I am writing from the 14th floor of the Crowne Plaza Hotel Atlanta – Ravinia. I know that’s what it’s called because the little box with the ethernet cable on the desk before me says that’s what it’s called. And I am paying $10 a day for the privilege of writing and posting this blog.
I am here for a two-and-a-half-day review course my wife is taking before she takes her boards to become what I’ve begun calling a “full bird” nurse practitioner. We don’t live far away – but far enough that we wouldn’t want to drive in each morning to be at the hotel at 7; besides, we were able to get a very reasonable rate on rooms through Orbitz.
From the 14th floor – the “club level,” it turns out, though my placement on this prestigious level was more luck-of-the-draw than design – I have a view of office parks, a walking trail that, I’ve found, meanders to said office parks, and from between the office parks, a distant horizon, upon which I can watch neither sunrises nor sunsets, because my room faces north.
As are all things I encounter, it’s been a helluva stay.
High and Dry
Check-in was excellent. Check-in technically is not until 3 p.m., but we showed up at 7 a.m. for the course to start. I expected to entertain myself sleeping in the back of my minivan and sitting on a bench outside reading, but just to try I went ahead and asked if I could check-in. The registration desk was extremely helpful and polite, went ahead and allowed me to check-in early, and saved me a tremendous amount of loitering around the premises until 3.
As my wife attended her class, I hauled our suitcase and toiletry bag from the ManVan to the room and unpacked things. I tested the commode, and found it in excellent working order.
At around 10 that morning, my wife came up to see the room and help me make lunch plans. I found a Five Guys burgers nearby, and we placed our order online. About an hour later, I left to pick up lunch and bring it back to the room.
The address for Five Guys wasn’t found in our TomTom (of course), but I remembered well enough where it was. My memory did not serve me correctly. I found myself lost in the vicinity of Ashford-Dunwoody and Mt. Vernon roads. Long story short, I found the restaurant, got the food, and came back to the hotel.
Back in the room, my wife came up and washed her hands, saying we didn’t have a lot of water pressure. I knew that to be untrue, having used the facilities not an hour before. But, as I went to wash up before lunch, I found her description to be accurate; indeed, the water had slowed to a trickle.
A short while after lunch, it stopped altogether. But, not before I did what people occasionally have to do after a meal. I found the water had stopped when I went to flush the toilet.
I sat for almost five hours in a hotel room with a full toilet and no water with which to flush it. No water to drink, none to wash hands, or take one of those nice, long, super-hot hotel showers, what with their endless supply of hot water. I called down to the front desk to make sure that it would be restored soon, and the clerk told me that “engineering had messed something up,” and that it’d be back on “shortly.” Shortly is never shortly enough when you’re stuck in a hotel room with a bowl full of excrement.
At last, I turned on the faucet and it sounded like water wanted to come out. I figured there was probably a lot of air in the pipes, given how long the water was off and that we were very nearly at the highest point in the hotel. I figured I’d do the engineering guys a favor and leave my tap on until an undisturbed flow of water was able to come out.
With the faucet in the sink and shower gurgling, and with nothing better to do, I finally just lay down on the bed and read until I dozed off. When I awoke, I was pretty sure that my wife had come back to the room and was taking a shower. I can’t say why precisely I thought this, except that I was asleep and I’m not at my most rational when I’m asleep, but that’s what I thought, and I figured she’d wake me up when she was done, and so went back to sleep.
Parking was a problem. The hotel has a three-level underground parking deck. It also hosts large conferences and seminars, like the one my wife was attending, and has nearly 500 guest rooms. Three floors of subterranean parking are insufficient.
Returning with lunch from Five Guys, I occupied the last available space in the deck, way down underground on the last level. It was a narrow one, wedged between an SUV and a concrete support. But, my options being limited, I took it, and backed in the minivan.
