Life has been pretty good at this hotel lately. Our rooms have a steady stream of guests, our bar is full of laughter and life almost every night, and mornings see who-knows-what kinds of important business decisions being made around our little breakfast tables. Spring is quickly turning to summer, after work swims will soon be an enticing option, as will taking your evening cocktail out to watch the swimmers. The internet is working. We’re in one of those sweet spots that you get every now and then, everything’s kind of going well.
And yet, even now, insecurity creeps in. Yes, our rooms are full, and, yes, that makes it seem as if you all want to stay here with us. But Silicon Valley has the number one economy in the nation right now, so it’s possible that our little hotel is full because hotels in general are full, and not because anyone’s choosing us in particular. And, yes, our bar is full and bustling every night and that makes it look like it’s fun and cool to come here for a drink at night. But, then, we’re giving away free alcohol, which is not unlike paying the cool kids to hang out with us at lunch and, ultimately, it’s equally alienating.
What am I asking for? What will pacify these nagging insecurities and give us our Sally Field moment, that is, a chance to think you really like us? It’s so simple, really. Just like us on Facebook. A moment of your time and this hotel will drop its shoulders, puff out its chest and stand proudly in the world. Please?
Here’s a funny little thought that our general manager was rolling around the other day: How much of the technology that we at the hotel use every day was developed by someone who we feed and house a couple of days out of every month? Without getting specific, I can look around at just what I’m using right this moment and know that the answer is a lot. And much of what I’m using, I’m using because I’ve talked to one or another of you and have been seduced by the particular qualities of a product that you, or your company, has made.
And, as those of you non-tech regulars are protesting to yourselves right now, gadgetry is only the most obvious starting point of this conversation. Through our customers, there are those of us who’ve learned all we ever might want to know about citrus fruits, the superiority of Italian motorcycles, robots performing surgery and much more.
I suppose this is just one of those moments where we get to brag about this business we’re in. The contact that we get to have with such a wide range of worldly ventures is, at the risk of sounding cliché and cheesy, such a great way for each of us as individuals to learn about fields that we have no real right to have access to. At the very least it makes us, if we pay attention, smarter consumers. For some of us it even broadens our ideas about what’s possible in life.
How about you? What have you gone out and bought after talking to someone you met in our bar? If the answer is nothing, I’d say you need to strike up a conversation or two. You never know who you’re sitting next to.
This announcement has been a long time coming. It feels like ages ago that we remodeled the Cupertino Inn, and the plan, then, was to do our two hotels back to back, bam, bam. The Cupertino Inn remodel, in our humble opinion, which maybe the few of you swingers who like to got back and forth between the two, can attest to, was a huge success. The rooms are beautiful and cozy and make you feel like you’re staying in the guest room of a particularly tasteful friend. We love them and we’re very proud of them and we were excited to take what we learned doing the Cupertino Inn and make the Grand Hotel’s rooms even more luxurious and homey.
I won’t go into too much detail about the delay. 2008, crisis, economy, business travel cuts. You understand the rest, I guess.
But, friends, we are back in action! The Grand Hotel remodel is beginning soon and it is going to be great. The thing about a long delay is that it gives ideas time to ferment and energy time to mount. And the thing about a near death experience, which is what an economic crisis is to any small business, is that when you find yourself in good health again, you’re determined to be the best you ever could possibly be. So get ready for some changes as we allow ourselves to move from survival mode into an exploration of the most excellent Grand Hotel we can imagine.
The first news of this new year is that last year’s holiday canned food drive was an unexpectedly huge success! Jerry, our director of sales and marketing, had the idea and it’s the kind of idea that no one can really shoot down without looking like a jerk, but we honestly did not have such high expectations for the project because, really, most non-perishable donation drives end up getting stocked with the dusty, unwanted contents of people’s pantries. A hotel, then, should have a pretty hard time, as none of you have access to your decades-old cans of beets when you’re here with us. Nor would you be at the grocery store anyway and just toss an extra can in while you were there. And yet the barrels filled. And then they spilled over. Even with a certain front desk worker, who shall remain nameless, treating those barrels like a lunch counter, we far exceeded our goal. What this means is that not just some, but lots of you went out of your way to go out and buy a can of soup or a bag of rice to bring to our drive.
