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Archive for the ‘Lodgings’ Category

It’s that time of year again–time for those of us with sweeties, partners, spouses, and so forth to think about doing something Valentines-y. I’ve added a few new tips to this post that talk more about the travel aspect of a Valentines getaway…

Lots of people go on romantic getaways sometime near Valentine’s Day. It’s a great time to take a trip with a loved one with the goal of spending some *ahem* quality time together, whether in a snowy clime or on a sunny beach.

But what if you’re stuck with a menage-a-trois on your Valentines excursion, because you’ve got to drag along that ever-unwelcome companion–chronic pain? When pain’s along for the ride, what can you do to steal that quality time  with your Valentine (with or with out the *ahem*, if you know what I mean)?

Go Someplace Pretty

When my husband and I do the Romantic Weekend Getaway thing, we go someplace beautiful. We prefer the beach (which is gorgeous even in winter), but you can also find hotels and inns with views of mountains, lakes, rivers, forests, deserts…whatever you prefer and whatever’s within an easy drive of your home. Heck, it can even be fun to go to a major city and stay in a downtown hotel with a view of the skyscrapers.

Splurge on a Great Room

Another thing we like to do for our V-Day getaway is spend the extra $$ on a room with a view. Last year we stayed in a room that let me look out over the Monterey Bay…from the bed. In fact, that’s one of my favorite things when I travel–getting a room that’s got something beautiful or interesting for me to look at when I’m lying in bed resting. I have to rest a lot, and if my pain is intrusive on a trip, I may have to spend a lot of my time in bed. Which can suck. But if I’ve got a view from the bed, I can distract myself from the pain just by looking out the window. I know I’m not at home. I’m appreciating a new and different location.

But Make It Close to Home

If you’re planning just an overnight trip on the 14th of February, choose a destination that’s at most an hour’s drive from your home. The “transit” part  is almost always the most pain-creating part of any trip. So keep that part to a minimum. Don’t fly. Don’t drive for hours just to turn around and drive back the next day. Heck, stay in town and try a new B&B, explore your own historic downtown as a tourist, or head for a natural wonder or major tourist attraction you never visit ’cause you live close by.

 

And once you’ve made it to your destination, here’s how to make your trip romantic…

Snuggle

Snuggling can’t be overrated as a way of connecting with your sweetheart. Cuddling, canoodling, and spooning work too.

Enjoy a Romantic Dinner

If going out isn’t going to work, stay in. Bring a picnic with you in a cooler, order room service, call out for pizza. Light a travel candle, kick back, and have Dinner In Bed.

Talk…About Something Else

Make a major effort to talk about something besides your health, doctor’s appointments, current pain, etc. Instead, talk about politics, religion, the weather, the state of the roads…whatever, so long as it gives you and your partner a break from your physical problems.

Take a Bath

Hot water soothes so many things. So take a bath–so much the better if you can afford a room with a two-person jetted tub so you and your partner can take that bath together. (No you don’t have to do anything but bathe!)

Indulge in a Couples Massage

For those with enough money, lots of luxury hotels and a growing number of mid-priced inns and motels offer in-room couples massages. If ever there was a time to indulge, it’s now! (Whenever “now” might be.)

Watch a Movie

Do you and your partner love to MST3K bad movies? Or do you prefer to hold hands and watch epic masterpieces in silence? Bring your favorite DVDs along on your trip and spend some time bonding while being entertained. Lie together on your hotel bed and hold hands. Giggle. Cuddle.

If you’re feeling up to a couple of hours sitting up, head for the nearest movie theater and have a real live two-hour date.

*Ahem* Enjoy Each Other

Yes, like that. Sex releases endorphins. And “sex” can mean a wide range of activities that enhance intimacy and happiness, even if you can’t do it all.

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overleaf_lodge_ocva

Photo (c) OVCA on flickr.com

I broke just about every rule I’ve ever made on this site when I stayed at the Overleaf Lodge and Spa. I was flaky about getting a reservation, so ended up calling to get the room at the Overleaf less than 24 hours before I arrived. I chose the Overleaf based on its convenient and pretty location as described on its own web site, rather than by looking at reviews and analyzing how its amenities would work for my physical needs. And I was Not Well Prepared(tm) for my stay–we had no food, no personal pillow, etc.

