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There is a certain threshold on the hotel luxury scale where service becomes so polished and mechanical that it no longer feels personable. My most pleasant hotel stays, the ones I remember, are low and mid-price hotels and guesthouses where things are generally not perfect, yet the quirks are endearing. The owners and employees act like real people and with sincerity, opening up in a way verboten in high-end hotels.
Before the cut-off for the summer Club Carlson County Inn & Suites stay 1 night, get 44,000 bonus points promotion I had a business trip to Ft Collins, Colorado. My colleagues were mystified why I drove nearly an hour over to Greeley to spend the night.
I was welcomed at the Country Inn Greeley by the chipper night manager. She said with pride, “We have upgraded you to the Presidential Suite.” (note: I was status-matched to Club Carlson Gold.) I grabbed an apple at the library living room and headed for the elevator. It being a boiling summer day, the sign on the elevator was a great touch, “The elevator is very warm inside. We apologize for this inconvenience.”
The room was functional. The gift card from the manager was hand written. The basket included a bag of sinful peanut butter cups, which I failed to resist.
Lights out and a fine sleep.
In the morning I went down for a pre-flight complimentary breakfast. Breakfast is a must for me, at home a mix of cereal, nuts, berries, a banana and dried fruit, and I want little to do with anything fancy like lemon poppyseed pancakes. I could not, though, resist a more down home approach of chicken strips, gravy, biscuit, and a few others things only partially justified by skipping in-flight lunch. I mean, who can resist making waffles when not having to do the clean-up?
No one else was about and I began chatting with the breakfast hostess. She was beaming with pride at the new remodel and the introduction of real silverware. We went on to talk about her family visits to Minnesota, my home state, and how she scouts out what other Carlson properties do with their breakfast. Then about her grandchildren and the local area. What a pleasant morning to chat with someone who cares and is given the latitude to sit down with a customer. I feel badly for not catching her name, on my way out of the hotel I went to say goodbye but she was already off to other duties.
I left feeling rested and happy, like I had a spent a night with family, and what can be better for a night on the business travel road?