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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pensacola Beach, Florida / Hilton Pensacola Beach

November 2011, Weekend, 2-nights, Guestroom #942 - Gulf View Queen Suite 

Status perks and check-in

I had a room reserved for 2 nights--one night with points, and one with the AAA rate. The points night room was a gulf view, handicap accessible guestroom with 2 queen beds, because that was the only points room type available when I made the reservation. For the second night, I had reserved the least expensive non-view king room. I contacted the hotel by email prior to our arrival, to let them know that we had two reservations so they could be combined. I received a reply the same day, telling me that our reservations had been combined into a king gulf view room, and that we would not need to switch rooms during the stay. We were upgraded to a suite at check-in. The front desk agent also provided two bottles of Fiji water; however, I had to request the continental breakfast coupons that are listed on my profile.

Guestroom 942

view from balcony
The agent did not confirm what room type we were receiving at check-in, so when we arrived at our room on the 7th floor with 2 queen beds and a doorbell, I initially thought we had been assigned a queen-bed handicap room, and that our reservations had not been combined correctly. 

When I went back to the front desk to ask about this, the agent who assisted me then, explained that we had been upgraded to a suite. He said that all of the suites have 2 queen beds except the suites with separate bedrooms, which have a king bed. He said there was a king room available in the side of the hotel behind the front desk; however, he said those rooms are not as new, and that they are standard hotel rooms rather than suites. I asked if there was a higher floor suite available, and he said that the top 5 floors of the hotel are 1 and 2-bedroom suites. He did not offer an upgrade to one of those rooms, and I did not ask since the standard suite was already an upgrade. He offered to show me a standard king room in the other side of the hotel, and I said that we would keep the queen suite. He re-checked the computer, and then reassigned us a guestroom two floors higher--suite 942.

All of the suite rooms have doorbells, so the bell was not a handicap room bell like I had thought when we arrived at our first assigned room. Room 942 is located closer to the gulf than the first room we had been assigned on the 7th floor, so we did end up with a better view. 

I observed two queen beds and a desk with chair when we entered the guestroom. The bathroom--which contained a tub and separate shower--was next, and the kitchen/living area was beyond that. There was a sink, microwave, small fridge, and table with two chairs in the kitchen area. The living area included a couch, flat screen TV, end tables, coffee table, and two soft chairs. We liked the table and four chairs on the balcony. We had a fabulous view of the ocean, pool area, boardwalk, and air show from our balcony.

view of shallow pool from our guestroom
The bed and balcony seating were both comfortable, although there were a few issues with the guestroom: both sinks were stopped up--the one in the bathroom and the one in the kitchen, and the carpet was worn with a several loose frays. The sink water eventually drained; just not like it should have. We always prefer a walk-in shower, although the one in this room was not very big. 

There was an ethernet cable at the desk in the sleeping area; however, wireless Internet was not available in the guestroom. Wireless Internet was available for no charge in the hotel public areas, including the pool decks.

There were no bathrobes in the guestroom, so I called to inquire about this. I was told that housekeeping would bring one right up, and someone did. It was cool outside, so I wore the robe over my swimsuit to the hot tub later, and a guest asked where I had gotten it because there were not any robes in her guestroom either. 

I think we missed out on some of the housekeeping benefits because of our room switch and/or the fact that I originally had two reservations. When it looked like housekeeping had bypassed our room the next morning, I stopped at the front desk before we went to lunch to make sure that there was not a problem because of our room change, and I was told no. I called the guest service line when we returned to our guestroom around 3:00 p.m. to ask again, because no one had been to our room. We were in need of clean towels and glasses by this time. The employee who answered the call, said he would send someone right up. Our room was cleaned over an hour later, and we interrupted the process when we returned to the guestroom again just after 5:00 p.m. At this time, I observed another housekeeper thoroughly cleaning a guestroom in our hall, which I had seen someone cleaning that morning. It appeared that guestroom had been refreshed twice, and we barely received service one time. At check-in, our guestroom was missing an ice bag and a recycle bag. On stayover, we received only 2 bath towels; we received 3 floor mats instead. We did not receive any coffee stir sticks for the second morning.

