Search This Blog

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Chicago, Illinois/ Palmer House a Hilton Hotel



lobby ceiling
January 2013, Weekend, 1-night
Executive tower king guestroom #22267


Status perks
There is a specific check-in area at the front desk for elite guests, which is clearly marked. I had booked a basic room and received an upgrade to the executive floor. We arrived before 11:00 a.m. on the morning Amtrak, and were able to check-in right away. We also received late checkout, complimentary Internet access, and two bottles of water. 



Guestroom 22267
There are two elevators to the tower executive floors (floors 22 and 23), which are separate from the elevators to the other guestroom floors, and they require key access. Other than the executive floors, these elevators only stop on two other floors--the pool floor and the banquet room floor.

outside elevator floor 22


There was a unique sitting bench and mirrored walls inside of both elevators. The decor at the elevator entrance on our floor was beautiful, as were all areas of this historic hotel.






Guestroom 22267 is a corner room at the end of the hall, which exactly matches my profile preferences. This guestroom looked very similar to the first guestroom photo on the Hilton website with two windows.


The spacious room included the following furnishings: soft chair and footstool, end tables, desk and chair, flatscreen TV on a cabinet with drawers, king bed, night stands, and a large walk in closet with a large safe and a folding luggage rack. There was also a small table and mirror by the guestroom entrance door.

I called to request a robe, which was promptly delivered. The bathroom area and small vanity met our needs, although there was not a lot of room in the bathroom. The tile shower had a deluxe massaging shower head. A good quality hairdryer was provided with the Crabtree & Evelyn bathroom amenities.     

The bed was plush and comfortable. The outside noise we heard was minimal. We could occasionally hear the train that runs along Wabash Ave., and the guests in the room next door, although the noise was muffled.

The guestroom was comfortable, well-lit, and clean. I was surprised that turndown service was not automatically provided. I did not request  this; I assume it would have been provided, just like the robe, if we had asked. The wireless Internet speed was very slow in the guestroom, and in the concierge lounge. 

Concierge lounge
The concierge lounge is a spacious and comfortable room on floor 23. There is a concierge desk in the room, although there was not anyone working there during our stay. I read information that sounded like this desk is where elite/executive floor guests check-in and checkout when it is open. There were two computers and a printer in the room as well.

Coffee, tea, and cold beverages, like bottled water and soda, were available 24 hours. Bottled water was not stocked in the cooler; it was available upon request. Cookies and brownie type snacks were available in the afternoon, and in the evening after the evening social.

Cocktails were available for purchase during the evening social, although this is listed as complimentary on one of the Hilton reservation sites. I do not remember the specifics of what kind of hors d'oeuvres were served. I should have taken better notes! I do recall that there were two warmed items. I think one of the items was mini dough-type wraps with meat inside.

Food items at breakfast included: hard boiled eggs, oatmeal with many available toppings, granola, yogurt, many breads, muffins, and pastries, whole fresh fruits, juices and milk.

Food & Beverage
The only dining we experienced other then the concierge lounge was room service. We had the Ahi Tuna Burger, which was kind of expensive, but very good.

Misc.
This is a beautiful historic building, and I wish I had taken more photos of the inside and outside. The lobby is comfortable and well designed. The service we received was excellent, and the price was reasonable.

This hotel is currently my favorite downtown area Chicago hotel. Downtown hotels I stayed in prior to this stay were: The Wit, The W Chicago Lakeshore, Hyatt Regency McCormick Place, and Holiday Inn Express Magnificent Mile. I have stayed in a few other hotels as well; however, those stays were more than five years before this one, so I did not list them.

There is an entrance to the hotel from Monroe, State, and Wabash. The valet/main entrance is on Monroe Street. It is an easy walk from the Amtrak station, if you do not have a lot of luggage, and if the outside temperature is not too cold.

In addition to the lounge and dining options listed on the hotel website, there is a Starbucks on the bottom floor of the building.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fort Myers Florida / Fairfield Inn

January 2013, Weekday, 1-night, King sofa bed #338

Staus perks
I had reserved a basic guestroom, and received an upgrade to a king sofa bed guestroom at check-in. It did not sound like this was automatic; I asked the agent what kind of room he was assigning me, and he then said something like, "Oh, you're platinum. I'll see if I can give you an upgrade." I also received the  platinum arrival gift bonus of 200 points.

