We talk a lot about how great our California weather is. We boast about Christmases spent outdoors in t-shirts, Thanksgivings held on patios. It’s a selling point, a bragging point, and very often both at the same time. A “Mediterranean climate,” as ours is called, does have its down sides, though. One of those is a tendency to drought, which is what’s going on right now.
As you may have heard, our governor, the beatific Mr. Jerry Brown, has recently declared this current drought of ours to be a state of emergency. It sounds scary, but this does happen periodically. A lot of why it has to be declared an emergency has less to do with the availability of water to, for example, shower with than it has to do with mobilizing funds to transport water and staff fire departments in the neighborhoods of extra dry hills, with their tendency to ignite. Still, though, growing up in California we all learned to turn the tap off when we brush our teeth, to not be too indulgent with the pleasures of a long hot shower, little things like that. So, attempting to keep all traces of fear mongering or environmentalist shaming out of this sentence, now is a good time to keep water use in mind. Think about not having your sheets and towels changed every day when you’re here with us, though never keep them one day past what’s comfortable. If you like to stand in a very long hot shower to relax at the end of the day, remember that we have a hot tub. But if you’re attached to the ritual, stick with it. Find a couple of little ways to reduce your use while you’re here with us, if nothing else just to feel like you’re participating. This drought will pass. Next year we’ll probably get flooded. All will be well.
This month we’re going to head down south to find our wine. As some of you may very well know, quite a bit of wine is now being made a few hours south of here. We, admittedly, can tend to get stuck with our heads pointed north, needing to be reminded again and again that good things are happening on that southern coast. It’s not yet as grand and romantic as the Napa Valley, but, then, neither was the Napa Valley just a few short decades ago.
What’s nice, in learning a bit about the Ancient Peaks Winery, is realizing is that in Southern California it’s still possible to get into the game if you’re not a millionaire. The last Napa Valley winery I read about, for example, was founded by a man with a Stanford MBA, who had worked in business his whole life, and then retired into his dream of having a little winery. Which is great, except that it sets the bar for how to get your own little winery very, very high. Ancient Peaks, on the other hand, is made from grapes grown on a vineyard that is collectively owned by three local families. Those owners are all natives of Paso Robles, where the vineyard is located. One is a rancher and director of the Mid California State Fair. Another, in addition to his work with wine, is president of Filipponi & Thompson Drilling. The version of winemaking that’s being practiced in their neighborhood, it turns out, is not another story about the hobbies of the 1%.
It’s possible that this will be the winery that gets us to reorient in a more southerly direction. It’s also possible that by next month we’ll forget and just head north again. Remember that we said this once, though: the future is in the south.
It’s the holiday season and whatever holidays you all are choosing to participate in this time around, the end of the year is pretty universally used as a time of reflection. What has this last year been? What will the future bring, and what might we do to affect that? What is this present moment? We here at this little hotel find ourselves, this time around, in a sweet and easy place. A lot of you are too, we know. It’s a good time to be working in the Silicon Valley. We’ve worked hard to get here, of course. Each and every one of us had to step up our game not so long ago to figure out how to make it through some pretty hard times. But we’re also very lucky. Fortune came to us.
What is there to do, then, but be grateful? We’re grateful to be a part of a team that’s both hard working and light hearted. Every one of us stuck together when it wasn’t easy, and now that things are a little more chill, it’s a pleasure to get to be working with all these people. We’re grateful for you, our guests. Some of you have been with us for over a decade, riding all the waves right along with us. Is there a word for that besides family? It’s hard to think of a better one. Some of you have come in with Silicon Valley’s most recent flood of prosperity and we are grateful for the energy and creativity that allowed you to override financial crisis. We’re grateful to be in the right place at the right time, this time around. And, what the heck, at this time of year we’re also grateful that we get to have all this without snow!
Whatever the future brings, we’re grateful for this nice moment we’ve got right now. Happy holidays everyone.
We have, in recent years, been serving pretty good food at our little hotel. Ever since Norman, our executive chef, came on board, the sauces have gotten more interesting, the combinations a little subtler. Still, among the words one would use to describe our food, in general, old-school would have to be in there. Part of that was because Norman would have to respect the suggestions of our dear general manager, who would come to him with brilliant “new” ideas like tater tots, thus filling the space for new stuff with really old stuff instead. The other part was that the kitchen staff is not exactly made up of spring chickens either and there were limits to what they were willing to put up with.
