By Eileen Ogintz
DENVER, CO — Which is harder?
Is it harder to host family over the holidays or to be a guest?
Honestly, I’ve been both and neither one is easy. If you’re the host, you are in charge of everyone else’s comfort, not to mention clean towels and sheets, meals, cleanup and entertainment. And that’s not easy, no matter how easygoing the guests.
If you’re the guest, you’re worried about not being a demanding guest and managing in unfamiliar territory without embarrassing yourself and your family, sharing bathrooms, adjusting to your hosts’ rhythms. Not easy either, no matter how welcoming your hosts.
I usually end the holidays exhausted either way. This year, we’re not home but we’re not guests or hosts. As the Thanksgiving holiday coincided with a family Bat Mitzvah in Denver, we’re comfortably ensconced at the Marriott Denver West Hotel and the staff couldn’t be more pleasant on a quiet holiday weekend. We can truly relax between daily family events as soon as the door is closed. There’s everything we need—even a workout room and indoor pool—and a chance to get a respite from family when needed.
I think it’s a great idea when visiting family over a stressful time like the holidays to opt for a hotel. Use any excuse you need—bad back means you can’t sleep on the lumpy sofa bed; you’re worried about the toddler who doesn’t stay put at night…your worried snoring will annoy the other guests. Everyone likely will be better rested and in better humor.
I also like that this hotel is so convenient—to the highway, the shopping mall, good restaurants, even a sports bar where my husband and son adjourn to watch football. I can take a nap without offending anyone—or get a snack or a glass of wine without feeling guilty that I’m invading my host’s kitchen
Another plus this trip: We opted for a car rental that enabled us to bypass the line at the rental car and choose which car we wanted from those in the class we’d booked from Alamo. No muss, no fuss. And should we really want to escape for a few hours, we could check out a national park off-season—like Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the best national parks to visit off-season.
As our time was limited we opted instead to visit The Red Rocks Amphitheater in the foothills just west of Denver, a beautiful natural outdoor theater that seats thousands and has hosted famous and budding musical groups for decades (including the Beatles in 1964 when the tickets cost $6.60 each!). Our son and daughters had been here many times to concerts and enjoyed telling us about the place as we hiked around the beautiful setting and stood on the stage. The Bat Mitzvah party was held here the following night.