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Friday, September 17, 2010

Atlanta, GA / ATL airport hotel -- Hilton Garden Inn Atlanta Airport North

Status perks
I received two bottles of water and a breakfast coupon. I checked my profile before this stay to make sure it was set to receive bonus points instead of breakfast, and I also received my bonus points.

I received a basic king room on the 3rd floor. Since my profile is set for high floor, and this hotel has seven floors, I was slightly disappointed, although I did not say anything since I was only staying one night. The bedding quality and comfort were excellent--much superior to what I usually experience at a HGI. There was a fridge and microwave, as is standard for HGI properties. The coffee was very good, and liquid creamer was provided with the condiments. There were soap and shampoo dispensers on the shower wall, which I think is a great idea to cut down on wasted product and plastic bottle trash. I do not understand why some people seem to think this is unsanitary. It does not seem like this could be less clean than using the coffee pot or glasses in a hotel room. I would hope that housekeeping cleans the dispenser spiciest (which don't need to be touched anyway), just as we hope they wash the guestroom glasses. 

The Internet connection speed was slow--even with the ethernet cord. My room was overlooking the courtyard, which was a nice view; however, that is also where bar patrons sat to smoke and such, so it was kind of noisy in the evening. Other than the courtyard noise, the room was pretty soundproof. I did not hear much activity from the neighbors on the floor or above me.

Food & Beverage
I did not care for any of the food or beverages I had at this property. The menu was extremely overpriced. The calamari was heavily breaded, and my eggs were overcooked in the morning. The menu said that champagne splits were available; however, they did not have any when I requested one at the bar. Tiffany, the bartender, checked in the back room to make sure. Tiffany was personable and accommodating. She is definitely an asset to the lounge. The restaurant open time and service was kind of late/slow in the morning. It was a little after 6:00 a.m. before it actually opened, and I do not think the cook was working yet, because I waited over 15 minutes for my eggs. I was glad I was on the 7:00 a.m. shuttle and not the 6:30 one, because I would have missed that one.

Business center
The business center was the basic HGI center with on demand printing that worked fine. There is apparently Internet connection issues though, because it took me some time to access the Internet to print my boarding pass. There was a "reboot" icon on the computer, and the password was handwritten and taped to the screen, which made me think this was not an isolated incident.

I did not use the pool, although I did see that there was a nice indoor and outdoor pool.

Shuttle service
When I called the hotel a few days before my arrival, I was told that the shuttle runs automatically ever half hour. I called after I had been waiting a few minutes the day of my arrival to make sure, and found out I needed to call for the shuttle when arriving. Apparently the shuttle runs to the airport every half hour; however, it does not always stop at the pick up spot unless a guest calls. My driver when I arrived was very personable, although he missed the hotel exit, so it took us a little longer to get to the hotel. In the morning, the shuttle stops at the Hampton Inn after leaving the HGI, which I was not aware of. Fortunately, I had allowed myself plenty of time to get to the airport.

This hotel was less than two years old when I stayed here, so I was surprised to see so many carpet stains and areas that looked like they needed to be remodeled already. I think this hotel is a good choice, if the only thing needed is a comfortable bed. I do not think I would stay here again, because when I stay at an airport hotel, I usually don't have a car, and I also want something to eat or drink in the evening. Since I did not care for the food or beverage choices, I would choose a different hotel next time. 

Athens, Georgia -- Hotel Indigo

Status perks
I wanted to stay at this property rather than the other choices in town; however, the rates were higher and there was also a parking charge. After I had cancelled my reservation, I decided to call the hotel to see if they could waive the parking fee for Platinum members. The person I spoke with said that he would waive the parking fee, so I had him reinstate my reservation. I received an updated confirmation after speaking with him, and saw that my room had also been upgraded to an executive room! When I arrived, I was told that I had been upgraded to a suite! I also received a coupon good for two beverages in the lounge.

I thought the guestroom was fabulous! There was a kitchen area with a small fridge, and a table with four chairs. The coffee was disappointing; it was not as good as I expected, and the condiments included basic powder creamer.

The adjoining living area contained a couch, two soft chairs, a chair at a desk, and a flatscreen TV. 

The bedroom was large with a desk & chair, suitcase bench, dresser, flat screen TV, and balcony. I did not understand why the full length mirror had been hung on the wall beside the dresser, so it was pretty much useless with the dresser in the way. I would have hung it on the wall by the desk chair in the bedroom because the desk chair could be moved. Two bathrobes were provided. 
bathroom in suite w/ shower in mirror

The windows in the bedroom and living area extended almost to the floor with a window seat in front of both windows. 
I especially loved the bathroom. There were two sinks, great lighting and a makeup mirror, and walk-in tile shower.
The suite was comfortable, and I did not hear any noise from neighbors. The bedding and pillows were high quality. The Internet connection speed was great in the guestroom, and throughout the hotel.

