No Fly July 2015

July 7, 2015

No fly July means no airplanes, no hotels, and a bunch of actual thinking. Maybe a dip or two in the river for good measure.

Inspiration for the Bitter Liberals sticker, at the Stick

Inspiration for the Bitter Liberals sticker, at the Stick

Let the non-travel begin.

Usually NPS has to slum it when we come through Wilmington, NC on the way to the beach. We have had a number of seriously awful experiences at the Hilton. Read for yourself here and here and here (there’s more if you like snark).

So the bar is set exceptionally low, and we’re happy to say the the brand new Courtyard by Marriott is much better even though it is still a hamster cage experience.

A stylish elevator hallway to wait in

A stylish elevator hallway to wait in

We had a SNAFU getting into our room that involved waiting for the front desk and engineering to figure out why a deadbolt was thrown in the room we are supposed to have. Anyway, we ended up in 424.

Instruments on carts

Instruments on carts

Accent wall in the hamster cage

Accent wall in the hamster cage

NIcely appointed bathroom

NIcely appointed bathroom

The shower is a glass pod! Yays.

Glass shower.  We repeat, glass shower!

Glass shower. We repeat, glass shower!

But of course all is not sweetness and light here at NPS. We do have to say that the view sucks.

This is not a view of the river

This is not a view of the river

Blogging chair.  Don't spread out!

Blogging chair. Don’t spread out!

Anyway, good on the Marriott for bringing the town up to a low three showerheads! Way more than zero (the Hilton’s last rating). Looks like we’re going back to circa 1922 for dinner.

The best part about Circa 1922 other than the food is the barman Josh Giles, a reformed architect who has become a master barman. John specializes in growing ingredients in his garden and incorporating them into his drinks. The C4 is a great example:
1 oz cucumber shrub (cucumber, lovage, chervil, salad burnett, white wine vinagar, rice vinagar)
1.25 oz hendricks gin
.5 green chartreuse
splash of st. germaine
.75 oz soda

Both the shrub and the drink are out of this world. Josh rotates the menu regularly and features a cocktail with local produce (like the C4). World class.

And tomorrow, the Stick!!

Sophie at the stick

Sophie at the stick

Here at NPS we have done what we can to avoid flying United airlines since they have such terrible operations. After loyally flying 1.6 million miles and over a decade as a 100K, we’re done.

Today, both flights we were forced to take to get some business done had bugs.

On the flight out, the highly advertised wifi did not work. Ever.

The venerable, um, I mean nonexistent wifi.

The venerable, um, I mean nonexistent wifi.

It’s 2015. Wifi works everywhere else.

On the flight back, we started with the classic drip delay, supposedly caused by weather. A drip delay is what happens when United (and only United as far as we can tell) delays the flight by just a few minutes…multiple times. The first three drips were: 14, 11, and 9 minutes each. We would really just rather learn this all at once.

But the best was yet to come. The inbound aircraft landed, so they called us to the gate to line up. But there was no pilot. The last drip was a hefty one hour! (That is, assuming this was actually the last delay…we’re not on the plane yet.)

United airlines sucks at operations

United airlines sucks at operations

United airlines sucks. Fly any other airline.

It is unbelievable that Jeff Smisek is still the CEO.

Lansdowne Resort is so close that we’ve only been here once, and that was so long ago we don’t want to admit it. But we’re back and running a show for 300+. Sadly, Lansdowne is not up to the load on all kinds of fronts.

As with many resorts (many of the Sheraton variety), much more attention is paid to the common areas than to the rooms. Even a “deluxe” suite can’t make the cut here for many reasons. Heck, lets just list them shall we?

  • plastic showers
  • hamster cage design
  • views of a roof?!
  • thin walls that carry sound
  • an HVAC system that sounds like a broken jet
  • pluming that screams when you flush
  • seriously uncomfortable bedding
  • style? not really
  • net that is not up to high geek standards
Covered with saran wrap

Covered with saran wrap

No dice on the room. They did try with a personal note and some cheese and wine. (Though based on the bill slid under my door in the morning, the cheese and wine came from Jennifer and cost $42. Nothing like being charged for your own amentity!)

Good thing we had the doctor’s bag along with some makings for Liberals. But frankly the furniture in the suite was mega uncomfortable, leaving good Liberals to be enjoyed on bad seating. Oh well.

