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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Lake Express High Speed Ferry

Previous experiences
Before I write about this trip, I wanted to provide some information about my past experiences on the Lake Express. When the Lake Express first started 10 years ago, my husband and I were keeping a boat at Great Lakes Marina, next to where the Lake Express docks in Muskegon, Michigan. We are boat and water lovers, so we thought the trip to Milwaukee and back sounded like fun. I, however, thought it was too expensive. We both really wanted to try it, so we booked a classic one-night roundtrip leaving Muskegon on a Friday morning. Our ride there and back was a good experience. I was able to get us a free hotel room in Milwaukee with points, so this made the cost more tolerable. We easily got a cab ride to town after our arrival in Milwaukee.

A year or two after that trip, I took two premier roundtrips by myself when I was working in Milwaukee for two summer weeks. Since the Lake Express docks next to Great Lakes Marina, our summer home at that time, I was able to easily walk to the boat dock and back. Although the cost of the Lake Express is expensive compared to other leisure or water crossing trips, it is relatively inexpensive compared to flying. I was able to rent a car for two weeks at the port in Milwaukee, and then park it in their rental lot over the weekend when I went home. When I returned the second Monday, I went straight to my car after disembarking. 

The Lake Express website lists complimentary non-alcoholic beverages for premier class. I had thought my boarding pass was good for only one complimentary beverage when I traveled back then. Since my travel was almost 10 years ago, it is likely that has changed, or that I do not recall correctly. I do recall that one of my crossings from Muskegon at that time was not comfortable. The entire boat reeked of vomit. I said something to one of the employees about the stench, and she said that many people had gotten sick on the boat the day before. I understand that something like that could happen; however, I do not understand that the boat was not thoroughly cleaned before the next passengers boarded. It does not seem like it would have been that difficult to hire this out overnight. Fortunately, the stench was gone when I returned three days later.

Following is our most recent experience.

July 2013, Thursday, one-way for two adults and one vehicle, 7:00 p.m. departure
Milwaukee to Muskegon
On Tuesday afternoon before our trip, we were in Sheboygan, Wisconsin after we had taken the SS Badger over from Ludington, Michigan. My cell phone rang from a toll-free number, although it did not connect when I tried to answer it. Later that evening, after we had checked into our hotel, I did a search for the telephone number online, and found that it belonged to the Lake Express.

I called the Lake Express, and said that it looked like someone had tried to call me, and that I had not received the call. The agent learned that we had a reservation for Thursday. She said that passengers were being called with a recorded message, because all trips through Friday were being canceled because of mechanical trouble. When I asked when we could make the trip back across, she said that she could re-book us for Sunday. I said that would be too late for us, since I had to be home before then (I had an early morning flight on Monday). She did not offer us any other option, until I pressed her for a better solution. She then said that I could call back on Wednesday to see if the boat would be running on Friday. She never apologized for the inconvenience, she never requested our confirmation number or name, and she never asked if we had a vehicle to get home.

I called back the next day, and asked if it was possible to rebook our canceled Thursday booking for Friday. The employee provided the same Sunday rebooking date, with the same kind of service that I had received the first time I called: The employee did not apologize for the inconvenience, she did not request our name or confirmation number, and she did not ask if we had a vehicle to get home. At this point, we realized we were going to have to drive home. I then asked what the Lake Express was going to do to compensate us for this, and the agent said that we would be getting a refund. I asked if that was all, and she said yes.

After we got back to Michigan, I happened to be in Muskegon on Saturday. I observed the Lake Express arrive, and the boat did not look full. If the boat was not full, I wondered why no one had called us to see if we still needed to get across. We were back in Michigan by then; however, the Lake Express did not know that.

The way a company handles a situation like this is going to determine whether customers will remain customers. The Lake Express has lost me and others as future customers because of the way they handled this situation. I expected them to at least apologize and assist me with a new way to get to my destination. If this had happened to me when I was working in Milwaukee on my prior trip, or when we took our leisure trip for one night without a vehicle, we would have been in an even worse situation. I did not speak personally with other passengers from trips canceled this week, although I did hear stories of passengers trying to book one-way rental cars at the airport to get home.

