During our travels this summer, we’ve had the opportunity to stay in several hotels, one more than once. Being a fan of hotel-staying, I would typically say this is a good thing. I have to say, though, I have not been overly pleased with this summer’s experiences. Not that any were particularly awful (at least so far — I still have 14 hours to go here in Saratoga), but none of them are hotels I’d go out of my way to recommend.

The first of the three — the Courtyard Marriott in Hyannis — was my favorite despite looking kind of strip motel-ish, what with it’s location next to the Cape Cod Mall. It had a refrigerator in the room, which was a bonus in my mind, a full breakfast menu in its quasi-restaurant, a fitness room, and a heated pool with a HUGE shallow area, which was perfect for the kids. The Dunkin’ Donuts across the street was an added bonus.

Maybe it was that my expectations were set fairly high, because the next hotel, Water’s Edge in Westport, CT, was a disappointment. Not that it was bad, although when we first arrived we did have to change rooms as the non-smoking signs had clearly been ignored by previous guests. Granted, we were there for K’s work, so we certainly didn’t rate the top level rooms; I just would have preferred a view beyond a tar roof and a parking lot. The room felt a little shabby, kind of like one of those Grande Dame places that hasn’t quite kept up with the times. The thing that really irritated me, though, was that there was nothing — nada, zilch, big fat zero — in the room that told you about the hotel. It’s a family resort, for heaven’s sake. Maybe some literature about what the resort consists of? A note about whether there’s a pool or not? (Which, as it turns out, there was, but you had to walk through the gift shop to get to it.) And so much for my hope to do some working out — I had no desire to go out of my way to find out whether the hotel had treadmills or not. It would also have been nice to know that there was a beach complete with a sand lot that had buckets and pails and construction ‘vehicles’ that Will would have liked to play with. As it was, we didn’t see this area until after dinner when we decided to take a walk down to the water.

Oh, and that was another thing — when we (me, my parents, Lucy and Will) appeared at the hostess station for dinner, no one happened to mention that there was a much more appropriate option than the fancy dinner deck just down the stairs. I suppose I should be happy that we didn’t get automatically downgraded just because we had kids with us. Still, I think it was fairly obvious that the fancy place wasn’t quite what we were looking for. A gracious wave of the hostess’s hand could have easily pointed the way to the more family-friendly option. Or, you know, a guide to the resort that would spell out the services like, say, ‘We’ve got two restaurant options. One’s good for kids and one is very specifically not.’

Keeping up with the trend of no information whatsoever, we found ourselves at the Saratoga Hilton several weeks later. The first night we stayed there was just joining K for an overnight as Lucy, Will and myself were stopping over on our way to visit Aitana. I’m there (here) again tonight, on our last leg of the summer’s journeys. The first time around, there was a similar lack of information as at Water’s Edge. A magazine about the surrounding area, but nothing about the hotel itself. I figured it’s a Hilton, right? It has to have room service. The only way I could tell that for sure, though, was to actually look at that card on the phone and dial the two number extension for room service. Without a menu, I limited it to hot chocolate for Lucy and a pot of coffee for myself. Both were a complete disappointment.

The hot chocolate, which cost us something like $8, was a measly cup that didn’t even come with whipped cream. For that kind of money, you’d think that they could at least do as well as the corner diner. My pot of coffee was even worse. Actually, I can’t really say that for sure since the pot itself was unopenable. I have no idea what the problem was, but I couldn’t for the life of me get the thing to turn. I suppose I could have sat there for the hour it would take to pour my coffee one drip at a time, but it just didn’t seem worth it. When K got back from his dinner at 11:30, he was finally able to crack the top open enough for me to get a cup’s worth. Although I didn’t want it at all by that time, I poured myself a cup. The total room service bill (with tab) had come to $16. I was going to at least have one of the cups.

(I’m not falling for that again tonight. When I went out for dinner, I got an extra bottle of Diet Pepsi just in case I get a hankering for something liquid later on.)

At least with tonight’s room, there’s a piece of paper that has the in-room menu. Someone wrote notes on it — you’d think that’s the kind of thing Housekeeping would pick up on — but it’s at least here. Housekeeping also seems to have missed that there aren’t enough towels. Since it’s only K and me here tonight, though, I think we can manage. Again, it just seems that with a Hilton, those kinds of things should be taken care of.

My other beefs? Still no info on the pool. Is it a top secret? Only for guests in the know? While I was looking for ice (another issue — went to both ends of the hall and only ended up with half an ice bucket full; one machine stopped working after the first spurt, the second machine didn’t work at all), I did happen to spy something very pool-like from the balcony by ice machine #2. Couldn’t tell you how to get to it, though.

With all of these, I think the biggest issue was that my expectations were high. A big family resort? A Hilton? Granted, the Marriott was more expensive than the other two. Still, as far as I’m concerned, these should be destination travel type places. Next time we go somewhere, I’m looking for the Marriott again. Why bother with the others?

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