Guestroom #338
This is a slightly larger guestroom on the top floor with a small fridge and microwave. It is spacious and contained the following furnishings: king bed, night stands, desk and chair, soft chair, sofa bed, coffee table, and flatscreen TV on a low armoire. The microwave and fridge were located across from the sofa. These furnishings were similar to what I have seen in most Fairfield Inns that I have stayed in.
Coffee was set up on the vanity outside the toilet and shower area. The coffee was decent quality, although the condiments included powder creamer. I was able to get liquid creamer in the breakfast room. The bathroom amenities were good quality (Pantene shampoo and conditioner); however, the wall mounted hairdryer was low quality.

The closet across from the vanity contained a folding luggage rack, and a safe large enough for a laptop. 

Everything in the guestroom was well maintained, and the sleep quality was good. The wireless Internet signal was not very strong. I did not get disconnected, although the pages loaded slowly.

Food & Beverage
Breakfast is included, as it is at all Fairfield Inns. I left early, so I can not comment on the breakfast quality. I observed a waffle maker and Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches (locked in a refrigerated case) in the room the night before. Cookies were available at the front desk in the afternoon.

Business center
One computer and a printer were located in the breakfast area. Apparently, the printer is not used much because I had to turn it on to print my boarding pass.

Fitness center
The fitness center contained a couple of basic cardio machines and a working TV. None of the machines had cardio theater. It was located on the ground floor at the end of the hall.

Pool area
The outside pool and whirlpool tub were located outside the breakfast room. The area was landscaped and secluded fairly well considering this hotel is located is on a busy road. 

Misc.
There are not any restaurants within walking distance of this hotel, although there are several nearby. There is a BP gas station located in the same parking lot as the hotel. The drive to the airport (RSW) is not too far, and it was a fairly easy drive early in the morning.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ft. Myers, Florida / Hotel Indigo Downtown River District

January 2013, Weekday, 1-night, King sofa guestroom #606

Status perks and check-in
I was excited when I viewed my reservation online a week before my arrival, and saw that I had already been upgraded to a deluxe king guestroom. Then, a couple days later, my reservation had been changed to a 2-room executive suite! I arrived about a half hour to 45 minutes before check-in time, and the agent said that my room was not ready yet. I figured that the hotel probably didn't have many 2-room executive suites (the website does not show this information in the hotel facts, although there were 5 rooms like this available when I conducted a search for a future date), so I happily sat down in the lobby with my laptop to wait. I was not the only guest arriving early that day. One guest was already waiting in the lobby when I sat down, and I observed about 7 to 10 guests arrive to check in while I waited. The front desk agent told every guest that their room would not be ready until after 3 p.m. (check-in time). 

After I observed the front desk agents checking guests in after 3:00 p.m., I decided to go back to the desk to ask about my room. The guest who had been waiting before me had left the lobby shortly before this without her room yet. The front desk agent said that my room was ready, and she provided keys. She did not recognize my status, the key packet she provided did not have my status on it, and she did not tell me what kind of room she was assigning me. Since I had seen that, "2-room executive suite," was still on my reservation when I first sat down in the lobby, I did not ask any questions. I received a house brand beverage coupon in my key packet; however, it said it was a "hotel guest" coupon, so I do not think I received this because of my platinum status. 


Guestroom 606
This room is located directly across from the elevator on the 6th floor, and the entrance door is just around the corner from the elevator. It is an oversized room with a couch and chair, as well as a desk and chair. It was not, however, a 2-room suite.

Other items in the guestroom included a footstool, flatscreen TV on a cabinet with doors, safe big enough to hold a laptop, coffee table, nightstands, suitcase bench, 2 decent quality bathrobes, iron and board, king size bed, and table by the door with a K-cup machine. I was surprised that a hotel would provide a good quality coffee machine and coffee with standard to poor quality condiments. The K-cups were high quality; however, the cream and sugar packets were not.

The room was spacious, and the bed was very comfortable with the exception of the pillows. The pillows were the standard low quality pillows found in most Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels. The coffee table in the seating area and the suitcase bench both needed to be cleaned. There were several mug rings on both tables. I included a close-up photo of the coffee table below.



There was a large gap around the guestroom door, and activity in the hall could easily be heard inside the guestroom, even though the bed was somewhat around the corner from the entrance. This guestroom is only one large room, although there is a partial hallway at the entrance.


