Second stop on “Rainbow Tour” proves to be another ‘B’-eautiful hotel

lobby

They are two for two with me.

My stay this week at B Historic Hotel in Savannah is my second stop on what I have begun to refer to as “The Rainbow Tour” of B Hotels and Resorts. I hear New Orleans is opening next month. If enough money is left after Uncle Sam gets paid, maybe I’ll visit there, too.

You will recall I stayed at B Ocean Resort in Fort Lauderdale in January and just felt very comfortable, relaxed, and secure while I was there — just what the doctor ordered (quite literally; she says I need a trip a month for a year)

B Historic is the same thing in every way. It’s an amazing, beautiful hotel.

The beds at B Hotels and Resorts are like sleeping on a cloud. It’s one to thing to brand yourself as a place with beds that will make you feel like you’re sleeping on a cloud, but they actually deliver on that promise here.

So. Restful.

This morning I had steak and eggs. Last night I had salmon. The food is wonderful. When you eat good food, have you ever noticed it almost gives you a buzz?

I love being pampered.

Multi-million-dollar renovation just completed

B Historic just underwent a multi-million renovation (as did B Ocean, formerly the Sheraton Yankee Clipper).

“Throughout the design and remodel phase, our goal was to create a one-of-a-kind stay, from the moment you walk in until your last second with us,” General Manager Cherelle Davis explained during the grand opening in September. “We want our guests to leave with a lasting impression by showing them true southern hospitality.”

andre

And they do. There are “the Andres.” Shannon. Chris. Theresa. I could go on and on but I’m sure to forget a name and get in trouble, so I’ll stop there. The staff is amazing. The food and beverage manager looks like Dr. Drew.

The pool is saltwater. B Ocean had a saltwater pool too, but I assumed that was just for the mermaids (although guests swam in it too…you’ll have to ask the guys at The Wreck Bar for those stories, I never would repeat such filth!) And of course there’s a fitness center, spa suite, the whole nine yards.

Just like B Ocean, I would describe this place as “class without attitude.” It’s contemporary and gorgeous, just like B Ocean, but in a way that’s also unique to itself. That is, both hotels have a décor that’s open, airy and exquisite, yet they aren’t cookie cutter. Makes me want to visit them all.

It’s hard for me to loosen up. My vacations at both of these awesome hotels have been worth every penny.

Rumor spreading that my dad owns the hotel

Last night the lounge area was packed again, mostly with super trendy (and friendly!) twenty-somethings. Earlier in the evening there was an older couple who were very “old Savannah.” Honestly, I thought the woman was going to pull one of those old fans right out of her purse and start fanning herself. She asked me if it was true that my dad owned the hotel.

outside

“Oh, you should have just went with that,” the concierge, Theresa, said this morning. Theresa will make sure you enjoy your stay here. She’s trying to track down a guy I met the first night but lost track of. I asked him to a movie and he said yes. He’s a caregiver for his mother with dementia and he’s exactly my exact age. Very nice guy. He was telling me that he and his sister take shifts in caring for his mom.

B Ocean and B Historic both are places where you truly know that the staff wants you to enjoy yourself. There is a lot to be said for quality service. I have been completely satisfied with everything during both of these stays.

Just like B Ocean, B Historic has a “signature scent” that is pumped through the ventilation system.

Inhaling pleasant scents is delicious.

This hotel is delicious.

I fell off the wagon during my vacation. Then I got right up and hopped back on.

wreck-bar

I fell off the wagon during my Florida vacation after almost three years of sobriety.

At a place called “The Wreck Bar,” no less. During a mermaid show.

And then I was interviewed by a pirate. With a news crew.

But nothing tragic happened. In fact, I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit I had a darned good time.

I was never “a wreck” during vacation. But I’m climbing right back on the wagon anyway.

Nothing terrible happened, but drinks Friday turned into drinks Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. I had fun all three nights, but as it goes with us alcoholics, I progressively drank more each night. By Tuesday morning, it was obvious what was happening, as I had a hangover for the first time in almost three years.

My therapist had suggested I attend meetings while here. I’m not a huge fan of AA. They are a PTSD trigger for me (long story), so, in fact, I avoid them completely while at home. I did reach out to another person in recovery as soon as I got here, and had hoped to set up a time to attend an AA meeting with her, but I never heard back.

The morning after landing, I got up to go to breakfast downstairs in the hotel. The main restaurant is not open yet (the hotel has just been remodeled) and the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team had the smaller restaurant, in the lobby, exclusively to themselves the whole week.

