March 28th, 2008

In this new “green” era, we’re all watching each other’s garbage, or, at least, I am. I’m developing the habit of looking into trashcans and I’m not proud of it, but last time I was in our general manager’s office, it turned out to be pretty useful indeed! I found the assistant general manager’s baby in the garbage can!

Traditionally around these hotels, new mothers are encouraged to bring their babies to work when it’s possible and Leann’s little boy is the fourth to have his first ideas of the world shaped in this hotel. A whole little makeshift nursery has been carved out of a second floor office for him and he spends his days entertaining the sales and reservations managers. Not a bad life for a new little guy. He’ll grow up with uncanny instincts for hotel management and sports statistics. Perhaps, also, the sales and reservations management team, comprised largely of males under 30 (hence the sports statistics), will come away with a healthy respect for new motherhood. Seems like everyone’s winning here, so how did that poor little baby end up in the garbage?

OK, in the interest of full disclosure, I have to admit that the general manager, the baby’s mother, and the baby himself were all laughing at the scene. Nor was there, in fact, any more traditional trash in with him. Still, I feel compelled to read into this! What would Freud say? Aren’t we supposed to see some truth in every joke? Does our dear general manager feel threatened by this infant and so, consciously or unconsciously, makes up games that highlight his inferior status? I’m keeping my eyes out, I invite you to join me!

March 24th, 2008

California’s coastline is just one spectacular beach after another. As I start to write about Stinson Beach, I find that I’m a little annoyed with myself for not finding something inland to write about. I promise you a mountain in the near future! But it’s got to be Stinson Beach this time because I have a new discovery to share with you all!

I’m going to rewind now just a bit and say that I have been to Stinson Beach a few times over the years. It’s lovely. It’s on par with all the other beaches I’ve told you all about, meaning that it’s unbelievably gorgeous, but no more or less than all the rest, so I never really had it on my list.

The last time I went, though, I learned to walk down to the beach and then turn left. After just a short southward stroll, you start seeing giant boulders. Look closely at these rocks and you’ll see that they’re smudged here and there with white powder. No, I’m not leading you to a drug trafficking site, the white powder is chalk and it means that those rocks have been climbed! If you’re someone who likes to climb, then I’m letting you know about a local spot. If you’re not, go watch anyway! It’s really an amazing sport that I had mostly only seen on youtube before this. They’re out there trying over and over to get just a foot higher than the last time, with a whole crowd of friends behind, waiting to catch the climber when he or she inevitably falls. To me, it’s endlessly exciting. But if you get bored, well, you will be on a beach whose beauty I, as a native Californian, really need to not take for granted.

March 15th, 2008

I am introducing you, this month to a very overqualified bellman. Cyrus got all the way through law school and was in the process of taking the bar exam when he realized that a more true application of all of his legal training would be to drive our limousines. That’s a bit of an overstatement, but it was really fun to write that sentence. Sorry. The actual realization was, of course, more subtle and involved personal investigation into professional and social pressures and ambitions and how they relate to one’s personal journey through life. What he learned, as he prepared to take the bar, made him step off of his life’s track and look for a new path of his choosing. And he chose us! For eleven years he’s been taking care of our guests with the wisdom and respect born of a real decision to be where he is. It’s a rare treasure in an employee and a co-worker and I can’t really even figure out how to make light of it, to be perfectly honest. I tried, but I felt guilty and apologized immediately. I really respect and admire the Cyrus’ decision and the courage it took to make it. To all of us who aspire to live honestly, Cyrus is a very nice example.

March 10th, 2008

What I’m about to give you now is information that very probably is long overdue. The sports bar has, I guess, become a staple of American culture and here I’ve spent all these months showing you ways to pass your time in Silicon Valley without having directed you to a place where you can sit in front of an oversized television, eat chicken wings and potato skins, drink beer and watch “the game.” It’s certainly not for lack of material; sports bars abound here as they do everywhere else in our great nation. The question, though, has always been how to recommend one over another, and why. If the games, beer selections and menus vary from place to place, it’s on a level I’m not sensitive enough to pick up on. What I see are giant plates of deep fry, with buckets of heavy white cream to slather on top and a good opportunity to watch the “obesity epidemic” proliferate in front of my very eyes.

But finally I’ve found one for you that I can feel good about passing along! It’s called Capers and it is, for all intents and purposes, a real sports bar. The place is saturated with TVs, sporting paraphernalia and fans and the atmosphere is appropriately invigorated. Thankfully, though, the food does not match its environment. It turns out that this place is a relative of downtown San Jose’s Loft Bistro, which I raved to you about just a few months ago. The relationship is similar to the Grand Hotel and the Cupertino Inn, it seems: the substance is the same, the guest just needs to choose which environment suits him or her best. So now I’ve exposed to you the environment that suits me best, but I’ve also done my civic duty by those of you who lean the other way. I’m glad to have figured this one out!

March 7th, 2008

How familiar are you with the champagne wars? Until very recently, I thought it was merely a little piece of snobbery. I’ve learned, though, and perhaps this is common knowledge, that it’s actually an issue that’s been legislated on in the EU. Champagne comes only from Champagne! When a shipment of California sparkling wine arrived in Belgium sometime in the last few months with labels referring to its contents as champagne, it was destroyed!

But what’s so special about French champagne? Well, I have a nice way for you to experiment with that question for yourself. The next time you come to stay with us, ask our bartender for a glass of Domaine Chandon. It’s sparkling Napa Valley wine, made very strictly in the French methode traditionelle. Actually, the Chandon winery is the first example of French sparkling winemakers coming to California to reproduce their craft. That’s the first half of your experiment, our gift to you as a guest of our hotel. The second half, the bottle of French champagne for the purpose of comparison, you’ll have to supply yourself. Only California wines are served at our bar. We, too, feel ourselves entitled to a little snobbery.

If you’re not the experimental type, relax with your glass of Chandon and the knowledge that what you are drinking is the product of centuries old tradition, combined with the innovations of California grape growing techniques.