Surprise, Surprise

 

Looking forward to that indoor pool!

January 11th- 13th, 2019 –  Peterborough, Ontario

SUPER 8

Another winter, another hockey tournament.  If you read my piece last year “Hockey and Power” you will get the gist of hockey tournaments.  A short recap – a chance for moms and dads to spend a bonding weekend with their sons and daughters while schlepping them to rinks and schlepping their gear and encouraging (yelling) at them to play better and a lot of “c’mons”!  Why is this different from hockey in the city?  It is an out of city location so we get to spend even more time in the car for all of the above – yay!  This year was not quite as exquisite as Niagara Falls, in a town called Peterborough about an hour and fifteen minute jaunt from Toronto and has about 85,000 inhabitants.  The usual went down, a party room at the hotel, kids running around like idiots, in the pool, out of the pool, in the hallways, out of the hallways and parents enjoying some adult juice somewhat controllably.  The boy and I changed to a new team this year, so for us, new teammates, new parents, new coaches and new surprises – the first being winning.  What a pleasure it is to win.  The second surprise was that it took way too long for the other parents to realize I was really the idiot dad on the team, and for the final SURPRISE – you gotta scroll down.

SET UP

Me in a king and the boy on a pull out sofa in the “living area” of the Jr Suite that I upgraded to for an extra 10$ per night.  He probably could have slept with me, but his head was in a place of having his own bed.  Good size room for a family of 2.  Fridge to place our Gatorade and left over Turtles from Christmas.

MATTRESS

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SURPRISE – Look what I found!  Hypnos***, by appointment to her majesty the Queen, this really is what the queen of England sleeps on.  I have no doubt Windsor Castle and Super 8 have their similarities like the staff and service, and of course the HP sauce.  I mean, this shocked me.  A double sided pillow top that still had some good cushion left in it, although the mattress was 10 years old.  What didn’t shock me was a really nice floaty feel with good support.  It was an on top feel, with no sinking in, but sensitive to one’s needy parts, shoulder and hips.  Sunken in low can cause back tension and not enough conform ability can cause stiffness from lack of pressure relief. The real burning questions is how does a Super 8 get a quality hospitality mattress like this?  Not sure.  What I do know is that the hotel is part of a larger chain of Wyndham Hotels, Ramadas, Days Inn and the like, so it is possible they did a large buy at one point and Super 8 in Peterborough got lucky or got the leftovers.

***Side note – when we got back, one mom told me she checked her mattress and it was a Simmons Beautyrest.  Surprise, Surprise.   I guess I was the only one who got lucky that weekend, for sleeping anyways.

SLEEP

While the mattress was incredibly comfortable, there were a lot of other factors at play that led to my not so good sleeps.  The room was way to hot and overly dry, so sleep did not come easy for me, about 6 hrs the first night and snuck in 7 the next.  Other reasons for poor sleep MAY have included the location of our room – overlooking the parking lot, over the kitchen and under a family who had very loud feet.  This led to wake ups at 5:30, 6 and 6:30 AM.

LINENS AND MORE

The linens and pillows were passable, nothing to complain about and nothing to write home about, although I did love that both the pillows and mattress were completely encased with protectors.  Not just the fitted kind, but full protection.  Even the box spring was in full armor.  Good practice for hotels and a bit of a pain for the cleaning staff, who may or may not launder those.  In any event, nice to know that they are taking care of their wares.

 

 

 

OVERALL

The thing about expectations is that you never know, and I suppose we like the emotions that result from it or else we wouldn’t have them.  Sometimes we set them high and disappointment, sometimes we set them low and elation!  I have come to expect not much from hotel mattresses and have been pleasantly surprised by a lot of them, including this slap in the face.  Well done Super 8, well done. 🏒✔🎮🏊‍♂️

GREAT RELATED LINKS

https://www.wyndhamhotels.com/en-ca

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HP_Sauce

https://hypnoscanada.com/

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attractions-g155008-Activities-Peterborough_Ontario.html

https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/hard-kill-germs-may-be-lurking-your-hotel-pool-cdc-n875101

 

 

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Slammers

 

 

 

