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Developing His Taste for Suites

May 21, 1989|BOB O'SULLIVAN | O'Sullivan is a travel writer based in Canoga Park

Occasionally I've made fun of those who go about the world moving from one luxury hotel to another, who seldom leave the hotel grounds and who return to the United States to tell stories about their "worldly" travels.

The truth is, there's nothing wrong with that. Not everyone feels like climbing the Alps or rafting the Amazon just because they happen to be in the neighborhood.

Then, too, there can be times when going from one first-class hotel to another takes about as much energy as you can muster. If you're at that point and you can afford it, why not do it?

Most of us, if we live long enough, will reach the point when comfort becomes the primary consideration in making travel plans.

That's not my thought; my wife gave it to me.

Dinner With Friends

Joyce and I went to a dinner meeting with some travel friends a few nights ago at a luxury hotel that has been a Southern California landmark since it was built in 1928.

It recently had been completely remodeled, and a young woman who worked for the hotel stopped by our table to see how our meeting was going. We told her everything was fine.

"By the way, they've just finished redecorating the Presidential Suite," she said. "Would you like to see it?"

Being a child of the Depression, I don't tend to get too enthusiastic about seeing how the rich cope with life. You might even say I have a negative attitude about it.

My wife guessed as much when, after going through about 500 castles and palaces, including Versailles, something inside "sort of snapped" and I climbed on top of my camera case and threatened to jump.

But because everybody at the table was interested in the Presidential Suite, I went along.

On the way up in the elevator the young woman mentioned the names of some of the monarchs and heads of state who'd stayed in the suite.

Where Royalty Slept

The list included Emperor Hirohito, the Dalai Lama and members of the royal families of England, the Scandinavian countries, the Middle East, Monaco and a lot of countries I'd never heard of.

"And, of course," she said, "former Presidents Ford, Carter and Reagan and their wives all stayed with us in recent years."

Neato, I thought. If that doesn't make you glad you paid your taxes, well, hey, what would?

She opened the great doors to the suite. It could only be described as elegant.

"Very spiffy," said one of the men in our group.

"Gee," said someone else, "will you look at those hardwood floors?"

I looked. Joyce and some of the other ladies in the group were making little noises about how marvelous the hardwood floors looked.

"So the planks fit tight," I whispered, "big deal. A floor's a floor."

After my wife quietly suggested that I had no class, someone else pointed out that the wallpaper was one of a kind. Nobody else, not nobody , not nohow , not nowhere had the same exact kind of wallpaper as this Presidential Suite.

"Be still, my heart," I muttered.

"Or failing that," Joyce whispered back, "just be still."

On a Master Platform

The master bed in the master bedroom, piled high with master pillows and master comforters, looked as if it had a master mattress 1 1/2 feet thick and was set up on a master platform.

It wasn't enough that this particular bed was 12 floors above the ground; somebody thought they ought to stick it up another foot.

A petite woman asked, "How do you get in it?" The girl leading the tour either didn't hear her or didn't have the answer. There was a little speculation about how Nancy Reagan handled it. It was decided that Ron had probably given her a leg up.

I figured a more important question was, how do you get out of it?

It's a Presidential Suite. Suppose a guy like Gerald Ford had to get up in the night to read some state papers or something. He might have made it off the mattress, but the platform too? I laughed to myself.

My bride of 34 years, who long ago learned to read my mind, gave me "the look."

"Why can't I ever take you anywhere?" she whispered.

A friend leaned close. "Figure if Jimmy Carter got to thinking how many famous women had slept in that same bed, it might have got a little 'lust in the heart' going?"

"Has Ronald Reagan slept in that actual bed?" one of the ladies asked.

"Probably not very well," my friend answered. "He sleeps too much in the daytime."

Needling the President

One in our group who had been silent couldn't contain herself any longer. "I would think some of you gentlemen might have a little more respect."

"Needling the President," my friend said, "is a time-honored American custom dating back to the Revolution."

"Oh, I know that," the woman said. "I was referring to the young lady who's showing us around."

"Oh, sorry."

The young lady, who didn't appear to have heard the exchange, was leading us into the presidential bathroom.

The bath, with its special tub, was really inspiring. It was in its own glass enclosure and had nozzles sticking out all over.

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