Photo review of Staybridge Suites South Denver Lone Tree

This is a fairly typical somewhat worn Staybridge. Pool, fitness center, laundry, 6:30am free breakfast aimed at leasure travelers not 6am road warriors and evening food on random nights to apparently avoid doing it on busy nights??

Rooms and property is good but check in was brutally slow. The slowest of any of my 100s of hotel check in’s in the past 18 months. I also felt that this property was a bit noisy with paper thin walls and floors.

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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

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.

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

Trip review Houston / Kemah Texas

I had a recent quick trip to Houston for business. I stayed at the Kemah Texas Holiday Inn Express. Not a bad hotel located near the Ocean front boardwalk area in Kemah. This is on the South side of Houston.

The room was decent although I’m not sure it was much of an upgrade based on my IHG Spire and Ambassador status. The room was comfortable, clean and quiet.  The only negative was the HVAC system. It seemed to be set way too sensitive. It has the dumb Inncom electronic thermostat which can be set to VIP mode but it would switch between cold and hot. For example I came in the room and it was slightly too cold like at 68 degrees so I turned it up to say 69 and the AC would go off and then switch to heat to try and moderate 1 degree.

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The view from my room was nice. It was a bit cloudy and rainy but you could see the boardwalk area and ocean. img_20161106_150027654

The wild colored bathroom sink. Interesting. This room had a walk in good shower. Not sure if all the rooms have walk-in showers. img_20161106_145958886

Another view of the room. Microwave and mini frig. Desk was fairly good set up for work. img_20161106_145937762

A morning run view of the boardwalk amusement area. img_20161107_062803777Part of my morning run in the area. View of the rough sea on a cloudy morning. img_20161107_063438777

I flew into Houston Hobby on AA but had to get over to El Paso for other business so I elected to fly the United non-stop out of IAH. I was surprised that I didn’t have to pay a big surcharge to drop the rental car from National at a different airport so that was impressive.

The regional UA jets are lumped into one terminal cattle holding area where they call you down the hallway method to walk outside to board. I always love it for some odd reason. My wife things I’m an idiot for getting so excited about walking out on the tarmac. img_20161107_144617778Always a good photo-op situation. I love it. img_20161107_144643367

Holiday Inn Express MXP Italy

I stay in A LOT of Holiday Inn Express hotels. This stay was for two nights at the end of a trip to Austria, Germany and Northern Italy. It’s super close to the MXP airport but way out on the edge of Milan. The hotel was very average and kinda depressing I think as yoi may be able to see from the photos. 

While it served a purpose I was disappointed in some things that might seem picky. The ice machine was broken and the hotel bar had no ice. They only offer liquid soap, no bar soap, minor I know. The windows in the rooms are tiny so it made the room seem like a prison cell. The good part is they did offer a bar which was nice but very limited choices for dinner. Luckily there is a fantastic Italian restaurant nearby and only about two blocks away in this small town area. 

The next time I’m in the area I would tempted to try the nearby Crowned Plaza, that doesn’t look awesome, or the Sheraton that is in the airport. The MXP HIX is very average in my personal opinion.