This is a story all about how (… not Fresh Prince-style, but kinda) the Four Seasons is excellent at what they do, offline and online.
I’m a sucker for a consistent brand experience. Think, Chipotle for food, and Southwest Airlines, JetBlue, and Norwegian Cruise lines to name a few excellent travel experiences as of late. When you find a brand who does the in-person experience as well as they do the online brand experience, it’s a magical thing.
I’ve already shared the story of how the Four Seasons in Denver won our hearts for our pre-wedding and wedding-night stay. To recap: I put the word out on Twitter that we wanted a sweet hotel for this special occasion while we were getting married in Denver. My friend Jen recommended Four Seasons, and within minutes, actual minutes, the brand had already responded, looking to accomodate us. We were stoked.
Here’s the deal. There is no way we could afford Four Seasons on the regular. We don’t travel a lot, and when we do, we’re usually visiting friends or family, so a hotel is the least of our worries. But I will tell you this: on every vacation, moving forward, whenever we can afford it, we will be staying at the Four Seasons.
There are a bunch of reasons why:
- We never felt like we weren’t good enough to stay there – as is not always the case with luxury brands if you aren’t, yourself, luxurious.
- The staff is incredible, from the PR manager (at the Denver hotel), to the concierge, to the valet, everyone we encountered made us feel like royalty.
- The rooms. Oh the rooms. The Four Seasons Denver is a newer addition to the chain, so it’s to be expected that the rooms are incredible, but yeah. The beds are incredible (I could stay there all day), the rooms are well-decorated and spacious, and the bathrooms are something to write home about. The shower, in particular, is worth writing home about. In fact, I did.
- The little things. A welcome gift from the PR Manager when we arrived. Personalized turn down service, with a tree of lollipops and a tweet from @FSDenver transposed on white chocolate.
And then, there’s this tweet.
I woke up on November 11th, all nerdy like, and shouted an excited “Happy One Month of Being Married Anniversary” to Barry. We laughed, because for the past month we’ve been on the road and entertaining one of his students from Chicago, so we haven’t really had any us-time since our honeymoon. And then I saw this tweet. And I was wowed.
It’s one thing to make a guest feel like a rockstar before they get there (not a lot of brands do), it’s one thing to make them feel like a rockstar while they’re staying with you (or dining, or flying, or otherwise interacting with your brand however that works with your brand), but it’s quite another to remember, one month after you’ve already paid the bill, that it is a guest’s anniversary. And a measly anniversary at that.
And this, my friends, is why no matter what the circumstances, if we can swing a stay at the Four Seasons, we will. It’s a big spend for us on our skydiving-generated income, but when it comes to special occasions, and being taken care of: Four Seasons is tops. Period. The end.
On our honeymoon, we did a spa treatment on board the Norwegian Pearl, an hour massage, focusing on neck, back, and scalp. Afterwards, we decided that this is something we want to try to do monthly – to reset, to take care of ourselves, and, more importantly, to have some quality us-time to look forward to every month.
If there is some way for me to swing the spa treatments happening at a Four Seasons hotel/spa, you can bet your bottom dollar I will. Because at the end of the day, people like buying things from their friends. And while I don’t know the staff at every Four Seasons hotel, I can totally get behind the brand experience, and I feel valued there. So they get my money, even if it’s on an infrequent basis.
So, Dana and the rest of the staff at Four Seasons Denver: thank you. Thank you for an incredible stay for our wedding, thank you for this experience, and thank you for allowing me to experience what it’s like to be on the opposite side of a well-balanced brand interaction.
DISCLAIMER: I was not paid or compensated in any way to write this review. I just really freaking love Four Seasons Denver and can’t wait to check out other locations as time/money allows. Word.
One month from today I’ll wake up (in a super sweet bed at the Four Seasons Denver) a married woman.
Likely a hungover married woman, but married.
And I don’t think it will be much different than it always is. See, that’s the thing. Everyone keeps saying things like “oooh, enjoy your time while you can” and “everything CHANGES when you get married” and I just don’t get it. Maybe five, ten, 20 years from now, I’ll look back and say, holy shit, everyone was so RIGHT, everything did CHANGE. But I don’t think it’s changing in the ways that they say it will.
