I was left whimpering by year’s end, exhilarated though exhausted by all the changes wrought in December. In addition to leaving my job, I made the decision to adopt two dogs from friends who were splitting up and moving to different countries. Somewhat of an impulse decision, with major consequences. I figure that doggy management takes up about 2 hours a day – hours that need to be carved out of somewhere. Every single day. Sigh. Adjusting to those new demands, coupled with the stresses of handing over the reigns in a rather… er… complex work environment, meant that by the time the holidays rolled around, I was ready to retreat.
With lots of road trip time logged in 2010, I was only one stay away from achieving Platinum level for 2011 in the Fairmont hotel loyalty program. So I made the wise decision to take the dogs to their kennel for a day, have J– feed the cats their dinner, and take myself away from everything familiar to stay in the Fairmont Empress for a night.
It was a welcome treat indeed. Over the years, the Empress has been the scene of many special occasions in my life: my MBA graduation dinner, opera galas, special dinners in the Empress Room, taking dear old friend RH for curry whenever he comes to town, regular pedicures with the fantastic Shelly in the Willow Stream Spa, and more recently, all of the Friends of the Empress events that buddy RA helped to put together since that program was launched in 2009. In fact, these latter occasions have truly endeared the Grande Dame to me, since program participants have had the occasion to be treated as “insiders” at several unusual affairs at the hotel, including the incredibly fun Mission Emp-possible event last winter, and hanging out on the Flag Deck for a bubbles tasting last summer. Good libations, coupled with Chef Ito’s continually amazing cuisine, have ensured numerous fun times and very fond memories. Though the program won’t be the same without dear R–, I am looking forward to learning what lies in store for us in 2011.
Anyway, upon an early check-in, I was delighted to learn that I had been upgraded to one of the rooms at the top of the hotel. Room 828 proved to be the perfect sanctuary, complete with an enormous desk to sit down at and plan my year, and an utterly luxurious Jacuzzi tub in a huge bathroom overlooking the Inner Harbour at Humboldt & Wharf. For much of the day, I sat in one of the overstuffed comfy chairs, dragged over to take advantage of the sun coming in through the window. There, I plotted out over 100 items on an uber To-Do list that, if accomplished, should make 2011 a stellar year.
I spent most of the day in the room, venturing out mid afternoon for a late lunch/early dinner at Pag’s – my target on this day of bliss for its consistent yumminess. Tummy full on salty bread and pesto pasta, I retreated back to my room for a long hot bath and TV movie. Firm bed, crisp sheets, quiet hallways… breathing space indeed.