A sparkling wine welcome at Ponte Vineyard Inn

It doesn’t take much to make a hotel experience unforgettable. Good or bad. It can be the smallest little detail that will make it memorable forever, like an incredibly comfortable bed, a beautiful pool, a lovely painting in the lobby… a cat in the hallway. Among the hotels that I’ll never forget due to some minor detail or another are these –

  1. Mayflower Hotel, Washington DC. My 8th grade class and I were treated to two nights at this historic hotel (I still don’t know why…I suspect it was a mistake!). Two things stick out from that stay: we were told Barbara Streisand was there a couple of nights before us, and the crazy price of a pot of room-service coffee!
  2. Tudor Hotel, NYC. My mom and I stayed here on a Christmas getaway. Incredibly tiny room but we were in the heart of mid-town, just steps away from Grand Central Station.
  3. Beach hotel in Santa Barbara. A great example of how website photos can be deceiving. What looked like a quaint and charming hotel ended up being a pseudo-motel with great views of the run-down apartment building next door. But they did have free cookies and milk in the evening.
  4. Small hotel somewhere in Palm Springs. I was really young and my family and I were here for the weekend. There were frogs in our room. Yes, frogs.
  5. Ponte Vineyard Inn, Temecula. Glasses of sparkling wine upon arrival and the most comfortable pillow-top bed. Need I say more?

As close to cloud nine as you can get…

It’s funny; I’ve stayed in a number of other hotels across the country and around the world – New Orleans, Paris, Rome, Munich – but can’t remember a single notable detail about some of them. Not that they were bad experiences, it’s just that nothing really stuck out (probably because where I slept was the last thing on my mind in these amazing cities).

The Courtyard Fountain Garen

When it came to my first stay at Ponte Vineyard Inn, there were plenty of positives, but whenever I think of my visit, I go right to that glass of wine at check-in. It was a hot afternoon and my husband and I had just returned from Catalina Island that day. We were sweaty and frazzled by travel; we really hadn’t been able to unwind from our Island time yet. We stepped into the cool lobby of the Inn and were offered cold glasses of Moscato: immediate relief.

Take the stairs… you’ll discover something new each time!

I also remember the Spanish tile on the stairs, the fabulous service, the painting in our room (“Hey!” I said when I saw it, “It’s the art from the Beverino bottle!”), the relaxing sound of the Courtyard fountain and the robes in the armoire. Dinner at Bouquet was amazing, as was our nightcap in The Cellar Lounge, but still, that glass of wine was the best welcome I’ve ever had at a hotel.

A single glass of wine, and I’ll never forget that hotel.

How about you? What detail has made a memory at Ponte Vineyard Inn or another hotel?