Starting off a new year, there’s always so much talk about new beginnings, clean slates, fresh starts. Not that those aren’t really useful metaphors for people stuck in their ruts, but it’s nice, here at this hotel, to feel no need for any of that motivational imagery. We’re doing well. Our barrel runneth over, if you’ll forgive me for finding a cliché that does apply. Thank you all for your donations.
It’s the holiday season. My nights have been filled with cozy parties and I’m looking forward to many sweet reunions in the coming weeks. As I write this, the dough of the pastries that I will send off to my grandfather and pass around to my friends is rising in my oven. But I made it while listening to one after another radio host and his or her expert guests try to make some kind of sense out of last week’s shooting. As I kneaded my dough, clips played of my president crying.
We, as a nation, will spend the rest of this holiday season in mourning. Simple sadness, though, is not enough. People want to know why this happened, what could have been done to prevent it, what action can be taken to make sure it never happens again. On that subject, there is one thing that I’ve read in the last days that gave me an actual moment of solace, as opposed to stoking my grief for one or another pre-existing political purpose.
To give you this quote I have to confess to following a Chinese astrologer on facebook. It’s fun, you know, and he’s kind of a cool, quirky guy. And a couple of days ago he posted this little paragraph that made me feel like I could go on with my preparations for a happy holiday, that I didn’t have to feel guilty for the joy I was trying to cultivate. I’d like to pass it on to all of you, in the hopes that it will help you the way it helped me. I copied it as I found it, so forgive the grammar.
“People asked me about the incident shooting in my country and I said on the same day many many kindnesses were made … Great numbers of basically good actions … But they do not reach news media so we should celebrate every good act with joy n gratitude bec it is true we are all doing the best we can … To obsess with wrong or dark action will only bring that darkness into your heart … Thank you to everyone who has not killed anyone today in action, thought and energy … I feel fortunate to live in the world you are helping to create”
Reading that quote gives me the courage to try to be happy in such a broken world. And sending it to you on behalf of this little hotel feels even better because, as only just a little blip in the operations around here, I can say to you in good faith that this is the kind of place that’s helping the world become better.
This is a strange and beautiful moment to live and work in Silicon Valley. Maybe some of you feel this too. As the country struggles to get itself out of recession, with unemployment numbers making grudging micro-shifts and foreclosures still on a rampage, somehow we, here, are back to living in the land of opportunity. A storm named Sandy just tried to do away with the east coast, but in the Bay Area it’s 70 degrees and sunny. This is a comfortable place to be in an uncomfortable time. Whatever combination of good choices and dumb luck got each of us here, we sure have landed well.
With that in mind, and with the holidays upon us, we’ve decided to have a canned food drive. This is your invitation to participate. Bring us any non-perishable item between now and the end of the year, and we will give you, in exchange, a ticket for a free drink after happy hour. Not that “after happy hour” is a rule, it’s just that all drinks are free from 5-7, so using drink tickets during that time is probably unwise. The one and only rule, actually, is in the word “non-perishable”. This means that you may not take an apple out of the bowl that’s sitting near the front desk and exchange it for a drink ticket. I’m not naming names here, but let’s just say I didn’t invent that idea. Aside from that, though, you can play this however you’d like. If you want to bring in 100 cans of soup, we’ll be happy to give you 100 free drinks. We probably won’t be quite so happy to give them to you all on one night, but the tickets won’t expire either. We’re looking forward to both the generosity and the merriment of this project, so let’s all have fun with it!
Friends, a big day is upon us! Finally, finally, we are about to be released. The grandstanding hyperbolic pissing contest that has held us captive for so long is at last nearing its legal limit. Yes, the 2012 presidential campaign is about to end! No matter what side you’re on, no matter which offenses have raised your ire, and which have felt justifiable, you must agree that this has not been pretty. We spent weeks talking about the way Romney’s dog travels. A reality television star had the state of Hawaii so overrun with requests for Obama’s birth certificate that they had to change their laws. For goodness sake! We need to be free from this!
Well we’re nearly there! And we here at this little hotel think that a party is in order. Election night 2012, which will mark the end of a long and humiliating stretch of political hopefuls cum reality tv self-exploiters dominating our every waking moment, we’re having a bipartisan celebration of the cessation of the madness. Sure, we’ll be monitoring the results just like everyone else. And, yes, we’ll have champagne on hand for calmly toasting whoever will be our president for the next four years. And, no, we do not expect you to have no emotional attachment to one or another result. We sure have some opinions of our own. Still, this will be a strictly nonpartisan affair and when the results are in, no matter what they are, we’re gonna have a toast to a saner future. We hope you’ll join us.