December 31st – January 7th 2019 –  Cancun, Quintana Roo, Mexico

The Royalton

I remember travelling to Mexico with my family many years ago over the winter break.  A chance to be together, be in the sun and ocean, to relax, at least for my parents.  I was 14, maybe 15 my sister 18 and my brother 20.  The perfect opportunity for them to teach and show their younger brother the rules of the road, the way to have fun.  Even though I was the “baby” as I am still referred to, I talked a big talk and let them know I was ready to go.  Cue the tequila slammers!  Some called them poppers, all I called them was disgusting.  Who does this to themselves?  I realized in that moment that this is what my brother and sister had been doing in university, maybe daily, but why?  Slammers – some horrible concoction of watered down tequila and watered down sprite that was probably watered down with the infamous “do not drink” tap water in Mexico.  Viva Mexico!        >> 30 years.  The Mrs. decided to book a “last minute” trip to an all inclusive resort in…. you guessed it!  It was hardly a “last minute” price but what a chance to be with MY family, to be in the sun and ocean, to be together, to relax at least for us.  How life is circular always amazes me.  We had a phenomenal week and I couldn’t help but to reminisce about Mexico 30 years earlier and how at that time I thought I would never drink tequila again.  Hola Don Julio!

Outside of a few minor hiccups (tequila related), like a room change due to a horrible band turned up to 11 every night, and one of the wallet drainers having some stomach issues (not tequila related), all was wonderful except for the biggest hiccup of all, Slammers!  This time it was door slammers.  I mean, can these hotels please do something about the auto slam door – 6AM, 7AM, 8AM and all points in between.  Even more, can PEOPLE do something about the auto slam door, like don’t let it auto slam instead of gently closing it yourself!  My god, these heavy steel and wood doors slamming closed, in combination with the tiled cavernous hallways.  I know you can hear it right now!  Everyone knows it and everyone is guilty of it.  All of you – Slammers!

SET UP

2 x queen beds, one for the Mrs. and I and one for the tots.  Beautiful, big, clean room with a tub right in the middle of it.  For those who care to indulge in the tub outside, we had one on the balcony too.  First room facing the band and the inner madness, after 2 nights had the same room facing one of the 7 pools and part of the ocean.  Lovely.

MATTRESS

Kingsdown.  A mini major.  Popular in North America, with some good roots and foundation.  They are a brand widely available and I did not realize they had a hospitality division.  I actually don’t think they do, but upon closer inspection I notice that these mattresses are made exclusively for the Royalton, which has numerous resorts in Mexico, Jamaica and some other Caribbean islands.  Interesting to note that the mattress in the first room was firmer than in the second room and that our mattress in the second room was even softer than the kids mattress in the second room.  Maybe a later manufacturing date?  Maybe a different mattress altogether.  As it turns out, mattress label was the same and manufacturing date was extremely close, which leads me to believe 2 things.  One is that the firmer mattress has always had kids or less weight sleeping on it, or that the manufacturing of the mattress itself is inconsistent.  No way to tell, of course, but makes you think, or rather, makes me think.  The firm mattress was too firm and the softer mattress was really great.  About a 12″ overall profile with no pillow top – hooray! on a standard foundation with metal frame.  Simple and well executed.  Nice quilting to ease some shoulder or hip discomfort, but still uplifting and conforming to one’s body.  The Mrs. concurred.

 

 

 

 

One room tag is July 10, 2014 and the other room is August 24, 2014

SLEEP

I would say really well.  When you are out in the sun all day and in and out of the pool and sea, it’s pretty easy to sleep great.  There was an average of 10 hrs per night, 11PM to 8 AM most nights and no real tossing and turning as a result of the mattress.

LINENS AND MORE

A bit of a discrepancy here too with the room change.  The first few nights had rougher linens and firmer pillows, again maybe as a result of them being newer or less worked in.  The second room was much more cozy and comfortable.  I have never heard of the Ruby collection for pillows but Resuinsa for the linens, towels and more is a leader in the hospitality industry.  100% cotton, probably a 300 thread count, straight white linen with a nice light duvet underneath.

 

 

OVERALL

The trip, the sun, and the sleep was memorable.  We had a blast.  The move to the new room really made the rest of the week, although, as soon as we got in there we could hear our neighbor coughing and a baby crying.  Luckily that lasted only a short while.  A wonderful experience and a wonderful end to 2018 and start to 2019. 👍 ✈ 😎  🥂

GREAT RELATED LINKS

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tequila_Slammer

https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/chunky-guacamole

https://resuinsa.com/en/atmospheres/resort/

https://www.royaltonresorts.com/royalton-riviera-cancun

Had to do this when the laptop failed…….