How ever many years later, though, Norman finally put his foot down. It’s unclear how he managed to woo the boss lady, who probably was on the verge of suggesting adding Twinkies to the catering menu, but he decided to quell the anxieties in the kitchen by doing a few weeks of training. Norman held the hands of our kitchen staff as he led them into the brave new world of trendy superfoods. Quinoa and kale were demystified in these sessions. Some people are still trying to get the beet stains off of their hands. The whole thing ended with a night of tastings and, however much those weeks of teaching old dogs new tricks may have hurt, the project was a success. Now, when’re looking to feed your team, you’ll have options that feel, not just comforting and easy, but nourishing and healthy. Thank you, Norman, for leading us into the present moment.
It’s still pretty hot around here, still the season of flip-flops, tank tops and sundresses. If you’re here on the weekend, it’s still a great idea to head over the hills to the beach and get a little tan. Things are shifting, though. It’s darker earlier. The cool night air has begun to bite a little. Walgreen’s has its costume aisle set up. Of course nowadays that might only mean that the 4th of July has just passed and they figured they might as well bust out the costumes. But, actually, the year is passing.
Around here, all this change means it’s time for our annual Monday Night Football tradition. Every Monday night through football season, down in our lounge, you’ll find the game on the TV and a bountiful stadium spread on the table. We’ve got hamburgers, hotdogs, peanuts and beer for the traditionalists. But you can also enjoy the game with a plate of cruditÈs and a martini, if that’s what you prefer. The best part of Monday Night Football at our hotel is that you get all the excitement of the game without the sports bar scene. Not that there’s anything wrong with sports bars. Also, I guess that, though the non-sports bar atmosphere might provide a welcome haven for some of you, it’s possible that you might think that the best thing about Monday Night Football at our hotel is actually that everything I’ve just mentioned is free for our guests. Also, we extend out happy hour, so that it’s all even more free than normal, which, too, could be way more pleasing than any experience of anti-sports bar snobbery. In any case, all statements of value and hierarchy aside, Monday Night Football is on and it’s great! Come join us!
Here’s an obscure fact for you: According to Chinese medicine, too much laughter is bad for the heart. An excess of joy, it’s said, is overwhelming to the system. A story of a young boy in a small village explains a bit further. The boy in question did very well on a civil service exam, which meant a move to a big city and a better life for his whole clan. He and his family were so excited that they began parading around the town, receiving congratulations and cheers from all their friends and neighbors. But when they came to the town sage, that wise man looked into the boy’s eyes and said that the child would die in seven day’s time. The party halted and the family went into the sad business of preparing for the loss of their shining star. Seven days later, though, the kid was as vital and alive as ever and his father marched over to the aforementioned wise man in a rage.
“How dare you?” he demanded.
To which the old man replied that he had saved the boy’s life. The young man was so overcome with joy, the sage said, that he was sure to have died within the week had someone not doused him with a little grief.
With that warning, I’d like to remind you that we’ve got a bit of a special arrangement with Rooster T Feathers, our friendly neighborhood comedy club. Ask for details at the front desk, if you dare.
A hotel is more like a house than an iPhone. My iPhone works very consistently. I plug it in at night so that it won’t run out of batteries during the day, but other than that I expect to do no maintenance on it. I know that one day it will die and I will need another. I know that for some short interval leading up to the day of it’s demise, it’s function will start to fail and that that will not mean that I should go get it fixed, but that I should get rid of it and move on to my next iPhone.
A house, on the other hand, needs more or less constant maintenance. You fix the sink and then the roof needs new tiles. Get the roof patched up and then notice a giant stain on the carpet. There’s always something to be either taking care of or meaning to take care of very soon. Still, though, a house is expected to last through several lifetimes. Very, very few people in this world let the problems with their house accumulate until they can’t stand it anymore, and then get rid of it and move onto another house.
