By JIM HUNT
author, speaker, consultant

Over the past fifty years, I have stayed in a variety of hotels throughout the world and it has been an Amazing journey of modest roadside motels to the penthouse of the famous Plaza Hotel in New York City.

The quality of hotels has certainly improved over the years and now, even the lower cost hotels have amenities that make life on the road an enjoyable experience.

My first stay in a hotel was on a trip to New York City as an 8th grader at Central Junior High School. It was called the Paramount Hotel and we stayed one night and emptied the room of monogrammed towels, ash trays, stationary, shoehorns, shampoo and probably a few other trinkets.

As a young man, one of the nicest hotels I stayed in was the historic Don CeSar Hotel and Resort in St. Petersburg, Florida. The Don CeSar is a beautiful pink hotel that was opened in 1928 and is on the list of the Historic Hotels of America.  I was attending a business meeting and had never stayed in such an exclusive hotel. As we drove up to the hotel, you had to drive up a curved driveway to the entrance and we were met by an army of uniformed attendants. I desperately dug through my pockets to see if I had enough money to get past the line of guys with their hands out. People were grabbing my keys and suitcases faster than I could pass out five-dollar bills.

I had the opportunity to stay at the Plaza Hotel in New York City when we went to New York for the bond closing for our new Water Treatment Plant. The bond agencies would typically invite city officials to sign the bond documents and put them up in some of the nicer hotels in the city. When we checked into the hotel, the desk clerk mistakenly gave me a room that was already occupied and when I opened the door, I saw a pair of legs sticking out from under the blanket. I rushed down to the clerk and he was most apologetic. He asked me if I would accept a suite on the penthouse level for the mix-up. I took the elevator up to the penthouse level and saw only four doors on the floor. As I opened the door, there was a large living room with overstuffed furniture and a big screen television. A large glass door opened into a huge bedroom with a king-sized bed and deep pile carpet. The black and white tiled bathroom was larger than most hotel rooms and had a large walk-in tub and a sauna. My only regret was that I was alone and was living the high-life by myself.

Some of my favorite hotels have been on my trips to Europe. Most European hotels I have stayed in are older and take you back to a different time in history. While they are generally smaller and lacking in some amenities, they make up for it with delicious breakfasts and amazing service. The hotels are also generally located near a metro stop or train station with little parking available for cars. Waking up and looking out the window of your hotel room to see the Eiffel Tower or the Roman Coliseum is a memory that lasts a lifetime.

While you don’t often think of hotels as a big industry, they provide hundreds of thousands of jobs and produce billions of dollars in revenue each year. As a veteran traveler, I appreciate the value of a clean, safe hotel room and how much it adds to the enjoyment of a trip.  It is hard to be an Amazing city without Amazing hotels and the people who work there.

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