Service Enhances the Epic Experience

Every once in a while you get to check something off the bucket list. This last weekend I scratched off the Notre Dame/USC game. I’ll get to the game in a minute but first I’d like to tell you about the “pre-game” as my daughter likes to call it.

First we arrived at the Intercontinental Hotel. It is officially called the Wilshire Grand Center and is a1,100 foot high skyscraper with 900 rooms in the financial district of Los Angeles. It is the tallest building west of the Mississippi and the 11th tallest building in the United States. It’s a bit of an odd hotel as it looks like something out of a space movie, very cold, and very modern/high-tech. The staff however was very professional, warm, and courteous.

To get to the room you first have to go up to the lobby which is located on the 70th floor of the hotel. After checking in you then go to another elevator group to descend to your room. Each time you enter the hotel you have to program in the 70th floor first, go up to the lobby, and then find the other elevator group to descend to your room. This is a very strange adjustment that becomes second nature after a couple of swipes to enter the correct floors to achieve your desired assent/descent.

Anyway, our only real restaurant destination was a restaurant called 71 Above. Keeping with our theme of the vacation of “Staying High”, at 950 Feet above ground level 71 Above is the highest restaurant west of the Mississippi. Offering elevated modern American cuisine by Chef Vartan Abgaryan… this place was a destination to remember.

Needless to say the views were spectacular, but what made this experience so special (as usual) were the people that treated us so well and the food that complimented their exceptional service.

We were first greeted by the general manager, Alex Hasbany. He directed our experience like the conductor of an orchestra. His attention to detail, descriptions of the “inside story” of 71 Above and his charismatic approach were both professional and engaging. Mr. Hasbany then handed us off to our server Marissa whom was both insightful concerning the menu items and then filled in any questions we had after each course was articulated by the wait staff.

Then we were treated to a wonderful dissection of the wine list by lead sommelier Catherine Morel. I told her what we had in mind and she gave us a number of wonderful choices that ultimately led to a beautiful bottle of wine from the burgundy region of France, Clos De La Roche, Grand Cru, 2014.

After that fantastic experience the rest of the weekend pointed to the Notre Dame/USC football game. Nancy and I wore our Notre Dame “Gear” as I am a big fan of Notre Dame. Come on, Joe Montana went there!

The game was an event as Notre Dame was poised to win their 12th game in a row this season and USC was looking to upset Notre Dame after a disappointing season.

The game became a wonderful spectacle with jets flying over head, the USC marching band, and senior day for the USC players that were seniors. They were recognized by the fans as they individually made their way out of the tunnel. This game would be their last played at their home field.

USC jumped out to an early lead and played the Irish tough. Ultimately the Irish prevailed and now they look to win their first national championship since 1988.

What a amazing weekend highlighted by those that we had never met providing random acts of kindness that propelled this weekend into a memory we will never forget.

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