This guestroom did not have many outlets. There were two at the desk, and the only outlets by the bed were behind the furniture. The wireless Internet was extremely slow, and there was no guestroom directory in the room. I looked for it because I wanted to see a dining menu, and I wanted to see the hotel outlets open hours. I did find a breakfast menu on a card on the desk; however, that is the only information I found.

coffee table that needed washing



The bathroom area was very large with two sinks, and a tile shower. The bathroom amenities included a good quality hairdryer, and there were a sufficient number of outlets in the bathroom. I try not to use bathroom outlets for my electronics though because of the humidity.



The shower was spacious with a deluxe shower head, although the towel and washcloth in the shower were stained. I  would say that some of the towels in the bathroom matched the table cleanliness in the outer guestoom area. At least the bedding looked clean!









stained cloths

Food & Beverage
I did not have anything to eat at this hotel. I had thought I would have breakfast in the morning; however, after I became dissatisfied with some of the experiences during my stay, I decided to dine elsewhere.

The rooftop bar is a smoking bar, and there were several people smoking when I visited, so I decided to use my beverage coupon at the lobby bar instead. Since there was no directory in the guestroom, I looked up the hours online. The hours for the lobby lounge are not posted online, although the information does say that Happy Hour is from 5 p.m. - 7 p.m., so I would expect it to be open by 5:00 p.m.. 

I did not see anyone in the lounge when I entered shortly after 5:00 p.m.. The lounge was not dark, so I figured the bartender was in the back, and I took a seat at the bar. A couple of employees walked be me and said hi (the time clock was on the bar); however, no one said anything else to me. About five minutes later, I decided to go ask the front desk if the bar was open. When I walked out, I saw a sign that I had not noticed earlier that said that the bar was opening at 9 p.m..

I went back to the rooftop bar, and the bartender there let me order an upgraded beverage with the coupon.  I then took my beverage back to my guestroom since there were still several customers smoking.

Business center
I observed a couple computers in a corner by the front desk; however, I did not use anything in the area.

Fitness center
The fitness center was located on the roof with the bar and pool. I liked that it was open 24 hours. The hall from the elevator to the fitness center is covered, so even though the area is open, it shields out the sun and rain. There were several cardio machines in the room and a working TV. None of the machines had cardio theater.

Parking
I called the hotel the morning of my arrival to ask about parking options because this information was not on the hotel website. I had to call the hotel twice, and I had to ask specific questions more than once because the employee who answered the call did not initially provide self-parking options when I asked. First, she transferred me to a valet employee, who could not help me because he was not sure of the self-parking facts. He could not transfer me back to the front desk because he was on a mobile phone. When I called back, the same employee answered, who again, did not want to help me with self-parking information. She initially only told me that the parking garage is 1 1/2 blocks away, and she made it sound like it was not a good idea to park in the garage. I finally got the name of the parking garage from her--City of Palms Garage, the approximate location (which I then looked up online after the call), and the overnight cost. This was after she told me she was going to report the valet employee to his manager for not helping me! I guess she said this because I called back, and then she had to help me. Unbelievable! He was much more professional than she was.

Here are the parking facts: Valet parking is $14 a day, and self-parking is $5 a day. The self-parking garage, City of Palms Garage, is the same garage that is used for valet parking. It is directly across 1st Street from the hotel (where Starbucks is located). The hotel front and valet entrance is on Broadway; however, there is also an entrance from 1st Street, which enters across from the front desk. The hotel entrance on 1st Street, and the parking garage exit, are not on the corner, so you would need to walk less than half a block to the corner, to use a crosswalk and ramp for a roller bag. I had a small roller bag, and there was not any traffic on 1st Street, so I just crossed over in the middle of the block.

Overall
I had originally planned to stay at this hotel for two nights, as did a colleague and friend of mine. Before our stay, another friend decided to join us, so my colleague wanted to change her room to a room with two beds. Hotel Indigo did not have a room with two beds, so they decided to move to the Fairfield Inn a few miles away. Fairfield Inn is not at the top of my list for hotel choices, so before I checked in, I told them I was going to keep my stay at the Hotel Indigo, and meet them for dinner the next evening. Especially, when I had seen online that I had been upgraded to a 2-room executive suite.

