Sunday, May 01, 2005

Carlton's Log: Day One, the drive!

We had wanted an early start. Thor got a call and needed to go into work to settle some things before we hit the road. He gets home about 1:00, then some more "at home work" and we finally get on the freeway at 2:30.

The weather where we live was windy, bright and sunny. Off into the distance I can see dark storm clouds and the hot beachy plans begin to fade. But not to fear, I will be perfectly content no matter the weather... I will be at the beach!

Along our drive we encounter wind, rain, sprinkles, bright sun and back to sprinkles and rain by the time we drove through Thousand Oaks. I was worried for a bit, but the skies above Santa Barbara were filled with spring and the outlook of a sunny weekend was on the horizon!

Our drive was the kind that inspires folks to "load up the truck and move to Beverly! Hills that is. Sunshine. Movie Stars!" The skies above L.A. were clear as can be. The wind had swept the air clean and you could see across the valley for miles. The hills were very green and amazingly enough - the freeways were moving fast and with all 6 lanes loaded!

As we drove I kept thinking of my Gramma, who lived in Michigan in the 50's, decided to visit the friends out west in "Los Angeleeze" in December. She saw what winter was like here and that was that; they never went back home.

We drove through all kinds of pretty scenery, but when I caught my first glimpse of that blue ocean my heart skipped a beat! Have I ever told you how much I love that ol' Big Blue? Our Hotel sits right on the beach and is quite lovely. We were staying at the Fess Parker Resort. This 4 diamond resort meanders along the beach front for an entire block. The south corner has a gorgeous open air pavilion and the hotel lobby, offices, conference rooms and restaurants. The one, two, and three story buildings (all named after flowers) that house the guest rooms are placed in two rows facing the beach and are followed on the north corner with tennis courts. We found the entrance and drove around. We were greeted warmly by valet, porters, and bellmen who welcomed us and removed the baggage from the car. They directed us through beautiful etched glass arched doors, flanked with beautifully carved wood. The large window in the lobby was also etched and gorgeous. The desk clerked got Thor registered in about 2 minutes flat. This is probably the quickest registration (save Hawaii) that we have experienced. They offered us hot coffee (no thanks) and plunked two huge warm chocolate chip and walnut stuffed oatmeal cookies (thank you very much!) into Thor's waiting hands. Although we didn't eat them right away, they were the perfect combination of moist cookie with a crispy edge. Yum! The gal at the desk directed us back out to the valet, who in turn directed us to drive our car around to our building - Camellia; "It's quite a walk. Driving can get you almost to the front door. Inside you'll find an elevator to the right and you're there." O.k. then. We get in the car and he was correct. This is an all time first. A valet who wants to save you money and walking! Our luggage arrived about 3 minutes after we did and the bellman was terrific.

The view from our 3rd story room is of the back side of the building in front of us. But if we look to the north a tad we can see the ocean, and even the Channel Islands. It's a spectacular afternoon and the weather is cooperating well. To the left is a botanical garden, swimming pool, spa and 18 hole putting green. To the right shuffle boards and tennis courts. Our room is nice, with a king bed facing the sliding glass doors that lead to a tiny, but effective enough porch. At the foot of the bed is a cushion covered dressing bench. Nice touch! There are a love seat, an over stuffed over sized wicker chair, a desk with two chairs and a dressing area. The bathroom is o.k. When I say that, I am comparing it with other hotels we have stayed in of the same rating. Trust me, it was better than home, just not the best I have ever seen in a hotel. The floor tiles we typical ceramic tiles, about 3 inch squares and the tub had the same tiles in a 5 inch version around the walls. The water was HOT, which may have given the 4 star rating a boost!

Thor was given his itinerary for the conference and within that a personal letter from the host suggesting certain places for this and that. Where he would go for dinner, etc. We drove around and got our bearings of Santa Barbara and ran into, quite by accident, Arnoldi's; one of the suggested eateries. More on our experiences there next post.

So here we go. My impression of Samantha Brown and her Great Hotels segments. I may never get my passport to Europe but I'll let you in on whatever places Thor and I are blessed to go to. I am quite spoiled and very lucky. Sit back. Read a while and let's see what else Santa Barbara had in store for us!

add to sk*rt