Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hotels Then and Now

We're here in San Antonio, our little family, staying at the Doubletree Downtown Hotel, sleeping in two queen-size beds and having a good time of it. The kids get so excited by the novelty of staying in a hotel room and swimming in the hotel pool. It brings back nice memories for me, probably from when Mike and I were their age and younger.

It's humbling to think that we're making memories today that will still be in their heads 40 years from now. More importantly, we're forming the people they're going to be in the way we respond to their behavior. By setting limits for them, we're helping them set limits for themselves later. They understand that actions have consequences, and that this is a part of life. As a parent, this is one of the most important duties we perform.

I'm currently sitting outside at a table beside the little pool, where there's a nice breeze blowing in. Someone's cigarette smoke is wafting over, and the dreamy sound of a train's horn comes into my consciousness from somewhere in the distance. Just in case James Lipton never asks me, I'll say that a sound or noise I love is the distant wail of a train, cutting across the landscape.

So I'm trying to recall some good hotel memories from my youth. As a young boy there was Little Rock, where I remember the pool and my dad meeting a childhood hero -- Brooklyn Dodger Joe "Ducky" Medwick. I also remember delicious deep-fried glazed donuts oozing with scrumptious fat and sugar. My mother waters as I think back on them.

I remember the Hotel Santo Domingo and being blown away by the omelets there. They made them so quickly and so perfectly. And of course, as always, I remember enjoying the pool. I got to return to the Santo Domingo for my brother-in-law's wedding in 2003 and then in '07, when we took our own kids to that very same pool where I swam years earlier.

I don't recall which hotel it was, but we had an amazing stay in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, where my father had some kind of work retreat. The hotel was right on the beach, and we spent a lot of time there. This is the hotel where the infamous Myers's Rum incident occurred.

As an adult I've had some great hotel experiences, as well. Monasterio de Piedra in Spain was special -- an old converted monastery with four-star dining. The St. Regis, our wedding night, complete with butler service and a view overlooking Central Park -- an incentive after 911. (We'd never have been able to afford such luxury otherwise.)

Perhaps my favorite hotel was one of the more rustic ones -- the little raised hut we stayed at on Arawak Beach in Anguilla, Virgin Islands. That was an unbelievable trip. Sunset at Smitty's where you get "a whale of a deal for your meal."

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