Aug 17, 2007

Welcome to the Nutty World of the Parker

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.


ArtfulSub said...

I think a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the Hotel World is a good idea for a show. But I doubt Bravo/NBC are capable of pulling it off with class.

There's probably a greed and lavendar mafia reason behind choosing Le Parker. I agree with you it wasn't the best choice.

Big Fella said...

Actually, ms place, The Parker is not Gene Autry's former ranch. Yes, his Palm Springs house is on the site, but the Gene Autry Melody Ranch is about 100 or so miles northwest of Palm Springs, in Newhall, California.

The Parker hotel is just one of the lodging incarnations of this property in the Palm Springs area. It has been there quite some time, just under new ownership now and spruced up and it seems "tricked out".

I viewed the initial episode of this "reality" series, with the bogus food critic and the boys-weekend-away ping pong adolescents. I'm not sure I could stomach another episode (the gay events manager trying to round up women in a little pimping exercise).

Maybe I'll try getting sloshed and then watching it, might be even more amusing.

Ms. Place said...

Well, Big Fella, now I am totally confused. On the Bravo site, this is what I found:

"Formerly Gene Autry's Melody Ranch and Merv Griffin's Givenchy Resort and Spa, the Parker Palm Springs is situated on thirteen acres of landscaped gardens surrounded by the desert and mountains."

Any one out there know the true story?

Big Fella said...

Go to the link I put in my last comment (then go to their link that shows a map of where they are located), Melody Ranch goes back to 1920, Gene Autry started it. It is basically a "movie ranch" for westerns. It is in Newhall, not Palm Springs, I know, because I am a born and bred southern California boy. Don't believe half the hype that Bravo puts out.

There was never any ranch in Palm Springs (the desert is not conducive to raising cattle, or horses).

Yes, The Parker was formerly Merv's hotel, and probably some other hotel/motel before that. I drove by there many times and saw Merv's name on the joint.

The biggest commodity raised in the Palm Springs area is swimming pools, golf courses and tennis courts.

Gene Autry, Bob Hope, Sinatra, Elvis and plenty other celebrities had homes in the Palm Springs area, but that is just what they were, vacation homes, not ranches.

BigAssBelle said...

oh ms. place, i am envious of your travels. perhaps i can catch up in the next 20 years . . .

i haven't tried parker house, though the advertisements make it look like fun. i am down to two hours of mandatory television per week, with the occasional olbermann or daily show tossed in. trying to hold it under four max. i'll just keep up by reading you.