It’s Wednesday night as I write this and I’m back at my hotel; the Hampton Inn and Suites in Mulvane, Kansas. I’m working in Wichita this week, and although it’s only a 30 minute drive to my worksite downtown, this area has a very rural feel as you head away from the city. This hotel is the only one nearby, but it’s really an excellent Hampton, and it’s directly connected to the Kansas Star Casino. I stayed here once last year on the way to another job site in Kansas, so this area has a feel of Déjà vu for me.
I flew to Wichita on Monday after a nice weekend at home in Orlando. At the B 50’s gates in Orlando Airport, I was so glad to see the new Admiral’s Club had finally opened just two days ago. The space that it now occupies was the former US Airways Lounge, but it had been closed since 2004 when Hurricane Charley hit Orlando and damaged everything from my home to the Orlando Airport terminal. US Airways conveniently never re-opened the Club after the hurricane, and to my knowledge, that space has been vacant since – over 12 years! The new Admiral’s Club has a similar but nicer and larger design than the former US Airways Club, and I made a quick look around before catching my flight to Dallas. The two level lounge has comfortable seating upstairs, with a fancy soda machine, coffee, and teas on the top level. There is a full bar and additional seating on the lower level as well.
Once at the gate I was upgraded my flight from Orlando to DFW, which was a nice surprise. I was already upgraded on my DFW to Wichita flight, but the flight to DFW was the longer one at 2 1/2 hours. My first flight on American Airlines to DFW was on a wide body Boeing 767. The flight was delayed over an hour and a half once onboard due to maintenance, but fortunately I had a 3 hour layover so I was fine with my connection, unlike most people aboard. The big event ‘Wrestlemania’ had taken place the night before in Orlando, and judging by the T-shirts, belts, and other gear, a lot of people must have flown in for it.
On this afternoon flight to DFW we were not served lunch in First Class, but an ‘appetizer’ of mixed nuts, followed by a cheese course. In between the ‘snack’ and landing, I watched the solo movie being shown on the single in-cabin screen; the animated version of Beauty and the Beast. While I didn’t watch the whole movie, I at least stayed awake for my favorite song: ‘Be our Guest!’ Gotta love the Candlestick and Mrs. Potts!
Once arriving in Dallas, my connection time had shrunk to an hour or so due to our late departure from Orlando. I went to the ‘C’ concourse Admiral’s Club briefly before heading to my gate.
My second and shorter flight from DFW to ICT was also delayed to maintenance; this time on an aged MD80 jet. American Airlines is in the process of upgrading their fleet, but both of these older planes I was on Monday were old and showing their age, not to mention needed maintenance repairs. The 767 flight going to DFW was delayed due to the seat belt sign not working, but we never did hear the maintenance reason for the delay on the DFW to ICT flight. I’ve flown with a restroom out of order, but if the seat belt sign doesn’t work, you’re not going anywhere! Anyway, I finally got to Wichita, rented an SUV from National Car Rental, and drove to my hotel here in Mulvane, Kansas, arriving around 8:30pm.
I had meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, and then headed back to the hotel for dinner. The first night I had dinner with co-workers in the buffet restaurant in the casino. Quite a good value all-you-can eat buffet for $16.95. The one thing I don’t like about the hotel/casino is the smell of smoke everywhere. Even though I’m in a non-smoking floor suite on the 3rd floor, the hallways and room still smells of smoke, as people go to the casino and come back smelling smoky. I took a shower as soon as I got back each night.
After finishing up work around 4pm, I headed back to the hotel and stopped by the winery next door to the hotel I had noticed yesterday. I didn’t think they would still be open, but was pleased they were still open until 6pm, so I went inside. I never really thought about wineries being in Kansas, but who knew? This winery, as is the hotel/casino, is off the Kansas Turnpike, in a relatively rural area of Kansas. The winery is a family run operation, and is quite a classy act. I’ve been to many tasting rooms world-wide, and this small family winery truly had charm and character, along with many different wines and fun wine accommodates, such as coasters, napkins, jellies, and their signature Elderberry liquid, both as the liquid berry itself as well as in several of their wines.
Although a couple others came in while I was there, I was the only person doing tastings. While I don’t drink and drive, I was staying next door, so a few samples of wine was in order. The winery is called Wyldewood Cellars, and is the largest winery in Kansas! It has been expanded over the years, and the tasting room is quite large and tastefully decorated. I met several of the family members while I was there, and had a delightful conversations with them all.
I ended up staying at Wyldewood Cellar until nearly when they closed at 6pm. I bought 3 bottles of wine and an elderberry bottle (which was the size of a 1/2 bottle of wine), as well as several fun wine-themed coasters and napkins. I didn’t have my portable wine suitcase or would have bought more of their wines to take back, but seeing I just had my one business bag, that was all I could carry home.
I asked Merry, (yes that’s her name – how nice I said, like Merry Christmas!) if I could take some photos for the blog and she said sure.
This winery stop was yet another bit of travel serendipity and one of the things I love about travel – the places and people you encounter along the way. When visiting Wichita, make a trip out to Wyldewood Cellars, and enjoy your visit! Cheers!