ISH

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December 27th-29th, 2018 –  Barrie, Ontario

Horseshoe Resort

Some friends of ours asked if we would like to join them to ski an hour and a bit north of Toronto, for a few nights.  The Mrs., was all over it, of course, and I reluctantly said maybe.  So…..pack up the car with some snacks and wine and of course the cheese to go with that whine (note the homophone), skis, boots and all things warm.  2 nights and 2 days of skiingISH and half decentISH food and all the while the destination is resortISH.  Everything here is ISH except for the final bill.  They try hard, they really do and don’t misunderstand me here, this is a lovely place with lots of great activities for all to do – skiing, tubing, skating, hockey, indoor swimming.  It’s really a fun place for the family and I would recommend it, just for the amount they charge for the 7 second tube ride and the 4 turns you are able to make down the slope.

Now, we have all been loud and obnoxious at one point in our career especially in the hallways, but at 500$ a night I do expect some semblance of order.  It’s not high school anymore when you could take 99$ from your parents wallet and have a party all night.  I had to be that guy.  That guy!  you know the guy that call hotel security because it was so loud in the hall.  It was midnight before i was that guy, but I still felt oldISH.  5 minutes after making the call, I hear someone explaining to the folks in the hall to quiet down and they didISH.

SET UP

2 x double beds, one for the Mrs. and I and one for the tots.  It was a biggISH room that had a little sitting area sunken down, a little fridge and a decent size water closet.

MATTRESS

Serta Perfect Sleeper Presidential.  Anything but Presidential.  Firm, uncomfy, with a huge pillowtop.  The first thing I noticed was that the fitted sheet wasn’t deep enough to cover the mattress!  HA!  You could see the sheet popping off the top at the head portion.  An immediate call to housekeeping allowed me to get an extra sheet to cover the exposed part of the mattress so we wouldn’t have to lay down on the non Presidential mattress direct.  The pillowtop had run it’s course and the manufacturing date was 12/13/08 possible 06 – time for a change.  As some of my readers already know, I am not a huge fan of pillowtops, as they tend to cave after a short time.  Imagine what 10 years does.  A pitching wedge couldn’t get you out of this divot.

SLEEP

First night about 9 hrs.  Not bad at all, but night 2 was the night that really set me off, with the noise int he hallway and the dryness starting to set in only 7 hrs of alone time.  Tossed and turned with the best of them that 2nd night.

LINENS AND MORE

200 thread count standard 50/50 hospitality nonsense.  Pillows were on the firm side too like the mattress.

OVERALL

Sleep has been worse, but also a whole lot better.  In these moments, I wish hotels would pay better attention to their mattresses.  8-10 years is a maximum amount of time to have a mattress in your own home, and I suppose, unless the hotel is at capacity for 365 nights, this is the maximum amount of time for them too.  I would love to see a change here bringing my overall rating up to an ISH.  ❄ ☃ ⛷

GREAT RELATED LINKS

https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ish

https://beavertails.com/   A tradition like no other

https://horseshoeresort.com/

Not sure who these people are, but thanks for demonstrating the tubing

 

 

Dirty Diana

July 15th, 2018 – Town of Zakynthos

The Diana Hotel

Time to move on from our swank villa living and on to the next chapter on our trip.  It called for a one night (tanks god) layover in Zakynthos town.  Last minute in Greece is how we roll, not necessarily by choice.  Expedia became a good friend.  After swiping through a bunch of possibilities, the Diana had our name and credit card info.  The town itself is actually quite beautiful and has lots of interesting history, both modern and contemporary.  Mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey, it was inhabited in 400 BC and was occupied by the Turks, French, British and so on.  During WWII, the townspeople, including the mayor and archbishop stood up for the Jewish residents and did not allow the Germans to know about them.  The synagogue on the island was destroyed in the earthquake in 1953 and never rebuilt but has a permanent memorial in it spot and the Jewish cemetery dates back to the 1650’s.

 

SET UP

The Mrs. and I in 2 twins pushed together.  Kids were in another room with a twin bed each.  They call it the Family room.

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MATTRESS

Ideal Strom is a Greek manufacturer of mattresses, mainly foam.  Like a Simmons or Sealy, they can be found mostly everywhere and especially in the hospitality industry.  Nothing overly special about their beds and certainly nothing special about this one.  As you would expect from a 2 star hotel, a 2 star mattress – scale is out of 10, not 5!  Tight top on the firmer side, decent quilt with a bit of padding.  Cleanish.

SLEEP

For one night only, fine, just fine.

LINENS AND MORE

As you would expect from a 2 star hotel. 100% polyester, hot and rough.

