Eyes Wide Shut? Not Quite…

We’ve all heard of beauty that takes one’s breath away; it is the stuff of legend. And Hallmark made-for-TV movies.

But this one is in a class all by itself, friends…

A young lady, a visitor to my hometown, the thriving mini-metropolis of Niagara Falls, recently found herself so enraptured by the frozen magnificence of Mother Nature’s transformative effects on the cataracts themselves that she simply couldn’t bring herself to move from her up-close and personal vantage point at Table Rock. So there she stood, her eyes drinking in the frigid beauty of Niagara from an elevated point-of-view… until she realized her eyes couldn’t drink in anymore of it’s awesomeness.

In fact, they couldn’t drink in anything anymore.

As unbelievable as it at seem, she found herself on the receiving end of nature’s cruel sense of humor. Her eyelids, coated in Niagara’s frosty mist, ceased to function.

Yes, she was blinded by the light, I mean, the mist.

I can only imagine how terrified she must have been in those first few moments, her vision robbed by a force she couldn’t possibly comprehend. Niagara’s cataracts provide power to millions, and millions more stand in awe of that power every year, but be warned, that same power takes as much as it gives. This girl lost her sight, others have lost their lives after being convinced there was a relief to their pain to be found in the cataract’s watery depths.

 

A word to the wise: Goggles may look goofy, but they could save you life, I mean, vision, people…

 

As for the young lady in question, paramedics arrived swiftly and determined that a uniquely-Canadian solution to her dilemma was called for.

And so they brought her into the Table Rock complex and sat her down next to the Tim Hortons fryers until her eyes thawed out. You have to love this country.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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How Cold Is It In Canada, Really?

It’s so cold in Canada…

ONE)  “I just saw a beaver hire a construction crew to build his… well, I’m not allowed to say the word… but you get it right?  It was too cold for Mr. Beaver to be in the water, that’s how cold it was!” – Seven-year-old Timmy (I swear that’s the name his lazy progenitors came up with!) from Boston, a particularly-happy guest who tipped me out of his own Spider-Man wallet. Timmy rocked.

 

Beautiful or not, this is too much for some folks.

 

TWO)  A Mexican family cut their stay to Canada short by two weeks and headed back home rather than deal with, “This crazy Canadian weather!  We’d rather take a job building Mr. Trump’s wall than spend another second in this frozen country!”

 

THREE)  All tea is currently considered iced tea.

Yeah, that one sucked, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

 

FOUR)  I took a deep breath during my morning walk to work and It’s so cold I chipped my tooth on the frigid air.

 

 

FIVE)  His political opponents are burning Justin Trudeau in effigy just to stay warm.

“Screw this weather!  I’m flying to Florida.. later, you frozen bitches!”

 

SIX)  My dog went outside to empty her bladder and came back in dragging a lemon popsicle behind her…

 

SEVEN)  The doormen and valet drivers are looking for empty oil drums to turn into outdoor heaters, hobo style.  (I guess I shouldn’t have suggested the idea in the first place.)

 

EIGHT)  The squirrels in my neighborhood are actually surrendering themselves to the Humane Society just to have a warm place to hang out.  (Seriously, a group of squirrels actually tried to walk into the front door of our local HS.)

 

NINE)  It’s so cold Tim Hortons franchise owners like Ron Joyce Jr., heir to one of the founders, took off to Florida after taking away his employees’ paid break, paid benefits and other perks.

Oh wait, he did that because he’s a greedy douche. Never mind.

 

TEN)  It’s so cold in Canada that…

You know what? you can finish this one in the comments, right? Have fun with it.

 

See you in the frozen lobby friends…

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The Hook’s Guide To Surviving A Canadian Winter In Niagara: Traveler Edition.

Travel expands our horizons (while simultaneously emptying our bank accounts) and helps us accept that each of us is but a small cog in the grand universal machine that is the planet Earth.

But where you temporarily hang your hat is as important as what you do while it’s hanging. Canada is a beautiful country and Niagara Falls is one of it’s most amazing cities/landmarks. That said…

It’s cold here right now. Damn cold. In fact, it’s too cold for the preceding periods to grow into exclamation marks, that’s how cold it is, kids.

Nevertheless, as a traveler you may still be tempted to make your way North, to the great nation that is Canuck Land. If so, you’ll need my assistance to keep your journey into paradise from descending into a trip to a frozen hell.

