Pulling up in front of the Aloft BWI Hotel it looked no different than any other hotel. Your typical beige concrete front, six floors, lots of windows, circular driveway under an awning that leads you to the front door. Lots of cars parked around providing the look and feel of a full house. Luckily, there was a parking spot right next to the front door. More importantly, I didn’t have to move my car again till the morning commute.
When I first walked into the lobby, I thought for sure there was a mistake. This place was in with other “Airport hotels” yet it reminded me of a retro hotel in NYC I had stayed in 15+ years ago with my son Joshua. Also, a recent hotel stay in South Beach, Miami. Okay, I remember thinking – it’s only for two nights. Gingerly and exhausted from a 10 hour drive I approached the circular front desk to give my name. Two young ladies were working; both polite and friendly. Room key in hand, I began to walk back outside to retrieve my duffle bag, laptop, and cooler. Parked next to the door were the coolest luggage carts. The same kind you find at the airport except here you didn’t need to insert a coin nor take them off a chain. This I could handle and just then I knew everything would be okay.
Once inside my room I walked over to the windows and checked the views. One window overlooked the parking lot. Another window overlooks the bank of elevators and outside patio. Except for the elevator view it was a nice view from six stories up. The room itself had one king size bed with two nightstands, a desk with all the data ports you’d need including a place for your iPod and soft music already established. The shower has shower gel and conditioner already on the wall and available at the push of a button. It’s been a long time since I’ve stepped into a college dorm room, but that’s exactly what this reminded me of. Instead of a closet there was a wall with shelves, coffee maker, safe, and rod with hangers. Underneath the sink hangs a black cloth bag that holds the hair dryer and a mini dorm size refrigerator. After freshening up a bit, I grabbed the luggage cart and my salad then headed down to the front lobby. Salad in hand, I sat in the dining area and had a look around.
“The Aloft is a yuppie hotel,” says Kory Davis, General Manager. “It’s different from your usual hotel. It’s more relaxed. We have a pool table in the lobby and a great bar called WXYZ. It’s for business travelers just to feel more relaxed – not to down beat, we have music at night time at a level where you can enjoy.”
“I came here as general manager,” continues Kory. “Working here is different because everybody comes through to be more relaxed and upbeat. We get a lot of mid-aged crowd and also get the older crowd that comes to relax. They like the difference. It’s different from your regular hotel where you come in, check in – it’s normal. We try to make everybodysmile and try to relax. We host a lot of events. Last month we had speed dating here in our lobby. We had a couple weddings outside overlooking the pool and stuff like that. I enjoy working with people. You just meet people from all over. You never know why they’re in town until you ask. Some people always travel day in and day out and in and out of hotels. Sometimes they just want to sit at a bar and have a nice decent conversation.”
My second and last night here I decided to sit at the bar while eating my dinner and have a glass of wine. Our bartender, Maulin, is one funny character and loves to keep his customers laughing. According to Kory, she receives lots of letters from guests after they’ve left saying how Maulin made their day brighter. As I sat at the bar and talked with other guests I learned most were business men here for training. They love the relaxed atmosphere here and some have become regulars at this hotel.
While sitting in the lobby one night I overheard a guest ask for a different shower head. I thought that was a bit weird so I asked Kory about it. It seems there are different shower heads that are portable. You can request a soft speed shower head like the one you have in your home or you can request one that has different speeds like a massage. “We bought the massage shower heads from our on-site masseuse that stays here a lot. She has a lot of clients that come in and she has a facial and massage therapy packages,” says Kory. “They’re pretty nice. Just like a massage and the water comes out real fast.”
Aloft keeps scooters on the property for the handicap, too. Pets can stay with their family in rooms set aside on the first floor. They have dog beds, bowls, toys, and pull out beds for pets. Kids get to sleep on pull-out bunks with sheets of Mickey Mouse, Sponge Bob and various other characters. There are plenty of books, toys, and games for them.
This hotel also has: a black-out tactic room for kids to watch movies, a heated-indoor swimming pool (with lifeguard), exercise room (state-of-the-art equipment), a pool table, hot meals (breakfast and lunch) and a store.
When I asked Kory if she had any tips for her guests here’s what she said: “yes, in the winter time we do also cater for the winter people. If you like the camp atmosphere we have a fire pit right outside overlooking the pool. It’s a big hit. Relax, Relax, Relax – that’s all I can say. It’s fun and relaxing.”
This hotel is 30 minute drive to the Annapolis Boat Show which is where I was headed.