After the parking telephone call and check-in experience, I decided to move the second night as well. I stopped at the front desk shortly after I had checked in, and the male employee offered assistance. I asked him what the classification is for the guestroom I was in. Before he had a chance to answer me, the female agent who had checked me in, walked over, [indifferently] asked if there was a problem, and then took over the conversation. I politely told her what I had seen online, and she said that I got the room I had reserved. I said that I realized I had not paid for a suite; however, it is quite disappointing after seeing this on my reservation for a week. She did not say anything more after this, so I told her I was going to check out the next morning instead of staying two nights. She changed the reservation, and then the male employee provided me with the guestroom description I had requested. The male employees I encountered at this property were more professional and friendly than the female employees.

Although it's nice to have extra room, I did not need a 2-room suite, and I would have been happy without one, if the front desk agent had handled the situation and my check-in process better. It would have been nice, if I had at least received a room on the executive floor since those floors are usually quieter, and my profile preference is for an executive room. Even though she told me I had the room type I had reserved, I actually received an upgrade because a king sofa room costs more. I would not have known that my room was an upgrade, if I had not looked this up after the stay.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sarasota, Florida / Homewood Suites

January 2013, Weekday, 2-nights, King studio guestroom #238

Status perks
Day 2
I did not receive any additional perks beyond the 250 bonus points chosen on my profile preference.

Guestroom 238 
This guestroom is a corner room on the top floor, away from the elevator, and in a quiet area, which is exactly what I had requested. It has a connecting room door, which I do not like. I may have forgotten to request that when I made my reservation.


The guestroom included the standard Homewood Suites furnishings: kitchen area with full size fridge (unfilled ice cube trays in the freezer since there was no ice maker), dishwasher, cupboards with dishes and silverware, two burners, microwave, sink, small table with two seats (one was a desk chair), full size coffee pot with supplies, and microwave popcorn; living area with a couch, coffee table, one end table, and lamps; bedroom area with a king size bed, two nightstands, soft chair, and full length mirror. The mirror was on the wall behind the chair, so I had to move the chair to use it. A flatscreen TV on an armoire was located between the sleeping and living area, and could be turned for viewing from either area.
living room
with connecting room door

The bathroom vanity was outside the shower/tub and toilet room on the other side of the sleeping area, across from the couch. The lotion and shampoo amenities were basic quality. The towels were plush, high quality towels. They were softer than what I usually experience at Homewood Suites.

The closet contained an iron, ironing board, and foldout luggage rack. I was surprised and pleased to see the luggage rack because these are often not provided in extended stay properties like this.

The suite was a decent size, the bed was clean and comfortable, and it was quiet in the guestroom for the most part. If there was a guest in the room next door, s/he was very quiet the first night. The second evening, a very noisy guest arrived. It sounded like quite a process in the hallway, and in the guestroom when he first arrived. I was happy when things quieted down after he got settled.

Guestroom stayover
I left a tip for housekeeping, as I often do. When I returned to my room the next day, I found a towel animal on my bed, and the popcorn had been replenished along with the coffee supplies. Usually popcorn is only given at check-in. I do not know if this hotel replenishes it every day, or if I received this because I had left a tip.

One thing I did NOT like when I returned to my guestroom--my door was propped open with the latch, and no staff members were nearby. I have seen housekeeping do this at hotels when they need to return to the guestroom to complete something. In this circumstance, no one was anywhere near my suite. I observed two housekeeping carts at the far end of the hallway, at least 8 to 12 suites away. I stopped at my door to look around before I entered, and no one from the other end of the hall saw me before I entered a couple minutes later. After I had been in my suite over 1/2 hour, housekeeping brought a washcloth to my room. The person knocked, and then entered the room before I had a chance to get to the door. I felt like she did not know that my door had been left open, or, that she had forgotten about it, if she was the one who had left it open.

Food & Beverage
The included food and beverage items were decent, although I was surprised that salad was not served both evenings, as that has been my past experience at Homewood Suites.

Breakfast food served both mornings during my stay included cold cereals, instant oatmeal, fresh whole fruits (apples, bananas, and pears), yogurt, breads, waffle maker, scrambled eggs, very salty corned beef hash, and juices and milk. Canadian bacon was also included the first morning, and the second morning, there were also small burritos and hash browns.

Dinner items the first night: tossed salad, chicken tenders, and potato wedges. Dinner items the second night: meatloaf, potatoes, peas, and rolls. Banana cake and assorted beverages were served both evenings. The beer brands were Budweiser and Yuengling. I do not know what brand of wine was served. The red wine was a bit too sweet, but overall, not too bad. Juices and lemonade were available as well.

Business center
The business center was located across from the front desk. It contained two computers, and a nice laser printer, which I used to print several documents. There were a few miscellaneous office supplies like paper clips, pens, and a stapler.

