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March 25th 2014, the day I sent Dana off on a seven-month deployment, was a low point in my life. I vividly remember the emptiness and sorrow in my heart as I watched her walk down the jetway, away from her family…away from me. I also remember how incredibly difficult it was to maintain composure while giving a TV interview just as Dana walked out of sight, it was all I could do to hold back tears. I struggled to hold myself together long enough to walk back to my car before breaking down in tears. Many of us have been to this dark, empty place before; it's definitely a low point for many military marriages.
When TownePlace Suites reached out and asked if I would be interested in writing a few blog posts about their hotels, I immediately said “yes.” I always enjoy reviewing products and services I've used and appreciate, plus TownePlace offered a few free nights for my efforts. Pssst…don't tell them, but that really wasn't necessary.
How many of you have ever stayed in one of their hotels? My first experience with a TownePlace Suite was at the Colorado Springs South location near Peterson Air Force Base. We were preparing to PCS from Peterson to Little Rock and had run into a slight problem selling our first house. We sold it way too fast! I know, I know…a great problem to have, but it was still a problem. We had no place to stay while Dana waited for her official orders to leave and that was expected to take several weeks. Since it was the start of “PCS season,” rooms were impossible to get on base, plus I was still working my civilian job and relocating to an on-base location would've been very inconvenient. When Dana brought up the idea of an extended stay hotel, I admit to being pretty skeptical. We have a dog. We are clean freaks. We like our own space. We need convenience. Creature comforts such as clean, soft bedding and strong water pressure are a must. Moving from our house to basically an efficiency apartment was not my idea of comfort!
It didn't take long for us to find TownePlace Suites through a simple internet search; their south location looked good so we felt we should give them a try. Driving up to the property helped put me more at ease since the building and landscaping looked clean and well-kept, so well-kept in fact that before checking in I asked Dana if she was sure these guys welcomed pets. Not only did they welcome our dog Brutus, they actually appeared happy to see him! I immediately got a taste of the staff's friendly professionalism once they allowed us to inspect our room before booking. I guess since we were staying there for a few weeks they wanted to make sure we would be happy with the accommodations. To my surprise the room was bigger than I expected, the king-sized bed looked very clean and firm, the carpets were in great shape, the bathroom passed my cleanliness inspection ( including a water pressure test in the shower), and the kitchenette was complete with microwave, sink, and refrigerator. I didn't take photos, but the ones on their website are accurate.
When Motley Crue's “Final Tour” came through San Antonio, my wife and I felt we just had to go. Their music played such an important role throughout our impressionable years, well, honestly Vince, Tommy, and Nikki had more of an impact on Dana than me. (Sorry Crue, but I've always been more of a Parrot Head!) But I do like several of their songs and have seen them in concert a few times, so a final romp on the wild side sounded appropriate.
We are slightly older now than we were in '88 so a lot has changed. For one, rather than just show up slightly intoxicated and hope to find some cheap seats, we bought our tickets weeks in advance. Good ones to! We also made sure both of us had the following day off from work, no more working with ears still ringing and head pounding. We are now productive adults. Plus, neither of us was planning on passing out in our car after the show, or driving home, so we felt it important to get a room…a nice room…on the River Walk. Twenty-five years ago we would've shacked-up at the cheapest "roach motel" for the night and not worried about location, comfort, or cleanliness. Oh how times have changed!
Staying at the TownePlace Suites was a pretty easy decision considering they had just given me a couple free nights in their hotels in exchange for some honest reviews, this is one. Before TownePlace Suites contacted me I honestly had no idea they had a location in downtown San Antonio, my wife and I usually stay at the Hyatt or Sheraton. So this would work out perfectly, especially since TownePlace welcomes pets and we wanted to bring our dog, Brutus. Yeah, bringing our doggie to a night of rock and roll craziness with Motley Crue...oh how times have changed!
On the day of the show, we checked in a few hours early and were pleasantly surprised at the attentiveness of the valet, doormen, and front desk personnel. The hotel lobby looked to be recently remodeled with a modern flare and clean lines. I have to admit, I was very impressed. The price of the room fell in line with what most four/five-star rated hotels charge, my only complaint would be the $100 non-refundable pet deposit. That seems a bit steep, especially for a well-trained dog. Our room was just as I expected after walking through the lobby, clean, modern, and comfortable. We had a nice view of their indoor pool and a good-sized refrigerator for our champagne. Ahhh yes, nothing says Motley Crue like a bottle of Domain Chandon! In my last post about TownPlace Suites I mentioned our need for creature comforts, well, this hotel fulfilled all of those needs.
