That is, Hyatt has ruined me for other hotel brands. Let me explain.
I recently stayed at two non-Hyatt hotels. Why did we change it up? I was low on Hyatt points, and I’m saving my Chase Ultimate Rewards points for our Hawaii trip next year. Therefore, I decided to use other hotel points and/or pay with cash for these hotel stays.
I’m always up for something new. I figured this would be a great time to try another hotel brand that can sleep five people and see if there is a good fit. It’s always good to diversify, right?
First Stop—Fairfield Inn and Suites
For the first three nights, I was by myself. I stayed at a Fairfield Inn and Suites that was conveniently located to everywhere I needed to be. My husband booked it for me over the phone using his Marriott points.
The Vegas-style carpet was wild, the walls were paper thin, and breakfast wasn’t ready at the start time (or 15 minutes after the start time). But overall, the hotel was fine. The room was clean, the bed was comfy, the pool was nice and the employees were friendly.
Searching for a Second Hotel
For the second hotel stay, it would have been very convenient to return to the same Fairfield Inn and Suites. The location was ideal. However, I would have my husband and three kids with me, and there were no rooms that slept five people.
We could always bring an inflatable mattress, but based on the small size of the room I was in, I feared it wouldn’t fit on the floor anywhere. Also, since the walls were so thin, I was worried my kids would be too loud for our neighbors.
Since we would be paying cash for this stay, we were open to almost any hotel brand that would sleep five people in Aurora, Colorado. But guess what? We couldn’t find any that would fit our family in one room! Maybe it was because we were booking only two days in advance, or maybe there just aren’t hotels in that area to accommodate us at all. Whatever the case, we had to broaden our search.
I had one major amenity I was looking for: an indoor pool with a whirlpool hot tub. Since I knew this trip wasn’t going to be like a vacation for my kids (we were attending a funeral, after all), I wanted to make our down time at the hotel at least a little bit fun. I was surprised at how many hotels in the Denver area have outdoor pools.
I found a Hyatt Place near the airport. I’m sure it would have been fine for my family, but it was missing a hot tub.
Finding a Good Prospect
Then, I stumbled across a Country Inn and Suites in the same cluster of airport hotels. Not only did it have 4 1/5 out of 5 star reviews on Trip Advisor, but it had an indoor pool and a hot tub. Score!
I created a Club Carlson loyalty account and booked the hotel. I was excited to try a new brand and see if this could a good option for my family go-forward. Leana has posted about Club Carlson before, and the credit card can be a good deal for some families.
Initial Impression of Country Inn and Suites
First, I want to say that I rarely write negative hotel reviews. Why? Because usually, there’s just not much to complain about! I’ve been spoiled in that most of my reviews focus on the subtleties of the lounges and pool slides.
From the outside, the hotel looks fantastic:
As soon as we walked in, I knew it was different. Two of my kids immediately asked: “Mom, are we staying at a nursing home? Is this a retirement home? Are we staying at a place for Grandmas and Grandpas?” I had to chuckle.
They were basing it on the décor of the lobby. The floors and furniture were worn and outdated. The carpet needed to be vacuumed.
However, I don’t consider myself a hotel snob for décor. I don’t need everything to be ultra-modern, and I told myself that this was just part of the charm of staying at a “country” hotel.
Our room was quite large, with a separate bedroom with two queen beds and a living room with a chair and sofa bed. There was a door separating the two rooms. Sure, the furniture and bedspreads were dark and had multiple conflicting patterns that made me dizzy, but that was just part of the “charm.”
The bedroom window was broken and the screen had rips. However, we didn’t plan on opening our window, so I guess that wasn’t a problem.
The bathroom was another story. It had wallpaper that was peeling above and around the shower, but the worst part was the floor under the counter. It was dirty and had soap wrappers visible on the floor. The bathroom door also had questionable dirty spots. Kinda gross, and the cleaning crew did not attempt to clean either during our stay.
Stains and Engine Noise
Probably the worst part of the room, however, was the sofa bed. The first night, we opened it up for my oldest to sleep. The mattress was super thin and had stains on both sides! It was so nasty. The springs were also about to poke through the mattress. I honestly don’t know how my son even slept on it. We couldn’t find any sheets for the mattress, so we called the front desk. Nobody was available to deliver sheets to our room, so we had to throw on some clothes and get them ourselves.
The first night as we were about to go to bed, we heard this loud, rumbling noise. Two of my kids excitedly jumped out of bed and said “Hey, there must be an airplane flying directly over us! Let’s go see!” But I said, “No, that sounds like a big-rig in the parking lot outside of our window.”
We were all wrong. It was our heater!
The cleaning staff never vacuumed our room. One day, nobody cleaned it at all. The room had no safe, and the WiFi was terrible.
I briefly thought about switching hotels. However, we had already unpacked our stuff in the room, and I didn’t want to make this trip any harder on my kids than I had to.
Pool and Hot Tub
We went to the pool one morning. It had already been open for a few hours. When we walked in, someone had propped the door open with this rock.
My husband said, “It’s freezing in here! It’s like 40 degrees outside. Let’s shut that door.” So he started to shut it, and a hotel employee ran over to stop him. She said that the pool area does not have proper ventilation, and if they shut the door the smoke alarm will go off. Oh, my.
I could get over the darkness in the pool area and the cold air coming in from the outside. However, the dirt at the bottom of the pool and in the entire area grossed me out.
Oh, but at least there was the hot tub. The entire reason I booked this hotel, for that darn hot tub that my family loves so much. My son ran into it first, and he shouted, “It’s freezing!!” No way. I went over to it, and sure enough, it was cold water. All we could do was laugh. (Apparently the hotel turns off the hot tub heater each night—it did warm up later in the day).
My husband tried to use the gym to exercise. He got on the elliptical, and it squeaked so loud he couldn’t stand to use it. The weight bench was wobbly and missing bolts, and a ripped up yoga mat sat in the corner. The hotel had not maintained the gym equipment.
On the bright side, the free breakfast was pretty good. Waffles.
Hyatt, My Benchmark
And there it was, just across the street. Taunting me.
We walked by it on our way to a nearby restaurant. My husband asked, “Why didn’t you just book that Hyatt Place?” Ummmm….because it didn’t have a hot tub?
Well, it turns out that cleanliness and service are much more important that a hot tub. Especially a cold hot tub.
It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of Hyatt. I’m not saying that Hyatt is always perfect. However, our experiences with Hyatt hotels have been pretty consistent. We have never had to worry about dirty rooms, loud heaters and sloppy service.
My big learning from this is to look at Trip Advisor reviews more carefully. The hotel had over 1000 reviews with 4 ½ star average, but recent reviews were not as good as earlier reviews. Several people in the past few months had a similar experience.
This summer, we have reservations at a Hyatt Regency, a Hyatt House and a Hyatt Place for our various trips. I’m fairly confident I won’t have to worry about basic cleanliness and service.
Should I give Country Inn and Suites another shot someday? What has been your experience?
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Nancy is a contributing writer for Miles For Family. She enjoys traveling to the beach and is a big fan of Disney. Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids.