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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Elk Rapids, Michigan / Honcho Rest Campground

July 2013, Sunday night, Lot 105 with water and electric

We arrived shortly after check-in time, and the campground host was ready for us. When I entered the office, he stated my name, and quickly completed the check-in process. He must have known who I was when I entered, because we were the only guests arriving with a truck camper that day. A travel trailer arrived just after us, and they were heading toward the office when we returned to our truck.

Lot 105
 Lot 105 is located along the tree line at the far end of the park. I had requested a lot in this area (#'s 104 - 110) when I called to make a reservation, because that section looked more private. We prefer this to being back to back, and side to side, like the center lots.

Lot 105 is shady, flat, and grassy. The spot where we parked was gravel, and the picnic table was on a concrete slab. The fire pit was located near the back of the lot.

There were not many people camping the night that we stayed, and lot 106 on the west side of our lot, was empty. There was a travel trailer on lot 104 on the other side when we arrived. We observed a couple of people in one of the cabins, although most of the campers in this park appeared to be permanent.

Restrooms and showers
The outside of the restroom and shower building looks like the picture on the Honcho Rest Campground website. In fact, all of the pictures on the website look accurate to me. Each room in the building was a combination toilet and shower room. The bathrooms were not sparkling clean, although they were not filthy either. There were signs posted in both of the restrooms that I used, that made it sound like guests were expected to clean and dry the showers when done. We did not use the showers, so I did not read the note very closely.

Bass Lake
The lake that the campground is on is not very big, and we did not see a beach, unless there is one straight ahead from the campground entrance. We walked out to the water on the dock that is shown on the site map between lots 50 and 51. There was not a beach area by this dock, and we did not walk out to the water at the other end.

Misc. and overall
The site that we had, without sewer hookup, was the same price as the sites that also have sewer hookup--$40 per night. 

Other than being able to take a small boat out on the lake, this campground did not have much to offer in the way of outdoor activities. I did observe a small playground for children. The wireless Internet connection was better than it had been at the Petoskey KOA, where we had stayed the night before.

We stayed at this campground for one night to visit friends at the Elk Rapids marina 1.5 miles away, so the location suited us just fine. If you are interested in visiting the Elk Rapids area, rather than just camping, this campground is in an excellent location.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Petoskey, Michigan / KOA Campground

July 2013, Weekday-weekend, 3-nights, Electric and water site #71, and Electric, water, and sewer site #210

There were not any guests in front of us when we arrived Thursday evening to check-in to site 71, so it did not take us long. My sister and her husband had arrived and checked into site 210 that afternoon. She said that there were several guests ahead of them when they arrived, and that it took them well over 15 minutes. This campground provides an "escort" to the lot after guests arrive, so they had to wait for someone to escort them to their site after the check-in chaos.

We were each given a small package of complimentary Hungry Jack hashbrowns from "KOA." We also received gate keys, which we needed to use to enter the park.

Our escort initially wanted us to unhook our Jeep at the campground entrance; however, we discouraged that because it only takes a few seconds to unhook it, and we wanted to park it on our lot. This was a good decision, since the check-in area got busy after we arrived, and it would have caused more congestion at the entrance.

Lot 71
Lot 71 is shown in blue on the campsite map. It is the blue lot second from the right, near the top of the page. This lot backs up to trees, and does not have sewer hook up. You can click on the map to zoom in.

We were originally assigned lot 70, the blue lot to the right of 71. When we made our reservation in January, I had been told that lot 70 was the only lot available in this area. Since lot 70 looked like the smallest lot, I contacted the park again in April to see if any of the other lots had become available. I had hoped to get lot 74, the lot behind my sister, although I figured anything would be better than lot 70. In April, I was able to get reassigned to lot 71.
Lot 71

It was 90 degrees the day we arrived, so I was glad that we were not on lot 70. Lot 70 is right next to the cabin on the other side of it, and it does not have any shade. Lot 71 is very shady, which we liked; however, it does not have any grass. The ground cover is dirt, leaves, and branches.