Now in all honesty, I don't have much else to report on the Downtown TownePlace Suites because after Dana and I fed the dog and enjoyed our champaign, we left for the night. The hotel is conveniently located across the street from the Ticket, a sports bar where we started our bar-hop, and then just down the street is the Buckhorn, and then just down the street...I'm sure you get the point. TownePlace downtown San Antonio is in a great location. I can say that at no time did I worry about Brutus or our belongings, I think security and peace of mind are very underrated aspects of staying at any hotel. TownPlace's friendly and professional employees definitely put me at ease.
Now, as for Motley Crue. They were awesome. If you missed them on this final tour, I'm sorry, you missed a great night of 80's style over-indulgence! (big hair, big drinks, big tabs, and big noise!) Just watching Tommy play his drums upside down while hanging from the ceiling directly over my head is an image I'll never forget. (I will post that video shortly) Sorry kids, none of today's performers come close to putting on a better show than the classic hair bands of the 80's.
It's the holiday season and to me that means spending time with family and friends while reflecting on the year that was. How many had a good year? How many of you feel as if you've accomplished, overcome, loved and laughed as much as possible? There have been a few bad years in my life where I just wanted the damn thing to finish so I could start fresh with a clean slate, it's a mindset, but we all know that reality doesn't work that way. I usually judge my life in a similar way as to how we judge football coaches, “what have you done for me lately.” My year was a good one, a net-positive. So congratulations, you get “happy Chris,” or at least “less grumpy and sarcastic Chris.”
The tremendous amount of progress within the male military spouse community is one reason why 2015 was a good year. Guys, we're finally starting to get some recognition. People, businesses, and other organizations are starting to approach us and ask for our input, insight, and yes, our business. Marketers are finally recognizing that we are a demographic worth pursuing; just check out this holiday spot from Toys R Us. (I just bought 4 gift cards for my nieces from them because of this commercial.)
In 2015, Macho Spouse was approached by the Sonoran Desert Institute's School of Firearms Technology to hold the first ever “Male Military Spouse Appreciation Day” where SDI donated a full-tuition scholarship to their popular Gunsmithing certificate course. (Male military spouses are a large demographic for them.) USAA asked for our participation to help raise awareness on the importance of life insurance during “Life Insurance Awareness Month.” Yeah, I didn't know that month existed before this opportunity either, but USAA sure knows that we exist! And Marriott really knocked us off our feet when they offered several nights worth of hotel stays in return for a few reviews on their TownePlace Suites properties. TownePlace Suites made it very clear that they are interested in helping military families who are on the road, from PCSing to family vacations, TownePlace Suites wants our business! And it's not like this is some shabby hotel chain guys, their rooms are usually very spacious, clean, come with fully equiped kitchens, and hot breakfasts. I was surprised to learn how many were actuallyl located near military installations, which makes them a great temporary housing option, or vacation get-a-way. In full disclosure, I dispersed their generous offering quietly among those guys who have helped keep Macho Spouse up and running over the last few years. We don't make any money here, so when a top-notch organization such as Marriott offers us some swag, I like to spread it out amongst our volunteers first. If you want access to some of this cool stuff, contact me and be prepared to help build our community. But while I'm speaking of TownePlace Suites, you guys should check them out because they're really showing their appreciation and commitment to our military community! That goes for USAA and Sonoran Desert Institute as well, these organizations aren't just talking about supporting male military spouses, they're actually doing it. So let's not forget to return this generosity in 2016.
While I'm patting others on the back, I can't forget the amazing content NextGen Military Spouse, Military.com/SpouseBuzz, and Military Spouse delivered on behalf of male military spouses in 2015. When I started Macho Spouse in late 2011/early 2012, there was nearly nothing…nothing, written for or about us male military spouses. No blogs, no websites, no Facebook pages, no nothing. Now look at us, male spouses are popping up everywhere! (We've probably had absolutely nothing to do with this trend, but I will take full credit.) So despite terrorism, politics, war, and racial unrest, life hasn't been all bad this year. It's been good enough for me to crack a cold one, light a cigar, sit back and reflect on how far we've come and how many goals are still left to accomplish. Don't worry, I won't be consuming and driving while reflecting, Dana and I have already booked our New Year's Eve room at the San Antonio Riverwalk TownePlace Suites. Happy 2015 everyone, have a safe holiday season!