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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sacramento, California / Fairfield Inn & Suites Sacramento Airport Natomas

August 2012, One-night, Weekday, King suite #318

Status perks
As a Platinum member, the agent at check-in asked if I wanted bonus points or an item from the gift shop. I did not initially receive an upgraded room, or even my preferred guestroom type. I was assigned a guestroom with two double beds, which I did not realize until after I arrived at the room. I then returned to the front desk to ask if a king room was available. My profile preferences are for a king room on a high floor; however, I had booked the least expensive room type at the last minute. I had checked out of the nearby Homewood Suites with the hopes of catching an early flight home. That did not work out, and I had a room reserved at this hotel, just in case.
view from entrance hall

Guestroom #318
This king suite is located next to the elevator, and the head of the bed was against the same wall. I was worried that the elevator noise might be bothersome; however, I did not hear any noise from the elevator or from the hallway at any time during my stay.

dry bar
There was a short hallway into the guestroom where the dry bar items were located: microwave, mini-fridge, and single serve coffee maker with dry condiments. The spacious bathroom was also located off this hall, next to the entrance door. The heavy bathroom door would not stay open. Fortunately, there was a footpad on the door, so I could prop it open. This may have also helped block out any hallway noise, since the door opened across the front of the entrance door.

The living room area included a couch, soft chair, desk and chair, end and coffee tables, lamps, a flatscreen TV, and plenty of storage cupboards. There was an ethernet cord and telephone on the desk. A second telephone was on a nightstand in the bedroom.

The bedroom area contained a second flatsceen TV in a stand with more storage,  a suitcase bench, nightstands with lamps and an alarm clock, a closet, and king size bed. There were plenty of outlets in the living room; however, there were not any visible outlets in the bedroom. There was one available outlet behind the nightstand, although it was not easy to reach.

The guestroom was clean, and the bedding and amenities were satisfactory.

Food & Beverage
I checked out of this hotel before breakfast was setup in the morning. In the dining area, I observed fresh apples in a bowl,  and the locked beverage and sandwich cooler had been unlocked, although there were not any breakfast sandwiches out yet at 4 AM. Since I live in the eastern time zone, 4 AM is not really that early for me.

I had returned my rental car when I tried to catch a flight home the day before, so my evening dining choices were limited. I saw three choices within walking distance: a truck stop type restaurant across the expressway on/off road, Burger King, and Black Bear Diner. Employees at the hotel had told me that the Black Bear Diner was fantastic. It was acceptable, although I would not classify it as fantastic or even good. I guess it depends what you like. I think if I had ordered a burger, I would have liked the food better. I should have followed my instincts and ordered a burger after seeing the many burger choices on the menu. Other than the plethora of burger choices, this restaurant was just like Cracker Barrel (not a restaurant I would normally choose to dine in), right down to the corn muffins, and the "pay at the register on your way out" setup. I do think that this restaurant was probably the best choice of the three located near this hotel.

Fitness center
The fitness center contained a couple of cardio machines, and a working TV on the wall. It overlooked the outside pool. The room smelled kind of musty, and it was extremely hot. I observed an air freshener on the drinking fountain in the fitness center. Another drinking fountain was located in the hallway outside the fitness center.

Business center
Two computers and a printer were located on a counter in the lobby across from the front desk. I observed tape and paper clips in the area, although other business supplies were not provided. I used a stapler and scissors at the front desk.

Shuttle
I had to wait until 3 AM the morning of my departure to find out if I would be able to get on the first flight out of SMF for no charge (the flight I had booked was not until afternoon). Before I went to bed the night before, I told the front desk agent that I might want to get on the first airport shuttle at 4 AM, and that I would not know until morning. I asked if this would be a problem, and I was told no. It almost did turn out to be a problem, and there were other guests that did encounter a problem trying to get on this shuttle.

After I confirmed that I could get on the early flight that morning, I called the front desk, and asked to get on the 4 AM shuttle. I went to the lobby 10 to 15 minutes early so I could print my boarding pass (and, because when I called, the employee had said that the shuttle leaves right on time!). Since the business center is located in the lobby, I overheard other guests trying to get on the same shuttle. One guest came to the lobby, and another one called. I heard the employee tell both guests that the shuttle was full, and that the next one did not leave until 4:30. The guest in the lobby hung around just in case. After we were all on the bus (8 of us and our luggage), they squeezed the guest waiting in the lobby on board too. During this time, the employees kept saying that the shuttle holds nine, and that it was full.

It was a good thing that the airport was not too far away, because the bus barely held nine. We were packed in that bus, and all of the guests were of average size; we did not have any oversized passengers on board.