The OMNI Louisville
Friday, August 13, 2021
"A Very Long Review."
My friend said it best: It's not as luxury as they want you to think.
You know that feeling when you’re about to ‘go out’? SO EXCITED! A brief change of pace and lifestyle. That’s how my invite to come to LOU was. A chance to change out of my feral lifestyle and put on a DRESS and MAKEUP and experience civilized life in the BIG CITY again – after a LONG absence.
The drive there was FAR more tedious than I had anticipated. People weren’t even driving the speed limit on the left side of a two-lane interstate. I had wanted to put on my adaptive cruise and cruise my way down the road, but that was impossible. And it was making me mad. I wanted to arrive at the hotel in time to enjoy it before having to get ready to meet my friend. More specifically, enjoy the POOL, which looked very inviting from the website, with a fabulous view of the city. Have a good cocktail, a cool swim, and prep myself for my brief ‘stay-cation’.
Luckily, I did find spots en route where I could speed far more than I needed to, and I must have made up time because I arrived to check in right on ‘schedule’. Yes, I know, I shouldn’t schedule a fun outing, but it happens.
But this is where my ‘excited to be among the civilized in the big city’ fantasy hit a snag.
Well, it happened before I ever left. I had gone online to book the hotel and had signed up for the rewards program for any goodies once I arrived. But only ten minutes after booking I looked again AND THE PRICE HAD GONE DOWN BY ABOUT HALF! I was offended. How unfair. I made a note of what their own website was charging, only minutes after my non-refundable booking, and was going to address this with the person when I checked in.
I opted for the valet parking ($37!), and that person took my luggage and rolled it inside, but said it would be another person who would take this to my room. It’s been a while since I’ve traveled anywhere and I stood there confused as to how he would know the luggage sitting there was mine since there was no ticket issued. But I left the bell area and walked to the front desk area where the first person told me that she was logging out to go on break or lunch or whatever and to move down to the next clerk.
This clerk and I began to have ‘issues’ right away when I told her about the drastic fee change RIGHT AFTER my booking. I won’t go into all the details, but at one time she accused me of video taping her because while I was looking at my phone to read my notes the camera part faced her. I asked if she was getting aggressive with me. This was not the welcome I had excitedly looked forward to when booking a “4-star” hotel. “Uh-oh. Have I made a mistake? Should I have stayed elsewhere?”
After our ‘row’ things calmed down a bit and we were able to get my room fee lowered slightly (no where near the latest advertised price, but at this point something was better than nothing). On the plus-side, she did put me in a quiet room with a good view and tub (Room 1428). But it was a rough start getting there. PS – things like this don’t happen in real 4-star hotels. I remembered how much I detest Corporate BS. And, it’s everywhere. Totally ruins the experience.
Then it was ‘I wonder where my luggage is?”. I figured that once I check in, something would flag their system, and perhaps the bellman would come up to the room, and I didn’t have to stand around waiting for him. --- It was a long wait, and I got bored wasting precious pool time, so I went to my room with hopes that he’d be up soon after. But it was disconcerting not knowing where my things were or when they would be brought to the room. We are having a bumpy start to this trip.
He did arrive and that part went smoothly.
And, I had time to go to the pool. A plus.
Having just that little bit of time in the pool and Jacuzzi, enjoying light conversation with interesting people from other places, set me back on track to enjoying my 24-hour getaway. It started feeling like a vacation again. Yay! I needed this!
My friends and I were going to the James Taylor and Jackson Browne concert, with dinner at Seviche beforehand. Both were good times. Then we came back to the hotel for a nightcap and we discovered something I didn’t know was there: a speakeasy! Make that a speakeasy with a BOWLING ALLEY! What a cute and interesting find!
My friend and I had one cocktail, and then a load of wedding guests came in and it got a bit too loud, so we called it a night. Went back to the room for a very good night’s sleep. The beds were comfy as were the linens. The TV was a bit confusing, tho. And, also weird, was the fact that while I HAD a room phone … there was no phone attached to it. Yeah, I didn’t get that, either. Something that looked like a phone SHOULD have been in the room was there and hooked up, but the actual phone part wasn’t there anymore. (???) I had questions, like how to use the streaming services, or hey, I’d actually like more than two creamers for tomorrow’s coffee, but didn’t know how to get answers without using my cell and trying to reach the front desk from there. Again, a true 4-star hotel doesn’t let little things like this slip.