 

ONE)  Put away your perceptions of my home and native land.  Yes, at the moment Niagara Falls and most of the country are enjoying (no, that’s not right, is it?)… experiencing a helluva cold snap (that’s better!) but no, that’s not reason enough to stay away. However…

It isn’t always like this.

Most travelers (especially Americans) are convinced Canada is a frozen wasteland all year round. That just isn’t true. There is a long period where we enjoy (now it’s appropriate) temps so tropical they make swamp ass a daily challenge. (Don’t you just love my imagery? I paint a sticky picture with words.) Of course, that period only lasts from 5:18 on the first Friday in June to 5:25 the same day… but we make the most of it.

So Canada isn’t frigid all the time. Not all Canadians use a dogsled to get to work. But regardless of the temperature, there is always something to do when the mercury dips.

Like what? I’m so glad you asked…

 

TWO)  Do your homework, Poindexter!  I’ll never stop saying this so get used to it; it pays to use your electronic device for more than just watching cat videos and Mercedes Carerra films (which I guess can still be considered cat videos). Search out the deets on your chosen destination. Figure out if you’re going to be vacationing in a place where they embrace the snow and ice for time-honored Canadian activities such as skiing, sledding, frozen cow tipping, naked snowball fights (as one would imagine, these battles don’t last long) and the classic, “drink your beer outside… until it becomes a bottled popsicle”.

Some destinations like Niagara have plenty of icy precipitation to spare but not much in the way of glacialcentric past times. People show up to see the winter Festival of Lights and the Falls in all their winter glory but it’s not like they can scale the cataracts or ski down them. Well, to be honest, I suppose you could ski down them.

Once.

 

THREE)  In spite of what the media would have you believe… THE FALLS DO NOT FREEZE OVER!  Don’t get me wrong, there is an insane amount of frozen glaze all over Niagara Falls but fortunately there isn’t enough to hold back all that rushing water. If there was, I’d be writing this post from Florida.

So if you’re disappointed that Niagara Falls doesn’t actually resemble Arendelle, you have no one to blame but yourself. You’ve been warned.

Before you start with me… technically, the water is still flowing, so the Falls aren’t actually frozen over.

 

FOUR) Don’t forget to pack clean underwear!  To be specific, clean thermal underwear. I realize it’s not sexy: there’s nothing worse than being with a lover and having their hands stop their bodily exploration when they reach that thick layer of cotton… but you can always take your thermal gotchies off before getting frisky.

As for the rest of the time, trust me when I tell you a high-quality thermal layer will actually protect your genitals from freezing, so that you can enjoy coitus as much as humanly possible. As long as you know what you’re doing, of course. If you don’t, well, this isn’t that kind of blog…

 

FIVE)  Turn what some perceive as Niagara’s weakness into your advantage.  So what if it’s freezing outside and there isn’t much to do? The rates are cheap and the weather is a perfect excuse to book a sexcation.

 

“The room’s a little cold and he decided to raise the temperature by adjusting the thermostat?  I actually shaved for this?”

 

In other words, dump the kids at grandma’s (or leave them a dish of food and water), book some time off work, stop by the pharmacy or love boutique for the essentials, get to Niagara, and start boinking!

I’m sorry that was slightly classless, wasn’t it? I suppose “porking” is slightly more upscale, isn’t it? The point is, you can use the frozen temps to justify getting sticky in the room while remembering why you’re with your loved one in the first place. (Deep emotional bonds are great, of course, but being sexually compatible helps bucket loads .)

I’m a sexual genius.

 

And on that coital note, see you in the lobby, friends…

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The Dead Cannot Speak… That’s Where We Come In.

It’s a frigid morning in Niagara Falls and as always, I was listening to music on my phone during the ten minute walk to work; the tunes of choice were from the Broadway show that, in my daughter’s mind ranks above all others, Hamilton.

Among the songs that both entertain and enlighten me is one that never fails to pierce my heart, “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story”. This morning was different though. Don’t get me wrong, I was as moved as ever, but all my thoughts, my inspiration, my admiration for Lin-Manuel Miranda, coalesced into a key that unlocked the door I’ve tried to place over the seemingly-bottomless well of grief centered on my fallen brother-in-arms, Rockin’ Ronnie.

