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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Newton, Iowa / Holiday Inn Express

November 2011, Weekday, Queen Bed Executive Studio #204


Status perks
I received a bottle of water and choice of a small snack--Chex mix or cookies. I saw that someone had written "upgrade please" on my reservation; however, I did not receive an upgraded room. I did not ask for one at check-in because when I saw the note, I figured this had already been taken care of. And, the front desk agent had acknowledged my Platinum status. 

Guestroom
I called this hotel before my stay because I was confused about the room choices. A king bed executive room, and a queen bed executive studio were the same price. The queen studio listed a fridge and microwave in the description, and the king room did not. I called the hotel to ask if a king executive room was the same size as a queen studio, and if it had a fridge and microwave. I had made my reservation for a queen studio room, thinking it would be larger, and if the rooms were the same size, I was going to change my room type to a king executive guestroom. The employee I spoke with seemed less knowledgable than me. She said that the king executive rooms are all suites with a whirlpool tub and table, and that they cost about $15 more than a queen studio. She did not say that there are king executive rooms at the hotel, even though this is listed on the website. I questioned her about this to try and find out, and did not get anywhere. She then said that since I am a Platinum member, she would make a note to upgrade me to a king suite.

Room 204, which is described as "1 Queen Bed Executive Studio," is a basic Holiday Inn Express hotel room with a fridge and microwave. It is not an oversized room, and did not have any extras. I think the listing of "studio" for this room is misleading and false. When I looked at the hotel diagram on the back of the guestroom door, it looked like the larger rooms were around the pool area, so I decided not to go back and ask about an upgrade, since that area can often be noisy.

The guestroom contained a suitcase bench, one queen bed, desk and chair, older looking couch and table, TV, microwave, and fridge. The room smelled musty and old, and the housekeeping could have been better. My bedding was clean, although there were a few hairs in the bathroom. Even though this room was not on the top floor, it was surprisingly quiet. The Internet connection speed was satisfactory. The hair dryer was a low quality wall mounted unit.

Food & Beverage 
I thought breakfast looked unappetizing, and decided to eat elsewhere after checking out--no place fancy; I ate at Subway. The eggs at the HIX did not look fresh, and neither did the whole fruit. I had planned to have a banana and milk, but changed my mind.

Fitness center
The fitness center contained three cardio machines without cardio theater. There was a TV in the room, although there was no remote. I visited the workout room two times, and could not find the remote either time. The website photo shows hand weights in the fitness center, although I do not recall seeing any. I usually use hand weights when they are available, and I only used the treadmill during this stay. The AC in the room did not work (I tried turning it on and to different settings a couple different times), and since the room is located off the pool area, it got pretty hot after 10 or 15 minutes. 

Overall
I was surprised that this hotel is located downtown so far off the interstate. I had to visit a business in town in the morning, so it worked out fine for me, although I do not think that most travelers just looking for overnight accommodations would care for the location. Usually, hotels are not located downtown except in bigger towns with events or venues downtown that people would be specifically traveling to the area for.

It was only a couple blocks to the downtown circle; however, there were not many dining options. In fact, I overheard a guest at the airport hotel where I stayed the last night I was in this area, talking about this Newton HIX. He had stayed here--apparently at the same time I did--and, said he would not stay here again. He said that if he had to return to the area, he would stay in Des Moines, and drive to Newton during the day. His comments were that there was nothing to do and no place to eat.

The hotel website lists the following room types for the same price: standard, king bed, queen bed, 2 queen beds, king executive, queen executive studio. Since the hotel diagram shows all the guestrooms as the same size except the few around the pool, and, the employee when I called did not differentiate between any room types except the suites, my feelings are that all of the rooms at this hotel must be the same except for the suites.