April 14th, 2014

Traveling for work is pretty much the opposite of working from home. That seems like an obvious truth; rather than stay within the comfort of your home as you complete your daily tasks, you agree to give every one of them up for a period of time, in service of your job. However, on occasion it’s possible to reap a few of the benefits of working from home when your job has brought you here to our hotel. If you book a meeting in one of our meeting rooms when you’re already a guest here, you in fact get a combination of the advantages of working from home, plus the those of staying in a hotel.

On the work from home front we have, first and foremost, no commute. If the meeting is in the morning, that means sleeping longer. It means not sitting in traffic. It means not having to deal with whatever weather is happening that day, be it cold or heat, when you’re not yet fully awake and can’t quite be bothered. If, on the other hand, the meeting is in the afternoon, it means that your day can end as soon as the meeting does. You don’t have to save your energy for an end of day commute. You can finish up last conversations over drinks at the bar and not give half a thought to what that means about how you’ll get home. You are moments away from pajamas and TV and ease. And if the meeting goes all day, all the above is true for you.

On the hotel side, there are the benefits of inviting a whole lot of people over to your place, and not having to deal with cleaning up afterwards. And while you do have to give some thought to what to serve them all, that only has to go as far as browsing our catering menu and pointing to whatever suits you. The rest, we take care of.

So, you see, with us you can have the best of both worlds, if only for a day.

April 14th, 2014

Because time is on some kind of super-express track, going faster and faster every year, it, somehow, is baseball season again. Are you aware, as you pass through our neighborhood from time to time, that we are home to not one but two MLB teams that pretty regularly do pretty well? More often than not, either the Oakland A’s or the San Francisco Giants find their way into the playoffs. Sometimes they both do. In 1989, when the last big earthquake hit the Bay Area, they were meeting one another in the World Series.

Now is a great moment to get out to a game. It’s the very beginning of a new season. Anything is possible. Maybe you’ve already got a favorite home team and you’ll come out to root for the early demise our local boys. That’s fine with us; we know they don’t go down easy. Or maybe you’ve never paid much attention to baseball before now and have no allegiances. In that case, go with no expectations and just see if you don’t get a little excited when the home team does well. Either way, find your way to a game now, and then, as you come in and out of the Bay Area throughout the summer and into the fall, you’ll have this little outing waiting here for you. You’ll have a team to check in on, as this season’s narrative unfolds.

As for which team you should choose, that’s got to be a personal choice. It’s true that the Giants have more recently won World Series’. It’s true that their stadium has a more beautiful location. The A’s tend to be a little less glamorous. Oakland’s the less polished of the two cities. Should glamour, polish and beauty be considered positive or negative attributes when choosing a baseball team? Your call.

April 14th, 2014

When Dave, the Grand Hotel’s bartender, left, the bars at both hotels got thrown into a bit of upheaval. Of the shifts that have been made in the wake of that departure, probably the cutest is that, for one night a week at each hotel, the bar will now be filled with Sunshine. You all know Sunshine, of the shy smiles and the glitter infused hair, nametag, fingernails. She’s been working behind our front desk for the past few years, quietly changing from little girls to young woman and now, it seems, she’s even old enough to serve drinks.

Anyone who knows Sunshine knows how apt her name is. She brightens the room, lightens the mood. When she said she wanted to start taking shifts behind the bar, the answer was obviously going to be yes. She’s exactly who you want to run into after a long day at work, or a harrowing flight, and she’ll be nearly as pacifying to your nerves as the drinks she’s serving.

She’s only just begun, she hasn’t gotten in too deep yet, and so there is one question remaining: What kinds of decorating choices will she make for the bar? Where will she sneak her subtle bits of glitter? What stickers will she choose, and where will they turn up? Because this is the one maddening thing about Sunshine: this quiet insistence that everything around her sparkle. If anyone else were glittering the common workspace, it would not be tolerated, and yet, somehow, when she does it, at least for the time she sits there in the midst of it, it seems so natural, and like she’s really improving things. And then when she’s gone, there are these silly shiny things all over the place that no one quite has the heart to do anything about. It remains to be seen how that will be dealt with by the rest of the bar staff.

April 14th, 2014

When we were kids, my brother and I loved going to Benihana. “Cook right on the table” we called it, and whenever one of our birthdays came up, we’d beg to be taken to “cook right on the table” to celebrate. Now that I’m a grown up, there aren’t very many large corporate chains that I jump up and down at the mention of. I few years ago, longing for that “cook right on the table” experience, I went to a Benihana and found, in place of all the magic I remembered, the telltale signs of mass produced image manufacture. You know, the kind of details that bring you to us, in spite of all those Mariotts and Hiltons in the neighborhood. Alas.

What a pleasure, then, to be taken recently to Kyoto Palace. It’s got all the lively bustle, the seeming flirtation with danger, the smoke and steam and just plain old fun that I so much loved about the “cook right on the table” experiences from my childhood, plus its very own personal intangibles. If the chef wants to start throwing his knives, he may very well do it, there’s no corporate overlord around to keep things antiseptic. (I hope that came off as the ringing endorsement I intended it to be, my point being that a place like this is only fun if it feels kind of wild and unruly, words that corporate chains are allergic to.)

This is a great place to come for a party, a great place to bring a group with nothing serious to discuss. This is a bad place to come if you’re looking for intimacy. It’s also an imperfect place to come if you’re looking for a super high-level culinary experience. They light things on fire in the dining room at the Kyoto Palace, it’s that kind of a joint. Come for that kind of revelry and you’ll be very happy you did.

April 14th, 2014

This month, instead of introducing you to yet another California wine, I’ve got something even more local for you to try. What could be more local than, say, the wine that sits fermenting in the hills you can see out the window of your room, you ask. Well, how about a little project happening right here in this little hotel? For the last several months, it seems, Ed, the weekend bartender at the Cupertino Inn, and Jerry, our marketing and sales manager, have been practicing a bit of alchemy. Infusing exotic flavors into a few of the bar’s old standards.

As experiments go, they needed a bit of time to sort themselves out. Bacon in whiskey is smoky decadence; sausage is fatty revulsion, it turns out. They haven’t peaked yet, but they have landed on a few winners. The aforementioned bacon whiskey, for example. They’ve also got a juniper cardamom, inspired by an idea of simplifying gin, and a pineapple jalapeno, inspired by pizza. They’re having a lot of fun doing this, so I’d imagine that there are going to be new things to sample for months and months to come. I would even go so far as to imagine that if you had and idea, and could convince them it was even slightly plausible, they could get it going and have it ready by the next time you blew into town.

Of course the good thing, as always, about trying out whatever I recommend here, is that it’s free when you are our guest. Not all of these are going to be to everyone’s taste and there’s nothing worse than paying big for some fancy specialty cocktail, only to find that the idea was better than the execution. The stakes are much lower here. Sure, you might end up with a bad taste in your mouth, but all you’ve got to do to fix that is ask for something else.