I will not book a future trip with the Lake Express because of the way this cancelation was handled. I depend on the companies that I book transportation with (air, boat, train, bus, etc.) to get me where I need to go. I can not afford to put my trust in a company that is not going to take care of me if something goes wrong.

There were two things about the way the Lake Express handled this situation that really bothered me:

First, The Lake Express used an automated system to call customers about the cancelation, without making sure that the calls were received. I do not know anything about how these automated systems work. Don't they have a way to track whether a call was actually received and/or connected to confirm that messages are delivered? If I was using a service like that, I would want to know that it was working. Since I did not receive the call, I do not know what the message said, and I told both employees that we did not receive the call. If I had not looked up the telephone number online, and then called, we would not have known that our trip had been canceled until we arrived at the Milwaukee harbor Thursday evening.

Second, the employees I spoke with did not apologize or make any attempt to assist us. Since no one ever asked for the details of our reservation, they did not know how many were in our party, whether we had a vehicle, and whether this was the first leg of our trip.

I think at the very minimum, the Lake Express should have apologized for the inconvenience, and offered to make amends. This was not a trip that canceled due to something beyond their control, such as weather. The trips this week were canceled for mechanical reasons. Along with showing some empathy and assistance, a discount on a future trip, would have made us willing to try the Lake Express again.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Milwaukee, Wisconsin / Marriott Downtown

July 2013, Weekday, 1-night, King guestroom 601

Status perks and check-in
We arrived early, around lunchtime, because we had planned to stop for lunch on the way, and those plans were interrupted. I did not expect our room to be ready, since I had not submitted an early arrival request with the concierge beforehand. I did, however, expect to receive better service than we did. Usually, when I arrive early, the front desk agent contacts housekeeping to make our room top priority on the list, and then the agent calls me as soon as the room is ready. When this happened at the Miami airport Residence Inn, our room was ready less than half an hour after our arrival.

We left our car with the valet, and our luggage with the bellman. I made sure that the front desk agent had my cell phone number, and then we left on foot for lunch. After we walked around most of the river area, we ended up having lunch in the Marriott restaurant, Millioke. Details of that visit are in the Food and Beverage section below. 

It had now been more than an hour since we arrived, so I decided to stop back at the front desk. I figured it would not be too much longer before our room was ready, and I wanted to choose the wine and cheese for my Platinum arrival amenity this stay. I thought that if I let the agent know this, it could be in the guestroom when we returned again. This was my first full-service Marriott stay since this perk changed to a $10 hotel credit instead. When the agent told me this, I recalled receiving an email about this change recently.

I then asked the agent if she knew when our guestroom would be available. She said that there were not any guestrooms available on the higher floors yet. She had not acknowledged my status at any time, even when I asked about my arrival amenity, so I asked her if I had received an upgrade to a concierge guestroom. I had mentioned my preference for a top floor guestroom when we first arrived, although I had not asked if that is the concierge floor. She said that this hotel has a "new concept," and that the concierge lounge is on the 2nd floor at this hotel. It was unclear whether this hotel actually has any concierge guestrooms, which are usually a bit nicer with complimentary bottled water, bathrobes, and automatic turndown service. I ended up taking a room on the 6th floor (the hotel has 9 floors) at this time, because the agent made it sound like I was not waiting for any particular guestroom, and she had said that check-in time is not until 3:00 p.m. (in a manner that indicated I should not expect my room until then). She never acknowledged my status or my profile preferences, and she did not thank me for being a loyal customer.

Guestroom 601
This guestroom is located at the end of the hall on the East side of the building. It has a large window on the East wall, and there is no window on the South wall. There is no view from the guestroom because the neighboring buildings are taller. I did not go up to the 9th floor, so I am not sure if three more floors would have made a difference.

This is a basic non-concierge Marriott guestroom with a few nice quality features; however, there were just as many disappointing features.