OVERALL

It’s always nice to “rough” it once in a while.  I am not sure there was a better option.  Hopefully there is and we can plan a little more in advance.

GREAT RELATED LINKS

https://www.idealstrom.gr/el/

https://dianahotels.reserve-online.net/property/DIANAHTL

https://www.iajgsjewishcemeteryproject.org/greece/zakynthos-ionian-islands.html

 

 

Wooden Castle

July 16th, 2018 – Xilokastro, Gulf of Corinth

New adventure, new hotel, new madness, and a new mattress.  The step sister is always up for an adventure, one of many reasons why we love her.  Even though I am all in with her, it takes some convincing on our parts for the Mrs. to tag along or even consider it to be a good idea.  This time it worked out.  We packed some day bags for a 4 day journey from Zakynthos to Porto Heli.  We loaded the 35 ft. Marlin with a 450 Mercury engine and set out for a three hour tour, a three hour tour.  The weather started getting rough and the tiny boat was lost, so we decided to get to land for the first night.  The Sikyon Coast Hotel.  One issue was there was nowhere to dock.  Engine raised, the Marlin glided into shore and some bathers and swimmers were looking at us with displeasure.  Forming a line and taking all the bags off the boat, a gentleman wearing his hotel staff shirt approached us and asked if he could help us, to which I replied, “Para Kalo, where is reception?”  “Oh, you are staying with us?”  “Ne” I replied.  He smiled and said, “this is the first time our guests have arrived by sea – this way please”.

SET UP

The Mrs. and I in one queen size at both and kids were in small room off to the side in one twin bed each.

MATTRESS

Not quite sure what any of this means – but rest assured this was not a multi spring mattress – one or two max!  Horrible and horrible.  Firm as it gets, and when yatsan says full orthopedic, I think they mean that you will be fully going to an orthopedic surgeon after a night on this mattress.

SLEEP

Not well, more so because the Mrs., and I had a full blowout that night, partly relating to the mold on the wall from the air conditioner and she was nervous, so we didn’t put it on.  Partly because it was 35 degrees at midnight, and mostly because I was being an ass.

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LINENS AND MORE

This is never a good sign.  Your hotel room number sewn into the mattress pad.  The hair above may or may not have been mine.

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OVERALL

For a one night stop, it was perfect.  Wouldn’t want to stay there for much longer.

GREAT RELATED LINKS

https://www.google.ca/maps/dir/Zakynthos,+Greece/Xilokastro,+Greece/@38.0501672,21.2045794,9z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m13!4m12!1m5!1m1!1s0x136740cadc7b5abf:0x27a074dbe04c2ad1!2m2!1d20.8998759!2d37.7870331!1m5!1m1!1s0x135f8aa8fc3119f3:0x8ad11e80df57dca7!2m2!1d22.6326975!2d38.0772641

https://sikyoncoasthotel.reserve-online.net/about

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xylokastro

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Our transport

 

Siga Me Te Malakos

 

ZAKYNTHOS, GREECE

JULY 1 – 14

Back at it again.  Summer of 2018 brings me back to the Ioninan island of Zakynthos to spend time with family and friends where the heat is staggering and the sea is refreshing.  A chance to relax, a chance to think, a chance to spend quality time with those who we don’t see often enough.  Among the group is the Mrs., the 2 wallet sucking rug rats, the step sister and her daughter, the yiayia, the yiayias brother, Uncle Bubbis and his Kiwi wife.  The cook from Manilla, Dimitrius the harbour master, Jorgos and his son, Jorgos the house manager, Jorgos the car rental guy, Jorgos, the gyros stand guy and of course the German boyfriend.  So many familiar faces and so many stomach breaking laughs.  Once again, the food, drink and sun were all too much yet never enough.  We had 2 residences this time, the first week (image on the left) was a villa called Asimi and the second week brought us to Stouvega.  Sleep was bountiful and deep.  Dreams were vivid.  I am home, but wish to be there again soon.

SET UP

The Mrs. and I in one king size at both Asimi and Stouvega.  Kids were somewhere else, not really sure to be honest, but they slept well too, so they said.

