Musings, Travel

The Case for Loyalty

And now for something completely different, the case for loyalty

In a recent blog, Skip the Chains, Stay at an Inn, Judy shared our reasons for finding those quaint hotels and inns around the world; those out-of-the-way places the madding crowds have yet to discover. Their charm and the personalized attention you receive really can’t be beat. Except … (with apologies to Monty Python), there is a case to be made for the big chains, too.

Loyalty Clubs! We’re longtime members of Marriott Bonvoy. We love the fact that Marriott offers hotels in all price ranges and styles. When we want to kick it up a notch for a night (or more) there are plenty of options. A case in point … a recent trip to Los Angeles required an overnight stay in the eastern San Fernando Valley. Perusing Marriott’s website, we were intrigued by a new hotel in Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio series. Located in Glendale just up the street from the location of our morning meeting, the Glenmark looked hip, modern, and fun … just our style! It was definitely a step up from the Residence Inns and Courtyards where we usually stay, but the price was nearly equal to these other brands.

New, clean and trendy. The Glenmark was an exciting surprise.

What a find! The hotel was brand new; the soaring lobby sparkled with art. The modern fixtures of the room and bath (we were upgraded thanks to our “loyalty”) were punctuated with state-of-the-art lighting and HVAC (the air conditioning was blessedly quiet!). The staff, led by manager Mher, were incredibly helpful and accommodating. We couldn’t avail ourselves of the rooftop bar due to a private party, but Mher happily found us some wine glasses in which to enjoy a bottle of wine we had purchased from the Trader Joe’s market one block away.

The “make or break” of any hotel is the quality of the bed, and here, too, the Glenmark excelled. After a long day of work and travel, we settled into an incredibly restful sleep. 

Our meetings the next day ran much longer than planned, so when we realized we needed to stay another night, we re-booked our flights home (another positive story) and re-booked another night’s stay at the Glenmark.

Loyalty membership has its perks!

This experience wasn’t unique. For those nights where we’re just looking for a quick stay and comfy bed, we’ve had lots of options to choose from. When we’re flying on a really early flight, we’ll look for something near the airport. Being close, there’s no worries about getting up early or traffic. You can drop your rental car the night before, which buys you precious extra sleep time in the morning. Most airport hotels have a shuttle whose driver knows where to go and how to navigate traffic near the terminal. 

We’ve done this even in our departure city, where we can enjoy a nice stay and a good meal the night before departing on a trip, which always helps get us in the “travel” mood!

For a weeklong stay, I picked up some flowers to cheer up our room at the Element in Boston.

We’ve enjoyed the benefits of Marriott’s suite and longer-term offerings, providing us kitchens with all the essentials when we want to cook in our room. During a recent weekend getaway to Tucson, we stayed at a Marriott Design Hotel Collection property that had a definite hip, mid-century-modern vibe with a great pool, bar, and accommodating staff. 

Poolside comfort at the Tuxon, a Marriott Design Collection hotel.

Lest you think we’re pimping Marriott, remember that ALL the larger hotel chains have expanded their offerings.Wyndham, Hyatt, Choice, Best Western, IHG (Holiday Inn), and Radisson ALL offer similar clubs and a really good range of options and locations. We’re members of other loyalty clubs, too. A few years back, we celebrated Christmas staying at a luxurious Kimpton property (now owned by IHG) in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. With a fireplace and fluffy down comforters, it was the perfect complement to a romantic Christmas Eve dinner out in a restaurant just a few short blocks from the hotel.

We packed a few extras for a Christmas Eve staycation.

All these brands share common characteristics that make travel easier and more enjoyable: 

  1. When you’re looking for a sure thing, it’s good to have a relationship with a specific brand. The perks for joining often include the option to cancel up to 24 hours before your stay, discounts on stays and even free breakfast. 
  2. POINTS! Each stay contributes to your point total. But depending on how often you travel and how much you spend on your rooms, they can add up quickly to provide such bonuses as free room nights and upgrades.
  3. In the middle of a strange city, you can rest assured the chains are watching out for you. They feature the added security of 24 hour front desk service that may not always be true with an inn or boutique property and a sense of familiarity.
  4. They’re easy. The big chains have robust, easy-to-navigate websites. You can find a property, or even a choice of properties, and book a room right up until the last minute. 
  5. A “trust level” that they have met rigorous standards required by the chain. In a COVID world, this includes cleanliness standards and, honestly, that’s a big deal.

In the end, where you stay will almost always be a personal choice (sometimes a party you’re attending or tour you’re on makes that decision for you). 

There’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. It’s a lot more fun to explore when you’ve had a good night’s sleep.

© The World A to Z, LLC 2020 — Unless otherwise indicated, no compensation was received for this blog.

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