A Weekend At Gaylord Palms

Exhaustion. Plain and simple.  This would not have been a weekend that I would have chosen to stay at this hotel.  My husband was supposed to go with me and my son, but he ended up having to go out of town.  That’s primarily the reason I was exhausted.  Our lives had been turned upside down that week and we were unable to reschedule.  We’d won a weekend getaway at the Gaylord Palms Hotel  from Max 98.3 , an awesome local radio station – but the hotel had an expiration date on the prize.   I ended up bringing my 15 year old and two of his friends.

First, we parked waaaayyyy far away.  All the way to the back of the property near the convention center.  At first I’m thinking it’s not well marked.  Where we parked it did say guest parking.  We enter the hotel through the pool area.  Gorgeous!  We sign in and they give each of us a key – even the boys get their own.  We get up to the room and I have to take a few pictures before the boys “trash” it with their things.

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I had just picked them up from school, so they were a little tired – lol:
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Our view:
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The red banners in the above picture meant nothing to me at this point.  I think they’re decorations.  More on that later.

Two of the boys actually have homework on a Friday night that requires the internet.  Now, I’d sworn that I was going to get rest and relaxation this weekend.  The only thing exciting me the whole day was knowing that I’d be forced to rest, and that there wouldn’t be a computer to check emails and facebook.  Guess what?  Each room has a computer, but the boys are still unable to do their work.  The computers are dinosaurs that are slower than molasis.  They say it’s because all the guests using them at the same time. I’m told by an employee that soon they’ll be taking them our of all the rooms.  I think that’s a good idea.  You shouldn’t be on them when you’re getting away from it all.  If you’ve got business, they’ve got a Fed Ex Business Center in the convention center.

I realize that I like the 5-Star setting, until I see the prices on the menu’s of their various restaurants.  I almost fall over.  I am definetly not a 5-Star girl.  I hate shopping and I hate spending money.  I’m what I would consider a catch for any man (my husband).  I look around for a phone book.  There are none.  I google pizza places in the area on my new smart phone that my husband bought me a couple days before.  I call Pizza Hut .  No, we are not the first guests of the hotel who have ordered pizza from them.  I’m not the only cheap one!

We order pizza, bread sticks, and soda.  It gets delivered.  We’re hungry by then.  Hmmmm.  I can’t believe I didn’t ask, but I really can’t believe that they didn’t offer knowing that we were at a hotel – no plates, napkins, cups, utensils – nothing!  Oh, well.  We roughed it.

As you saw, our room is on one of the atriums.  It’s beautifully lit at night.  We can hear the soothing sound of the waterfalls… After we’re done eating, the boys head out to look around.  I, on the other hand, get in my pajamas for an early night.  Let the relaxation begin!  I’ve got a book, I’m in bed for the night.  Bliss!  All of a sudden I start to hear loud music.  I get up and go out to the balcony.

There was no way I was going to be able to go to sleep early with all that loud music!  So what does a photographer do when she can’t sleep?  She gets dressed and crashes the party.  After all, I’d never really taken concert picture before and I’d heard that the lighting plays havoc on focusing, etc.  What a great time to play around!  Meet Dance Express!

A little earlier in the evening I had found out that there was a Snap-On tool convention going on at the hotel.  That’s what all the red banners were for.  An attendee told me that there were about 5,000 people attending it, taking up three hotels.  They were surprised that we were able to get a reservation.  That’s where Dance Express comes into the picture.  They were hired by Snap-On to give a concert – and what a concert they gave!  I’m not one to move my body to the music, but I was tapping my foot and singing aloud (quietly) with them!

As I’m crouching down at the foot of the stage, trying to hold my camera in front of my shirt so that they couldn’t tell I wasn’t wearing a lanyard for the convention, this nice man starts to talk about the convention.  I kind of felt out of place at that moment!

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And then he introduces the President of Snap-On who goes on to say that there are 6,000 (THOUSAND!) in attendance!

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It sounded like a fun company to work for.  You could tell that everyone was having a blast at the convention.  Many of them even had their families with them.  I hung out until I had taken enough pictures.  I honestly could have stayed there the whole time (if I was actually invited lol).  The band was fantastic.  They were playing all sorts of songs that I knew.  Here are more pictures from the evening:

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AWESOME, AWESOME BAND!

I met up with the boys at the pool and we went back to the room to watch a little bit of a movie and then crashed.   Now, I’m not a heavy sleeper. Being in a new place sometimes keeps me up, but I happened to be so tired, that I fell asleep pretty fast – just to be woken up even faster. There were a bunch of drunk people out on one of the balconies next to ours. Maybe one floor up. They went on and on.   1 a.m. is when I finally got out of bed to call the front desk. I’d been laying in bed for what seemed like forever listening to them. And it was a big deal.  Our balconies were next to each other on a corner.  It sounded as if they were in the room with us.

The next day we woke up unbelievably late – 10 a.m.  By the time we got ready, we ended up going to Denny’s for brunch (and that was a good thing for me – saved $ on a meal).  We ran to Publix to get a few things for the room.  When we got back to the hotel, we parked where we thought we were closer to our room.  NOT!  This is where it would have really been nice to have my husband with (besides having his company).  He’s like a human GPS.  He would have known where to park in a heartbeat.   I really think that they need directional signs that say, “St. Augustine Rooms Park Here”, etc.

I walked around the hotel to check it out and the boys headed off to find a quiet place to play poker.  I really hadn’t left our room until it was dark out the night before, so it was neat to see how different it was during the day (obviously).  They’ve got three unique atriums.  This one is Key West:

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There is actually a treasure hunt game that is throughout the hotel.  This is what one of the machines looks like:
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Welcome to the St. Augustine atrium:

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Hand held 😦

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My son and his friend on our balcony (below):

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This leads down into the mini replica of the Castllo de San Marcos:

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Welcome to the Everglades atrium:

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Hand held again 😦   My new tripod came in the mail the day we were leaving for the hotel, but my husband had ordered the wrong one on accident.
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On our last night, we ate at the cheapest restaurant that they have and still spent a fortune – even with a $50 credit to our room!  I actually have a funny picture of my son figuring out the tip on the receipt.  The service was great – our math just sucks.   It’s got about 6 scribbled out amounts on it because he kept changing it.  It was funny – you had to be there!  And after we walked away, I figured that he still hadn’t given her enough, so he went back and gave her cash too! lol

Reflection.  Just before we checked out, I stood on the balcony looking out over the atrium.  I’m reflecting on the weekend.  Yes, I really wish the expiration date on our weekend wouldn’t have been only a month after I’d won it.  This has just been a really crazy, stressful time in my life and I wasn’t able to really enjoy it.  I didn’t get sleep like I thought I would.  I didn’t even sit out by the pool.  I walked around, took pictures, read my owners manual to my new smart phone, and read very little of my book.  Even though the Snap-On employee’s were extremely nice, there were a lot of them.  With my clausterphobia, at peak times it took a while to be able to catch an elevator that wasn’t packed.  If I ever make it to another 5-Star resort in my life, I will make sure to ask during the reservation process, “Are any conventions being held at that time?”

Still reflecting, the hotel had some great ammenities – an arcade which the boys and I paid a visit to, movies in the evening by the pool, two swimming pools (one was closed down for renovation), shops, restaurants, Haagen-Dazs ice cream (which we had late Saturday night), live music/entertainment, a spa, great atmosphere, friendly staff.  It would have been a dream of a weekend if it had just been some other time for me.

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