MATTRESS

Asimi – no name, no tags, no codes, no dates, tipota – nothing.  The base or foundation was Ikea, and the mattress was definitely and innerspring, so my initial thought was for sure Ikea, but as I later found out it was a British company that I had never heard of.  I didn’t even bother taking a picture of it.  What I did take a picture of was dinner – gigante beans.  My god this was good.20180705_194153

I realize this is supposed this entry is supposed to be about the mattress, but in no way was there any impact on my life, so f it.  Dinner is so much more enjoyable to talk about.  Soaked the beans overnight, and then slow cooked them for about another 3 hours.  Douse them in homemade tomato sauce with onions, carrots, peppers and a whole lot of love!  For a real treat, add some kouneli stifado.  Delicious.

SLEEP

I got the usual dose of island sleep. 11pm or 12 right through to 9 am.  No lack of sleep here. Even been able to catch an occasional nap by the pool or sea.  The lounges are giving the mattress a run for the money.

LINENS AND MORE

Meh.

OVERALL

Business as usual.

GREAT RELATED LINKS

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zakynthos

https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/gigante-beans-364594

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navagio

 

Hellish

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Toronto Feb 17th – 19th 2018

The Westin Harbour Castle

Anniversary #1.  In the last year, I have been fortunate to have been in some beautiful places, I have been fortunate to experience some wonderful adventures, and I have been fortunate to share most of them with my immediate and extended family and friends.  It’s been 1 year since I started to write my thoughts in a public space and I really am grateful for how much I’ve seen, done, enjoyed and accomplished – some on my own, mostly with the help of others.  My 1 year brings us full circle back to the stay cation, a repeat of Family day weekend, but in a different hotel and different activities.  This year brought us skating to the Bentway, a skating trail under a highway in the downtown core.  The stay also brought us to the Auto show

 

and The Rec Room.  I’ve had numerous good night sleeps  If we are lucky we get 85 or so of them, if we are luckier we get most to all of them healthy, and if were are the luckiest, we get them all healthy and happy and with very little

SET UP

The whole family in one room, overlooking the half frozen lake.  2 double beds.  I asked which kid was going to sleep with me and immediately got the “you take up too much space – you’re sleeping with mommy”.  This was the beginning of the nightmare.  The Mrs. and I in a double.  Not good, not good at all.  I am not a fan of small spaces.  And I  don’t like sleeping in a double bed, let alone sharing it.

MATTRESS

 

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The famed heavenly bed.  PPPPFFFFFF – add in a roll of the eyes while you are PPPPPFFFFFING and it makes it so much more effective.  For years in the shoppe, I have had clients talk about the heavenly bed and “can you get the heavenly bed?”, and “I had the best sleep ever on the heavenly bed” and “omg, this is the best bed ever” and heavenly this and heavenly that.  I did some research.  OMG was right.  Very basic bed by Simmons.  Nothing special, no high coil counts, no fancy pillow top***, nothing special.  But for some reason, everyone loves it.  To this point in my career, I had never actually slept on one.  I have one in the showroom, but I have never been kicked out of the house and had to sleep at the store.  “Don’t believe the hype” coined Chuck D and Flavor Flav.  We seemed to luck out on this mattress from a manufacturing date point of view.  January 2017, looks like someone else is celebrating their 1st anniversary too – how beshert, however, I found this to be the most interesting.  See that zipper on the pillow top?  Yes, that’s a removable pillow top – smart right?  Not so smart, especially when it is 100% polyester.  Hot as hell!  Now, what I don’t know is how often they replace just the zipper top and how often they actually replace the mattress.  When I find out I’ll be sure to pass it along.

SLEEP

Didn’t. Horrible. Terrible.  See above and below

LINENS AND MORE

So, we are all over the place here.  Pillows by Downlite Hospitality.  Solid nothing to complain about.  Linens by Sobel Westex, a forerunner in the hospitality game but nothing spectacular, we have run into them in Las Vegas and others.  Here’s where it gets hot and gross and super uncomfortable.  While the duvet shell is 100% cotton with some down elements, the duvet cover, top right picture, is 100% polyester.  I repeat, 100% polyester.  Zero breathe ability, zero comfort, you need about a gallon of moisturizing cream to compensate for the overwhelming dryness that hits your skin.  No fun at all, yet the actually promote this and sell it to the public.  What the what is going on here.  In my heaven there is no polyester.  So hot under the covers and so cold without them.  No way to sleep at all.
OVERALL
Great hotel, great fun, and a great location if you are visiting Toronto.  Do not get excited about the heavenly bed, do not get teased by Westin’s promise that you will sleep well.  I guess what I’m saying here is that if you had a choice between 2 hotels and everything was the same – I wouldn’t choose this one based on the mattress.  P.S the soap that I took was not even good either.
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GREAT RELATED LINKS