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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Binghamton, New York / DoubleTree by Hilton

May 2014, Weekday (Tuesday), One-night, King guestroom #1027

Status perks and check-in
This DoubleTree does not have an executive floor or lounge. I received the standard two bottles of water and a DoubleTree cookie at check-in. The agent did not recap my room type preferences or tell me anything, so I asked what kind of room I was receiving. She said a king room on the top floor. That is my preference, and this was also an upgrade, although she did not tell me this. I had reserved the least expensive guestroom type, and the guestrooms on the top two floors at this hotel are considered "deluxe" guestrooms with a view, and the rate is slightly higher. A corner room, like I received when I stayed at the South Bend, Indiana DoubleTree would have been even nicer! The Hilton Honors floor at this hotel is not on the top floor, so I was not on the HHonors floor. The agent did not tell me this; I realized it when I got on the elevator and saw the HHonors sign.

Guestroom 1027
beverage center in background
This guestroom is located at the end of the hall, although it is not a corner guestroom with windows on two walls, like the guestroom at  the other end of the hall, because it is next to the stairwell. The guestroom was comfortable, and well soundproofed.

The bathroom near the entrance was well-appointed and chic looking. It looked freshly remodeled. Bath amenities were provided on the vanity, and the towels were plush. A hairdryer was also provided, although I do not recall the quality. The bathtub was a tub/shower combination with a massaging shower head, and a shower curtain on a curved rod.

The closet in the entry across from the bathroom contained a safe, iron, ironing board, hangers, and extra bedding.

The beverage center was against the wall in the bedroom area. A double/individual coffee brewer with supplies was available, as well as an ice bucket and glasses. I think there was a small fridge in the cupboard underneath the counter, although I cannot recall for sure, since I did not complete this review right away.

The guestroom also contained a suitcase bench, king size bed, nightstands, desk and chair, flatscreen TV on an armoire, soft chair and footstool, and a floor lamp.

Reading lamps were attached to the bed headboard, and a lighted alarm clock was on one of the nightstands. There were two telephones in the guestroom; one on the desk, and one on one of the nightstands.

All of the furnishings in the guestroom were comfortable.

Food & Beverage
I received a card at check-in for bonus points for dining at the hotel restaurant, so I ordered dinner to-go. When I went to the lounge to place my order, I learned that the hotel was having some type of guest reception. Complimentary bar type snacks were set up (cheese and crackers, and one hot item), and guests were allowed one complimentary beverage. Some guests even had a coupon for their beverage. I did not hear about this when I checked in, and I did not have a coupon. When the personable bartender greeted me, she immediately told me I could have one complimentary beverage, so I enjoyed a glass of wine while I waited for my food. I had forgotten my coupon for the bonus points, and she let me bring it back later for the points.

Fitness center
The fitness center in this hotel is a large, full service, public facility. Even though there were many patrons using the fitness center who were not guests of the hotel, I did not have any trouble finding an open treadmill either time that I visited.

Business center
The business center consisted of a couple of computers and a printer in the lobby near the front desk. I was able to print my boarding pass without any trouble.

guestroom diagram

Thursday, July 10, 2014

BUF airport -- Cheektowaga, New York / Hilton Garden Inn Buffalo Airport

May 2014, Weekday, 1-night, King guestroom #439

Status perks and check-in
When I checked in, I received the standard two bottles of water at this Hilton Garden Inn. Looking at the guestroom diagram, it looks like half of the guestrooms in this hotel are oversized, or they are suites. I did not receive an upgrade to a larger room, and in the 10+ years I have been a Gold member, I only remember receiving an upgrade at a Hilton Garden Inn once. I do not expect an upgrade at hotels every time, although the differences between the Hilton properties surprises me. I receive a room upgrade at full-service Hiltons, and at DoubleTree hotels 99% of the time. I am impressed when that happens, and the fact that Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton Inn do not upgrade like the full-service properties confuses me. It seems like there is a lot of potential for glowing guest satisfaction and reviews, as well as returning customers.

This hotel has five floors, and guestroom 439 is located on the 4th floor at the end of the hall. The room was well soundproofed. I did not hear any noise from the floor above me, or from outside. The hallway noise was minimal. The entrance door to the guestroom automatically shut perfectly. I have stayed in many hotels where the door slams or does not shut all of the way. It was nice to have a guestroom door that was set perfectly and shut quietly!

The doors inside the guestroom also shut on their own, which I did not like as well. I usually like to leave the bathroom door open, especially during the night. I also like to be able to have the closet door open, if I choose to. I have found that when there is a lot of hallway noise, leaving the closet door open when it extends across the guestroom door, helps to block out the noise some. 

The guestroom looked like every other Hilton Garden Inn I have been in. That is one thing I can count on with Hilton Garden Inn--consistency. The guestroom was comfortable and clean.

A closet was located by the entrance door across from the bathroom. It contained a folding luggage rack, and an iron and ironing board.

The dry bar area next to the closet contained a Kuerig coffeemaker with supplies, a small fridge, and a microwave. A full length mirror was hanging on the wall across from the coffee.

The bathroom across from the coffee area and closet was average size. It contained a tub/shower combination across from a long vanity. A shower curtain was hung on a curved shower rod, and the towels were good quality.

A hairdryer was mounted on the wall next to the vanity, and bathing amenities were provided.

The bath amenities were the only thing that I found inconsistent with Hilton Garden Inn. There were three different brands of products, which I have never seen at any hotel before. The lotion was Neutrogena, the brand I usually see at Hilton Garden Inn. The shampoo was Paul Mitchell, the brand I usually see at Fairfield Inn, and the conditioner was Bath & Body Works, the brand I usually see at Holiday Inn. This was not a big deal since I did not use the products anyway, although I thought it was odd.

The bedroom area contained a king size bed, two nightstands, lamps, a large flatscreen TV on an armoire, a soft chair and footstool, small end table, floor lamp, and a desk and chair. There were two telephones in the guestroom; one on one of the nightstands, and one on the desk. The clock on the nightstand had a charging station on top.

The sheets were good quality, and the bed was comfortable and clean. The desk chair was also comfortable, as was everything in this guestroom.

Food & Beverage
Complimentary Zone bars and cookies were available in the lobby in the afternoon. I do not usually eat or drink at Hilton Garden Inn, because I think their food and beverage prices are outrageous, and this hotel was no exception. I made the mistake of ordering a glass of Apothic Red wine at the bar without asking for a wine menu or asking the price. It was $11! I can buy an entire bottle of Apothic Red at my local store for $10. And, I would think a big company like Hilton purchases it for an even better price than that.

Business center
I always like the business centers at Hilton Garden Inn. They have on demand printing, and they are always well stocked with many office supplies. I had a bit of trouble getting my document to print, although it did eventually print. When I entered my print code, it said the document was not found. I had not tried to print it too quickly, because about one half hour had passed from the time I had received my print release code. I was ready to give up after I entered the code three times, and then on my fourth try, the document was found!

Shuttle service & misc.
This hotel is located across from the airport. I had planned to return my rental car after check-in, and then walk back to the hotel or call for the shuttle. When I arrived, I noticed a Hertz lot right next to the hotel. After I checked in, I walked next door, and I was able to return my car to that lot for the same cost as returning it to the airport.

The shuttle service in the morning was prompt. A couple of guests that had signed up for the same departure I was on were delayed. The shuttle driver had a full bus, so he told the front desk agent he would take us, and then be right back to get the last two guests. This worked out for me, because I forgot one of my bags on the shuttle bus when I got off! I realized after I got to the airline counter to check my other bag. I called the hotel, checked my bag, and returned to the drop off area to meet the shuttle driver and retrieve my forgotten bag.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Olean, New York / Hampton Inn

May 2013, Weekday, 3-nights, King guestroom #330

I stayed in this Hampton Inn several years ago, although it must have been before I started this blog. If I had been writing reviews then, it would have helped me remember the area details before this stay!

Status perks and check-in
Even though I have points chosen as my extra perk at Hampton Inn, I still received a bottle of water and a snack at check-in.

When I arrived at the guestroom after checking in, a maintenance person was working in the bathroom. I think he was working on the tub drain. I went back to the front desk to make sure it was going to be okay to have access to my room when he finished. The front desk agent tried to reassign me another guestroom a few doors down. I told her that if room 330 was going to usable after he finished, that I would rather wait for that guestroom. I was going to be staying in this hotel for three nights, and I really liked the room location in the corner. When the maintenance employee finished, he greeted me in the lobby where I was working on my laptop. He apologized, and he offered me a bottle of water and a snack for the delay.

Guestroom 330
This guestroom is located at the end of the hall on the top floor. It was comfortable and clean, although it was not very soundproof. I was glad that I was on the top floor, and that I did not have a guestroom near the elevator. The Internet connection speed in the guestroom was very slow.

The bedroom area contained a wooden suitcase bench, king size bed, nightstands, lamps, flatscreen TV on an armoire, desk and chair, soft chair and footstool, small fridge, microwave, and single-serve coffeemaker with supplies.

A telephone was located on one of the nightstands next to the bed, and a padded lap desk was on the bed.

The bathroom by the entrance door contained a tub/shower combination with a shower curtain on a curved rod. Bathing amenities and an ice bucket were located on the long vanity. Several good quality towels were provided. The toilet had a powerful vacuum-type flush, and I had to hold the handle down every time I flushed the toilet. This did not seem like a big deal at the start of my stay; however, by the end of the three days, having to hold the handle down became quite annoying.

A closet with a mirrored door was located outside of the bathroom. It contained hangers, and an iron and ironing board.

There was some kind of office for the area hospital located in a guestroom diagonally across the hall from this one (#323). Some of the employees working there did not behave as though they were in a hotel. I heard employees chatting in the hall on the way to and from this room at 10:30 p.m., and at 5:30 a.m.

When the door was open one time that I walked by, I observed a desk, and file cabinet type furniture in the guestroom.

Food & Beverage
Typical Hampton Inn breakfast foods were served in the breakfast room by the front desk. A different egg and meat item were served each day. Foods included egg topped muffins, garden omelets, turkey/chicken sausage links, bacon, yogurt, mixed fruit, cut fruit, hard boiled eggs, cold cereal, oatmeal, and a waffle maker.

Fitness center
The fitness center contained three cardio machines; one which was a treadmill. A working flatscreen TV and remote were provided.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Charlevoix, Michigan / Weathervane Terrace Inn and Suites

May 2014, Weekend, One-night, King Jacuzzi guestroom #54

This guestroom is located in the back building on the top floor across from the elevator. It has a connecting room door, and a partial lake view. We were happy with the balcony and the view; however, we wished we had chosen the same price suite guestroom instead of the Jacuzzi guestroom. 

This property is old, and I did not think it was very well maintained or clean. The overall size of the guestroom was spacious.

The bathroom is located near the entrance. Bathing amenities and a hairdryer were provided in the vanity area, although there was no usable counter area. I neglected to take a photo of the vanity. You can somewhat visualize the size of the sink area by looking at the fridge area in the guestroom, as the vanity is located directly behind this. A closet with a mirrored door was located in the vanity area across from the counter. 

The toilet is in a separate room next to the shower. The Jacuzzi tub is located between the shower and bedroom area, and the wall is open. There is a shade hanging next to the tub; however, when my husband tried adjust it, it fell off the ceiling. Fortunately, he was able to reattach it.

unclean tub
We did not use the Jacuzzi tub because it was so filthy. Sometimes, I will use the tub in a hotel guestroom after washing it out myself; however, I did not think any cleaning on my part would have made the tub in this guestroom usable. In addition to the water stains, there was built up dirt around the water jets, which probably would have spurted all over, if we had filled the tub and turned the jets on.

The kitchen/wet bar area contained a small fridge, microwave, coffeemaker and supplies, a sink, ice bucket, and a few dishes in the cupboard.

The spacious sitting and sleeping area contained a king size bed, nightstands, lamps, fireplace, sofa, coffee table, flatscreen TV on an armoire, and a desk and chair. The bedding looked clean, and the bed comfort was acceptable. The sofa comfort and cleanliness were not the best, and the carpet was somewhat discolored from use.

I had trouble getting the Internet to work correctly, and I needed to get the sign on page URL from an employee at the front desk. Occasionally, when I travel, the hotel sign in page does not automatically load or pop-up, and I need to manually type it in, or I need to contact the help desk to give them my IP address. After I typed in the sign on page, and agreed to the terms and conditions, the Internet worked fine.

The sunset view from the balcony was beautiful. All hotels in Michigan are non-smoking; however, the guests next to us were smoking on their balcony. I do not think the non-smoking rule applies to outside areas, like the balcony, although I am not sure.

Pool area and whirlpool tub
The outside pool in front of the check-in building was not open yet for the season during our stay. There was a whirlpool tub in one of the towers in our building. Information about this tub was not in the guestroom directory, and we were not told about it at check-in. I knew about the tub because I had read about it online, so I called the front desk to ask where it is located. The water temperature in the tub was good. The area needed a bit of minor cleanliness attention, although it was not filthy.

Food & Beverages
Continental breakfast was included, and it was served in the main building where the front desk is located. Basic food items were offered: coffee, tea, milk, juice, bananas, cold cereal, oatmeal, waffle maker, and white breads. The breads were individually wrapped as if to keep them fresh longer. Even so, the bread items and the bananas were not fresh.

In the evening, we ate at Stafford's Weathervane Terrace in front of the hotel, which is actually not part of the hotel. The food and service in the restaurant was very good.

Misc. and overall
It is an easy walk to town and even to the grocery store on the south end of town from the hotel. The parking spots in the parking lot at the hotel are very small.

Most of the reviews I read for this property have been good. The main thing we did not like about our stay was the cleanliness of the guestroom. The elevator and stairway were also dirty; however, I was not going to be sleeping in those areas, so that did not bother me as much. We stayed before the start of tourist season, and it did not seem like there was as much attention given to detail during the off-season.