Avid IHG Hotel Review – Madison Wisconsin

I had a recent business trip that required a stay in Madison Wisconsin. Thankfully the weather was mild and almost warm for January in Madison. I picked one of the new IHG brands that just launched, called Avid. I didn’t bother to read the press releases they have done on this so I’m not sure what they are trying to achieve.

My impression is that it’s a minimalist Euro Budget approach. Something like a cross between an Ibis and Holiday Inn Express. This property opened on December 19th, 2019 so it is only a couple of weeks old. It’s hard not to like a brand new property of any type. I’ll be interested to see what it’s like in say 3 years but I guess that’s on the local management to keep it in good shape.

I liked the free breakfast offering that has self service hot sandwiches that seemed to be really good quality. They also have self service cereals, fruit and a good selection of items that all seem fresh.

I also really like the higher end Bunn self service coffee machines but I think they missed a chance to add a high end self service espresso / cappuccino type unit in this area. It just seems like a natural fit to have a Nespresso or Illy type machine in addition to what they have on offer. Not a big deal though.

This Avid hotel has a 24 hour fitness center with nice new equipment. No swimming pool which is fine for this property. Free parking at this location and they offer a grab and go market store in the lobby that had a lot of soda, bottled waters, snacks, etc. Overall a nice concept. I think adding a small bistro lobby bar sort of like Hyatt Place or some Holiday Inn Expresses in Europe have would be a bonus but not a big deal.

The rooms are nice because they are new and also well arranged. They are small. Not Clubquarters small but about half the size of many USA Holiday Inn Express properties. They offer laminate flooring much like the latest HIX designs from IHG. My room had a shower and no bathtub. I assume all the rooms are shower only which I like.

PRO’s – Nice new fun concept.

Simple brand with good service and clean.

Price point seemed to be lower than other hotels at time of my stay.

Free parking.

24 hour fitness center.

Free breakfast with good food. Great staff.

CON’s – No bar soap. I don’t love it but I “get” the virtue-signaling / cost savings of the bulk shampoo and soap bottles in the shower but bar soap is a must for me. This is a big negative in my world and such a simple thing to make right.

TV was good but didn’t seem easy to stream your own content or watch Netflix, Crackle, etc. Marriott seems to be a leader in this area. Not a big deal.

Rooms a bit noisy with somewhat thin walls and the typical self slamming doors. Not a big deal but could be a killer if around those with lack of an indoor voice or door slamming habits.

Overall I really love this hotel (other than the bar soap issue). I would stay here or at other Avid’s again but I need to remember to pack my own bar soap for some odd reason #brokenrecord. I’m not sure we really need another hotel brand but I could learn to love Avid hotels.

Delta One Suite Photo Review CDG-ATL

 

A quick photo review of our recent CDG-ATL Delta One flight. Overall a great experience. I was disappointed in the headphones which seem out of place on such a nice product. Delta should spring for Bose or Sony. Even the old AA QC-15s are light years better.

Sorry, the photos aren’t the best as it was an afterthought to do a review on this. I was seated in 7A with my wife in front of me on 6A and our friends in the middle of row 6. The staff was one of the best I’ve ever had on a long-haul flight. 7A was a good seat but on the aisle side instead of the window side so it was a little harder to see out but with the door shut it didn’t affect the privacy factor. I’m tall at 6’2″ and have large size 15 feet but didn’t have any problem getting a great 5 hours of sleep on this flight.

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IHG 2nd Quarter Accelerate Promo Now Live but….

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In case you’re not familiar IHG Hotels has for many years run a quarterly bonus point earning promo called Accelerate. It has been decent for many years however it is targeted and seems to track how often you stay at IHG. So in other words, if you don’t stay at IHG hotels (Holiday Inn’s, etc.) often then you tend to get really good offers. Like “Stay 1 Night and earn 4,000 bonus points” or whatever. If you stay at a lot of IHG hotels the offers tend to get harder to achieve but also may offer greater rewards. For example “Stay 26 nights this quarter and get 20,000 bonus points” or whatever.

IHG says:

Complete your customized offers now and get your points. With offers designed for the way you like to travel, Accelerate helps you experience more of life. Earn bonus points, get rewards, and make every stay count more.

How does it work?

1. Book and stay at any IHG® hotel around the world from now until August 31.
2. Earn bonus points to use for great rewards and moments that matter.

So we get to:

Have: Customized offers, great (See above)

Offers that are designed for “the way you like to travel”, Apparently not the way others like to travel for me to travel the way I do or something.

“Experience more of life”. Apparently by staying at IHG hotels “life” is more of an “Experience”

And we get to “make every stay count more”.

All sounds great unless you get a crappy offer like my wife did this year.