So, that left the rest of us in the “Wreck Bar” for every meal unless we ate outside at the beach grill, and that closed every night at sundown, and did not open until 11 a.m. each day.

I knew I would have an urge for a beer, especially on vacation, in an oceanfront resort in Fort Lauderdale. I figured if the urge just got to be too much, I would have an O’Doul’s, although even those do contain tiny amounts of alcohol, despite the belief that they do not.

No O’Doul’s at the Wreck Bar.

Interviewed by a pirate – with a television crew — during the mermaid show

While live-broadcasting the world-famous mermaid show at the Wreck Bar on my Facebook page, I was having a grand time with the other guests. What the hell I thought, I’ll have a beer.

I mean, it’s a mermaid show. At the world-famous Wreck Bar.

But it gets better. Suddenly, a “news crew” approached me after the show ended. The next thing I knew I was being interviewed – by a man dressed as a pirate – about my opinion of the mermaids.

Oh dear.

It probably was obvious that I had had a few. So, I’m not even going to mention what “news” organization it was.

I could have just not told anyone I fell off the wagon after almost three years. But why would I conceal it? It’s a big part of the recovery experience. It happens. A lot. It’s rather incredible I went almost three years.

Writing about these issues is my livelihood (which is why some suggested I not say anything about it).

But that’s not how I roll. I believe in honesty and authenticity. If anything, maybe some people will find me easier to relate to now that I had a “relapse.”

I once had a colleague who had a gambling problem. So much so she trespassed herself from all the local casinos.

When she relapsed, she wrote about it. It was one of the best columns she ever has written, in my opinion.

I don’t always see eye to eye with this person. So, in a way, falling off the wagon, for me, was sort of a reminder that all of us have shared experiences in life.  It’s important to be authentic and to own your sh*t.

And to be kind. For it sounds cliché, but everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about.

Life really is just too short. The world is not going to end because I “relapsed” on my Florida vacation, and it does not make me weak or a bad person. I’m not “going to die,” as some like to tell people who relapse, particularly if their form of recovery doesn’t jive with theirs.

Recovery is a personal journey. There is no one way for staying sober.

I wish I had not drank. Especially four nights in a row, even on vacation.

But I’m owning it. I know I’m an alcoholic. And I love myself way too much to slide back down that slope.

Uber snafu takes me to Laundromat instead of SMART Recovery meeting

Tonight, I tried to go to a SMART Recovery meeting. I had my first experience with Uber. It was a cluster, and I didn’t make the meeting. I ended up at a coin laundry instead. You can read all about that by clicking here.

The second Uber driver took me back to my hotel after the first driver took me to the right address, but in the wrong city. I was visibly upset about the snafu, though not necessarily with Uber. The driver explained how getting frustrated and upset over something I could not control would only upset me some more and cause me to drink even more.

That’s exactly right. Smart man.

So, when I got back to the hotel, I spoiled myself with snapper, went upstairs and gave thanks for this beautiful vacation, and went to bed. Sober. At 8 p.m. Much as I have done every night in the Quad-Cities beginning two and a half years ago.

Many people have not been able to relate to how I’ve maintained sobriety with what appeared to be relative ease.

Now I know it’s not as easy as it looks, and just how slippery the slope can be.

With that said, I’m even grateful for my “relapse” (hate, hate, hate that word). There’s nothing wrong with a wake-up call that could have ended up much, much worse than a hangover after four fun nights. But if I don’t stop now, my luck could run out.

I’m SMART enough to know that.

How my first ride with Uber turned out to be a huge cluster

uber-photo

(Photo courtesy Pixabay)

When you’re in a community with hundreds of miles of coastline, don’t expect to punch 1301 S. Ocean into Uber and necessarily expect to end up where you intend to go.

I learned that the hard way.

I had intended to attend the SMART Recovery meeting in Hollywood Beach Tuesday night. I had reached out to the facilitator and explained that I was interested in meeting with him before the meeting because I would like to start a SMART Recovery group in my community, the Quad-Cities. He agreed to meet with me before the meeting about that.

I had called him earlier in the week too, and had hoped to meet with him Monday. But as it turns out, that meeting no longer is active.

Before he even had called me back, I called and explained I was meeting with a friend and would not be able to go to the Monday meeting. He ended up calling a couple of days later, said that meeting no longer was active anyway, so we agreed we would meet tonight, Tuesday, before the Hollywood Beach meeting.

