So, I just returned from a girls’ weekend away at a scrapbooking retreat at the newly constructed Stoney Nakoda Resort in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country. I was so looking forward to it! And I truly enjoyed myself: I spent from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon in the company of two good friends at a quiet resort right at the feet of the rocky mountains. It was a short drive, we had a gorgeous view and we were there to scrapbook. Awesome! There was only one problem, and it’s still bothering me today: the casino. And this is not an anti-gambling post, or even a post about the relative benefits or drawbacks of native casinos, although I’m sure I could find it in me to write posts on both topics. No, this one is about my oldest and strongest pet-peeve: smoking.
According to its website, at the Stoney Nakoda Resort,
“Our Casino also features a smoking environment – however non-smoking will be enjoyed in all areas of the resort.”
Which is totally meaningless, on a lot of levels. First because the quote above is apropos of nothing. It’s emblazoned – in glowing letters – in the middle of the Casino page on their website. And it’s semantically meaningless as well: how can non-smoking “be enjoyed in all areas of the resort” if the casino “features a smoking environment”? The answer’s simple: it can’t. The exception would be a sealed and ventilated smoking area somewhere within the casino, which the phrase “smoking environment” may, somehow, imply. But having been there, I can tell you that the casino is a smoking environment it doesn’t feature a smoking environment…anyone can smoke anywhere in the casino: and they do. And the doors to the casino are always wide open (unless the casiono is closed, in which case it doesn’t matter, because nobody’s smoking in a closed casino). The casino opens to the restaurant, lounge and cafe, as well as the lobby. I can tell you that the second we walked into the resort all three of us said, “ewww…it’s really smoky here”.
And the resort is constructed such that air flow is strong through the long, narrow corridors, conducting smoke-filled air from the casino through the lobby and conference rooms right down to the non-smoking guest rooms. We had a reasonable sleep our first night, although one of my friends coughed intermittently – we put it down to the very dry air. The second night, though, I was awoken in the middle of the night smelling smoke. And by the afternoon of the third day, all three of us were coughing and sniffling.
Throughout the retreat, other guests complained of the smoke as well, with some people resorting to asthma puffers they hadn’t used in months or years. And the conversation naturally swung to how used we are to living in an essentially smoke-free world (with the exception of crowds of smokers huddled miserably around public building entrances, poisoning the air for the rest of us and creating a sort of gauntlet for non-smokers to run in order to gain entrance). We laughed at how pointless the old “non-smoking” sections used to be in airplanes or trains – just a plexiglass divider above the headrest of your seat with a no-smoking sign emblazoned on it. Or the fact that we used to tolerate a blue haze above our heads in mall food courts. And we all agreed – every last one of us – that our new smoke-free world is a much better one.
We also all agreed that none of us would bring our children to stay at that resort (despite a cool waterslide, pool and hot tub), and many of us decided we wouldn’t go back, sans-kids, even for another scrapbooking retreat. I’m putting myself in that last camp; suffering today from an enduring headache, cough and nasal congestion that — if not caused by the smoky environment, was certainly exacerbated by it.
Blech. That’s all I have to say.