There is a tar pad on the site, and there is a step down to the fire pit and picnic table in the trees. The fire pit is in a somewhat secluded area, although, as I already stated, it was dirt. We moved the table up to the tar pad so that it was not in the dirt, since it was too hot to have a fire the first night.

Lot edge next to electrical box,
Lot 70 fire pit 
The grill for this lot is located by the electrical box, on the other side of the lot, next to lot 70. The fire pit shown in that photo is the neighbor's.

I thought that lot 72 looked like the best lot in this area. Lot 72 is secluded with trees on both sides, and behind it, and the lot is grassy. Lots 70 and 71 were both mostly dirt, although lot 70 had some grass. Lot 71 was secluded on the side between lots 71 and 72; however, the tar pad is very close to lot 70 with nothing between that lot and lot 70.

Our son was coming to stay with us during part of our stay. We had expected a grass lot, and he was planning to bring his tent. I guess it did not matter that the lot was not grassy for him to put up his tent, because we found out that tents are not allowed on the RV campsites. We had thought he would be able to put it up for an extra charge. He had to pay $3 per day just to stay in our camper with us. The campground rules said that all visitors over the age of 3 had to pay $3 per day.

Lot 210
Lot 210
Lot 210 is the large pinkish color lot near the top on the site map. The lots in this area also have sewer hook up.

According to the campsite map, this lot looks like one of the largest lots in this area. The campsite map for this lot is not accurate, and my sister was seriously disappointed. Especially, since we were both staying here for three nights.

As you can see in the photo, lot 210 is right next to one of the cottages. The fire pit for this lot is next to the cottage as well. There is not a campsite on the other side of lot 210; it is a community fire pit.

The open area on the map between our two lots is also not as shown on the campground map. Lot 210 and lot 74 are right behind each other. There are a few trees between the two lots, and a small gully; however, they are not a great distance apart. It is the same between lot 71 and cottage 229; we were right behind each other, with trees in between. The treed area behind lot 71 is a greater distance from the cottage than behind lot 210, although we could still see and hear the guests at the cottage.

One-room Cabin #10 and Camping Lodge #41
Other family members rented a one-room cabin and a camping lodge. The one-room cabin contained a double bed and bunk beds. The lodge contained a queen bed in a bedroom, bunk beds, a bathroom with shower, kitchen, and sitting area with a table and futon. I was told that the shower in the camping lodge could not be used because there was a big wad of hair in the shower that had not been cleaned. When one of the guests complained about this at checkout, the host did not apologize or offer any compensation to make up for this.

Both units had a front porch with seats or a swing, a picnic table on the grass, and a fire pit. They are pretty much as shown on the map above with a couple of minor differences: cabin 10 is not quite as large as the square looks on the map, and the yard behind lodge 41 was not really that big of an area that was usable, since it extended over and was utilized by the neighbors next door.

The guests who stayed in cabin #10 on Friday night had a little bit of trouble during check-in because their name had been spelled incorrectly, and the employee could not find it without the confirmation number. They did not correctly check-in the guest who stayed in cabin #10 on Saturday night, so there was a bit of confusion when the guests arrived to check-in to the camping lodge. The guests in the camping lodge, and the guests who had stayed in cabin #10 on Friday night, did not receive their complimentary Hungry Jack hashbrowns.

Swimming pool and whirlpool tub
The swimming pool was heated, and the water was quite warm. The whirlpool tub was also very warm. I did not use it Friday morning since it was so hot out, although my husband did. We did not get to use the area for long because it was thundering in the distance that morning, and the area was closed shortly after we got there.

Showers and restrooms
I did not think that the facilities were adequate for a park this size. The restroom showers between lot 71 and camping lodge 41 were always filthy, and there was always a wait. There are only three rooms in this building, and each room is a toilet/shower combination. If you wanted to use the facilities, and they were all occupied, you never knew if you were waiting for someone using the restroom or someone taking a shower.