The guestroom entrance contained a closet and beverage area. There were no bathrobes in the closet. I called later, to see if I could get a bathrobe to use, and I was told no. The person I spoke with said that the hotel does not have bathrobes. Bathrobes are listed as an amenity on the Marriott Milwaukee Downtown fact sheet under Guest Room Information. This guestroom did not have a full length mirror.

The beverage area included: bottled water for a cost, single-serve coffee maker with supplies, an ice bucket, and two glasses. This is the first full-service Marriott I have stayed in that provided powder creamer, rather than liquid creamer. 

There was room under the counter for a minibar and a safe; however, neither were provided. Since there was plenty of room for a fridge in this area--and, we had a cooler because we were on vacation, I decided to call and inquire about a fridge. I have "refrigerator requested" on my Marriott profile, and usually, there is already a fridge in the guestroom when I arrive, or the front desk agent asks if I want one. When I called, I was told that there were none available. The bellman brought our bag and cooler a few minutes later, and as he pointed out the guestroom features, he mentioned the fridge area. I told him that I had already called to ask about that, and that there were not any available. Several minutes after he departed, someone knocked on the guestroom door and brought in a fridge. I do not know if this was because of an inquiry by the bellman or the person I called. I am inclined to think that it was the bellman.

I thought the spacious tile bathroom was great! I liked the large walk-in shower with glassed doors. The towels were good quality, and the bathroom amenities were Bath & Body Works brand. The low quality hairdryer was a minor disappointment.

The guestroom contained a desk with a telephone and chair, flatscreen TV on an armoire, soft chair and footstool, end table, lamp, king size bed, and nightstands with alarm clock and telephone. There were plenty of lights and outlets at the head of the bed.

The bed and pillows were super comfy with high quality linens. Other than some minor traffic noise, we did not hear any noise while in the guestroom. I was pleased and impressed by this, because this guestroom has a connecting room door. There was a guest in the room next door the night of our stay, because I observed several folios in front of guestroom doors in the hall the next morning.

This guestroom is not very big. The hall area and bathroom are a good size; however, the sitting and working area is not very roomy. There was just enough room for the luggage rack to set up at the end of the desk by the hall. I was surprised that the room was not larger, since it is a corner room. The hotel website lists corner rooms for $10 more, so I expected it to be roomier. The corner guestrooms on the room diagram look like they are slightly larger, so the other rooms must be really small! Or, maybe the spacious bathroom is the only difference.

Food & Beverage
The lunch service at Millioke was excellent, and so was the food. It was after noon when we arrived, so the restaurant was not very busy by the time we finished. It was bustling when we arrived.

The beer and wine prices were pretty average for the area, and not inflated, like is sometimes the case at a hotel restaurant. Our order consisted of a glass of beer, a glass of wine, and Prosciutto and Arugula Flatbread to share. Here is a photo of the flatbread after we each had a piece--it was delicious!

Concierge lounge
Bottled water, coffee, tea, cookies, and apples were available in the lounge in the afternoon. Two small hot food items were served in the evening, as well as a deluxe array of cheeses, cold meats, and fruit. Self-serve alcoholic beverages were available for purchase. The beverage cost was more than what we had paid for our wine and beer in the restaurant.

In the morning, the lounge did not open until 6:30 a.m., and it was not accessible before then. I had hoped to get some coffee with liquid creamer; however, our key did not work before 6:30. I do not know how late it worked in the evening, because we did not try it again after we left the evening social. Available breakfast items were pretty basic with scrambled eggs and sausage. The same cheese, meat, and fruit type items that had been out in the evening, were served in the morning as well. 

Misc. and overall
This hotel charges $30 for valet parking. I called to ask about self-parking options before our stay, and I was told that this is not available. The valet attendants parked in the public parking garage across Milwaukee Street, and we could see them from our guestroom. I inquired with that public parking garage after our stay, and they said that they do not rent space overnight. We did not end up with a valet parking charge on our folio in the morning. The front desk agent knew that we had parked a car because the valet and bellman assisted and escorted us to the front desk when we arrived. I do not know if this is included for Platinum members, or if it was an oversight. Since she never told me anything, and it was so difficult to get assistance or information from the front desk staff, I did not inquire about this before we left.

