Brassieres and Elder Women
INTERESTING STUFF: 5 November 2011

Retiring to a Hotel

Way back in 2004, I posted what one supposes is a joke email titled, Let's Retire to the Hilton. It relates the advantages of moving into a hotel over renting or buying a home in old age and I still find it delightful. You can read it here.

I suggest you do that and then come back for the rest of today's post.

Okay, 79-year-old Joy Bricker was still working when she moved into a hotel in Falls Church, Virginia 10 years ago and now that she has retired, she is moving to New York state to live with her daughter. Still, it's the same idea as retiring to the Hilton and it worked well for Joy beginning in 2001.

”For less than the price of many apartment rentals in the Washington metro area (roughly $1,500-$1,700 a month) Bricker's room was supplied with wifi, which fueled her hours of daily online research and reading a day, and the added benefit of daily room cleaning, and round-the-clock security.”

It gets harder as we age to take of house cleaning and hiring someone is expensive. Cable and internet connections get go up year to year (mine increases by about $3 every January) and monthly fees for security, if you feel you need it, add up too. It certainly can help when all that comes with price of the room or suite. Apparently, long-term hotel guests are not as uncommon as I thought:

”Extended hotel stays are not so unusual, according to Carla Berberich, a general manager at the Towne Place Suites, especially for business travelers. This Virginia location is nearly half-filled, at 46 percent.

"But, no one has stayed as long as Bricker, who checked in on August 4, 2001. She is the longest extended-stay guest any Marriott hotel has seen.”

And don't think living in a hotel is lonely existence – at least not for Joy:

”Bricker has become a pillar of the transient, makeshift community. She's made friends of staff and short-term neighbors alike. Next door, her new Kuwaiti friend brings traditional meals of spiced stew for them to share.

"'It's helped my appetite,' says Bricker as she acknowledges her frail frame. 'I call it community planning," she adds, 'I turned it into a community.'"

When Joy fell and broke her hip last year, it was the hospital staff who called the emergency medical service and were at the hospital when she woke following surgery.

Perhaps this story and the original joke-y email from seven years ago delights me so much because the only people I've known who actually live in hotels are rich. For many years late in her life, actor Bette Davis lived at the Ritz Carlton in New York City. Other well-known people make New York and Los Angeles hotels their homes away from home although few do so permanently or for as long as Joy Bricker.

I guess it delights me to know this because it is just so unexpected that people of ordinary means might actually make this kind of living work. I sort of wish I had looked into it for myself – or maybe not. You can read more about Joy's long-term stay at the hotel here.

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Joanne Zimmermann: Kerplunk!


A beach front motel near us has several year round residents. I found this out when we stayed there while our building was tented. But it isn't just hotels. There was one lady who lived on the QE2 forever. When it was sold she moved over to one of the other Cunard Queens. From the Washington Post:

Mage is quite right,Ronni. There are many advantages to living on a cruise ship as opposed to a nursing home.

I have decided I will be checking myself aboard any ship in the Royal Caribbean fleet.

Just think, I will have a lovely room with a balcony and every day a cabin steward will come in and change my linens and freshen up my bath,replacing soap and shampoo.

I can go to any restaurant onboard for my meals. There is no limit to what I can order. In fact, if I am reading in my room and decide I don't feel like dressing for dinner, I will simply call room service and they will bring me anything I select.

Every week or so brings me 2,000 new friends to meet and greet as we cruise along from port to exotic port.

If I do not feel well, I can go to the ship's doctor and he/she will take care of me.

I will see the World and enjoy my life much more on the high seas than I would in the "home" and,actually, it could be less expensive.

Anyone want to join me?

What great story! Thanks.

Ronni--Folks at the opposite end of the economic scale from the rich also live in hotels/motels. My first real job in 1950 was as chamber maid in the 2nd floor of a small hotel across the street from my great-grandparents' home. (As a 12-year-old, dealing with the "dirty old men" who lived there was a whole 'nuther story.)

Cruising is tempting, but the ship's doctor's ability to help you if you have a serious illness is limited. If you break a bone or need emergency surgery you may end up on some God forsaken island hospital with no English speaking personnel. (Or have to pay an astronomical fee to be transported home.)

A hotel sounds better because you can always check out if you find you don't like it.

I think I will have to think of the ramifications of such a move, but on the surface it sounds wonderful.

I’d love to join you Nancy, but perhaps as neighbors at a hotel.

I agree with Darlene. A ship has too many limitations.

In the meantime, it’s nice to dream.

Funny, that is twice in the last couple of weeks that someone has resurrected that story about retiring to a hotel. The other was my son-in-law, who used to work in the hotel industry. He pointed out that in addition to the benefits already listed, several of the big hotel chains give frequent flyer miles for hotel stays, so after a few years you would either be able to take a free trip somewhere or use the points to upgrade your accommodation.

Very tempting, no lawn to mow, no leaves to rake, and you can travel around too! Woo woo!

Interesting. I think I read somewhere that Omar Sharif lives in hotels, also.

My favorite hotel in New York was the Wyndham (not affiliated with the chain), on West 58th between 5th and 6th Avenues. It was a little frayed around the edges but the rooms were huge with separate living rooms and a small kitchenette. I think it has changed owners and is now called the AKA Central (since it is so close to Central Park). One time when I was there in the late '90s, Nell Carter was living there while she had a show on Broadway.

It was a secure hotel (you had to be buzzed in), with an elevator operator! Now, THAT would be fun to retire to!!

Great idea !! I'm going to give this some serious thought!

We stayed one winter in a hotel while my husband was having cancer treatments. We found a two room suite in a Best Western including a hot breakfast. We also didn't have to pay the room tax when we stayed over a month. Cooking was a little more of a challenge as the refrigerator was small and there was no oven except a microwave. We also had free wifi. It cost less than a short term rental of a furnished apartment. I like the idea of living on a cruise ship but i don't know if I would care for it in reality as I've never been on a cruise.

Creative idea.

I like it.

Great ideas.....all I need is enough money! I assume it cannot be done on my $820 a month social security check.

I am reminded of a favorite movie: Mrs. Palfry at the Claremont--hadn't connected that with this idea, but it makes great sense. Hmmm...

I like the overall tone of this article. But it needs one correction that's driving me nuts. It says it was the HOSPITAL staff that was there for her when she was injured. Surelt it was meant to say the MOTEL staff.

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