For the last several years we have attended a the 4 Elf holiday party at Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall, Michigan. After the first year, we realized booking a room nearby was a good idea. They announce the party date about 4 weeks prior to the event, and I book my room right away. When booking a room in Marshall, your choices are the Hampton Inn or the Holiday Inn Express. Both are similarly priced, but since I get rewards points at the Holiday Inn, it is my first choice.
What we are looking for in a hotel for this event is simple:
- Reasonable Price – We will only be sleeping in the room and not use any additional amenities like the pool or fitness center. Checking out by 8 a.m.
- Close Proximity – We want to be near the Brewery and have easy access to the highway when arriving and departing for home.
- Comfortable Bed – Just somewhere to get a good nights sleep after spending 6 hours in a cold tent drinking beer and dancing.
- Light Breakfast – Coffee and a little something in our belly before hitting the road back home.
The Holiday Inn Express in Marshall seems to have all of these things.
We stayed here last year and I used 10,000 IHG points for a Rewards Night. This year the room is listed at 15,000 IHG points. I opted not to use my points. The room had a 20% discount when I booked and I also took advantage of a 10% Rebate from Ebates. I booked using my IHG Rewards credit card to earn the 10x points for my stay. Seemed like the best deal. The room cost $ __________
I set my Stay Preferences for Early Check In because we wanted to drop off our things in the room around 1:45 before heading to the party. I also called the hotel to make sure this would not be a problem. They were very accomodating.
The young lady that checked us in was very friendly and seemed quite helpful. I noticed that they had a little tub of snacks behind the desk that said IHG Rewards Club Members. I was never greeted as an IHG Rewards Club Member during my stay (which is odd) or offered any of the little snacks. Hmmm.
Our friends met us at the hotel and we went up the to drop off our bags off in the room. I was distracted so did not notice first off that the bed skirts weren’t really on either of the beds in the room. My friend was looking at the beds funny so I turned around and saw both bed skirts literally hanging off the beds. This seemed very odd and didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy about the attention to detail that had been put into the housekeeping for our room. The floor did not seem to have been vacuumed either. I chalked this up to having asked for early check in, yet it still bothered me. After all I didn’t just surprise them showing up an hour ahead of check in and asking for my room, I had pre-arranged it in my stay preferences and followed up with a call to the hotel.
As we went through the hotel common areas, I noticed that the place seemed like it needed a little more attention to cleaning and some basic maintenance. None of this affected my stay, just my level of confidence and overall feeling about the hotel.
We got in fairly late after the party and went straight to our room and right into bed. The beds and pillows were very comfortable and we got a great nights sleep. I was glad that I had put being far away from the elevator in our stay preferences since the elevator door creaked loudly each time it opened and shut. As a light sleeper, this might have been a problem for me. We were a far enough distance away that I never heard it during the night! Yay!
There were 2 kinds of cookies on a platter in the lobby when we came in after the party. I grabbed a tiny plate and threw one of each on it to take up to the room. A simple gesture on their part that made for a nice bedtime snack for us.
I had a lot of plans for Sunday, so we were up early and headed down to breakfast about 7:30 a.m. Breakfast was scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. so I figured this would be a good time. Everything would be fresh, hot and we would be ahead of most of the other guests. I am not a fan of mingling with strangers in the morning….one lady actually came down in her bathrobe and slippers.
When we got there at 7:30 the Attendant taking care of the breakfast area was still stocking and setting things up. We grabbed some coffee and gave her some time to finish without getting in her way. When she was done, I approached the first chaffing dish that contained biscuits and gravy only to find the gravy was not warm. I nicely mentioned this to the Attendant and she grumbled pretty loudly and started fiddling with the cords. Now I have a plate with cold food and am feeling a bit uncomfortable. The rest of the food was the correct temperature and tasted good. I watched as other people who came in after we sat down struggled with burned bagels and pancakes that stuck in the machine.
After hurrying through our breakfast and warming up our coffee, I went to check out. The young lady at the desk (not the same one as the night before) had been on the phone the entire time we were at breakfast on what seemed like a long personal call. I approached cautiously to check out (she still did not thank me for being a Rewards Club Member) and she quickly snatched the keys from me telling me we were all set without even touching the computer. Ok then.
While the Rewards points to book a room have increased, the hotel quality seemed to have declined over the last year. Although it was close to our event, and the room was adequately appointed, the overall level of cleanliness/hotel maintenance and the aloofness of the morning staff were off putting. If we come to the 4 Elf Party next year, maybe we will stay at the Hampton Inn.