I had also called the front desk to find out what the check cashing policy is. Marriott used to let elite members cash a personal check for around, or up to, $200 (I do not remember the exact amount). The person I spoke with said that he did not know, and that he did not think I could cash a check. He would have ended the conversation at that (just like everyone else at the front desk), except that I pressed him further. I had to specifically say, "Well, can you find out?" He then said yes, and called me back several minutes later to relay what he had found out. At that time, he offered information about a nearby quick cash type location, if I wanted it.

I did not think this hotel was worth the money. I thought it was expensive when we booked it; however, we were on vacation, I had Platinum status, and it is a new hotel. We decided to splurge because we thought this would be a great stay. I was seriously disappointed with the aloofness of the front desk staff, and the telephone operators. Usually, the service at Marriott hotels is superior, and that was not the case at this hotel. The service we received at the Holiday Inn Express in Sheboygan the night before, was much better. 

I would not choose this hotel again, unless I found a great deal. The bed was definitely comfortable, and the bathroom was nice. The cost, and the indifferent attitude of some of the staff members, is a consideration, too though. There are many hotels in this area to choose from, and this is not the only Marriott property in the area. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sheboygan, Wisconsin / Holiday Inn Express

July 2013, Weekday, 1-night, King guestroom #315

Check-in and status perks
All of the employees at this Holiday Inn Express were friendly and cheerful. The front desk agent acknowledged my status, and she apologized for not being able to give me an upgrade. I received a bag of chips, and two bottles of water. One bottle of water and the chips were already in the guestroom; the agent gave me a second bottle of water when I checked in, because my husband was with me. I appreciated that the goody bag had been placed in the guestroom, so that I did not need to carry something else up with my luggage. We also each received two OtisSpunkmeyer cookies.

Guestroom 315
This guestroom is located on the top floor near the end of the hall. I always request top floor rooms away from the elevator, and the front desk agent had acknowledged these requests during the check-in.

The spacious bathroom near the entrance contained a long vanity, bath amenities, a decent quality wall mounted hairdryer, coffee pot with supplies, and a tub/shower combination. The bath towels and amenities were good quality, although  the coffee was the same Holiday Inn Express packets, that, in my opinion, are not so good. This is the first Holiday Inn Express I have stayed in that provided Bath & Body Works amenities. This hotel had a few other improvements too, and I hope that these improvements are coming to all Holiday Inn Express hotels, and not just this one!

A full length mirror, suitcase bench, and open closet were located in the area outside of the bathroom. The closet contained a folding luggage rack, iron, and ironing board.

The guestroom included a small fridge, microwave, flatscreen TV on an armoire, two-tier desk with a lamp and chair, soft chair and footstool, floor lamp, king size bed with 5 pillows, and nightstands with lamps and a lighted alarm clock.

The bed, pillows, and bedding in this guestroom were good quality and very comfortable. This was by far the most comfortable Holiday Inn Express bed I have slept in--and, I have slept in many! When housekeeping had the guestroom doors propped open during cleaning, I could see that it looked like all of the beds in this hotel have a nice quality mattress pad.

The desk chair was also comfortable. I did not sit in the soft chair, although my husband said it was comfortable.

The guestroom was well-lit and well-soundproofed. The Internet connection speed was acceptable.

Food & Beverage
This hotel offers a complimentary Manager's Reception with snacks and beverages on Monday - Thursday. This was briefly mentioned in reviews I read from others before our stay; however, the reviews did not provide any detail--not even the day of the week, and I could not find any information about this on the IHG Holiday Inn Express website. I did find this amenity listed on the Stay in Sheboygan web page. Just click on the Holiday Inn Express icon to see the listing.

