This week I am working in the Philadelphia suburbs on business. It’s Wednesday night and I’m catching up on some emails before I fly home to Orlando in the morning. This has been a good and quick week for a change as I usually travel Monday thru Friday. I flew up Monday morning nonstop on American Airlines from Orlando to Philadelphia, doing a selfie on the plane in my orange Fall Polo shirt colors.
and then had an hour drive to the job site, where I worked for a bit in the late afternoon.
I later checked in to my hotel, the Residence Inn Willow Grove, and was warmly welcomed by the front desk agent, thanking me for being a Silver member. I don’t stay real often at the Marriott chain, although I have lowly Silver status by staying at least 10 + nights a year. I like Marriott, but try to stick with the same hotel chains I have status with due to the added perks. I have Diamond status at both Hyatt and Lifetime Diamond with Hilton, so try to stay at one of their properties; each requires a minimum of 50 and 60 nights respectively, although with lifetime Hilton I don’t need to re-qualify each year. Marriott and Starwood just merged, however, and I occasionally stay at Starwood too, so will try to at least keep the minimum status with them. I got an email today that Marriott is planning on keeping the two programs separate, but not sure if they are planning on combining the number of nights from both programs to reach a tier status level.
This was one of the older Residence Inn style hotels, which I actually prefer, as it’s more like an apartment complex rather than a hotel. It had 16 individual buildings with 8 units each; 4 on the ground level and 4 on the top. I requested the ground level, and had a large studio ‘suite’ with a full size fridge, microwave, dishwasher, and even a log-burning fireplace (not the gas type).
As it was the night of the first Presidential debate, I decided to eat ‘at home’ and went to the nearby Giant grocery store and stocked up on some food, and bought a couple packaged fire logs. I also wanted (i.e. needed!) some vino to get thru watching the debate (LOL!) so being in Pennsylvania it was a bit of a search for some wine. Pennsylvania has wierd (some would say archaic) laws regarding alcohol, and for beer you traditionally had to go to a package store rather than the nearby 7-11 or similar, while buying wine and spirits only at a liquor store. Pennslyvania recently changed the law to allow some grocery stores to sell beer and wine, but only if they have a del/cafe and separate entrance for the beer/wine section, which you must buy and then exit the store. If you then want groceries, you can come back in the main entrance and buy your groceries, but not at the same time as your beer or wine. Go figure. Anyway, this Giant was not one of the approved stores to sell wine, so I had to trek around a bit to find a store that sold wine, and believe me it wasn’t a high class wine merchant either, with a very limited selection of mediocre wines almost all under $20. I settled on Apothic Dark, which would get me thru dinner and the debate. Settling back with a fire blazing, I watched the candidates ‘fire’ back and forth as well. 2016 Clinton vs Trump.
I had meetings on Tuesday and 1/2 day Wednesday, so was pretty busy those days. On Wednesday as I finished up work in the early afternoon, I checked out of the Residence Inn a day early, and hoped to get a return flight back that night to Orlando. After checking out, a quick check of flights turned up nothing promising, so I decided to get a hotel by the airport and fly back in the morning. I guess I should have checked hotel availability before I checked out, as the availability by Philly airport for Wed night was slim to none. I ended up staying at the Wyndham Garden Hotel near Philly airport for $169, which was about all that was left. While I was glad to get a room, this place is clearly not a place you want to stay more than one night. While not horrible, it was just adequate, (i.e. clean room), but I could tell just by checking in, it wasn’t run well. There was a line to checkin (and even longer at checkout), and even at 4pm the desk was calling on the radio to housekeeping to see what rooms were clean. One of the three elevators was out of service (I know it happens).
The Wyndham Philly Airport just had the feel of a busy tourist type hotel, and I noticed a sign for some vacation tour group in the lobby. My 3rd floor room was noisy from the hall noise, adjoining room TV, air conditioner, and the toilet ran ‘on and off’ (water noise dripping) all night long, even after I tried adjusting the fixture. The vanity was tiny, and even as a man I need room for my contacts, razor, and toothbrush which there wasn’t enough room for.The room while, clean had an ‘old’ feel to it, and the drawers seemed like cheap fake wood.
I could deal with all of that, but these three things will ensure I won’t stay there again:
1. The Internet did not work at all in the room, although it did work in the lobby and small restaurant/bar. The food was ok, but probably on par with the Denny’s next door.