The furniture in the room has a little pull tag that says “18 Established 1778 Louisville Kentucky”. I don't know what 18 means. I love the artwork above the bed - it’s an aerial photo of somebody's property but I don't know who's. That’s a bit strange. It doesn’t look like Churchill Downs, or anything recognizable. Odd.
I set my air conditioning to 60 on high fan and I think it’s having some trouble keeping up with my coolness needs. But it is working and I didn’t sleep hot. Just seems like it’s having some trouble actually being 60 degrees --- or even 65.
The next morning, I wanted coffee. I always want coffee first thing, but I don’t like having to get dressed to leave the room to go out for coffee. The do have a mini-fridge, but sadly, I forgot to bring any almond milk, so it was go out in public for coffee, or try the crappy in-room coffee (which brings up other ‘issues’ like why do hotels insist on keeping those single-serve PLASTIC coffees with 'not real food' coffee mates? Irritating that at home I try to reduce, reuse, recycle and it's just a thimble of water on an inferno. Whereas THEY could actually make a dent.).
Another thing that’s a bit confusing is there are exit signs on your floor but they don't lead to the elevator necessarily, just the stairs. It would be nice if there was directional signage leading to the elevator instead of just many exit signs pointing to various ways down the stairs (and when you're on the 14th floor that's a lot of stairs).
Another “and it’s not even 9:00 am” issue is that there's no place to go for coffee. Let me rephrase that to “in the hotel”. But that's not really true either. If you take a nice (long but attractive) stroll down to this very interesting market there is a Heine Brothers (which is my friend's favorite coffee) and a place to get crêpes and all kinds of interesting food ... and if you stand in line to get your “dirty chai” which is chai tea with a shot of espresso (it sounded weird and I wanted to try it) and once you get through the line you're told you can't charge to the room because they're not connected to the hotel. Well they ARE connected to the hotel because I just left my room and didn't have to go outside to access this Market! It looks like it's where hotel guests go to get their coffee in the morning and their breakfast and maybe snacks for lunch, etc. because I can't find any other place in this alleged “4-star hotel” for a nice cup of coffee. And in the room we have those dastardly plastic individual pots which are not Earth friendly and the very crappy (not actually a real food) Coffee-Mate. And since I forgot to bring my almond milk I guess I'm stuck with that or hike back to the room to grab my credit card and make the two-mile trip down to the market and wait in line again. I didn't even see any place to sit and eat and drink once you buy this food so I'm quite confused this morning. And if you can’t tell, pissed-off, for not the first time here.
Since the dining options were limited and possibly zero (at this point I’ve lost interest in the hunt), I searched for an interesting place to eat on my way out of the big city. Found an interesting Brunch in Shelbyville and made an 11:00 am reservation.
Time to pack up and check-out of the OMNI Louisville.
Typically, I’m not one to go over a bill. Don’t even bother ‘checking-out’, I just leave. But this time there was the option to check-out from the TV, so I thought I’d do that. Boy, I’m glad I did. There were so many charges from the “Pin + Proof” speakeasy that I decided to stop by the reservation desk to investigate. Remember, my friend and I only had one drink each. (And mine was so shallow a pour it was pitiful.). Another reason to feel ripped off.
But before leaving the room I had to use my cell phone to call and hopefully get the right person to help me with my bags. I waited and waited and they never showed up. The housekeeping guy checked on me because I had my door ajar, but I got tired of waiting for the bellman, and had my Brunch reservation, so I dragged my belongings to the elevator and through the lobby. Yes things fell along the way. Still pissed. Still NOT 4-star.
The first lady who I encountered – my “welcome hostess” – was still at the front desk. I think the OMNI only has 5 people working there and they have to work 24/7. This could be the problem. They did have one other clerk and the three of us worked out that the bar had charged me twice. And charged for their own TIP (and a different service charge, and another fee for who knows what else). (This is me shaking my head, “tisk-tisk”.). The drinks were not cheap – but the pour was. (another tisk-tisk). Of course it being Sunday, the accounting office was closed. She told me they would send this for their review Monday. I’m thinking … ‘yeah, and how many days will it take to see a credit back on my card???’.
It had been at least 20-minutes since I had called for my car. Luckily, with the time it took to get the bill figured out, I walked out the door to my newly arriving car. FINALLY something goes right. Nobody got a tip because no one did ‘Jack Schitt’ for me.
Now for the short answer:
I am not impressed with the OMNI Louisville.
The World's Only Museum Dedicated to Ventriloquism.
July 30, 2021, a Friday.
I had seen the ventriloquist museum, Vent Haven, on the news, and kept it in my mind as a place to visit, especially after I found out this unique place was in Kentucky - about 90-mins from Lexington.
