Trailing the King of Diamonds
It feels like the air has been vacuumed out of the room. Professionally vacuumed. But there are no protests or tears.
Some papers are signed, everyone shakes hands and, in minutes, we are outside. The bellhop -- addressing us by name -- is loading our bags into the Inspector's car.
"What went wrong?" I ask the Inspector. "I thought everything was perfect."
"Oh," he says, "it was an excellent stay. But five diamonds are special. The guest room decor is, I think, a little tired. Plus, there were some service lapses, and I'd like to see high-speed Internet access in the rooms. They're not there yet."
Wow, I say. What more can this place do?
"Well," says the Inspector, "there's always the next inspection."
I envision him sneaking back in a year with yet another credit card.
Will you need me along? I ask hopefully.
The Inspector clears his throat. "I don't know," he says. "I got the sense one of the desk clerks was on to you, pretty much from the start."
You're kidding, I say. I promise not to let that happen again. Have you got any tips?
The Inspector thinks for a second. "Hmm," he says, looking me over. "Have you ever considered a beard?"
For information about AAA hotel and restaurant evaluations and ratings: AAA Tourism Information Development, 407- 444-8370.
Rates at the Hotel duPont (11th and Market streets, Wilmington, Del., 800-441-9019, www.dupont.com/hotel) begin at $289 a night double.
Peter Mandel last wrote for Travel about taking a moose cruise in Maine.
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