The Marriott Crystal Gateway Hotel in Virginia, near Washington DC, is more home away from home than it is a hotel for many of us.
As with any location you get known and get to know hundreds of individuals, but none as memorable as Barney, a lovely black Lab whose owner spent over 180 nights per year at the hotel.
Barney became a fixture on the Concierge (16th) Floor and in the Concierge Lounge. His owner, a lobbyist, would leave Barney in his corner suite on the 16th while he was on the Hill, working. Barney was cared for by Housekeeping: he was washed a few times a month by staff (using lots of shampoo bottles); walked by a manager on duty (the standing joke was that when he learned to push the "L" button on the elevator he'd be self-sufficient); and loved by everyone, almost.
We laughed at first time stayers who had the room next to 1601, since their approach brought a mild growl from behind the suite's door, then a bark--just one.
Someone complained that Barney was begging for food in the Lounge and he was almost banished. His pennance was to put only his front paws on the marble foyer leading to the lounge where he'd look so pitiful that someone would slip him a morsel or two.. Pounding his tail in appreciation it seemed he was smiling and saying thanks.
One July I had a two week break and was gone from the hotel. when I returned I asked the evening Concierge about Barney. Her eyes filled with tears, "Barney died last week when I was walking him out front," she said. "He saw a squirrel and began to chase it and fell to the ground." She started crying. "We had the vet come--he said that his heart gave out."
She dried her eyes but mine were moist.
Barney's owner asked that a small photo of Barney be placed on the desk of the Concierge for all who knew and loved him. That photo was removed when a new GM took over, but a quick call to Marriott HQ returned it post haste with an apology from the GM.
Barney's presence and his love of people softened the often grueling hours that I would spend working before coming to the Lounge late at night. I gave him a few treats and spent hours rubbing his neck, though he was always on the lookout for food handouts.
Barney was, for all intents and purposes the best Platinum Lifetime member of all time and the only four-legged one. His loss was felt by everyone. His life, short as it was, made travel a joy for me and countless others. My stays since then have included a long misty-eyed time spent at the photo on the Concierge desk.
What a wonderful story, SteppingStones! As you know, I'm an animal lover and love it when I walk into a bookstore or other place of business to find a cat or dog perched on the counter. It sounds like Barney brought some of home to all the guests and I'm glad his picture was returned to its rightful place!
Thanks for sharing the story!