Vent Haven Museum
33 West Maple Avenue
Fort Mitchell, KY 41011
This is a not-for-profit ONE OF A KIND museum. They are by appointment and the Curator/Director, Lisa Sweasy, is very nice and easy to deal with. I set my day for Friday and my time at 2:00.
It was, as I expected, like going to someone's house who opened a museum, where the curator lives in Mr. Berger’s main house (the original owner and developer of the museum) and there are out buildings that he created and that is where the museum items are. There are no public restrooms. (A concern for me, but there is a lovely Mercedes Benz dealership at the corner, if you need a pit-stop!).
I’m VERY glad I picked a date in July because I learned that they will close early this season, in August, to begin TEARING DOWN the original buildings in order to build a new center. This saddens me greatly. Part of the charm IS that you are in the buildings the creator created: its history. I think this is a BAD idea and wish they would reconsider their decision. Currently, there are beautiful gardens and walking paths around the 1923 structures and even a sweet black cat in residence. What they see as ‘progress’ I see as destruction of a man’s dream (and hard work).
The museum tour takes about an hour, and it is interesting, even for someone who isn’t at all ‘into’ ventriloquism (that’s me). I suggest you go - and go NOW as not to miss the original historical vibe!
Continuing on my Grand Tour of Northern KY and Cincinnati.
I had already pre-searched what to do and where to go, and my day kept pretty much ‘to schedule’ (which is hilarious since I like to think I’m spontaneous. But it’s better to be slightly prepared than to sit in a parking lot with no idea of what to do next. Am I getting old? Yep.)
Next on the list (and because of time) was to jet up to just north of Cincinnati and check out the “Heritage Village Museum” (which closes at 5:00)
11500 Lebanon Road
Sharonville, Ohio 45241
From my laptop travel research I was imagining a “Shaker Village” type of place [shakervillageky.org], but possibly even more elaborate, with people in costume wandering the village and lots of historical activities going on, considering their website slogan: Experience the rural simplicity of small town life as it was in Ohio during the 1800s, and the accompanying photo, but sadly, it was only slightly “Shakertown-like” (of course, Shakertown isn’t like it used to be either! They’ve gotten very corporate and have ruined the sacredness of what used to be a very special place. Yoga? Really, guys?).
When you drive in you are entering Sharon Woods Park, but the Museum isn’t actually a part of this park, even though it is surrounded by it. Strange. Plus, you have to pay a fee to enter Sharon Woods Park. Of course, I wiggled my way out of that since I got there at 4:00 and the Museum closed at 5:00.
When I finally found the Heritage Village area I began walking around to see if this was something – or nothing. Worth my time, or not? Then a man in costume started walking in my direction, so I figured it was about payment to ‘enter’ the outside-only buildings. I was right. But it was only $3.00, and even frugal me didn’t think that was too bad.
This gentleman was a guide, and even though I missed the ‘tour’ he told me lots about the place. It’s a bit odd, tho. They have a selection of historic buildings, but NONE of them ever stood on this property. So it’s a park of historic buildings set in a park that it’s not a part of … and neither are the buildings??? Yes, strange.
I had a snoop inside the main building where the gift shop was and again, thought it was strange that the pictures of people hanging in this house had nothing to do with the house they were hanging in. Is there a theme here?
They were setting up for a dinner where a person dresses up like a famous historical figure and gives stories about their life and times. Luckily, it was sold out. ;-) I could imagine being very bored and stuck there for far too long. But for local people looking for something to do, it’s probably fine, and frankly, something I would do to pass the time if I lived in the area.
The walk around is down one path and back – not a circle – at least not a circle I could find. They have about a dozen buildings and the self-guided brochure tells you more about each one. It sits by a lake and creek and you can hear a small waterfall.
Would I say I was “WOW’d” by the experience? No. Nice enough, and glad I was there during one of our rare less humid days, so that helped. The standouts for me were seeing an original McAlpin’s huge cast iron clock that once stood in front of the store in downtown Cincinnati. Lexington also had McAlpin’s and I actually worked at one during the beginning stage of my career – I did facials in their salon! I was also intrigued by one of the buildings in particular – one that I thought was made of a French-looking stone, but was in fact WOOD cut and painted to look like stone! How clever.
