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Saturday, July 30, 2011

Schenectady, New York / Holiday Inn

Status perks and check-in
I received a BOGO beverage coupon for the lounge, a free appetizer with entree purchase, free breakfast, and two bottles of water from the gift shop. I am not sure if these were all Platinum perks, or if some items were executive room perks--the lounge on the executive floor was not open during my stay even though this was a weekday. 

I had reserved a king executive room because the rate was good, and I did not want to have any problems with noise like I had experienced at the Holiday Inn in Oneonta. I arrived about 1/2 hour early, and my room was not ready yet. This hotel has a comfortable sitting area between the lobby and pool area, so I was happy to sit down and wait. Before I sat down, I decided to make sure my room did not have a connecting room door, and that it was in a quiet area. I was assured that it was.

After waiting an hour and observing several other guests checking in, I checked back with the front desk and my room was still not ready yet. Check-in time for this hotel is 3:00 p.m., and I did not receive my room until almost 4:30 p.m. Even though I was seated just around the corner from the front desk, and I checked on the status of my room a couple times after check-in time, no one came to let me know when my room became available.

When I finally entered my room, I saw that it had a connecting room door, and that there was nothing upgraded or special about the room other than the fact that it was on a keyed access floor. It contained a king size bed, flatscreen TV, extremely stained chair with a footstool, a couple of end tables/nightstands, a desk with chair, and a suitcase bench. 
guestroom chair

The bed was comfortable, and fortunately, I did not hear any noise through the connecting room door. The Internet connection speed was pretty good--much faster than the hotel I had just checked out of.

Food & Beverage
This hotel website says that there is an executive lounge with free drinks and continental breakfast; however, this room was not open at any time during my stay. In fact, the front desk employees did not even mention it to me. It is across from one of the elevators, so I looked in the room a few times, to see if it was in use.

I had dinner in the lounge, and was happy with the dinner salad and the salmon. Both items were prepared with fresh ingredients and had good flavor. I used my appetizer coupon for quesadillas, which were "okay." There were not many appetizer choices, so I did not think this perk was very valuable. I would rather have received 500 points.

Breakfast was fresh the next morning; however, the service was lousy. I stood near the host stand several minutes and no one acknowledged me. There was no sign stating whether I should seat myself or wait to be seated. I was hoping an employee would at least make eye contact with me before I sat down; however, after another guest arrived, and walked right past me to sit down, I seated myself as well. The service did not improve any after this.

Fitness center
The fitness center was located off the pool area, and was extremely hot. I was not able to walk more than 15 minutes because of the temperature. There was a TV in the room; however, there was no remote in the room, so I was not able to watch anything.

Pool & public areas
I was impressed with the public areas at this hotel. Everything was clean and well maintained. The landscaped entrance contained healthy and colorful plants. The lobby area where I sat while waiting for my room was clean and comfortable. I observed guests enter the bar to purchase beverages to take out to the seating outside the bar along the perimeter of the pool area.

I thought this hotel provided some nice tangible perks; however, I would have preferred some improvements in the way of service. I think the front desk staff could have called housekeeping about my room when I arrived, and they also could have let me know when it was available. I think something should have been said about the executive lounge, since this is listed on their website, and I paid for an executive floor room. I fault myself for not stopping back at the front desk to ask about the lounge. Since I received so many coupons in my welcome pack, I am inclined to think these were in lieu of the executive lounge, rather than Platinum PCR perks.

I moved to this hotel because I was not happy with the sleep or Internet quality at the Holiday Inn in Oneonta. Even though this was a farther drive for me, and still not a great hotel, it was a much better choice. And, the room cost was $60 less per night! I did not see any other options in this area except a Hampton Inn, which is probably where I would choose to stay next time I visit this area. There were many hotel choices at the Albany airport, Clifton Park, and Sarasota Springs; however, I did not want to drive the extra distance.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Oneonta, New York -- Holiday Inn

Status perks
I received two beverage coupons at check-in. These were both on one coupon, and initially I was told that I needed to have both beverages the same night. After I inquired further, an employee who was working both nights said that I could have one beverage each night and then turn in my coupon the second night. The first bill I received the second night had my beverage on it, even though that is the day I gave her my coupon. The server removed it after I reminded her about the coupon.