See, the whole changing thing is half the reason Mr. Man didn’t want to get married (again) in the first place. Because with his first marriage, it did change. Everything was awesome, and then it wasn’t. So maybe I’m incredibly cognizant of the fact that things COULD change if I were someone else or if he were someone else, but I really don’t see our dynamic being any different on October 12th than it is today, or tomorrow, or October 11th.
Which brings me to the whole writing vows thing. We had our friend who will be playing referee at our wedding over for dinner the other night and it was like, oh hello, THIS IS ACTUALLY HAPPENING.
One of the reasons I’m so head over crazy in love with this dude is because we just roll with it. The proposal? Not a huge production. Perfectly us. The venue selection? It just happened. Despite my best efforts to find that perfect beach or field or whatever, deciding on the tunnel just happened on a whim and was the obvious choice for us. Everything else is falling into place and yes, there are logistics we need to figure out (which is why our friend is doing the ceremony part, because he’s the expert in this area), but for the most part, it’s almost like we’re on auto-pilot.
Which, is not to say that it isn’t fun or hilarious or some of the best times of our lives, but it’s not stressful. I haven’t had any wedding-related meltdowns. We aren’t sitting up at night wondering how we’re going to make everyone happy. Maybe we’re blessed with some circle of friends and family that just get us and we’re lucky. I don’t know, but this whole wedding planning thing is not nearly as stressful as I have heard it can be. Then again, we’re only dealing with maybe 10 of the 12304923 factors that go into planning a traditional wedding.
So yeah, vows. I’m excited. We were talking to our friend who is officiating the whole thing and I asked him how long the vows should be. He said he’s had couples go for 15 minutes (too long) and as short as like 30 seconds (a bit too short). Apparently a minute, minute and a half is the magic number. And if you’ve ever heard me speak in person, especially when I’m excited, you know that I tend to speak very quickly. So, I can get a loooooot said in 90 seconds.
But really, where do you begin? This is a huge deal to me, yes. I don’t want to not sound like it is single-handedly the most important decision I’ll ever make in the history of decisions and I want to be sure I treat it as such. When I’m on, I’m on, and this kind of stuff comes naturally, so I’m sure it will be fine, but I’m definitely excited to see how to put everything I’ve felt, how much I’ve grown, and how fucking excited I am for the future down into words. Sweet.
THE DRESS. Or, in my case, the suit. Yesterday my friend Angela and I went to LiquidSky Sports to get fitted for my super sweet custom wedding jumpsuit. It’s pretty much the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever owned. I’ll post pictures and stuff once we’re all done and married and all that, I’m not sure what the superstition is all about but in the interest of keeping it a secret? Not like B hasn’t already seen it – I couldn’t wait to get back home and show him.
Mega thanks to Julio and Vicki, the two peeps at LiquidSky who were the driving force behind making this happen. If you’re not hip with the skydiving industry, LiquidSky is one of the most sought-after companies for custom jump suits, and their work is exquisite. As a result, the wait time for a suit right now is something crazy like 26 weeks. People wait for somewhere around six months to get these suits. They’re on the higher end for cost, but it’s no secret as to why. Luckily, they’re based in LA and I was able to get my suit fitted to me before I took it home. It’s one thing to get measured and get the suit sent to you, it’s an entirely different experience to have the suit put together for the most part, but to be able to take it in a bit here and there, and try it on again, and see how it slowly but surely becomes the most amazing custom suit you could ever want.
Which, I imagine, is EXACTLY like wedding dress shopping. Right?
And finally, the cruise. We’re counting down the days and saving our dollars for all of the fun we’ll have on board the #BlakeSheltonCruise on the Norwegian Pearl. In case you missed it, I wrote all about it last month. Word on the street is there’s a surprise guest joining the already impressive list of performers – but they won’t give away a name just yet. We recently received our cruise documents in the mail, which includes our cabin number (YAAAAAY for balcony cabins close to the stairs) and luggage tags.
