I know it seems like light years ago, but it actually wasn’t. The time was March 2020. We had spent a week in Barcelona, Spain in February. I had one of my great deals planned for the weekend of March 13th- an award trip on Delta to London. I had snagged the flights for a silly 20K SkyMiles each way, the timing of the flights were perfect (nonstop, leave Thursday night, return Sunday night), we were to meet our good friends Pat and Mike in London and stay at the Hyatt Regency Churchill. And, oh, if all of that wasn’t grand enough, I had a Hyatt free night, category 1-7 certificate, that I was using for one of those nights.
What could possibly go wrong?
What could go wrong? There was a pandemic growing. I wasn’t sure I wanted to cancel the trip, but I succumbed to pressure and canceled. I would have had to cancel anyway, because a day later the order shutting down travel from Europe was issued.
It’s easy to forget which way the earth moves at times like this and to think the orbit goes around us. I remember on 9/11 when, after being evacuated from my office, I wanted to run back upstairs because I’d left the computer on. Sometimes it takes time to realize we are in monumental times. But I digress.
Here I was in March 2020, in New York City, attending department head meetings at work, informed of the cleaning protocols undertaken and being told – you are leaders – DO NOT WEAR A MASK – you need to set an example – not of fear, but of resiliency and leadership. What? That week was something of a dystopian blur, I bathed in Purell and hid in my office, and stocked up on lots of food and wine on my commutes home.
So, my much anticipated London weekend (like many other trips) was not to be. I still had that free night certificate burning a hole in my Hyatt pocket and decided it was time for a last hurrah staycation at the Park Hyatt New York (I had no idea at that time that Hyatt would eventually extend the expiration date on those certs).
The day was Saturday, March 14th. We checked in at the Park Hyatt. It was somewhat empty, almost eerie. I almost expected an echo. Agents had pretty hand sanitizer dispensers on their desks. I apologized and asked for some cleaner or sanitizer, but I was only offered spurts from their dispensers. We checked into our lovely suite – the same suite we stayed in last year (see REVIEW).
Our first task – we washed and wiped down everything in the suite.
There’s a Burger and Lobster restaurant (one of my favorite restaurants) in walking distance and we pondered whether to order lobsters-to-go and eat dinner in our beautiful suite, or eat at the restaurant. We chose to eat at the restaurant, and were seated far enough away from the other diners. We really enjoyed what was to be our last dinner out for a long, long time. (Of course, in retrospect, it was a stupid and dangerous move to go out to dinner, since, unbeknownst to us, Covid-19 was spreading like wildfire).
We passed by the Halal Guys food trucks on our way back to the hotel. We knew something was glaringly wrong when there were no long lines here on a Saturday night.
Our smarter move that weekend was our pact to have a quiet night at the hotel and not to go to bars or music venues. We sat far from others and had a wonderful quiet drink at the hotel restaurant, and then called it a night.
As always, Dave brought his travel guitar along and played some chords.
We are blessed that we made and kept our promise not to go downtown to hear music. Many of Dave’s friends were playing at the Parkside Lounge on Houston Street that night. We were tempted to go, but chose not to. This decision may have saved our lives, as many of the people who went and performed there that night got sick with covid-19. One of these performers, Alan Merrill (singer, guitarist and songwriter, best known for writing the song I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll), Dave’s friend, and with whom Dave played music many times, died of the coronavirus a few weeks later (see CNN:’I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll’ songwriter Alan Merrill dies after coronavirus diagnosis).
Dave is still devastated and still counts the days that Alan is gone.
Sunday morning, we worked out in the fabulous fitness center at the Park Hyatt (we were the only people in there), went for a walk in Central Park, had breakfast at the hotel (seated apart from the few other guests there) and spent some time in the pool.
Fitness Center photos (I loved that they have Mirror and Pelotons!):
Breakfast (thankfully breakfast is complimentary for Globalist members!):
The Park Hyatt New York closed due to the pandemic a few days later.
This was not our last staycation ever, just our last one before the covid-19 pandemic lockdown.
We’ll be back. We’ll travel again!