It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I could write paragraphs about why I fell into a writer’s block slump, but instead of dwelling on the mundane, let’s talk about my first big trip post-COVID.
~ Now I say “post-COVID” very lightly. It’s not over and it probably won’t be for a little while longer, but as a fully-vaccinated individual, I feel more confident returning to normal life activities that actually require getting out of sweatpants. ~
So, if you’ve been following along, you’ll know that last March I traveled to Park City for a work trip. That trip was supposed to be the first of several for me to visit the properties that I work with at my job but of course it wasn’t long afterwards that the world shut down. Fast-forward to this March where vaccines are beginning to be distributed and the idea of some sort of normalcy is on the horizon. For myself, that normalcy came in May when I was two-shot, two-week fully vaccinated. With the vaccination came the ability to resume my work travels.
For my first trip back I actually ventured to two places to visit a total of five different properties over the course of a week. I started in Big Bear Lake, California and then headed to Park City, Utah again. Last year’s trip to Park City included a walk-around for a potential new property that my company ended up acquiring earlier this year, so it was only fit to visit the area again.
I have to admit I was very nervous about traveling and having not set foot in an airport in over a year, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew from others and from media that things were different, but for me it still felt the same just with a mask on. With more people traveling the airports seemed just as busy as I remember and my flight to California was full, but luckily no issues arose. I also want to note that I felt completely safe on all three of my flights. The first with Southwest and the second and third with Delta. The planes were clean and the flight attendants were amazing as always. You can tell that they all have their passengers and their safety at the forefront of their minds which was very comforting.
Again, if you’ve been following along, you’ll know I have anxiety with traveling and being in crowded spaces. As for my anxiety with this trip, I did pretty good by my standards. I think I’ll always struggle with my anxiety and being in situations that trigger it, especially when I’m alone, but I’m learning what works for me and I’m hoping with time and with more experiences like this one, it will only get better.
But back to the actual trip. I left on a Sunday and arrived in sunny California in late afternoon. I have actually been to the resort I ended up staying at and using as a base for surrounding property visits so it was nice to see it again after five years. Coincidently, I stayed in the same room as well. I was happy to arrive in a familiar place and after checking into my room I ventured into Big Bear Village to get dinner at Village Pizza. A small pizza became a great option for another meal or two. I enjoyed it on my balcony which had an obstructed view of the lake. It was a great way to finish a day of travel before the real work began.
The following day I remained at the resort, Lagonita Lodge, and did what I was there to do: take property photos, get Matterport 3D room tours, and simply get to know the property better. The biggest challenge I’ve faced in my position is having the content to properly market our properties and actually being present, on property, has helped immensely. I really enjoyed wandering around and taking photos, but also interacting with the onsite staff and asking them about what they see daily and how they connect with owners and guests.
After spending the day on property, I ventured back to the Village to walk around and be a tourist. I’m the type of person that really loves walking around and ducking into stores in little towns. I will almost always get a sticker or two and if one really stands out, a t-shirt as well (you can never have to many t-shirts). Big Bear Village is really cute and has lots of fun stores to explore. Because it was a Monday, the town wasn’t as busy as I imagine it is on the weekends, which was actually really nice. While I was walking around, the regional VP for the area called to check in and when I mentioned I was in the Village, he met me and brought me to the local office which was right on the main street. It was nice to chat with him face-to-face and meet/reconnect with some of the California employees. Afterwards, I wandered around the Village in search of a good salad to get to-go and bring back to my room.
One of my anxiety symptoms is unfortunately a lack of appetite so when I’m traveling I rarely eat even half a full-sized meal so I generally go for something light or something I can have as leftovers (i.e. pizza). A salad is always a great option for me and I found a delicious wedge salad at 572 Social Kitchen and Lounge. I kind of wish I had stayed and eaten there because the patio was beautiful and it would have been a great place to just relax and enjoy. For anyone else out there that is single and/or travels alone – do you feel awkward sitting alone at a restaurant or is it just me?
The second day I was in California I hopped over to Lake Arrowhead where we have another property, Northbay at Lake Arrowhead. I had to head over fairly early because of road work so I spent some time in the little Village area right by the lake where I got a smoothie and croissant for breakfast before going to the property.
