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Monday, December 5, 2011

Des Moines, Iowa--DSM airport / Holiday Inn

December 2011, Weekday, King balcony overlooking pool area - guestroom #308

Status perks
At check-in, the agent said I had been upgraded to a "feature" guestroom with an inside balcony. She said the guestroom was located in a private hall, so I thought it would be in a quiet area. I also received a coupon to choose a perk. There were four items to choose from, although I only remember two of the choices--a beverage in the lounge or bonus points. I chose the bonus points. I am inclined to think this was a PCR perk, and not a Platinum perk, because I observed several guests turning in their coupons for a free beverage that evening.

The guestroom was on the 3rd (top) floor, and there was a doorway to enter the hall. I would not call this a private hall, since a key was not needed to open the door. There was an elevator to floor three; however, there were about four steps after going through the hallway door. I did not have a problem with this since I had only one small suitcase. Later that evening, I observed a guest with a luggage cart as I was heading out. I did not stop to see how he handled the steps; from the conversation I overheard, it sounded like he was going to push the cart down the stairs.

I thought the guestroom had been nicely remodeled for an older hotel. There was an open counter area outside the bathroom with coffee setup, a small fridge, microwave, and sink. The bedroom area was fairly spacious with a desk and chair, king bed, TV, and soft chair and footstool. There was a table and chairs on the balcony, which overlooked the pool area. The balcony was not private; it connected with the other balconies along that hall. This would have been a nice room, if I had been staying with a group, and not my myself. I did not like the fact that my room had a balcony that could be accessed by others, and this was an awful guestroom for sleeping! Since there is not much around this airport hotel, and I was staying on a weekday, I did not think the pool area would be a problem. I was mistaken. I had asked at the front desk if the pool area closed down for the evening, and I was told that it closed at 10 PM. I was kept awake by guests in that area until well after midnight, and I had to get up at 5 AM. I tried to block out the noise by choosing the "fan" mode on the HVAC unit; however, the fan would not run continually. If you plan to stay at this hotel for a good night's rest, I suggest you request an outside room. Since the king guest rooms overlooking the pool with a balcony are the same price as a regular king room, I did not really receive an upgrade at this hotel. I think it's annoying when someone says I am receiving an upgrade, when that is not true. This property has at least eight suites, so it would have been nice, if I had been upgraded me to one of them instead. I know the PCR program does not say that guests should expect a suite upgrade; however, I'm sure I would have slept better, and been a much happier guest. 

Food & Beverage
The cafe seating area overlooking the holidome/pool area looked comfortable. I was given a coupon for breakfast at check-in, which I thought I had received because of my Platinum status; however, the hotel website says that the hotel offers free, hot breakfast, so I guess all guests receive breakfast. I had to leave before breakfast, so I was able to choose three items from the cafe the night before--one whole fruit, one beverage (milk or juice), and one pastry or cold cereal. The whole fruits (bananas, apples, and oranges) all looked nasty, so I did not choose any of that item. The pastries looked equally stale/unfresh, so I chose a small box of cereal and milk. The coupon said "no substitutions," so I did not ask if I could choose cut fruit instead of whole fruit. Individual beer and wine bottles were available for purchase in the cafe, although they were out of red wine.

Before I went to the lounge for a glass of wine that evening, I asked the front desk agent if food is served in the lounge, and I was told no. There was no menu on the bar where I sat down; however, I observed stand up menus on the bar in other areas, so I requested one from the bartender. She opted to verbally tell me the wine list instead. A few minutes later, someone brought food to a customer seated at the bar. I then asked if food is available and requested a food menu. Apparently, food is prepared behind the cafe, and when it's ordered from the lounge, it is like room service; delivered on a room service tray with 18% tip added (the bartender told me about the tip when I ordered). I did not look at the hot food menu in the cafe, so I'm not sure if the menu choices were the same in both locations. I'd had a big lunch, so I ordered clam chowder and jalapeƱo poppers. The portion sizes were generous, although the food wasn't very good. The clam chowder tasted kind of blah--almost like it had been poured from a supermarket can. The seats at the bar were uncomfortable, and I wished I'd chosen to sit at a table instead.

Fitness center
The fitness center off the pool area contained several cardio machines, a weight machine, working TV with remote, drinking fountain, and scale. There were no hand weights. The room temperature was comfortable.

Business center
The business center consisted of two computers in a small room between the front desk and the cafe. Documents were supposed to print at the front desk, and these was a charge for printed items other than boarding passes. I sent my boarding pass to the printer twice from the business center, and a third time from a computer in the lobby. None of these items printed behind the front desk, and another guest was having the same problem. I saw her go to the front desk twice. She was still trying to get her boarding pass to print, when I gave up and left. About three to four hours after this, I received a call in my room telling me my boarding pass had finally printed. I said that I would pick it up the next morning.

Shuttle and misc.
This hotel is located across from the airport and the shuttle service was excellent! I was planning to walk back to the hotel after I returned my car; however, it was very cold and windy with snow flurries that day, so I opted for the shuttle instead. When I checked-in, the employee said to stop at the front desk and let them know when I left to return my car. I stopped at the front desk on my way out, and the employee at that time told me to call after I had returned my car. I did not need to call; the driver was already waiting for me when I finished with my car return! He said that he had come right over since it was so cold out. The driver also offered to take me to a local restaurant that evening, if I wanted to dine elsewhere.

The shuttle driver in the morning was just as great. I had been told that I did not need to sign up for the shuttle in the morning, and that I could come just come to the lobby when I was ready to go. When I arrived in the lobby a few minutes before I wanted to leave, there were two flight attendants waiting. I told the front desk agent I needed a ride to the airport and then waited with them. After I had been waiting several minutes, the shuttle driver came to the lobby and learned that we were waiting for another flight attendant, and that they had all signed up for the 5:45 AM shuttle. I commented that I was told I did not need to sign up when I had asked. The shuttle driver asked what time my flight was, and said that it would probably take me about an hour to an hour and a half, to check my bag and get through security. It was not quite 5:40 at this time, and it sounded like the flight attendants wanted him to wait for their coworker. The shuttle driver said he would be able to take me to the airport before they needed to go, and he quickly whisked me away. As quickly as I arrived at the airport, I think the driver was correct. I'm sure he was able to bring the flight crew over before their requested time, because I saw them in the airport around 5:45 AM.

For an older property, I thought this hotel had been nicely updated--other than the lounge seats. The hallway stairs had an open design, with large windows and nice tile. The guestroom furniture and carpet looked fresh.