I admit, we were bitchy yesterday here at NPS. And the Kimpton system, it listens. (So we’re learning that irritability pays off. But don’t tell anyone that.)

General Manager Ryan Kunzer made note of my dismay at 403 and arranged a room swap via email while I was delivering my early morning talk.

I am now in a gorgeous fireplace suite, room 325. A real log fire in a rainy day is just exactly what the doctor ordered. I skipped my lunch meeting and ordered in because it is so perfect.

This room is not only nicely appointed, it is not in the least hamster cage rectangular. But the real kicker is the fireplace. Ahhhh.

Somehow I am feeling less inclined to show up for my panel thais afternoon as well. Bad bad bad.

The bedroom is a minor detail.

20141022_112400

And the bathroom is nicely sized, but needs an upgraded shower. Ryan says that is in the plans. It would be nice to have a truly upscale hotel in Portland.

One way

One way

Or another.

Or another.

Anyway, thanks Ryan for rectifying the situation and calming me right on down. Kimpton karma.

I am back at the Riverplace in Portland, Oregon. I was just here for the first time this Spring (the property is newly Kimptonized). The showers are (sadly) all plastic in this city when it comes to Kimptons. Must have something to do with the rain??

I liked the Riverplace way more than the Portland Monaco though. Sadly, for my last stay, the number of hours in room could be counted on less than one hand. This time I am staying two days with some down time and I am stuck in dinky little 403. Oh well.

Anyway, Hell was clearly beginning to freeze over when United actually had power, wifi, and a comfortable ride for my cross continent journey. I was not upgraded. But I have learned the hard way over the last two years that my 1,579,471 of loyalty really don’t mean jack shit to United. Upgrades? Ha ha ha ha. Not for me. Only on flights that never take off.

hell-frozen

I was psyched to arrive at the Riverplace again. Hoping for another shot at a nice room, this time with some time to be IN the room. But I must have arrived too late. And sadly even though I booked this room MONTHS AGO, the kind of room I like was unavailable. We’ll chalk that up to bad planning. NPS does not like bad planning. No we do not. We do not reward bad planning with super happy drivel blog postings. No no. We strap on the asbestos suit from the ’80s flame wars and flame on.

Step down in room quality at Kimpton PDX? United making me a happier camper than Kimpton? Inner Circle guy does not get a hot damn room?? Hell is clearly frozen over. Maybe the inner circle of hell.

My favorite interaction of the night was when the front desk called to, “make sure everything was satisfactory with the room.” “No, I said. I don’t like this room as much as 202 where I was last time.” Want to flumox the front desk? Tell them the truth! hah. “Um, well we were all out of that room category?!” {insert something here about bad planning} Did I mention the bad planning?

Here is the plastic shower in the tiny bathroom of 403.

This shower is not the kind of shower we like.

This shower is not the kind of shower we like.

And here is a Vine of the room. It all fits nicely in 6 seconds. Just sayin’.

Margo Helgen of the social media interwebs did try to pull off something nice, arranging a Hibiscus Mule cocktail (bit on the sweet side unlike this posting). But apparently Margo has no sway over computer system room allocation. Alas, Margo they should upgrade your magic wand! Thanks for playing along.

Hibiscus Mule cocktail. Afraid Jacques would not really approve.

Hibiscus Mule cocktail. Afraid Jacques would not really approve.

And there was some serious confusion over just who ordered what cheese plate. One did arrive we must say!

So we’re going to bed. Maybe tomorrow during downtime after my early morning keynote we will be in a better mood. I doubt it.

I am on a newly configured cross country United 737-900 with power and wifi (in addition to the ultra-ridiculous DirecTV nonsense). Having net on a cross country flight is quite fantastic. Economy plus seating has enough room for work unless you find yourself stuck next to an obese person.

I was not upgraded (of course), so my position on whether you should fly 1,579,471 miles on United has not moved much. United drops you like a rock if you don’t fly perpetually (even after over a decade of 100K loyalty). But this trip today right now does not suck.

Of course, Jeff Smisek still needs to be fired.

Since I remain locked into a hub, I am pretty much consigned to fly with United on at least some portion of my flights. United has suffered so much operationally since the merger with Continental that this is very painful indeed. I can say without any exaggeration that operations at United is still completely broken.

I spent 75,000 frequent flyer miles to get up to NH this weekend to write some music. What did I get? Two unsatisfactory flights.

Flight one to Boston was delayed 90 minutes (right through the dinner hour). There was no food on the flight—not even peanuts. The “entertainment” system is that ridiuclous DirecTV system that plays mandatory ads to you while you are strapped in your seatbelt. No wifi. No power to power your own iPad or Nexus.

Flight two never happened. A broken airplane rippled through several flights like toppling dominos. The way this unfolded was classic united. First a 40 minute delay. Then 90 minutes. Then 3 hours and 30 minutes. Then never. I was upgraded to first class on a flight that never happened!! awesome!

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 7.41.22 PM

The only saving grace was the red carpet club in Boston which is a beautiful space. If you have to be on the drip delay (united can’t run an airline) the red carpet club is the place to be stranded.