The only detail we’re still working on is where we’ll stay in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami before the cruise. We get in town early on Saturday, and just need to decide if we’re staying in Ft. Lauderdale or Miami, and then get to the ship on Sunday morning.
As for the cruise itself, Norwegian has a great interactive cruise planner on their website, where you can book different shore excursions, reservations at some of the specialty restaurants, etc.
I’ve been stalking the menus at the specialty restaurants and I’m thinking a visit to the Teppanyaki and Churrascaria are in order. We’ll see what’s available once we get on board, but yeah. I’m hesitant to book anything ahead of time because we might meet awesome people or we might go explore some port, or something that could come up and interfere with pre-arranged dinner plans. Yet another reason I’m stoked about the Freestyle Dining on the Norwegian ships. Eat when you want, where you want, wearing what you want (within reason). Sweet.
Good news is, if you’re a country music fan and you are in desperate need of an awesome vacation, it appears as though there are still a variety of cabins left on this sailing, so definitely check it out, as we’re only 32 days away from setting sail!
As we’ve been planning and announcing and adjusting our wedding plans, I’ve had at least eleventy billion people (give or take) tell me or B, “I think it’s so cool that you’re doing this your way” with regards to the wedding. Which is awesome. But then I wonder, is there any other way? Do people NOT do it their way? I mean I know each wedding is different and I know ours is way different than what seems to be standard these days, but do most couples not do it “their” way?
I mean I’ve never really been into the whole dress/church/big reception/DJ/dancing traditional type wedding that seems to be the standard. Hell, six months ago we were talking about how we were perfectly content skipping the marriage thing and just being us, sans wedding and ceremony and titles and paperwork. When we first started planning, we talked about a Vegas wedding. We were looking for a beach. Then we decided to do it at SkyVenture Colorado. It seems fitting because it is so perfect, so “us” – which leads me to the question: do people go through the whole standard tradition because they feel like they have to? Is there some underground community of brides wishing desperately that they COULD do it their way?
Our honeymoon air is booked. Our honeymoon is booked (counting down the days until #BlakeSheltonCruise). We’re slowly but surely checking expenses off of the list. Now I’m just trying to find a sweet hotel for our pre-honeymoon stay in Fort Lauderdale, we’re still looking for rings that are totally awesome and perfect, and of course, we’re trying to save as much as we can for the actual honeymoon, since there is so much to do on the cruise.
I guess what I’m wondering is, does this happen to other brides? Are there (or were there) aspects of your wedding that made people say “I’m so glad you’re doing this your way” or something similar? If so, what elements of your wedding sparked those conversations?
Hey hey hey! Two months from now B and I will be married (weeee!) and two days into our honeymoon on board the Norwegian Pearl for the Blake Shelton Cruise. I am beyond excited, one, because I will be on vacation with my best friend (and husband, how awesome/strange/new does that sound?) and two, because I haven’t been on a cruise in years and B has never been.
What is the #BlakeSheltonCruise, you ask? It’s a themed cruise on Norwegian Cruise Lines, with Blake Shelton as the headliner. He’ll be doing two shows during the cruise, and when he’s not performing, there will be a whole boat load (no really, a boat load) of other country music stars rocking live performances, acoustic stuff, and meet and greet sessions. The list of performers is pretty impressive, check it!
Blake Shelton, Special Guest: Trace Adkins, Jerrod Niemann, Easton Corbin, Neal McCoy , Lee Brice, Randy Houser, McKenna Faith, Frankie Ballard, Brett Eldredge, Jana Kramer, Tyler Farr, Brinley Addington, Chris Cavanaugh, Chuck Wicks, JJ Lawhorn, Logan Mize, HER and Kings County, Joanna Smith, Maggie Rose, Clayton Anderson, Brandon and Leah, Rae Lynn, and Nik and Sam.
Holy awesome performances, Batman.
Destinations: We’re headed to San Juan, St. Thomas, Tortola and Nassau. Considering I’ve been to all of these islands before and B isn’t into touristy stuff or crowds, we’re in the process of planning out our days on the islands. We have a pilot friend (Hi Dean!) who works for SeaBourne Airlines – so we might try to see them while we’re down there. Honestly, at this point, I just can’t wait for sun, cocktails, and waves.