Just goes to show that y’all should Do As I Say, Not As I Do. Also, it’s better to be lucky than good. Without further ado, the wonder and joy that is the Overleaf Lodge.

The Basics

The Overleaf Lodge is a big spa hotel on the central Oregon Coast. It’s a newer hotel, built as an eco-lodge, with a lot of attention paid to sustainability programs. (They recycle the used bar soap. I love that!) The Overleaf sits just north of the town of Yachats (pronounced ya-HOTS), Oregon. If you’re not familiar with Oregon geography, be aware that the Overleaf is nowhere near Portland or any major city or airport.

Expect to pay a minimum of $150 for a basic room in the off-season, and $210 in high season. If you need cheaper accommodations, the Overleaf’s sister property the Fireside Motel lives next door and runs far less expensive (especially for the non-view rooms). But this review does NOT include the Fireside.

The Bedroom

Our standard King room was friggin’ huge. There was room to turn a wheelchair, though we were not in an ADA room. The bed was soft and fluffy and comfy–I sank into it upon entering and didn’t re-emerge for more than an hour.

The room has a TV & DVD player, but they don’t overwhelm the space. A small table sat in an alcove of windows looking out over the ocean. Our room was not one of the best view rooms, which meant that we were looking south toward the ocean rather than west toward the ocean. All our windows still looked over the water (which is only about 10 yards from the hotel). We were in the midst of an energetic winter storm, but the well-sealed double-paned windows and sliding glass door kept the room quiet all night long. The surf was a gentle echo.

We had a tiny balcony with plastic chairs and table. Didn’t use it on account of the cold and wind and rain, but in the summer it would have been lovely.

The rooms come with a kitchen area in an interesting open space leading to the sinks and bathroom. This kitchen is especially nice–it’s got a fridge with mini-freezer, microwave, coffee maker, cabinets, counters, and bar sink.

Most/all rooms have gas fireplaces. We found that turning on the gas fireplace for about 90 minutes heated up our room for the duration of our overnight stay. Whatever the Overleaf used for insulation in their walls, I want to buy some for my own house!

There’s free wi-fi in all guest rooms.

Grade: A

The Bathroom

We had double sinks in a nice wide usable area.

The bathroom itself was small, but the tub was deep-ish and comfortable. For a bit more $$, you can get one of the many spa tub rooms. We were being all budget-conscious and one thing the Overleaf ain’t is cheap, so I passed on the spa tub. Sigh. Maybe next time.

Towels were thick and numerous. Robes were comfy. Toilet paper was average.

Grade: B

Food & Drink

Here’s where the Overleaf totally won me over. We got breakfast with our room rate, which my wonderful husband went down and raided, then brought up to me so I could sleep in. They don’t use paper or plastic tableware–it’s all crockery & metal, which I like for its sustainability. The range of continental breakfast options was, in my opinion, well above average. (But you should know that I hate the scary pseudo “fresh waffles” offered at Holiday Inn Express.) All well and good.

Here’s the Awesome: The Overleaf has a small “pantry” in the lobby. This contains the usual sundries some hotels sell–toothbrushes and shampoo and granola bars. But they’ve also got a big freezer filled with microwaveable meals they’re purchasing at Trader Joe’s and reselling. They’ve also got wine, beer, and some shelf-stable food items. Having arrived exhausted at the hotel, and having been dreading the need to drive into town to eat dinner that night, my husband and I were beyond thrilled to see this. And the Overleaf lets guests grab plates and silverware from the breakfast area to take up to rooms to use for meals.

Grade: A

Common Areas

The Overleaf has a big lobby with lots of seating. They’ve got a tiny gift shop area that sits in the middle of the lobby. The hotel is easy enough to navigate. It’s got elevators (always a good thing from my POV).

A downside during winter: It’s cold and windy in the outdoor breezeways–bring a coat if you’ve got to get something out of your car. You can’t get close to most rooms via vehicle.

