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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grand Rapids, Michigan / Holiday Inn Express - Grand Rapids South

March 2013, Weekday, 1-night, King executive guestroom #314

Status perks and check-in
I had reserved the least expensive guestroom, which was a room with two queen beds. The client I was working for on this trip had requested that I get a guestroom for under $100, and the king rooms at this hotel were over $100. Other nearby hotel choices with rooms around $100 were the Comfort Inn and Baymont Inn & Suites. I had a very poor experience at the Baymont Inn in Muskegon (nasty, filthy hotel), which was my only experience at a Baymont Inn. Because of that stay, I will probably never stay in one of their hotels. I also collect PCR points, so I chose the Holiday Inn Express.

My IHG profile lists king executive room as my preference, and I also requested this along with a top floor guestroom, when I made the reservation. It appeared that staff had read my request for a top floor guestroom, and ignored my request for a king and/or executive guestroom, because I was initially assigned a 2-queen bed guestroom on the 4th/top floor. This hotel was not very full the night of my stay, and IHG Platinum benefits clearly sayComplimentary room upgrades (subject to availability), so I inquired whether an executive room, or at least a king room was available. After the agent had a conversation with the other front desk agent, and they checked the computer, I was assigned a king executive room on the third floor.

Imagine my surprise when I opened the door to the guestroom I had been assigned, and there was a family (parents and a small child) inside! I apologized, and returned to the front desk. One of the agents called the guestroom to request the name of the guest in the room. She then apologized to the person who had answered the telephone; however, I thought her tone was more matter-of-fact than sincere, and no one apologized to me. I heard the agents talking as though this was not the first time this had happened. After re-checking the computer, they also looked in a countertop file before reassigning me to guestroom 314.

The front desk agent did not recognize my status or thank me for being a loyal member.

The guestroom was a typical extended or executive type Holiday Inn Express guestroom. It was spacious, comfortable, and clean. We did not hear any noise from outside the guestroom, or from the floor above. I am not sure if this had more to do with the fact that the hotel was not very full, than it did with the soundproofing quality of the room. 

The spacious bathroom contained a long vanity with mirror, standard Holiday Inn Express bathroom amenities, and a low quaility hairdryer. The bathtub/shower combination had a curved rod with a shower curtain.

The closet in the entrance had a mirrored door, and it contained an iron, ironing board, and bedding on the shelf. The beverage area near the entrance included a sink, coffee maker with supplies, microwave, and small fridge. 

The living area looked like the photos on the hotel website: couch, coffee table, end tables, lamps, soft chair, and table with chair against the wall next to the beverage center. The chair at the table in the living area was a desk chair, like the one in the bedroom area.

The bedroom contained a king size bed, suitcase bench, flatscreen TV on an armoire, desk and chair, soft chair, night stands, and lamps. The bed was more comfortable than some Holiday Inn Expresses I have stayed in.

The only problem in the guestroom was the TV. The TV channels had not been programmed, and the process would not successfully complete when we tried to fix this. Engineering fixed it while we were gone that evening. The engineer heard us talking to the agents at the front desk about this when we were on our way out. He talked with us for a moment, and he had left a note in the guestroom when we returned. He was the most professional employee we encountered at this hotel. Also, the TV was not comfortably visible from the couch.

The Internet connection speed in the guestroom was very good. The guestroom was well lit with plenty of electrical outlets.

Food & Beverage
I did not go down for breakfast, although my husband brought me back a cheesy omelet, which tasted fine. We had brought our own coffee, since I do not like the quality of the Smart Roast coffee at Holiday Inn Express. Our coffee, with their cream, was perfect.

Business center
There was one computer and a printer in the lobby at this hotel. A guest was using the computer when I went down to print a document I needed in the morning. After waiting over five minutes, I asked him if he was going to be long. I said that I just needed to print something, and then I would be done. He said that he was almost done. I waited another 10 minutes while he browsed Facebook and such. I did not try to see what he was doing; however, this computer is not set up in a private area, and the computer screen was easily visible to anyone walking by or talking with him (as I did to ask how long it would be). 

After waiting 15 minutes, I was not even able to print my document because the printer did not work. After trying to fix this myself, I asked the front desk agent if she knew how to fix the error message. I do not recall the message, although it was not an error I had ever seen before. She did not know anything. When I looked at the documents in queue, I saw that I had not been the only guest trying to print something that morning. The agent did not sound concerned when I showed this to her.

We drove by the Comfort Suites on the way to my meeting, so I decided to stop and see if I could use their printer. The front desk agent let me in the business center with a master key, and guess what--their printer did not work either!

Other than the engineer, I did not think the staff at this hotel were professional or helpful. The manager had also walked behind the desk while I was checking in, and she did not make eye contact with me, smile, or assist the other two employees in any way. 

This hotel has a small scale inside water park, which I expect draws weekend family travelers. Several guests who reviewed this hotel on TripAdvisor (family and business travelers) reported similar staff experiences to what I encountered.

Although the guestroom was comfortable and clean, this hotel was not ideal for my business stay. The only other business hotel in this area was the Hyatt Place, which was another five miles away, and the guestrooms were over $100. I am sure that the rate is worth it; it just did not fit within the guidelines I had been asked to follow.