June 19, 2015
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.
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.
The shower is a glass pod! Yays.
But of course all is not sweetness and light here at NPS. We do have to say that the view sucks.
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!!
June 15, 2015
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.
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. Fly any other airline.
It is unbelievable that Jeff Smisek is still the CEO.
June 13, 2015
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
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.
Oh, and did we mention the plastic showers?
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.
June 12, 2015
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.
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 oz molasses
1 orange peel (no pith)
1 vanilla bean
create toasty crush. add liquid. simmer 20 minutes.
According to the BVI people, I have never been here before. But I distinctly remember being here in 2012. Someone needs a computer.
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.
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.
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.
May 15, 2015
The American Bar and the Beaufort Bar at the Savoy have some serious cocktail history. We finally visited.
The Silver Bullet
50 ml Sipsmith gin
25 ml lemon juice
25 ml Kummel
Stir. Serve up.
Oh, and the plumbing in the gents at the Savoy is a complete UK riot.
Then there was The Bar at the Dorchester where we had Harry’s cocktail. Simply fantastic.
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.
Yes, I know. Tradition and all that. Oakley Court will very likely turn out to be a great place to run a meeting (it was OK), but boy is it old school.
For example, there is a library, and an observatory, and a boat on the Thames. But the price of admission is a plastic shower and you know how we feel about those around here.
Room 206 is apparently quite the special room, but perhaps not outside the UK. Lets compare to the previous conference location, shall we? Heck, does hotel management even know that we caused this to happen?
Hmm. No note, no ultra special room, no craft cocktails, no fireside chat setup, and no creativity to make any of it happen. Just sayin’.
So junior suite 206 looks like this.
And the downfall.
And there are some things we just don’t understand, like this mysterious device.
But there is the Thames, and there are lots of good people here to hang out with.
Four slightly mildewed showerheads for Oakley Court. Yes, we are spoiled. Jennifer, where are you when we need you??
On the restaurant front, this area near Windsor is astoundingly good. Dinner at the three star Waterside Inn was the best complete dining experience we have ever had. Fantastic. Attention to detail and superior service without even one iota of pretension.
Also good was the local pub the Hinds Head, which doubles as a michelin star restaurant. Pea soup with mint is not much like mushy peas.
Mixology-wise, your best bet is to train in to London on the fast train. No interesting cocktails to be had within miles.