Hotel Comparison Shopping
Posted: 2010-04-27. Categories: California, Restaurants

When I visit a hotel website I am looking for an accurate description of not only their rates, services and accommodations, but also what I can expect to find at their facility. In preparation for a recent trip to California’s Great America, I had the opportunity to explore and compare quite a few hotels in the Silicon Valley where we were visiting.

Embassy Suites Hotel, Santa Clara, CA

It wasn’t long before I discovered that most hotel websites were only concerned with taking my reservation and generating sales, not providing accurate information for would-be patrons. Why is this distinction important?  As a parent, I need to be able to satisfy not only the business needs of my husband and I, but also the needs of my child. A successful trip means everyone’s needs are considered and met.

During this last trip, my son wanted to take along his Wii game console so that he could play games in the room during down times. My husband and I look for free in-room Internet access, free breakfast and other ways to help us save money during our trip. We often turn to services like Trip Advisor to help us evaluate a hotel’s ability to meet our needs.

Two Room Hotel Suite

As a smoker, I like to know up-front if the hotel is smoking-friendly. Believe it or not, some hotel websites bury the fact that their facility is totally non-smoking. I found several hotel chains that don’t allow smoking anywhere on their property — that is information I would like to know up-front. I don’t like being treated like a second-class citizen. I am certain that a non-smoker, epecially someone allergic to smoke, would find this detail important as well.

After spending several hours trying to eliminate hotels and narrowing down my list of options, I finally settled on Embassy Suites in Santa Clara, CA. The website was helpful in making our selection, but important details were buried on their site, forcing me to call the hotel for more details.

The website for the Embassy Suites described their rooms as having hardwood floors, I was happy to discover that the rooms are nicely carpeted. The Embassy Suites play up their “made to order breakfast.” This is partially true; they provide an impressive breakfast spread, with pancakes, french toast, bacon, sausage, oatmeal, cereals, fruits and lots more. They have a cook on-hand to prepare made-to-order omelets and dish up the meat. Breakfast was okay, not great.

A huge selling point for us was the large 42 inch and 37 inch televisions. My son was thrilled beyond words to be able to set up his Wii games on the huge 42 inch plasma television and I was happy to have a nice large set in order to keep up with current news events. Since we don’t have television or cable at home, it gave me a chance to catch up on the news.

Their website made a passing mention of a their fitness center and while several reviews mentioned that their fitness center is not state-of-the-art it doesn’t have one important feature they failed to mention — it’s open 24-hours. I had to call to find this out. (Note: The Embassy Suites website does provide a section for their fitness center, I just did not find it until now.)

I found the cleanliness of the room to be a little less than satisfactory for my liking but for this area, their cleanliness standards are above average. I have experienced much worse and paid far more for it.

Hotel Thermostat

The Embassy Suites website also gives mention to guest climate controls. I love the fact that they provide an actual in-room thermostat but no-where does it mention that the thermostat is programmed to reset to 70 degrees after a predetermined amount of time during the evening.  I am unsure of exactly how long it will run before it resets but I had trouble getting warm and was forced to turn the thermostat up several times during the night.

When we returned to our room — wet from riding the water rides at California’s Great America, we were all freezing cold. I turned up the thermostat, only to have it reset a short time later to a frigid 62 degrees.

While 70 degrees may seem reasonable and resetting the temperature makes good ecological sense, not to mention that I am sure it helps the hotel cut heating costs and keep prices down, it’s simply not warm enough for many older people and those who aren’t from the area and therefore not used to the climate of the bay. I was cold for most of my stay. Returning to the hotel soaking wet from Great America didn’t help matters much.

One of the most frustrating things I found during our trip was the lack of information on local restaurants. While this area is hotel heaven with a large selection to choose from, local eating is not so friendly. We found a McDonald’s, Sizzler and Jack in the Box close at hand, but by and large, what we found were a series of ethnic restaurants that didn’t appeal to us.

Embassy Suites Lobby

While the Embassy Suites does provide an in-house restaurant, the hours were so limited as to prove pretty useless to us. I always avail myself of the in-room restaurant guide, which wasn’t offered at this location. We finally ended up driving 12 miles to the Olive Garden restaurant that we found using Google. I eventually found a local guide in our room, when we were packing up to leave.

Successful hotels will review their websites often, ensuring that they provide visitors with an accurate depiction of the current services and amenities offered at their facility, not just the highlights of the selling points they want to advertise. Providing enough information to allow visitors to find a good fit for their needs is essential and will cut down, rather than increase the number of complaints from unhappy customers.

Don’t forget to use Trip Advisor before your next vacation.

1 Comment to "Hotel Comparison Shopping"

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