Filling a hotel up to the brim with 150 or so high octane people for a small conference is apparently a good thing. And the fine people at Monterey Plaza would like you to know just how good a thing that is. We here at NPS approve.

We’ll be entertaining this week in the Presidential Suite, which is a space worthy of its name. A gorgeous view of Monterey Bay, extensive balconies, windows that open. What’s not to like?

Fruit, cheese, wine, sparking water and two notes from the staff.

Fruit, cheese, wine, sparking water and two notes from the staff.

The Living Room space of the Presidential Suite surrounded by balconies with a view of the Bay

The Living Room space of the Presidential Suite surrounded by balconies with a view of the Bay

The bedroom portion of the Presidential Suite

The bedroom portion of the Presidential Suite

Fireplaces, picture windows and sliding doors.

Fireplaces, picture windows and sliding doors.

Of course all NPS readers know what we’re looking for. How’s this for a first class glass shower?

A nice big glass shower over one of the two hot tubs.

A nice big glass shower over one of the two hot tubs.

Looking in over the outside balcony hot tub.

Looking in over the outside balcony hot tub.

The exquisite Monterey Bay (with voiceover by my friend John).

Five showerheads for the superb space and top notch hospitality. We like.

The Yorktown Hotel was imposing when it was built in 1925

The Yorktown Hotel was imposing when it was built in 1925

Time Warps have their ups and downs. For example, 1925 would have been a hell of a year to visit a real speakeasy in York, PA (assuming they had some). Chances are the Yorketown Hotel was hopping. You can almost hear the din of the jazz and the flappers.

The hotel exists today in pretty much the same state as then. Elaborate. Panelled. Bedecked with chandeliers. But only ghosts of the high life remain.

The lobby

The lobby

There are some modern touches, like free reasonable wifi. But the downside to timewarps also applies. Room 814 is the best room in the house. Sadly, it exists in grandma style with grandma technology and grandma wallpaper. And the shower…it’s not glass. We expected that.

814 sitting room (the king suite)

814 sitting room (the king suite)

Flowery bedspread.

Flowery bedspread.

One of those bathrooms from the '50s.

One of those bathrooms from the ’50s.

A bonus kitchenette with an imposing garbage can.

A bonus kitchenette with an imposing garbage can.

So if you’re looking for high style, this is not the hotel for you. Or more properly, this is not the town for you. But if you wonder how much the world has changed since the cold war ended and what it used to look like before, this place is an interesting historical study.

Three showerheads for the Yorktowne, an aging dame well past its prime. Top notch for the absolute middle of nowhere.

Ding...going up.

Ding…going up.

This is only my second time at the Hotel George (probably because it is so close to my actual home), but it already feels like home. Super friendly staff who have fun at checkin. Plus my friend Steph Vogel runs the place. You can tell his positive nature has sunk into the roots around here.

The presidential suite (or is it the royal suite??) is great (room number is 801). Nicely appointed rooms with the absolute best shower to be found in all Kimpton properties.

We’ll start with the shower. Glass and marble with a bench and its own window. Awesomeness.

When we got up to the room, we were greeted with excellent charcuterie from bistrot bis and a bottle of Côtes du Rhone. Delish. And some san pellegrino.

Meat!

Meat!

Here is the sitting room.

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Messy bedroom

Messy bedroom

Tonight we’re off to an adventure at the Columbia Room (tucked in the back at The Passenger, and Steph is coming with us.

The Columbia Room was absolutely fantastic as always. It is an oasis of calm and a great place to relax, converse, and maybe learn a little something about great cocktails. We chose to go à la carte this visit and were ably served by JP Featherston and Tyler. The food was particularly outstanding and only outdone by the phenomenal beverages.

Drink of the night was The Archimboldi (by JP Featherston):
1 oz Blanco or Resposado Tequila
.75 oz Punt et Mes
.75 oz Rainwater Madeira
.5 oz Nux Alpina
Stir down. Strain into a coupe.

The Columbia Room is absolutely worth a visit each trip to DC. And the George is a fiver showerheads plus hotel. Magic.

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.

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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.

A quick visit to Powell’s was in order. If you have never been and you like books, you’re missing something incredibly special.

Dinner at Clyde Common was truly outstanding again. Who would have guessed that chicken hearts could be prepared so well?! I had a broken bike again (great drink).

The Pépé do Moko speakeasy around the corner is a very nice place for a classic beverage or two. I had a great time playing with Heather and Danny. Thanks guys!

Very high four showerheads for the Riverplace. Time for some glass showers…and then, perfection.

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!

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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.

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