Just about every two months, my family gets the “New Orleans itch” and we make a drive over to the “Big Easy” for a day trip. We spend the day walking in The French Quarter–sweating, eating, shopping, and watching other tourists do the same thing. Although, the family and I consider New Orleans almost a second home rather than classifying ourselves as “tourists”.
This past year we decided to buck the current trend of “staycations” due to high gasoline costs and drive to New Orleans for a night in a hotel, dinner, music and a mini 36 hour vacation. It was nice to head back to an air-conditioned hotel room at the end of a day instead of climbing back into a car with our bodies soaked in sweat for a two-hour drive back to Mobile, Alabama.
For my 25th wedding anniversary, I decided to take my wife back to New Orleans, sans kids, and spend not one night, but two, in one of New Orleans’ most notable hotels and celebrate not only our anniversary, but the sights and sounds of the Christmas season in a city we both love.
You could visit New Orleans a hundred times and plan a hundred different itineraries and expected experiences…architect walks, antiquing, partying, voodoo, carriage rides, shopping, gambling, even museum experiences. Ordinarily, we would plan to wander the streets of the French Quarter and let the experiences come to us. This time, for this occasion we had an itinerary.
Our celebration/vacation would start at The Hotel Monteleone. The Monteleone Hotel began in 1886, and was started by Antonio Monteleone. Since 1886, four generations of Monteleones have dedicated themselves to making their hotel what it was and still is–a sparkling jewel in the heart of the French Quarter.
Quick Travel Tip–While the prestige exists to drive up to a fancy hotel and have a valet unload your luggage and drive your car to a parking garage, ready at your bidding; the $30.00 dollars a day to park on-site can be budget breaking. You can save almost $15.00 a day by parking in Central Parking off Canal Street and walk a short 4 blocks to the hotel. This also makes your car a convenient storage area and rest stop while walking in Jackson Square. Store some soft drinks in a cooler in you car trunk and save on snacks while exploring the Vieux Carre’.
We arrived at the hotel excited after a short walk and started to check in. This was to be a perfect weekend right up to the point we arrived at the desk. This story should be another “Quick Travel Tip”–but it’s more of a rant, than a tip. You see, at this writing, the USA is in an economic recession, a credit crunch, businesses are going bankrupt and homeowners are losing their houses to foreclosure. Everyone is overextended on their credit cards. So why is it that a person paying cold, hard, CASH is discriminated against?
First, we had to use a friend’s credit card to make reservations for our room. That wasn’t much of a problem because we informed the reservations attendant on the phone that we would pay in cash, we merely were reserving the room with the card. Cash. “No problem,” we were informed.
Second, What we were not informed of, was something called “Incidental Charges” This is a deposit one must make to cover incidental charges such as the “honor bar”, towel theft, room service,phone calls, and such. I can understand this to a degree, and if you use a credit card, you can charge these things to your room during your stay, but Hotel Monteleone charges $60.00 a day for these incidentals. Right away, they wanted $120.00 out of our budget to sit in their coffers, in case we drank a Coke out of their outrageously expensive mini-fridge. I wasn’t paying for it. I had not been informed to bring a $120 dollar cash deposit. I had not budgeted for it. I asked to see a manager.
I explained that I do not use a credit card. I did not bring a debit card. I brought cash. I had other plans, that did not include room service or Adult movies. What could be done? The manager and I settled on a $60.00 deposit. One night. If I abused any of their services the first night, then I would be charged and asked for the remaining 60 bucks. If not, the initial deposit would carry over to the next night. I decided I could live with that.
Deep breath. Calm down. Relax.
We received our room keycards and boarded the Bienville Street Elevators and rose to our floor. The Vacation could finally begin.