Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Hotel Snob -- by Cara

Back in the days before I had my son, I used to have the flexibility to take several trips a year with my husband, all over the country. For my husband, they were all work trips. But for me, they were more than just “getaways.” For me they were trips where I could do what I wanted, when I wanted and how I wanted! Little mini vacations!

My recent “Mommy Retreat” reminded me of those times. But I found that the most interesting part of my stay was the hotel which was quite intriguing. I’ve been wracking my brain to better describe this hotel, but the best description I could conjure up is a “very upscale Days Inn.” Not that there’s anything wrong with a Days Inn. Some of them are really lovely. But I digress.

I used to be completely enamored with the Hiltons and Mariotts we stayed in! From there it was the Chateau Marmount and Century Plaza (oh, how I adored the Century Plaza!). I’ve even stayed at the Plaza Hotel (before it went Co-op), and I must say, I was completely unimpressed. We also stayed at the Four Seasons! Now that was a treat!

One day, my husband had a reservation to stay at a certain hotel, and had the paperwork to prove it, but the hotel had no information on us in their computer system. And they were completely sold out. Well, my husband, being the eternally persistent person that he is, asked the manager to find us a room, even if it meant that we would have to stay at a different hotel. The manager came back with the news that we would have to stay at a different hotel next-door...The Ritz-Carlton!! They apologized for giving us their “standard” room...which included a marble, jacuzzi bath tub, entirely marble bathroom, the most amazing 300 count sheets and duvet cover...all I could say to my husband was, “If you are looking for me, I’ll be in this room...forever.”

I read a note in the room that said I could have a complementary, scented, hand made soap. I called room service and they brought a basket of 5 different scented soaps along with a loofah back scrubber and a sea sponge!! When I went to pick out a soap, the kind gentleman said to me, “Oh, Madam, this whole basket is for you to enjoy!.” I was speechless. The hotel also sent up complementary wine and chocolate covered strawberries as an apology for making the mistake in hotels! Just staying in this one room absolutely took my breathe away, and it was then that I became what I term “The Hotel Snob.” Nothing, no other hotel experience could even come close to staying at the Ritz-Carlton!

Now I am no longer able to go with my husband on his trips since we had our son. So I always make a small request of him when he goes away: Please bring back some soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion amenities! He always does. And it connects me a little bit to my former Hotel Snob days. Just recently my husband came back with amenities from the L’Occitane company...I was thoroughly jealous. If he brings back a “no name” brand, I pack it away to give to others in need.

Back to my “upscale Days Inn”...the rooms (suites!) were enormous with a bedroom section separated by a bathroom and kitchen area, and a huge sitting area! They also had “pod” coffee makers and a microwave and fridge. What made all of this odd is that there were rooms on the ground floor ( I had a view of the back parking lot through my bedroom window) and people constantly walking by my front window, so I had to be fully dressed before any curtains could be opened. There were also no Bell Hops, no Concierge; I had to wheel my luggage, Days Inn style, to this pretty magnificent room. I understand that in order to have such large rooms, economical corners need to be cut wherever possible, but this whole experience at this hotel was odd. Even to get to the meeting rooms, you had to walk directly through the formal (or should I say “only”) dining room, while guests were eating. Someone even brought their two, prize-winning Basset Hounds who I heard howling each morning on my way to get coffee! Strange, very strange indeed. I will say that the staff in all areas was exemplary. But maybe I’ll request a third floor room should I ever visit this hotel again. I may have humbled, but that little Hotel Snob is dying to get out...just one more time.

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