Standard restrooms were located in the main building at the entrance--Men's and Women's restrooms with several stalls in each. There was only one soap dispenser in the Women's restroom though! None of the restrooms contained paper towels. They all had a low speed hand dryer. Universal shower stalls were located in the hallway outside of the restrooms in the main building.

Restrooms were also located in the pool area. The Women's restroom had one stall.

Misc. and overall
I did not think that the $50+ rate per night that this KOA charges for an RV site was worth it. It was a few dollars more for sewer hook up, than it was for just the electric and water hook up. Tent sites were $34.95 a night. I expected a nicer site, and nicer and cleaner facilities than what we received. A bundle of firewood at the park was $6.50.

It was nice that we could leave our trash by the road, and the escorts in their carts would stop by throughout the day and pick up the bags.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Mineral Wells, West Virginia / Hampton Inn Parkersburg-Mineral Wells

July 2013, Weekday, 1-night, king guestroom 315 and 219

Status perks
I did not receive any extra perks at check-in, and the front desk agent did not smile or offer a warm greeting. This hotel had a display at the front desk of items that I should have gotten to choose from since I have Gold status. When I went back to the front desk to change rooms, I requested a bottle of water, and the agent gave it to me for no charge. At that time, the agent also made it sound like the room I had received, with a small fridge and microwave, was an upgrade. The guestrooms were all the same size on the room diagram, so it did not look like this is a larger guestroom.

Guestroom 315 and 219
Both of these guestrooms are located near the center of the hallway, overlooking the front entrance. I was initially assigned guestroom 315, on the top floor. My top floor request had been honored; just not my "end of the hallway, away from the elevator" request.

This entire hotel is non-smoking, and guestroom 315 smelled like stale smoke. I had thought that this Hampton Inn looked pretty dinghy and old when I arrived, and there is a nicer looking Holiday Inn Express at the same exit, so I decided to call that hotel to see if I could get a room there instead. Unfortunately, that hotel did not have any rooms available. 

There were not any other king guestrooms available on the top floor at this Hampton Inn, so I ended up switching to guestroom 219. This was after I had also contacted a few other hotels on the other side of the airport, and after I had walked in and out of room 315, and decided that the stale smoke smell was too strong. I think that if a guest smokes in a non-smoking room, then the guest should be charged the cleaning fee, and the hotel should have the room cleaned properly.

Guestroom 219 smelled much better than room 315, although I then had the noise disruption from the guest overhead. That is exactly why I always try to get a top floor guestroom--so that I do not have any guests overhead. Both guestrooms were set up exactly the same as I am describing here. The photos are of guestroom 219.

The bathroom near the entrance contained a long vanity with bath amenities, and a single-serve coffee maker with supplies. There was a wall mounted hairdryer, and the tub/shower combination included a shower curtain on a curved rod.

A closet with a mirrored door was located in the hall area outside of the bathroom. An iron and ironing board were in the closet.

The guestroom area contained a suitcase bench, flatscreen TV on an armoire, small fridge, microwave, desk and chair, sofa, king size bed, and nightstands with an alarm clock and lamps. There was a floor lamp by the sofa, as well as one on the desk and over the suitcase bench.

This guestroom also had a piece of debris in plain site on the floor--a piece of gum. 

Guestroom 219 is located just off center of being directly over the hotel entrance. Guests congregated under the hotel entrance to smoke, and the noise was disruptive. I could not smell smoke; however, guests' voices were loud enough that I could hear some of the conversation and foul language.

Food & Beverage
Breakfast the next morning included the basic Hampton Inn foods--oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, sausage gravy and biscuits, juices, milk, coffee, and tea.

Fitness center
I thought I was fortunate to find the fitness center equipment available, since it only contained one cardio machine. It also contained a flatscreen TV with remote, exercise balls, scale, towels, and water cooler. 

Business center
One computer and a printer were located in the breakfast room.

