My state of mind on hotels today

So I was reading the Travel with Grant blog today and he states how he is in a funk over hotel programs. I agree and attempted to give my 5 cents. Why because it’s free. Not I’m not a troll on Boardingarea. Well maybe I’m sort of a big fan that is opinionated.

So I share some thoughts on most hotel programs below. Keep in mind that I travel 100 to 125 nights a year on business plus vacations and cruises so yes my dogs hate me. My wife travels 75 to 100 nights as well. She is a real IHG Spire loyalist as am I and am a Spire Ambassador (sounds impressive) but I also branch out with Hilton and Marriott a lot. We both hold Silver status with Marriott and I have Diamond with Hilton as well as Gold with Radisson.

Radisson used to be better but 40k a year is worth keeping the card for an odd night or so plus Gold status. I love Radisson Blu hotels and have stayed at a lot of them all over the world.

Hyatt, I love love them but…not enough properties. So I don’t want to waste my stays there.

Marriott, I want to love them, they have properties everywhere, but it’s too hard to earn top tier status. But…once you do you can earn United Silver. But…the free night certs are limited and expire too quickly. I’ve got about a dozen stays in with them this year so far but as a Silver i wonder why I’m not at other chains where my status is higher.

SPG, you should have already moved your points over to Virgin to Alaska when you had the chance. They also have too many places where the hotel selection it too eclectic and it’s not my thing. Points super valuable but a bit hard to rack up quickly in my world.

IHG, I love IHG. They have properties everywhere, well they are weak in Hawaii (come on IHG). As an IHG credit card holder you get a real free night cert that you can use for a year. In addition they have good promos. I also like buying up in points or cash to Intercontinental status for the free night rebates or status share and free weekend BOGO cert although it’s not always the best deal. The IHG card also gives you Platinum status which is a nicer level than some others.

Choice Hotels. They have been going down hill for years. The Cambria properties offer some hope and I really like them but they don’t have Cambria hotels in most areas. In general they are a fancy Wyndham motel or an Ex-IHG,Marriott,Hilton property. The card is OK I guess but I’m not a fan in general.

Wyndham…..They have lied to me many times on promotions and have for years. They have a few good properties but unless you work on a transient labor crew and are forced to “do time” in Super 8’s  or HOJO’s then they are not a good place to be, trust me.

Best Western. They are like an honest Wyndham with slightly better rooms or maybe equal with Choice. The future is bright for them as they seem to be putting in a real effort to improve the hotels but unless you do business travel in a region where they are all over it’s not my first, second or third choice and I’m Diamond with them (don’t ask).

Hilton. You’ll notice they are lumped at the bottom. If it wasn’t for nicer hotels they would be even with Choice or Best Western. They have devalued SO much I’m not sure where the bottom is. I want to love Hilton but they don’t love me back. The Hampton’s are a weak HIX and they devalue faster than I can earn points and I’m a Hilton Diamond. Sure they offer free breakfast and free wifi but isn’t that like free HBO and air conditioned rooms? They also did away with the double dip in another devaluation. 2017 may have seen some of my last stays with Hilton as I watch my Hilton points currency burning in front me faster than I use it. It’s like the Wiemar Republic of the hotel points world. Maybe I’ll start referring to their points as HHonormarks or RReichmarks.

So bottom line is use the cards from the random hotel chains for the perks and odd location awards but Marriott or IHG should be your future until they follow Hilton to the Neverland Ranch. The dynamics change for certain types of travelers I know and I don’t think everyone will agree with me. Just my personal opinion based on my experience and how I’ve been treated by these programs over the years. Plus I’m biased. Now IHG go build some Hawaii properties so I can go there on vacation already 🙂

My advices is to put most of your day to day spend on a good card like Chase Sapphire Reserve and forget doing much spending on hotel cards unless you need the hit to earn a promo, etc. Churn these cards to get points unless your a business traveler and if you are pick the best one that works for you everywhere you go or want awards.

Notice I have no affiliate links in my post so I’m trying to be as honest as I can about my feelings on these properties but keep in mind that I’m a bit biased to IHG in general. 20171218_1448131057734389.jpg

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Quick Photo Share of Holiday Inn Express Norman Oklahoma

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Lobby area20171002_165950_HDR

Fitness room. Not bad. Newer equipment.20171002_165933_HDR

Standard but welcome Keurig and K-cups supplied daily at most HIX which I love. 20171002_162905

Decent work area and TV. I always wish the TV’s could be bigger in most hotels. 20171002_162842

Nice beds at this hotel. Updated decor is pleasant and calming at this hotel I think. 20171002_162835_HDR

Nice clean hotel spotless bathrooms.20171002_162826holiday inn norman ok

Photo Review -Holiday Inn IAH George W Bush Airport

Newer but typical Holiday Inn design. Features airport shuttle, restaurant, bar and outdoor pool. Free parking for hotel guests.