There’s a DVD library…but it’s a rental library and I found the price to rent a DVD to be stupid-steep. If you want to watch movies in your room, I’d recommend BYO.

Grade: B-

Service

Both on the phone and live in person, I found the majority of the service folks to be very friendly, helpful, and accommodating. The desk staff know the hotel–you can ask them questions and they’ll know the answers.

Grade: A

The Spa

Know that this review is based on looking in on the spa rather than using it. I wish I’d had the chance to enjoy this spa–it looks amazing!

Hotel guests get access to the hydrotherapy areas of the on-site spa–which means the hot tub and warm pool that overlook the ocean. I love this area so much–it evokes some of the wonder of the hot tubs at Esalen, with a more upscale indoor environment. (Also, swimsuits are required.) You also get access to the locker room (of course), which isn’t huge but is gorgeous and has upholstered armchairs for TWP who need to sit down comfortably. The locker rooms also have gender-segregated steam rooms and saunas.

The Overleaf Spa’s menu of treatments includes most of the standards you find at an eco-style spa–less facial peels and more seaweed and mud wraps. For TWP, what I like is the range of hydrotherapy treatments the Overleaf offers. They’ve got a Vichy shower room for their body treatments, plus they do a range of Soaks in individual tubs–these can be added to massages and other treatments for a super-relaxing spa day.

Grade: n/a ’cause I didn’t actually use it

Outside

A paved trail runs between the hotel and the sea. While I’d describe this trail as at best semi-accessible for wheelchair users (paving is old and not there at all in places, in the dirt/gravel areas the ruts can be nasty), it’s reasonably TWP-friendly. It’s a flat, easy walk with immense amounts of beauty all around. Even in the cold and wind, it was worth walking for the staggering sight of the Pacific crashing into the rocks.

There’s no beach to speak of. You’ll have to drive a little or walk a bunch if you want to plop down into the sand or hunt for shells & driftwood.

The Overleaf offers a wide range of outdoor activities to its guests. Ask when you make your reservation, or when you check in, if you want to go hiking or horseback riding or golfing or dune buggying or fishing or etc etc.

Grade: A-

The Bottom Line

The Overleaf Lodge and Spa is a fabulous TWP hotel. Not only would I stay there again, I’d make a point of it.

Grade: A-

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Because a lot of people seem to want to know how to find hotels with Tempur-Pedic(r) beds, I’ve gone out and found some.

*whew*

Gathering these things takes longer than you might imagine. But there will be lots more soon. Check the Pages for more accommodations with Tempur-Pedic beds in more places.

But in the meantime, here are ten California hotels, motels, and inns with Tempur-Pedic mattresses:

Park Tahoe Inn
530-544-6000
South Lake Tahoe, CA
$122.60-$150

All rooms have  Tempur-Pedic beds; some Superior King Rooms have ADA-compliant bathrooms.

Black Bear Inn
209-795-8999
Arnold, CA
$240-$300

All 5 guest rooms have king-sized Tempur-Pedic beds and spa bathtubs.

Coventry Motor Inn
San Francisco, CA
415-567-1200
$90-$187

Not sure how many rooms have Tempur-Pedic  beds; rumor has it that at least some of the King beds have the Tempur-Pedics. Call and ask specifically to be sure to get one. The good news: this is not a high-budget motel (especially for San Francisco), but it’s got good online ratings.

La Serena Inn
Morro Bay, CA
(800) 248-1511
(805) 772-5665
$100-$275/night

At least half the rooms at the La Serena have Tempur-Pedic beds; may all have them by now. But be sure to call for a reservation and ask for a Tempur-Pedic bed. (Can’t do this on the web reservation portal.)

Grass Valley Courtyard Suites
530-272-7696
Grass Valley, CA
$175-$310

All rooms and suites have Tempur-Pedic beds. This hotel also has a full-service day spa and an on-site personal trainer. (I love Grass Valley–Gold Country may be my favorite region in California. Oh, and the Flour Garden bakeries have the best cherry turnovers in the known universe.)