Suite looks nice

Suite looks nice

Just don't look out the window

Just don’t look out the window

Uncomfortable bed ensconced in a style featuring scratchy orange carpet

Uncomfortable bed ensconced in a style featuring scratchy orange carpet

Oh, and did we mention the plastic showers?

Yeah, no.

Yeah, no.

The worst kind of plastic shower

The worst kind of plastic shower

The worst kind of plastic shower has an obesity-friendly bent bar, a plastic curtain, and a slippery hollow plastic tub. 100% bad! Yays.

Ultimately, the real problem here at Lansdowne is the disorganization and incompetence of the A/V and conference staff. In fact, the service in the hotel is all pretty awful if you’re a spoiled traveller like we are. Our room looked great and most of the parts required for a good show are available in the conference room, but they are being run by people who are quite simply the worst A/V people we’ve come across professionally in many years. Just not good.

Food too. Just not good.

Bar? hah hah hah. We’re not touching that one.

The location is gorgeous and green. But it is suited for golfer types. Nuff said. Pretty far down the list and nowhere near as good the also local Westfields as for a conference. I guess we need to move the show into DC.

A rare two showerheads and a vague feeling of disappointment for the Lansdowne Resort. Looks like LoCo has a ways to go to attain world class.

In DC for a quick hit with no overnight, there was time between meetings to hit Quill with a friend. Quill has it going on in cocktail land.

First there was the obligatory DC Rickey for a DC denizen who had never had one. Quill thinks it is made with bourbon? Um, nope. But they corrected the error automagically, resulting in two Rickey’s, the proper one with gin.

Gin Rickey (a la DC) and bourbon (??) Rickey

Gin Rickey (a la DC) and bourbon (??) Rickey

The calamity comfort cocktail by Sophie Szych is a very interesting cocktail indeed:
1.5 oz rye
1.5 oz coffee calamity mix
.25 oz cynar
2 dash bitter cure blackstrap bitters

stir down. serve on a big rock with smoked ginger and orange peel

coffee calamity mix
1 quart coffee
2 double shots espresso
2 cinnamon sticks
2 star anise
4 cloves
4 oz molasses
1 orange peel (no pith)
1 vanilla bean
create toasty crush. add liquid. simmer 20 minutes.

Calamity Comfort cocktail

Calamity Comfort cocktail

According to the BVI people, I have never been here before. But I distinctly remember being here in 2012. Someone needs a computer.

The computer believes you did not exist in previous times.

The computer believes you did not exist in previous times.

Room 7 is gussied up in the standard BVI fashion. Heavy on the flower prints. The building is solid and nice. But the decorator needs to be replaced.

Room 7: Bedford Village Inn

Room 7: Bedford Village Inn

The desk with no outlets, designed before laptops, tablets, and the net.

The desk with no outlets, designed before laptops, tablets, and the net.

The grounds outside are lush and green with lots of actual real flowers

The grounds outside are lush and green with lots of actual real flowers

Marble clad bathroom

Marble clad bathroom

Big giant hot tub thing but it has a shoer curtain (wah wah waaaaah)

Big giant hot tub thing but it has a shoer curtain (wah wah waaaaah)

The sound track in the morning at the restaurant is Frank Sinatra. Somehow fitting. Oh, and there is a presidential candidate staying here on my floor. Who knows, probably some jackass from Texas.

The sound track the evening before after dinner at the Copper Door (right next door) was some live music on the patio. A spontaneous appearance by Where’s Aubrey. And real Liberals with a new bottle of Amer Picon. The evening was delightful and candlelit.

Where's Aubrey's new CD

Where’s Aubrey’s new CD

At least it’s not a massive chain of hamster cages! Three showerheads and some flowery print for the BVI. As far as we can tell, there is nowhere better to stay in Manchester, NH.

The American Bar and the Beaufort Bar at the Savoy have some serious cocktail history. We finally visited.

20150514_164142 (1)

The Silver Bullet
50 ml Sipsmith gin
25 ml lemon juice
25 ml Kummel
Stir. Serve up.

The Beaufort

The Beaufort

Oh, and the plumbing in the gents at the Savoy is a complete UK riot.

Rahther

Rahther

UK Urinal: Savoy

UK Urinal: Savoy

Then there was The Bar at the Dorchester where we had Harry’s cocktail. Simply fantastic.

Harry's cocktail from the bar

Harry’s cocktail from the bar

Dinner across the hall at the grill was not good at all. Skip it.

We ended with the Liberal.

Anyway much fun. Rolling blackouts. The usual. Hard to get up to catch the plane home.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 336 other followers