So, every once in awhile I will treat this like a blog and let you know of my experiences, but mostly yes, this site is for learning about different places and a tool for planning a trip.
I currently work at a church as a jack-of-all-trades type secretary (‘Office Specialist’). In the past, I’ve worked for non-profits, in advertising sales, and newspaper sports photography just to name a few. But, when I first returned to my hometown after graduating from college, I worked at a hotel. A fifty-some room, middle-of-the-road, free breakfast type hotel. Lots of travelers from other states, many old couples, a few high school and college sports teams were the clientele. It was a small hotel chain, and cheap, and freebie breakfast type.
My favorite part of working there was meeting people. Not so favorite? That will come at the bottom of this post. Which ALL should read, especially if you use any sort of discount-website service (ie: Expedia, Orbitz, Hotwire, etc).
A woman truck driver from Kentucky, who we’d talk for five minutes every time she checked in (and she’d be there every month, or every three months), about Kentucky, Tennessee, and her travels. Another was a couple of dueling piano guys, who always said that I should come to their show (I once asked “Do you know any Westlife tunes? If you say yes, I’ll come.” They couldn’t. This was also an excuse for me, too, because I would usually work a 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. shift, and sometimes til midnight, and then I had a twenty minute in the dead of night no lights drive home, so…to be honest, I didn’t really want to go visit a bar after work).
One time, some Irishmen (yes! Like, real, Dublin-born-and-bred, traveling across the US on freakin’ bicycles, men!) (*cough* Excuse the language) came and stayed overnight.
I adore the Irish. I have been to Belfast twice in my life, and each time – it is more incredible than my hometown. I truly, truly felt at home there. I went there because I was (am!) a fan of the group Westlife. I traveled alone but stayed with three friends and met the most incredible people ever. Irish citizens, other fans from around the UK, the bands’ crew, and we stayed in the best. hotel. ever.
I mean it. These are the most friendly, professional people. I highly recommend a stay at the Belfast Blu.
For one, I love their elevator. I am a person who is scared of elevators. I got stuck in a fifty-some year old one (it felt like 100 years old!) at a hospital for a few hours one time when I was a teen, so I not only am a little claustrophobic when I get in them, I get scared that the thing will get stuck, or I have this crazy fear that someday I’ll be in one and it will crash into the basement or something (weird, I know). Their elevator is the best. It’s like what the Mall of America elevators used to be (we’ll get to the MOA in a second, as well), but the MOA elevators were all glass. This one has one wall that is glass, and it looks over the Gasworks complex, so as you go up, it’s like – watch the scenery and stay calm! It’s like a trick of the mind, it’s probably why I love window seats in planes, too).
For two, their property is clean. I mean, the cleanest I have ever seen in lobby, rooms, everything. (My friend and I on our first night, we had to take a picture of the tiny garbage cans, because we had never seen as a tiny garbage can as they have there in Europe.) Also, they gently move your items in the bathroom, and then place, like, your toothbrush and toothpaste, earrings, on an extra washcloth as to not get the things dirty on the sink, as well as helping you keep things together (rolling earrings happens to me all the time). I am from the ‘States’, where this doesn’t happen, so it was kind of strange at first, but then we were all “this is so cool!” (and I so feel like some sort of teenage valley girl writing this, but I’m from the midwest, farm country.)
Third, the first year my friends and I stayed there (for a few of them it was their third or fourth time, actually) the Westlife crew and members of the band stayed there (which I did not believe). When we returned to the hotel after all day of sightseeing and the first concert, the Blu had doormen with suits and clipboards, checking peoples IDs and keycards. They were the utmost professionals. (at this point, I was all “Ok. So, this is true. This is where everyone is staying.” No big deal for me – for me, actors, writers, musicians – they all just have cooler jobs than me, it’s not a ‘big’ deal like it is to some fans who go nutz because the celeb is/are __(insert word here)___”) I was truly impressed that we were treated with respect going through the process, and our own sense of privacy once we stepped in the hotel, it was, for lack of a better word, a special feeling for me knowing that we were all being taken care of equally – it wasn’t just “we have celebs staying here so we’re going to treat you like a crazed fan trying to get in”, it was more like “so, we have numerous guests here from all walks of life.” I loved that. I still can’t get over that feeling.
Fourth, and most importantly, the people who work there are the most professional, kind, friendly and outgoing people – ever. I mean it. That I have ever met in all my travels and trust me, I’ve stayed at a lot of places (and a lot of different priced places, but, I am cheap, so nothing over $200 a night, practically!).
For example, during the 2010 Icelandic volcano, I was there when it erupted the first week in May. It happened while we were at the concert, and we heard it “blew” twice. Anyway, three of my friends were from Canada and lucky them – two got flights to London the next day (they were headed that way anyway for a few days), and the other a train to Dublin (and then got stuck overnight), but little me was stuck for another overnight stay by myself in Belfast.
