Bed Check: Williamsburg Lodge, where hospitality is nothing new
Sunday, April 25, 2010
As I was settling into my room at the Williamsburg Lodge several weekends ago, someone knocked on my door.
It was the parking valet. "I found this in your car," he said, handing me my cellphone. "I thought you might want it in your room."
Expect to be taken care of at the Williamsburg Lodge.
From the moment I arrived that Friday night, every employee, from the doorman to the housekeeper, seemed concerned about my well-being. Maybe they felt the need to take care of a woman traveling alone. Or maybe it was just a matter of Southern hospitality. Either way, it worked for me.
Owned and operated by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, a private, nonprofit educational institution, the lodge underwent extensive renovations in 2006, expanding to 323 guest rooms, an 11,000-square-foot ballroom and a 7,000-square-foot ballroom (yes, two ballrooms!) and four outdoor seating areas.
It's certainly a big hotel, but it didn't feel that way in my charming room in the Nicholas Guesthouse, one of eight buildings that make up the lodge. There was a rocking chair outside my door, which opened onto a courtyard, and furnishings and art inspired by the collection of the nearby Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum.
After unpacking, I took a covered walkway to the original lodge. At the front entrance, the doorman pointed out that I'd followed the long route there. I could have left my guesthouse through a side entrance and simply crossed the driveway, he said. I didn't mind that I'd walked a little more than I had to, but I appreciated his interest in saving me a few minutes of traveling time.
He asked whether I was hungry. When I replied that I could use a little something, he first suggested the seafood buffet at the restaurant, apparently a popular dining destination on Friday nights. "It's great if you're really hungry," he said. I wasn't, though, so he advised me to go to the Garden Lounge and Lobby Bar, where I could have a snack and a drink by the fireplace.
In the wood-paneled room, I sat in a chocolate-leather armchair and contemplated a painting of a bald eagle with the American flag and the words "The Veterans" that hung on the wall. Candles flickered on the tables, which were occupied by families eating burgers, couples on dates and single women like me, reading or watching the Olympics on the flat-screen TV. I couldn't have been more comfortable on such a cold and windy night.
The next morning, I went to the gym in the spa across the street. I was sweaty after my run on the treadmill, and when I got back to the guesthouse, the housekeepers seemed worried that I hadn't worn my coat. "You're going to catch a cold," they admonished me. Just like Mom.
After checking out, I headed to the restaurant to partake of the $14.95 breakfast buffet before departing. The hostess persuaded me to leave my suitcase near the front door so that I wouldn't have to lug it to my table. Having grown up in New York City, I'm always reluctant to leave my belongings with strangers. But the hostess seemed trustworthy, so I parked the bag with her.
The buffet looked appealing, with an omelet station, fruit, pastries and pancakes. Nevertheless, I opted for granola, yogurt and fruit. When I asked for the check, the waitress waved her hand. "Don't worry about it," she said.
"Are you sure?" I asked.
"You didn't eat anything," she insisted. "Have a good day, hon."
I walked to the entrance. My suitcase, of course, was still there. How could I ever have doubted it?