Sheraton or Bust!

Posted by Bruce on August 07, 2011
Holiday Stories, Star Moments

For those of you who travel, whether to far flung places on the globe or a city a few hours away, you will already know that the experience can be made or ruined by two significant factors – the trip to get to and from the location and where you choose to rest your head while you are there. So a brief sojourn to Hamilton, Ontario was planned to test the waters.

For me, I HATE, … well strongly dislike being driven on the highway. It doesn’t much matter which one they are all equally bad, my preference is to just not go there.  Unfortunately, bus transportation companies just don’t care how I feel … so on the highway we went!  The trip was a success.  I now know when you gotta go take the GO!  Shameless plug!  HA! HA!

Unfortunately, John and I can’t say the same for our experience of the Sheraton Hotel in Hamilton.  It seemed we were victims of one poor experience after another.  When we arrived at the hotel we approached the service desk to check in.  Our big holiday grins were soon erased as we learned that a $200 deposit was expected since we were paying with a debit instead of credit card.  This was not brought to our attention on booking the room two months ago so it came as a shock.  The customer service rep was not interested at all in our dislike of this news and pretty much dismissed our complaint.  Well, that’s not actually true, she did recommend we call in a complaint.  We paid the fee for the room and the $200 for the deposit and walked away feeling like our pocket book just got raped.

When we got to our room,which was lovely, we found that it was set up for only one guest.  Even though I had booked the room for a couple.  Not a very romantic beginning to our overnight stay.  Of course, my blood pressure was through the roof and John spent some time calming me down.

Well maybe it was just a misunderstanding and lunch might help us to feed the disappointment.  We went down to the guest services where we hoped to get some suggestions on lunch.  Nothing!!!!  We asked but they just couldn’t seem to come up with anything.  The one restaurant they suggested they did not highly recommend “The Honest Lawyer” so we passed on it.  Other than that they didn’t offer any other suggestions.  One might think they were not interested in helping us at all.  We were so ticked and shocked.  We walked out the front door and down the street towards what, with big flag on the street lamp declare as the “International Village”.  This sounded hopeful.

Hmmm…!  Not an eatery to be found! Seriously, we looked and looked and saw nothing that would suggest healthy happy eating!  Unless of course you count a Japanese restaurant, which unfortunately is not one of John’s first choices.  I wasn’t really in the mood for that either.  As we made our way through this virtual ghost town, we quickly realized, “We were not in Kansas anymore.” !   Damn straight!  Straight out the other side of the Downtown, back to it’s lonely welcome sign.  OK somehow we missed the culture the sign was advertising.  We approached a local woman with a chuckle and inquired “Is there a nice restaurant you would recommend to have some lunch?”  We felt like we were stars in” The Odd Couple” the reunion.  She suggested we walk back the way we came.

We did find a cute and strange little place called  “The Black Forest Inn”  It was a German restaurant and it was really cool.  The ladies were dressed like Maria from The Sound of Music.  With our eyes still in shock the hostess laughed, invited us in and offered us a booth. Our waitress was amazing and I wish I could recall her name.  We both ordered the “Cordon bleu” and a basket of bread.  We skipped the cocktails and went straight for the coke!  Definitely time for a sugar rush after all the searching.

After our meal, we arrived back at the hotel, went straight to our room and decided to take a much needed nap.  As I lay there I couldn’t help but wonder why the guest services at the hotel was so  unknowledgeable about the city they work in.  I drifted off to sleep and dreamt of the Janet Jackson concert later that eve.

We got all dolled up and the excitement was building.  Miss Jackson if your nasty!!!!  Well Ms. Jackson was 35 minutes late!  The crowd was getting restless but still excited.  When she finally arrived, the stage remained dark and not even a trumpet call to signal the presence of royalty – well a music icon.  When the lights finally did come up there she was – in a pair of jeans and a jean jacket.   She moved herself through some of her most iconic  dance moves and made her million selling hits into some ultra dance Glee mash-ups!!!!   Anyway I loved seeing her, although her past tours have been more theatrical.  She had no wardrobe changes no real stage show and not one of her songs were performed in full so that was a bit of a disappointment.  I felt like I was watching her perform a dance remix of her own hits and  I wondered what was on her mind, certainly not her show.  Apparently Thursdays show was a stronger show. I do think she is ready to get back into the studio and make a new hit record and then get back out on tour again.

Oh God now back to our hotel!  We again approached the customer service desk and inquired about where we could go for a great dessert.  The customer service rep suggested we go up the road to a cobblestone street.  We did and almost got mugged!!!  It was filled with college students drunk out of their minds.  A couple of drunk guys came up to John and me and were like “Did you go see Janet?” he could tell by my concert shirt so we walked just a little bit faster…. but they continued to follow us.  Oh God we ended up “Where the Streets Have No Name”  Thank God some under-dressed girls crossed their path and took their minds off us just long enough for us to disappear into the night.

We hurried back to hotel hell and asked if we could order some room service since our trip down cobblestone lane ended up in a near gay bashing.  “The kitchen is closed.”  For gay hell’s sake can’t we get any customer service in this damn place.  It was five after eleven we were just too late.  “What about a bar?” Apparently they had one of those so we made our way to it.  A glimmer of hope finally came with a fantastic bar tender by the name of Opal.  We told her about our terrible experience so far and she offered to make us two sundaes since the kitchen was closed.  She also shared with us that the restaurant in the hotel was very nice and that it was too bad we had not tried it.  I would love to have but had no idea it was there until we were too late.  The sundaes were amazing and she really went out of her way to make sure our visit to the hotel bar was perfect.  Thank God someone in this building took the hospitality course.

We went off to bed and looked forward to getting out of there first thing in the morning.  Simple right?  Not so, the morning staff was no better than the evening staff.  Well that’s not completely fare the one girl was very nice, the other bitter, bitter,bitter….she could not bother to smile and was abrupt and questioned whether our room had been checked as though we were Gun’s and Roses after a rock concert.  Then she handed me the bill to sign.  I finally had to say can you at least offer us a smile.  She said she was concentrating and I replied well then concentrate with a smile. The experience was truly terrible from start to finish.

I had hoped this blog was going to be a funny recall of a wonderful trip to Hamilton but not so.  The only recovery from this hotels terrible behaviour was a call I received by the Director of Sales the next day. I had put a comment on their facebook page and they decided to give me a follow up call. I was pleasantly surprised to know that someone cared.  We talked and this person promised a better experience next time. I didn’t feel there would be a next time but had mentioned the Michael Jackson tribute concert that was coming in October. She told me to leave it in her hands but wanted us back for another visit so she booked us for October 11th and 12th.

I mentioned on last weeks blog that a friend of mine found love in Hamilton.  Well even though the trip was less than stellar, it was a wonderful belated birthday gift from a great guy and love was definitely in the air.  Thanks John it was amazing to see one of my favourite performers and to spend some quality time with you. I guess we shall see if our next rendezvous to Hamilton and the Sheraton Hotel will prove to be all we desire.

Hmm October? Isn’t that our Anniversary month!

Until next Sunday be bad and “Let the Truth Unfurl”


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