Sunday, May 11, 2008

Sheraton Annapolis II

I had a return visit to the Sheraton Annapolis. When I checked in, the people welcoming me were very kind & solicitous. I actually felt a little guilty about dissing the place during an earlier stay.

Part of my unusually forgiving frame of mind was that I'd just finished reading a really wonderful travel book, Shadow of the Silk Road, by the eminent British travel writer, Colin Thubron. Like all the books I've read of his, they're perspicacious, illuminating and instructive, as well as being beautifully written. En route from Xian, in western China, through Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Northern Iran, and Turkey to the Mediterranean, Mr. Thubron had to lodge in some dodgy places - without running water, with clogged lavatories, etc. etc. So how could I have complained about the Sheraton Annapolis' missing soda machines, dirt on the floor and creepy Nutcracker statues? (See earlier post, here.)

The lobby looked nice.

And the halls still featured my beloved enormous hound's tooth pattern.

So far, it seemed as if my cranky review from before may have been inaccurate.

With this unusually cheerful and open frame of mind, I entered my room. The first thing I noticed was that the sink stopper was broken.

The paint by the door handle was missing in places.

The ceiling sprinkler flange was misplaced somewhere.

Kind of picayune whining, I know. But then I saw that the floor molding by the closet had been wrenched off.

And for the piece de resistance, someone or thing (termites? beavers?) had removed a large chunk from the dresser drawer. How could no one have noticed this? I actually took two photos, to show off the missing piece to full advantage.

That was one of the weirdest hotel items I've observed yet.

Aside from my room being tormented by the unceasing sound of the elevator motors, two more peculiarities struck me before I returned home.

One was the odd letter spacing in one of the two elevators, which, in part, reminds me of Chico Marx's "Italian" accent. (I'm sure you'll spot the words to which I'm referring; notto and subjectto).

The final incongruity appears not at the Sheraton, but at BWI, immediately following the TSA examination area in Concourse C.

What appears to be a typical airport seating bench,

Turns out to be (and I'll admit, I've never seen one before) a TSA (read: official) "recomposure" area.

Interestingly, if you google(r) the definition of recomposure, you receive the following query:

"Did you mean: define decompose"?

No, I didn't actually. I had a plane to catch, after all.

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Doubletree, Virginia Beach

I usually go on short business trips (only an overnight stay), so I was looking forward to three nights in a hotel, even if this third night was really only a half-night, since I had to get up at 4:00 am to make my flight home. I was so excited to be able to use the clothing storage facilities, instead of leaving things in my suitcase as I usually do.

The Doubletree has seen better days. The hallway was kind of dim. Not in a romantic, trysting, The Royalton way, but more in a "the carpets used to look better" way.

Here's the hall:

Here are the reasons I think they keep the lights dim. The carpet in the elevator looked a little dodgy. You may be able to see the clean/dirty area in this photo. (Notice the corner)

If you can't see the difference, you'll probably spot the red stain in this photo.

I was worried that the stain was from a guest bleeding out on the way to the lobby. The elevator floor numbering lights weren't functioning. You wouldn't know it from this picture, but I was somewhere between 7 and L when I snapped this. (The dark bar should have some red lights in it.)

Once I got to my room, I noticed the clothes-hanging rod was, well, to be charitable, a little "loose" on one end. That's my diplomatic way of saying it was down considerably at the stern, which caused my clothes hangers to slide down and herd together at one end. I didn't get a photo of the rod, unfortunately, but noticed a similarly not-leveled feature of the room: The tissue box:

I'm no fire-fighting expert, but it seems to me that this hose connection is probably supposed to have a hose on it.

At least the door to the non-hose equipped hose connection was easy to open.

As was one of the two elevator phone doors.

The calling device behind the easy-to-open door was white:

I don't know the color of the other phone, because the door was clearly only accessible to professional elevator phone callers.

Here's one incredibly not nice feature of the hotel. The Doubletree Virginia Beach charges $9.95 for wired internet access in your room. That's pretty standard. What isn't, is that your payment expires at 4:00 pm. That means if you need to sign up for internet access, and it's 3:58 pm, you get 2 minutes of internet for $9.95. If you sign up at 4:01 pm, you get 23 hours and 59 minutes for $9.95. I have went to college, and this seems awfully peculiar to me.

A little card in the room lists all the Hilton Hotel variants (the Doubletree being one of them), and refers to them as "The Hilton Family of Hotels". Oh, come on. Do the powers-that-be at Hilton honestly think anyone believes the executives of these variants are a happy family that spends Thanksgiving and Christmas together, looking at old photos and remembering old times? Come to think of it, any company that believes the internet pricing schedule mentioned above is logical, smart, or likely to create happy customers probably thinks we'd believe they're a happy family, too.

A thoroughly blah hotel. Oh, the people were nice - especially the guys at the front desk at 4:15 am, but I can't really recommend staying there for that reason. If towels are a reason for you to select a hotel, you should consider it. It has nice, fluffy towels. In fact, they're much nicer and thicker than the ones at the Hyatt San Francisco.