Monday, April 12, 2010

FLAGSTAFF, AZ: Embassy Suites

My wife and I stayed at the Embassy Suites during our current road trip. The staff was great, but other aspects of our stay were disappointing.

The staff was very good across the board. The people at the front desk were sharp, polite, and knowledgeable, and I especially appreciated that the young lady who checked me in did not "first-name" me. As a Baby Boomer with children the same age as many of the professionals I encounter, I find it especially irksome when younger people presume to call me by my first name without being invited to do so.

The bartender at the lounge was excellent - courteous, quick, and friendly - making an otherwise predictable "Manager's Reception" rather enjoyable. (They could, however, improve on the wine selection; it's not hard to find good wine at reasonable prices.) The staff at the breakfast was excellent as well, from the gentleman at the omelet station to the people who cleaned up after the guests left their tables.

It is also worth noting that the placement of the business center -- near the bar with its age restriction -- seems quite effective at keeping it available for business use of the visiting adults rather than ceding it over to visiting kids and teens.

The negatives center on other aspects of the property itself.

It is obviously not one of the newer Embassy Suites and the rooms are smaller than newer properties. However, management said, "Hilton has found that our suites do meet their requirements as an Embassy Suites Hotel and most recently has given us great commendations. We are certainly not a 'purpose-built' Embassy Suites, but have prided ourselves in carrying the Embassy Suites name for many years with distinct honor."

Regardless, staff needs to make better use of the space that is available, particularly in the common areas. The lobby is crowded with too much over-sized furniture though, as management explains, the hotel is "meant to present as a rustic and lodge type feel" with a "woodsy atmosphere". The breakfast room is also far too crowded, and the breakfast bar needs to be arranged more efficiently.

In addition, while a family (or business traveler with a vigilant accounting department) may find significant value in having breakfast included in the room rate, we thought the additional $40+ per night over similar accommodations was too much to pay for a breakfast that was, quite frankly, mediocre.

Then there were the guest rooms. The smaller size aside, the fact that the hotel thought it necessary to install L-brackets to deter jimmying the locks to the rooms communicates that the hotel is located in a risky area, though management assured me that "Flagstaff as a whole is not a risky town."

Finally, the gap under the front door was larger than most hotels allowed a lot of noise in from the hall. That was explained as "settling", and I was told the hotel is in the process of replacing doors as needed to correct the issue. However, considering that it was spring break and the hotel was full of kids, that meant a lot of extra noise.

If you're traveling with family and find value in the convenience of an included, on-site breakfast, the Embassy Suites might be worth considering. Otherwise, for better value, I'd investigate the many other hotels Flagstaff has to offer.

Visit my main page at TheTravelPro.us for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.



Photos by Carl Dombek
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