Fitness center
The fitness center is located in the outside pool area, and the only entrance is from the outside. It opened at 6 AM. It contained three cardio machines with cardio theater, weights, a workout bench, fitness ball, flatscreen TV, scale, sani wipes, and a water cooler. Everything was in good working order, except for the temperature. It was extremely hot both mornings that I visited.

Misc.
One thing I did not like about this hotel is that all of the suites are disconnected from the main building. The main center building contained the front desk, business center, and lodge area. The pool and fitness center were located outside behind this building. The fitness center was actually in the main building; however, it was only accessible from the outside pool area.

The suites were all in a separate U-shaped building that started at one end of the main building (completely disconnected), and then made a U-shape behind the main building, and back to the other side. The area between the two buildings was more than a couple steps, because there was room for cars to drive between the buildings. There were a few parking spots between the buildings, although most of the parking was on the outside of the guestroom building.

All of the doors required key code access; however, I still do not like this type of setup. I stayed in the winter, so it was dark when I went to the fitness center, and when I went to the lodge in the morning and in the evening. And, my key card was finicky, so a few times it did not work for me the first time that I tried it. Other than the building layout, and housekeeping leaving my guestroom door open, I thought that this was a comfortable stay.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sarasota, Florida -- SRQ / Hilton Garden Inn

January 2013, Weekend (Sunday), King guestroom 335

Status perks
I received two bottles of water at check-in. I requested late checkout (noon), and the agent happily accommodated my request.

Guestroom 335
This guestroom is located on the top floor at the end of the hall, away from the elevator, as requested in my profile! :-)


It is a standard Hilton Garden Inn guestroom: king bed, desk and chair, flatscreen TV, soft chair and footstool, folding luggage rack, small fridge, microwave, and small coffee pot with supplies--except that there was no regular coffee. It was late when I arrived, so I called the front desk as soon as noticed that there was no coffee to see if I needed to go down and get it. The agent said she would have someone bring it up, and it was delivered about 10 minutes later.

The bed was comfortable, it was quiet in the guestroom, and the sleep quality was good. The light on the alarm clock did not work, which frustrated me because I like to see what time it is if I wake up when it is dark out. It is often still dark at 6:30 AM in winter months.  

The bathroom was an average size with a tub and shower combination, and a large vanity area. I was surprised that the hair dryer was a low quality wall mounted style. The tub needed some deep cleaning because there was mold around the edges of the tub and all of the faucets. Fortunately, there was no damp odor or other issues from the mold.

Fitness center 
The fitness center met my needs for one night, although this room also needed attention. The room temperature was very hot, and one of the treadmills was not working. My key packet said that the center opens at 5AM; however, the posted sign said that it opens at 6AM. I did not go down before 6:00, so I did not find which time is correct.

Misc.
I chose this hotel because it is very close to the airport. I had thought it was even closer than it is because I thought I would be able to exit the airport onto Tamiami Trail. The car rental road from Avis, however, is after the connecter road, so I had to exit onto University Parkway. It is still pretty close; however, if you are arriving late, as I was, the Marriott Courtyard and Hyatt Place are even closer. They are located directly across University Parkway from the airport exit. You do not even need to drive on University Parkway; you can go straight through the stoplight when exiting the airport. I would have chosen one of those hotels instead, if I had done better research beforehand!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

DTW - Detroit airport / The Westin Detroit Metropolitan Airport

December 2012, Weekend, 1-night, Executive king guestroom #801

The Westin Detroit Airport is located within the airport.

Status perks
We received a room upgrade to the concierge floor; however, the lounge was not open. The front desk agent offered me a choice of three welcome gifts: free Internet, $15 off in the lounge, or 250 bonus points. I chose the $15 coupon, which I later learned was actually not a $15 coupon when I read the small print after sitting down in the lounge that evening. It was a coupon good for one beverage, up to $15.  There is quite a difference between the two coupons, in my opinion. If I had known that, I would have chosen the bonus points.

Guestroom
Guestroom 801 is located on the top floor, directly left after exiting the elevator. Our view overlooked the airport. The windows were well soundproofed, and we did not hear any noise from outside. We heard an occasional door shut in the hallway, and nothing more. I do not think there were many guests on our floor the night of our stay.

The guestroom was very comfortable. I think the bed was one of the most comfortable I have ever slept in--cozy, high quality bedding and pillows--supreme! The chaise lounge was comfortable as well.