Fun story: I think it was about 10 years ago, my family and I visited St. Thomas and went to Sapphire Beach. I remember saying to my sister that I’d visit Sapphire Beach on my honeymoon, and now look, here we are, heading to St. Thomas as a stop on the Blake Shelton Cruise. Could it be any more perfect?
Bars: There are eleventy billion (okay, 13) bars on the ship, and as we’re exploring the deck plans on the Norwegian website, we’re noticing that several of them are directly above or below our room. Awesome! Also? Sake Bar? Maltings Beer & Whiskey Bar? Totally happening.
Food: Sixteen dining options. While I’m going to do my best to skip the late night buffets, there is definitely no shortage of action on the food front on board. Thinking a trip to Cagney’s Steakhouse may be in order – for only $25, we’re sure to get a great meal.
Activities/Fitness: There are a lot of options for on-board activities, and to be completely honest (and nerdy), I can’t wait to see how many steps we take per day, I think my FitBit will be impressed with how much walking we actually do on board. That and our room is right by a stairwell, so I’m promising myself that I’ll be taking the stairs as much as humanly possible.
Rooms: We’re in a balcony cabin, mid-ship. Which if I remember correctly, is pretty freaking awesome. The decks above us and below us are staterooms, so we don’t need to worry about the noise from a club or deck chairs or people pounding out a run on the treadmills. I’ve heard every horror story there is about cabin placement.
And, judging by the pricing page, it looks like this is almost sold out – so if you’re interested in going, get on it!
Have any questions? Have you ever been on a cruise? What was your honeymoon like?
Disclaimer: While I’m not getting paid to write this, I should point out the fine folks at Flying Dutchmen Travel are hooking B and me up in exchange for telling you guys all about it. So there you have it. I’m here to tell you about our awesome honeymoon plans and get you excited about the #BlakeSheltonCruise.
Disclaimer 2.0: …but it is a honeymoon – and you probably don’t really want to know the specifics. That said, I’ll keep it to stuff related to the cruise. Thanks for hanging out!
Holy smokes, kids, it’s just over two months until B and I tie the knot, get hitched, make this official. Whoa.
An update on things as they’ve been coming together:
The kind folks at SkyVenture Colorado have graciously accepted to wed us in the tunnel, sans wind, on October 11. We’re pretty stoked about it and at 2:00 PM Mountain Time, our friend Spot will make us all legit and stuff. Bonus? If you’re wondering where we’re registered, we’ve registered with SVCO. You can enter discount code “Sydney” in the box on the right side of the homepage and purchase tunnel time for us there. We don’t really need new pots and pans but we can always use tunnel time, so that’s the avenue we’re going for registration. We’ll have more information as we add venues we’re registered for, so stay tuned.
Well, our plan was to have our “reception” at the Great American Beer Festival, but it appears as though the GABF is going through a PR nightmare right now. This year, they partnered with TicketMaster to manage ticket sales, and it’s been less than a pleasant ride for many craft beer lovers. The tickets sold out in a matter of minutes, and are already on StubHub, Ebay and the like for $120 and above, some have reported as high as $700 on various outlets. GABF isn’t responding on Facebook to the hundreds of comments asking what is going on – instead, they posted that the GABF is sold out and they look forward to seeing all 49,000 of us over three days – ending the post with “Cheers!” which really didn’t go over well with disgruntled beer lovers.
So, since only four members of our wedding party were able to secure tickets, we’re currently seeking alternatives for a reception. And to be completely clear, this is my train of thought on the whole thing. We don’t have a lot of money. We aren’t doing this traditionally, where there’s a DJ and dancing and we pay a boat load of money for an open bar. The glory of the GABF was there was something for everyone: you pay $70 (not outrageous) and you can choose from thousands of different beers. We get to spend time with our friends, we don’t go into debt because of it, and everyone wins. So if you’re a venue in Denver that could work something out like that for us, I’d love to speak with you. You can email me here.
