Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Same but Different

Thanks, Jenny! I was also one of those horse lovers. I enjoyed your post, and thank you for being my guest.

Our road trip is technically over by the time you're reading this. We have one more driving day (Tuesday) but will end up at our daughter's house, so this is our last hotel night.

As a reader, if you pick up a book by a favorite author, especially one in a series, you're going to have expectations. You expect to see familiar characters, and figure they're going to behave consistently with whatever has been established. Often, readers balk when an author strays from the familiar and writes a stand alone or begins a new series.

Perhaps the author is tired of the same characters. Maybe the publisher suggests a new approach. How far to go so readers aren't disappointed.

When we planned our trip, I turned over the reservation-making to hubby. I was dealing with enough stress trying to get ready for 2 conferences plus packing. All I suggested was that he look for hotels that we had club memberships in, because they accrue points and often offer perks.

His criteria were location (near whatever road we'd be on), price, and wi-fi. We ended up at various members of the Holiday Inn family. We've stayed at a lot of these hotels, so we arrived with some basic expectations, and many of them were met.

Keep Reading...

But there were considerable differences as well. Some minor, such as the type of hair dryer and coffee maker. Amenities varied. Some had only shampoo and body lotion; others had shampoo, conditioner, lotion, mouthwash, and bath gel. One had a jar of mints by the bed. Another had cotton balls and Q-tips in the bathroom. And one (gasp) had a scale.

Clocks were different. Some red, some green, some orange LED readouts. Some with pre-set music options. One with an iPod docking station. WiFi was free in all, but how you connected varied. Some required passwords and re-upping every 24 hours. Some were a one shot deal.

As hotel club members, there were different perks. In one, it was a room upgrade (to a room with a jacuzzi, which is beckoning as I type). In one, it was a goodie bag full of snacks. In another, it was a bottle of water. Some had cookies, some didn't.

Some rooms had mini-fridges and microwaves. Some of the hotels had restaurants and bars on the premises. Even though the menus were Holiday Inn "standard" there were different options and different pricing.

The same menu variations held true for Waffle House – which is another story. Hubby loves their chili, and he made sure we stopped for lunch at a WH every day but one—and that day we did stop, but they were jam-packed and we didn't want to wait, so we went next door to a McDonald's (where I found a surprisingly acceptable chipotle bbq chicken snack wrap).

Back to the hotels -- the ones without restaurants have the free breakfast. The ones with restaurants don't. We stayed at 3 of those (one being the conference hotel). All 3 offered complimentary coffee in the lobby. Two didn't charge for coffee with breakfast in the restaurant, which makes sense, because otherwise, why not just pour a cup in the lobby and carry it in? Coffee prices ranged from $1.75 - $2.50.

One of our nights was at an extended stay suite member of the parent chain. Our room was more of an efficiency than a true suite. Brand new, very nice. BUT (you knew there'd be a 'but', right?)

When you enter the room, there's a kitchenette on one side, closet and bathroom on the other. There's a nice bright overhead light that turns on from a switch right inside the door. Beyond the kitchen is the desk space, and an easy chair. TV is in the corner, and the bed is on the other side. So far, so good. Until we decided to turn off that bright overhead light in the entry and read in bed. Nope. When you turn off that light, ALL the room lights go off. So, the reading lamps, which are mounted on the wall above the bed can only be used if the main entry light is on. Likewise the lamp above the chair.

WTF? You can read in bed, but you can't turn off the main room light unless you get out of bed and plod over to the door. And if for some reason you want to turn the light ON in the middle of the night … no can do. And that hotel also had the heat/ac unit behind the room curtains. Whoever designed the room should have had to sleep in it for a week. I know we wouldn't have stayed more than our one night.

With the exception of the last-mentioned option, if these were books, I'd have followed the author through the series, the new series, and the standalone. The poor planning of the last one I mentioned would have been the book I would have started, then said, "let me know when you go back to my "friends" and I'll be back.

Tomorrow, I'll chat a bit more about the actual drive, and how the highways are also "same but different."


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I've seen a some differences between hotels in the same chain, too! Seems like there should be some standards. I've noticed the same thing in Hampton Inns (our usual picks for hotels.)

Mystery Writing is Murder

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - I think it's probably because although the hotels are part of the parent chain, the individual establishments can be run by smaller groups, so there's obviously some leeway in what they can and cannot do.

Mason Canyon said...

In a way the differences are a good thing. If each hotel is independently owned through a major chain it gives the owner a chance to show their guests just how much they appreciate them. It also gives them a chance to maybe showcase their area of the country compared to a sister site two states over.

Terry Odell said...

Mason - as long as there's a minimum standard, that's good (although if you REALLY want a cookie and end up in one of the outlets that doesn't do cookies, it's a disappointment). I don't think anyone ever complains about being given extra perks.

Terry said...

That light! Usually if you ask for a change of rooms, they give it to you. Then again, maybe all the rooms had those lights:(

Terry Odell said...

Terry - When I called the front desk to see if I had overlooked a switch, she said all the rooms were wired the same way (and agreed that it was stupid). For one night, it wasn't bad. And another plus for my e-book reader with its nifty back light; I could read after all the room lights were out.

Jemi Fraser said...

Really interesting. That light situation would drive me batty! I'd never go back. Glad you had your e-book with you!

Terry Odell said...

Jemi - If we'd had more than 1 night, I think we'd have moved to a different place. Definitely something to check in case we decide on a similar deal while we look for our house.

Carol Kilgore said...

I know you're glad your drive is done. Find a new house quicker than you sold the old one. Promise me.

Terry Odell said...

Carol, I think I can keep that promise. We want to get in while the tax credit is in effect.