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12:00 p.m. - December 07, 2006
Motel Room In My Bed
I’ve been traveling some lately, and coming up I’m taking some trips in January, February, March AND April, before I settle down for a while (HOPEFULLY!)

Couple those business trips with the family trip to Kansas and Oklahoma, and I’ve spent a lot of time in hotel rooms recently.

And you know, I think I know what I like in them, and what I don’t like. So let me illuminate you (as if you have a choice – “No Smed! No – Don’t tell us! Keep it your little secret!”).

This comes to mind with the room I had in Lansing (actually Okemos) just recently.

It was in the Comfort Suites, and it was a nice size room with a nice, large bed. However, there were some things that I wasn’t too pleased with. Some of these are little things, but when you actually have to do work while traveling they’re quite frustrating. But some are pretty big things.

I thought it had a wireless internet connection, but instead you needed an Ethernet cable. That’s not a huge deal, but they had wireless in the lobby. So why not wireless available in each room?

Oh, and the Ethernet connection plug was loose and it took a lot finagling to get it plugged in there. Of course, the plug was under the desk so you had to bend down and hope that you wouldn’t hit your head when you were done fiddling around with it.

Then when you were connected, and you left your computer for an hour or so then came back to it – it booted you out and you had to reconnect through the hotel’s web site before you could resume internetting.

Television was also a minor inconvenience. Rarely do they have channel listings where you can easily find them. The ones for this hotel were listed on the back of the remote, but unless you were bright enough to look there you just had no idea what channel was what so it was a lot of mindless flipping about.

At least they offered a lot of channels. There are some chains (cough…cough…Mariott) where in the high end hotels they really offer limited cable channels so you’d pony up for the movie selections.

And we all KNOW what movies are the most popular in hotels. I mean, why do you think they took away the free previews?

I always hate it when they have the coffee maker unplugged, but it’s not obvious that it’s unplugged, since the cord is tucked away. So in the morning, you put the little filter thingy-dooper in the filter holder, and get the water and then hit the button…and…

NOTHING!

Oh, dumbass – it needs to be plugged in. More often than not, this happens to me.

On longer stays, I often have issues with the cleaning people forgetting to restock the coffee supply, especially decaf. I often have to sneak to the maid’s card and get enough decaf for my stay. (I also get some more of the little bottles of shampoo. You never know when you’ll need them!)

This hotel also was pretty big and labyrinthine. When I got my free breakfast and wanted to get back to my room, I went down the wrong hallway and got all turned around. I doubled back on myself. I definitely felt like yelling “Hello, Cleveland!” as loud as I could!

But the major gripes about this one were the bed and the heat in the room.

The bed was nice and big, but the mattress was kind of funky, and my back got a little sore. And the pillows were kind of flat.

I’m a two pillow man, but I really needed three, and they hid the extra pillow where you had to send out a search party for them. At least they had an extra pillow. Sometimes, you have to call down for an extra pillow, and the staff always has this air of “Oh, two pillows aren’t good enough for you, eh?”

As for the mattress, I know some people prefer a hard mattress and some a soft mattress, but I think that the hotels should at least aim for the middle ground, so people who really like one style or another can get half of what they want.

But the biggest hinky thing in the room was the heat. When I arrived in there, I noticed it was hot, so I turned down the heater a bit.

It was still hot about 20 minutes later, so I turned off the heater and turned on the fan.

After an hour, when I got back from some work I had to do, it was STILL hot. So on went the air conditioning.

I finally had to crank the A/C on full blast to get it reasonable.

Mind you, this was December, in Michigan. There was snow on the ground, and it was 20 degrees outside. And I had the flippin’ A/C on in my room. Yeesh!

Normally, I like hotels like the Comfort Inn, or Fairfield, or something in that realm. When I’m on the road, a lot of times I’ve stayed at Super 8’s and Days Inn and they’ve been nice, too. Just give me a bed, some TV, some free decaf, and a place to get online and I’m cool. A free breakfast just takes it over the top!

But I do realize that sometimes the local owners can make or break a hotel. When Liz and I were dating, we went to my brother’s wedding in Pennsylvania, and I meandered back. We got caught in a major thunderstorm on some West Virginia back roads, and were white knuckling it all the way to Elkins. We found an Econo Lodge there, and the room was very nice, and clean, and we had a good experience there.

Fast forward a few years later and Liz and I are off to Ellsworth, Maine for a vacation at a B & B. We stay the night in Montpelier, Vermont and we opt for an Econo Lodge, because of the good experience in West Virginia.

Oops. I knew I was in trouble when I asked for one bed, and the lady at the counter said, in rather broken English, “No. I give you two for the same price. It’s better.”

Yeah, Liz and I in a small bed – that’ll work. Needless to say, we were gripy and grouchy all night. Plus the air conditioner sounded like it had emphysema (it was just a standard window unit, not one of those that looks like a baseboard or anything). The only saving grace - that is the only reason we didn’t kill each other in a bloody scene that Detective Goren would have a field day in solving – was that we stumbled across a great documentary, narrated by Roddy McDowell, on the making of all of the Planet of the Apes movies. (The good ones, not the stinker made a few years ago.)

Get your paws off of me, you damn dirty ape!

Many times, for conferences, I stay in the big wheel, fancy / schmancy hotels. For the Datatel Conference in DC, the hotel costs over $200 a night!

And you know, a lot of times those big wheel hotels aren’t as good as the medium priced ones like the Comfort Inn. I mean, there’s no free breakfast, you have to PAY for internet access, and as I said before they sometimes limit your TV options. Plus, I mean, a bed’s a bed, as long as it’s comfortable, and having a bathrobe in the room (that you can’t take home, anyway) doesn’t make up for the fact that if you want breakfast, and don’t want to leave your hotel, you’re going to have to pay at least $10 or so for something halfway decent and better than just cereal or toast.

(BTW – I’m a guy that can not order cereal in a restaurant. Oh, I’ll eat cereal from a continental breakfast, but I can’t ORDER it. Mainly because when I do eat cereal I have a tendency to get about 2 to 3 bowls worth in order to soak up all of the milk, and you can’t do that when you PAY for it.)

So there you have it – I’m not a hotel snob, but I know what I want!

And really, if you have enough free mini-cheese Danishes, then I’ll be satisfied!

 

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