Mission: Business Travel
(Business 2.0) – Bunking in cramped quarters, choking down airline rations, finding a decent shoe shine--as any BlackBerry-wielding road warrior will tell you, it's hell out there. But never fear. Reinforcements have arrived. On the following pages, we provide plans of attack for the places where you do battle, from Fortune 500 strongholds like New York and Cincinnati to such strategic outposts as Wal-Mart HQ in Bentonville, Ark. Here you'll find business-friendly bivouacs that won't dent your war chest, allies who can get your jammed laptop firing again, even places to duck out for some R&R. So quit your bellyaching and hup two, soldier. Forward, march!
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: The Crowne Plaza Atlanta-Buckhead (404-264-1111; $99 per night) is at the heart of the action--and we're not just talking about the myriad shops and restaurants of Atlanta's toniest district. Buckhead itself is home to the Atlanta Financial Center and PeopleSoft's regional headquarters, and you'll be within 15 minutes of the rest of your clients via the MARTA train (the hotel is one block from the Buckhead station).
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: No interference here--you'll find free Wi-Fi access in the Crowne Plaza's lobby, at the Apple store next door, and even while walking between them, thanks to a community hotspot initiative called FreeBeeAtlanta (www.freebeeatlanta.com) that covers six square miles of Buckhead.
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: Along with network reporters, hit the shoe-shine stand on the shopping mezzanine at the Omni Hotel in the CNN Center downtown ($6).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: The Georgia Technicians (770-367-0904) will tackle any project, but specialize in Windows apps; rates start at $75 an hour.
--BEST MESS HALL: Slow down at dimly lit Bacchanalia (404-365-0410), where the calmly paced delivery of the $65, four-course dinners gives you time to chat with your client.
--R&R: The High Museum of Art (404-733-4444; $13) is lovely on the outside (the building is clad in porcelain) and inside (with works by Mark Rothko and Alexander Calder, among others).
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: EatZi's Market (404-237-2266) makes sandwiches to order and boxes up more exotic meals like coconut chicken ($9).
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: The InterContinental Stephen F. Austin (512-457-8800; $129 per night) has Texas-size accommodations, with huge desks and windows that open to let out the hotel-stale air. Ask for one of the rooms with a trouser press.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: The Alamo Drafthouse (512-476-1320) is a Wi-Fi-equipped watering hole, restaurant, and theater. Patrons were recently invited to destroy a copier before a showing of Office Space.
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: By 7 a.m., shoe shines ($8) are available inside Sweet Cleaners (512-477-4083), across Congress Avenue from the InterContinental.
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: The CompuBards (512-567-3194; $70 to $210 per hour) dress in Shakespearean garb and serenade you with Celtic tunes--or not, if you prefer--while fixing what ails your laptop.
--BEST MESS HALL: George W. so loved the "new Texas" fare at Jeffrey's (512-477-5584)--think venison in a huckleberry port sauce ($30)--that the owners built a branch in D.C.
--R&R: Alternative country music is religion in Austin, and the venerable La Zona Rosa (512-263-4146) is a temple. The honky-tonk hosts stars like Lucinda Williams, Susan Tedeschi, and Rickie Lee Jones.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: The 1886 Café and Bakery (512-391-7121) has incredible chocolate cake ($4.50) and, as dessert ballast, gourmet sandwiches such as roast beef with jalapeño sour cream ($10).
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: The Hilton Garden Inn (479-464-7300; $49 per night) rises--slightly--above its uninspired Bentonville competition, with Wi-Fi and a cocktail lounge in the lobby. (It's a dry and, well, very simple county.)
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: Bentonville now proudly boasts four Wi-Fi hotspots. The nicest is downtown, where you can sit on the grass or a park bench at Bentonville Square.
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: Family-owned Sligar Shoe Repair (479-273-7166), on Main Street, has been shining the locals' kicks since 1975 ($5).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: Count on the techs at Total Resolutions (479-876-0202; $125 per hour), with their melodious drawls and ample know-how, to calmly get your temperamental PowerPoint up and running well before you're due at Wal-Mart's offices.
--BEST MESS HALL: Briefly escape Bentonville for some "Ozark plateau cuisine" at James at the Mill (479-443-1400) in nearby Johnson. Order duck cassoulet with a berry tart ($24) or barbecued ribs ($12) good enough to have graced the cover of Bon Appétit.
