Monday, August 16, 2010

Lloydminster - the border town

Lloydminster is a town with a confused or should I say confusing identity.

Split almost down the middle with "rich" Alberta on one side and "poor" Saskatchewan on the other.
Now let me explain that statement a Saskatchewan's defence - they do not have the population to sustain a decent tax base - it is a pretty province with a ton of potential and I guess as the oil and gas industry takes off here, the maintenance will improve but - without a large population base the money isn't there for the kind of infrastructure maintenance we are used to in Alberta.

Lloydminster - the border Marker
The border marker...
In the last 5 years, the Alberta side of Lloydminster has enjoyed huge growth in buildings and business not to mention population. The city has grown form 22K to about 30K - and as I said mostly on the Alberta side of things. It is rumoured that the Saskatchewan side is poised for huge growth with the Husky upgrader - we shall see...

After Mark and I checked in to our room - Lucien, Mark and I went to the Humpty's Restaurant on the Saskatchewan side of Lloydminster for a very unsatisfying supper. I am not generally one to provide a bad review on a business - if there is nothing to commend the business I generally just say nothing, however - this one is sooo bad IMHO that I had to share with you to prevent you from having the same disgusting and awful experience I had. The serving staff was slow, the food - when we finally got it after an hour of waiting was so horrid that I could not eat mine - it was greasy and unpalatable and the woman's washroom had black mold creeping up the wall - wished I had gone to the washroom BEFORE we ate instead of after - cause had I done that we would have left immediately - DISGUSTING and PUTRID are two words that describe the place.

We should have just stayed at our hotel to eat - but no we thought we'd go out and explore the town a bit...

When we were done eating, Lucien headed back to Alberta and his home in St Paul - it was an absolute honour to ride with him...and then hubby and I headed back to the Econo Lodge in the old down town core.

We were greeted by rags and wash buckets filled with warm water for cleaning our bikes which I promptly took advantage of. Once washed our bikes which were now bereft of their contents (hubby packed everything to our room) were then parked on the side walk. We couldn't help but notice that the in house restaurant - RC's RJB Steakhouse seemed to be very popular with cars coming and
Taking a few minutes to relax on my bike after giving both a wash...

Mark and I decided to walk around the down town core and take in some of the scenery and historic buildings.
The Anglican Church
The Anglican Church

I am unsure of what this building originally was but it is now a coffee shop and Internet cafe - the architecture is gorgeous!
OLD hotel in Lloydminister
The OLD hotel - another display of great architecture..

As with all cities that experience extreme growth - the down town core is suffering. Building new buildings is the big thing and the old and dare I say it - the beautiful brick and mortar buildings down town are being left behind - vacant and for rent or lease - every block we walked down had the same sad tale on display. It has the shabby elegance of a New Orleans or an Old is so sad to see such a marvellous area being left behind in favour of the new...

After our walk downtown, we decided to head back to our hotel - again we couldn't help but notice that the restaurant of the hotel was very popular. At the front desk I asked the gal about the restaurant and she told us that it was under new management and that the people who ran it were extremely good at what they do  - so since supper was so unsatisfying we decided that dessert and coffee might be in order.  What a treat! Creme Brule Cheesecake and a good cup of coffee - (No coffee seems to measure up to the Biker Coffee Company's coffee though).

I found it a bit pricey but very tasty, the serving staff was stellar and the restaurant had a nice decor.

We went back to our room and got settled in for the night. The flat screen TV went on, the pop came out of the fridge (we had fuelled up the bikes and done a bit of shopping to stock up the fridge)

The beds - OMG, were they comfy! If these are the kinds of beds we are going to be treated to by the Choice Hotels Chain - I am gonna like this trip a lot!

The room is well appointed with handy electrical outlets that allow one to charge their cell phone and run their lap top without having to move the fridge and microwave to get at them - that was another wonderful little bonus.

The staff knew to put us in a room where we could look out for our bikes - another bonus!

The one thing that struck both hubby and I about our "retail" experience in Lloydminster - no matter which side of the border - the same AWFUL customer service that we experience in many Alberta businesses is prevalent here as well. 

Except for this hidden gem...the Econo Lodge. It may be off the new beaten path and on the old one - BUT - it is clean, well maintained and well appointed with comfy beds, a microwave, fridge, hair dryer, flat screen TV and an affordable rate at $109 a night. Now all of that wouldn't mean a hill of beans normally - but when you add in the customer service - well now you have a gem of a place.

The people are truly what make this hotel special - they truly want to work with motorcyclists and their efforts have not gone unnoticed!.It doesn't hurt that the manager rides either...the staff seems to really understand what a rider is looking for in a room and service...try them out - they might be off the beaten path a bit but in my opinion this is one of those places that is worth taking the four or five block trek out of the way.

If you decide to check out the Econo Lodge - tell them Belt Drive Betty sent you... 
Use your BDB membership card to save! where membership is free and the membership card is your passport to savings at over 250 locations!

The Econo Lodge
5009 – 51 St
Lloydminster AB
(780) 875-6101

I hope you will join F.I.R.R.E - the never ride alone program alone makes it one of the best $20 you will ever spend on yourself never mind all of the good work the group does helping riders in the advent of an accident - or in the awareness work F.I.R.R.E. does. Check it out:

Today, after a press conference, we are off to Saskatoon to meet the Saskatchewan Lone Wolves. Apparently we will have 20 - 30 members coming in from all over the province for lunch. I am excited for the opportunity to meet more great riders and spread the word about F.I.R.R.E., who riders really are, The Give the Kids the Village Charity and the Wharf Rat Rally!

Have a great day and ride safe everyone!
Belt Drive Betty

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