Fitness center

Lobby

Lobby

View to South from room. Shell gas station nearby is handy as not much in this area just East of the airport. Industrial park area mostly. No other restaurants nearby.

Showers and not tubs which is good to me.

Not a bad hotel. Close to rental car center and airport, couple miles East of terminal. Too far to walk but short ride.

Staff was friendly. No free breakfast, even as Spire Ambassador.

Photo review of Holiday Inn Express – Woodward Oklahoma

Fairly typical layout. Small town HIX but well located. Several restaurants and a Wal-Mart next door.

Decent beds and pillows. Clean.

Decent workspace although not all the ovehead lights connected on the furniture like other HIX of this style.

This is an older hotel but with remodeled rooms and door slamming oilfield workers.

Typical HIX breakfast.

Main lobby room.

Indoor pool. Sorry I didny get a photo of the fitness center but it featured a sauna as well.

Overall not bad. Limited choices in this area so I’d stay here again.

Staybridge West Valley City (SLC)

A quick 2 night stay at the Staybridge West Valley City location in Salt Lake City Metro area. I might stay here again on business, haven’t made up my mind but I am very picky. I’m still searching for just the right hotel in the SLC area.

Pros:

  • Attached to the Holiday Inn Express that features an indoor water park.
  • Great fitness room.
  • Typical Staybridge evening reception and free breakfast.
  • New feeling hotel although I suspect this property is older than it looks.
  • Very clean and comfortable.
  • Great service.
  • Not far from the airport.

Cons:

  • 6:30am breakfast. This is a big deal since I often have to leave early in the morning.
  • Fairly noisy hallways (it seems that the housekeeping staff is talking loud and working hard from 8am to 5pm). Kids running down the hall. I suspect due to the water park feature.
  • Not many restaurants or shopping close by. There is shopping and restaurant near here but you have to drive a bit.

Holiday Inn Express Park City Utah Review

I stayed at the Park City Holiday Inn Express the week before Thanksgiving. I happen to be there for one of the first snow falls of the year. Late ski season this year. I traveled there on business and I am not a skier so I can’t vouch for the winter sports. Not much going on for the slopes yet. 

The fitness center was small but decent. There are also fairly good areas to run around outside in good weather. Nice way to do some high altitude training.

This seems to be an older hotel but it was clean and no major issues.

My company makes me rent from National. The National franchise at SLC is part owned by a Chevy dealer from what they tell me at the check in counter. Yes check in counter as SLC has no elite drive and go lot. It’s really the biggest problem with this airport. I picked a Chevy Traverse AWD to avoid driving issues. As you can see there wasn’t that much snow however.

The fitness center, sauna and hot tub are located within the indoor pool area. Not bad but does make the fitness center a bit warm for running.

Front of hotel

Small dated but clean bathroom.

Indoor pool area

Before the snow. This is a view of the storm clouds moving in over the nearby Smith grocery store. There are many stores and restaurant within walking distance of the hotel (1 to 3 blocks away).

Front lobby

Room fridge, microwave, etc.

View from room.

My blurry photo of the front lobby. The serve breakfast here in typical HIX fashion. Nothing to write home about.

Overall the service and location of this hotel was very good. The rooms are average but not bad. Fairly quiet but close to the Interstate. I would stay here again on business. It’s fairly close to the many ski areas but yet close to fast food, etc. Might be a good budget choice if in the area for ski or pleasure.

IHG Intercontinental Dallas in Pics

So I had the chance to stay on business at the Intercontinental Dallas this week. As a Spire Ambassador I was able to get a club floor suite upgrade that was really nice. Overall I’d say that I like this hotel. The service was great. This hotel is a little older but well kept. The photos don’t do it justice really. The furniture is nicer in person that it shows in the photos. I’m not a fancy guy so my room service meal was simple. I’d say the only major draw back is that it’s located in such a busy location but that’s a double edged sword as there are a lot of restaurants and shopping in the area as well.

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Lounge floorimg_20170109_173735456

View from roomimg_20170109_172739093img_20170109_172731514

Downstairs powder room in suiteimg_20170109_172704036

Mini bar (too bad I’m not a Royal Ambassador)img_20170109_172710155

View from room.img_20170109_172731514

First floor of suite.img_20170109_172750314

Second floor of suiteimg_20170109_172857368img_20170109_172917667img_20170109_173111824

Second floor sitting area. It seems that this suite would easily sleep 6 with the large bed and 2 sofas. img_20170109_173123173

Upstairs main bathimg_20170109_173145821

Amabassador welcome gifts.img_20170109_173559727

Happy hour in the lounge.img_20170109_174111668

Room service back in the suite. img_20170109_182413545img_20170110_081747263_hdr