#241 – Putting on the Ritz

Yesterday, I treated my wife to an overnight stay in Atlanta for her birthday. Hotels don’t normally impress me, but I have to admit the Four Seasons blew me away. Seeing it in person, I better appreciated Sophia’s stated wish to book a room there someday. It has to be the most impressive hotel in Atlanta, even nicer overall than the Ritz-Carlton … where we stayed.

I’d wanted to arrange something special for Sophia’s birthday this year, and I thought a luxury getaway in Atlanta and tickets to a show at the Fox Theater would do the trick. Months ago, she’d attended a business conference at the Four Seasons. She’d waxed rhapsodic about the establishment and its fabulous amenities and said she’d love to stay there. I’d meant to accommodate her wish when I booked our overnight visit. Except, I hadn’t listened closely enough when she gave me her rundown, and I mistook the Ritz-Carlton for her desired destination.

I discovered my error when we registered at the Ritz yesterday. I exuberantly told the clerk I wanted to make a reservation for Sophia at “your world-renowned spa,” and I asked him for directions to “the fabulous pool my wife’s raved about!” In response, the dark-complexioned immigrant from the Sudan looked at me as if I’d just proclaimed myself his long lost, pasty white, twin brother. He politely informed me that the Ritz-Carlton boasts neither a spa nor pool on its premises. His clarifications in turn prompted a mortified Sophia to whisper in my ear: “It’s the Four Seasons with those amenities, idiot!”

At least the show didn’t disappoint. We saw the musical, Memphis, which I highly recommend. Most graciously, the Ritz’s shuttle driver transported us to the theater and also volunteered to retrieve us at the performance’s end. He gave us his business card so we could call him for a pickup.

As the theater emptied, Sophia and I learned that, without reading glasses, neither of us could make heads or tails of the fine print on the business card she fished from her pocketbook. Thankfully, a Good Samaritan agreed to dictate the telephone number to me while I dialed. I found it difficult to hear anything over the din of the exiting crowd; and I didn’t know for sure whether the guest services’ clerk understood my request and location, until we spotted the telltale black van and waived it down.

Oddly, the driver didn’t look like the same guy who’d driven us to the show. And Sophia insisted the vehicle picking us up wasn’t the same as the one that brought us. She was correct, and for good reason: the van retrieving us belonged to the Four Seasons, not the Ritz, which we discovered when the driver delivered us to the Four Season’s car port. As we belatedly realized, Sophia had mistakenly handed me the business card she’d obtained months ago for its shuttle service.

Before sheepishly asking a Four Season’s valet to telephone the Ritz-Carlton’s guest services, Sophia showed me all those fabulous amenities she’d longed to sample.

Two of the fabulous amenities available at the Four Seasons … but not at the Ritz, where we stayed

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