I thought of my pain, yes, but today I’ve also decided to take Lin-Manuel’s lyrics to heart. This is how the song starts…

Let me tell you what I wish I’d known
When I was young and dreamed of glory
You have no control:

Who lives
Who dies
Who tells your story?

And here’s the part that truly set me on the road  I’m on today,

But when you’re gone, who remembers your name?
Who keeps your flame?

Who indeed?

My friend is dead. I can’t do anything about that. It was his decision, where it stemmed from I’ll never know, but I couldn’t save him; he didn’t want that. But what do I do now? What does anyone who has ever lost someone do?

We carry on. And more than that…

We tell their story.

 

Every damn day, Rockin’…

 

And so this is my suggestion to all of us dealing with waves of holiday-induced grief: don’t let the dead fade from this world, don’t let them be fated to exist only in our isolated memories.

Talk about them. To friends, family, strangers, anyone who will listen. (Though I would advise against sharing with guys in dirty trench coats who spend most of their time leaning against walls while speaking to invisible agents of shadowy government agencies.)

Write about them. On blogs like this (not that there are any blogs quite like this), “the Facebook”, even cave walls will do.

Share pictures of your time together. Come on, people, this is the age of Instagram and their ilk. One less photo of your cat as a Jedi won’t break the internet.

For the Fallen, we are the keepers of the flame, and as such, it is our duty to stoke the fires of memory occasionally. Ronnie may have died on a summer’s day that suddenly became very cold, but those of us who knew him best speak of him often, and as long as we do, Rockin’ will always be a part of the world his physical form left behind. Do the same for those you love.

I know grief isn’t so easily shelved (I still gets tears in my eyes when an especially-poignant memory of my friend rises up) but it can be channeled if you’re willing to push through.

And that’s all I have to offer, take it for what it’s worth.

See you in the lobby, kids…

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Don’t Go To Hotel Hell! (Always Ask A Bellman.)

Well, hello there!

I’m afraid I didn’t see you there. (The Canadian government still hasn’t approved my patent for reverse cameras on computers which would allow me to forge a stronger, more intimate connection with my readers. Justin Trudeau is too busy legalizing weed, I guess.) At any rate, here we are. Let’s get started, shall we?

What’s that? Started with what, you say? I’m so glad you asked instead of clicking away to a Tube site to watch some mouth-breather attempt to achieve immortality by strapping a squirrel to a bottle of Diet Coke filled with Mentos. (Though for the record, I maintain the whole thing would’ve worked if those damn Humane Society fools hadn’t meddled with my unique genius.)

Where the hell were we?

Oh yeah, the reason we’re all here. Not on the planet, I mean. I’m not interested in getting philosophical. Don’t get me wrong, that approach works great with hipster college chicks but I’m married, what do I care about getting laid? But once again, I digress.

The point of all this rambling is this: After twenty years in the Niagara Falls, Canada, hospitality industry I’ve realized two things…

  1.  You should never trust a hooker who demands the money upfront, and then leaves to go get her sister, Chastity, “Who is even more of a nymphomaniac than I am!”.  Spoiler alert: Her sister may not even be real. Either way, neither of them has a very admirable work ethic.
  2.  Left to their own devices, coupling humans will set their hotel room on fire while experimenting with a half-dozen waffle irons, a car battery, a case of lube, and six Krispy Kreme donuts.  In other words, people, need guidance, especially while traveling.

And that’s where I come in. And no, that’s not quite what she said, but I like the way your mind works.

 

My life is a disaster movie-in-progress.  Please, take a seat and enjoy the show.

 

You see, friends, your old buddy, The Hook, is in a unique position (and not just in the bedroom!) in the hotel biz. A bellman is stationed at the front entrance of a property, where he can study the actions of virtually every guest who meanders, stumbles, races, and even on rare occasion, walks, through the revolving doors. A bellman is also invisible to most of the guests he serves, thus allowing him to observe these fascinating creatures up close. A bellman’s duties (stop giggling, it’s beneath you) require him to traverse every inch of a hotel and so he forms connections with staff members of every department from Valet to Maintenance to Food Stores to the guys we call when someone goes all John Wick in a high-roller suite.

I think their names are Morty, Sal and Herb. But since they don’t really exist (even though they totally do) don’t quote me.