He told me the meeting was at 1301 S. Ocean, in Hollywood Beach, not far at all from my hotel, B Ocean Resort, up A1A.

So when I punched 1301 S. Ocean into Uber and it picked a spot three miles from the hotel, I assumed that was it.

No, it ended up being a coin laundry in Pompano Beach. The other 1301 S. Ocean, where I was supposed to go, would have been the other direction, just a bit further away from my hotel. The meeting is held at the Hollywood Community Center. Obviously, Uber just picked the closest one. I could not tell the difference on the Uber map.

Then, once I arrived at the coin laundry in Pompano Beach, because of the way Uber works, I had to get out and request a new Uber driver. By the time the next Uber driver came, it was too late to get to Hollywood Beach in time for the meeting.

I called the meeting facilitator and apologized, and I definitely think he thought I was a flake alcoholic, at least at first. Oh well, all of that’s out of my control. I could only control how I reacted to this cluster.

I explained the story to the second Uber driver, who simply drove me back to my hotel. He was very cool about it. He reminded me that I can’t always control what happens in life, but that I can control how I react to it.

Which is exactly the stuff that gets talked about in recovery meetings. So, mission accomplished.

I will say this about Uber. Both drivers were courteous and had very nice, clean automobiles. One had a Nissan Pathfinder; the other a Nissan Sentra. The roundtrip cost of my unintentional trip to the Laundromat was $25.

Puddle jumpers to Cuba: Get them while they last, it seems to me

cuba

Last night I hung out with the Coolest. Chick. Ever. Her name was Jessica, and she’s a flight attendant for Southwest.

We had so much fun. Like me, she has been around the block. A million times. And she’s from Chicago.

So, my strange stories of the past 20 months hardly seemed strange to her. In fact, she knows more than most people probably would like to know. And I can relate to that.

OH-KAY.

So, to change the subject to avoid triggers, I asked her about flights to Cuba. Because she has mentioned she has been jetting to Cuba.

She said the island is stunning, unspoiled by cruise ships and other pollution. But she said if you ask Cubans on the flights what they think of the new open border policy with the U.S., they say, “I would never comment on that.”

They’re still very scared, she said.

Tourists, meanwhile? They’re saying it’s pretty cool, “not like what you would think,” and that it feels pretty safe. She said the cops on the street corners look bored, according to American tourists on the flight.

I would have loved to have taken a puddle jumper to Cuba while I’m here, but I don’t have a passport. And of course you need a passport for anything now. To think when my mom and I flew to Jamaica freshmen year of high school, you didn’t even need a passport to go there.

I remember the captain announcing that “Cuba is off to your left” and looking down and also have the impression of “Wow, that looks beautiful and unspoiled. Even more so than Jamaica from the air.”

But as someone said just now as I was writing this, “You can’t see them holding the signs that say HELP!”

Good point.

I just can’t imagine the open border thing is going to last for long. Go see the Cuba time warp while it lasts.

B Ocean bonus: Living under the same roof with the U.S. men’s soccer team

soccer

What could be better than escaping the Quad-Cities for South Florida in the dead of winter, just days before an ice storm hits?

Staying at the same hotel as the U.S. Men’s Soccer Team.

Oh yeah.

They stand outside each other’s doors talking to each other wrapped only in towels. Towels that are usually half falling off.

They are guy’s guys, for sure. Not friendly, not stand-offish either. But very much stick to themselves.

They are staying in the same wing as I am, the former Sheraton Yankee Clipper, now part of B Ocean Resort.

pool-party

They occupy the rooms on each side of the towel cart in the above photo. They swim in that pool in their underpants.

And that’s the pool with the windows in it (a la the famed mermaid show that I wrote about yesterday and live broadcast on my Facebook page).

Naturally I would have loved to have taken a pool party photo, but I draw the line on paparazzi-like activity!

The Japan Men’s Soccer Team is staying here too, but other than the first day, I haven’t seen them much. Today they all were packed into the cubicle of the hotel gift shop. They too seem to have a certain playfulness about them. In fact, they are much chattier (among themselves anyway) and seem a little less serious than the U.S. team.

Anther B Ocean Resort bonus: The “Signature Scent”

The first thing you notice when you walk into this hotel is the smell. It smells delicious.

