WHAT THE HELL

Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like

A suite memory

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This can’t be true!

We arrived in Orlando late, so late that when we got to the hotel to check in, they had to have a confab at the desk and figure out where to put us, since the place was full and they’d given away our double. I knew what that meant: broom closet. It had happened to me before, and one time the broom closet where they’d set up a cot for me was on the floor where Tupperware ladies who were in town for a convention partied all night like The Rolling Stones’ entourage. I got no sleep at all. Those gals were raunchy.

Finally, the manager broke out of the huddle and approached us at the desk. He said he was able to accommodate us, due to a cancellation. Thank God. I was in town for a business meeting, and my mother and sister had flown to Orlando to spend a few days with us. They were already checked in. If we’d had to find another hotel at eleven at night, all our plans would have been swamped.

The bell hop led us to the elevator and pressed a high number. I don’t recall how many floors this hotel had, but it was a high-rise. I don’t even recall the name of it. All I know is that when we arrived at our floor, the bell hop ushered us around a corner to a set of double doors.

A brass plate at eye level said, in elegant decorative script, The Burt Reynolds Suite.

My wife and I looked at each other in awe. We’d been upgraded — to absurdity.

The room, as you can imagine, was an homage to the great Bandit, and it was, befitting his quintessence, tacky as hell. Blond shag carpeting, mid-80s furnishings that — each and every piece — had probably been made love on in some fashion over the years by adoring fans. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlooked the flatland glory that is Orlando, while the walls were lousy with signed head shots of all Burt’s famous friends. Dom DeLuise stands out. Woody Allen. Sally Field. Gleason, I’m sure. Wally Cox. (Not sure about Judy Carne and Loni Anderson ….) It was a museum of cheese.

And the room was indeed a suite, with a kitchen, a dining area, a living room, a sauna, a hot tub, and friends, I kid you not, the ceiling over the king bed in the bedroom was befixed from corner to corner with mirrors. We could watch the magic happen, if we’d kept the lights on …

Oh, the fun we had in that room, just being in that room. I didn’t want to go to my meeting the next day. Screw Disney World. We wanted to wallow in the magnificent kitsch of Reynolds. We longed to study each of the dozens of photos, steep in the spa, ooze toxins from our bodies in the sauna, gaze pruriently into the ceiling mirrors as we ate powdered sugar donuts on the bed. And of course we entertained my mom and sister there, and they were amazed and agog too and wondered what anyone would have wondered about a place like that: Had Burt Reynolds himself ever slept there?

I guess we’ll never know. All I know is that The Burt Reynolds Suite is easily the most extraordinary hotel room I’ve ever stayed in (and I’ve stayed at the famous Madonna Inn in lovely San Luis Obispo, California).

Burt Reynolds gave us a suite generis, to coin a term.

Ironically, we thought he was a has-been already when we stayed there, when probably at the very same time he was shooting his classic comeback, Boogie Nights.

I don’t know for sure, but I’m hoping: What happens in The Burt Reynolds Suite stays in The Burt Reynolds Suite.

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12 comments on “A suite memory

  1. kingmidget
    March 2, 2017

    Are the rooms at the Madonna Inn all that much. I’ve never stayed there, but always imagined that all the fancy/kitschy stuff are reserved for the public restrooms and other public facing portions and that the rooms would be just boring ol’ hotel rooms.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 2, 2017

      Actually the rooms are all over the top too. We stayed in one that was done like a hillbilly moonshine operation, with a still and everything. Surreal!

      • kingmidget
        March 2, 2017

        Maybe I’ll actually need to get a room there some day.

  2. John W. Howell
    March 2, 2017

    I had a room like that in Vegas once. Real creepy cause I was by myself. Probably would have been fun with my wife.

    • pinklightsabre
      March 2, 2017

      I think all the rooms in Vegas feel like that. I stayed in Vegas for about (get this) eight nights on a business trip once (EIGHT nights), and recall looking out the 30+ floor window at the other skyscrapers, the ads, the lights, feeling a Blade Runner quality to it. So, so surreal. So much America, and not the kind of America I identify with.

      • John W. Howell
        March 3, 2017

        I have to agree. EIGHT nights Yee gods. I would have gone berserk. Thanks, William.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 3, 2017

      Did the ceiling mirrors say, “Objects are larger than they appear”? 😉

  3. pinklightsabre
    March 2, 2017

    I loved the use of the word prurient and the donuts scene, that’s a winner.

    • Kevin Brennan
      March 3, 2017

      Yes, there are plenty of ways to be prurient, and powdered sugar donuts is one of them.

      • pinklightsabre
        March 3, 2017

        Just the way it makes you shape your lips is good.

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