So trust me when I tell you a bellman is a good guy to have on your side and at your disposal when traveling, friends. We know everybody and everybody knows us. As a result, we can get you anything you might need or desire, at any hour you might require or crave it. As long as its legal, of course.

You understand I have to state that last part at least once, right? The truth is, everything is negotiable. Don’t believe me? I once sang “My Heart Will Go On” for a whale’s (that’s hotelese for a rich guest) Mexican tátara abuela while wearing assless chaps. Truth be told, it was the easiest hundred bucks I ever made.

So now that we understand each other we can move forward. A new year is fast approaching and it brings with it multiple opportunities for me to entertain and enlighten you. Stay tuned to this space for such thrilling travel  posts as, “Don’t Eat That, It’s Still Moving! A Look At What Really Goes On – And What Attempts To Crawl Away From – Hotel Kitchens”, “Spitting: The Vastly Underrated Foreplay Component” and “How To Get Away With Never Paying For An Upgrade Again.” (Hint: You’ll need to bring your own decapitated hooker for that one.)

Yes, 2018 looks to be quite promising, my friends. Let’s face it, it can’t possibly be any worse that 2017. (And yes, I really went there.) And as many of you suspected and urged… I’m back. Thanks for believing in me. I truly wish I could give up but it’s just not in my DNA.

Looks like I will be seeing you in the lobby after all, kids…

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People Suck. I Hate Myself Today.

Regular readers of this space (all ten of you) know that I’ve had a rough time of it this year, to say the least.

Without going into detail (that’d just be too painful today) it’s safe to say 2017 has been one of the worst years of my life. Seriously, I was assaulted as a kid and even that year was more fun than this one. I literally cannot bring myself to talk about it, but today has been an excruciating day that has reinforced a truth I’ve been reluctant to accept for months now: I will never make it as a writer.

My book was a complete disaster.

I’ve spent the year waiting for 5×5 answers from dozens of subjects, from Murdoch Mysteries alums to adult film stars to news personalities, all of whom seem like otherwise decent, genuinely-nice people. Who apparently only consented to be interviewed by me in a moment of weakness.

Rockin’ Ronnie is dead. And I couldn’t save him.

People that have claimed to be my friends have made unsolicited promises to me that have never materialized. One such promise has broken me in two today. If I was a weaker man, without a family, I’d… well, it’s not important. What is important is that I’ve learned that dreams are as painful as they are hopeful.

But to the point of this post: I’m about to share a series of pitches I sent out this week to various parties. I am doing this so there is verifiable proof that these pitches came from my fractured, useless mind and nowhere else.

Enjoy.

 

The Bellman Chronicles is centered on the world’s most outspoken bellman and all the daily chaos in his orbit.

I’d like the title of the pilot to be: “Episode One, The Final Chapter.”, just to keep the audience on their toes.

It feels like there’s a million television networks and platforms these days so how does a show stand out and grab an audience’s attention?  Ideally, I’d like to see the pilot episode be a clip show.  We’d cut to events that the characters have already experienced, even though they’re actually playing out for the first time for the viewers. 

As far as actual episodes go, I’d like to see them range from outrageously funny to serious and thought-provoking.  I want to take people where they’ve never been before , behind those doors marked, “STAFF ONLY”.  Everyone says the same thing when they hear I’m a bellman, “Wow, I bet you have a million stories!”  To that point…

ONE)  An entire “Waiting for an elevator” episode.  Hospitality workers spend hours of their day standing around service areas breathlessly watching a tiny screen to see when their ride is going to arrive.  Time is literally money when you’re a bellman or room service staff, so you need to get to that room yesterday… but that rarely happens because you’re stuck in a little room that’s filled with everything from garbage bags to housekeeping supplies to odds and ends from guest rooms like prosthetic arms and soiled French maid costumes.

But it’s never boring or lonely; you have plenty of staff members, most of whom are as off-kilter as the guests, to keep you company.  Each one of these partners in hotel crime has a unique story about their day and every one of them becomes more frustrated the longer they wait.  An elevator will eventually show up, only for the staff to discover it’s already occupied.  By guests. In various states of undress.

And when the elevator finally arrives and is totally empty, everyone piles in… only to have it become overloaded and shut down after the doors close.