Wydown Hotel
707-963-5100
St. Helena, CA
$308-$375

Unconfirmed. Only info that claims this property has Tempur-Pedic beds comes from 3rd party website.

Stevenswood Spa Resort
800-421-2810
Little River, CA (Mendocino region)
$310-$550

About half the rooms have  King Tempur-Pedic beds; if you look at the individual room types you can figure out which rooms to reserve online, or call and ask for a room with a Tempur-Pedic. As the name implies, there’s an attached spa, which has lots of healing options on the menu.

Best Western Newport Beach Inn
800-523-5549
Newport Beach, CA
$187-$285

Some rooms have Tempur-Pedics; this isn’t emphasized and there’s no way to tell on the web site which these are–you’ve got to call for a room and ask for a Tempur-Pedic room. There’s at least one theoretically ADA compliant room that they seem to be very proud of. No idea if it’s got a Tempur-Pedic or not.

Pierpont Inn Hotel
805-643-6144
Ventura, CA
$111

Unconfirmed. Only info that claims this property has Tempur-Pedic beds comes from 3rd party website.

Tower23 Hotel
Pacific Beach, CA
858-274-2333

Hotel reservation sites claim that all  rooms have Tempur-Pedic beds, and this does seem to be the kind of chic urban resort hotel that can claim tip-top amenities.

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It's important to be comfy when you're sleeping away from home. Which apparently means burying yourself in pillows if you're my friend Daniel.

When I travel, I gotta sleep. There’s no way around it. No matter how many things I want to see, no matter what I want to do, if I don’t get plenty of sleep every single night I might as well stay home.

So I think about sleeping when I plan my trips. When? For how long? On what? Under what? Sleep is a many splendored thing–I need to be comfortable, which means I need to plan pretty carefully.

Dark and Quiet

I need moderate dark and reasonable quiet in order to sleep well.

For me, that means I try to get a room facing away from the street if I’m staying in a big city hotel or highway-facing motor inn.  That helps to keep the noise to a minimum. I also prefer to be about midway down the hallway from the elevator in multi-story accommodations. I like to be able to walk to my room easily, but I don’t love hearing the elevator clank and clang and beep all night.

I always wear earplugs when I sleep, so I don’t need absolute silence in my room.

Lightwise, I want to be able to draw curtains to shut out morning light. Whenever possible, I avoid east-facing rooms. Sunrise and I are not buddies. But I don’t love blackout curtains–they mess up my internal clock. If I get them in my motel room (and if I’m staying in Reno or Vegas, it’s nigh on impossible to avoid them), I make sure not to close them all the way.

Soft and Warm

Unless I’ve got no other choice, I prefer a room with some flavor of central heating rather than a portable space heater. One (often overly) warm spot in an ice-cold room does not work for  me, as I routinely get up more than once per night to use the bathroom.

“Soft” mostly means that I prefer a bed with a newer or specialized mattress. My preference is Tempur-Pedic(tm), but I can’t often afford the kind of room that boasts a top-end bed. Every now and again if I splurge I can afford something with a Sleep Number(tm), which is nice because my husband has different mattress preferences.

What doesn’t work so well for me are the slabs of plywood or concrete that masquerade as mattresses in down-rent Motel 6es and the like. So either I suck it up and budget for a nice enough room to guarantee a decent bed, or I drag my own mattress pad along. (Obviously this is a road-trip strategy.) I’ve got a queen-sized foam mattress pad that comes traveling with me when necessary.

Same goes for blankets–ultra-cheap motels often don’t have heavy enough covers for me, especially in winter. So I bring my own.

My Weary Head

BYO pillow if you want a good night’s sleep on the road. Accept no substitutes.

(I often sleep on hotel pillows so that I can bring their relative comfort to you, my readers. But not at cheap motels anymore. ‘Cause ow.)

Drugs and Other Sleep Aids

Are my friend. Whether I’m currently using melatonin or zolpidem, I bring a trip-long supply and use it regularly. On the road is not the time or place to decide that chemical sleep aids are evil and must be deleted from my repertoire.