This year I’m going to admit something to you all: I hate when it’s time to write about the return of Monday Night Football. Not that I’m not announcing a fun little ritual here at our fun little hotel. It is fun. We have hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill starting at 5pm. Peanuts too, just like if you were out at the game, except it’s warmer in here and everything’s free. Speaking of free, the complimentary drinks go an hour later too, til 8pm. It’s a real party, and we do it every Monday night all through football season.
The problem is that if football season is here, it means summer is over. When these games start, daylight will last almost until they finish, but pretty soon it won’t even be light out when they start anymore. Right now it’s still hot outside, and we all feel like it always has been and it always will be hot, but that first Monday night burger builds a link to winter. You know how it is, one Monday rolls into the next and pretty soon it’s dark in the middle of the day and your skin looks like white bread dough for months and months and months.
But I can calm down and enjoy the first few Mondays. No need to get crazy. It is fun. And the room is big enough that you can enjoy the free burgers and booze with or without actually watching the game, which I suppose gives away my own personal preferences. The point is: Live in the now. A warm afternoon BBQ is such a nice thing. And maybe winter won’t come this year.But I can calm down and enjoy the first few Mondays. No need to get crazy. It is fun. And the room is big enough that you can enjoy the free burgers and booze with or without actually watching the game, which I suppose gives away my own personal preferences. The point is: Live in the now. A warm afternoon BBQ is such a nice thing. And maybe winter won’t come this year.
Let me start by acknowledging that this is very, very long overdue. It’s been years and years since Stephen Bruce’s amazing patinated copper work was hung in this hotel. The pieces he made for us came in with the leather sofas and the new bar, and are a huge contributor to the rich, warm atmosphere of our lounge area. There was so much excitement about the remodel and I wrote tons about it for, it seemed like, months and months and months, but I never let it be known that the huge pieces of stained copper were not just another order out of the Restoration Hardware catalog. Which, by the way, we really went pretty far with the good old Restoration Hardware catalog, I must say. Still, though, the beautiful, personal intricacy of the copper gives so much depth of character to the rooms where it hangs and to let it slide by unmentioned was kind of negligent on my part. Oops.
Getting these pieces made was our dear general manager’s first stab at commissioning work. She found Bruce at an art and wine festival, which she had mostly shown up to for the wine part, but then, a few glasses in, came across these huge pieces of copper and realized that she had found a solution to her hotel art conundrum. The problem is how to get work that is not so bland that you suspect it was made by a machine, but without the imposition of a strong point of view that the hotel then has to claim as its own. These pieces are, in many ways, the perfect compromise, evoking mood without demanding it. I wonder if you’ve noticed? Because they also fit so smoothly with the dŽcor, it can seem like they came with the kit. It was a beautiful find on the part of our dear leader, and a great start to her role as commissioner of art. She’s gotten a little bolder over at our sister hotel, The Cupertino Inn, as you can see the moment you walk in the door, but this was a beautiful, gentle entryway that she took.
I don’t know what got into me this year, but somehow, starting somewhere around the day after Christmas, I got obsessed with the coming of summer. I first fixated on daylight savings. March 11th. I looked it up, marked it on my calendar, and then every day I would note that I had gotten one day closer to the light. March 11th came, though, with rain. For the weeks and weeks that followed this expansion of lightness that I had so anticipated, the days stayed gray and dark. I began, then, looking at the seven-day forecast everyday, because everyday it would tell one more day into the future. I need the summer this year.
Well, my wait is finally at an end. No, it isn’t officially summer yet, but the days are long and warm and my favorite thing has started back up again: Our Wednesday night BBQs! These Wednesday BBQs, for me, are one of the big landmarks of the best season of the year. What better way, after all, to spend a long, warm (though never hot, this is California, after all) night than poolside with a cocktail and a steak just off the grill? Or chicken, if that’s how you roll. Either way, it’s right here waiting for you when you get done with your day’s work. Plus we’ve got a variety of salads, baked potatoes, and some beautiful desserts. Just about everything you might stock up at your very own BBQ, except we do it for you. It’s so easy, like a mini-vacation, mid-week. Just the way a summer night should be.