The bathroom was an average size with a tub and shower combination. The vanity was large, and the towels were good quality. I did not think the bathroom amenities (shampoo, lotion, etc.) were high quality. I did not bring any home, and I do not recall the brand name.

The coffee and beverage setup across from the bathroom included complimentary Starbucks coffee, condiments with liquid creamer, and two bottles of water. A minibar with items for purchase was located next to the coffee. An ice bucket, and glass glasses were provided; however, the only coffee cups provided were the cardboard ones.


The guestroom also contained a flatscreen TV, desk and chair, working alarm clock, a folding luggage rack, and one plush bathrobe. There were plenty of electrical outlets, and the guestroom was well lit.




Food & Beverage
We had beer and wine in the lounge, which was good quality and expensive. Gardetto type bar snacks were served at each table. The menu items looked good, although we did not order anything to eat.  

Misc.
Internet service was not included; even in public areas. I was disappointed that we did not receive any type of breakfast coupon or discount since the lounge was closed. When I stay at a Hyatt or Hilton and the lounge is closed, I usually receive some type of breakfast perk.

There is one airport entrance line directly from this hotel. There is a separate lane for crew members; however, this lane did not have a sign to include TSA pre-check passengers. I asked the TSA agent if it was also a pre-check lane, and he said no. He scanned my boarding pass, got the beeps that I was cleared, and apologized saying that I still needed to enter through the passenger lane. The lane was quick, so that was not a problem. Without the pre-check lane though, I had to unpack my liquids and laptop, and remove my shoes, belt, etc. It sure is nice not to have to do that through the pre-check lanes!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Montego Bay, Jamaica / Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort All Inclusive

Christmas week December 2012, 5-nights, King ocean view jr. suite #1437


partial beach & island view

Platinum status perks

I was able to reserve an ocean view guestroom when I redeemed standard points (35,000 per night) for this stay. I sent the hotel an email before our stay to ask about dining reservations and room location; however, no one replied to my email. Check-in service for platinum PCR members, was provided by the concierge at a desk across the lobby from the check-in counter. I did not observe PCR signage at the desk, so I went to the front desk when we arrived, and was then referred to the concierge desk. Fortunately, there were not any guests at the counter, so I did not wait in line before I was referred. The concierge referred to my platinum status several times, so I am not sure if the perks we received were solely platinum perks, or if some were basic PCR perks.

We received an upgrade to an ocean view Jr. Suite on the top floor, a massage for two, and the concierge had made dinner reservations for us for the first three nights of our stay. We received different color wristbands than most of the other guests, which did not seem to make any difference with the service we received. The wristband was nice because it was smoother, softer, and more comfortable than the band we had just worn at the Hilton resort. The wristbands most others were wearing looked the same as the ones we had worn at the Hilton.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Jamaica / Hilton Rose Hall Resort and Spa

December 2012, Weekend before Christmas, 3-nights, King ocean front guestroom #255


early evening view from balcony
view from our balcony











Status perks

I redeemed 60,000 points per night for this stay (the standard amount). The room types available with standard reward points were "resort view" and "tropical view," so we reserved a tropical view guestroom.

I sent the hotel an email before our stay to ask about making dinner reservations, and to inquire about a room upgrade. The concierge contacted me by email about my dining requests. When I checked our reservation online a couple of days before our stay, I saw that we had already been upgraded to an ocean front guestroom!

If you are a Hilton Honors member, look for the concierge desk with the HHonors sign, located across from the check-in counter. There were no guests at the concierge desk when we arrived, so we were assisted at the desk for check-in immediately. Concierge Andrea confirmed our dining requests, and then she provided a reservation card for each night of our three-night stay. As a gold member, I received a coupon good for 10% off a cabana rental, and I received an internet access code for the complimentary internet perk for gold and diamond guests.

Guestroom #255


Before assigning a guestroom, Andrea read my profile preferences for a top floor king bed, and then she said there was not an ocean front guestroom on the top floor available for the length of our stay. She said that she could assign a guestroom on the 2nd floor right away (we arrived before check-in time), and that if we wanted to wait, the only higher floor room that would be available later was on the 3rd floor. This resort has 7 floors, and we did not think there would be much difference between floor 2 or 3, so we took the room on the 2nd floor. 

