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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

N. Charleston, South Carolina / Residence Inn CHS airport

September 2011, Weekday, 2-nights, King studio

I do not have any photos to share in this review, since unfortunately, I did not have my camera this trip. I encountered a few unsatisfactory situations during my stay, and want to share them for anyone who may be considering this hotel.

I had read some unsatisfactory reviews before my stay. I did not give them much merit since many of them had been written by non-elite members, and I know that elite members often have different experiences than guests who don't travel often. I had Silver Marriott status during my stay, and the following was my experience.

Status perks
I did not receive anything as a Silver member, which is my usual experience at Marriott. I receive perks when I have Gold status, and I only occasionally receive an extra perk as a Silver member.

There was a large water stain on the ceiling in my room, and the room had a slight damp/musty smell. There were the usual studio amenities in the room: kitchenette area with small table and two chairs against the wall, coffee, and popcorn; and couch, chair, and coffee table in the living area. The bedding looked fresh, and there were two nice sized windows; one in the bedroom area and one in the living area. 

When I returned to my room at 3:30 PM for the second night, my room had not been cleaned. I decided to take my laptop to the laundry room since I had some laundry to do, and I had observed a housekeeping cart in the hallway. On my way out, I saw the housekeeper and asked her if she would be doing my room next. She looked at her sheet and said my room was not on her list. She asked when I had checked in and when I would be checking out. I provided this information, and then continued to the laundry room, thinking she would check on this and take care of it. When I returned an hour later, she was gone, and my room had not been cleaned. Since it was now almost 5:00 PM, I called the front desk to say that my room had not been refreshed, and I requested coffee for the next morning. The agent said he could see if someone was still in the hotel to clean my room. I declined this offer, as it would have been inconvenient for me to vacate my room again. An employee cheerfully brought towels and coffee to my room after my call; however, I was shocked that neither employee apologized for the oversight.

Airport shuttle
When I called for the airport shuttle in the afternoon, I was told it would be there in 5 - 10 minutes. It was 95 degrees outside, and I had to wait outside since the pick-up spot is on the traffic island away from the building. I called the hotel again two times after my initial call, and I ended up waiting 30 minutes for my ride! I was even more frustrated after boarding the shuttle because the driver did not apologize for the wait, nor did he confirm that the guest who had called three times was on the bus. Another guest had come out of the terminal just before the shuttle arrived, and boarded the bus with me. 

On the day I departed, I told the front desk agent what time I needed a ride, and she said to just come to the lobby when I was ready. I told her that I wanted to make sure the driver knew what time I needed a ride because I had waited at the airport 30 minutes when I arrived, and if that happened when I left, I would miss my plane. She apologized, and must have relayed this information because my departing shuttle was very prompt.

This hotel was an embarrassment to Marriott. The carpet in the hallways and public areas was nasty looking and stained. The elevator and windows were grungy and fingerprint streaked, and the ash tray urns at every door were disgusting. The ashtrays were the worst--there was one located right by every door of the hotel, and they were overflowing and reeked of stale smoke. I never passed anyone smoking anytime I went in or out; it was just the ashtrays.

I had a problem with the washing machine I used. I chose the delicate cycle and double checked everything when I started the machine. When I removed my clothes later, they felt warm. I looked at the washer setting, and it showed that it had been on the permanent press cycle rather than delicate! I have no idea how that happened. It's possible I pushed the wrong button to start, although I doubt it since I was careful to double check this.

If you are considering a hotel at the Charleston airport, here is a little insight about hotels in the area. There is a Homewood Suites across the street from the Residence Inn. I wanted to stay at that hotel; however, there were no rooms available for the two nights I needed. There is a Crowne Plaza in the same general area, which I had looked at before choosing the RI. The CP looked like an older property, so I went with the RI, since Marriott is usually better about enforcing their expectations. There is also a Hyatt Place, W, and a Holiday Inn nearby. If I need to stay in the area again, I would look at the Holiday Inn or Homewood Suites because of the Rewards programs that I am a member of. I had overlooked the Holiday Inn since IHG's CP hotels are usually nicer, and the CP did not look very nice. From the outside, the Holiday Inn looked like a new property, and there were also two restaurants in the same parking lot with the hotel. Since I did not stay at any of the other properties, I can not provide any stay experiences.

I can say that my stay at the RI was far below my expectations, and I saved a lot of tip money that I had planned to spend that stay.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Milwaukee, Wisconsin -- MKE airport hotel / Holiday Inn & Suites

August 2011, Weekday, 3-nights, Suite #314

Status perks
I received a $10 off breakfast coupon for each day of my stay, and a beverage coupon with a choice: a bottled water from the gift shop, or Buy One Get One in the bar.

I had reserved a "king leisure suite," and the front desk agent said I had been given a suite; however, the room I received was not what I expected. It was an oversized room with a small fridge and microwave. The room reminded me of the larger rooms at many HIX. The website description for the room I reserved says: A SECOND TV IS IN THE BEDROOM.  My room did not have a separate bedroom or two TVs. I did not need two TVs; however, the description led me to believe that I had reserved a room with a separate bedroom. I had also viewed pictures on the website of rooms with a separate bedroom, so that is what I expected. 

There was a large suitcase bench in the living area as well as a couch and coffee table. The bedroom area contained a soft chair, and a desk and desk chair.

