Thursday, February 23, 2006

Hotel Rants from New York and Connecticut

So this week, I have been in New York, again. I am at another of my glorious industry meetings where we are trying to change the way suppliers and retailers conduct business. The fun is just absolutely beyond words.

I picked a different hotel for this trip. I have been staying in the Hilton Rye Town each of my previous trips. It’s close to my meeting locations, but it’s a crappy Hilton. Some of you may thing that’s a repetitive statement. I think it’s crappy because, even after you pay the $9.95 for internet service, you’re not guaranteed to actually be able to connect. The showers and bathrooms, in general, aren’t clean. That means the floor hasn’t been mopped upon check-in, the mirror is smudged and the shower/tub is stained or has residue. Finally, the beds pretty much suck.

So, faced with the option of sleeping at the Hilton for 4 nights, I decided to shop for a new hotel.

My company pays $187/night for the Hilton. (What a rip off!) I wanted to ensure I paid no more than that for another hotel. The options were Marriott Courtyard in Rye ($139), Crowne Plaza in White Plains ($169) or Westin in Stamford, CT ($170). Marriott tends to be reliable, but usually there is a reason for a $40 different in hotels. Some colleagues are at the Marriott, and I am taking it out of my option list based upon their feedback. YUCK. The Crown Plaza is a near a mall, and has good restaurants nearby. It was booked for this week, but I think it is becoming my hotel of choice in the area.

Ultimately, I chose the Westin for this trip. I love the heavenly bed and shower, in general.

Unfortunately, this Westin is not up to snuff. In my Starwood member profile, I have requested a non smoking King room. However, upon check in, they gave me a room that had someone else’s stuff in it, and next to the ice machine. So, I headed back to the front desk. When I told the guy, “there’s someone in the room”, he gave me attitude! I asked, “since you’re getting me MY OWN ROOM, can I have one that isn’t next to the ice machine?” Again, I got an eye roll. A few minutes later I got a room. It was empty. It was a non smoking room. It wasn’t a king. But I was tired and not ready for another fight.

The good news was wireless was available and free.

There are only three WEAK lights in the room. It is too dark!

The layout of the room is poor. For example, if you want to watch TV while sitting on something besides the bed, you’re SOL. The desk IS the same continuous piece of furniture as the dresser and the TV is on it. So along the wall opposite the beds you have a dresser, with a 25” TV on it, right next to the TV is the desk work area with phone, right next to that is the minibar and then the “chair” against the window but facing the beds. So if you chose to sit in the chair, you can watch the beds, but couldn’t see the TV. AND you can’t move the chair; there is no place to move it. If I want to work at the desk while watching TV, I am approximate 12” from the TV. Not an optimal watching scenario.

Parking is in a garage under the hotel. As a woman traveling alone and sometimes late at night, I don’t feel particularly safe in the garage. So, I have to use the valet, at an additional charge. I did use the garage the first day, but last night, I used the valet. Maybe I am being paranoid, but I didn’t see any cameras in the garage, and I just wasn’t comfortable with the risk

The restaurant is “gourmet”. You can choose from a $7.00 bowl of clam chowder (this is an appetizer quantity too) or a spring mix salad for $12. There are a few other options, but if you’re not a cuisine type person, you’ll not be pleased with the options. There are many entrée’s available, but the prices range from $25-$52 per plate. For these prices, I’d rather go to a “good restaurant” that doesn't just serve as a profit contributor to the hotel. If I am going to pay at least $25 for an entrée, make it a steak and a good one.

Monday, for lack of options, I ate the chowder and went to bed hungry. Tuesday, I ate at the bar and had a Kobe Burger. The other options at the bar were less gourmet-y, but not to my liking. Wednesday, I missed dinner altogether, because I was at my meetings until very late. Tonight, I will avoid the hotel for dinner at all costs. I’ll find SOMETHING as an option.

So, for all the benefits of the heavenly bed and shower (and I do like them), I won’t stay at this Westin again, most likely. Let’s hope my next New York trip has more notice and I can get into the Crowne Plaza.

Be speckled, Jeweled and Pedicured: Martinez Metrosexual Tendencies & Other Stories

It’s been a while since Lorenzo and I have blogged. All is well, just very busy. Here are some recent Alex & Meghan stories for your reading pleasure.

Alex got his first set of glasses last week. He now looks more like Lorenzo than ever. Our running joke has always been the “Mini-Me” qualities of Alex to Lorenzo. When they wear their glasses, and ND sweatshirts and jeans, it is even more clear to any observer. Alex is very proud to be wearing glasses like Lorenzo and I. He said, “Now I am part of the family”. Meghan, as a result, wears her Dora sunglasses even more often than before.