--R&R: Get to know your client at the Wal-Mart Visitor Center (479-273-1329), housed in a five-and-dime opened by Sam Walton. Watch video histories of the company and check out telling memorabilia like the thrifty Walton's beat-up Ford F-150.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: The Market at Pinnacle Point (479-464-8615) packs up an excellent turkey plate ($6).
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: The Marriott at Copley Place (617-236-5800; $159 per night) has the necessary in-room ingredients--an oversize desk and a fat pipe to the Web--as well as a prime location. A mall with a fast-turnaround print shop is attached, the Prudential Center is right next door, and Harvard and MIT are just across the river.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: Send e-mail and enjoy a Zagat-endorsed burrito (about $4) until 11 p.m. at the Wrap on Newbury Street (617-262-2200).
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: There are four Shining Example stands downtown, including a small one in the hotel and a three-throne site in the center of town at 1 Beacon St. ($4).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: The Computer Valet (978-660-3329; $75 per hour), a.k.a. Mike Whalen, is a quick-to-respond one-man operation.
--BEST MESS HALL: At the businesslike, four-year-old Federalist (617-670-2515), every stuffy detail (dark wood) is counterbalanced by a progressive touch (modern artwork). You'll enjoy the great food (try the Muscovy duck breast, $33) and prompt seating.
--R&R: Granted, a cemetery is an unusual place to psych yourself up. But it can't hurt to fill your head with tales of kicked Redcoat butt before heading into a sales call. Dating to 1660, the Granary Burying Ground is home to the final resting places of Sam Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: Grab a Chilean grilled-steak sandwich ($6) at Chacarero's (617-542-0392).
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: Just outside the Loop, the building that houses Hotel 71 (312-346-7100; $109 per night) was originally designed for condos--hence the generous guest rooms. High-speed Internet access is free, and the desks are accompanied by ergonomic chairs. The minibar, meanwhile, stocks an interesting alternative for winding down: aromatherapy candles.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: Mother Hubbard's, a restaurant and sports bar (312-828-0007), gives you the Internet and seven big-screen TVs.
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: Keep out of the crummy Chicago weather at the shoe-shine stand inside One Illinois Center ($3).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: Edward Savitzky of North Shore Computer Helper (773-301-4313) assures us that, at $35 per hour, he's "the cheapest geek in Chicago."
--BEST MESS HALL: Celebrate that newly inked deal under the original Warhol in the dining room at Tru (312-202-0001), where superstar chefs Rick Tramonto and Gale Gand (she of the Food Network's Sweet Dreams) craft French fusion cuisine. If you have room--in both your stomach and your expense account--go for the Chef's Collection, a 10-course, $135 meal that includes caviar served on a miniature crystal staircase.
--R&R: Southport Lanes (773-472-6600; $20 per hour) is a bowling throwback, with just four alleys and staffers who set up the pins by hand.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: The Corner Bakery has 21 Chicago locations. Duck into the convenient Wacker Drive eatery (312-372-3624) for the standard array of meal-size salads ($3 to $7) and gooey chocolate-chip cookies ($1.19).
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: You can spread out in the Garfield Suites (513-421-3355; $109 per night). All of the rehabbed rooms offer kitchen counters and dining room tables--perfect for files, a computer, and presentation hardware.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: Relax with a Minty Manhattan as you send e-mails wirelessly in the Cincinnatian Hotel's airy Cricket Lounge (513-381-3000).
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: A good, yet dirt-cheap shine ($3) is available just three blocks from the Garfield inside Tower Hair Designers (513-621-4192).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: PC on Call (888-726-6225; $99 per hour) has a staff of more than 25 and service vehicles full of parts. The techs also work weekends and evenings.
--BEST MESS HALL: Bone up on your French--or at least the pronunciation of poivre--before treating a client to Maisonette (513-721-2260). Cincinnati's 55-year-old, five-star bistro offers buttery burgundies, seven-course meals ($110), and a choice of dessert soufflés.
--R&R: Midwest meets savanna meets ice floe at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden (513-281-4700; $11.15). Zap photos of polar bears and tigers back to the kids.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: Order the Caribbean chicken sandwich ($5.25) "to go" from downtown hot spot LeBoxx Café (513-721-5638).