When we checked in, the agent gave us each two beverage coupons. She said something about my status when she gave us the coupons, so I am not sure if the quantity we received is specific to Platinum status guests, or if everyone received the same amount. The alcoholic beverage choices included a couple of Wisconsin area beers, which my husband was happy to try. I tried the red wine, which I did not care for. When the employee serving the beverages gave me my glass, she said that she would be happy to give me something else, if I did not like the wine (I had inquired what kind it is beforehand, and I did not recognize the brand). Basic mixed drinks were also available. I observed Bacardi rum, Gordon's vodka, and Hornito's Reposado tequila. I believe that whiskey and gin were also available, although I do not recall the brand names.

Soda pop was available, and the snacks were better quality than what I usually see served at this type of reception. There were a few different kinds of cheeses, meat pieces, cheese spread, crackers, fresh vegetables with dip, and chips with dip.

Breakfast in the morning included the basic Holiday Inn Express items: cold cereal, instant oatmeal,  hard boiled eggs, yogurt, pancake maker, scrambled eggs, cinnamon rolls, white breads, juices, milk, coffee, and tea.

Pool area
The pool is located next to the lobby and breakfast area with windows in between. I did not notice that this hotel does not have a whirlpool until after our arrival. A whirlpool does not matter to me when I am traveling for business; however, my husband always likes to have one when we are traveling for leisure.

Fitness center
I did not use the fitness center during this stay, although I noticed on the hotel website, that it says it is open 24 hours! That is always a plus for me, since I live in the Eastern time zone.

Misc. and overall
This hotel is located across from a Harley Davidson store, and a couple of fast food restaurants. Wal-Mart is located next door. It is next to the expressway with easy on and off access. We did not hear any traffic noise from the guestroom.

I was very comfortable at this hotel, and I will definitely choose it again the next time that I am in the area. All of the employees at this hotel were professional, and they made us feel welcome. I think that this hotel is a step ahead of most Holiday Inn Express hotels in regard to comfort, amenities, and hotel professionalism. It is always nice to receive a room upgrade; however, it is the way the employee handles this perk that really makes the difference. This was a leisure stay with points, and I do not know if that had a bearing on the order that upgrades were given out. This hotel was full the night of our stay, and I was happy that staff at least acknowledged my preferences, and met those requests.

I am in the process of writing a review for a Hampton Inn stay where staff members did not acknowledge my status or preferences in a professional manner when the hotel was full, and now I am trying to decide if I want to change an upcoming stay that I have at a different Hampton Inn to a Holiday Inn Express because this one was so comfortable. On the Holiday Inn Express website, it says that this hotel was recently renovated. It is possible that some of the new experiences listed here will be changed at other properties as they are updated...

Thursday, August 8, 2013

SS Badger Lake Michigan Car Ferry

July 2013, Tuesday, one-way for two adults and one vehicle, 9:00 a.m. departure
Ludington, Michigan to Manitowoc, Wisconsin

Purchasing and check-in
We made our reservation over the telephone because we had a 20% coupon, and there was not a way to enter the coupon online. Reservations can be made and paid for on the SS Badger website, if you do not have a physical coupon. We made a $25 deposit during the reservation process, and then we had to present the coupon to pay the balance due before departure. We were told to arrive at the dock at 8:00 a.m.

We arrived in Ludington the day before, so we decided to stop and take care of our payment then, so we did not need to do it in the morning. Our payment was quickly processed, and the agent who assisted me said that our tickets would be at the boarding door at the back of the ship, when we arrived the next morning. I had sent an email to the reservation office to ask if we could complete the payment beforehand. I received a pleasant reply stating that the office is open until 9:00 p.m. 

We arrived shortly after 8:00 a.m. the day of our departure. The vehicle lines were not too long. Personnel directed us to a lane, requested our name, and then instructed us where to leave the car and board the ship. Passengers did not drive their own vehicle on board, although passengers with motorcycles did. Passengers with motorcycles were directed to a different area with their bikes, which they then rode on board.

We were on board fairly quickly, and easily found a comfortable seat out front in the sun.

view from the front
Seating areas
The front of the ship has high sides, which is great for blocking the wind. It was kind of cool the day that we went across. The seats in the front area included lounge chairs, stacked plastic chairs, and a few plastic adirondack chairs. We did not have any trouble finding a seat in this area when we arrived, or when we returned later.

