Travel: A Sweet Escape
The first thing my eyes set upon when I enter the suite at the Hotel Hershey is the bed
It is king-sized and magnificent, draped in rich materials, a sensuous, decadent bed meant for sensuous, decadent people. I look to catch my wife’s eye — I am preparing to do the adorable leering thing I sometimes do, complete with French-accented huh-huh-huh — but she is busy
The first thing my eyes set upon when I enter the suite at the Hotel Hershey is the bed: It is king-sized and magnificent, draped in rich materials, a sensuous, decadent bed meant for sensuous, decadent people. I look to catch my wife’s eye — I am preparing to do the adorable leering thing I sometimes do, complete with French-accented huh-huh-huh — but she is busy refereeing a rugby scrum between our two daughters, or perhaps she is reading Better Homes & Gardens, I do not now recall which. No matter. Our time will come.
There is a difference between a weekend getaway with children and a weekend getaway without children, and if you are a parent you know exactly what I’m talking about, and if you are not a parent I will simply say this: The difference is not just in whether the chef at the hotel restaurant will stoop to preparing chicken nuggets for your offspring. No, the difference is about privacy, it is about whether you and your sweetheart will have a chance to get down to business, if you know what I’m saying, it is about … wait, why do I bother? This is not an issue on this trip. We have a three-room suite! With a glorious bed! A bed that is, by my estimation, 50 feet and two thick doors from where our children will be sleeping! Decadence! Sensuality! Ours! Soon!
But first we must eat chocolate. “Dad,” my daughter Hannah had asked before we left for Hershey, “do you think we’ll have chocolate for dinner?” Though she is just a child and has but a small brain, this is not a ridiculous question. Because one of the things the visitor to Hershey comes to understand is that it is a town — no, an entire corporate empire — built upon indulgence, upon satisfying our relentless urge for sweet, sweet things. Most Pennsylvanians know the rough outlines of the Hershey legend already: Lancaster County boy Milt Hershey makes a nice bit of change selling caramel, then sets his sights on something bigger: chocolate. He builds a factory near the dairy farms of his home county — there must be milk before there can be milk chocolate, you understand — and before long an entire nation is devouring Hershey bars and Hershey kisses and Hershey syrup. What’s fascinating, though, is that Hershey didn’t just create a fantastic product; he created a fantasyland to go with it, a town with an amusement park and streets like Chocolate Avenue and giant Hershey kisses atop the lampposts.
We indulge ourselves first at Chocolate World. Once, you could tour the actual Hershey factory, but this is no longer the case. Still, is it sacrilege to say that its replacement — this Disney-esque place with faux factory tour — totally kicks the authentic tour’s ass? I admit my memory of the original factory tour is fuzzy — the last time I went, I was just a child and had but a small brain — but I’m fairly certain it did not include a way-cool interactive 3-D sensaround movie about the history of Hershey’s.
Back to the hotel now. The Hotel Hershey is a grand, magnificent structure — a resort resort — built in the 1930s, added onto in the 1970s, and most recently updated with a $7 million spa. While my wife goes off for a wrap and massage, my daughters and I head for the indoor pool. Hannah slips and falls into the hot tub, briefly startling me, her, and the woman who had been otherwise lounging quietly in the tub. But it ends without incident.
Afterward, it is off to dinner. There are two restaurants inside the Hotel Hershey: the opulent Circular Dining Room, where tomorrow morning we’ll have a buffet breakfast before our trip to Hershey’s quaint zoo; and a smaller bistro called the Fountain Cafe. Alas, there is no chocolate on its dinner menu, but the swordfish, pasta, and mac-’n’-cheese suffice.
Finally, we are back in our suite. But it is too early to put the girls to sleep. Which is when I think of … the bed! Perfect! There is a gigantic TV facing it, and it is large enough for the four of us, and so I quickly punch up A Shark’s Tale on pay-per-view and we all hop on top of the covers. I have planned it as a ruse, of course: The girls will soon drift off to sleep, and then I will carry them to their room, and then it will just be my wife and me and the getting down to business.
But slowly, as we lie there, four happy Twizzlers in a cozy little package, something happens. And when I turn to look over at my wife, our two daughters squeezed in between us, what I’m feeling is not decadent or sensual. What I’m feeling instead is love. And like Hershey itself, it is a sweet, sweet thing.