Food & Beverage
When I went to the lounge that evening, I learned that this location has a manager's reception every Sunday - Wednesday from 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. with complimentary house wine and beer. I do not understand why this information is not provided on the website, because I consider these little extras when choosing a hotel. I also had not been told about this at check-in. There were many beverage choices, and I liked the food both evenings. I had the shrimp and grits one night, which was excellent. I had the cheese plate the second night, which was also very good. 

The breakfast offerings were cafe style food items similar to Panera Bread. I had a whole wheat florentine egg sandwich one morning, and a frittata the second morning. Both items were very good.

Fitness center
The fitness center was open 24 hours. There were four cardio machines, a weight machine, and weights. There was one working flatscreen TV, although with the high ceilings, the room had an echo, and it was difficult to hear it.

Business center
Two computers with a printer were located next to the front desk. I printed one document without any trouble.

Public areas
The seating in the lobby and the bar was comfortable. Some chairs had a small table attached to the arm  for working or eating. There were many outlets in the sitting areas and at the bar. There was a nice outside courtyard with seating and a fire pit.

I loved this hotel and would stay here again. Staff members were great, the room was comfortable, and I liked the dining choices. My husband would have liked the free beer, although I think he would have been disappointed about the fact that this hotel does not have a pool. It is near the University, and there were many pubs within walking distance.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lavonia, Georgia -- Holiday Inn Express

September 2010, Weekday, King suite guestroom 424

Status perks
I had reserved a regular king bed room for a rate less than $100, which I thought was an excellent rate. When I viewed my reservation online before my arrival, I saw that I had been upgraded to a suite. I also received two chocolates and a bottle of water at check-in.
The room was spacious and somewhat comfortable. I thought the bed and desk chair were comfortable, although I did not like the comfort of any of the furniture in the sitting area.

The room was at the end of the hall on the top floor, which I liked. I had originally been assigned the same room on the first floor, and I asked if a higher floor room was available instead. I had requested a high floor when I made my reservation, and it did not appear as though anyone had noticed this before assigning my room.

looking toward sitting area
The living area included a couch, three chairs, coffee table and sitting table, microwave and fridge. The bedroom contained a desk and chair, flat screen TV (which could be viewed from the sitting area or bedroom), and a suitcase bench. The large bathroom had a nice long counter with pretty good lighting and a nice hair dryer. At most hotels, the vending area is usually near the elevator; however, at this hotel, it was directly across from my room. Fortunately, I did not hear any noise from the area while I was trying to sleep. The Internet connection speed in my room was extremely slow at all times during my stay--even late at night or early in the morning when I sometimes have better luck because there are less people using the service. I was given a sign in code at check-in; however, I did not need it to access the Internet.
bathroom in room 424

Food & Beverage
The posted breakfast open time was 6:30 a.m. When I walked by around 6:20, the room was already open. Food items were set up and several guests were dining. Selections included the standard HIX fare: cinnamon rolls, cheesy omelets one morning and scrambled eggs the next,  biscuits & sausage gravy both mornings, cold cereals, milk & yogurt, oatmeal, and French toast. I did not see cold water or bananas either morning.

Fitness center
The fitness center was only open from 6 a.m. -10 p.m. Employees were happy to open the room before 6:00 for me the first day, and for a guest before me the second morning. The A/C in the room was automatic, so it did not start until 5:55 the first morning. The room was not uncomfortable before this, and then it got hot within 30 minutes. After the initial A/C start, it did not feel like the air was running again. In fact, when I went to the business center after I finished, it was much cooler in the business center. The second morning, the A/C did not start until almost 6:15. The fitness center contained three cardio machines, one TV, and cold water. Hand sanitizer or wipes were not provided.

Business center
The business center is a small room across from the front desk with two computers and a printer. The Internet speed was very fast, and I was able to print a document without any trouble.

This hotel is located next to the Interstate with several fast food restaurants nearby. The only sit down restaurants I observed in the area were Shoney's and a local Mexican restaurant. I chose the Mexican restaurant, although I did not think it was much better than Taco Bell. The location was good for the work I needed to do, and I did not see a better hotel choice in the area. In fact, from the hotel and food choices I observed, I was glad this HIX was here! I thought all of the employees were great.