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: The lobby is filled with beautiful people, the suites with beautiful equipment. Every room in downtown's Hotel Teatro (888-727-1200; $155 per night) has a laser printer/fax/copier/scanner and dual phone lines.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: If you don't have time to get back to your room between meetings, My Office Business Center (720-904-2300) in the Denver Convention Center has Wi-Fi, copiers, printers, fax machines, and a pack-and-ship service.
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: The loyal clientele of Executive Shine, located in three concourses at Denver International Airport, fly their shoes in, unaccompanied, for buffing ($5).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: Unlike many Denver tech-support outfits, Mobile PC Medic (303-337-7410; $85 per hour) willingly services laptops.
--BEST MESS HALL: Mizuna (303-832-4778), a smallish "new American" restaurant two miles from the Teatro, satisfies all cravings from high-brow (foie gras, $16) to homey (mac and cheese, albeit with mascarpone and lobster, $12).
--R&R: Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater (303-295-4444), 20 minutes west of downtown, is a scenic and acoustic natural wonder. The Beatles played here, and U2 recorded "Under a Blood Red Sky" within the 40-foot-high stone walls.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: The Market (303-534-5140), in Denver's trendy LoDo area, offers more than 30 different sandwiches ($6 to $9) and 50 ready-made salads.
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: Stay and host your business meetings at the Inn on Ferry Street (313-871-6000; $99 per night). The hotel, consisting of six rehabbed 19th-century structures, offers meeting space for 40 in a restored carriage house. Free shuttles are available both early and late to take you the two war-torn miles into downtown.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: Choose from a half-dozen soups accompanied by hot sourdough bread while fielding IMs at the Atlanta Bread Company (313-640-8200).
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: Inside downtown's hulking, glass-and-steel Renaissance Center, at street level in Tower 100, you'll find the full-service Shoe Fixer (313-567-2897; $4).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: The technicians at Geeks on Time (800-433-5766; $85 per hour) will try to save you money by talking you through problems before dispatching a van.
--BEST MESS HALL: Nestled among Detroit's Opera House, Music Hall, and Ford Field is Intermezzo (313-961-0707). With its wood floors and brick walls, this excellent Italian restaurant gets loud, so be sure to ask for a booth. The osso buco ($32) is a crowd favorite.
--R&R: The Motown Historical Museum (313-875-2264; $8), housed partially inside the home where Berry Gordy Jr. launched the label, features memorabilia ranging from the Temptations' costumes to Jacko's glove.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: A cut above, even in a town known for its Greek food, the Pegasus Taverna (313-964-6800) boxes up memorable fare like lamb shanks with spinach rice ($11.50) and Greek-style lasagna ($9.50).
OBJECTIVE: Los Angeles
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: The Millennium Biltmore (213-624-1011; $99 per night) has Wi-Fi in its spacious rooms and offers business services ranging from color copying to digital-camera rentals. Take five in the Roman-style indoor pool.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: Hours to go before you sleep? The Ragazzi Room (213-741-1723), 2.5 miles south of downtown near the USC campus, offers Wi-Fi and "the all-nighter"--a coffee drink with three shots of espresso ($3.25).
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: Just behind the Millennium, on Olive Street, you'll find shines at the tidy Shoe Wiz shop ($5).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: Speedy Tech (323-933-4400; $85 per hour) generally gets to your hiccuping machine within an hour of your frantic call.
--BEST MESS HALL: You won't find a hint of Hollywood schlock inside the fine Italian restaurant Cicada (213-488-9488). Instead, the place harks back to the 1920s--an art deco theme, polite staff, a veal chop served with pasta and cabbage ($31), and tables spaced sufficiently apart to keep conversations private.
--R&R: Even the toughest client will crack a smile at the Hollywood Improv (323-651-2583), where stars appear on stage (David Spade) and in the crowd (Will Smith). Thursdays feature Drew Carey's Improv All-Stars ($17).
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: Sample Latino Los Angeles on your way out of town at Ciudad (213-486-5171). Try the Bolivian tamales ($7.50), packed with olives and raisins.
