As you can tell from Howie’s posts, the norm around our house is that he’s away during the week and I’m at home. Recently, I spent a full week away for work while he held down the fort at home. He asked if I would contribute a post on my trip because I was staying in some neat hotels and my company handles travel a little differently.
First, my route: SAV-ATL-ABQ-PHX-LAX-ATL-SAV – Flights were a combo of Delta, where I’m Gold thanks to Howie’s Diamond status, and US Airways where I have no status … and boarded one flight in zone 5.
Booking the trip was complicated because the purpose was to visit two clients. The Albuquerque stop, Monday & Tuesday, of the trip had to be booked through the corporate system of that client … meaning no extra points for us on the booking with our SPG Amex. The trip from ABQ to LA was booked separately, without a corporate system, since I would be visiting a different client.
The purpose of the trip to Albuquerque was to meet with a client in Santa Fe, which is about 45 minutes away. I was traveling with two co-workers, we all flew in on the same flight, shared one car, and would be staying at the same hotel; the Hotel Parq Central at the intersection of Rt. 66 & I-25. All if this was booked through a corporate travel system so we get the best rates as negotiated by the client’s company. We do have some flexibility when using the system and are able to pick a certain carrier if we have status or if the flight times are better, as long as the price isn’t outrageously more. We are also able to keep the miles earned for the flights.
The last time I made this trip we stayed at the Hotel Andaluz in downtown. Unlike Howie, I’m willing to stay at a place because it is cool and give up a few nights of loyalty. For this trip my co-workers and I decided on the Hotel Parq Central because our client had told us that it was haunted…perfect! Built in 1926 it was originally the Santa Fe Hospital, giving treatment to workers and families of the nearby railroad. In the 80s it became a psychiatric hospital and was converted to a boutique hotel in 2010. The decorations in the hotel pay homage to the buildings past with influences from the railroad and medicine, both are incorporated beautifully into the design. The hallways are large and you can tell where the nurses’ stations were housed, it is easy to envision the layout as a hospital.
As for the haunted aspect, I’m a believer thanks to something unexplained that happened to me on my first night at the hotel. I had gone to bed early and around 12:30 AM I was woken suddenly by what felt like someone punching my mattress from the inside. I was so scared that I didn’t open my eyes for several minutes until I calmed down. I rolled over to turn the light on and that’s how I slept for the rest of the night. Thankfully, I normally sleep with an eye mask on; the darkness makes it easier to get rest when I’m in an unfamiliar place. I was so scared that I contemplated calling Howie, but a call at 2:30 in the morning (his time) would not have been ok unless there was a real emergency. Of course the next morning neither of my co-workers believed me that it had happened but they both declined to swap rooms with me for the next night. My argument was that if I were making the story up, it would have been much more interesting than having a punching ghost inside my mattress.
Tuesday night I slept with the lights and TV on; just to be safe. Wednesday morning I was up early for my flights on US Airways to LAX via PHX. Normally I would do my best to fly Delta since I enjoy Gold status on the airline. I don’t always get upgraded but I like being able to board first and have a spot for my roll-a-board. I decided to fly US Airways for a couple of reasons, first it was the cheapest, second I was able to coordinate leaving ABQ within half an hour of my co-workers headed back to SAV, and land at LAX within 15 minutes of different co-workers arriving there from SAV. Win, win, win! The flights were mostly uneventful, but did provide me with my first celebrity sighting of the LA portion of the trip; rapper Wiz Khalifa was sitting in coach on the leg from PHX to LAX.
Accommodations for the two nights in LA were at the Hollywood Roosevelt by Thompson Hotels. Most people traveling on business might shy away from this property because it is a Hollywood hot spot, situated across the street from Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and often home to parties at the pool. The hotel has a lot of history having hosted the very 1st Academy Awards in 1929. Marilyn Monroe called it home for 2 years and people even think she haunts one of the rooms! We like it because it offers lots of opportunity for celebrity spotting (we saw Colin Farrel working out by the pool on this trip), is only about 15 minutes away from our client’s office in Studio City, and their negotiated corporate rate that we take advantage of isn’t too bad. Opting for a cabana room that overlooks the pool our rate is $239 a night for a room that is regularly $429. The hotel is super cool and as the saying goes all work and no play …
After two great days in LA I was headed home, on Delta, Friday morning. When I checked in online I knew that my flight was going to be oversold. I’m not normally one to take a bump but since I was on the early flight I figured, why not? There were 3 other flight options out of LA in the few hours after my flight and I didn’t have a reason to rush home. When I got to the gate my flight was already boarding but I went right up to the counter. They were still taking volunteers so I put my hand up and was rebooked on a 1:00 PM flight instead of my 8:40 AM option. After a quick and painless process I had in hand two $6 vouchers for food and a $400 credit to use on Delta within the next year. I ended up on the 10:40 AM flight and ultimately arrived at home 3 hours after my original schedule. Not too shabby for a few hours in the airport where I was able to get work done in the SkyClub thanks to my Delta Reserve card. I’ll use the credit to head home to MA in April for the baby shower of one of my best friends. Also, I made Howie extremely proud because my normal motto about his travel hacking is that “I’m happy to reap the benefits as long as I don’t have to expend any effort”.
Next time in Albuquerque I’ll definitely stay somewhere else; no thank you ghosts. As far as LA goes, I’m looking forward to heading back to the Roosevelt again … so many people watching opportunities and chances to see celebrities. I hope this story gives you a little inspiration to try to add some fun to a work trip. Ask your clients for recommendations / ideas; ours were a big help.
Here are some pictures from the trip and some fun / tasty things to do: