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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Venice Florida / Hampton Inn & Suites Venice Bayside South Sarasota

December 2013, Weekend-weekday, 2-nights, King suite #309

Status perks and check-in
I received the basic Hilton Honors gold perks at Hampton Inn & Suites Venice Bayside South Sarasota; the bonus points I have chosen on my profile. The check-in process was smooth, although I was not happy with checkout, which I have covered a bit later in this review. 

I reserved a suite at this hotel because I found an excellent rate for $115. I had read that the rooms needed to be remodeled, and that remodeling was in process until January 2014. I called before our stay to ask if the suites had been remodeled yet, and I was told no. When I checked in, the agent told me that she had been able to get me a suite on the top floor like I had requested. She said that unfortunately, the suites had not been remodeled yet. I was somewhat worried about what our guestroom would be like, since some areas of the hotel were definitely in remodeling chaos. Another guest in the elevator voiced the same concerns.

Even though the suite had not been remodeled before our stay, we were happy with the guestroom. It was spacious and clean. It had a connecting room door in the kitchen area, which did not present any noise problems. The guestroom overlooks the pool and courtyard. We could hear minor noise from the pool area with the windows open. I thought that one of the corner suites, like guestroom 352, would have been a better location; however, my husband liked being able to see the pool. I would not want to have a guestroom on the bottom floor in the corner by the whirlpool tub (rooms 111 & 113), because the rooms did not seem very private. The windows were quite close to the tub, so guests needed to keep the curtains fully closed so that no one could see in. 

Suite 309 entered into an open kitchen and living room area. A low counter/bar served as a table with two accompanying chairs. The kitchen contained a full size fridge, cupboards with dishes, two burners, microwave, sink with garbage disposal, and dishwasher. A small coffeemaker with supplies, and a package of microwave popcorn were also provided. Everything was clean when we arrived; however, apparently the hotel does not spray for ants. Even though we were on the 3rd floor, the dishwasher became full of ants a few hours after we had placed used dishes inside. We did not think the washer was full enough to run the wash cycle, so we ran them through the rinse cycle, which took care of the problem. 

Later, we found out a few things in the kitchen did not work: the large burner, the light over the sink, and the ice maker in the freezer. We made adjustments to accommodate our needs as we encountered each situation. Our dinner (seafood boil) the second evening took longer to cook than expected, since we initially tried to use the large burner, and then we had to use the large pan on the small burner.

During checkout, I mentioned the non-working items to the front desk agent, and she did not care! I politely told her that I knew that guestrooms were being remodeled; however, since I did not know when they would get to this guestroom or which furnishings would be replaced, I wanted to make her aware of the things that did not work in the guestroom. She merely said that they are being remodeled and returned to her computer work. I did not receive any kind of apology, thank you, or closing remark. This was one of the most uncaring and aloof checkout experiences I have ever had. It is a good thing that most Hampton Inn employees I have contact with do not behave like this woman!

The living room contained a sofa, chair, end table, coffee table, flatscreen TV on an armoire, and a suitcase bench. The furnishings looked old, and they were not very comfortable. The hotel website no longer says that the hotel is being remodeled; however, the guestroom photos at the time I am writing this review, still look the same as they did during our stay.

There was a large closet in the short hallway that led to the bedroom and bathroom. The bedroom contained a king-size bed, nightstands with lamps, another closet, and a second flatscreen TV on an armoire. The bed and pillows were comfortable. There was an HVAC unit and controls in both the living room and in the bedroom. The bedroom had a sliding louvered door, which could be closed.

A vanity was located outside of the bathroom with a decent amount of counter space and shelves underneath. The ice bucket and hand soap were set on the vanity. A hairdryer was mounted on the wall. The floor was carpet in this area.

There was a door on the bathroom, and the room was a good size. A second corner vanity and mirror were located in the bathroom. The corner mirror was nice, although the vanity in this room did not have much counter space. Three hooks were mounted on the wall above the toilet.

A tub/shower combination with a shower curtain on a curved rod was located across from the toilet and vanity. An additional hook was mounted on the back of the door. Complete Hampton Inn bathing amenities had been provided along with several towels and washcloths.

view from inside the bathroom

Food & Beverages
The inside seating in the breakfast area was limited. There were also a couple of tables just outside of the breakfast room in the pool area. The tables were clean; however, there were ashtrays outside, so we opted to eat inside.

The first morning, we must have arrived near the end of the initial offering of cheesy omelets. The omelets did not look or taste fresh, and there were not many out. After we tried this food item, fresh vegetable omelets were brought out. Scrambled eggs were served in place of the omelets the second morning.

Other items included both mornings were cereal, hot oatmeal with toppings, waffle maker, breads and bagels, muffins, one meat, mixed fruit, yogurt, and coffee and juices. I assume that sausage gravy and biscuits were also served as they usually are at Hampton Inn, although I do not recall for sure.

Complimentary coffee was available next to the front desk 24 hours.

Business center
The business center consisted of one computer with a printer near the front desk and breakfast room. I did not use anything from the business center during our stay.

click photo to enlarge for detail
The pool photos in the hotel website, are an accurate representation of this area. The sun shone more in the pool area earlier in the day than it did in the afternoon.

The area was clean and well maintained. We stayed in six different hotels during this trip, and this Hampton Inn was one of the cleanest properties we stayed in. I thought that was impressive given the remodeling conditions. I observed someone clean the pool area both mornings. He washed all of the outside tables with spray cleaner, and even the outsides of the trash cans. He then set out folded towels on the lounge chairs like what is shown in the photos on the hotel website.
view from floor 3 balcony

There are balconies with seats that overlook the pool/courtyard on floors two and three. It appears that all of the guestrooms at this hotel are non-smoking and that smoking is allowed outside, since ashtrays were provided on the outside tables around the pool and on the balcony.

Misc. and area information
This hotel is located exactly where my GPS said it was located, although we thought the Hampton Inn sign was not easily visible when we approached from the south. Fortunately, there are two road entrances off 41; one before the Hampton Inn sign, and one after the sign.

The sidewalk entrance off 41 from the
Hampton Inn to Legacy Trail
There are many walking and bicycling trails that are easily accessible from the Hampton Inn. Patriots Park is located on Venetia Bay Blvd. in front of the hotel. There is a small pond and walkway at this park. 

It is an easy half mile walk from the hotel to The Legacy Trail, which also connects to Venetian Waterway Park. The trails connect  to many other trails and parks, and we only walked a small portion of what is available.
The overpass over 41

Nokomis Community Park, which is located on The Legacy Trail north of the Hampton Inn, has restroom facilities.
click on photo to enlarge for detail

If you take The Legacy Trail south, it turns into Venetian Waterway Park. There is a walkway from the trail over the Intracoastal Waterway at Venice Street that goes to downtown Venice.

Venice mural

Venetian Waterway Park runs along the Intercostal Waterway on both sides, and it goes all of the way to Caspersen Beach Park.

There are several beaches in Venice. There is no charge for parking, and no charge to enter the parks. We did not walk to any of the beaches, although we did drive there by car. We stayed at Caspersen Beach for a few hours. The water is beautiful, and the sand is soft. The sand at all of the beaches we stopped at was black. I asked one local person that we chatted with about this, and he did not know why the sand is black. Many people were sifting for shark's teeth at Caspersen Beach. We did not see any teeth up close, although we did hear people screaming when he or she found one.
Caspersen Beach