The people at the United club were fantastic. They helped everyone get backup flights and even stayed open an extra two hours. But best of all, this happened. When I finally decided to bail and get some dinner, I went down to the Legal Seafood. As I was having a snack, the United rep came down to find me and let me know that she had booked me on a USAir flight to DCA. I had to run to Terminal B, but I got home thanks to the United club people. Too bad those good people can’t fire Jeff Smisek!

This tweet from United pretty much says it all.

Of course the United flight up to Boston was delayed (90 minutes) and of course there was no wifi on the flight. You see, United spent all kinds of money on that stupid DirecTV system as if everyone in the universe does not have their own nexus or ipad. United, you guys are truly behind the technology curve by a decade. Oh, and there was no food on the flight…at all.

So I was hungry when we finally landed 90 minutes late. We hightailed it to the Highball Lounge to visit my friend Shaher Misif. Shaher Misif is a dangerous man.

The Highball Lounge rocks. After an obligatory authentication shot, we had a delightful Barnyard Punch, recently added to the cocktail list and made as follows:
1.5 oz Bourbon
.5 oz Falernum
.5 oz Suze
.5 oz Lemon juice
.5 oz Raw sugar
2-3 dashes celery bitters
shake, strain, serve on rocks. garnish with mint and lemon moon. (I will cut the sugar down myself when I make this one.)

We also had an outstanding bacon cheeseburger and some tater tot nachos. Delicious.

Then we drove to NH with a warm fuzzy feeling.

The leaves are peaking in NH

The leaves are peaking in NH

I must admit that after taking a look at the website and seeing the looming building on the drive from the airport, hotel expectations were pretty low. Hamster cage plastic shower here we come. How wrong I was!

The Delta Quebec has some great things to offer. Mostly, I can’t recommend anyone more highly than Isabelle at the front desk. She was awesome. Helped me get set up on 1110 on the concierge floor with a walk in shower. And guess what, the room is modern and not at all rectangular.

Fall in Quebec

Fall in Quebec

1110 is not a rectangle. it is a complex shape

1110 is not a rectangle. it is a complex shape

desk pod

desk pod

The bathroom has great design. And an all glass shower.

this shower is not plastic

this shower is not plastic

From inside the shower

From inside the shower

It’s peak Fall up here in Canada now. Gorgeous light. Peaking trees. Sadly, I am so wiped out from Helinki and London that I have to go to bed early and get some rest. We’ll leave Quebec exploration for tomorrow.

the dirty window will soon be cleaned

the dirty window will soon be cleaned

A surprising five showerheads for the Delta. Mostly because of Isabelle.

The concierge floor has an interesting staircase to the breakfast room.

Welcome to the club

Welcome to the club

Quebec is gorgeous in the Fall. Just walking around the city is incredible.

Quebec is the only walled city in North America

Quebec is the only walled city in North America

University Laval (architecture school)

University Laval (architecture school)

Fall

Fall

Much French.  Very flag.

Much French. Very flag.

Plus herbs and vegetables

Plus herbs and vegetables

Then again, somebody did build this silly building on purpose.

The '70s called and they want their building back

The ’70s called and they want their building back

After a long walk, the Hobbit Bistro is an excellent place for a glass of wine. Then dinner at Le Moine Echanson is out of this world. Best confit on this side of the pond (made with Goose) plus some of the strangest wine I have ever had:
Canoë Gaillac (La Sorga)
Le Raisin et l’Ange (Fable)
BO2 (Berranco Oscuro)
All three wines are artisan wines with crazy things going on with the yeast. Almost beer like.

It was a night of all Kevins, the first being Kevin Grégoire running the restaurant pretty much by himself on a Monday. Great server.

Then a major disappointment at L’Atelier which is rumored to be the best cocktail bar in town. Though Kevin Gaffrey was willing to play and was very attentive, none of the drinks I tasted was actually worth drinking (four strikes and you’re out). Even the CR2 was made incorrectly and had to be refactored. The main problem seems to be very bad melty ice. Want to ruin a Sazarac? Make it with bourbon and bad ice. Want to make an awful manhattan? Throw in some Campari and get it all confused about whether it is just a very bad Negroni. At least the Fernet Branca was good (since it was a straight shot). I do hope there is a better bar somewhere in Quebec. Too much flash and not enough oomph at L’Atelier. Skip it.

Oh yeah, and United airlines is a very sucky way to get to Quebec! Puddle hoppers in two hops.

Why United is Just Awful

October 5, 2014

Only since the ill-fated merger have I flown economy class to/from Europe because of no upgrade. That is just awful. You would think that after 1,578,471 miles (which I paid for) United would have some loyalty to me. But they don’t.

Ten years of 100K status drops fast. Be forewarned United flyers. Your airline does not care about you at all.

This last trip to London/Helsinki was no exception. Business class on the way there (which we paid to upgrade at purchase) but no upgrade from economy on the way back. 8.5 hours in an awful seat with terrible food.

First world problem, I know. But frankly I expect more from an airline that used to earn my business.

United has gone to the dogs.

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