Though I don’t use such things, same goes for music, sound generators, TV, aromatherapy, or whatever else you use to help you sleep at home. Bring it with you on your trip to make sure that your sleep environment is as close to what you’ve got at home as you can manage.

Long and Deep

I need to sleep at least 10 hours each night–12 is better when I’m traveling. Yeah, that’s a lot of sleep. That means I’ve either got to go to bed early and forgo whatever night life my destination has to offer, or I’ve got to sleep late in the mornings.

Because I am *ahem* not a morning person, I usually choose to sleep in. This means that I miss things. If you want to see Haleakala without a coating of dense fog, you pretty much have to see it at sunrise. So usually on each major trip I take, if there are cool things to do and see that must be done in the early morning, I’ll pick precisely one of them. I’ll choose one morning to get up early and play, and I’ll suck up the hit to my body and mind.

This can be a bummer sometimes. But if I try to push this limit and do two or three early mornings in one trip, the price I pay gets too high (like I won’t be able to function any more for the duration of the drip and for several days after getting home).

On the other hand, if I pack and plan well, stick to my boundaries, and get that good sleep, I often find that I’m able to do and see more than I might have imagined. Which is just so cool!

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Yotel Heathrow Airport London

A guest cabin in the Yotel at London Heathrow Airport

A couple of friends of mine just got back from a whirlwind trip to England. On their way home from scenic York, they had to spend one night in London before their flight left from Heathrow Airport. Rather than staying in one of the off-site airport motels, they booked a 12-hour stay for 90 pounds.

To describe his thoughts on his experience in Heathrow’s Yotel, my friend Ray used words like “bargain” and “great value” and “wonderful.”

At a Yotel, you use your credit card (one with a chip in it, preferably) at an ATM-style self-op station when you arrive. The station spits out your key card. Though it’s common not to ever need to interact with a Yotel staff member during your stay, there’s always someone manning the desk to provide extras not typically inside the small private rooms–a meal, a beer, a shower stool. (I don’t actually know if they have shower stools.)

Most Yotel guests book their stays in advance–it’s the best way to be sure you’ve got a room. Rooms rent by the hour, with a four-hour minimum. While it’s possible to get a Yotel room on the spur of the moment if you get stuck in London or Amsterdam with a flight cancellation or severe delay, don’t count on it.

Yotel Heathrow London Airport

A standard cabin with bunk bed in Heathrow's Yotel

Ray describes his Yotel room as being like an interior stateroom on a big cruise ship. You get either built-in bunk beds or a motorized Murphy-futon-ish thing that lets couples sleep together in the same bed. The motorized two-person bed takes up most of the room when it’s folded out, but folds away so that a guest can use the desk to work on the free wi-fi or lounge about watching TV. Ray actually described the bathroom facilities as “spacious” (based on the photos, I would qualify that to “spacious considering the nature of the property”). What I like about the bathrooms–they’re private, even in the cheapest rooms. Private baths make life much, much easier for me as a traveler with bladder disease.

Best of all, according to Ray, was the location of the Yotel. Because it’s actually inside (non-security area) one of the terminals at Heathrow (same goes at Gatwick and Amsterdam), they were able to roll out of bed, and 15 minutes later be at the airport and ready to fly.

Premium cabin Yotel Heathrow London

A premium cabin with big bed at the Yotel in London Heathrow airport

That would make a huge difference for me. Traveling with chronic pain, every little step I have to take on a transit day costs me energy and increases my pain. Here are the steps that Yotel removes from the process:

  1. Getting down to the hotel lobby and arranging for/waiting for transportation to the airport.
  2. Taking a taxi, shuttle, train, or subway to the airport.
  3. Walking from the taxi, subway, or shuttle to the check-in line.
If I stayed at the Yotel, I could just stumble up to the automatic check-in line (or even straight to security if I didn’t need to check bags) straight from my room. Because Yotel offers snack service 24/7, I could even get a quick meal and a cup of coffee immediately before starting the airport process.
Hooray for Yotel! Yup, the rooms are small. But even a traveler with pain doesn’t really need space when she’s just staying overnight at the airport on her way someplace else. The location of these hotels, the comfort of the rooms and the beds, the ability to lock bags in with me to keep them safe, the private baths, and the moderate-to-low prices make Yotels a major boon for travelers with pain and hidden disabilities. I’d love to hear that Yotel is building a facility at every major international airport in the world.
Has anybody here stayed at a Yotel? If so, what did you think? Inquiring travelers want to know…
All photos (c) Yotel

