We stayed at the Westin Diplomat in Hollywood, FL for the first two days of our winter getaway. It was a lovely resort in an otherwise boring neighborhood. The immediate surrounding streets were quite suburban with strip malls and a long row of upscale hotels galore. The boardwalk was livelier and prettier and about a mile away.
Ben and I have differing philosophies on how to vacation. He loves staying in beautiful hotels and resorts and taking advantage of their amenities. It’s not to say that I don’t enjoy these hotels (let’s face it, it’s much nicer going to fantastic hotel), it’s not as high on my list of priorities. I think about all the things that I want to do (eating and drinking, going to museums, exploring different neighborhoods). I’m concerned more with the surrounding neighborhood or the relative ease with which I am able to travel to where I want to go.
My first trip to Miami was four years when I went with a couple of girlfriends for a long weekend getaway. Although normally I’m one of those people who crams every minute of her vacation time doing or seeing something, for that particular trip I was looking for the exact opposite of my usual vacation. Exhausted and run down from work, I specifically requested that we go somewhere warm, beautiful, and had no culture. Miami fit the bill nicely (I’m being a facetious about Miami having no culture, but the main draw to Miami is more on beaches than going to museums). We had a wonderful trip with lots of time spent lying on the beach, shopping, eating and drinking, and dancing the night away at various clubs.
This time I was interested in simply warming up and relaxing because I wanted to enjoy my down time while I still have it. In a few weeks, work ramps up considerably. Our vacation couldn’t have come at a better time because NY was FREEZING when we left. This was schadenfreude at its finest. We basked under the gentle sun in warm 70 degree weather, while all our friends were doing their very best to simply stay alive in an icy white world.
Ben treated us to a couple of nights’ stay at Westin Diplomat so we would have a hotel right on the beach, plus lots of other wonderful amenities, such as two different pools, several areas with lounge chairs, and a hot tub. We alternated between lying on the chairs and lying on the beach to soak up the sun. We also had access to the Executive Club Lounge, where we were able to get breakfast and enjoy a really wonderful view of the ocean from its balcony on the 33rd floor. Our room was really nice as well. The best part was that the bathroom had a jacuzzi tub and a large shutter window out to the bedroom right by the tub. So if you opened up the window, you could soak in the tub and watch television. On our first night, while soaking the tub, Ben and I drank some red wine and ate strawberries. It was indulgent bliss.
Westin has been advertising itself as a hotel for athletes by offering perks, such as a treadmill in your hotel room. Now they’ve expanded their offerings with Gear Lending Program. They partnered with New Balance to offer you work-out clothes for $5 for the length of your stay. For $5, you get a work-out top and bottom, a pair of New Balance shoes, and a pair of socks that you get to keep. The socks themselves are worth $6, so this lending program is worth it just for the socks alone. I thought it was a fantastic bargain and utterly worth it for the convenience factor alone. In trying to avoid checking in bags, nowadays, I just pack a small carry-on. Bringing gym clothes, especially the shoes, take up valuable space, so having this option at the Westin was invaluable.
We called the front desk to request work-out clothes (I didn’t need shoes because I brought my racing flats). In a few minutes, they brought up the clothes in a mesh bag. I got a brand new NB top and capris. The capris had been worn before, but they were immaculately clean. I had no qualms about wearing them. I ordered the clothes in a small and they fit me perfectly.
Along with the clothes, we got a running route map. The map was printed on heavy cardstock and was quite small, about the size of my map so it was easy to slip it into a pocket. On the map, they give you the option of a 3-mile route or a 5-mile route. We decided to go for a 5-mile run, so we could enjoy the boardwalk for as long as possible. We also found out that at some Westins, they even have scheduled group runs with running ambassadors. Truly, when it comes to catering to fitness freaks, Westin goes above and beyond satisfying our desires. Working out while traveling is not easy, but Westin does everything they can to make it as easy as possible. I absolutely recommend Westin and their WestinWorkout programs.
The first mile out of the hotel and to the boardwalk was boring. You’re running on sidewalks and have nothing interesting to do. Once you hit the boardwalk, then it’s really nice. There are interesting stores and restaurants on one side and the view of the glorious ocean on the other. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and there was a light zephr as we ran out. Even though it was mid-morning when we started to run, it didn’t feel too hot. It did seem a little warm when we turned around, but at that point I knew we were headed back to our hotel and it was almost done, so I was fine with sucking up the pain. Also, by that time the boardwalk was getting a little crowded and Ben and I had to duck around several people as we ran.
I kicked it up a notch for the last mile. I’m really happy with this run because this was the first hard run I’ve had this year. I got bronchitis just before coming to Miami, which hampered how much I was able to do. I’ve been slowly regaining my cardiovascular fitness. I had a great run with Ben and I can’t wait for the 2013 racing season.