It was another great day of taking property photos, talking to staff and getting to know the area. It was also interesting to see and experience how resort towns are bouncing back after all the closures and strict restrictions of last year. Living in a resort town, I’ve seen first hand the toll it took on small businesses, but to see it mirrored in other areas confirmed that everywhere was effected and most places are thankfully bouncing back. After the property visit I returned to the Village and walked around the stores since more were open. As with the plane rides, I felt safe everywhere I went. Even though I am fully vaccinated, I still wore my mask in most areas. At the time of my trip, California was still under mask restrictions so I wore it when I was around others.
My third day was back in Big Bear at another resort, Snow Lake Lodge. I know I shouldn’t pick favorites, but I liked Snow Lake’s rooms the best. As a smaller resort with only one room type, I was done by noon. The local office wanted to take me out for lunch so I went back towards the village and had lunch with the team which was really nice. After lunch I remained at the office to get a few things done at an actual desk with good internet. There’s been a funny rivalry/battle of sorts between my boss in Colorado and the regional VP in California since our Las Vegas GM Conference in 2019. Both want me in their offices so as a joke, my boss in CO received a photo of me in the CA office “working in my new office”. (Just for the record, I have no intention of ever living in California.)
My time in the Big Bear area had come to an end and the following day I met with another corporate team member at the Ontario airport and we headed to Salt Lake City where we met my boss and the big boss, president of our company, before driving up to Park City. My job for this leg of the trip was two-fold. I had to get the same photos, 3-D tours and general knowledge for our new property Sweetwater Lift Lodge but also assist with our first annual meeting with them.
I was excited to be with other people on this second half of my work travels and it just confirmed that I definitely enjoy being in the company of others over being alone. Since we arrived in the early afternoon in Park City, us girls decided to spend time on Main Street and shop a little before dinner. Park City’s main street has the addition of regular stores (and by that I mean not touristy stores with t-shirts and stickers). My boss and I wanted to go to Athleta and we all spent a fair amount of time, and money, in there before we found the cutest little wine bar called Old Town Cellars. As all three of us are wine drinkers, we enjoyed a glass before deciding on dinner at Chimayo.
Now remember, I don’t eat a whole lot when I’m away from home so this massive and absolutely delicious burrito was eaten over the next few days I was in Park City. Though a great meal, the best part of the night was being with my boss and the VP of compliance. When you’re with coworkers it’s hard not to bring up work even if you’re in a more social setting, but it was great to just chat and be together not over a computer screen.
After a great night out with the girls, the next day I spent time at the property taking photos and the like and again, getting to know the staff a bit more as well. I got to try my hand at a little videoing too. The property had just finished a complete lobby remodel and they wanted to showcase the changes at the annual meeting the following day so I stepped outside my comfort zone and tried it out. I’d say for a first time videographer, I did okay.
That afternoon the rest of the corporate team had to go to our other Park City property, Park Regency, for a meeting so I tagged along to get a few updated outside shots. Afterwards, we went back to Sweetwater and I continued getting property shots before I joined the rest of the staff and the board of directors for dinner.
We opted for a catered dinner at the resort and it was probably one of the best catered meals I have ever had. It was so perfect for the occasion and there was plenty of food for everyone and leftovers for resort staff. It was great to get some facetime with the board and socialize a bit with new people as well. We all had a great night and it was a great way to wrap up my travels for the week.
The following morning I assisted with the virtual annual meeting before we packed up and drove to the airport to head home. It was a successful meeting that I was happy to be a part of (even if it was on the sidelines). Our group then had lunch in the airport before splitting off to our respective gates. As I’ve already said in this post, it was really nice to interact with others outside the small bubble of people I got accustomed to over the last year, even if it was for a short while.
Overall, my first trip post-COVID was enjoyable. Even though it was a work trip and fun wasn’t the top priority, I was still pleased to get away and go somewhere different and speak with people in person. I felt safe in every situation I was in and feel confident that with time, things will get even better and we will all get to enjoy traveling again. For me, I’ll be traveling more this fall for work and to make up for my family’s Hawaiian cruise that didn’t happen last year, we will be traveling around New England in September. I’m so looking forward to adventuring in new places and getting back to travel in general as I’m sure many people are.
*On a personal note, I hope to get back into writing and publishing these blog posts more in the next several months. I truly believe with the return of normalcy in many aspects, I’ll have the motivation and creativity to write more. And yes, my book reviews will make a comeback as well.