Guestroom 255 is a corner room on floor 2, which is also the same level as the front entrance. There was one floor below us on the ocean front side. The guestroom has a connecting room door, which must be well soundproofed, because we did not hear any noise from the room next door. I was told that most of the king guestrooms have connecting room doors. We did hear noise from the entertainment stage when we went to bed early the first night, although it did not keep us up long since were exhausted.

The balcony contained two chairs, a table, and a pullout clothes drying rack. If you plan to use the clothes rack, I suggest packing a few clothespins. It was very windy the first night of our stay, and there were many clothing items blown about on the grounds the next morning.

This guestroom has a long hall entrance with a very large closet. There were only 10 hangers in the closet (which is standard), although there was enough room for three times that many. The closet contained a safe and a folding luggage rack, as well. The only full length mirror in the guestroom were the mirrored closet doors in the entrance hall, so it was a close-up view. 

The tile shower was a good size, and there was a partial stationary glass enclosure. The water temperature in the bathroom was backwards. When the shower knob was turned to the [backwards] cold side the water never got cold. It was lukewarm. We also experienced this at a resort in Aruba, and did not realize the temperature settings were backwards for several days. I wanted to mention this because I read a review from another guest at this resort who complained that he did not have any hot water during his stay. You may want to try the knob in both directions for a minute or two to see which direction is correct.

The hair dryer was good quality, and it had a cool setting. Bathroom amenities included shampoo, conditioner, soap, bath wash, and lotion. Cotton swabs and mouthwash were not provided. Most Hiltons I have stayed in recently do not provide a robe in the guestroom; however, they are usually available from housekeeping. I was told I could get one when I called; however, I did not receive one the day I called. I asked Concierge Andrea about this the next day, and one had been delivered to our guestroom when we returned later that day.

The coffee in the guestroom was very good, and supplies were replenished every day. This was set up on a desk across from the chaise lounge. The coffee pot needed to be cleaned or replaced because it sputtered noisily and took over 10 minutes to brew. A mini fridge contained two small bottles of water, which were also replenished each day. I had read a review from a gold status guest before our stay, who said that he also received the standard HHonors water coupons at check-in for two bottles of water in the gift shop. He did not think this perk mattered since there were two bottles in the guestroom. I did not receive the gift shop water coupons, and I would have used them! I did not ask for these, so I am not sure if this perk has been discontinued, or if it was overlooked during our check-in.

The sleep quality was good. The bed was clean and comfortable, and the bedding was good quality. The inside chaise lounge was very comfortable, although we did not use it much, since we were never in the room for long. Turndown service was available upon request. We requested this one evening, and our bed had been turned down when we returned after dinner, although we did not receive a turndown amenity. I had hoped our bottled water would be replenished! The HVAC unit kept the room comfortable, although it was quite loud.

I thought guestroom housekeeping was acceptable, although not immaculate. I read reviews for this property that said the guestrooms were very clean, and cleaned to high standards. We did not have anything seriously wrong with our room (a couple hairs had not been cleaned from the floor and sink, and the balcony needed to be cleaned); however, I would not say it was outstanding. I was surprised that when we changed from this hotel to the Holiday Inn Sunspree, our guestroom was cleaner at the Holiday Inn.


Pool and beach

The pool and public areas at this property were well maintained and very clean. There was plenty of seating, and I did not observe any problems with chair saving at the pools. We did observe guests take someone's shade umbrella one day while they were gone. They gave it back when confronted by the first guest later, although the second guests did not say anything until asked. Seems there is always someone like this at every resort we have been to.
water slides

I thought the tan mesh loungers at the pool overlooking the sea were the most comfortable (visible in the balcony view photos), although there are not many shade trees by that pool. There were a few umbrella stands, and there were cabanas for rent by both pools. Only three of the cabanas overlooked the ocean, and they had already been reserved for the day we were interested in when we checked. Cabana rental was $50 for the day (before our gold 10% discount).

There were many different seating areas around the tropical lagoon pool--in the sun and shade. There were three whirlpool tubs in this area. They were not always hot; the temperature was inconsistent, so we checked them each day. The lagoon pool included a lazy river, and two water slides--one for use with tubes, and small slides for use without tubes.

There is a small and shallow beach area with loungers in front of the lagoon pool, between the two water sports areas. Non-motorized water sports were included. We did not use any, so I can not provide further information about that.

Food and beverage service was excellent at the pool overlooking the sea. I did not observe any servers at the lagoon pool; however, we were not at the pool all day, and we did not sit in the main area where the water slides come out. The servers at the pool bar were excellent. They remembered what we liked, and often had our drinks started as we approached.

pool bar on right
Ping pong, and life-size chess pieces were set up between the two pool areas. This is also where the towel hut was located.

