|By Douglas Hanks, The Miami
HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Business News
Dec. 18, 2006 - Longtime Fontainebleau publicist Lisa Cole left the Miami Beach resort in 2005 to become Southeast director of communications for Los Angeles-based Hilton Hotels. The job switch meant working off the beach for the first time in 26 years, as well as a persistent new duty: travel.
Now responsible for publicity (and spinning away bad news) at roughly 30 hotels in six states and in Mexico, Cole finds herself traveling about two or three times a month.
"It's a whole new life," Cole said via cellphone on her way to an Orlando Hilton.
The transition hasn't been entirely well-received by the single mother of a 16-year-old high school junior, Jillian. Still, Cole says she has adjusted to the new regimen, the inconvenience of business travel, and the perks (working from bed, for one).
--LAST TRIP: Miami to Los Angeles on a Wednesday. Back to Miami on Sunday. Off to Orlando on Monday. Back to Miami on Tuesday.
--NEXT TRIP: "I might go to Cancun on Thursday."
--AISLE OR WINDOW?: Window. "If I want to take a little catnap, I can lean."
--LATEST CRISIS: Her BlackBerry won't take her password. Afraid a security safeguard will wipe out her data, Cole left the device home on her last trip. "Technology is great. However, big comma, it always seems to fail on me."
--WORST ITINERARY: "Five cities in one week." Which ones? Cole pauses. "It's funny. You forget. I know Cancun and D.C. were involved."
--NEW HABIT: Eating breakfast. She's been caught hungry in the afternoon on too many delayed flights. "You kind of force yourself to eat."
--ON THE ART OF IMPROVISING: Heading for the Orlando airport, Cole felt the drive was taking much too long. So she stopped for directions in a Port Charlotte CVS. "Orlando?!" a clerk demanded. "That's far."
'So I asked, 'How far is it to Miami?' " Cole recalled. 'I called the car rental agent and said: 'I'm not going to be returning the car in Orlando.' "
--WHAT SHE READS ON THE ROAD: The local paper, for a quick measure of the environment facing Hilton's hotels there. "Every city has its personality."
--THOUGHTS ON MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT: "People say it's a zoo. It's not. . . It's so easy." Cole used to take a taxi; now she parks in the garage. "I have my little spot, which I'm not sharing."
--HOW SHE KNOWS SHE'S TRAVELING TOO MUCH: Grabbing a cigarette break before catching a flight back to Miami. 'I was in Washington, D.C. It was 5 a.m. I'm sitting [down]. The skycap says to me: 'Aren't you that Miss Cole from Hilton?' "
--UNEXPECTED UPSIDE TO BUSINESS TRAVEL: Helping her to quit smoking for about two months. After a flight to Los Angeles, Cole managed to keep the smoke-free momentum going. "You've had that long flight for five hours without a cigarette. Why not go to six?"
--FLYING OUTFIT: Jeans, loafers, black jacket.
--IMPORTANT RITUAL WHEN AWAY FROM HOME: Calling her daughter on both ends of a flight. "I always call before the plane leaves, and always when I land safely."
--IMPORTANT RITUAL REGARDLESS OF THE LOCATION: Watching Grey's Anatomy on Thursday night. Even if she's at a business function. "I have actually excused myself for Grey's Anatomy."
In the last column, I asked for rants and raves about airports. Scott Friedman, an economist with URS Corp. in Gaithersburg, Md., wrote with a big thumbs-up for Houston's William P. Hobby Airport.
"It has a great Mexican restaurant and a nice sit-down burger place. If I have to stop someplace, I always try and make it that airport. The Mexican place [Pappasito's, in the airport's central concourse] has great salads in which the meat and everything is in individual containers so that it won't get soggy when you take it on a flight and wait an hour or two to eat it."
Where do you stay when you're on the road? Do you have a hotel chain you swear by? An airport inn that's the biggest steal in town? Are you still smarting over horrendous service that deserves a public advisory? Send me all of your hotel tips, tales and terrible memories to the e-mail address below.
On the Road Again covers all things business travel. If you're a business traveler, you should be writing me. Send me a question. Or a complaint. Or a hint. Extra credit for e-mailing while on the road. Extra, extra credit for Blackberry-ing in the midst of an actual sales conference.
Send all correspondence to dhanks@MiamiHerald.com
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