A TALE IN 3 PARTS...
Taking a little break from the yarns & needles this weekend to travel to Hot Springs, Arkansas (former home of the Clinton's). This is quite the adventure for me. I haven't stepped foot in the "South" since a short 6-mo. stint at Ft. Benning, Georgia in 1968 as an army wife. It's taken almost 40 years for the memories of that rather unpleasant experience to pass & for something to come along to encourage my return. That "something" was another birthday & the creeping realization that, before too many more moons go by, I'll be signing up for AARP & claiming that paltry senior discount at my favorite restaurants. Now...if that was a senior discount at my local yarn shop, it might be something to actually look forward to! Still, I suppose it's good to begin thinking about such things, since the alternative to old age is death (& I'd rather not think about that at all).
Long story short...I stumbled upon information about Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, a rather large, gated, golf & recreation community being developed & sold through NRPI (National Recreational Properties, Inc.). Wrote away for the brochures...liked what I saw...particularly liked the low cost of living in Arkansas...& accepted NRPI's offer to fly me & my husband out there for a little look-see at their expense.
Yesterday was spent taking off our shoes & baring our souls in airport security lines & drinking bad airline coffee for the 5 hour flight from Seattle to Little Rock (by way of Dallas). This is an exhausting trip for anyone - it's grueling for someone who's still shamefully addicted to cigarettes, as I am. We had a 1 hour layover in Dallas, so I dashed outside for 1/2 a smoke & paid the price by having to go through the security line again to get back in. I could rant for an hour about the injustice & persecution perpetrated on smokers, but it'd probably fall on deaf ears, so I won't....another rant for another time.
When we left Seattle it was a perfect 68 degrees & blue skies. We arrived in Little Rock to 97 degrees & humidity so oppressive it was hard to breathe. NRPI put us up in the Doubletree in downtown Little Rock, right next door to the old Statehouse building & just down the road from the Clinton Library. The whole riverfront area has undergone a gentrification project concurrent with the building of the presidential library & there's some very nice parks, museums, & upscale restaurants in what's known as The Market District. Unfortunately, no amount of building renovation & fancy facades can hide the poor who live beneath the underpasses & along the river revetments. We have a very nice view of the river (& the homeless) from our hotel room. I suppose I shouldn't find this the least bit surprising. We are, after all, looking here because of the low cost of living as well as the advertised attractiveness of the Hot Springs Village enclave. Since low wages & high unemployment often go hand-in-hand with low cost of living, I suppose the view from our hotel room should have been expected. Sad to see it all the same.
Now, as to our accommodations...I have to say that I'm more than a little disappointed & greatly surprised by a Doubletree (Hilton Hotel) suffering such neglect. The room was reasonably nice, clean, & the beds comfortable, but the draperies would not open & I had ask TWICE for ashtrays for this "smoking" room. The common areas are certainly not up the standards of other Hilton Hotels I've visited. The lobby furnishings were in disarray - coffee cups & old newspapers littered the cocktail tables, & the enormous expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows are positively grimy. There were no less than 6 couples & 3 airline crew all standing in line to check in - with a single desk clerk.
We chose to dine in the hotel the night of our arrival. In spite of the fact that there were less than 15 people in the dining room, we sat & sipped at our water for over 15 minutes before the waitress (who'd obviously never waited tables before in her life) came to take our order. I tired of waiting for my appetizer (soup) & coffee after about 15 min. & went outside for a 10 min. cigarette break. And, in case you're wondering why we didn't ask our waitress about the status of our order, it's because she promptly disappeared after taking it. The main course finally came shortly after my return - the soup never did - the coffee came after a second request - the cream after the 3rd request. Needless to say, the young lady did not receive much of a tip.
I decided to try cooling off in the pool. All I can say is...YUCK! The pool filter was broken & the water did not look clean. There was an enormous amount of old cigarette butts around the pool - really old - I'd wager no one has used a broom out there in weeks. It was after dark & there wasn't a single light on in the pool or in the surrounding area. It wasn't just yucky, it was creepy out there. Since there wasn't another soul swimming when the temp was still 87 degrees, I can only assume I'm not the only guest that decided to take a pass on the pool.
Under normal circumstances, I would bring these things to the attention of the hotel manager, but since we're here as guests of NRPI, I believe I'll discuss it with them, instead. They're paying good money to accommodate their prospective customers in this hotel. Surely, they would prefer that their customers are happy, comfortable, & in a "buying" mood when they wake up tomorrow. I can't believe my husband & I are the only ones disappointed with the accommodations.
Part II tomorrow- we take the tour of Hot Springs Village....