Last year when I came out here for a conference, I was staying over half an hour away from the university as part of my quest to make 50 nights with Marriott, and the associated gold status. Well, I made the 50 nights, I have the gold status, but I couldn't get a room there to enjoy the status.
No matter. Gold status with Marriott was last year's goal. Hilton is this year's goal. Hilton requires 14 fewer nights, allows me to count 13 nights that Christina stayed, and counts free stays (2 nights so far this year). That puts me 29 nights closer without really trying. 21 to go -- of which I've had 11 already this year. So I'm staying at an Embassy Suites. Ironically, I pass the Marriott and drive 20 miles past to get to the Embassy Suites in Lompoc.
It's a nice enough drive, unless Avis has upgraded you with an Isuzu Rodeo without great shocks and you've generally overindulged the previous 24 hours (brats while tailgating before the football game the previous night, 4 hours of sleep, too much creamy pasta and free booze on the upgrade to first class from BWI to LAX, all-you-can-eat shrimp and salmon at the conference's opening reception... Not a pretty sight.
The hotel itself was nice, but as there are evening receptions for the conference each day, I don't plan to see too much of it. It's set up like a compound of villas around a pool and a garden. The "suite" is really spacious and comfortable. The cook-to-order breakfast was nice this morning. I'm booked into an Embassy Suites in New Jersey in October; it should be nice if I end up going to the associated conference.