 

 

TWO)  They’ll be an episode where The Hook convinces his fellow staff members to help him produce a short filmed version of a series based on his blog. Of course everything goes wrong: the scripts aren’t delivered on time, the camera switches to “Lynchian Mode” and characters who look like they wandered out of Twin Peaks appear as a moody, distorted score plays in the background.

 

 

THREE)  I’d like to have a character based on a former colleague of mine named Rockin’ Ronnie.  This guy was a bass playing bellman who was fiercely  loyal, he came in first thing in the morning and began to take lunch orders, and he made Kramer look downright boring.  I want to have various characters have one-on-one scenes with Rockin’ throughout the series but eventually the audience will earn the truth: Ronnie’s health, both mental and physical, went downhill until he finally took his own life.

We’ll pepper clues throughout Ron’s scenes before we reveal his ultimate fate.  People won’t know if he was a figment of each character’s imagination or a ghost only they can see.  This reveal can also serve to highlight what I consider to be an important and fascinating truth.  Before we discovered my friend had taken his own life he was missing for a full week; the authorities in Niagara Falls always assume missing people have jumped into the Falls.  There’s a good reason for this: the week Ronnie went missing four bodies turned up in the water.  Someone jumps at the average of one a week but it’s kept quiet.  Suicide is bad for tourism.

But this is where we can balance the raw, improvised humor of Mrs. Brown’s Boys with the dark humor and realism of Shameless.

 

 

FOUR)  As a blogging bellman social media is a big part of my life and we can incorporate that into the series.  Narration for each episode will actually be The Hook blogging about his day.  We can feature tweets and Instagram pictures that are directly related to the events of each installment.  And we can even have people The Hook meets online track him down and show up at the hotel to meet him.  This will of course drive Management up the wall but that friction will just add to the show’s appeal.

 

FIVE)  We can follow misplaced luggage throughout the hotel as it darts in and out of guest rooms and service areas.  Along the way, we’ll get a glimpse of the anything-but-boring lives of guests and staff.  Anyone who’s ever had a bag go missing while traveling will be able to relate to this journey.

 

 

OTHER IDEAS FROM MY CONSCIOUSNESS:

ONE)  The world’s most powerful super villains are presented with an offer they can’t refuse by a mysterious woman who knows their every secret: They’ll be rewarded with the darkest desires their black hearts can produce, the goals they’ve tried to achieve their entire careers will be laid at their feet.

And all they have to do is save the world.

The Bad Guys with have to achieve what all the Good Guys in the world have never been able to.  The planet’s greatest heroes have been possessed by formless spirits from another world hellbent on bending mankind to their will through hero worship.  Now the villains have to do what has been impossible for them so far; defeat their greatest adversaries.

Along the way we’ll re-examine our perceptions of just what a villain really is. We’ll see why a person heads down a path they know will result in the world labeling them a villain.  And we’ll see if the only way to redeem one’s soul is to race right into the darkness and claw your way through to the light on the other side.

 

TWO)  In the 1950s an entire nation was captivated every week by the wacky misadventures of a plucky housewife, her movie star husband, their adorable little boy and their best friends, the couple next door.  “Oh, That Sunny!” is a monster hit and it’s stars are worshiped all over the world.

But when the cameras stop rolling, the real drama begins.  The star, Sunny Day, America’s favorite comedic actress, is so neurotic and controlling that she demands her female co-star’s contract includes clauses that she stay less attractive and heavier than the star.  Sunny’s husband, Rex Day, is a womanizing alcoholic who longs to get out from under his wife’s shadow and make movies.

The actors who play their irrepressible neighbors can’t stand each other and each of them has their own skeletons they fight to keep hidden from the world.  The entire set is a ticking time bomb that we get to see from the eyes of Sunny and Rex’s on-camera son.

 

And here is a possible opening for a television version of The Bellman Chronicles.

We open to a close-up of a bellman. He is standing and telling a story of the first time he danced close, extremely close with a girl at a school dance.  His boyhood self becomes extremely excited and despite his feeble attempts to stop it, eventfully “finishes” before his gorgeous female partner – and I don’t mean the song.

The sticky story ends, the camera pans back and we see for the first time that he has been telling the story to an elevator full of  gobsmacked hotel guests.

