Friday, October 28, 2005

Escape from the Land of the Mole People

Today I jet off to sunny Phoenix, Arizona for the culmination of my current consulting project. It's a pleasant, sunny 75-85 degrees in Phoenix right now, and while the grey mire of the long, sunless winter has not totally taken hold here yet in the lush Pacific Northwest - a little sun break will be mightily welcome.

Phoenix is home to my favorite hotel in the world, though sadly, I will not be staying there. The beautiful Biltmore Hotel. Though exact attribution for the architectural design is somewhat disputed, it is a Frank Lloyd Wright building through and through. The Wright Foundation is charged with design decisions for every update, replacement, and expansion, ensuring that the Lloyd Wright style and standards never waver. It is lovely - lovely in a way I can't fully describe, not just pretty, or luxurious, though it is both of those. It's more that every single little detail has been thought through. Anything you seek, you will find at your fingertips. Everything will feel exactly the way you think it should, the right cushiness or firmness, warmth or coolness. It's like being in a spooky dreamland where little fairies follow you around and make everything just as your heart desires it, a moment before the desire even becomes conscious thought.

I was put up at the Biltmore a few years ago while in Phoenix on business. I remember calling Enrico that night from my room, having just returned from one of the seven fantastically mosaic-ed swimming pools - the one with the three-story-high, lit fountain, and the bar built into the pool at water level with little mosaic stools - and wimpering, "I love this hotel. This is the Best.Hotel.Ever. I want to live at this hotel and never leave."

Last year, my sister stayed at the Biltmore on business. Telling someone how much they're going to love something is usually fruitless and annoying, and she greeted my rapturous praise with polite patience, although she started to come around after calling ahead to inquire about the swimming pool and getting transferred to the "pool concierge." That was a clue, right there, to the Biltmore experience. They have a frickin' pool concierge. By the time she came home, she was a fully vested member of the club.

So, when said I was going to Phoenix on business, she said "Oh! Are you staying at the Biltmore??" Sadly, no, I replied. And we had a moment of reverential, wistful silence together, punctuated only by that yearning, simpering sound Homer Simpson makes when he's thinking about doughnuts.

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