OBJECTIVE: New York City
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: It's like you never left the office--the Holiday Inn Wall Street (212-232-7700; $189 per night) provides in-room T-1 connections, laptop safes, and a service that transfers room calls to your cell phone.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: Train delayed at Penn Station? Head to the Tracks Raw Bar & Grill and set up your laptop next to a pint of Guinness and a half-dozen oysters.
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: B. Nelson Shoes on Sixth Avenue (800-750-7669) offers everything from shines ($3) to complete shoe resuscitation.
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: Marcos Lara (917-797-9309; $65 per hour) is a wireless guru who's been quoted in the New York Times. But he'll still gladly fix your laptop.
--BEST MESS HALL: With tasty steaks ($26 to $39) and room to put notepads on the oversize tables, bustling Sparks (212-687-4855) attracts a lot of suits. In fact, all manner of work gets done here: Twenty years ago, mob boss Paul Castellano was gunned down out front.
--R&R: Get some nachos at the concession stand and take a seat in New York's Criminal Court (100 Centre St.), where peddlers, prostitutes, and perverts make their cases until 1 a.m.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: Grab a huge pepperoni-and-mushroom slice ($2.75) at one of 12 Famous Original Ray's Pizza joints. The pizzeria at 250 East Houston (212-254-8558) is closest to Wall Street.
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: The Redmond Inn (800-634-8080; $79 per night) provides fresh-baked cookies, a generously sized sauna, and proximity--by car, it's seven minutes or less to the headquarters of Nintendo of America, AT&T Wireless, and Microsoft.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: Since this is suburban Seattle, you can't lob a biscotti without hitting a Starbucks. But you can save yourself the 10 bucks a day by logging on wirelessly at the Redmond branch of the King County public library (425-885-1861).
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: Before you head across the sound, get this out of the way at Mel's Shoe Shine in the north satellite of Sea-Tac airport ($6).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: Bryn Rector is Redmond's Geek4Rent (206-334-6986). The former Microsoft contractor won't name names but charges just $30 an hour for those victimized by certain types of buggy software.
--BEST MESS HALL: A table at Coho Café (425-885-2646) will seat you and 10 of Bill's minions. Share a platter of goat cheese and bacon jalapeños ($7) before ordering your own pit-roasted salmon fillet ($13).
--R&R: The 640-acre Marymoor Park is King County's definitive playground. Watch bike racing at the velodrome, rope up for the 45-foot rock-climbing wall, or jog away pre-presentation jitters on the many miles of running trails.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: Locals love Ivar's thick, white clam chowder, which is served on Seattle-area ferries and elsewhere. Get a bowl ($2.50) to go in Redmond at the Family Pancake House (425-883-0922).
OBJECTIVE: San Jose
--WHERE TO BIVOUAC: At the Hyatt Sainte Claire (408-298-1234; $109 per night), business-class rooms come with fax machines and entitle you to free access to hotel printers and copiers. Lonely? Network online and off during the hotel's Wi-Fi happy hour.
--COMMUNICATING WITH HQ: With apologies to Dionne Warwick, anyone looking for San Jose these days can pull out a laptop and connect to Mapquest from the car. A downtown Wi-Fi "hot zone" covers six blocks of Santa Clara Street, and there's more 802.11 saturation five miles west in the upscale Santana Row housing and shopping development.
--GETTING SPIT-POLISHED: Hardworking Amos Rodriguez mans a stand at First and San Carlos streets ($6).
--RADIOING A TECH MEDIC: San Jose's Computer Helper (408-483-3097; $60 per hour) will, for a premium, show up at your hotel on weekends.
--BEST MESS HALL: Seven (408-280-1644) is Silicon Valley's latest place to see and be seen. The echoing, urban-chic environment (no carpet, plenty of stainless steel) doesn't encourage swapping secrets, but the presence of pro athletes and local pols will always keep you in conversation. Don't miss the short ribs ($9).
--R&R: Take away useful knowledge from the Tech Museum of Innovation (408-294-8324; $9). The 240 exhibits cover everything from clean rooms to switching stations.
--MRES FOR THE AIRLIFT HOME: The Falafel Drive-In (408-294-7886), serving its namesake pocket sandwiches ($4) and decadent chocolate shakes ($2.75), has been a fixture in the Valley for nearly 40 years.