Another weekend has come to an end -- frenetic, fun and scheduled to
the hilt. I think back to last weekend fondly, as if it were someone
else's life. We didn't actually get out of town, did we? Yes, we did.
We drove an hour north to Anderson, California, at the top end of California's Great North Valley. The Gaia Hotel has been open less than a year but seems well-established and popular, judging by the number of cars in the parking lot in the morning.
The first thing you notice about the property is its environmentally-friendly landscaping: no lawns. The grasses, plants, succulents and flowers were sensible planting choices for our water-starved environment, and very attractive. This eco-friendly approach to landscaping is in harmony with the small boutique hotel chain's philosophy of environmental sustainability and conservation. And you couldn't tell that even one tree had been removed for construction, nestled as the hotel is among valley oaks, evergreens and cottonwoods.
Upon checking in we were asked to relinquish any communication devices. No, this isn't the Soviet Union -- this is the Retweet with Broughton* vacation package that challenges guests to unplug from their electronic temptations -- like texting, e-mail, internet and voice mail; you've heard of these? -- and simply enjoy their families and the many activities at their fingertips. For this sacrifice guests receive a deep discount on their stay (this summer special lasts through August but must be booked in June).
"What?! Give up my internet? Impossible! I'm an addict, you know."
Actually, it was quite possible, since I have a desktop computer, which is tough to stuff into my purse. And hey, deep discount, right? Unplug me!
Knowing that I couldn't have any communication devices with me while partaking in my Digital Detox, I left my phone at home.
(Photo stolen from gsherman on Flickr)
We didn't bother bringing our blackberries; everyone knows that blackberries aren't in season until mid-July.
The kids were enthralled with the room, which overlooked a large koi pond with fountains.
I was enthralled with the bed linens, but that's just me.
A walk around the grounds meant a visit with the swans -- yes, swans, four of them. They kept making the heart-shaped necks even when there were no paparazzi present.
We strolled by the pool but didn't go in; we've been having unseasonably cool weather for June. Next time, though, look out. Cannonball.
Next time we visit -- and I believe we will again -- we'll try the exercise room, which should be good for a blog entertaining write-up, and maybe even a front page newspaper accident report.
Before we checked out we strolled into the hotel's own Woodside Grill for the continental breakfast buffet. It
was just what you want with kids: easy, delicious, and FREE. Even so,
the service was excellent and two very friendly servers made sure we
had everything we needed. In fact, I'd say that the best thing about
our stay was the way we were treated: as if we mattered, as if we would
likely become return customers and even old friends. I'm serious. From
the moment we checked in the staff were top-notch -- efficient, warm
and relaxed. I can say that with authority as I have spent my life in
customer service, and you don't see good service very often, let alone
GREAT service. Way too go, Gaia Hotel employees, and thank you!
Our stay was too short, but we are heavily-scheduled people. I hated to get back to my fast-paced internet-connected world, but I had recharged my batteries and was ready to plug back into the grid.
And I had to get to the grocery store; I was kind of craving blackberries, for some reason.
* * * * *
*In case you're wondering about the word "ReTweet," it's a play on words stemming from the popular on-line social networking service Twitter. I'm not Twying to Twick you.
For photos from our visit to the spectacular Sundial Bridge in Redding, just minutes from the Gaia Hotel, visit my "locals only" blog Reasonably Educated Bumpkins.
For more information about the Gaia Hotel or the "digital detox" vacation packages available at Broughton Hotels, please click the links. I worked hard to put them there. I hope they work. The end.