Misc. and overall
There are not many dining choices nearby. Restaurants right at this exit included Wendy's, McDonalds, Cracker Barrel, and a pizza place. I was flying out of the Parkersburg airport the next morning, and the other airport area hotels are located in Ohio, on the other side of the airport. I had chosen this area since I was arriving from the South. When I had called a couple of the hotels in Ohio--the Holiday Inn and Fairfield Inn--they did not have many room choices either. The Holiday Inn only had smoking rooms, and the Fairfield Inn did not have any rooms. I have Platinum status at both of those hotel chains; however, I did not think it would be productive to misplace someone else by using my "guaranteed room availability" perk.

I do not recommend this Hampton Inn, and I would never choose it again. I thought staff members were unfriendly, and the facility was old and rundown. I often choose Holiday Inn Express over Hampton Inn, especially when the Holiday Inn Express looks newer. I do not recall why I chose this Hampton Inn over the Holiday Inn Express; I think it was because I wanted Hilton points. Not a good decision this time!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Barboursville, West Virginia / Holiday Inn & Suites

July 2013, Weekday, 1-night, King club suite #513

Status perks and check-in
I received an upgrade to a club suite, two full size bottles of water, and a coupon for free breakfast.

Guestroom 513
This guestroom is the first guestroom after exiting the elevator on the top floor. I did not understand why the front desk agent had told me it is a club floor room because the floor looked like a basic hotel floor to me. I did not observe any signs designating the floor as a club floor or quiet floor, and there was not a club lounge. When I looked at the guestroom descriptions online later, I realized that this is a "club suite" not a club floor guestroom. I may have heard her incorrectly, since I have stayed in hotels with a club floor before.

The guests on this floor were definitely quiet guests. I could hear the elevator and ice machine from my guestroom, although I never heard much noise from guests. There is a large gap under the guestroom doors, so I blocked out the little bit of noise that I did hear with a rolled towel. There did not appear to be many guests on this floor at the time of my stay.

The guestroom entered into a large tile area with a long vanity and two sinks. A single-serve coffee maker was provided on the vanity with RainForest Alliance coffee and condiments. Bath & Body Works amenities were also on the vanity, and a low quality hairdryer was mounted on the wall. 

The bathroom area with the tub and toilet was across from the vanity area. The tub/shower combination was a whirlpool tub with a shower curtain on a curved rod. I would have preferred a walk-in tile shower, although I am sure some guests like this kind of tub. This area was spacious, and there was a door on this room. 

There was an open closet outside of the bathroom, across from the long vanity. It contained only a couple of hangers, and an iron and ironing board.

The bedroom and sitting area contained a full length mirror, desk and chair, flatscreen TV on an armoire, fridge, microwave, suitcase bench, king size bed, nightstands with alarm clock, sofa, and coffee table. There were two telephones in the guestroom; one on the desk, and one by the bed.

Even though there were several lamps in the guestroom, the lighting was very poor.  There was no light by the suitcase bench, so it was always dark in that corner of the room, and the standing lamp by the full length mirror did not give off hardly any light.

The wireless Internet connection speed was slow. There was an ethernet plug at the desk, although a cord was not provided. There were not very many electrical outlets for a room this size, and they were not conveniently located. I had to look for a plug behind the nightstand and sofa when I no longer wanted to work at the desk.

The bed in this guestroom was hard, and not very comfortable. One of the bed photos on this hotel's website looks like it has a nice mattress pad on the bed. This bed did not have that kind of pad on it. 

This is a spacious guestroom, although I wondered if one of the rooms at the end of the hall might have been a better choice. Those rooms are farther away from the elevator, and it looks like the rooms that are classified as "king suite" are set up better than this "club suite" guestroom. The presidential suite must not be on the top floor, unless the guestroom diagram on the door is incorrect.

