Wednesday 10 July 2013

Pin It

Get Gadget

How I Almost Got Divorced at the Fairmont Empress

My wife puts up with a lot of my strange travel quirks without even blinking an eye. When I force four stopovers on flights from Seattle to Los Angeles just so we can rack up a few more miles, she just smiles and explains my logic to the kids. When I make her switch hotels every night for three weeks straight so I can achieve a status level in a hotel chain, she just sighs and divides our suitcases into 21 separate sections. When I leave her at home and take my son to Disneyland for a 24 hour marathon of fun despite the fact that it was her birthday...well actually that one didn't go over too well. Generally though, Lori is one of the most patient and tolerant women I've ever met, so while I can get away with a lot of things I found out last weekend that there is a line that I should not be crossing when it comes to arranging our travels. Under no circumstances should I be booking us into a hotel that doesn't have air conditioning.

Now in my defence, who actually checks to see if a hotel has air conditioning these days? I just assume that all hotels have invested in central air, or at least those loud, rickety, one room air conditioners you find in the cheaper lodging options. In particular, I expect places that routinely make the list of the Top 500 hotels in the world to be capable of leaving temperature control up to the guest. The Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC does not follow that line of thinking however. Built in 1908, it's main method of keeping you cool is ceiling fans which while effective, are not what my family has come to expect from our typical accommodations on the road. In fact, once it became apparent that there was no way to immediately lower the temperature of the room, there may have been some over-dramatic reactions from some of my children.

Ummm...if you're that hot, maybe don't wear jeans?
OK, so booking a hotel without air conditioning was strike one, but I've made it to strike one on just about every trip we've ever taken. I know that what I have to do now is earn that strike back. Thanks to our lifetime platinum status we were booked into a 1 BR suite (Which apparently is Fairmont code for "Walk as far as humanly possible. Your room is about five doors past that.) and after looking at the layout of the rooms, it seemed that the most logical sleeping arrangement was to give the kids the main bedroom. Considering how insanely comfortable the Fairmont beds are, this easily earned me back my strike from the two kids who ended up sharing the bed.

On the other hand, that meant that Lori and I were sleeping in the living room....on the pull out couch. Yeah, that's strike two.

Now I'm sure nobody is surprised to hear that I've been to strike two quite a few times in the past. The key here is to try and turn the situation by focusing on the positives. Things like the fact that there was coffee readily available in the room...

Or the fact that the toiletries in the bathrooms were by some company I've never heard of, which almost guarantees that they were of very high quality...

There was also the really nice view of the Empress grounds and the BC Parliament Building, although I think I only got a half point for that since the best view was out the bathroom window.

Perhaps the best feature of the Empress however is it's location. You are steps from the harbor, parliament, and just about every other attraction in Victoria. I can't think of a more central place to be, and with it being the Canada Day long weekend during our visit, being that close to all the celebrations and activities was invaluable.

In fact, despite the air conditioning oversight (and the room cooled down nicely once we opened the windows and let the ocean breeze in) our first day went so well that I was convinced I was going to earn one of my two strikes back. Of course that's when it all fell apart. Apparently while not doing enough research into the air conditioning situation or the number of beds in the room, I also forgot to check whether or not the Fairmont Empress gets HBO. On a Sunday night. When the new episode of True Blood is on.

Sorry you can't watch True Blood, but is that Batman's silhouette in the TV?
 So no air conditioning, no bed, and no HBO. Wait...that's three strikes. Am I out? Well no...not this time. Fortunately each of the problems with our stay presented themselves with relatively simple solutions. Opening the windows while staying on the harbor kept the room nice and cool. The pullout bed was actually very comfortable as far as pullouts go, and the lack of HBO was overcome by having a fairly strong internet connection to allow for immediate streaming of the missing episode. You could say that these solutions were what saved me from serious trouble on the marriage front. You could say that it was the overall great time that we had during our stay at the Empress, but in all honesty I attribute my avoiding divorce court to something else. You see, despite her beauty, charm, and amazing personality, my wife really isn't very good at math. It's not something most men look for in a spouse, but I highly recommend it. 

Yes dear...1+1+1=2. I still have one strike left.
Written by Steve Pratt