This past week I took a short retreat from “life” with my girlfriend in New York City. I had the pleasure of spending a couple of the nights at the Country Inns & Suites just over the Queensboro Bridge in Long Island City. The plan was to take a getaway from my “usual” routine and spend some girl-time with a friend that I hadn’t seen in a year. PLUS I had some “blogging business” to attend to (more about that in a later post).
I just wanted to be able to turn off.
At least that’s what I told you, my readers, as well as the people from Country Inns. But, once I got there I realized that my REAL AGENDA, was to do just the opposite. I wanted to CONNECT.
There’s such a good portion of my life that’s spent at the computer. I’d be the perfect infomercial for “work at home in your jammies” (tiara on the desk beside me). I write about living the good life, but the bottom line is that when I’m WRITING about it – I’m not LIVING it. Seeing that I also manage The Broads (as Broad “Z” and Cha-Cha), have my column in The Examiner, as well as all of the freelancing, there are periods when I find myself attached to my laptop via an electronic umbilical cord.
I’ve been spending WAY too much time in the house (and I’m SOOO not an in the house girl). Even Paris had to put on hold last month (temporarily of course) to deal with family issues. Fortunately, the Marais isn’t going anywhere (Thierry – get my apartment ready, I’ll be there soon).
This was an opportunity to not only see an old friend and have fun, but to meet some of my fellow bloggers, journalists and a few of the awesome PR reps and companies that I’ve been working with but never get “face time” with.
As my cab pulled up to this hotel, I got a good look at the neighborhood and I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you that I was thinking that I was NOT going to walking around at night here. Fortunately my instincts were DEAD WRONG. I actually walked the area to find a restaurant, etc. and felt perfectly safe.
My first impression as I walked through the door was that this is not your “average” New York hotel. Fireplace blazing, a lending library, and home-baked cookies available, this brand new hotel feels like a home away from home from the time you enter until you say goodbye to your new found friends. I understand that one side of hotel offers beautiful views of Manhattan (unfortunately I faced Orkin Exterminators and a lot full of Taxi Cabs), but for 1/4 the price of a midtown hotel, I can live with that.
This Country Inns location is a mere two months old, so it has the freshness that you’d expect from a new hotel, including a bed that makes you want to try and figure out how to sneak a mattress on the plane. They offer free wifi throughout the hotel and have a small free parking lot (which will save you about $25 off of parking in the city). Morning was greeted with a free hot breakfast (although I can’t tell you how it was, as I’m a JUST COFFEE & yogurt girl). I found that MORE than just feeding guests, the breakfast room allowed me to make some new friends, as it’s friendly, compact and conducive to getting to know your neighbors at the next table.
Which brings me to the MOST important feature of the Country Inns & Suites in Long Island City….the staff. I arrived at the hotel sans luggage. After a lengthy argument with Mr. S about carry-on vs. checking luggage, I began seeing the logic of checking my bag. When Jet Blue sent my bags to another airport, and I was left in the city with only the clothes I was wearing and my purse – I was able to call home and say “I told you so” to Mr. S.
Ushak calmed me down (that had to be a tough one), he filled my arms with the toiletries that I needed to be able to face people the next morning. Zoila searched high & low for a charger that might fit my cell phone (and when it couldn’t be done as I’m living in the past with my Palm Treo gave me directions to where I could get one) as well as the nearest place to shop for some clothes if I needed anything. They turned my stress into laughter and THAT was the MOST important part of my stay.
BOTH Ushak and Zoila (as well as Michelle from corporate) made me feel like INVITED GUESTS and NOT just customers. I’m a city girl myself, but for those who find the city a bit overwhelming – having a staff like this can MAKE your vacation.
Think you can’t afford a litle getaway of your own? With Manhattan hotels averaging about $400 a night, visiting can be out of reach for many in this economy. A simple search on the Country Inns & Suites site found nightly rates as low as $87.50 plus tax (with a HIGH of $125).
I have to thank Country Inns & Suites, because they suggested (and provided) this 2-night retreat, as well as a list of nearby restaurants and fun experiences in the city and I REALLY needed it. They’ve put together some exciting retreats for women in various parts of the country, allowing you to just take a day or two off from your life and rejuvenate a bit. Whether it’s getting away from cooking and cleaning, or a time to connect with old friends we all need a little time to retreat and refresh.