Roll opening credits and theme…

“This is The Hook’s show, he made it, won’t you stay?

It’s really good, it’ll make your day!

This show’s so good, it’ll make your dog’s tail wag

The Hook’s a bellman… if you don’t tip him, he’ll call you a douchebag

If you’re watching this, you’ve been hooked…

You’ve been hooked…

You’ve been hooked, mutha fucka…”

 

And that’s all I have for you today, friends. I honestly cannot say whether or not I’ll be posting again. I feel utterly and completely broken.

Have a great and safe Christmas and holiday season, my dear friends…

Posted in Hotel Life | 45 Comments

You Know You’ve Failed A Hotel Inspection When…

All licensed hotels, whether they’re a luxurious high-rise property or a scuzzy dive, have certain standards they must maintain in order to continue reaping the benefits of being a part of something larger than themselves.

In other words, if a hotel wants to keep that Marriott, Hilton etc., banner on the keys they have to run the gauntlet of regular inspections. And trust me, as someone who’s seen eighteen-plus years of inspections occur before his jaded eyes, I can honestly say it’s a helluva gauntlet. Don’t get me wrong, as an observer of human behavior I love to see managers run around like the proverbial decapitated fowl, but to be honest, inspections are sort of a joke.

The hotel knows exactly when the inspector is arriving so they have plenty of time to get things cleaned up and ready. His or her room is spotless and fully stocked. Carpets are shampooed. (Bye bye, blood or wine stains!) Elevators, guest and service, are cleaned and tuned up. Lobby walls are repainted and tidied. (So long plant that sorority girl threw up in on Sunday morning.) A hotel becomes the sort of property it should be every day whenever an inspector shows up.

 

Now if an inspector showed up out of the blue? Well, perhaps they’d find a detail or two that would result in a failing grade. Such as…

ONE)  Conversations like this: 

UNIDENTIFIED INSPECTOR:  Are you the Bell Desk?

ME:  No, I’m a bell man, sir. (Tapping the actual desk.)  This is the Bell Desk. I don’t always have the most animated personality… but there is a distinction between the two of us.

And in case you’re wondering, the Inspector actually liked my humor. Though when he noted during a meeting with Management that he received horrible service from a staff member, my name was the first one raised. I wonder why that was?

 

TWO)  More than one dead hooker hidden under a guest room bed.  One dead hooker under a bed is acceptable by today’s standards. (Four Rooms was more of a documentary than anything else.) But two or more? Now that’s just lazy.

 

THREE)  Honest answers to guest queries.  Whoever decided that honesty is the best policy never ran a hotel.

TEENAGE FEMALE GUEST:  Why are all the adult movies in this hotel soft core? How is my man supposed to get hard for me if the porn is soft?

ME:  Is that your gentleman over there, miss? (I pointed at a man old enough to be this chick’s grandfather.)

TFG:  Yep! He needs a little something extra to get him going and your porn here sucks!

ME:  Pun intended?

TFG: What pun?

ME:  (Sighing.) Never mind. As far as your flaccid friend is concerned, miss, (I figured we were down the rabbit hole anyway) have you considered pills or maybe just talking? Conversation can be very stimulating. Your man can tell you what Jesus was like.

TFG:  If he wants someone to talk to he can get a dog! He’s paying me to make him feel like a teenager again!

ME:  So let him feel you up and send him on his way before he gets any further. That’s how all my teenage encounters went.

TFG:  Are you serious?

ME:  Depends on whether or not my meds have kicked in, miss.

TFG:  I heard that!

 

Remember, bellman are highly-trained professionals.

 

Would you like another?

BOSTONIAN GUEST:  Your parking sucks! The spots are too damn small! I can’t figure out where to park my fucking truck!

ME:  Have you considered using criteria other than compensating for shortcomings when purchasing a vehicle, sir?

(Oh, that Hook!)

 

FOUR)  Television sets with only two channels – that are as blurry as Sarah Huckabee’s answers to direct questions.  To be fair, there is a sign in front of the TV that reads, “To Our Valued Guests; We apologize, but there’s nothing good on television anymore anyway.”

 

FIVE)  Valets that get into your car while wearing a crash helmet.  Safety first, kids.

 

And that’s all I have for you today.  To be honest, this has taken all the brain power I can muster; I’m knackered!

See you in the lobby, friends…

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