Archive for September, 2006

You may have noticed that the majority of the group cruises that we have posted are on luxury cruise lines. There’s a reason for that: we both love the luxury cruises, and I, Lis, love luxury everything. You might say that LezCruise was born many, many years ago when I was sitting with my Dad talking about an ad I’d seen in some magazine for Four Seasons Hotels. I asked him if they were really that great and he told me that yes, they were really wonderful. The best. I decided that someday I wanted to stay in a Four Seasons hotel.

Then, about three years ago, it became legal for us to marry in British Columbia. We decided to go there and get married on our anniversary. This would be our second wedding as we had a wedding ceremony with friends and family in 2002. We planned our British Columbia wedding a year ahead. We would go back to the Counting Sheep Inn in Mission, B.C. where we had honeymooned in 2002. We purchased a wedding package from Virginia, the proprieter, and I talked Mary into spending three nights previous to the wedding at the Four Seasons in Vancouver. At that time, our money went far in Canada and it was also the off-season, so it was less than $200 a night for us to stay there.

Now, just to complicate things because it has nothing to do with this story, our Canada wedding was set for April and then in March it suddenly (and briefly) became legal for us to marry in Multnomah County, Oregon. We decided to do that also. For awhile we had a plan to get married every year on our anniversary in some place that would allow us to do so. But logistically that became difficult, so we have only been married three times :)

So, in April 2004 we spent three nights at the Four Seasons in Vancouver. When we first saw our room, which was small and ordinary, I immediately said to Mary, “Well thank you for humoring me in this. I don’t see what’s so special about this, but at least now we know.” Ah, so little we knew. It’s the little touches that made our stay so perfect. (Except when we left the hotel. We managed to get in a fight every time we left the hotel, so the next time we visited we tried to stay in the hotel as much as possible. We only left to eat meals and buy chocolate.)

In the bathroom of the Four Seasons I was introduced to L’Occitane. These are the most divine bath products. I smell them and I am calm and in a happier, better place. There was shampoo and conditioner and lotion and two kinds of soap. When we got home I discovered that we have a L’Occitane store in Portland and though a 10 oz. bottle of shampoo is $16.00 !!!! I occasionally buy one because it is a lot less expensive than going to the Four Seasons and it makes me so happy when I am washing my hair with it. It smells that good! Also in the bathroom was an amazing magnifying mirror and q-tips and cotton balls. The towels were thick and large. When the maid cleaned our room she laid out our toiletries on washcloths. Hard to explain but it made us both so happy to see the care the maid had taken in making our bathroom look lovely and not messy.

Our first night we ordered room service dinner. Now it was the best steak we had ever had, but what was really great was the presentation. The room service guy wheeled in this cart which then turned into a table with a white tablecloth, fresh flowers and beautiful china. Our room was suddenly a beautiful restaurant, yet we got to eat in our Four Seasons bathrobes. He told us to call when we were done and they would come get the cart. When Mary called she was asked if she would like some coffee, so she said yes. They brought up enough coffee for four people in a beautiful silver carafe with another flower and an artistic cookie layout. It cost $16.00!!! and if she’d known that she probably wouldn’t have ordered it, but it was the prettiest coffee service she’d ever had.

We had a choice of about 4 different newspapers for the morning – there were two plastic cards to hang on the door. Each side of the card listed a different newspaper and each night we chose which card to hang on the door. In the morning the newspaper was delivered in a plastic bag. On the plastic bag was a sticker with the day’s weather forecast on it. There was also an option to put out our shoes in the evening for a complimentary shoeshine. We each did that and it was like opening a present in the morning, unwrapping our shiny black shoes – Mary’s were tennis shoes and boy did they make them look lovely.

After we woke up, we went to the health club. Each of the cardio machines had its own tv screen and there were headphones that we could borrow to listen to the tv while working out. After I had been working out about 15 minutes, an attendant brought me a glass of water. I felt so pampered! When I finished working out I noticed that there were about 5 different pitchers of water. Each had a different type of fruit in it so there was lemon water, and raspberry and orange, etc. The pool was indoor outdoor and we spent some time playing in the pool and then we went into the locker room where there were stacks of towels and everything you could ask for – hair spray, mouth wash, lotion, q-tips… one day I forgot my comb and a woman in the locker room said, “Oh just ask the attendant for a comb. They’ll give you one.” And indeed they did. The locker room floor was always dry and clean no matter how many people had just tracked water in. An attendant would come in and dry it immediately. There was also a sauna in the locker room and I discovered it was lovely to shower and then sit in the sauna for just a few minutes so I didn’t have to towel dry. Outside the locker room was a machine to wring all the water out of our bathing suits and then there were plastic bags to put our suits in. It was like I didn’t have to think of anything and everything was taken care of for me.

After our workout, we went to breakfast. We had breakfast in the hotel all three mornings and by the second morning they were treating us like they had always known us. There were a hot and a cold buffet each with a set price, in addition to regular items on the menu. The hot buffet included waffles and eggs cooked to order and bacon and sausage and everything in the cold buffet and I don’t really know what else because I didn’t have it. The cold buffet had all sorts of fruit – mangoes, blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, papayas, raspberries, blackberries … in addition to all sorts of pastries and muffins and cold cereals. I don’t remember the prices for the buffets, but they weren’t inexpensive. They also had a fruit bowl which cost less then either of the buffets and what I really wanted was a fruit bowl that I could fill myself at the buffet. When I asked if this was possible, the waiter said, “Of course, of course,” and sent me on my way. Each morning he exhorted me to go back for seconds and thirds even though I wasn’t paying for the buffet.

On our second trip to the Four Seasons we were on our way to a conference and were really tired and all I wanted was a couple of hard boiled eggs and some juice. I could have gone down to the mall for that and it would have cost me 4 or 5 bucks. But we were both so tired and thought it would be lovely just to sit down there in their courtyard restaurant and have breakfast. (Another feature of the breakfast was that there were about 5 or 6 different newspapers at the entrance to the dining room and we were welcome to take any of them, gratis, and read them at our table. I loved to sit at the table and read the newspaper of my choice.) I think my two hard-boiled
eggs and glass of juice were something like $14 but I’m telling you those were the BEST hard-boiled eggs I have ever had.

So we had this amazing stay at the Four Seasons and when we got home we kept remembering fondly our room service dinner and the wonderful breakfast buffet and the amazing service and Mary decided that what she wanted to do was some sort of all-inclusive vacation where we could eat like that but not worry about what everything cost. And that’s when she decided to go on a cruise. You’ll notice I said SHE decided. That’s because she basically told me that she had to go on a cruise and she was going with me or without me. In my next blog entry on this topic I will tell you how that led to our first cruise.

Many people aren’t aware that we are all entitled to get a free credit report once a year. It’s a good idea to take advantage of this and make sure there’s nothing fishy going on. I’ve discovered a great website that will connect you to all three major credit reporting services for free. It’s www.annualcreditreport.com.  That’s all for now.