What’s that saying? “All good things come to an end?” Well in this case it’s my traveling years for work. After traveling frequently for work since 1986, my last business trip ended when I got home tonight, Dec 6, 2019.
That’s over 33 years of travel, countless flights and hotel stays, too many cities to remember, thousands of miles in rental cars, way too much fast food and late night taco bell stops, lots of fun meals with co-workers, braving the freeways in strange cities, driving in snow up north – wow somehow it seems anti-climatic all of the sudden, and at the same time bittersweet.
I’m officially retiring on December 18th, but this week’s 3 day trip to Alexandria, Louisiana is my last trip for work. I’m happy to say it was an easy trip, great customer, and quite easy week with travel days Wednesday and Friday, and customer meetings on Thursday. While I normally stay at chain brand hotels; i.e. Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, etc, on this trip I found a beautiful ole’ grand hotel called The Hotel Bentley.
The Hotel Bentley is located in downtown Alexandria, Louisiana, and was originally built in 1909. The hotel’s heyday’s were in the 40’s and 50’s, and it eventually closed and sat idle for a dozen years. Fortunately the restoration efforts were undertaken by a multi-millionaire, and the hotel has been painstakingly restored to its former glory.
I stayed at the Hotel Bentley two nights and enjoyed exploring the hotel lobby, lounge, museum-like side room by the elevators, and the bar area. There is a restaurant in the hotel, although I didn’t eat there, preferring the first night to have my dinner meal in the elegant and dimly lit Mirror Bar which is adjacent to the restaurant.
The second night I had a nice farewell dinner for myself at the Diamond Grille Steakhouse, which is just down from the hotel, and is also owned by the same owners as the hotel. As with the hotel, the building that houses the Diamond Grille is also located in a historic building. In the case of the Diamond Grille, it was once an exclusive jewelry shop, attracting wealthy clients who stopped in town to shop via the ships going up and down the nearby river.
I sat on the second floor of the restaurant, which overlooked the open-air and high ceilings of the first floor, which the night I dined, housed a large Christmas party. My co-workers both had 6am flights, so I declined an early dinner invitation, in lieu of a nice night of dining (and drinking!) by myself, and went to the Diamond Grille at 7pm, for a nice last night out. I missed not having Steve (DOS) with me, but I took my iPad and Face-Timed him from the dining room. (Normally I would not do this, especially at a nice restaurant, but I was in a semi-private area with no other diners to disturb.)
After dinner I had my photo taken with the Chef (who came by while I was enjoying my steak to make sure it was cooked properly), my waiter, and also the bartender who also assisted me with dinner.
I sat at the bar for a while before heading back to the hotel. I had a fun last night, but it was a bittersweet feeling being the end of my career after traveling for work for so many years. Anti-climatic would sum it up I guess.
The next day (Friday) I would fly back to Orlando (via DFW) around noon, arriving home around 7pm.
Again it was an anti-climatic last couple of flights, but it was still a bit sad. I called DOS on the way home, and he assured me we would travel together for many more years to come, and perked me back up.
My work travel for the last 33 years has come to an end, but the best leisure travel is still to come! Godspeed.