I went looking for the lodge that I kept seeing signs for and thought it would have a restaurant so I could relax and enjoy a nice meal, but I never could find it, so I sat in their parking lot refreshing myself with the sandwich I brought, wondering where to go next. Then I remembered another ‘to do’ that I had pre-researched: Butterflies of Bali at the Krohn Conservatory [1501 Eden Park Drive, Mount Adams]. So, from my phone in the car I checked to see how their ticket sales were going for the evening and it said 6:00 ONE AVAILABLE – so I grabbed it and headed that way!
I’ve been to the Krohn Conservatory before, so I figured I’d see nothing new, but hanging out in a room full of butterflies sounded unique.
It was pretty neat. They had all sorts of butterflies, of all sizes and colors. I took tons of photos and tried to get one to land on the paper they hand out for guests to use instead of their grubby human fingers. No one would hop on my landing pad. So I just walked around in wonder of their beauty. Then after a good 30-mins or so, I sat down to observe and wouldn’t you know, one landed right ON MY HEAD! :D Then another one came and landed on my shoulder. Then another one on my back! I had become the Butterfly Queen! And watching the kids get so excited, added to my excitement. So cute. I really enjoyed the butterfly experience!
After you CAREFULLY leave the butterfly room, there was another area with educational booths set up and manned by volunteers. One of the tables had food from Bali and Indonesia and contained one of my favorite hunts: DURIAN fruit! I was watching Anthony Bourdain [RIP] and he was in Indonesia eating durian and he LOVED it, so I decided to track it down in KY – or find a supplier somewhere. And I DID! I called my friend in Louisville and typical him, he knew about durian already and knew who sold it. I even got my Mom to try it one time! It tastes like a sweet custard, but is known for its SMELL. I have never thought it smelled bad, but apparently some people can’t stand it and it’s banned from buses and airports.
From their parking lot, I went back to the map to find a NICE place for dinner – one where I could sit down and be served and get a nice cocktail or wine. Harder than it sounds when you don’t know the area.
Google wasn’t much help tonight. And I was getting tired, so I pointed my way out of Cincy and toward Florence, KY (I know how to get home once I’m on the interstate!). The first restaurant that popped up sounded just like my kind of place. It’s name is a fun pun and the reviews were great. (PS – I’m beginning to wonder how true all these great reviews are.).
It’s called Afishonados, which sounded so interesting and upscale (fish pun?) but it was a MESS. An Anthony Bourdain kind of place - a wack-a-doodle mess. The people coming out of the mall were worse than the WalMart people, if you can believe that. "Upscale" it WAS NOT. When you walk in you have a nice looking bar to your left and a kitschy cabinet filled with fake designer bags on your right. The 'waitress?' had on these amazingly bright colored 7" PLATFORM shoes (yes, really) and some odd looking mini-skirt getup with correspondingly odd hair and she looked like a cheap whore - a Russian cheap whore. The sign in the bathroom stall, as you sat there reading it, reminded you that this bathroom was for CUSTOMERS ONLY, but he'd let you use it if you'd clean up after yourself and not make a mess of it ... and that HE'D “BE WATCHING”. It actually said that on the paper flyer he took the time to write, print out, and stick on the stall door. And, you know what, I bet he WAS watching. Creepy.
NOTE TO SELF :: Florence Mall "Y'all" is a SHITHOLE.
Google had a hard time telling me where this place was, and perhaps that was for a reason. "Hey, N., you REALLY don't want to go here anyway!".
But it adds to the color of the story, don't it! ;D
Luckily, I was able to find a different restaurant, this one is called “KOPAN” - a Korean/Japanese restaurant. Located in a bland looking strip mall, it was surprisingly good. I had kimchi dumplings which we're good and soft shell crab fried instead of sautéed. Also good. I didn't drink anything besides water because I was very thirsty and they didn't have anything that sounded interesting.
After that meal I wanted what I always want: ICE CREAM. Being so close to Cincy I expected lots of Graeter’s around, but Florence apparently is too far ‘south’ for them. Note to Graeter’s :: add some stores in Northern KY. G.maps led me to a Baskin-Robbins and I got there with only a minute to spare! Chocolate peanut butter on a CHOCOLATE DIPPED cake cone, please!!
I love eating ice cream on a cone and driving … once you get all your stuff put back in order: credit card, seat belt, napkins ….
I’m always "home by 10:00 N." – and nearly made it, but I think my stopping for gas put me 12 mins shy. Not bad for a day out tho.
I thought I’d spend the night up there, and SPA maybe, but I can never find a place that isn’t downtown and I try to avoid congested areas as much as possible. But it was good to get home and be in my own sheets instead of some sterile hotel. It was enough of a getaway – a 10-hour tour! :D
July 30, 2021