An Open Letter to the Management of The Regency Hyatt Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach

08.15.13

I’ve just returned home from two nights at The Regency Hyatt Resort & Spa in Huntington Beach. The kids and I used just about every part of the Resort in two and a half days.

hyatt huntington beach shore

Before showing up I booked a conference room with Courtney Braz for a series of focus groups. It was painless. Actually it was better than painless. The room was priced at the same rate as a nearby conference room we’d used in an office tower only it was about three times the size. The cost of parking is a little painful at $19 a vehicle but to be fair the nearby office towers are $12 each and not nearly as lovely. The catering was perfect, we had a light vegetarian fare and when I called to cancel my attached hotel reservation because my son was sick (don’t they always get sick before a holiday) Courtney urged me to wait another day before I canceled in case he got better. She didn’t want me to lose the superior king room she’d held for me. I must say, I love that Courtney.

When we checked in I wasn’t expecting much. I’m not sure that I’ve ever stayed at a Hyatt and I haven’t thought of them as resorts. The valet and reception were as good as any at the Kea Lani or the Four Seasons. In fact the lady at reception (forgive me management, I cannot remember her name) gave my kids a coupon for s’mores and was incredibly warm and welcoming. While I’m busy asking forgiveness please also forgive my children for throwing marshmallows at each other last night. I did wipe down the wall where one of them stuck but, let’s face it, kids and hotels…. so messy.

hyatt huntington beach guest room

The room was lovely. There is one problem and that’s the lack of a ventilation fan in the bathroom. Since Jane and I wear our hair curly it’s okay to be with all that steam but it’s sort of unpleasant by the third shower. This one complaint belongs with the architect and not the management so you are forgiven.

The kids had room service dessert the first night and then two mornings in a row we had room service for breakfast. The food was spectacular. That egg cup thing your chef does with the asparagus and spinach is amazing, getting it without the ham was pretty awesome too.

I love a well maintained pool and the kids do too. The beach chairs and towels at the end of the footbridge made our visit super easy and thank you for turning a blind eye when I rode my son’s skateboard through the courtyard. I know it’s against the rules but when you have a middle aged woman skating how much trouble can it really be?

The bar is cozy and lovely but I do have one complaint. My favorite hotel bar game is called “Spot the hooker”. There were no hookers. Failure Mr. or Ms. Manager… total failure.

Dinner at the California was splendid. I think it might be the thing that prompted this open letter. You see while I was running a focus group my two teenage kids (who do NOT have the appearance of being particularly generous tippers) took themselves to dinner. They ordered swordfish and scallops after having a shrimp cocktail appetizer. They drank only water. Tap water. I ended up popping in on them only at the very end of the meal and was delighted to find that your wait staff treated my kids like royalty. We should probably talk about the perfection of the scallops but since it was the daily special it might not be as relevant as the very-goodness of the swordfish.

Claudia is the evening concierge and might be the loveliest lady I’ve dealt with in years. My housekeeper was Rosaura R and she too was beyond lovely and (maybe more importantly) the room was returned to an immaculate state despite our best efforts to destroy it.

I can’t say that I’m going to rush out and try Hyatt hotels all over the country but something special is happening at the Hyatt in Huntington Beach. Every single person we encountered was lovely without being sickeningly sweet, everyone was good at their job, everyone seemed happy to be there and I was blown away by the level of service I received.

Also, two nights at the Hyatt after in room dining, valet parking, resort fees and about 93 smoothies was still less than one night at the other places we’ve stayed around there (and been less happy).

So thank you Mr. or Ms. General Manager. You gave us three Gottliebs three great days and I still have some change in my pocket.

hyatt huntington beach outside

 

 

 

Really Great Things: Push Girls and Le Cirque

05.24.12

Periodically I get to experience things that are a bit out of the ordinary because I’m a blogger. This week I met five women that took my breath away and ate at Le Cirque without leaving my beloved Los Angeles.

Friday night Mr. G and I were treated to dinner at a Le Cirque pop up restaurant in Downtown LA. It was at the City Club on Bunker Hill which has sweeping views of Los Angeles and a dress code. When Mr. G asked me if he should wear a sports coat I glibly replied, “Only if you want to, it’s LA you can wear whatever you want.”

My husband and I sat in a stunning dining room while he wore a jacket that looked like it belonged to his father.

And then we ate a magnificent meal.

I had Tuna Tartare (which will make my brother angry) followed by Porcini Risotto and then Paupiette of Black Bass. Mr. G had the Lobster Salad “Le Cirque” followed by Potato Ravioli and then Filet of Beef.

