Sunday, March 28, 2010

My weekend at The Park Hotel and the races

This weekend we took my younger daughter to the horse races in Hot Springs, Arkansas.  She had a wonderful time and loved the races as much as I do.  Such beautiful animals they are a joy to watch. 

We stayed at the 20's era Park Hotel, which is next door to the Arlington.  It costs almost as much as staying at the Arlington, but nowhere near the class of that fine old hotel.

The Park has apparently been undergoing some renovations, and to someone like me who is dedicated to the idea that we should cherish and preserve these fine old hotels, a welcome respite from the usual chains of Hamptons, Economy lodges and Holiday Inns, this is a wonderful process.  However, they seem to be doing this on the cheap and taking a wrong turn.

This hotel is a 20's era somewhat Art Deco construction.  They have attempted to give it some kind of Italian flair, and are gilding some of the fine old architectural details and adding a lot of fake Tuscan crap to it.  Why oh why do they do this?  It is beautiful in its simplicity, leave it alone and restore!  The redeeming feature, which doesn't seem to go with the rest of it, is the bookstore in the lobby area.  Its a civil war bookstore/library and is a wonderful space that looks like a fine old wood paneled library, which you can imagine was a men's library/smoking lounge/club area.  It is dark wood bookshelves, and has a fine old roll top desk and one of those great rolling ladders.  Beautiful haven in garish fake Italian.

Our reservation was for 2 adjoining rooms with 2 double beds.  When we arrived we were told one of the desk agents had given one of our rooms away and the other one was not ready yet.  So we were given a key to a room in  the "new" area, which is an area maybe added on to the original hotel at some point, and under renovation.  We were told they would call us when the room was ready, so we went to our room.  Total shock, all white, tacky curtains, horrible view.  Very small, one double  bed.  A 20's era chest with a small tv on it, and 2 plastic upholstered chairs from the 60's.  Industrial carpeting.  And no phone in the room.  My daughter and I left to walk down to Central Ave for some shopping and found the front desk agent polishing brass out front.  I told her we had no phone, and she said there was one in the hallway, that they had not installed phones there yet.  okaaaaayyy...

When we returned it was 4:30 pm and still no other room.  We checked at the desk and they said it was ready, gave her a key and we went to find it.  Much better, it was in the old part.  Window on the front of the hotel, view of the park, still small, one double bed, 60's era early american furniture.  A small, small shower, but much  better than our room. Our reservaion was for rooms next to each other, we were 2 floors apart.

I went back to my room, to rest and it became increasingly chilly in the room, so I asked my husband to turn up the heat.  He found a thermostat and turned it up.  Then turned it up some 75 degrees. Nothing ever happened, so he took out his cell and called the front desk.  They brought us up a portable electric heater, which might heat the room up a couple of degrees in several hours.  They said there was no heat in this part of the hotel.  It  became apparent to us they had put us in a room that was not ready to rent.

To their credit, they tried to make it better and comped us 3 dinners in their resturant, which is a very good Italian resturant, and we had a wonderful dinner there.

Would we go back?  Maybe, if the room rates were the same and we got rooms in the old part of the hotel.  In old hotels you dont expect the amenities you get in some places, but you do expect a phone and heat!  I hope they don't do this renovation so much on the cheap and make this hotel live up to its former splendor.

By the way, I ended up losing about $25 at the track, but still had milk money for school on Monday.


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