Not everyone’s holiday traditions are the same. Come November gift shopping becomes a highly disputed topic. Adventuresome folk look forward to Black Friday as a pre-dawn summons to joyful bargain seeking. Sort of like the bugle call at a fox hunt. Others find themselves on the side of the fox. When someone mentions, “Let’s go shopping”, they make a run for it, take cover, hide their tracks, and wait for the hunting party to pass. If you fall into the fox category, here’s a little insight on how to crack open the door on your seasonally self-imposed solitary confinement.
First of all, set yourself up with a retreat – sort of like a hunting lodge. When all the twinkly lights, bustling people, frantic fa-la-la’s, and shoulder bumping land you in a tightly-wound, claustrophobic puddle, relief is within arm’s reach. If your escape route involves locating your car on the 6th floor of a crowded parking garage and navigating it back home through 45-minutes of rain and idiot drivers, then you must like the sensation of shooting yourself in the foot as well. With a little advanced planning, shopping in Downtown Bellevue can be a breeze, and might even resemble a vacation.
With close proximity to The Bellevue Collection, The Bravern, and quaint Old Bellevue Main Street, the Hyatt is a perfect candidate for a refuge from a shopping overdose. Some readers may have just blurted out, “There’s no such thing as a shopping overdose!” I understand. Remember though, we’re trying to coax our timid foxes out into the open, if only for a brief chase.
Recently renovated with upscale northwest contemporary styling, the Hyatt embodies serene grandeur. My family used this hotel as the launch pad (hunting lodge) for our first shopping trek. With a couple of heel-dragging foxes in tow we attempted to head out into the fray but immediately deviated off course and into the Winter Garden skylit atrium. Who wouldn’t seize an opportunity to benefit from a quick dose of vitamin D while surrounded by lush bamboo? But with an explorer’s agenda we didn’t stay long.
Across the covered skybridge lay a movie theater, bowling alley, the new Chinese restaurant Din Tai Fung, and shopping opportunities abound. Further down Bellevue Way Dishcrawl was about to debut and the iPad mini demanded investigation inside the Apple store. Even my skittish family couldn’t deny that they were starting to get into the spirit of the downtown shopping experience.
A few hours later we reconvened back at the Hyatt and paused next to the soaring Koa wood walls to recharge our batteries. We quickly became mesmerized in the multi-dimensional effect of the vertical and horizontal grains unique to this Hawaiian wood. The buzz that had started to build pressure after several hours of dazzling visual stimuli began to dissolve within the peaceful warmth of the hotel’s interior.
The next morning, refreshed by plush accommodations the bugle sounded again, summoning us to once more join in the Downtown Bellevue experience. But first, we had to bolster our energy stores with breakfast at Eques. The restaurant’s manager, Erik Hannaway, pays fastidious attention to creating a comfortable atmosphere infused with sophistication. My children eagerly dug into the stuffed waffles that the adult in me interpreted as a beignet embellished with roasted seasonal pears and apples. You say waffle, I say utopia. Chef Jon Bishop came out with his northwest approach to Eggs Benedict. Nix the heavy hollandaise, give bacon the boot, and instead slide in some locally smoked salmon with a drizzle of light dill cream. Think globally, eat locally is my new motto thanks to Eques.
Holiday shopping does not have to be an overwhelming frenzy when done sensibly. The Annual Hunt can be satisfyingly carried out when balanced with nearby revitalizing accommodations and provisions. Consider this hunting strategy as December approaches when the nightly Snowflake Lane performances, the musicians at Bellevue Square’s Center Court, and the flurry of holiday activity all commence.