Nothing can be more withering than driving 4.5 hours to a city you have never visited, being late, and thinking ahead to the volunteer experience. Wait... add the multiple accidents on I84 caused by what is arguably the nation's worst drivers. Did I mention the 6"-12" snowstorm forecast? Okay, now that you have the picture, park and register at the Hilton Hartford.
Nothing could have been better. A courteous desk staff took care of everything. I was there at 8.45 a.m., well before the official registration time, but that was not a problem. Suitcase and suit were taken to a safe place, room guaranteed, directions to the state capitol... wait, "We have a shuttle service that will take you to the door." Amazing.
I was in Connecticut to photograph an art exhibit created by the community of Newtown on the anniversary of their school tragedy. And within five minutes, I was calm and focused because of some caring concern for my well-being. So, let's go to the capitol. Glen, the shuttle driver, was standing right there, and within another five minutes, he was sharing his love of the city, giving me directions to the entrance, and telling me that he would be back to pick me up later that afternoon after I called the number on the hotel's business card.
I wish all of you had been there to share in this art therapy experience. The children explained their pieces, parents and friends participated in community art, they all met with the state's governor and their Supreme Court's chief justice, both gracious and focused on these children and their parents.
The phone call to the hotel that afternoon promised the shuttle in ten minutes; it was there in five. Glen and I shared our day and our best guesses for the impending storm totals. Back to the hotel and I met Cherene Cotter, probably the most courteous, polite, and thoughtful guest service agent I have ever met. Room - check. Answers to every question - check. Best laugh in two days - check. And the best part, when I came back down looking for a quick sandwich and a drink, I was greeted by name and given solutions before I even asked. Miss Cotter is a gem.
I was ready to return to the capitol for the evening reception with the governor's wife and other dignitaries and Newtown families and the amazing therapists who had provided their services to the Sandy Hook students and their parents. Shuttle was waiting, and Glen was offering any help I needed.
The evening was wonderful. One of the artists offered me a ride back to the hotel, and once again, I was greeted by this friendly staff who offered weather forecasts, directions for leaving the city, and even the commitment of a sandwich or two for my morning drive.
Shower. Bed. 4 a.m. wake-up call. Check out. Car was safe in their underground garage. Directions were spot on. And it was snowing about five hours earlier than predicted... okay, something had to go wrong. 500 images of Sandy Hook children, their day, their exhibit, and the talented and gifted artists who had invited me to photograph the experience are the memories I have of the day, but the Hilton staff will also be part of my travel stories for a long time.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Hilton Hartford hotel is a shining star in the skyline of the historic city of Hartford, Connecticut. With a central Downtown location and connection to the XL Center, guests have access to outstanding area sports, cultural and consumer show events. Many of Hartford's corporate offices are also within walking distance of the Hilton Hartford. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hilton Hartford Hotel Hartford
- Hilton Hotel Hartford
- Hartford Hilton Hotel