Pool & beach

The water temperature was kind of cool in both outside pools, and we observed only one person swimming during our stay. The inside pool was small, and there was no hot tub inside. There were several people in the outside hot tub the day we arrived, and a few people used it on and off after that. The water temperature in the hot tub was pretty good (it could have been just a little warmer); however, there was a considerable amount of sand in the tub--small mounds on the floor and on the seats. Even though this is a resort on the beach, I thought most of the sand could have been removed. It appeared that the pool area was somewhat neglected because it was off season. I was shocked when I observed an employee from the pool bar walk through the pool area past a couple pieces of newspaper that were blowing around and not pick them up. I had been thinking about walking over to pick them up myself so that they wouldn't blow into one of the pools or onto the beach. There were several used pool towels piled on lounge chairs for more than 24 hours. Guests needed to request pool towels from the front desk, and there was not a bin in the pool area to place used towels. The pool area was not dirty; just messy. There were items that needed to be picked up or straightened. The hotel looked quite full the day we arrived with lots of activity at Latitudes Beach Bar (the pool bar, which was open every afternoon during our stay), and in the public areas. It was quiet the next afternoon and our second night. 

There was a walkway out to the beach, and a beach sand volleyball net was set up between this resort and the Hampton Inn next door. There was a walkway between the two hotels, and between the Hilton and the Holiday Inn Resort on the other side as well. All three hotels are owned by Innisfree Hotels, although it did not look like guests could stay in one hotel and use another's facility. There were signs at the gates that said that the lounges and restaurants are open to the public, and that the pool area and chairs are reserved for hotel guests. 

Food & Beverages

We thought the food and beverages in this hotel were excellent! There is a local beverage called the Bushwacker, which contains rum and Kailua, and I'm not sure what else. An online search for Pensacola Bushwacker yields many recipes. I did not know this until I asked the bartender at the Bonsai Lounge (Hilton lobby bar) what the drinks were that I observed many people drinking. I then ordered one, which was excellent! I had two more at area bars before the end of our stay, and the one I had at the Hilton was by far the best. One of the others that I had was at the Sandshaker, which claims to be the home of the original Bushwacker. This is copied from the Sandshaker webpage: --today as it was back in 1975, there is no “pre-mixing”… all Bushwacker batches at the Shaker are made by hand. I was excited to try one there, and extremely disappointed afterward. It tasted awful, and was not freshly prepared. My drink glass was filled with an already prepared frozen blend, and the rum was added to it. It did not taste like it had any Kahlua in it. It tasted like frozen rum water. The cost of the drink at the Hilton was less than $2 more, it was almost twice the size, and more than twice as good.

We were able to upgrade our continental breakfast coupons to a full breakfast for $3 each, so we did that the first day. After I saw the many great food items on the cold food bar, I did not upgrade the second morning, although my husband did both days. We thought the breakfast bar was impressive. The continental bar included many pastries, muffins, breads, and bagels, mixed nuts, fruits, yogurt, cold meats and cheeses, and salmon with all the fixins. 

Overall & misc.

This resort is in a great location. We walked to the boardwalk across the street where there is entertainment, dining, and shopping. There are also a couple of restaurants and bars on the beach located on the other side of the Hampton Inn, and Peg Leg Pete's (where we dined one afternoon) is a 2-mile walk one-way. This is an easy trip on foot, if you enjoy walking. We walked the sidewalk on the way there, and the beach on the way back. 

I observed employees tending to the outside landscaping and washing windows everyday. This resort was well maintained and clean for the most part. Other than the pool and housekeeping issues I already mentioned, the only other area I observed that needed attention was room service pickup. There were a couple of used glasses on the table by the elevator on our floor in the afternoon the day we arrived. By the time we departed two days later, this had grown to quite an assortment of 10 or more used beverage glasses.

The beach is beautiful, and I read about many events in the area prior to our stay. We liked the rates in November; however, I think we would enjoy the weather more before it is this late in the year. I received a nice tote bag for "liking" this hotel on Facebook, and then posting a comment about the hotel during our stay.

February 2016

I am glad I keep this blog, as it helps me when I revisit an area, too. We are considering a visit to Pensacola again, so I am revisiting the area and hotels.