Whenever you travel, you inevitably book a hotel room that becomes your home away from your own digs. Not very often, a little amenity at your hotel might make it a special memory.
Back in the day, most hotels here gifted visitors with a simple but precious gift: a vanda orchid on your pillow. Visiting women guests would cherish the orchid, usually wearing it behind an ear; the vanda had a sweet scent. Some hotels generally provided a mint on your pillow.
I recall several lasting memories, in hotel stays here and elsewhere.
The local experience was at the Sheraton Kauai at Poipu several decades back. Before bedtime, a ceramic cookie jar, housing several wedges of warm brownies, would be delivered to your room every evening. Open the jar, and a whiff of delish brownies would fill the room. How classy is that?
Further, the hotel provided a plush miniature teddy bear sitting on the sofa. To avoid guests “stealing” the cute bear, a note indicated that if you wanted to take teddy home, you could get one (paying for it, natch) at checkout. If a minor child was in your traveling group, it would be hard not to order one to take home.
On my very first trip to Broadway and New York, I booked a room at the Algonquin hotel on W. 44th St., a block away from the Shubert Theatre in the theater district, upon the recommendation of local travel agent Ruth Rittmeister. She said the hotel had old-world charm, and hallways boasted covers from the New Yorker magazine (then located across the street from the hotel) that was sorta a gallery for the literati.
But the real surprise was that all guests then were greeted with a tiny fruit basket, laden with a banana, an apple, an orange, and grapes, enough to tide you over for a quick snack. Sure, I’ve had more lavish and larger fruit baskets in Hawaii, mostly because I knew the g.m.
Oh, and the Algonquin boasted a reigning cat in the lobby bar; feline fans could pet and hear the kitty purr; over the years, a new cat would be the live-in mascot, a tradition I believe still in place.
And two decades ago, I visited Croatia because my wife hand a global conference in that region, when it was the No. 1 destination for travelers. The walled city of Dubrovnik had hotels, restaurants, plazas and shops; a population of locals who lived up and down the hillside corridors had some of the best views of cruise ships dispatching visitors by sea shuttles.
But the memory that remains is a tiny hotel, whose name I don’t recall, which was accessible only by a sea shuttle boat. The hotel was nothing fancy, but its “amenity” was a row of coastal restaurant vendors a short walk away. You knew which was the most popular dinner spot, by the length of the waiting line. And talk about fresh catch – you select your entrée, whether fish or lobster, by pointing out the fish swimming (or lobster) in the coastal “tank” which was the holding space for sea food. Couldn’t get any fresher than this. …