Friday, 16 September 2011

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(Le) Hyatt Regency Montreal

Let's be fair.  I was not in a good mood when I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Montreal.  I had just found out that I had lost my passport, and although I had managed to talk my way in to the country, I was resigned to the fact that my MegaDo was over.  I was in a bit of a funk, and it didn't really matter how pretty the Hyatt building looked, I wasn't going to be all that impressed.  The fact that we had to take an elevator up to the lobby before taking a different elevator up to our room didn't thrill me either.  This, however, concludes my list of things I didn't like about the Hyatt Montreal.  Everything else I loved.

Let me start by saying that this hotel was very prepared for the arrival of 161 diamond guests.  We got off our bus, walked in the door from the street and were handed an envelope that contained the keys to our room.  There was no line, no running of credit cards, and most importantly when it comes to keeping things moving, no chance for people to try and negotiate for an upgrade.  All 161 of us were checked in and on the way to our rooms within 15 minutes, or about the same amount of time it took the one person in front of me at Mandalay Bay last month.  As I went up to my room, I noticed a couple of our group had stopped at the front desk to try and change rooms.  Old habits die hard I guess.

I had a room on the top floor of the hotel, facing the rear of the hotel.  The view from my room was fine, but the prize here would be out the front of the hotel, facing towards the Place-des-Arts across the street.  The rooms were nice enough, comfy beds with an older tub/shower combo in the bathroom that had screaming water pressure for being on the top floor of a hotel.  The TV was fantastic, with a huge assortment of channels, but it was also the source of a brief moment of panic when it suddenly dawned on me that people in Montreal speak French.  The first 15 or 20 channels that I tried were all in French.  This was particularly disturbing as tonight was the opening night of the NFL season, and Le Football Game would not be the same without being able to listen to Al Michaels call the game (although if they could keep Chris Collingsworth's thoughts in French, that would be awesome).  Fortunately it turned out that the English channels were simply further down the list, and tragedy was averted (unless you count the final score).

View from the room.  Either these people work all night, or somebody forgot to hit the switch.
I hadn't actually given the language thing much thought before arriving in Montreal.  Hotel staff is wonderful, as they will always greet you with "Bonjour/Hello" and even a seconds hesitation on your part will tell them that they need to shift in to English.  On the other hand, no matter how long you stare at a sign with a blank look, it stays in French.  I had to run down to the business center at this hotel, and the lady at the front desk told me that it was just down the hall, beside the ladies washroom.  I went down and located the ladies washroom (thank goodness for the universal bathroom picture signs) but the only door in the area looked like it led to a storage room and it had a nameplate sized sign on it that said "Le Bureau".  I thought this through carefully, as I definitely didn't want to be the guy poking around in the storage room for the ladies washroom.  Thinking back to my high school French, I seemed to recall "Bureau" being the word for desk, which seemed like something they would have in a business center.  You've never seen anybody creak a door open so slowly, but it turned out I got it right (fluent in French is now going on my resume) and there were a couple of computers in there.  Of course all the instructions and log-in screens were in French, but that's a whole different frustrating story for another day.

For a while I thought that the local people must have some kind of secret way to tell if somebody is French speaking or not, as I was almost always addressed in English.  Eventually though, I realized that I just have that "fish out of water" look about me.  At one point a Scottish couple picked me, out of a crowd of about 30 people, as the most likely to speak English and came over to ask me for some directions.  I was briefly pained that it was so obvious I was a tourist, and I considered hauling out some of my French 11 vocabulary, but "Mon crayon est jaune!" didn't seem like it would fit the situation.  On the other hand, if it's that obvious I don't speak French, it should probably be obvious that I have no idea where anything is in this town either.

Place-des-Arts Montreal.  Home of the Just for Laughs festival and perceptive Scottish tourists.
Despite the whole language barrier thing, I absolutely loved the little bit of time I got to spend in Montreal.  The Hyatt Regency has a fantastic location, downtown in the middle of everything and right across the street from the subway station.  I'd love to come back and visit some more, and since one of those bucket list items of mine is to get to Montreal for the Just For Laughs festival, the Hyatt would be the perfect place to stay.  Especially since it's right across the road from the main theater and I wouldn't have to read any French signs to get there.




5 comments:

  1. I've lived in Montreal twice but I'm anglophone and I find they can usually tell just by how you are dressed. But it is customary to start in French so as not to offend a francophone.

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  2. I just recently discovered your blog. Dude - you are seriously one of the funniest travel bloggers on the net. Wait...did I say "one of"? You are THE wittiest!! OneMileAtATime is very witty...but honestly...Le Football game? Keeping Colinsworth in French? Putting "French" on your resume?

    Hilarious! TOTALLY worth what I pay for the subscription here!!

    Keep up the good work. It has quickly become my first RSS read of the day. Thanks for the entertainment.

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  3. @ayngelina - I'm pretty sure that my attempting French would be plenty offensive to the francophone community. I'll have to study the clothes more closely next time I return.

    @thegasguru - Thanks for reading.

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  4. Ayngelina : ''...not to offend a francophone'' ? It's more with that comment that I'm offended by.

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