I tried to open the driver’s side door, and the gap permitted, even as it rested against the cement column, was insufficient for any human being to exit. We’re talking about a four-inch gap here. It wasn’t happening. And I was even closer on the passenger’s side with the SUV. So, I gathered my sack of burgers, my wife’s sweet tea (Five Guys were out of lids, so it was just a cup of tea), and slid open the back passenger’s side door and wedged my fat ass out and in between the van and SUV. I had to fold in my rearview mirror to make it past. Got stuck a couple of times. It was bad.
The Pharmacy and the Old Hag
When I woke up from my nap, the water roaring in the bathroom, I had one conscious thought: deodorant. I’d neglected to pack any. Nor a razor.
Friday night, after her seminar let out for the evening, my wife and I went to dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, then promptly got lost going to a movie. In need of a place to turn around, I fortuitously pulled into a CVS Pharmacy. Huzzah!
Leaving my wife to work out directions with Google Maps, I dashed inside for a pack of cheap razors and some deodorant.
There was nothing spectacular about the pharmacy. I found my deodorant, my razors, and proceeded to the checkout. As I sat my things on the counter and the clerk reached for them to ring them up, an old woman stepped beside me and unloaded an armful of Ricola cough drops and Dr. Scholl’s insoles on top of my order.
I looked down at the old woman and said, “You know I’m not paying for these, right?”
She didn’t answer, but asked the clerk where she could find mouthwash. The clerk told her to wait a moment, please. The clerk rang up my order and I fumbled with my debit card to pay, and stood there dumbly while the woman behind me kept firing off questions. Finally, the clerk interrupted her to tell me the card reader was asking if I’d like any money back.
“Sorry,” I said. “I’m a little distracted. Where I’m from, people don’t usually go and drop an armful of crap on top of your items.”
“I’m not bothering you!” the old woman said.
“Back up, hag,” I muttered.
“You’re rude,” she said after a pause.
“Yeah,” I said. I stepped toward her a little, standing over her. “I’m the worst man you’re going to meet all night.”
She backed up. I took my sack, thanked the clerk, and walked out.
Other Strokes of Tony Luck
There are, of course, other little things that had to happen during my stay so far, including…
- We stayed on one of the “Club Levels,” which was purely a stroke of luck at check-in that that’s what they gave me. Alas, though this level was intended to be an ornate and exclusive sanctuary, it afforded no working ice machine. (I thought this could be owed to the whole no water thing, but hours after the water came back on, there was still no ice.) I spotted a maintenance guy on our level, presumably checking out the water problem, and mentioned to him that the ice machine was on the fritz, too. He shrugged and said, “OK.”
- Noise! Although this hotel heavily promoted its “quiet zone” policy, I awoke Saturday morning to what sounded like someone pressure washing the adjoining room. Now, I would take this back completely, because the noise may well have been from an adjacent lot, but it really sounded like someone on the premises was pressure washing, giving the periodic roar, as of a hose being turned against a surface, back and forth, and I think it was rather related to the reforestation they were doing in the lobby that morning. The place is like a jungle.
- Cable television, we had. A directory of all the channels, we didn’t. And we didn’t have some local channels, like WSB, either, it turned out, which was odd. There was an HBO guide on the nightstand, but search though I did (I was in the room for DAYS), I could find no HBO. Watched a lot of CNN, though. Enough to drive a man to jump off the faux balcony the room has, which really only serves to obstruct the view and, I guess, look architecturally interesting from outside or something.
In summary, I can’t say this is the worst hotel in the area, because I haven’t stayed in any others near here, nor can I say that it’s the worst I’ve ever stayed in, because it’s not. All in all, I wouldn’t say it was a bad stay. I sat outside in the garden behind the hotel and smoked my pipe, enjoyed an extremely comfortable hotel room, enjoyed reasonably friendly staff (the bellhop stand was especially polite, always smiling and greeting me when I passed), and enjoyed a pretty neat view compared to what I get at home.