Oregonian Hospitality at Portland’s Alamo Hotel


I’ve stayed in some pretty decent and at times upscale hotels over the years like the Amari Boulevard in Bangkok and the Marriott in downtown Chicago when I didn’t mind spending a little extra money, but one of the nicest hotels I have stayed in was courtesy of Delta Airlines.


It was in early October 1998 and I was on my way back to Korea after spending about two weeks back in the States. I am not sure why I flew on Delta when I had switched to United Airlines two years before; maybe I couldn’t get a flight when I wanted to go or maybe I just got a better deal with Delta. Whatever the reason, I was on Delta. The only problem was the connecting flights to and from Chicago were lousy—on my way to Chicago I had to fly from Seoul to Portland and then to Cincinnati before arriving in Chicago; on my way back it was Chicago to Salt Lake City and then to Portland before heading to Seoul.


If it sounded a bit grueling it was especially when I had an early flight out of O’Hare but it would put me in Salt Lake City with just enough time to make my connecting flight to Portland and once in Portland, my connecting flight to Seoul.


At least that was how it should have worked out for me. However, after we had pushed back from the terminal and then sat on the ramp for almost an hour before our plane was allowed to take off that “enough time” I had to make my connecting flight had been reduced to “almost enough time” and I hoped the Captain would put the pedal to the metal and see how fast that 737 could fly.


Once we were finally airborne, I told one of the flight attendants that I was a little concerned about making my connecting flight in Salt Lake City.


“Don’t worry,” she said. “If you have to make a connecting flight in Salt Lake City the ground staff is already aware of our late departure from Chicago.”


Well, that was good enough for me.


Too bad it wasn’t good enough for the folks in Salt Lake City to hold that plane for me.


As soon as I got off the plane I quickly approached the nearest Delta ground staff I could find and asked her which gate was the flight to Portland.


“I’m sorry, that aircraft just pushed back,” she said and then turned to another passenger who had a similar problem.


As it turned out there were four other passengers—five Japanese businessmen—on the plane beside myself who had missed that crucial connecting flight to Portland.


We were escorted to a Delta customer service agent who apologized for the snafu and told us that we could stay overnight in Salt Lake City and fly to Portland in the morning. Delta would take care of everything. Gee, I would think so, but after missing my connecting flight, I didn’t want to spend the night in Salt Lake City and asked if I could spend the night in Portland instead. She said I could. Great. The Japanese businessmen also thought it was a good idea and all six of us were on the next flight to Portland.


I have flown in and out of Portland a few times and I have always like their airport. I have always found it to be one of the friendlier airports I have been in and I just love its layout. Now, I was going to find out how friendly the people were in Portland outside of the airport.


Delta was going to put us up for the night at the Alamo Hotel. I would have expected something a little more “Northwestern” in name like The Pines or The Evergreen, but it was The Alamo instead. Turns out it was the name of a chain of hotels that if I am not mistaken got started in Texas. Wonder why? Be that as it may, I have definitely  “remembered the Alamo.”


After we got out of the terminal, and got to breathe some of that fine Oregon air, there was a free shuttle bus waiting to take us to the hotel. Cool. And the driver was really friendly and talkative. If I had been bummed out about missing my flight, one thing was for certain I was being made to feel very welcomed. He was proud of Portland and talked our ears off—well, at least talked my ears off; I’m not too sure if those Japanese dudes could keep up with him.


It was only about a ten-minute ride to the hotel and when we got there, that same friendly Portland hospitality greeted us at reception and took care of us immediately. Maybe they had dealt with Delta’s stranded passengers before and that’s why it just seemed so friendly, but I would like to think the folks at the Alamo were quite genuine in their hospitality.


That hotel would end up being one of the nicest hotels I have stayed in (a few in Bangkok like The Majestic Suites and the Royal Princess and the Inter City in Vientiane come very close). The room had everything. Actually, it seemed more like a tiny efficiency apartment because there was a living room/kitchen area complete with a sink, microwave, sofa, table, television (there were three in the room including a small one in the bathroom), videocassette recorder, and one of the most comfortable beds I have ever slept on.


And when you have all that cool stuff in the room you know darn well there’s going to be an ample supply of those little bars of soap, tiny bottles of shampoo and conditioner, and other goodies to take care of all your hygienic needs.


Of course our stay also came with dinner and breakfast vouchers as well as a free drink in the hotel lounge. The voucher for dinner was quite generous in terms of the dollar amount and what we could order from the menu. And if you were still feeling a little hungry there was free popcorn and apples in the lobby. Oh yeah, and free videos to watch in that VCR in your room.


Of all the flying I have done over the years, it was the first time I had ever missed a connecting flight and I probably couldn’t have asked for a better deal than the one I got when I missed that flight from Salt Lake City to Portland. The night I spent at The Alamo in Portland was one sweet deal.


I had given myself plenty of time to make it back to Korea so I never really had to worry about missing that connecting flight. I just had one extra day in the States and the chance to stay at a really nice hotel and experience some Oregonian hospitality.


When I got back to Korea I thought about writing a letter or sending an email to the hotel and one of Portland’s newspapers and thanking them for making my stay there a pleasant one. Unfortunately, I never got around to it; however, I will never forget how nice I was treated the last time I was in Portland.