We both loved our appetizers and the Lobster Salad was more interesting than the Tuna Tartare but I’d expected that going in and knew that I wanted to try as many dishes as possible. I liked the Porcini Risotto but didn’t do backflips for it and Mr. G only liked his Potato Raviolo but I absolutely loved it. His Filet of Beef was a more done than he’d have liked it but such is the nature of a pop up restaurant. They’re there for one night only and what might be seen as horrible in Le Cirque New York is somehow charming in Le Cirque Los Angeles. The Paupiette of Black Bass was delicious and just what I was looking for. It’s something that I might even attempt at home.

The Napoleon was the best I’ve ever had. Ever. I would not lie to you about Napoleon it it my favorite dessert in the world, which makes Le Cirque and executive chef Olivier Reginensi the purveyors of my favorite dessert on the planet.  

Sirio’s son was on hand and brought us a copy of his father’s book. To show my gratitude I stole the menus. I’m now committed to a visit to Le Cirque the next time I’m in New York or Las Vegas.

In a perfect month I’d have a dinner like this and feel content, but this has been an extraordinary month, because just a few days later I was invited for lunch with The Push Girls.

I get invited to a lot of luncheons to meet a lot of TV actors and personalities on their way up or down the ladder. I almost always say no because I don’t have time for it and it doesn’t resonate with me.

When the Sundance Channel asked me if I wanted to have lunch with The Push Girls I knew I had to be there even though I didn’t have time for it. The women of the Push Girls are worth knowing. I met Auti, Mia, Tiphany, Angela and Chelsie (who looks startlingly like my friend Emily) and just their presence changed my life.

I know… dramatic right?

But it’s not overly dramatic. I am not happy with my new body. I’m frustrated at what RA has left me unable to do, well I was. Now I’m trying to be grateful. I’m not always succeeding but when I sat with Auti and she was explaining to me how the past 20 years in a chair have been life affirming I was in awe.

When I asked Angela if she ever felt badly for herself she looked me dead in the eye and said, “Never.” I didn’t believe her so I reframed the question a few different ways. I asked her in her darkest moments if she felt sorry for herself and the answer remained the same. In fact she went on to tell me that from her hospital bed as a quadriplegic who could move only her head (and not very well) she spent a good bit of time cheering up her friends, her family and her mother. She looked at me incredulously and couldn’t seem to understand why her mother would be unbearably sad.

I wanted to tell her that her mother loved her more than she’d ever love herself. I wanted to explain to her how mothers ache for their children because motherhood is about looking at your daughter at any age and trying to give her what you didn’t have at that moment in time and trying to give her the best of what you had at that age.

I wanted to explain to her that the joy of motherhood is giving to your children. Giving them strength and opportunities, giving them love and education. I wanted to tell her that it’s not an expression when we say, “This will hurt me more than it hurts you.” It’s almost always true. I wanted her to know that my children’s successes are sweeter than my own.

I wasn’t there to talk. I was there to listen.

So I listened to Auti tell me about meeting Angela ten years ago when Angela had her accident just a few days before. I listened to Chelsie tell me about meeting Tiphany and Mia and how they’d helped her adapt to her new life in a chair. I listened to Tiphany recount her accident and the day she was pronounced dead from a head on collision that left two cars melted together. I asked Mia if she’d ever swim again as she’d been a competitive swimmer and I felt teary listening to her answer.

I listened to Angela tell me about stem cell surgeries and how it took her from blowing into a straw to move her chair to actually sitting up in one and using a hand. She was quick to let me know that the stem cells weren’t from aborted fetuses. I wanted to tell her that I wouldn’t care if they had been, but I was there to listen. I watched Angela demonstrate the muscles that did and did not work, she laughed as she flopped an arm back and couldn’t move it forward on her own. I was mesmerized and awestruck by their strength.

It’s worth mentioning that Push Girls isn’t a show that was cast by a production company or a network. I saw some comments online from the wheelchair community that the show was missing a certain diversity, it was missing someone who was born with a disability. These women have been friends for 3-10 years and the show has the extreme privilege of following them.

I’m anxious to see the first episode on Monday, June 4th. Since The Push Girls are on Sundance my expectation is that it will be a respectful show that will highlight the struggles and joys that the Push Girls have which are part of the human condition and not necessarily just chair related. I hope it does what it’s meant to do.

It was a phenomenal week with events that fed both body and my spirit.

push girls on sundance channel auti tiphany mia angela