Thursday, May 22, 2008
The Seated Sandolisti in Scottsdale
A big thanks to Tony Brinkley for sending me these photos from Scottsdale, Arizona.
The boats are American-built Sandoli.
Sandoli come in many shapes and sizes, and are designed to perform numerous tasks.
To a certain degree, the word "sandolo" is to Venetian boats, what "sedan" is to cars - there are many types. When fitted out for passenger service, sandoli are painted black, and in many ways are operated like gondolas...except that most gondoliers don't sit in chairs.
Tony Brinkley got his start rowing in the Venetian style at the Hyatt resort in Scottsdale.
Years later he took a position at The Venetian for a few years, and then served as our manager in Irving, Texas for Gondola Adventures, Inc.
Tony was one of my very favorite managers, and I often wish we could have him back. After working for us in Irving, Tony went back to Arizona to pursue his dream of teaching. Over the years we've stayed in-touch because Tony is that kind of guy; he's as great a friend as he is a gondola manager.
While he did end up teaching, Tony seems to have had a difficult time staying away from Venetian boats - as he ended up back at the sandolo operation at the Hyatt in Scottsdale.
Now, about the sitting:
They haven't always rowed sitting down at the Hyatt. The seated rowing is a fairly recent phenomenon. I'm not clear on exactly when the official launch took place, but I'm told the sandolo operation has been at the Hyatt in Scottsdale since the late 80's or early 90's.
As far as I can tell, this folding-chair approach began within the last year or two.
It's a bit of a mystery as to how it all got started, but eventually platforms were installed to provide level floorspace to support the chairs. The drawback of the new platforms, of course, is that they make standing and rowing difficult.
I'm not ready to criticize this unique seated-rowing technique though - after all, they are rowing in the Arizona desert where it can get extremely hot.
I welcome your comments on this post.
It would be great to solve the mystery of why they are seated and when it all began.