I thought the adirondack chairs were the most comfortable of these choices, although not many people used them. They were in the very front, behind the observatory step, so I wonder if people did not notice them. When I got my chair, it was wet, so I went inside to get paper towel to dry it. The chair was not dirty; it looked like everything was wet because it had been cleaned before we boarded.

The lounge chairs were the older style white plastic loungers with blue covering. A few of the chairs were damaged, and the backs could not be adjusted on the loungers with broken or missing parts. Many guests used the stackable chairs, which could be easily moved to different areas outside, depending on the passenger's preference.

We sat out front for a while, and then we moved to the back of the ship, down one level. The seats in this area were also in the sun, and completely protected from the wind. The seats were similar to seats I have seen in train stations--a row of attached seats. The seated were rounded, and slightly cushioned. They were comfortable for a while.

After this, we moved to a table inside at the back of the ship, back up on the top level. This room has windows on all of the outside walls, so we had a good view. We sat there for quite a while, as we had something to eat, and enjoyed the view. After we were seated in this area, we wished we had brought a deck of cards with us.

There were other seating choices, which we did not try: rows of cushioned seats inside on the lower level near the back, inside tables and seats in front of this area when Badger Bingo was played, and seats in the movie theater.

Food & Beverage
We had brought a sandwich on board, and we each purchased a beverage on board--a vodka and orange juice, and a Bloody Mary. The beverages were $4.50 for a drink with Gordon's vodka, or $5 for one with Absolut. Of course, we opted for the Absolut! The drinks were a decent size, and they tasted great.

Gift shop
I browsed in the gift shop, although I did not see anything I wanted to purchase. One passenger on board won a credit at the gift shop. Each reservation document came with a raffle ticket to fill out and enter for this prize.

Arrival and Debarkation
Manitowoc Harbor
We arrived in the Manitowoc harbor at 12:02 p.m. (our scheduled arrival time was noon). The boat was docked, and we were off the boat by 12:15. We got off the boat near the start, and passengers were still disembarking for another 10 minutes or so. Even though the car runners hustled back and forth to get the vehicles off, we still had to wait 15 minutes for our car. Most of the cars had been unloaded by this time, although there were still many people waiting.

The vehicle line to board when we left Manitowoc was very long! I was surprised to see so many vehicles in line when it was still 1/2 hour before they needed to arrive. I guess they were excited to get to Michigan.

Misc. and overall
We enjoyed this trip very much. The boat is spacious, and even though the trip takes four hours, we did not become restless. We were comfortable, the ride was smooth, and we felt safe. With our 20% coupon, the cost was about $175 for a one-way trip for two adults, and one vehicle. This was more than $100 less than what we had planned to spend to ride the Lake Express back. The cost for the same trip on the Lake Express was $288. The Lake Express, however, cancelled our trip in a very unprofessional manner. Here is the link to that review.

Every Badger employee that I had contact with was exceptional! Everyone was professional and helpful. In comparison, the Lake Express employees I had contact with were neither professional nor helpful. In addition to the Badger employees that we had contact with while boarding, and on board, I called the Badger twice before our trip, I had email contact with them, and I stopped in the ticketing office the day before our trip.

This was our second trip on the Badger. Our first experience was about 20 years ago from Manitowoc to Ludington. We had a good trip at that time with two children--our son and nephew, and things have not changed much since then.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Ludington, Michigan / Summer's Inn

July 2013, Weekday, 1-night, Queen deluxe room #14

I could not find check-in times on the website, and I did not receive the confirmation email after I had made our reservation on the telephone, so I sent an email to the hotel before our stay to ask about this. The reply provided our confirmation details; however, there was no reference to check-in time or my other question (I had also asked if there is a hairdryer in the guestroom).

We arrived between 2:30 and 3:00, and our room was ready. Suzette cheerily checked us in, as she provided information about the property and Ludington area.

Guestroom #14
This guestroom is located in the same building wing as the office, which is in the West building. There is parking in front of the entrance door, and two outside chairs were set up between each guestroom.