Food & Beverage
The service and the food at breakfast was excellent! I was able to use my free breakfast coupon for the buffet or an a la carte item off the menu. I opted for the poached eggs on bacon hash browns. I do not usually eat much bacon or potatoes; however, I like to try unusual dishes, so I decided to go for it. This food item was an excellent choice. It was fresh, flavorful, good quality, and cooked perfectly. I had been slightly worried that it might be too greasy for me, and it was not greasy at all.

Fitness center
The fitness center contained weights, weight machines, two treadmills, and a stair-stepper. Both treadmills were in use when I visited in the afternoon, and one was available when I visited in the morning at 5:30 a.m. The posted hours say that the fitness center opens at 6:00 a.m.; however, there were already two guests in the room when I arrived. 

There are two flatscreen TVs in the room; however, the machines do not have cardio theater. The room also contained a scale, drinking faucet, towels, and sani-wipes.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Los Angeles Airport, California - LAX / Crowne Plaza

June 2013, Weekday, 1-night, King guestroom #1420

Status perks and check-in
The front desk agent at this Crowne Plaza, said that the club floor rooms were all reserved, so he coded my key for access to the club floor lounge, and I also received a coupon good for a complimentary house brand beverage at the lobby bar or at the Java Net Cafe.

I arrived before check-in time, and guestroom 1530, which had initially been set aside for me, was not ready yet. The agent then assigned me guestroom 1420. Both guestrooms are located in the same area; just on different floors. Guestroom 1420 is the first guestroom around the corner after exiting the elevator. There is not a guestroom on the South side of this room. 

The guestroom had been recently renovated, and it was tastefully decorated. The bathroom was on the left after entering. It contained a long vanity with bathing amenities, and a hairdryer in a bag. There was a tub/shower combination with a shower curtain on a curved rod.

A closet with mirrored doors was located outside the bathroom. It contained an iron and ironing board. There was not a safe in this guestroom, like there had been in the nearby Marriott when I stayed there a few days earlier.

The guestroom contained a suitcase bench, king size bed, night stands with an alarm clock, flatscreen TV, single-serve coffee maker with supplies, large desk and armoire combination with drawers and slide out work area, desk chair, soft chair and footstool, and an end table that slides under the chair for working. There were plenty of outlets and lamps. The guestroom was well lit. 

The bed and desk area were both comfortable, although the soft chair with the footstool was not. It looked comfy, and I do like to sit in a soft chair with the slide in end table for a comfort change; however, the chair was quite stiff and hard.

This guestroom does not face the airport. Even so, I heard quite a bit of airplane noise from the guestroom. I did not hear any noise from the hallway or from other guestrooms. 

Food & Beverage
I had a late lunch in the restaurant after I checked in. I wanted to try the Sushi Bar; however, it did not open until evening.

I had the salmon sandwich and tossed salad in the restaurant, which I would not recommend. The food items tasted fresh with good flavor; however, the salmon was overcooked, and the service was terrible. It took me over an hour to have lunch, and there were less than five tables with guests at the time of my visit. I observed two servers, a busperson, and a bartender working during my meal. 

Club floor lounge
Food in the lounge in the evening included salsa type dip with chips, a couple of fresh vegetables with dip, and a hot food item, which I do not recall. I thought the food offerings were average to low--the quality and the choices. Beer and wine was included; I thought the wine quality was also poor quality. It was the same house brand wine that was served in the lounge. Coffee, tea, and bottled water were also available. I left before breakfast in the morning, so I do not know what was available in the morning. The service in the lounge was excellent.

Business center
This hotel does not have a business center, and there was not a computer or a printer in the club lounge. Documents could be printed at the Java Cafe for a fee. The last time I stayed at this hotel, I was able to print documents from a printer in a business center type room on the banquet room floor. This room was no longer open.

Airport shuttle and misc.
I was told that the airport shuttle runs continually 24-hours a day, every 15 to 20 minutes. The shuttle takes guests from two hotels, and it is first come, first serve, so I went to the lobby as soon as I was ready in the morning. I must have just missed the shuttle bus because I waited almost 20 minutes. The shuttle bus stops at the other hotel first, so my ride to the airport was very quick after the bus returned. It took me less than 5 minutes to get to the Delta area, since that was one of the first stops.

