My dad lives in a place that until recently was owned by Hyatt Hotels, and called the Hyatt Classic Residence. It’s absolutely wonderful, beautifully run with a gem of a staff, incredibly friendly, and extremely efficient. Like all such places there are some rules that are numbing, but overall, it’s a great place, The residents really seem to come first, lots of groups and clubs and events, and organized field trips to notable places in the area (Chicago Symphony, Cubs games, the Lyric Opera, Art Institute, theater, and even trips farther out of town).
The food’s fine – sometimes quite good, though usually what you’d expect, but the deserts are stunning. No hyperbole. The deserts could be served in a five-star restaurant, and you’d be happy. What I’m told is that their pastry chef used to work at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. Whether he did, or what he did there, I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised that he was there and high up in the food chain, because the deserts are quite amazing.
(They do have one bizarre food policy. If a pasta is on the menu as an entree, you used to be able to get it as a small side dish. No more. Why this is odd is because you can get as many servings of anything you want – thirds, fourths of the entree. Same with any side dishes. Keep bringing the food, pour it on. But if you want to make a little side dish of pasta – probably the cheapest thing on the menu – nope, can’t do that anymore. Go figure…)
That aside, the place is great.
But there’s one thing about it that is truly lunatic. Even more so than the Pasta Rule. Just totally bizarre.
A few years ago, there was a corporate change. No one one is quite sure, but it’s along the lines that Hyatt divested itself of the Classic Residence group, though it still seems like they do own some locations, or might be involved in some way. Or not. Who knows? But the point is that they changed the name. And now, the place is called – Vi.
That’s it, Vi at the Glen. But before I jump in further and even get into the utter incomprehensibility of this, we’ll take a test.
How you do pronounce it?
Sorry, you’re wrong. In any incarnation, “Vi” would be pronounced “vie.” – as in “hi” or “pi” or “wi fi” or “hi fi: or “tri” or “bi-.” Or short for "violet," as...well, "vi." Nope, they pronounce it…”vee.” Don’t ask, I have no idea. It’s even more inexplicable when you know what “Vi” is supposed to stand for – the letter “v” as in Vitality, Vibrant, Vigor, Vim. None of which have a “vee” sound in ear shot. Though most do begin “vie.”
I should note that every single resident I’ve spoken to about the name absolutely, teeth-gnashingly hates it. They really liked “Classic Residence.” It sounded closes. And described the place. And they deeply, passionately hate “Vi.” They’re embarrassed by it. (And they’re mortified when I tell them that there was a television series called, V, which was about aliens who take over earth and eat the humans.)
My mother, a sweet, dear, low-key, Midwestern woman who didn’t like to make waves and loved being friends with as many people in the universe as she could (and usually succeeded) staged a rebellious, silent protest, often wearing the “Hyatt Classic Residence” t-shirt she got when she moved in. It wasn’t because she loved the t-shirt so much, but she wanted to publicly say, “Screw you” in as sweet, kind and surreptitious way as possible. God love her. Way to go, Mom.
What in the world the great, crack marketing minds at the national parent company were thinking, no one has a clue. I certainly don’t. But I do have a guess.
To start with, what I do know is that the marketing geniuses wanted to bring the average age down in these residences. There are people here in their low-70s, but I’m sure the average is in the 80s. It’s a wonderful group of people, sharp, fascinating, active, experienced, but…averaging in the 80s. And while I can understand why the home office wants to attract a younger clientele (Vital, Vibrant and Vim!), they are ghastly fooling themselves idiotically if they think people in their 60s (or younger) are moving into an independent living residence. Especially in drove. Most especially because they now call it “Vi.”
But I do think I know how they came up with the name. (I worked in marketing for years.) What I suspect happened is that they likely got a focus group together of their target residents, people in their 60s and maybe even 50s, and asked them about a whole variety of names – Classic Residence, Old Folks Home, Codger Land, Cootsville and Vi – for Vigor, Vim and Vitality. And they, of course, all preferred Vi, as they well would be expected to. But…here’s the thing: those people are not planning on moving in. Even if you called it “Disneyland by Playboy, now with free money.” When my folks were 82, they weren’t sure they were ready to move into an independent living residence! You think someone 20 years younger is? (To be clear, it’s a terrific, independent place to live). And then, to exacerbate the problem, the marketing whizzes probably didn’t ask the very people in their 70s and 80s who would consider moving in. And who live in the various residences already. “What do you think of the name, Vi?” Because if they did ask these people, they’d probably have been told – “We hate it. It’s stupid. What are you thinking???!!”
The name aside, the place and its staff are wonderful.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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