The guestroom was not very soundproof; I could hear my neighbors during the stay. The bed was comfortable, with the exception of the pillows, and the window opened just a little. The hairdryer in the bathroom was a cheap model, which must have been ready to die, because it did not work very well. Sometimes it worked when I turned it on, and sometimes it did not turn on.

Again, I stayed at this hotel a few weeks ago in August, and am not providing a more detailed review because I do not recall the details about the food and beverage, or the fitness or business centers. It was easy to get to this property from the airport, and it was also easy to drive to the areas I needed to visit nearby. There were not many close restaurant choices. There was a fast food restaurant in the same parking lot as the Holiday Inn, and a fast food Gyro restaurant across the street, which was actually pretty good. I was happy with the location of this hotel; however, there is a Crowne Plaza a couple miles farther south. I chose this Holiday Inn instead because it was a bit closer to places I needed to visit, and it looked like a newer property. If I have need to visit the area again, I think I will look at some of the other choices more closely.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Austin, Minnesota / Holiday Inn Austin Conference Center

I don't remember a lot about this stay, since I stayed in August and did not complete a review then. I do recall that the guestroom was comfortable, and I have a couple photos to share. These are pictures of a Jr. suite, which is what I had reserved. 

Food & Beverage
I had a sandwich at the Torges Sports Pub and Grill, and it was pretty good. The sandwich I had was The Rachel, which is not a regular menu item. This is a nice looking bar with plenty of seating, if you like the sports bar atmosphere. They offered different menu specials each night. I also had a salad at the Bistro one evening, which was acceptable as well.

Business center
There is a computer and printer set up in the Bistro for the business center. I printed a couple documents, and the employee working at the Bistro had a stapler behind the counter I was able to use.

Atlanta, Georgia --ATL / Marriott Atlanta Airport

August 2011, Weekday, King guestroom

Status perks and check-in
I did not receive an upgraded concierge level room; however, the front desk agent coded my key for access to the lounge after I inquired at check-in. I was happy that she provided this, because my Marriott status was only Silver at the time of this stay.

The guestroom was comfortable, although it was kind of small. Even though the bed had a slight dip in the center, it was still comfortable. The desk chair, and the soft chair with footstool were comfortable as well.

There was an extremely wet area on the carpet, which I did not notice until I stepped in it that evening. The carpet color was not different where it was wet; however, I was surprised that housekeeping had not noticed it when cleaning, since it was obvious after being stepped on. The floor was wet enough that I brought it to the attention of the font desk agent when I checked out. I could not tell what had made the floor so wet, unless the HVAC unit was leaking, since it was in that area. I threw a towel on the floor after I had stepped in it that evening.

Food & Beverage
Water and soda were available in the Concierge lounge, along with alcoholic beverages for purchase. Evening snacks included potato salad, chips, and cheese and crackers. Two or three different desserts were served later in the evening. Scrambled eggs were available in the Concierge lounge in the morning with breads, coffee, tea, juices, and bottled water.

I had sushi in the lobby bar, which was excellent. The beverages were also good, and the seating was comfortable. The lobby bar was quite busy the entire evening, and we were lucky to get a seat.

Shuttle and misc.
I used the airport shuttle when I arrived and when I departed. It runs between the hotels and the airport every half hour. I waited about 20 minutes for the shuttle when I arrived. Only one other person rode the shuttle with me. The shuttle driver stopped at the Marriott Courtyard first, and the passenger got off. She walked through the hotel parking lot as if she was going elsewhere. It appeared that they knew each other, and that she was using the shuttle for a ride to someplace else nearby.

I found a great rate for this hotel, and was happy with my stay. This was an excellent value.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Newnan, Georgia / SpringHill Suites

Status perks
I did not receive any Gold member perks. This has been the experience I usually have at Marriott properties, unless I am staying at a full service Marriott, or unless I ask for something.

The guestroom was identical to almost all of the rooms I have had at SpringHill Suites. There was a kitchen and living area at the entrance. The kitchen area contained a small coffee maker with supplies, a microwave, and a mini-fridge. A table/desk and chair were located across from the sink area facing the living room. The living area contained a couch, soft chair, coffee table, end tables, and lamps.

The bed and bathroom were located beyond a partial wall. One flatscreen TV was positioned in the center of the guestroom with a swivel mount, so that it could be viewed from the living area or the bedroom.

The hotel is located in a busy area near shopping and restaurants.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Valley, Alabama -- West Point area / Holiday Inn Express

Status perks
I did not receive an upgraded room at this hotel because I had reserved a suite when I made the reservation. I received a goody bag, which is visible in the first photo. I do not recall exactly what I received, although I would guess the bag contained a bottle of water and some type of snack.  

The suite was a nice large room, although the guestroom did not contain a table and chairs, like in the photos on the hotel website. I liked the suitcase bench; however, I thought it would have been better located in the bedroom rather than the kitchen area. I was somewhat  frustrated with housekeeping during my stay because I had left a tip, as I usually do, unless there is a reason not to, and coffee was not replenished on stayover. I had to request this from the front desk when I noticed it that evening. 

I stayed at this hotel at the end of July, and did not complete my review after check-out, like I usually do. Because of that, I am not providing as much detail as usual, since I don't want to provide any incorrect information. I do recall that this hotel was easy to locate, and that staff members were friendly. I picked up take-out from Milano's Italian Grill, which was good, and an easy drive down the road. I believe the restaurant gave a 10% discount for showing my room key.

I tried to locate this hotel for map placement after writing this review, and it appears that this hotel is now a Red Roof Inn.