I arrived at the airport earlier than I needed to. LAX is a big airport, and it had been a few years since I had flown out of LAX. I did not recall how long it took me before, and I did not want to miss my plane home! The Delta ticket counter did not open until after 4:00 a.m., and the security line next to the Delta counter did not open until around 4:15 a.m. A TSA pre-check lane, and a Sky Priority lane, were located to the right of the regular security line.

This hotel is just down the road from the Marriott where I had stayed and picked up my rental car. After I unloaded my belongings at the Crowne Plaza, I returned the rental car to the Marriott and walked back. There is an exit behind this hotel, so I did not need to drive back out into the traffic on Century Blvd.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Hacienda Heights, California / Courtyard by Marriott

June 2013, Weekday, 2-nights, King guestroom #244 and #223

Status perks and check-in
I did not receive any additional perks other than the standard platinum on-site amenity. This hotel has several corner suites; the agent at check-in did not tell me if they were all reserved, and I did not ask.

balcony 244
I stayed in two different guestrooms for my 2-night stay at this hotel, because the guests in the guestroom next to room 244 were smoking in this non-smoking hotel. When I got something from the gift shop the next morning, I asked about this, and the agent asked if I wanted to be moved. The two guestrooms are both king rooms, and they are similar. 

door diagram room 244
The guestrooms at this hotel are laid out in a horseshoe shape, and the center portion has three floors. The two end hallways have only two floors of guestrooms. Guestroom 244 is located in the center portion of rooms, so there is a floor above this guestroom. Even so, I did not hear any noise overheard. Guestroom 244 has a connecting room door (the reason I could smell the smoke), and a courtyard view.  

The courtyard view was nice, and the balcony was large enough for two chairs. All of the courtyard photos here were taken from guestroom 244. I did not use the balcony or sleep with the door open, because there were also a couple of ashtrays in the courtyard area. This is something I have not seen at a Marriott property since the chain became totally non-smoking. I was surprised to see this because I was told at a full service Marriott once, that guests are not supposed to smoke outside on the balconies either.
Guestroom 223 is located in one of the end wings, so it is located on the top floor. This guestroom overlooks the parking lot, and the balcony is not as large. This guestroom does not have a connecting room door. I think both guestrooms were the same size, although the second guestroom looked larger because it did not have the connecting room door. There was more room to walk through between the bed and the armoire because the furniture location was closer to the outside wall, since the arrangement did not need to allow room for the connecting door.

The guestroom photos here are all from guestroom 244, although there was not really much difference between the two guestrooms. Both guestrooms contained a sofa, coffee table, desk and chair, king size bed, nightstands, lamps, flatscreen TV on an armoire, single-serve coffee maker with supplies, and a small fridge. A full length mirror was on the wall across from the bathroom area, and there was a closet with an iron and ironing board across from the vanity.

The bathroom contained a tub/shower combination with a shower curtain on a curved rod, and the vanity was located outside of the bathing area.

One difference between the two guestrooms was the HVAC unit. The unit in the first guestroom--#244--was quite loud. The unit did have an on/off control, and there is a screen on the balcony door, so it could be turned off. The HVAC unit in guestroom 223 ran smoothly with much less noise.

The beds and bedding in both guestrooms was comfortable.

Food & Beverage
Asian chicken salad
I tried two food items in the evening--Thai sweet chili wings and Asian chicken salad. Both food items were very good, and the salad was excellent! The service was also excellent both evenings.

In the morning, I had the Breakfast BLT, which was also pretty good. The service in the morning was quite a disappointment compared to the service I received in the evenings though. There were guests patiently waiting in the dining area for the Bistro to open in the morning. I was waiting too, because I had stopped there after the fitness center, thinking that it opened at 6:00 a.m., and the Bistro did not open until 6:30. At 6:30, the employee behind the counter was texting on her phone, and she had not taken the "Open hours" sign down. A minute or two after 6:30, I decided to walk to the counter to ask if she was open yet. She said, "We open a 6:30," and then took my order. After this, she took the open/closed sign down, and at least five more customers appeared behind me.