Meghan has increased her demands of painted finger and toe nails. I made the mistake of showing her all of my nail polish colors a few weeks ago. As a result, she has decided purple and red toenails are the best. We have to do them in an alternating pattern to have the “finished” look of preference.

Alex decided he needed a haircut on Sunday. His hair was not long, but it was not as neat as he preferred. He pointed out that his sideburns had grown longer than he liked. I had to laugh, as the kid loves to have a haircut, but doesn’t see the need to shampoo his hair daily. Seven year old boys are a hoot!

Meghan discovered the costume jewelry that Susanna passed down. I have been keeping it for Meghan. We put on some clip on earrings, a necklace and her Dora sunglasses for church a few Sunday’s ago. She caught herself in the mirror and turned to me and said, “Mama, I LIKE it.” If I didn’t already know I was in trouble, it’s confirmed.

Alex, in the continuing challenge of being a 7 year old boy, seems to be unable to wear a pair of pants (jeans or other) without tearing a hole in the knee. He has now 9 pair of pants. 4 of them have some sort of a hole in at least one knee. I patched a pair (or two) but the patches didn’t last either. I have decided the blessings of the situation are: you only wear pants for about 4 months in Texas and his legs grow SUPER fast. I am not thrilled with my son wearing pants with holes in the knees, but he can’t seem to keep from putting holes in them, so in order to save the remaining 5 pair from additional holes, I let him wear the hole-y ones more often than I’d like.

Meghan, who seems to be more like me everyday, has apparently developed a sarcastic side. While driving in the car the other day, she asked me to open her bottled water. After opening and returning the bottle, I asked her, “Can you say open in Spanish?” She responded, “Open in Spanish”, to my chagrin and Lorenzo’s laughter. Just so you know, open in Spanish is “Abierto”.

Alex and I are reading “The Phantom Tollbooth” together, when I am home, in the evening. I have been enjoying reading this book again. Whether stories of the Dodecahedron, the Absence of Rhyme & Reason, or the Dangers of the Land of Ignorance, I have been fully enjoying discussing Milo’s progress with Alex. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend it.

Meghan and I enjoy Madeline stories. Alex comes in to hear the story each night. The three of us have definitely decided we must go to Paris and see the places that Madeline sees in the stories. I love that my kids are, at least developing, the wanderlust I continually demonstrate. Poor Lorenzo, he’ll be dragged all over the world by the time I am done telling the kids about the cool places we should see!

Alex and Meghan are great playmates, but her aggressive nature and his gentle nature tend to be a very dangerous combination. Last weekend, Alex was resting on the floor when Meghan “mounted her horse & demanded he walk”. She then announced, “I have a horsey!”. The cowgirl in Meghan shines through! I am sure the Texas side of the family will enjoy that.

Some of you may know that Alex’s school is participating in a Jump Rope for Hearts program. His school sent home a form describing how to set up an on-line site to “collect money”. Alex, being his father’s son, wanted to be one of the people who actually did set up the site. We did it together and sent the link and “request” to grandparents and god-parents. Alex is apparently one of about 15 students in his entire school to set up the website. Not only that, but he blew away his goal of $50 with this program. Thank you if you GENEROUSLY supported Alex and his school. I was amazed by your collective response and Alex was very proud of his website and results.

Meghan has developed a love of Veggie Tales. Chick Fil-a gave a CD of 4 Veggie Tales’ songs in her recent kids meal. She has figured out how to make her CD player play and how to adjust the volume…up. She loves to replay her cd. My favorite song is about Larry the Cucumber and his Lost Hairbrush. Apparently, it is also Meghan’s, as she sings along with that song every time. She isn’t always on key and she isn’t always clearly articulating the lyrics, but she does enjoy the song. Lorenzo and I enjoy listening to her “sing” it, too.

Alex recently lost a school library book. It was a biography of George W. Bush. I believe he checked out this book about 6 times this year, already. I am not particularly comfortable with Alex’s interest in our president, but you all know, I am very supportive of Alex’s interest in politics, generally. I am hoping, that like myself, his political opinions will grow (and change!) as he does. At least, since he lost the book, he can’t read it again. Lorenzo thinks it’s fishy that the book disappeared. I can only say, I have no knowledge of the location of the book. $22 later, we have re-imbursed the library and reminded Alex to be more careful of future library books. I hope he doesn’t find any more Bush bio’s.

I hope you enjoyed the stories. Have a great day!