Food & Beverage

The food and beverage quality was good. I found out at dinner the first evening, that champagne is also included. It was a lower quality Brut, but acceptable for a couple of glasses. I did not care for either of the red wines (cabernet or merlot), and I did not try the white wine. Champagne was available at all of the bars (even the pool bar for mimosas in the morning); however, it was only served in glass at the restaurants. Wine is served in glass at the lobby bar, so I did not understand why champagne was not. At least the plastic champagne glasses were decent quality.

Sky, Smirnoff, and Appleton Estate V/X were available upon request. Cheaper island brands were automatically poured unless the guest requested something else. Chambord (which I like in champagne) was available at Three Palms restaurant. None of these brands incurred an extra charge, although we did tip the bartenders and servers (not a lot).  

The buffet restaurant Fresh was the only breakfast option. I am not a fan of buffets or omelet stations where the eggs are often cooked until brown, so I did not care much for breakfast. The fresh fruit options were okay--watermelon, pineapple, and melon slices. My husband likes omelet stations, so he thought breakfast was great.

For lunch, we dined at Seaside Grill, located next to the pool overlooking the sea, and at Mangoes, located next to the tropical lagoon pool. There was also a jerk chicken wagon on the sidewalk in front of the tropical pool and Mangoes each day around noon. The chicken from the wagon was excellent! The jerk pork shoulder at Seaside Grill was excellent, and the shrimp fritters and seafood pasta salad were pretty good too. We thought the best thing at Mangoes was the beef pocket. I do not know what the burgers were made of, but it was not beef. They were awful!

Luna Di Mare
We had dinner at Luna Di Mare one evening. The service was excellent, and the food was very good. We had the fish special, which was delicious. The bread was basic white bread, and the tiramisu was not very good. The dessert did not have much cake; it was mostly whipped cream in a glass.

We had dinner at Three Palms two evenings. This restaurant is located overlooking the golf course, and a shuttle ran between the hotel and restaurant starting five minutes before reservation times. The problem with the shuttle, was that it did not hold enough people for the number of reservations made, so some guests always had to wait for the next run. The distance was walkable if you are not wearing high heels, although there was no sidewalk. The only traffic on the road was the shuttle, and you do not need to cross any streets. We did observe some guests walk to the restaurant. I thought the seafood was even better at this restaurant, although we received better service at Luna Di Mare. Prime rib was the special the first night, which my husband said was not very good. We both thought the seafood combo dish was excellent, and the fish entree special the second night was excellent. Unfortunately, I do not recall the names of the seafood entrees.

Entertainment 

There was entertainment every night on the patio under the lobby bar. There was an excellent singer the first night of our stay. The same musicians played each night, although the male singer that we thought was fabulous did not perform very often. The last night of our stay, the entertainment included a female fire breather. Servers served guests seated at tables in this area.

Gift shop and shopping

The hotel gift shop carried good quality products with great prices. As a HHonors gold member, I could also get an additional 10 - 15% off. The clerk working did not know for sure how much the discount would be; she said she would have to check with her manager in the morning, and she offered to hold items for me. Since I did not end up purchasing a dress I was considering, I did not find out the exact discount amount. I observed many nice dresses, hats, and more clothing items. I purchased lip balm in the gift shop because I had forgotten mine, and the cost was less than what we had found at the airport en route.

The hotel has a free shuttle to the Shops at Rose Hall. We took the shuttle and browsed through most of the stores. The dress prices at the shopping center were much higher than the prices at the Hilton gift shop. The vendors will bargain at the shopping center; however, the garment quality was not as good as the products offered at the Hilton.

Overall

We received excellent service at this resort. We observed many managers overseeing the activity and talking with guests. Someone inquired about our satisfaction during almost every meal, including lunch, and often at the bar and in public areas as well.

click photo to enlarge for detail
I usually prefer top floor rooms because the view is better and it is usually less noisy than the lower floor rooms. Since a higher floor ocean front room was not available, I would have requested a bottom floor guestroom, if I had known how much larger the patio is. The photo here shows the ocean front bottom floor guestroom patios. This only applies to the bottom floor rooms that are ocean front rooms. The side/ocean view rooms on the bottom floor do not have a nice large patio like the bottom floor rooms in this photo.