The word “spa” is an evocative word that conjures images of crystalline pools with gurgling waterfalls and people passing by serenely in bath robes, faces covered in green mud, on their way to their next massage.
Since the spa in question was called a “hiking spa” and the hotel was described as a “country inn,” I figured I wasn’t going to get a scene out Sex and the City. I was, however, somewhat startled by the condition of the hotel, which another guest later described aptly as “more shabby than chic.” She also called the program a “hiking camp for adults.”
When we walked into the lobby, I was still smiling from having had such an enjoyable ride to the inn via Gramps shuttle service. The dark and tired looking lobby was not enough to deter my enthusiasm. What did give me pause was the guy at the front desk who wasn’t the most welcoming character.
Having read reviews on the website where people said the staff seemed like friends, I expected a more enthusiastic greeting.
Everything about the lobby was dingy. Even the light bulbs seemed dingy, casting a sort of gloom over what should have been a very nice, lodge-like space. It’s never good when the hotel lobby looks bad. If the hotel isn’t investing in keeping the first impression good, it’s guaranteed they’re not investing in the rest of the property.
As we navigated the dim halls lined with stained carpet, a putrid colored light flashed around a corner. When we turned a corner, we were thankful we didn’t have epilepsy because we both would have had seizures instantly.
It was just a fluorescent bulb gone bad in the little room with the ice machine, but it made me think of Joe vs the Volcano and the horrifying office he worked in. It was the kind of thing you expect to see in a horror film right before an axe murderer jumps out from behind the innocent victim staring into the light.
All of this actually turned out to be a good thing. I was mentally prepared for a room that made me wish I’d brought my own sheets. By the time I opened the room door, my expectations were so lowered, I was pleasantly surprised by the homey looking quilt (although it did have a few tears) and the large space.
In spite of the poor lighting and my lack of a tripod, I had to take a few shots. ISO 1600 made that possible. I’m astounded by the second and third photo. 02 is straight out of the camera while 03 is the same image post-processed using only basic adjustments in Aperture. I’m impressed by the recovery of detail in the fan and window, which were over-exposed in the previous image. It amazes me what my camera will record. I’m also impressed by the lack of graininess in the photo. With my old camera, I’d start to see grain at ISO 400.