A Study in Contrasts
Great Harvest in Boulder, Xona Resorts in Scottsdale and The Conference Center & Inn in Clemson
Months ago when I started my blog, I knew it would be about genealogy and books. Of course, I also wanted a place to rant about poor service, horrible products, no follow through, bad lines, some of the things that make road rage, etc. In particular, an overpriced hotel in Scottsdale, Arizona was snarky, unclean, smoky and throughly unsatisfactory. I heard a lecture years ago at Friends School about the qualities that make strong, good, productive kids citizens. One of those was recognition by non-familial adults in the community. In essence what that lecture sparked for me was the “catch a kid doing something good” campaign. Instead of fussing and fuming about poorly behaved children on an airplane or at King Soopers, throwing tantrums in the aisles, of which there are plenty, I started watching for good behavior, enjoying it and remarking on it at home during dinner. Sentences like:
- Today I saw the nicest little boy at the park doing …
- My checker at Target was so nice today, she …
- While we were at the library, a really helpful lady …
Over time, this catching someone doing something good, developed a second part, in addition to thanking a child for holding the door for me, if I knew the child, I made a special point to tell his parents. One of my favorites was watching a high school boy play some tennis game, hard, with kids four years and younger than he was. He played good shots, and had hard hits, but he held up on the kill shots. Instead of going for the easy put away shots, he polished his ground strokes over and over again keeping the younger, smaller kids involved. He could have ended the streak almost any time, but instead he showed tremendous sensitivity to the age differences, especially to the budding competitiveness of a twelve year old boy. He played hard, but didn’t go for the throat. It wasn’t a match, he honed his skills without eviscerating this young boy. I didn’t know his parents well, and didn’t see them for nearly a year after this happened. But when I did see her, I told his mom, she had raised him well, and he deserved a get out of jail free card for that kind of gracious behavior. I made it a goal to complement either a kid or his or her parents or both when I caught the kid doing something good. Why you should consider doing this, it makes you feel great. You always have something positive to say and it makes you happy. The other reasons, it reinforces good behavior, it lets your child or children know in a tangible way, that you in fact do notice and acknowledge good behavior. How many times have you heard the mother of a quiet peaceful girl complain that the reward in school for her good cooperative behavior is to have the loudest, most disruptive, boy set next to her by the teacher? That happens way too often. So I thought I should start with something positive.
In Boulder, we are lucky to have a bread store, a bakery that makes fresh bread everyday except Sunday and holidays. I have been a customer at Great Harvest for twenty years. In a rut, I order Oregon Herb bread for ten trips in row. Other times, I change the variety of bread, add a specialty round loaf for dips, choose bread sticks or rolls, order holiday pies, there are lots of options. There are also holiday shaped breads for edible centerpieces. Around Halloween, it’s spiders and at Easter, it’s bunnies. Pick a holiday and see what fun shapes they make the bread loaves. It’s inventive, fun and makes everyone smile. There are those who feel that bread has too many carbohydrates. There are those who feel it costs too much, and it is more expensive than a loaf of bread in the supermarket. I offer the same solution, one slice of Great Harvest bread makes a better tasting sandwich, albeit a little messier, than two slices of regular bread. Enjoy it. There is a frequent buyer card, so the 13th loaf is free. There is also the free sample slice you get when you go into the store. Economically, you can balance the price by getting tortillas the next week, but really you should just get the bread because it tastes so good. You and your family deserve that.
The bread is:
- doesn’t have a million pounds of preservatives,
- made locally,
- the service is always with a smile.
The real reason this works for me and has for years, is that it’s delicious. It’s reliably excellent and if you wish, you can taste a slice of something different, while you are there. They sell bread, rolls, breadsticks, drinks, brownies, coffee, pancake mix, soup mix, cookies, juice and then there are sandwiches, soups and salads at lunch. The service is good, the food is good and it makes me smile to go there. It is worth the extra trip.
I could tell you the story about the Xona Resort Hotel in Scottsdale, the check in process was a mess, even down to the reservation process. My sister-in-law reserved a room at this hotel three months prior to the wedding we were all attending and they moved her to another branch, a sister hotel, without informing her. She could have had more than 80 days to try and get another room closer or even in that same hotel, if they had informed her prior to check in that she wasn’t in the same hotel as the rest of the wedding party and participants. We were there for a four o’clock wedding, we flew in the first flight in the morning. My husband needed to take a run, so all we needed was to put our stuff in the room, send him off and have the room ready an hour after that. They could not accommodate this, check in was at three, no exceptions. They said this was because they were cleaning the rooms. I thought this was inflexible, but when we saw later what they considered a clean room, we realized it was ludicrous. When we finally got in, the room was still not finished.
There were three or four pools, all of which had no smoking signs all around. We checked out two, prior to the wedding, both were smoke filled oases in the desert, with inebriated, crass customers. The second day, our room again was not adequately cleaned. Would I go back, not on your life. The management was surly and no intention of fixing the problems. The hotel was booked solid for the weekend and that was that. The wedding and reception at Troon was wonderful, the weekend marred only by various experiences with the surly service at Xona.
I could go on ranting, two or three good paragraphs about Xona, or I could go at this from a different perspective and highlight the wonderful experience we had at Clemson University a month later at the Conference Center and Inn. We arrived a half an hour prior to check in time, everyone at the front desk was smiling, welcoming and they let us right in. The fresh chocolate chips cookies smelled great. We were exhausted, smiled and said no thanks. We took our bags up to the room and dropped everything, exhausted from two planes rides and a two hour drive. Opened the drapes and oh my gosh the view, we started laughing, sprawled on the beds, took our shoes off and started to rejuvenate, getting ready to explore the town and campus. The service was exemplary, the room was clean, the breakfast the next morning was varied, hot and tasty, no one had a problem when we took a banana and an orange to go. We left for the campus tour, got soaked in the light spring rain, came back, changed and got ready to go out again. The room was clean before noon. The place was about a year old, it was spotless, well appointed, the halls were quiet, clean and bright; by the elevators there was a huge window overlooking the campus in the distance, and help in identifying the buildings. The whole experience was light years away from what we left in Scottsdale the prior week. One small drawback, there was no place to drop recycles. It would have been nice if somewhere in the various halls, elevator spots and lobbies, there had been next to or near the trash receptacles, a place to get rid of plastic water bottles and soda cans. This was the only drawback, the visit was stress free, the service was quietly and unobtrusively excellent. Would I go back, absolutely, in a heart beat.
So which would you rather read about, the good, the bad, the ugly or the wonderful? I like writing about excellence, but the rant is so cathartic. Hard to say.