The business trip to Aberdeen is all done and it was a long week. The bosses changed the lesson plan daily so the team had to work several hours at the hotel after teaching all day. On the one hand it was a good team building experience but on the other hand it did not leave any time to experience much of the local flavor. So, lets talk about the good, bad, and indifferent of this business trip.
The team stayed at Homewood Suites in Bel Air, MB. The rooms are clean and comfortable and have cooking facilities. This turned out to be a really good thing because most nights I came back from the customer location, put together a quick bite to eat, and then went down to the lobby to collaborate with the team on whatever new lesson plan we were given that day.
Speaking of rooms, the hotel was sold out most of the time that I stayed there and I never heard any noise from the rooms around me. Once or twice I faintly heard people in the hallway. Many hotels skimp on soundproofing the rooms but this does not seem to be the case for this hotel. Having a quiet room allowed me to get the rest I need when I am going to be on my feet all day teaching.
The staff members I interacted with at the hotel were friendly and Housekeeping did a good job cleaning the rooms. If you continue to read my series on business travel you will discover that I can be a bit picky about the cleanliness of hotels. The rooms and the lobby were very nice at this location.
The lobby/Dining area has a lot of room and plenty of plugs for electronics. The team spent a lot of time in the lobby working together and we never had to fight over who was going to plug in their computer. It kind of remined me of that commercial where everyone is going around saying they are dying because the computer battery is running out. Well we were never dying.
From what little I saw of Aberdeen and the surrounding area as I drove too and from work showcased an area with a cute small-town feel. There are a lot of local restaurants to choose from; when the team went out together for dinner on two occasions, we did not have to eat at chain restaurants.
I try to bring in a money management element into my writing. On that note, traveling this week saved me from paying the usual parking fee of $11.00 per day. Yea $55 extra to go back into my budget. I also received a food allowance of $396.00, of which I spent about $100.00. I purchased groceries to cook my own food and the hotel had snacks in the evening Monday – Thursday. The snacks were not enough for a full meal but enough that combined with my groceries I did not feel the need to go out each night. This is a net benefit $455.00. Why this number? Well I would have purchased food anyway and I would have paid for commuting expenses. Since I was on a business trip, I did not have to pay these expenses out of my regular salary. In terms of extra cash in my budget, I came away with $296.00.
The internet at the hotel was not the best. We all struggled with maintaining connection and it was slow considering I was connected to the “Premium” service. It was enough to check my email but not fast enough to run any of my high-end programs. Actually, I struggled to even connect to the site that hosts this blog. As I mentioned above, I spent a lot of time this week learning new lesson plans on the fly, which means testing the software in a sandbox. The internet was so slow that I could not connect to the sandbox most of the time. I expect better from an extended stay hotel that caters to business travelers.
I was indifferent to the food offered by the hotel. The breakfast the first day was good because it was plain scrambled eggs, potatoes, and sausage. Then of course the standard muffin, bagel, cereal options. However, the rest of the week the eggs had additional items added to them. Tuesday was “Mexican eggs” but I am not sure what they put in them, just that they did not look good. Friday was eggs with jalapenos, I don’t think a single person on the team ate that day. I think it would be better to stick to the plain eggs and put the jalapenos or whatever the daily topping was on the side.
Homewood Suites used to offer an evening meal that was a real meal back in the day. Over time it has reduced to small snacks. At this location, the hotel offers “salad” every day if you can call lettuce, croutons, and tomatoes a salad. Two of the nights the salad was augmented with soup and French bread. One night we had chicken fingers, potatoes wedges, and biscuit. This was the most substantial meal of the week. But I do have to say the potatoes were undercooked, after one bite we were all done with eating them. Don’t get me wrong, the food came in the price of the room so it was essentially free, and for free food it was not bad (thus why it falls in the indifferent category).
I wish I would have had more time to explore the local area during my week in Aberdeen but that was not in the cards this time. I saw a lot of my classroom and my hotel but that is fairly standard for this kind of business trip. I had a lot of fun with my students and that is the real reward of my job.