I've stayed in every kind of overnight accommodation one can think of, from hostels, backpackers, campgrounds, and Motel 8's to resorts and luxury hotels. I've slept in sailboats, sleeping bags, in a car, and on a murphy bed, trundle bed, bunk bed, air mattress, and a cheesy old-fashioned vibrating bed.
Sometimes we've been bumped down, as to the Thistle Westminster Hotel in London, and at other times we were bumped up, as we were in Portland, Maine when only the honeymoon suite was available. I recall one time in particular in the panhandle in Florida when my family and I slept in our clothes and refused to use the towels or pillows, the place was so dirty. And then there was the time we discovered quite by accident a charming 11th century farmhouse Bed and Breakfast near East Grinstead, West Sussex, England. Sadly I no longer recall its name
Some of my favorite stays are influenced by the beauty or uniqueness of the location and the excellent service. They include:
Sheraton Hong Kong Hotel and Tower
Camp ground, Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Hotel Rebstock Luzern with its zany rooms and fabulous views of Mt. Pilatus and Lake Luzern.
Rosario Resort, Orcas Island, San Juan Islands, WA
So what does this post have in common with Bravo's new series, Welcome to the Parker? The place looks good and it's luxurious. The rooms were designed and decorated by Jonathan Adler and the grounds originally comprised Gene Autrey's ranch, so it has history (*see comments for clarification). But...this hotel makes me feel claustrophobic. The manicured grounds remind me of a Vegas resort, like the Mandalay Bay, where we stayed last year. Or one of those all inclusive resorts in Playa Del Carmen in Mexico, where narrow walkways lead guests to their destination and well placed shrubbery provides privacy for rooms and cabanas. There's nothing natural or breathtaking about such an artificial setting. And the rooms don't exactly twirl my cookies either.
What's intriguing and interesting about this new series are the staff and their behind-the-scenes machinations to keep the place running smoothly. Oh, we have the requisite reality t.v. characters, like the Bingo drag queens depicted above, and pseudo food critics and travel agents who can get staff fired, but they aren't needed to keep this show interesting. Running a hotel/resort for elite, demanding guests can be as complex as getting a space shuttle ready for lift off, and it is a fascinating process to watch.
This guest paid $4,000 to host a party for 120 of his closest friends in the Gene Autrey room. He still had to cough up an additional $800 for 8 heaters placed around the gardens to keep his guests warm. Though he was pissed off at first, he appreciated the setting and the staff's efforts, and he gave the hotel a fair assessment.
So, if you have nothing better to do on a Thursday night, check out Bravo's new reality series. You'll never view hotel staff with a jaundiced eye again.
Take a virtual tour of The Parker Hotel here.