P.’s steam was clearly beginning to build. ”Think of all the possibilities of making real improvements -- like transforming these simple ‘extras’ into REAL advantages! This Neolodge could easily become a busy hub of hospitality and be THE place to BE? Could you imagine if you actually got a Gourmet Food point for every week your Neopet stayed at the Neolodge and paid for the Burger Bar? Or getting your Intelligence status raised for reading the Neopian Times for the full 28 days? Not to mention that if these ‘extras’ actually became real benefits -- why, the Neolodge’s business would certainly improve with such a make-over! What if there was a reward system for loyal customers! Such as you could get a free week, or a reduced rate, or even an Avatar for being a ‘Frequent Guest’?” Ms. P.’s eyes were shining as she planned out the potential of something that could be great, and she was clearly planning how she could help this become an improved version of what this Neolodge was at the moment.
“Maranda, look over our schedule for tomorrow and make me an appointment with the head of this Neolodge. You’ve been taking notes on this conversation, yes?” Ms. P. said, looking at her assistant.
Maranda looked up from her tablet. “Of course, Ms. P.!” she answered, smiling, seemingly excited about this new project, too.
“Of course you were keeping track!” Ms. P. smiled widely. “No one is better than Maranda at efficiency and designing proposals. I’d be lost without her.”
“So, another proposal? “ Harrund chimed in.
“Not just any old proposal -- this will be for a new and improved Neolodge! It will become so popular, it will be difficult to get a reservation!” Maranda exclaimed, catching Ms. P.’s enthusiasm.
Ms. P. squeezed Maranda’s paw as Maranda was putting her tablet in her pouch. “See if it’s possible to set up our meeting to present the proposal. It won’t be hard for you to put it together and polish it up, right, dear?” Ms. P. asked.
“Don’t worry about a thing, Ms. P.! I will make the appointment as I adjust our accommodations, and if I can’t get the appointment set for tomorrow, I’ll just camp out at the front desk until they give me the appointment first thing in the morning,” Maranda reassured Ms. P.
“But don’t go right into writing the proposal -- I want you to meet us for dinner at the Burger Bar. You know, all work and no play…” Ms. P. began.
“Is super boring! So you have to come join us for dinner!” interjected Harrund, much to my shock and surprise -- and, judging the look on Ms. P.’s face, it was an unexpected twist.
“Yeah, I just hope that we didn’t make more work for you, Ms. Maranda,” I added in.
“Oh, Harry, I love my job -- and Ms. P. has the most interesting projects and so many interesting friends,” Maranda gushed. “I mean, thank you for being concerned about my workload, but I am happy to be her assistant and help see her projects come into being. And please, just call me Maranda,” Maranda quietly assured me, smiling.
“Okay, then it’s a dinner date with all of us at the Burger Bar in an hour, right?” Kokariia interrupted, with her way of trying to keep my brother and I from going off task.
Maranda nodded and gave my sister, Kokariia, one of those looks girls seem to give each other but leaves guys like me and my brother absolutely clueless.
“Harry! Harrund! Please go help Bowie to get Fateemah ready. I’m sure she’s ready for a break about now,” Kokariia exclaimed, trying to keep us from bothering Maranda.
“What? I’m not changing any diapers! “ Harrund began complaining loudly.
“Come on, Harrund! If Fateemah needs a change I don’t mind taking care of that. You know that Fateemah loves your funny faces the best, right?” I told him. Then, I turned to Kokariia, “Let’s not jump to conclusions, Sis. It’s just dinner with friends, and Harrund won’t be bothering anyone.”
“Ok, but you know how Harrund likes to have attention…” Kokariia trailed off.
“And I promise I will be on my best behaviour and not cause any problems, so help me Fyora. Or Ehlam can swat me with her Faerie Lenny Feather Fan!” I solemnly swore.
“Great! I was wondering what accessory to wear tonight for dinner, and I love an accessory that has another purpose,” Ehlam chimed in.
“This is going to be an interesting evening,” Kokariia sighed.
Well, dinner with all of my siblings will always be an adventure that most Neopians might not expect, but the fact that we were witnesses to another fabulous make-over project like the new and improved Neolodge is just like icing on a Blue Acara Cake. It makes me wonder what our purple patroness will find to improve in Neopia next.