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Aloft, But Not Aloof — PingWi-Fi Not Shaken At O’Hare

October 5th, 2008 · Tags:Cities · Hotels

So, have you ever walked into a place and realized immediately that it was way too cool for you? That’s exactly how I felt when I stepped inside the swank lobby of the Aloft Chicago O’Hare hotel. Instantly I felt as though I should have tried to sneak a martini shaker through security at the airport just for this place … ha … and I don’t even drink. But by the looks of the bar, I trust Aloft is fully equipped for all of your needs in that regard.

Aloft just has that shaken-not-stirred vibe amidst the mod furniture, the green/purple/blue color accents, the music, the earthy-sweet scents, the industrial/loft look of the revealed wiring, speakers and ventilation system overhead. The lobby is cozy and relaxing on a weekday and weeknight, but, I am thinking it easily could evolve into party central on deejay night. Part of the lobby is like a dance club, with better furniture. There is a pool table and (a must in my party book) magic 8-balls scattered around the end tables, couches and ottomen. “Rack ’em.”

I shot a few practice games of pool, before getting to work. I “tripped” momentarily on how the triangle shape of the racked balls on the table reminded me of the Ping logo … I digress …

Now, let’s talk Wi-Fi …

Scott Gibson

Having sunk the 8-ball before it’s time, “game over.” I fired up the Hewlett-Packard, and up popped a splash page for the Aloft hotspot. Hmm … the signal strength was maybe a tad below average, but I forged on. Then the splash page asked me to click my approval on the obligatory user agreement. After reading each and every word (not) … I agreed. Then I saw a new page with three mysterious boxes. Was this fill in the blank, or an IQ spatial reasoning exam? Just empty boxes … hmmm? They don’t call me “intuitive” for nothing, so I typed in my name. No dice. Note to all “would-be parents” – call your kid by their first name. I had to call the desk. The hotel had already assigned my user name. The problem was that my first initial-then-middle-name combo threw them off a little. We cleared that up … And then everything worked like a charm. Note: no points deducted on the fouled up user name – that one is on my kin.

I sent out a few e-mails and tried to make my friends feel bad that I was Aloft and they were not. I think it worked.

Next, I poked my head into the weight room, the patio area and the indoor swimming pool. I am showing signs of maturity. I never got in the water – a first for me. I also didn’t check out the bean bag toss game. That craze has passed me by. But if you are a bean bag wizard, Aloft is the place for you.

I took “the lift,” as they say at Aloft, up to my room and was quite impressed. Who wouldn’t be? There was a huge LG HD screen hanging on the wall. Yes, “Life is good.” Oh … and “What’s this?” There was some sort of audio/visual hub or box or whatever on the desk near the TV. This led me to believe, once again, that I was not the target audience for this hotel. The box was equipped to easily plug in Wii, or Xbox, or whatever for the Guitar Hero crowd. “I’ll show them.” I decided the adaptor box and the LG big screen also could be businesslike. My idea was to hook up the laptop and review/proof my latest sponsorship PowerPoint proposal. Rats. The cable wasn’t right for the laptop. No worries. I called the front desk and go their customary “Aloha” and great service. They sent a cable right up. “Rats, foiled again.” The second cable didn’t fit. Yes, I was seeing support for my video game theory, as the business presentation adapter seemed to be a new request.

The computer cable was a minor inconvenience … Everything else was rockstar treatment … ha … they even had SPIN magazine in the room and Wired. Hmmm … music hip and nerdy chic. Very nice. (The next morning I noticed there was no “hard copy” – no newspaper in the hallway … more support for my clientele theory. Personally, I read both – paper and online – call me crossover.)

In the room, I turned on the laptop again and jumped right on the Wi-Fi connection. Mom’s poor decision-making on my name didn’t throw off the username, this time. The signal in the room was about the same as what I found in the lobby. Consistency is good. I was able to send a few photos, while using Instant Messenger and surfing … no problems.

The next day, Aloft sent the head of their engineering/IT department to my door. He found the appropriate chord for my laptop … and … nada. But, wisely he tried the connection on his laptop. It worked perfectly. I tried to blame the issue on someone else, but no luck. Somehow, I had disabled something in the function keys. Vic Rentas, super sleuth, figured it out immediately. That wasn’t a big deal … or was it? I think so. Many people wouldn’t have gone through the trouble to “fix their problem” and tracked down the chord. Vic went troubleshooting on my machine as well and fixed my bad.

Oh, if you want to know, the comforter seemed about four inches thick. The shower had what I call a “big-boy nozzle” – one that doesn’t hit me in the chest. The bed was wonderful. There were electrical outlets in just about every corner and on the big LG screen, my sponsorship presentation never looked better.

The unlabeled blank boxes on the user sign-in page was a little strange, and it would be great to bump up the Wi-Fi signal strength a little … but overall a great stay. Aloft you so rock – 6 pings.

Here, experience it fo yo ownself:

Know what I sayin?