Now, for a person who is overseas by herself for the first time and her friends and all she knows has abandoned her (it felt like it), I was really nervous. Here I was – not sure how to even call the airport or the airline, since it was my first time having this happen – and also, I had never called someone in the UK, so I felt so dumb not knowing even how to dial. The Belfast Radisson Blu it felt like saved my sanity! I don’t know who it was, but one woman I spoke with at the front desk took it upon herself to call the airport for me in the morning to see about my flight details. She helped me call my airline so that I could speak with someone about how I would be getting home (I ended up taking four flights to get back home – crazy!), and generally made me feel calm. She answered questions about what do to and see in Belfast (I was in town for a Thurs-Mon weekend it was supposed to be all about friends, Westlife concerts, trying good food – not really going to museums and such and staying two extra days – so I took in the historical museums and took myself on a walking tour of some parts of the city).
In 2012, my friends and I again traveled overseas, this time to Glasgow and then to Belfast (for again, Westlife! Ah, retirement for the lads. I think it made us all take a step back and feel older than we were. Like, where had the time gone?). We even went to Titanic Belfast. We joked that we were there when they were breaking ground, and we were back to see the finished product.
Arriving at the Blu, check-in was a breeze; and soon we were walking down the path toward the river and standing there, breathing in the air deeply and sighing it out, we felt truly back at home.
I adore this property! (“Property” is industry speak for a hotel, motel, etc). I hope to go back to Belfast someday.
When I found out a few years ago the rumor that a Blu was going to be built near the Mall of America, I was excited. I was more than excited. I was like, will it feel the same? Will it be a oasis like the Belfast Blu? I mean, how “homie” can it feel, being attached to the football/mountain-sized MOA? In early December, when I got around to checking that the website was up and running and it was actually opening (spring 2013!) I thought about posting it on Twitter. I keep forgetting I have a Twitter, first of all, and secondly, who responds to their zillions of Tweets that companies and celebrities must receive? Well, I didn’t think anyone would. But, they did!
I can’t wait to stay at the MOA Blu and see how it feels. Granted, I wish it was under $100 a night. And that I could shake hands and chat for free with Andrew Zimmern, and meet the Blu manager. I have crazy dreams, I know.
(On the AZ note – how fantastic is it that he is a part of the MOA Blu? How fantastic would it be to have him regale you with tales of his travels and food? I never had cable growing up, but in college when I did, I watched every Travel Channel ep I could, and always was amazed that he was from my home state of Minnesota!)
Someday, I will stay at the MOA Blu. And I will (probably) write about it. Because I LOVE the Belfast Blu. I would stay in every Blu around the world if I could. Maybe someday when I’m old and gray, that will be a goal. For now, I just might have to plan a weekend trip this spring to visit the MOA Blu!
Ok, on to the negative about working at a hotel, because some people might be curious. I worked for about two years before getting a new job, so this is only a two year hotel worker experience for me, but this is very true and a good thing to bring up.
(property means place in industry terms – hotel, motel, bed and breakfast, etc)
If you ever purchase a room on Expedia, Hotwire, Orbitz, Hotels.com, or other sites – don’t try to use those coupons and % off things at the property. Please, it doesn’t work. You know how many old ladies I had with 20% off Hotwire or other coupons going “of course I can use it here! This is where I booked!” and me standing there going “Um…” in my head and trying o explain in terms the person would understand that the coupons couldn’t be used at the property, they could only be used through the online agent.
Or, there are the 3 people who booked one room with two beds, but the system – the system they booked with, not the hotels – only booked them one room with one bed. Or the people that want non-smoking that get a smoking room. Not only is it embarrassing for you, the customer, and makes you feel angry, but please, please don’t take it out on the front desk clerk. It’s not our fault. It’s not our property’s fault, supervisor’s fault, or anyone elses but the online company you booked it with. We can’t change it, because it is an internet rate and an internet stay to the property, it’s locked in and not able to be edited. If the property or the brand (ie: leader of the ‘chain’ of properties) booked it (you went to the property’s website, for example, or by phone to the property), then properties have more of a chance to change parts of your reservation.
I can’t count how many times I had to apologize and explain to people that they booked with a third-party company, not the brand/property’s website, and have that person not understand and still be angry….which, they had a right to be angry – but not at the property, with where they booked! These internet dirt-cheap-room companies don’t see all that the property’s computer sees. It just picks out a portion of the rooms available and goes from there. I don’t know how to explain this in terms “normal” people understand without getting them upset, but I myself would rather play it safe – especially if the stay was about “certain” things (if you are a solo person, it doesn’t really matter, too much).
If you want a certain room, and want to make sure you have the right amount of beds, or you do get your non-smoking room (I am allergic to smoking. I feel your pain!) please, please call the place you are going to stay, and book with them. You never know – you could ask if they have any deals! I’m sure most properties would love to have your business even if it was sometimes at a cheaper rate, especially during the off-season or something. They might say no, and you’ll just have to be ok with that – and the fact that it will be the reservation you want.
Have you worked at a property?
Have you had great or tough experiences staying at a property?
Feel free to post comments!