All that to say this: Things are constantly going wrong at this hotel. Does it seem strange to admit this? It’s true, though. True and natural and unavoidable. The toilets are going to get stopped up and the curtains are going to get little rips in them. Plants are living things that sometimes just decide to get depressed and droopy for a while. Everything is fixable and we have plenty of staff and resources to take care of it all (though depressive plants are harder, admittedly) but many things can go wrong without our knowing it. If something is bothering you, just tell us and we’ll take care of it. Treat us the way you treat your house, something that you’re going to have a long, enduring relationship with, not your iPhone, which you’re going to keep until it’s got too many tics and you’ve got to throw it in the garbage. We would like to be the hotel you pass on to your kids, and we’re willing to do a lot to try to make that happen.
Well people, after yet another long trip around the sun, we’ve arrived back here, at the best time of the year. The days are long and warm. Your skin, no matter how high an spf you choose, or how many hours a day you spend at your computer, can’t help but take on a rosy glow. Everyone starts cooking dinner outside on a grill. And we here at this little hotel can’t help but join in.
Have all of you out there been looking forward to the return of our Wednesday night BBQs the way we have been? I know it’s been a long year, full of elections and hurricanes and a sequestration and Angelina Jolie’s mastectomy, so let me refresh your memory. Every Wednesday night, from now through the end of summer, we’re going to set up a grill out by our pool. You’ll have your choice of chicken or steak, grilled however you like it (though requests for rare chicken are strongly discouraged) either of which will be served alongside a buffet of fresh salads, piping hot baked potatoes, decadent desserts and more, all for under $15. And remember, this is in combination with our ever present, ever popular unlimited free drink happy hour from 5-7, and our bar now staying open until 11pm. Sounds good, no? It’s like being invited to a friend’s place for a poolside cookout every week, except that when you ask what you can bring the answer is always nothing, no one will ever ask you to take over the grill for a bit and you will never have to worry about having one more drink because there is no drive home.
Here’s hoping your summer travel schedule gives you lots of Wednesdays with us this year!
Life has been pretty good at this hotel lately. Our rooms have a steady stream of guests, our bar is full of laughter and life almost every night, and mornings see who-knows-what kinds of important business decisions being made around our little breakfast tables. Spring is quickly turning to summer, after work swims will soon be an enticing option, as will taking your evening cocktail out to watch the swimmers. The internet is working. We’re in one of those sweet spots that you get every now and then, everything’s kind of going well.
And yet, even now, insecurity creeps in. Yes, our rooms are full, and, yes, that makes it seem as if you all want to stay here with us. But Silicon Valley has the number one economy in the nation right now, so it’s possible that our little hotel is full because hotels in general are full, and not because anyone’s choosing us in particular. And, yes, our bar is full and bustling every night and that makes it look like it’s fun and cool to come here for a drink at night. But, then, we’re giving away free alcohol, which is not unlike paying the cool kids to hang out with us at lunch and, ultimately, it’s equally alienating.
What am I asking for? What will pacify these nagging insecurities and give us our Sally Field moment, that is, a chance to think you really like us? It’s so simple, really. Just like us on Facebook. A moment of your time and this hotel will drop its shoulders, puff out its chest and stand proudly in the world. Please?
Here’s a funny little thought that our general manager was rolling around the other day: How much of the technology that we at the hotel use every day was developed by someone who we feed and house a couple of days out of every month? Without getting specific, I can look around at just what I’m using right this moment and know that the answer is a lot. And much of what I’m using, I’m using because I’ve talked to one or another of you and have been seduced by the particular qualities of a product that you, or your company, has made.
And, as those of you non-tech regulars are protesting to yourselves right now, gadgetry is only the most obvious starting point of this conversation. Through our customers, there are those of us who’ve learned all we ever might want to know about citrus fruits, the superiority of Italian motorcycles, robots performing surgery and much more.
I suppose this is just one of those moments where we get to brag about this business we’re in. The contact that we get to have with such a wide range of worldly ventures is, at the risk of sounding cliché and cheesy, such a great way for each of us as individuals to learn about fields that we have no real right to have access to. At the very least it makes us, if we pay attention, smarter consumers. For some of us it even broadens our ideas about what’s possible in life.
How about you? What have you gone out and bought after talking to someone you met in our bar? If the answer is nothing, I’d say you need to strike up a conversation or two. You never know who you’re sitting next to.