Here is her offer:

FireShot Capture 048 - IHG® Rewards Club - Earn the extra rewards you deserve - Register Now_ - www.ihg.com

OK let’s say you aren’t familiar with this promo and think this is a great offer. That would be good if you didn’t know that my wife usually has an Accelerate promo worth like 50,000 points but can be hard to reach. She stays about 100 nights a year in hotels so targeting 24 nights’ish in a quarter to get some bonus works for her and IHG. This promo is so low AND requires her to stay for leisure to obtain it. Since she is a business traveler she doesn’t usually stay over on Saturday night. She doesn’t usually book for points & cash and uses a business credit card. Kind of disappointed.

Before you accuse me of kicking the gift horse that IHG Accelerate usually provides I will point out the offer I got below. Why is mine better? Because IHG had done the same to me in early 2018 and I moved all my stays over to Marriott in early 2018 to try and reset the clock with IHG. Good plan right? Sure except I found out that I REALLY like Marriott. In the marketing world, I would consider that a failure. So by IHG having targeted promo’s that punish loyal customers (11,600 versus 60,100) it can backfire I think.

FireShot Capture 049 - IHG® Rewards Club - Earn the extra rewards you deserve - Register Now_ - www.ihg.com

I won’t bring up the registration process issues on this latest promo. Mine worked fine and my wife’s didn’t load until after May 1st. Not sure why. I assume IT issues and not that they more closely reviewed her’s for extra crappy-ness.

Anyway. I urge you to register if you even think you’ll stay at an IHG hotel soon.

How does it work?

1. Sign up for Accelerate.
2. Book and stay at any of your favorite IHG® hotels from May 1, 2019, and August 31, 2019.
3. Earn bonus points to use for great rewards.

You can sign up for the latest promotion by June 18, 2019, and each offer must be completed between 5/1/18 and May 1, 2019, and August 31, 2019.

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Holiday Inn Express Early Texas Photo Review

The HIX in Early Texas is a new, nice hotel with great staff. 6am breakfast, 24 hour large fitness center with excellent equipment and a nice outdoor pool cap off an excellent experience. Although the somewhat thin wall construction next to a busy road subtract some this is likely the best hotel within an hour or more in any direction. I will also note that Verizon has terrible coverage in this town. The free WiFi helped a ton on this stay.

Photo Review Marriott Town Place Suites Hays Kansas

Decent, new, clean, great service, great roadside location right on I-70. Near shopping, restaurants and other services. The perfect hotel if…they could fix two things. 1. Fix water pressure in the showers, I’ve seen drinking fountains with better water flow (suspect it’s the crappy shower heads). 2. Start breakfast at 6am if not earlier. This is a hotel in Western Kansas on I-70 many people need to hit the road earlier than 6:30.

Photo review Wyndham Microtel San Antonio airport

Recently visited the Microtel San Antonio San Pedro near the airport. Decent hotel, good location just off the highway and friendly staff. No fitness room but nice pool, free breakfast and clean up to date rooms.

Photo Review of Marriott Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel

When is an airport hotel not an airport hotel. Well for many hotels around the Stapleton airport this became reality when they moved the operations to the new Denver airport. So this hotel is like an airport hotel and has that vibe but now sits about halfway between downtown and the new airport. Just South of I-70. I recently booked this hotel for a business trip to Denver. Hotels in Denver can be expensive but I got a fairly decent price on this stay. I also recently hit Marriott Gold or now Platinum Elite so I was also able to access the lounge. They had a temporary lounge on the 3rd floor but just opened the newly remodeled 10th floor lounge during my stay. I couldn’t get photos of the new lounge as it was fairly busy and I try not to get people in my photos if possible.

The highlight of this hotel is the staff and service. I don’t usually like the hassle of full service hotels but this one was very good and laid back at the same time. I had a “newly renovated” room on the 9th floor with a balcony that was very nice and spotless. I am kind of picky with 100+ hotel nights a year but I could find little wrong with this hotel. Even the parking garage is free for guests.

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Pool area20180829_060733

My blurry lobby photo. There is a paid breakfast buffett and a starbucks in the lobby.  I didn’t see any free coffee however. 20180828_164329_hdr

The temporary 3rd floor lounge. Offering good evening snacks. 20180828_162510

Funky airplane on room ceiling are kinda cool.20180828_162711_hdr

View toward downtown from balcony20180828_160034

Nice bathroom20180828_160018

Room featured fairly comfortable table workspace, fridge, coffee maker. Very good TV service and again spotless. Even the sliding door to the balcony worked flawlessly.20180828_160013

Double Queen beds in this room.20180828_155918

Atrium views 20180828_155842

Front lobby20180828_154646

Front lobby20180828_164036

dining area and business center part of atrium20180828_154739

Lobby area seating. This may not be a “Five Star” hotel officially but to me it is.