Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A (Literal) Night at the Ritz-Carlton

I wasn't even thinking about it but last night marked the 8th anniversary of my arrival in Cleveland (and tomorrow marks the 8th anniversary of starting the job that brought me to Cleveland)

The Terminal Tower spire from the Ritz-Carlton valet
Instead, Rachel and I met a friend to see Men In Black III on  bargain night at Tower City Cinemas.

The evening, didn't however, end when the credits rolled. It seems the friend had, through details which are unimportant, wound up with a room at the Ritz-Carlton which would otherwise go to waste. And she offered it to Rachel and I.

"Eeeeeee!" basically sums up my reaction to the offer, and Rachel followed closely. I love spontaneous adventure, but my schedule lately hasn't had much room for spontaneity. I've often flirted with the idea of checking  into one of Cleveland's hotels for a night for no particular reason -- but I've not been able to justify it to myself*

As a Hilton HHonors loyalist I've long assumed that when I finally got around to it, my first local hotel stay would be in one of the Hilton family properties in Cleveland -- I've particularly had my eye on the recently converted/renovated/opened DoubleTree Tudor Arms hotel on the edge of University Circle.

But we found ourselves at the spectacular Cleveland Ritz-Carlton, attached to Tower City Center. I've often wondered about the hotel, but never thought I'd have a reason to step foot inside, let alone spend the night. I've become somewhat jaded as far as hotels go, and I was particularly curious about how the stay would compare with my stay at New York's Waldorf-Astoria.

In short: I'd go back to the Cleveland Ritz; I wouldn't go back to the Waldorf. The room was spacious and quite nicely appointed with a view sideways to the Cuyahoga and down through Tower City's glass roof. Since we were only there for one night -- and a late one at that -- we didn't really partake in the hotel's facilities or food and beverage but the thing that made the stay awesome was the unobtrusive attentiveness of the staff -- it seemed there was always someone around every corner ready and willing to help, answer questions, what have you quite professionally -- and anticipatory.

For example, this morning to check out I found myself in the lobby slightly disoriented -- "Excuse me, check out?" I grogilly asked a staffer who happened to be walking by. After politely telling me that it was right around the corner and my "thanks, not quite here yet" response she also pointed me in the direction of coffee. Similar anticipatory offers happened at the registration desk, in the fitness center -- wherever we looked

That's a very stark contrast to my stay at the Waldorf where not only were staff difficult to find and slow they always put off the air that my presence in their hotel was an inconvenience that was to be tolerated, if just barely. Quite the opposite was true here in Cleveland, I don't think I've ever felt more welcomed by a property.

Anyway, after settling in to the room and helping ourselves to a glass of wine, Rachel and I walked outside where I saw the stunning spire of the Terminal Tower, pictured above as taken with my belated birthday present from Rachel -- my first Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) camera (I'm still learning my way around it, but I love the control it gives over the outcome) and then we meandered through Cleveland's new casino.

I was in the casino briefly for work while it was under construction, but I hadn't been back since it opened, and this was Rachel's first time. I lost $5 on penny slots after starting up $0.40 (big spender, right?) -- enough to remind me why I only gamble once every three or four years.

After that we enjoyed a night of luxary in the plush comfort of the room before drifting to sleep and returning to the daily grind this morning: I dropped Rachel off at work and I headed in to work.

And now that I think of it, it was an awesome way to spend my 8th Cleveland Anniversary.

*- Particularly since I just got at $2k property tax bill (yeah, I've been expecting that one) and a $300 bill to fix my air conditioning (wasn't quite expecting that one)

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