Fitness center
The fitness center contained four cardio machines with cardio theater, as well as hand weights, a flatscreen TV, water cooler, and sani-wipes. It was open 24 hours, and the temperature was comfortable.

Business center
A couple of computers and printers were located in the lobby. Everything was in good working order, and I liked that I was able to two-side print my documents.

I liked the location of this hotel, and it was comfortable. The main disappointment for me, was that the no-smoking policy was not enforced. From a couple of comments that I heard, I got the impression that the guest next to me was a long term guest who had been there a while, and that employees were ignoring the fact that he was smoking in his room.

For those of you who may be thinking that I just went to the front desk and turned in the smoker, the conversation went something like this:

Me (after I had gotten a beverage from the gift shop, and given the agent my room number to charge it to): So, do you enforce your non-smoking policy--charge the guest and deep clean the room afterward?
Agent: Yes.
Me: Good.
Agent: Are you smelling smoke?
Me: Yes, in my room. I don't really know if it is coming through the vents, or what.
Agent (looks at computer): Let me see if I can move you to another room. 

I agreed to the room change, even though it was no longer a courtyard view, and I am glad I did. By the time I got back to my hallway, I could smell smoke as soon as I turned the corner; it was smokey outside the room by this time too.

I do not know how room reassignments work behind the scenes, but when I was changing rooms, a guest walked in on me. He had been reassigned to my old room. I don't understand how this happened, because it seems like the room should have been logged for cleaning, instead of available. I had to go to the front desk to get my bill corrected at checkout because when I transferred to the second room, the AAA rate I had booked did not transfer. The charge was $20 more for the second night.

There are several restaurants near this hotel. I tried Thai Specialty II, which looked a lot better online than what it was. I was disappointed with my to-go order, and I did not notice until after I had returned to the hotel that I did not receive the soup, which is listed on the menu.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Los Angeles - LAX / Marriott

June 2013, Weekend, Jr Suite #946

Status perks and check-in
The Los Angeles airport Marriott has an elite check-in counter across from the main check-in area. Elaine provided a smooth and efficient check-in process. She introduced herself, and recapped my guestroom preferences, before she provided the key and additional hotel information. I received an upgrade to a Jr. suite. It was not on the concierge floor; however, she coded my key for concierge level access. I also received the extra Platinum points for my on-site amenity.
view when entering 

This suite is located at the end of the hall on the 9th floor. The furnishings and decor looked a bit outdated, although there was not anything wrong with any of the items. The guestroom was well-soundproofed, spacious, and comfortable. I did not hear any airplane noise even though this hotel is very close to the airport. 

An entry table with a decorative plant was located in the small entry area by the door and across from the bathroom and closet. I did not take a photo of the table; the front of it is barely visible in the first photo that was taken from the entrance.

The bathroom area located to the left of the entrance door, contained two vanities. The vanity in the outer area was across from a closet with mirrored doors. The closet contained a large safe, hangers, two summer bathrobes, an iron, and ironing board. 

The second vanity was located in the room with the toilet and tub/shower. Both vanities were stocked with bathing amenities, and ample towels were provided. 

The tub drain was sluggish. It was not clogged during my shower; however, I think if I had taken a leisurely shower and washed my hair, there would have been standing water in the bottom of the tub when I finished. I told an employee about this when I checked out (not at the elite desk). She took down the information, although she was not nearly as professional or helpful as Elaine had been when I checked in. I was surprised that she did not apologize or thank me for letting her know about this, so that it could be fixed before the next guest arrived.

