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So far this month I’ve traveled from New York City to San Francisco to St. George, Utah.

In the Big Apple, I stayed at the Essex House on Central Park South (made famous by Saturday Night Live — all musical guests stayed there). I paid $450.00 a night. My room had a view of another building. The wallpaper in the bathroom was coming loose, there were no coffee pots in the rooms because they wanted you to order coffee from room service at $29.00 a pot. I had a $16.00 glass of wine in their lobby bar and when I asked for a glass of water (hydration is key) was offered sparkling or still (bottled). I said, “I’ll take my chances with tap water.” “We don’t SERVE tap water” the waitress replied. Oh, I thought, I hope there’s a warning label on the faucet in my bathroom because I may get all tired and careless from this glass of wine and accidentally use it.

In San Francisco I stayed at the Omni Hotel. The group rate (I was speaking for a client) was $250.00 a night. The “net savvy” rate is $299.00. The room was nice. A view of another building, but not bad. Very nice service.

Then I flew to St. George, Utah. I’m staying at the Courtyard by Marriott. At $109.00 a night I have to say it’s been the nicest experience so far. The moment of truth for any hotel stay for me is the first impression of the room.

Off the elevator, check the room number, down the hallway, 405, 404, 403, 402, there it is room 401. Key goes in. Key works. Turn the door knob, feel for the light switch, catch a whiff of the room (good – non-smoking) and there it was. The most unexpected but carefully thought out surprise. The only light that came on from the switch by the door was to illuminate this beautiful zen-like arrangement of pussy willows. I found myself pausing and just taking it in. How peaceful. Simple. Elegant. For $109.00 in southern Utah.

Who knew? Sometimes it’s the little things.

And the water is good too.

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February 2007