Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Novi, Michigan / Sheraton Detroit Novi

March 2014, Weekend, 1-night, Points stay - 7,000 points, King club floor guestroom #705

Status perks and check-in
Before our stay at the SheratonI received a personalized pre-arrival letter from JessicaThe Starwood website says that Gold members receive an, "enhanced room at check-in, when available," so when I replied to the email, I made a request for a club floor guestroom. I was told that it is usually $25 for a club floor guestroom for non-platinum guests, and that this fee would be waived for us.

We arrived around 2:15 p.m., and were able to check in early. The agent provided friendly and professional service, although she did not ask which welcome gift I wanted (bonus Starpoints, complimentary in-room Internet access, or a complimentary beverage). She provided the key packet with the Internet code. It appears that Internet access is included with a club floor guestroom, because I also received the 250 bonus points after my stay.

Guestroom 705
This guestroom is located on the top floor about half way between the elevator and the north end of the hallway. It is on the west side, and the view faces away from the road. Unfortunately, we did not get to see the sunset that evening, because the sky was 100% cloudy.

The guestroom had been remodeled with good quality furnishings. The closet by the entrance contained a plush bathrobe, hangers, a folding luggage rack, an iron, ironing board, and a hairdryer. The hairdryer had a diffuser attachment. A full length mirror was mounted on the wall by the entrance.

The carpet and wallpaper in the geustroom were good quality. The king size bed was comfortable, and the bedding and pillows were superb. Two nightstands with a clock, telephone, and lamps were located on either side of the bed.

The guestroom contained a flatscreen TV on an armoire, desk and leather chair, soft chair and footstool, an end table, and a floor lamp. The guestroom photos on the hotel website show two soft chairs in the guestroom, and this room only contained one soft chair.

The chair at the desk was one of the most comfortable hotel room desk chairs I have ever sat in. A second telephone was located on the desk. The desk lamp had two outlets in the base; however, they were positioned so that the were not usable with larger plugs. Another outlet was available on the wall beside the desk.

The Internet connection speed in the guestroom was good. I had connected to the Internet in the lobby before going to the guestroom, and I did not need an access code in the lobby. The first time that I used my laptop in the guestroom, I did not need to enter the access code when I agreed to the terms and conditions; however, I needed to enter it later that day, and then again each time that I used the Internet after  this.

The pre-arrival email I had received mentioned the hotel renovations, and the addition of safes in the guestrooms; however, this guestroom did not have a safe. The email said, "The renovations include finely appointed guest rooms including new showers and in-room safes..." Safe is not listed as a guestroom amenity on the hotel website, so I do not know if the email was incorrect, or whether these had not been added yet.

The coffee setup on the desk included Starbucks coffee (2 packets of decaf, and 1 regular), liquid creamer, and 2 bottles of water. A steel ice bucket and glass glasses were located on the end table. A bottle of spring water with the ice bucket was not included. The cost for the spring water was $3.

The small bathroom was functional, although there was not much room to move around. It was tastefully decorated with good quality wallpaper, flooring, tile around the bathtub, and a massaging shower head. A shower curtain was hung on a curved rod.

Bath amenities were located on the vanity and on the edge of the tub. The water pressure and temperature were good.

Although the guestroom comfort was great, the lighting outside of the bathroom was not very good. I thought the light at the entrance needed to be at least twice as bright as it was. This is where the full length mirror was located, and also where there was room for the luggage rack. It was difficult to see items in my suitcase.

Club Lounge
The club lounge was closed for renovations during our visit. I imagine this is part of the reason we were able to receive a club floor upgrade without paying the $25 fee. Some amenities were setup in the hallway outside of the elevator. A cooler contained sodas, water, and milk. Granola bars, small packages of chips, apples, and oranges were on a table next  to the cooler. Two or three tables with a couple of chairs had been placed against the wall. Evening hors d’oeuvres were not served, although breakfast foods were available in the morning. Breakfast foods included pancakes, deli meats, salmon, crab claws, cheeses, breads, cereal, oranges, bananas, orange juice, coffee, and tea.