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I enjoyed this article that provides hotels with information about how they can make their facilities friendly to guests with autism spectrum disorders:

Working Towards a New Kind of Friendly

And of course, the Autistic Globetrotter is a friend of Travels With Pain.

I’d love to stay at the Wyndham Tampa Westshore Hotel some time, to see how friendly their rooms and amenities are to travelers with chronic pain.

I think it would be interesting to create a checklist for hotels that want to be universally accessible, usable, and friendly to guests with hidden disabilities.

When you go to a hotel, what do you need? What do you want? Have you ever been to a property that made you feel wonderfully comfortable and like all your needs were met? What did they do, and what did they have that made you feel that way? Please comment if you’ve got answers to these questions–inquiring minds want to know!

 

 

 

 

 

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Good Hotel San Francisco

The bright white bed at the Good Hotel. No special mattress here, but the sheets and duvet cover were shiny white.

I had a nice long chat with the Director of Something (communications? marketing?) of the Tempur-Pedic(r) brand at BlogHer 2011. Partly I did this so that I could spend a good half-hour lying on the vibrating ergo-adjustable bed they had out on display. YUM! We’d all feel better if we slept on beds and mattresses like that. The other reason was to pump him for info about his company’s presence in hotels.

I dug out a few nuggets that will help travelers with chronic pain who need or want a specific type of bed, such as the Tempur-Pedic or Sleep Number or pillow-top mattress or memory foam mattress topper, when they stay in a hotel. My primary takeaway from several hours of research:

There’s no centralized list for either Tempur-Pedic or Sleep Number beds in hotels. Not worldwide, not nationwide for any nation I could dig up.

Crud!!!

What I really want, but don’t have the time or techno-know-how to create is a relational database of hotels, motels, inns, resorts, and cruise ships with specific types of beds. I’d like this database to be searchable by type of mattress, type of bedding (down, hypoallergenic, organic, etc.), by location, by room price, and by type of accommodation. Naturally, this database would need to be updated on a near-daily basis, as information about properties and the beds they offer changes.

Anybody who knows relational dbs want to help me create this monster? EDIT: In the meantime, I’ve started on a plain-jane list of lodgings with Tempur-Pedic beds. Here’s what I’ve got in California so far. More states coming soon.

Individual properties and some chains include information about their mattresses and bedding. Here’s what I’ve gotten from an old Travel + Leisure article:

  • Starwood Hotels all have Heavenly Beds
  • Raddison hotels all have Sleep Number Beds in specific room
  • Marriott hotels have Jamison foam mattress beds

Tempur-Pedic has tried to offer this kind of information in Canada, at least. The company calls the hotels that offer their mattresses in guest rooms Hotel Partners. Use that term when googling to find hotels with Tempur-Pedic beds at your destination. For Canadian Hotel Partners, go here:

http://www.tempurpedic.ca/hotel/hotel_home.php

I find this list to be both incomplete and out of date, but it’s a place to start.

Sleep Number Beds seem to be more common in U.S. and Canada hotels. You can get a Sleep Number Bed Room at the Radisson Hotels and Resorts chain hotels, for about $10 more than a standard room. The Radisson Sleep Number beds are custom-made for the hotel chain, though I believe it may be possible to buy one for yourself if you love it lots.

The Westin chain revolutionized the upscale hotel bed concept with their Heavenly Beds in the Starwood properties, and now has them in its midpriced motels and Westin-named properties.

That’s what I’ve got for now. I hope to update this post periodically with new and better information.

If you know of any specific hotel, motel, inn, or resort that features a special type of bed, please post it here!

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