There's more....the Ventura Airport Shuttle at LAX has delivered me safely for ten years and I'm delighted when I have the same drivers time after time. James refers to the women aboard as M'lady and usually prefers the Pacific Coast Highway route over the freeways. The Budget Rental Car facility at Detroit Metro Airport also has regular shuttle drivers who ask about a family member or if I want a red SUV again. Imagine....big city airports, thousand of people coming and going daily and shuttle drivers recalling your background! If you're a people person....this is what you do; dedicated workers who enjoy their jobs.
I visit Ventura's Pierpont Beach area, staying 3-4 times a year at the Marriott Beach Resort Hotel.
Most of the staff have been in place for a decade; same housekeepers, restaurant servers and managers. My favorite thing about this hotel? We could ride our bikes right into the hotel and into our room! I can ride for miles along the promenade to connecting parks and beaches; or go in the opposite direction to eat and browse at the harbor shops. There's an outdoor pool where our granddaughters and I can order drinks and snacks, a larger-than-usual workout room and the full-service Pacifico Restaurant and Lounge. We've memorized menu favorites over the years, and often one of our server 'friends' knows just what we'd like. If it's the same chef at breakfast time; he sees me coming....'aha' the woman who likes a plain omelet, well done with no salt!
In Detroit, I rent a car and head across the state to my hometown..."Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo!" Here's where we went to college, married, found our first jobs and had both our kids...it's home. For as far back as I can remember, we've loved the Best Western Inn and Suites on the west side of town. Roomy space for bringing along a few grandkids; each room has a pull-out sofa in addition to two queens or a king. Some rooms have a closed-door bedroom for privacy or early-to-bedders and a front room that holds the television, sofa and small kitchen area. This location is currently undergoing room renovations and upgrades; I peeked into a few and was impressed; the workmen have gone down to bare bones and are completely redoing each one.
I consider the staff here good friends. My usual housekeeper is Sue, always sweet and efficient. Numerous times she's tracked me down to return items I left behind; one time an armload of hanging clothes! Luckily I was still in the comfy lobby waiting for a ride. Another time it was my paperback book; and last month, she turned in my old worn pajama bottoms to lost-and-found. I retrieved them the next day a bit embarrassed; but I looooove these flowered, baggy sleepers.
The front desk folks are the best. Manager Steve and Assistant Manager Debra are warm and approachable...you can tell they enjoy this place too! Debra has heard my life story, met my husband and kids and enjoys reading my blog. Steve does what we principals call walkabouts...checking the TV volume, business center, stairwells, pool area and nooks and crannies throughout the building. He stops and engages with everyone large, small and furry and readily offers solutions for any concerns. The friendly ladies who prepare breakfast in the mornings keep it well stocked and attractive. I bypass the hot meals for freshly cut fruit and yogurt....but indulge in half and half for my coffee and an occasional sweet roll sometimes! This is my home away from home; this feels like family.
These are just two of the favorites places I recommend to folks every chance I get. There's also the Fairfield Inn in Livonia, Michigan.....near Laurel Park Mall where I can meet girlfriends. All the years I've stayed there...sometimes just once a year...I always love visiting with Sharon; the one in charge of breakfast! She's been there through numerous renovations and managements! How comforting to come down for coffee and see her familiar face.
There have been great stays at larger hotels around the country; The Row Hotel in NYC's theater district, the Loews Hotel (formerly the Graves 601) across from the ballpark in Minneapolis, the Hyatt Regency along the river in downtown Chicago.....even the Holiday Inn in the Rocks section of Sydney, Australia. These were one-time visits but memorable experiences that left good impressions.
If you're attending business workshops or conferences, you'll stay at a designated place that's usually pretty cool! But on your own, research the vast variety, read the small print and seek suggestions from friends. I also call and talk to the concierge or front desk manager before I decide. These folks have local knowledge about safety, walkability and current events that may interest you. My stay in New York last fall began with a hug from a new friend....the handsome concierge who recalled chatting with me!
I have to say it feels really good when traveling to arrive at your destination where someone offers welcoming arms and are genuinely glad to see you again. Thank you dear friends.