2. I did not get my wake up call in the morning. I worked in a Marriott hotel during college, and this is a huge no-no. While I do use my iPhone and iPad as a backup, and the in-room alarm clock (making sure the am and pm settings are correct) I still like getting a call just in case, especially for a morning flight or meeting. Even when I called down to request one I had to call three separate times because no one answered the phone at the front desk.
3. No express checkout offered, and a long checkout line as a result. It also was not anyone that had a problem with their bill, including one man who insisted he had a direct bill to the hotel, further delaying everyone in line. Meanwhile, the lone and busy front desk clerk tried to settle the problem in between answering phone calls.
While this may seem petty to a leisure traveler, when you’re traveling on business, these things are important, especially the internet and not wasting time at checkout for an early flight. I ended up using my personal hotspot in the room as a result, and even got a warning text from Verizon I was at 75% of my monthly data allowance! As far as the checkout, I didn’t even know hotels didn’t do express checkout these days – everywhere has this – it’s standard practice for any chain hotel.
And finally one of my pet peeves here (and at other hotels in general) is when there is only one desk clerk, and that person also functions as the switchboard operator. I don’t blame the front desk clerk; I blame the management for not employing extra staff – this was a large hotel and one person was continuously being interrupted by the phone with people wanting to make reservations while they try to check people in or out of the hotel; basically, multi-tasking slowing everyone down. The phone was ringing off the hook, and I felt bad for the desk clerk, who finally quit answering the phone, just letting it ring due to the line of people in a hurry trying to check out and catch their flights. Now I see why I missed my wake-up call! Virtually every hotel I stay at these days has express checkout and this was not offered and was very inefficient for all.
Later . . . Ok, sorry for the road-warrior rant. (Try traveling nearly every week of the year, and some things are bound to get to you over time!) So now I’m sitting on American Airlines flight 1838 on my way home to Orlando, and the Captain just announced what could be a major mechanical delay. Oops, so much for taking an earlier flight. I was supposed to fly out at 2pm, but changed this flight yesterday to 9:30am to get home earlier. The very apologetic Pilot said he would update us every 15 minutes, so at least I can blog a quick bit from the week.
I got to the Philadelphia airport this morning around 8:30am, and had a quick cup of coffee in the Terminal A (International terminal) lounge. While I was on a domestic flight to Orlando, they sometimes leave out of Terminal A, which is very large, modern, and the Admiral’s Club there (formerly the US Airways Envoy lounge) is wonderful. This time of morning it was virtually empty too, as most of the international flights leave in the afternoon, although I did spot a QATAR 787 which would soon be heading on the long flight to Doha.
I forgot to include a few Fall photos from yesterday, so will do so now. After my meetings, I took a leisurely drive to my airport hotel, taking a few photos on the way as I drove thru a residential neighborhood. I love the Fall season when going up north from Florida, spotting pumpkins for sale, scarecrows, Halloween decorations etc. This one house really decorated their yard – at first I thought it was a real cemetery!
Steve (DOS) and I used to go all out for Halloween in Florida and would start setting up in early September. We have tons of Halloween decorations, but the last couple years have not had time to setup and/or have been away for Halloween. We have several life-size animated figures, we call our friendly ‘goons’. One of our favorite ‘goons’ from years gone past is our Butler, which we usually put by the front door entrance to greet guests. Butler Graves talks, moves his head and eyes, and as he’s bald, we adorn him with different hats each year, and a lei to make him a more happy goon! We’ve had lots of fun over the years with Halloween parties, and always have lots of props for the guests; i.e. hats, light up necklaces, leis etc. Unfortunately this year we won’t have time or be home to set up for Halloween. Here are some memories of years past. We even gave the Christmas tree a Halloween decorating!
Later on . . . sorry I’m skipping around but it makes the flight delay go faster. . . well back to the flight. We ended up being delayed almost an hour and a half, but it could have been much worse, so no complaints here. Once we departed around 10:50am, it was a quick two hour flight to Orlando. I was in First Class 3D, and they served a small mini-breakfast snack of yogurt, granola, and a coffee-cake pastry.
Upon arrival in Orlando, I wasn’t met by Steve (DOS) as he comes to Orlando on Friday’s, so I had a slow walk past the crowds, and my only welcome was the Mickey sign. (Violin playing – so sad. LOL!)
I then took a cab home, and begun the unpacking for the week, and packing for next week’s trip to Memphis. The evening sky was beautiful, and now Thursday night I’m already looking forward to the weekend. Welcome Home!