The living and sleeping area contained the following: sofa, coffee table, end table, ice bucket with glasses, a bottle of water, a desk and chair, flatscreen TV on an armoire, small fridge and single-serve coffee pot with supplies, king size bed with lots of pillows, two night stands, four lamps, lighted alarm clock, and two telephones. The coffee items were set up on a tray inside the cabinet under the TV. I had to remove the tray because the coffee pot could not be plugged in from that location. The room was well lit, and there were several electrical outlets. 

I arrived after 10:00 p.m., and the bed had been turned down. There were two chocolates on the pillow. The bed was super comfortable, and the sheets were plush.

Food & Beverage
When I checked in, I was surprised to learn that breakfast was included with the AAA rate I had booked. I did not recall reading that in my reservation details. I usually prefer to order off the menu because the food is fresher than at the buffet; however, this time, the buffet probably would have been a better choice. I ordered an egg sandwich from the menu, and it was kind of greasy. I did not go up to the buffet, although the items I could see from my seat and on other guests' plates looked fresh.

Concierge lounge
I visited the concierge lounge when I arrived late in the evening. A few desserts were displayed, and a beverage cooler was well stocked with bottled water, and a few non-alcoholic beverages. Breakfast items in the morning included several types of pastries, scrambled eggs, bacon, and cereal. Coffee and tea was available both times. There were glass snack dispensers on the counter by the door both times that I visited. Jelly beans, and nut type snacks, were filled in the canisters.

The concierge lounge is a fairly large room, which looked like it could easily fulfill the needs for a small group/meeting. A couple of computers and a printer were located by the door, and there was no charge for me to print a document.

Fitness center
The fitness center is located on the ground floor, below the lobby entrance level. It is a large room, and contained many items--several cardio machines with cardio theater, weight machines, exercise ball,  mats, water cooler, fruit, scale, towels, and sani-wipes. There was probably more equipment than I have named because I did not walk around the corner to the other side of the room. The treadmills were located near the entrance, and the other area of the room was partially visible from the machine I used. 

There is a Hertz car rental desk in the lobby of this hotel, which opens at 7:30 a.m. I had a car reserved for 7:30; however, the employee arrived about 10 minutes late, so it was actually 7:45 by the time I received the keys to my car. She must have thought that she could amend this delay with compliments, because she gave me two. First, she told me I have beautiful hair, and then after I gave her my ID, she told me that I look amazing for my age. Hmm...well, I guess it did make me smile! And, the 15-minute delay did not impact my schedule for the day.

The parking slip process of how to exit and reenter the parking lot is mildly confusing, so I suggest getting clear instructions before leaving the window. I noticed that I had a couple of parking slips when she gave me the keys, so I asked how I was supposed to use them. I may have been able to figure out the process on my own, but at least this way, I was prepared when I pulled up to the exit. My car was not full of gas when I received it. This was noted on my contract; however, I do not like returning cars this way because it is difficult to know when the fuel has been refilled accurately before the return.

Hotel shuttle
I was told that the hotel shuttle automatically runs between the hotel and the airport every 15 minutes, 24-hours a day. I waited at least 15 minutes for the shuttle when I arrived. LAX has a chaotic shuttle system. Passengers stand on the center island and flag down the busses as they go by. The parking lot shuttle busses, and a couple of large coach busses, also stopped in the same area. The hotel shuttle busses do not always pull up to the curb, and it is easy to miss one driving by, if you do not pay close attention at all times. I have been through this kind of process before, so I knew what to expect. A man waiting near me had told me which hotel shuttle he was waiting for, and he would have missed his bus, if we had not chatted about this while waiting. I saw his shuttle bus driving by behind one of the coach busses, and told him. He was able to flag the driver down before he got too far.

I did not use the shuttle from the Marriott to return to the airport, although I did observe a long line of people waiting for the bus out front all morning the day that I departed. I did not notice if there was enough room on the bus for everyone to board once the bus arrived.

I was very happy with the comfort of this hotel and AAA rate I had found for this Sunday evening stay. I wanted to stay here again on Wednesday before my flight out; however, the rate that night was almost twice what I paid on Sunday.