As a little girl, I always loved the tale of Eloise, living in the penthouse of the Plaza and running around the place, talking to the staff and having adventures. My adult life has been a little bit like that — but without the penthouse and most of the glamour.
I lived in hotels for 16 straight days. I moved from Minneapolis (But PLEASE don’t ask me why I was there! It was a long 11 months and a totally weird — but educational — detour in my life and business!) My stuff was loaded on a moving truck on November 21st. I slept in my new apartment on December 7th…hence the hotel living. It has lots of upside:
- Someone made my bed and washedmy towels and dishes
- I meet lots of interesting people (like Eloise)
- Free food and water was often involved
Here’s a brief summary of the four (yup…four!) hotels I stayed at and why they are/aren’t good for Bleisure™ travel and lodging.
Pros: You get free breakfast and managers’ reception every day. It’s connected to the Skyway so you don’t ever have to go outside. (The Skyway is a bizarre concept, but necessary because it gets so freakin’ cold in Minneapolis! People walk through it like hamsters in a maze…planning out their routes for lunch and shopping…without ever seeing the sun.) The rooms are spacious and have little kitchenettes. It has a laundry facility, so I could have done my own wash there, if so inclined. (I wasn’t.) I get Hilton points and can even use them to offset the cost of my stay. (We entrepreneurs are a thrifty lot because we’re spending our own money.)
Cons: Breakfast can be mobbed (especially on weekends). Housekeeping leaves a lot to be desired. My room wasn’t thoroughly cleaned for two days…sort of like having my own apartment. You have to sign in to Wi-Fi every day you’re there, which gets tiring.
Pros: One word: OMG (or is that three words?). This place is truly amazing — for work or play. My suite (which was discounted because my real estate agent is an investor in the property) was huge and super-comfy. The closet, bathroom, and shower were the size of a Manhattan apartment. The Wi-Fi was fast and solid throughout the property (which is so beautiful that you can’t help but be more innovative every time you step outside). And the food…incredible and reasonably-priced. My spicy margarita (when in Rome) was perfect and I could eat their kale salad for every meal (except maybe breakfast, when I had stone ground oatmeal with fresh fruit). My room even had its own semi-private outdoor hot tub. I would definitely come back and drop the B in Bleisure next time.
Cons: Not many. Could have used an extra outlet or two near the desk, but the old west charm overrides the need for plugs.
Pros: Free breakfast! (See above). Front desk people are lovely and charming. No special codes needed for business center, which is located in an open area (See below). Rooms are spacious, if not luxurious. Convenient to hiking and shopping.
Cons: Housekeeping staff at all Embassy Suites seems to be a weak point. Despite the fact that we reserved and confirmed a crib in the room, we didn’t get one. This was a problem at the Embassy Suites in Minneapolis too. National crib shortage? Hmmm…
Pros: AMAZING two-bedroom suite. We could all stay together and the baby even had her own room with a beautiful crib. Comfy beds. Beautiful pool area. Free breakfast. (You can see a theme emerging here.) Convenient to airport, dining, local attractions.
Cons: Seems to be a wedding/reunion destination, so as long as you don’t mind riding up in the elevator with someone else’s tipsy family, all is good.
Pros: Huge property, so you have lots of amenities (including two pools), but can get a remote room and avoid hustle and bustle — and easy parking. And yes…there was free breakfast. The “adult pool” was quiet and relaxing and housekeeping was way better than the Embassy Suites experience. Solid wi-fi (which I’m realizing is super-important for Bleisure travel. I get annoyed when I have to sign in daily, however. Great location and wonderful area to walk/run if you’re inclined to exercise outside a gym. I’m a Hillstone fan, so being close to one is always a plus. When I couldn’t get a seat at the bar one night, I checked out Veneto, a warm and yummy Italian place. Great wine selection, super-attentive staff, and even gluten-free pasta!
Cons: Nothing in particular. Great alternative to apartment living for a few days. But, after staying at the Hermosa Inn, I was spoiled for life. I love the Hilton Honors points and the morning meal, but having experienced the old world charm of a place from another era, I’ll have to re-think my lodging strategy.
As I Plan My 2018 Travels…
I’ll be more mindful as I balance the allure of free breakfasts and loyalty programs against the “L” in Bleisure. As you choose your hotels, think about:
- Will having large groups of convention-goers and business travelers with me be a plus or a stress factor?
- How important are the points to me?
- What in-room amenities are deal-breakers — things like free wi-fi, toiletry and coffee brands and other luxury creature comforts.
I discovered that any bleisure trip can feel a bit more like a vacation if you choose wisely.
arizonaBleisurehermosa innhotel living