Dear GABF: I am totally willing and able to help you through this crisis. Bring me on board. I’ll help you navigate the murky waters. Unless, of course, hundreds (soon to be thousands) of disgruntled followers doesn’t mean anything to you. Then don’t worry about it. But really, I would love to help you. Call me. Email me. I’ve sent you some emails and some messages to your Facebook page. Let’s do this. You can’t undo the damage but you can certainly craft some messages to help clear the air and try to salvage some of your fans. Your audience is hungry for a response. Say something.
My one metric for finding a hotel that we would remember for the rest of our lives: how well they executed social media. I put it out there. I said “hey, need a sweet place for newlyweds on the first night of the beer festival” and got a few replies. The Hyatt kind of responded, the Brown Palace kind of responded, but Four Seasons Denver came in for the kill. In a good way. They were friendly, upbeat, and totally awesome to communicate with.
So, we’re staying at the Four Seasons Denver on Wednesday (night before the wedding) and Thursday (wedding night). Allow me to gush for a second about how on top of it FS Denver is. One of my favorite women on the planet, Jen Grant, used to work with Four Seasons when she was with another agency. I knew that she loved the brand, I knew that she was doing great things in social with them, and when she recommended we check out the Four Seasons in Denver, I was stoked. Now, we aren’t doing a traditional wedding by any means. And we certainly aren’t looking to do some big event for our reception at a swanky venue. What I wanted? A really nice place for us to spend the night before our wedding and our actual wedding night.
@FSDenver quickly responded and followed so we could discuss our options via direct message. Dana and Nora are the two ladies I’ve been working with specifically, and they have been an absolute dream so far. Always responding promptly, pleasantly, and totally on top of their game on the social media front. I’m no stranger to working on the weekends, but I was pleasantly surprised to receive some emails and tweets on a Saturday morning. In short, I can’t wait to spend these two very special nights at a place that is so on top of the social media game.
It’s also worth a mention that the FS team is paying close attention to tweets. The Jackson Hole location and Punta Mita (Mexico) both tweeted and emailed about honeymoon options when I was gushing about how much I love @FSDenver and we aren’t even there yet. Kudos, all around, to a job well done on the social media side of things. Can’t WAIT to stay there.
If you don’t know already, my father (@OrlandoChris on Twitter) has really come into his own as a travel writer in the past few years. I feel like he’s at sea more than he’s on land these days and it’s awesome to follow him on his adventures via his blog. He’s also a travel agent, so I told him to keep an eye out for any sweet deals that would be perfect for our honeymoon. He called me a few weeks ago to let me know that Norwegian Cruise Lines was teaming up with Blake Shelton for a Blake Shelton-themed cruise. That’s right. A boat load of country fans and country stars, rocking out at sea for a week. Fortunately for us, Dad pulled some strings so we could get on this cruise for next to nothing, so thank you Dad for footing the bill and thank you Flying Dutchmen Travel for hooking it up hardcore. You can expect to hear a lot about this cruise moving forward, as we’d love to see anyone and everyone take a week off and relax on board with us. And by relax, I mean party. Because according to Blake himself, this cruise should be renamed a booze cruise. Too bad we don’t like to party.
So we’ll be hitting up the Eastern Caribbean aboard the Norwegian Pearl – San Juan, St. Thomas, Tortola, Nassau… this girl is a happy camper! If you’re interested in joining us, let me know! We’d love to see you. Blake Shelton, Trace Adkins, Neal McCoy? And a bunch more! Concerts every night, 16 dining options, 13 bars and lounges on board… B and I are doing the math and it’s going to be all kinds of awesome. Norwegian Cruise Lines is also home of “freestyle” cruising, meaning no set time for dinner, no formal nights… Which means we have less to pack, and more time to do what we want on our honeymoon. Perfect.
I wonder if I could get Mr. Shelton to sing us a little song that we could dance to. We’ll be having our first “dance” in the tunnel at SkyVenture Colorado on Thursday afternoon, but I’d totally be okay with a little serenade action. Let’s see if we can make that happen, shall we?
What kind of snafus did you run into when you were planning your wedding? If you’re a GABF fan, were you able to score some tickets? Have you ever been on a cruise? Let’s do this! Come play!