I thought the hotel had made good use of the resources available since the lounge was closed; however, I think that when a hotel provides restaurant coupons in lieu of club access, it is more impressive. Such as, what I received at the Palmer House Hilton or the Atlanta Gateway Marriott.

Food & Beverages
We had two menu items in the lounge. The flavor, food quality, and pricing were all good. We had sushi and a Reuben sandwich, which were around $10 each. Neither of these items were listed in the regular menu; they were both listed in a promotional menu. Our server provided friendly service, although the service did not meet all of our needs. Our empty water glasses were not refilled during the meal, and we did not receive two sets of silverware with napkins. Silverware was not actually needed for either of the food items we ordered (we had received chopsticks); however, we both definitely needed napkins. Our server was absent from the bar most of the time, so we were not able to request a second set of silverware or a water refill. I do not know if he was also serving guests in the dining room, or what the problem was.
somewhat fuzzy picture of the
lobby seating area next to the lounge

Business center
Several computers and a printer were setup in an area next to the lounge. Each computer had a credit card reader attached to it; however, I did not need to swipe my card to access the Internet or to print a 2-page document.

Misc. and overall
We thought this hotel was very comfortable. We did not use the pool area because it was quite full with families. A pizza delivery person arrived when we were in the lounge, and delivered several pizzas to the pool area. The pool area is located on the bottom floor. It is partially visible from the lobby level when looking through the windows around the edge.

On the Border is located next to the hotel, and there was a Chili's at the other end of the parking lot. Best Buy and Dicks Sporting Goods are located in this area, also. I observed McDonalds and a gas station across the street from the hotel.

On the Border had just started a new brunch menu at the time of our stay, and we ate there in the afternoon before we checked in. We had the Breakfast Relleno, the Breakfast Burrito, and $3 Bloody Marys. The flavor of all items was excellent, and this meal was an excellent value.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Grand Rapids, Michigan / JW Marriott

We have stayed at the Grand Rapids JW Marriott  several times, and this is our favorite hotel in the area. I had not started this blog yet, the first time that I stayed in this hotel after it opened in 2007. My Marriott status was Silver at that time, and we received a fabulous corner room on one of the higher floors overlooking the river. I have had Gold or Platinum status for all of my stays since then. I received an upgrade to the concierge floor every time except for when my status was Silver. This review was our first 2-night stay in this hotel.

Here is a link to some of my previous reviews: September 2012April 2011 and February 2011. We also stayed in this hotel in 2010 and 2013; however, I must not have written reviews after those stays. 

March 2014, Weekend, 2-nights, Concierge king guestroom #2311

Status perks and check-in
sunrise from guestroom
The day before our arrival, I saw online that our guestroom had already been upgraded to a room on the concierge floor. I was checking because I had wanted to fill out the virtual concierge form to request early check-in; however, this option was not available less than 24 hours before arrival. A friend told me that he was able to do this on the day of his arrival; however, I did not re-check our reservation the morning before we arrived.

Even though I had not filled out the request form, we did not have any trouble checking in early. We arrived shortly after 2 p.m, and we were able to check-in. The agent provided friendly and professional service.

view from guestroom
Guestroom 2311 has a view of the city. I like to have a view of the city from the guestroom because then we can also see the sunrise, as well as the sunset and river, which are visible from the concierge lounge. I used to think that a river view guestroom was nicer; however, since the river is visible from the lounge, I like having a city view guestroom. I have actually never had a guestroom in this hotel that I did not like.

The guestroom had a wooden floor entrance where the closet and beverage center were located. The lighted closet contained hangers, two plush bathrobes, a folding luggage  rack, and an iron and ironing board.

The beverage center contained a single-serve coffeemaker with supplies, two small bottles of water, a steel ice bucket, glass glasses, and a small fridge. Condiments with the coffee included liquid creamer. A large safe was located in the drawer under the counter.

