Thursday, March 16, 2006

Wyndham Ft. Lauderdale: Bad Hotel or the WORST Hotel

Put together rudeness, incompetence and crumbling infrastructure and you've got a fine advertisement for the Sheraton across the highway. We arrived late Tuesday night and used the courtesy phone to call for the shuttle. The hotel is only about a mile from the airport, so how long could it take?


Well, after fifteen minutes we called again and were assured that the driver had just taken off and would be there soon. Another fifteen or twenty minutes later we called and asked whether it was really coming or shoudl we just call a cab. Well, the shuttle finally came --- and drove right past us. The hotel hadn't told us that the shuttle couldn't stop at the terminal. So the dozen or so of us who had been waiting for the past hour had to high-tail it down the steamy asphalt to the place where it could stop. We finally got to the hotel where we were checked in by the curt night staff. We got to our room -- and surprise! It wasn't the right room -- two small beds instead of one big one. Another call to the surly staff and they assured us someone would arrive with keys to take us to the right room.

They came surprsingly soon. They brought us to a kind of room I recognized -- the two peepholes, one about halfway down the door should have been the tip off. It's the room kept in reserve for handicapped visitors. More's the pity. It's set up to have an accessible shower -- the result is that the shower water streams into a drain in the middle of the bathroom making the whole floor very slippery. Then there's the towel rack in an inconvenient place that obviously has come down many times either from knocking people on the head or being desperately grabbed by someone falling. The wall is drilled with numerous holes from re-attachment efforts and the rack hangs precariously. I won't even bother to mention the strategic position behind the ice machine or the toilet that never stops running...

But the most obvious issue is the surly staff. They must really be badly paid. Our waiter actually sighed aloud when we weren't ready to give the orders he obviously wanted to take. Everything seems to be a trial. And there's nothing nearby (except for the equally expensive Sheraton's restaurant) so we have limited choices for eating. We ate in the bar tonight and despite being incredibly busy, the bartender was very cheerful, so we may go back there.

On the plus side: talking with Tom Inge, who is always a lot of fun, and catching up briefly with Faye Ringel (hopefully we can do dinner tomorrow, too). Best panel by far: outsider art (everyone from Dadd to Darger) with folks like Charles Vess, Elizabeth Hand and Peter Straub. Best story (from another panel with GOH Vess): Vess told about going to the Bodleian Library with the Rackham Society and seeing a wonderful nineteenth-century book of Cinderella which had sort of paper dolls and a pop-up coach. You put a dress on Cin when she goes to the ball, and pop off her head to put her in the window of the carriage. Now, I can see kids coming up with alternative narratives with that removable head! Apparently the books were colored by child labour to speed the process of mass production. Vess's art show is wonderful (of course!) -- amazing work.

Gene's paper was on the first panel and went well despite some technical glitches at the beginning. Lots of folks were eager to comment on it. I don't give my presentation until the last sessions on Saturday, so I'm still waiting. We're taking it easy tonight -- a rare treat!

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