The general manager explained that the hotel has a “Signature Scent.” It’s thyme and white ginger lily. They literally pump it through the air vents. It’s incredibly intoxicating.

hotel-outside

Above is a photo of the hotel from the outside. I’m staying in the main tower, the one that looks like a cruise ship. Another tower will be constructed soon that will have sweeping views of not only the coast but also the Intercoastal Waterway.

A restaurant will be opening at the resort soon called “The Naked Crab.” It will feature the delectable dishes of chef Ralph Pagano of Hell’s Kitchen fame.

Friendly Florida proving to be a fine fit for me

I never expected Florida to be so friendly. But I suppose everybody is friendly when they’re on vacation.

I can talk with just about anybody – and do. People respond in different ways. Today I spoke with a woman outside the Ritz-Carlton who had this adorable little dog. “Is that a Maltese?” I asked. “No, it’s a bichon and Cavalier King. A Cavachon.”

Precious.

I also have been hanging out with a couple from Jersey. I love their accents. He’s very friendly. She is too, but very fannnnnn-sayyyyyyyy.

Met a very nice looking, very serious guy from New York City as I was typing up this column. Shared a story with him that I haven’t written for all of you yet. It’s coming.

He wished me luck as he left. I don’t think luck’s going to have anything to do with how the story turns out, however.

See you tomorrow.

Sunrise over Atlantic, mermaid show, snapper with friends. Best vacation ever

lauderdale-beach

When the sun came up Friday, I did too. When I stepped onto my balcony and looked out, my first thought was that it’s going to be really, really hard to leave when the time comes. I started doing vacation-extension financial calculations in my head. And it was only my first morning here after arriving at midnight.

Then I just took it all in.

I walked along the beach and breathed in that incredible saltwater air. The sound of the waves crashing, the sunrise, it all was so idyllic. Just what I need right now.

In fact, I was thinking that it’s hard to believe I’m only 1,200 miles from home, as it seems like a world away. I never had been to South Florida in the dead of winter – it always has been the middle of summer. Oppressive heat and humidity never has been my friend.

After walking along the beach for a bit I went back to the resort and had breakfast, which was delicious (fruit plate, yogurt, grains). I walked around the property a while and then decided to go out the front door. I flipped a coin and chose to go left.

I took a very long walk past some pretty homes. The main drag in front of the hotel reminds me of Santa Monica Boulevard, right where you exit West Hollywood and roll into Beverly Hills. It’s very exquisite like that, and has a similar feel. But with water, too.

I came upon a canal lined with homes, and then walked over a drawbridge that opens to let the yachts pass through. The yachts are impressive. One has two helipads. Later, other guests at the hotel told me they believe that one is Steven Spielberg’s yacht.

helipad-yacht

I also walked past an old church called “Church by the Sea” or something to that effect. I remembered it from when I was a kid and we visited here, two years in a row, 1978 and 1979. As I was daydreaming about that the draw span opened, and a very cross draw span operator ordered me to “Get off your phone and GET MOVING!”

I was struck by how pedestrian friendly everything is (that’s how it should be, of course) and by all the buses running. People of all kinds bicycling and walking all over the place. I swear I saw Nate Berkus ride by on a bicycle, but I doubt it was really him.

This hotel is a story in and of itself (and I plan to pitch it to a paid client, so I don’t want to give away too much). It is the former Yankee Clipper (which makes me laugh because that was the name of a notorious night club in Rock Island, where I live). Everything has been extensively renovated and is now ultra-modern, but the Broward County Historical Society would not allow changes to be made to the “Wreck Bar,” which has windows looking into a pool where live mermaid shows are performed.

I did go to the mermaid show, and it was wild! This is one of only four venues in the U.S. performing live mermaid shows. Apparently, they were a big thing once upon a time. I don’t understand how they can swim with their eyes wide open, no nose plugs, nothing. It cannot be easy. They sit there and smile and such and they really do look like they must be mermaids the way they seem totally unaffected by being submerged!

lead-shot

An incredible tree caught my eye. I think it’s called a Banyan tree. The trunk looked like a bunch of twisted, exposed roots.

I took a couple of naps, and wrote a story for a client. Then an old friend from Los Angeles who lives here now came to the resort with his partner, who is a wonderful guy. It was a very nice evening. I had coconut semolina crusted red snapper. It may have been the most delectable dish I ever have eaten in my life.

I’m not sure what today will bring, but since it’s Saturday, I’m going to try to abstain from work. One of my editors informed me Monday was a holiday (I had forgotten about that) and the office will be closed until Tuesday.

Perfect!