The guestroom was spacious and tastefully decorated. It contained a flatscreen TV on the wall, a low armoire, two chairs, a small coffee table, queen size bed, two nightstands attached to the wall, a clock, and lights at the head of the bed. There was a hanging lamp in the seating area. A few hangers were hanging on hooks behind the door, and there was a large mirror on the floor near the armoire leaned up against the wall. 

The large windows along the entrance wall had dark closing blinds for privacy. There were nice looking wood blinds high on the opposite wall by the bed. There were windows behind the blinds; however, the blinds were permanently attached, so we could not open the windows. A wall HVAC unit was mounted on the wall under these windows. The floor was laminate wood with a throw rug/runner at the entrance, and a rug in the seating area.

The bathroom was tiny. It contained a tile walk in shower, a toilet, sink, small amount of counter space, ice bucket with plastic cups, and a basic quality hairdryer mounted on the wall.

The shower was a good size; it was just the outside area that was small. There was no light in the shower, so it was kind of dark with the curtain shut. There was not an exhaust fan in the bathroom, so we were glad that the bathroom window opened. 

The guestroom had several well thought out items, such as a box of tissues, folding luggage rack, clean towels and washcloths, good quality bedding, and the lights over the bed.

The guestroom was comfortable until we went to bed. The bed was extremely hard, and we had a difficult time sleeping. In addition to the hard bed, the guest in the next room (#16, I believe), had the TV on almost constantly. We were awakened at 4:50 a.m. when he turned the set back on in the morning. I did not expect to encounter any disturbing noise, because when we booked our stay, the inn was listed as "adults only," and quiet times were posted on the website. The website is in the process of being updated since our stay, and I no longer see that information online. The Summer's Inn website looks nicer now, and it will probably provide even more valuable information than it did before our stay.

The guestroom was clean and well maintained for the most part. We observed only a few minor oversights: The entrance rug contained several small bits of debris, there was a hair on the register in the bathroom, and the floor strip between the bedroom and bathroom was missing. A piece of strong tape was on the floor between the rooms. 

Food & Beverage
The inn offers three room options: just the room, room with continental breakfast, or room with hot breakfast. We opted for just the room, so I do not have any breakfast details to share.

Good quality coffee and tea with condiments was available in the office after 7:00 a.m. Suzette had told us that this is usually ready between 7:00 and 7:30, and it was out when my husband checked shortly after seven.

The inn sells Michigan wine, and they offer wine tastings. Suzette had told us that there is wine tasting from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. when we checked in. When we arrived at 4:00, we saw a sign on the counter that said wine tasting was available after 2:00. Wine tasting prices were listed on the sign, although I see that the new website says that wine tasting is free. I thought we could have gone earlier than 4:00, after we had noticed the sign; however, the new website also has the wine tasting times listed as 4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. We purchased a bottle of wine, which actually costed a few dollars more than what it sells for in the local market. We were not charged for the wine tasting though, and the inn had everything ready for us when we returned that evening--the wine was the right temperature, and they provided two wine glasses for us to use in the room or in the garden.

Amenities and Secret Garden
There is an ice machine and microwave in the East wing of the inn. A spacious sitting area and pond are located behind this wing. It contained several cushioned seats and tables. The pond view was beautiful and serene. Some of the guestrooms in this wing overlook the garden. We did not see anyone in this area both times that we visited, even though there were several vehicles in the parking lot.

An inside library room in the South wing is accessible from the garden, or from the South parking lot. We did not initially realize and see the inside sitting room/library from the garden because we did not see a sign. We then remembered that our host had told us about the library when we checked in. We easily found where it is located when we returned to the garden, and looked for it.

Misc. and overall
This inn is located one mile from Lake Michigan on the North side of the road. It was an easy walk to town for dining and shopping. We had found a post on TripAdvisor for a guestroom special of $69. The $69 guestroom was a small queen bedded room with no sitting area, so we paid $10 more for the deluxe queen guestroom. I was happy with the price that we paid, and if plush mattress pads were to be added to the beds, we would stay here again!