Monday, April 20, 2015

35th New Thing ~ Counting Stars

The moment the idea of 50 New Things popped into my head, I began thinking of possibilities. 
And a list was born. Potential New Things to try during the year. 
I love a list, more than most. And this one was particularly satisfying. 

Over the weeks, the list grew to over 100 potential things.

I scribbled down any thing that came to mind. Including those that didn't necessarily appeal to me. Even ones that felt cost prohibitive. Or highly unlikely. Or outright frightening.

The listed items fell naturally into four categories: 

  • Do-able 
  • Affordable
  • Outlandish (Not easily do-able)
  • Expensive. (Even the Ridiculously Expensive.)  

I discovered, contrary to my initial assumptions, that Do-able things are not always Affordable. 
And Outlandish things are not always Expensive. (There’s a sexy Venn Diagram in there somewhere.)

Then over time, another category emerged: the highly unlikely things that, no matter how Affordable or Do-able, could not be orchestrated. I call these the “Right Place at the Right Time” things. 
I'm getting off into the weeds now. "Stay on target..."

Back to the List:

One of the very first things on the early New Thing Wish List was “Stay at a 5-Star Hotel.” 

I love hotels. I love room service. Lavish spa treatments. Unrestrained attention. Beautiful blue-water pools. Hot tubs. Saunas. 

I love complimentary full-service breakfasts and evening wine receptions.  And could you send up the hotel butler to draw a lavender bath for me? Hotel butler, that's a real thing.

Staying in a 5-Star hotel. I imagine it at the very heart of Barbie's Comfort Zone AND something I've never done before. I do believe we've found some sort of sweet spot. Potentially.

It seems easy enough, a 5-Star hotel, but cost prohibitive:  The "Do-able but Expensive" category. I'm afraid this category is an overwhelmingly large part of my list. 

Honestly, I love hotels so much, the only thing keeping me from typing this very post while sitting in the suite of a 5-Star Hotel, is that I can't afford it. Hell, I'd take up residence on the entire top floor of such a  hotel if it weren't for the cost. 

On a relatively related note:
Just a couple weeks before the Panama trip, I was given the unexpected opportunity to stay at the Davenport Hotel in Spokane. (See 32nd New Thing )

That New Thing was being a Union Delegate at the biennial Council Two Convention. 
The convention was held at the Davenport Hotel. And it's where we stayed. 
I was completely unprepared for how beautiful the hotel was. As I took pictures, wandering the Grand Pennington Ballroom, the Hall of Doges, the Elizabethan Room, the Marie Antoinette Ballroom, the underground spa, pool and sauna, it occurred to me, maybe I am not only a first-time union delegate but perhaps, as bonus and a pleasant surprise, I’m staying in a five-star hotel.  

Once back home, having no idea how this hotel star-system works, I did some research. 

Hotel star ratings......  If you can call zoning out while surfing the Internet 'doing research.'
Unfortunately scouring the Internet really did nothing to clear up my confusion. 
(Isn't that always the way.)

Is there an independently administrated organization of star granters? 

Is there a government agency that oversees this rating process? 
Because if not, that would be a cabinet position worth holding, wouldn't it? 
Secretary of Leisure and Mental Wellness.
Or better yet, how about just adding a fourth branch to the American Government Tree? 
Legislative, Judicial, Executive and Luxuriance. (It is a word!)

I’ll accept that job. 
Staying in the most beautiful resorts and hotels. Taking it all in. Gathering and organizing my opinion, writing it out. How was room service this evening? What do I think of the decor of this room? Did I enjoy my spa visit?

Let’s see . . .  are these Egyptian cotton sheets . . .  
A) Softer than, 
B) Not as soft as, 
C) Just as soft as the sheets I slept on last week at that other five-star  resort? 
Hmmmmm, let me snuggle in a little deeper and get back to you on that. 

Regarding the previously mentioned online research, the evidence is a bit fuzzy. But the best guess I could come up with, based on unreliable and ever-changing web sites, was that the Davenport Hotel is usually rated as 4-Star.  ("Missed it by this much...")

Another rather spontaneous hotel stay just a couple weeks after The Davenport, was at the Gamboa Rainforest Resort in Panama. 

The place was surreal, especially when juxtaposed to the daily reality of those who live in nearby Chilibre, Paraiso and many parts of Panama City. In fact, as nice as it was, the resort felt a bit like a theme-park feature had been pre-fabbed somewhere on the back-lot of Disney Studios then lowered by an Erickson Skycrane helicopter, snugly into the Panamanian rain forest. Like it didn't really belong there, although I'm glad it was.

Again, once back home, I wondered if that huge resort might be 5-star. 

More surfing in the name of research. Click, click, click... 
Alas, the Gamboa Rainforest Resort was also a 4-Star. (Asterisk, asterisk, asterisk, see small print at the end of this post)

So, even though my true objective was to stay in a 5-Star hotel, that didn't actually happen. 
This could perhaps be seen as a less-than-successful New Thing attempt. But it's my blog and my year of New Things so I make this declaration: 
Staying at two 4-star hotels in less than three weeks counts as staying at one 8-star hotel. 
(4-stars + 4-stars = 8-stars, right?)   Don't agree? Whatever. Moving on.....

During my stay at the second-leg of the 8-Star Hotel New Thing, I was in the blessed company of a magic pixie toddler. This made everything alright, regardless of all else.

5-Stars or not, I've never stayed in a hotel where a hammock was a standard amenity. One on every room's balcony. I love hammocks!

Lots of open-air space, like this bar on the main floor overlooking the pools and a sliver of the Panama Canal.

Some people spend all their time at a luxurious resort just trying to evade the paparazzi. 

Or even better, playing Hide and Seek.

This picture reminds me of Jurassic Park. 

The library felt like a scene out of a Rudyard Kipling novel. Or a Baroness Karen von Blixen tale.

My 35th New Thing ~ Staying in an 8-Star Hotel  
(Is there an emoticon for tongue-in-cheek?)

So staying at the Gamboa Rainforest Resorts helps me to wrap a New Thing within a New Thing. Self-imposed rule breaking abounds!  And I'm not done yet.... (This last pictures is a dead give-away!)

All that asterisk business earlier is about the frustrating fact that the star-rating thing is a fickle bitch. You can search for the star-ratings of any given hotel on any two days and get two or more different results. This post was written a good bit of time after the actual trip and when I searched The Gamboa Rainforest Resort just recently, it was a solid 5-Stars. I give up trying to figure it out. ~ B