The marble bathroom across from the entrance contained a shower and a deep tub. Bath amenities, a scale, and a hairdryer were located on and under the vanity across from the tub. The towels were good quality. None of the guestrooms in this hotel that I have stayed in have very much counter space in the bathroom. The corner guestrooms have a larger shower. One frustration we had in this guestroom was flushing the toilet; we had to hold the handle down. This did not seem like a big deal at the start of our stay; however, by the end of our 2-night stay, it was somewhat annoying.

The bedding and bed comfort were superb. The sheets were good quality, and the guestroom was well-soundproofed. I was glad for the thick walls and sound barrier on the bottom of the guestroom door because we had two rooms of families next to us the second night (at least 4 to 10 kids total in the area). We heard a lot of conversation and doors shutting earlier in the evening, and fortunately, we did not hear anything after we went to bed that night.

Two nightstands with a clock and telephone were located on either side of the king size bed. Lamps were attached to the wall above the nightstands, and two reading lights were located at the head of the bed.

The guestroom also contained a bench at the foot of the bed, a chaise lounge, an end table with lamp, a soft straight-backed chair, desk and chair, and a flatscreen TV on an armoire. A second telephone was on the desk. The furnishings were the same as they had been in the other guestrooms we have stayed in.

Our room was not automatically cleaned during stayover. We had the "do not disturb" sign on the door in the early morning, until we left the guestroom shortly after 10:30 a.m. We heard and observed housekeeping in the hallway before we left, so we thought our room would be cleaned after we removed the sign and left the guestroom. When we returned around 2:30 p.m., our room had not been cleaned, and I did not observe a housekeeping cart in the hall. We observed a housekeeping cart in the hall a bit later when we left for the pool, and then we observed a small cart in the hallway, possibly the one used for turndown service, around 4:30 p.m. No one stopped at our guestroom after this, so shortly after 4:30 p.m., I decided that I better call for service. It was after 5:30 p.m. before our room was cleaned, and we received turndown service at the same time. Turndown service included two small chocolates on the tray.

Concierge lounge
Breakfast foods in the concierge lounge were the same both mornings: fresh fruits--whole and sliced, packaged yogurt, fresh yogurt with granola, cold cereals, cheeses, cold meats, salmon, hard boiled brown eggs, bagels, breads, and pastries. There was a cappuccino machine, in addition to coffee, tea, milks, juices, and bottled water.

The food both evenings was similar. There were two prepared food items: crostini topped with chicken, and  puff pastries the first night. The second night, the crostinis were topped with corn, and the second food item was some type of baked or lightly fried round cheese balls. Cheeses with crackers and dried apricots were also available. Dessert was brought out after 7:30 p.m. The food was a huge disappointment since we had received things like sushi, shrimp, and pot stickers in the past. Good quality beverages could be purchased for $5, and the first three beer or wine beverages were complimentary. The service in the lounge was excellent.

The lounge was accessible 24 hours. The cooler was stocked with non-alcoholic beverages, like soda and water, and there were three tins with snack foods--mixed nuts, and trail mix type foods.

Pool area
The pool and spa are located on the third floor. The pool and whirlpool tub were spacious, although the area was quite full with families every time that we tried to visit. We were able to use the whirlpool tub once. It was clean, and the temperature was perfect. We also used the eucalyptus steam room, which we thought was great. The pool towels were thick, plush JW embroidered towels.

The Home & Garden Show, and the Little Black Dress Party were going on during our stay. The JW offered an excellent promotional rate the nights of our stay, which is why we decided to stay two nights instead of one. Parking is $16 a night for self-parking. I have seen parking discounts for the hotel in the past, although we did not see any for the nights of our stay.

The skywalk, which goes from DeVos Place to Van Andel Arena, is easily accessible from the second floor of the JW. The Marriott Courtyard is less than one mile from the JW via the skywalk. It has been several years since we have stayed at the Courtyard, and we have a visit planned there this summer. There are many restaurants, bars, museums, and more within walking distance of both hotels. We walked to the new Grand Rapids downtown market, which is just over two miles away.