I received a basic room on the ground floor. This hotel does not have an executive floor, and when I inquired about a higher floor room, I was told that the rooms on the second floor are usually rented to groups and that the rooms on the bottom floor are saved for PCR guests because they are nicer, and this hotel does not have an elevator.

I did not care for my room at this hotel, and I checked out a day earlier than I had planned because I was not able to sleep well. I received a room in the main hall with a connecting room door. Since the agent had convinced me I was receiving a "better than average" room, I did not request a different room after I saw the room location and the connecting door. Later, I wished I had gone back to see if a corner room at the end of the hall had been available because it was quite noisy in my guestroom. I could hear families in the rooms on both sides of my room, and I was disrupted by guests running up and down the hall. The Internet connection speed was incredibly slow. I was not able to complete much of my online work because of the slow Internet connection. 

Food & Beverage
I ate in the dining room both nights, and the food was fair to average. I don't usually order steak at hotel restaurants; however, when my server told me that a female guest the night before had raved about it, I decided to try the steak. I would not recommend it. It was low quality. I did not think the spinach salad I had the next night was any better because the ingredients were not fresh. Buffet breakfast is included with the room at this hotel. Prepared toast and plain bagels were available from a server, and scrambled eggs were available on the buffet along with cereals and fruit juices. I chose to have breakfast off site the second morning of my stay.

Fitness center
The fitness center was a small room with a couple cardio machines and weights. The AC did not work properly, and one time when I used the room, the outside door was propped open as though someone had been trying to get air into the room.

Business center
There was not a separate business center in this hotel, although there was a printer in the lobby across from the front desk where I was able to print a couple documents.

I was seriously disappointed with the amenities and my room at this hotel. I did not think my room was hardly worth $100 a night, let alone the $180 AAA rate I paid. I suppose this area is frequently visited in the summer during vacation time, which is why the rate was so high, and why there were so many families in the hotel. I had thought this property would be a better choice than the nearby Hampton Inn; however, if I am traveling to this area again, I will choose a different hotel.  

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Albany, New York / ALB airport -- Holiday Inn

Status perks
I received a coupon good for a beverage in the gift shop. I wanted to redeem the coupon for Starbucks coffee in the morning; however, there was not any available at the time I stayed at this property, so I got bottled water instead. I observed a Starbucks sign and brewer in the gift shop; however, the front desk agent told me this was not available.

I stayed in an upgraded tower room. I honestly don't remember if that is the room type I booked, or if I received an upgrade. The AAA rate I paid was $147, which I think is pretty steep. I would not usually pay that much for an upgraded room unless the difference was only a few dollars more than the standard rate. I was glad I was not staying in a standard room because I thought the room I received left a lot to be desired. The room had a connecting door, the fridge did not work, and it did not smell fresh. Since it was 11:00 PM, and I was departing early in the morning (and the bed sheets looked fresh), I did not go back to the front desk or complain about these discomforts. The room was large, and the bed was comfortable. I heard a little bit of noise from the connecting room door, although it was not too disruptive.

I think the reason the room did not smell fresh is because someone had previously smoked in the non-smoking room. It would appear that housekeeping knew about this because when I arrived, the window was cracked open, and the AC was blowing on high as if someone had been trying to air out the room. Unfortunately, I was not able to sleep with the window open to enjoy the fresh air because my room was above the outside pool/courtyard area, and there was noise from guests visiting outside for several hours after I arrived. I had a room on the top floor, so the guests were not directly outside my window. I had cheese and snacks left over from an in-flight purchase that I put in the fridge. I adjusted the temperature control with the hopes that my warm fridge would cool off before morning, and the temperature remained the same.

I liked that the room contained a large suitcase bench and two soft chairs. Other than the non-working fridge, stale smoke smell, and noise, this would have been a great room. I thought it was laid out well.

Food & Beverage
Since I did not receive any perks for dining onsite, I can not comment on the dining room because I chose to have breakfast elsewhere. There is not an executive floor or lounge at this hotel.

Fitness center
The cardio machines in the fitness center had cardio theater; however, this was not working on two of the machines. I was the only one using the room in the morning, so fortunately I was able to change machines.

Public areas & misc.
I did not use the pool or public areas at this hotel; however, they looked great. There was a large open courtyard and pool area in the center of the hotel where the fitness center was located, and the outside area outside my room looked comfortable.  This hotel was easy  to get to from the airport.