When I first started working at various conferences, I used to spend hours on the Internet researching local attractions and making plans for my "free time." I have learned through experience that down time at these events is virtually non-existent for me. When I am not working in the booth (which I am scheduled to be in from 8:00 am until 6:30 pm every evening, I can be found in my hotel room with my leg off and my foot up.
Preparing for this trip, I didn't have any delusions of seeing anything beyond the airport terminal and the confines of the hotel. I did no research on the hotel and, with the exception of the address, knew nothing about where as I was going. When the taxi drove onto the hotel property, I instantly knew that I had been here before.
In fact, nearly 26 years ago my entire family has previously visited this hotel. Accustomed to camping in a travel trailer and staying at an occasional Holiday Inn, for me this hotel right out of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. I have vivid childhood memories of us swimming in the pool while my Mom was lounging in the spa whirlpool. Everybody was having a blast!
Unfortunately, I also seem to remember running down a hill in an attempt to escape the hotel security guards who discovered that we were not registered guests. It was that afternoon I learned that "fancy" hotels frown upon trespassers.
In all fairness, it was not my family's idea to utilize this hotel's facilities. We were visiting family friends in the Orlando afternoon. Bored one afternoon, and probably eager to give three wide eyed children a thrill, our "host" Tommy suggested that we drive to "this pool he knew" for a swim. We simply agreed with his plan.
Tommy went to his linen closet and handed us each a towel and directed us to put on our swimsuits. When we were driving to the hotel we were instructed not to speak to other guests and, as Tommy put it, "act rich." In retrospect, perhaps we should not have taken Tommy's stolen "Days Inn" towels with us.
We got through the gated security by giving my dad's name although he was not with us and not a guest at the hotel. I remember Tommy telling us that, when in doubt, always just say my dad's name because it sounds prestigious and no one questions it. By the way, he is correct as this tidbit has served me well, especially during my college years.
As it turned out, my sister cracked under pressure. A hotel employee casually asked her for her room number. I was nine and knew that any number would probably suffice. My sister sang like a canary, and then began to cry.
We quickly packed our belongings and "exited" over a gate, ran down a hill and quickly left the premises. I remember feeling as if we had just had the adventure of a lifetime! We must have been quite a sight for onlookers. It's not everyday that you see a middle aged Mom with three kids, along with a retired elderly man, break out of a hotel pool in a full sprint!
Being in this hotel has flooded me with childhood memories. As I recall, that was the only time we ever did anything elicit or illegal as a family. (Except, of course, for the time we tried to sneak popcorn into the movie. As I remember, my sister ratted us out then too!) The joys of memories of family vacations! It's great to be back--this time with my name on the register.