Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Hyatt Regency San Francisco

From the gilded age splendor of the Grand Hotel Tremezzo we now travel to the Gigantor-age style of the Hyatt San Francisco Embarcadero Center.

The Hyatt's sleek, one-sided hallways run rings around the vaguely trapezoidal form of the biggest dang "lobby" you're likely to see in your lifetime.

You immediately feel like an ant. Or an electron circling the giant sculpted ball that fills 1/1000th of the interior space.

That's not all bad, of course. If I were the owner, I'd feel like some 80's master of the universe. But as I'm not, I focused on some smaller items of interest.

1) The feeling-a-little-dated tile floors in the elevators - which from the outside look a lot like they belong to the interior of the Tyrell building in Blade Runner.

2) The not matching the floors of the elevators elevator landing carpet.

3) The button which in most hotels would waft you to the penthouse, but which here promises only a trip to the EQ.

4) The abandoned chat area on the fourth floor. All that was left of what must've been conceived as a little nook for intimate tetes-a-tete was an end table with a phone on it. (Sorry, didn't get a good photo of it.)

5) The sign for the exercise room, which I mistakenly took for a Swastika pointing to a meeting room for the American Nazi Party.

It's a nice hotel. At least my room was nice. A colleague with whom I was traveling claimed her bathtub was ringed with "black mold".

Mine had an exceedingly slow to flush toilet. I don't know if this was an issue with the pipes, or if my unit was an early, inefficient version of a low water usage commode. Either way, one had to be careful or the chamber maid would have an unfortunate surprise.

The Hyatt, being a luxury hotel, charges for wireless internet. (The inverse relationship between room price and internet charge continues!) What made this even more annoying than usual was the glacial pace of the connection. You could enter a url, try to fix the toilet, come back, and it would still be loading. What's worse, when I checked out, I mentioned to the nice lady that the internet was very very slow, and she said, with complete aplomb, "we know, we're trying to fix it". Gee, thanks. How about a warning card in your room before you cough up the dough to "log on"? Something like "Go ahead and pay, sucker, but don't expect anything faster than a 28k dial up modem".

One other thing. The chrome was coming off the drain stopper in the sink. I know the old saying, "the bloom is off the rose". I have a modern replacement: The chrome's off the brass. Doesn't have the same ring, does it?

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Grand Hotel Tremezzo

The Grand Hotel Tremezzo would be worth staying in if only for its location on Lake Como. But since this blog isn't about geography, per se, I'm going to stick to covering what the blog name promises. Halls.

Now this is a hallway:

Ground floor:

Our floor:

I don't think you'd find a carpet like this in a Courtyard by Marriott.

Lovely, n'est-ce pas? The Grand Tremezzo is indeed a grand hotel in the old European tradition. The ceilings are as tall as an airport hanger, and the floors would probably cost more to install today than an entire modular "business center" that seems to be too many modern hotels' main attraction.

Here's the tromp d'oeil section.

This is just the plain part.

As befitting its grandness and tradition, it has a number of intriguing features (probably due to its having been erected in 1910).

1) The mystery switch in the bathroom (I don't know what happens when you pull it - maybe it signals your servants to come to your assistance).

2) These faucets weren't connected to anything specific, as far as I could tell.

It's really a wonderful hotel, in the "grand" European tradition. And a spectacular "breakfast buffet". I don't know what else to call it, but under no circumstances should you think of waffles or cereal. It's more like breakfast heaven.

As is the hotel. Go. Vai! Vai! Book a room now!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Four Points by Sheraton Miami Beach

I had a couple nights' stay at the Four Points Miami Beach. It's about 2 miles north of the happening part of town where the Delano is.

The hotel is part of a historical preservation area called MiMo - for Miami Modern. That means whatever renovations the hotel performs must fit with the era. I think this explains why the elevator service was so wanky - there are two elevators plus a service elevator. They're all tiny, and half the non-service elevators weren't functioning, which made the wait excruciatingly long. You could see the broken elevator sulking one floor below the lobby if you looked closely at the elevator doors. And I think they can't build bigger elevators for fear of incurring the wrath of the local do-gooders. As long as you're comfortable smelling burned tourists, you'll be fine.

Anyway, they've attempted to rejuvenate the hotel along its original lines. (By the way, I don't think the lobby conforms to MiMo aesthetics). The halls are pretty ordinary, though they've painted them a kind of frisky green color.

There's a design era tug-of-war with the hall lighting. In this corner, representing the fifties and sixties, this bubble ceiling fixture.

And in the other, the defending champ from some unspecified point in time: the wall fixture.

Since the two style don't seem to agree, I'm not sure which direction the hotel plans to have be its ultimate design statement.

The hallways will not prepare you for the room, which was nice and clean. AND BLUE. One of the walls was like the little photos that accompany dictionary entries - you know, like the one for "snood". It defined blue. (The photo doesn't do it justice, I'm sad to say.)

I must say, this is the first room I've had with a view of a ship container parking lot.

The Four Points has some kind of advertising tie in with Charmin Bathroom tissue. One element is a vinyl sticker near the sink -

The other is a sticker on the toilet paper roll itself.

Maybe the next big ad idea will be to have Lysol sponsor the toilet seat itself.

I do have a question for Mr. & Mrs. Four Points by Sheraton. If your name is Four Points, why does the inlaid compass rose in the lobby have 8 points? Just asking.

Also, how can the 4th floor of the hotel be one floor above the lobby, which is at street level?