|Monastery provides quiet retreat from Super Bowl madness|
|Written by Admin|
|Saturday, 02 February 2008 14:49|
Just don't forget the rules.
No drinking. No smoking. No parties.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, a monastery on the western edge of Phoenix, is renting out 10 rooms this weekend to Super Bowl guests - a fundraising idea cooked up by Sister Linda Campbell, an avid football fan and Cardinals season-ticket holder.
Beyond the cut-rate rooms, it's the most unique faux hotel in the city.
If loud, wild parties, scantily clad women and booming hip-hop are your thang, see trendy Scottsdale. If you prefer awaking to a warm cup of coffee, a hearty platter of croissants and pastries, and a soothing stroll beneath towering palm trees, serenaded by the relaxing sounds of a waterfall put in by the sisters last fall, this is your place.
``They get to experience our Benedictine hospitality,'' Sister Linda says. ``And they're meeting with other people, visiting with other people. It's more like a home than an institution.''
While alcohol and cigarettes are strictly taboo, she did lift the curfew that applies to those boarding at the monastery during spiritual retreats.
``We're usually in bed by 10 o'clock around here. That's an important part of our retreats, so you will be rested and open to God's graces,'' Sister Linda says. ``But we want our guests to enjoy all the events surrounding the Super Bowl.''
And, even in early-to-close Phoenix, many of those events don't get hoppin' until about the time the sisters are tuckin' in for the night. So, why would anyone want to stay in a monastery during Super Bowl week, that tribute to American excess?
Patriots fans Nick Schiarizzi and George Huntoon, both from Massachusetts, booked a room after landing tickets just a week ago.
Schiarizzi took care of the flight, while Huntoon was put in charge of finding a room that wouldn't require them to take out a second mortgage. He remembered seeing something on a cable news channel last weekend, a blurb about a Phoenix monastery that had space for rent.
George's Great Super Bowl Adventure,'' they've dubbed it.
Neither minds the ban on alcohol. Schiarizzi, in fact, volunteers that he is now clean and sober after once spending a little too much time with the bottle.
``It's by the grace of God that I'm here,'' he says. ``This is the right place for me.''
While Schiarizzi and Huntoon will be attending their first Super Bowl, Jennifer Gross is in Phoenix to work with clients of her Los Angeles-based public relations firm, Evolutionary Media Group.
She, too, had to make last-minute arrangements, only to find that even discounted rooms were going for as much as $1,500 a night. Then, like Huntoon, she heard about Sister Linda on the news.
``My first thought was, 'Wow, I'm NOT doing that,''' Gross admits.
Funny how the prospect of making a monthly house payment every night can change your outlook. She got a room at Our Lady of Guadalupe and persuaded her colleague, Tiffany Caronia, to go along.
``For $250 a night, I couldn't believe they still had rooms,'' Gross marvels, though she did have to endure some abuse from her friends. ``You're staying where?'' they asked. ``Oh, Jen, you're so eclectic.''
Actually, it's worked out just fine, though a monastery is far from the glitz and glamor of La-La Land.
``The parties are part of our job,'' Gross says. ``It's nice to have a retreat from all that. We can come home to a place that's quiet and clean.''
The rooms are rather spartan, comprised mainly of single beds, a night stand and a small desk. Bathrooms must be shared with other guests, and there are no TVs (except for a big-screen model in the living room, which was donated for Sister Linda and her staff to watch Sunday's game, then will be raffled off to raise money).
But there's not a speck of dirt in the place - quite a selling point if you've ever looked at what lurked under your hotel bed.
``The rooms are sooooo clean,'' Caronia marvels. ``They are warm and inviting, instead of feeling institutional.''
While Huntoon was initially drawn to the price - he couldn't find a hotel for less than $750 a night - the friendliness of Sister Linda and the others is providing an experience money can't buy.
``Nobody minds saving a couple of bucks,'' he says. ``But I would stay at this place even if it cost more than the others. We've been here two days, and it's like we're vacationing with our best friends.''
The New England fans have already put up a ``Go Pats'' poster on the wall, but the Giants' contingent is still en route. They were apparently caught in a winter storm back East that prevented them from getting in Friday night as planned.
When they finally do arrive, they won't be sorry.
As Gross blurts out, ``It's worth every penny.''