Thursday, January 19, 2012
Another Florida Hotel Yields A Real Value With The Quality Inn & Suites In Orlando
The Good: Room size, Breakfast, Location, Price, Perks
The Bad: Location, Some service issues
The Basics: This Quality Inn & Suites lives up to its name with wonderful large rooms and a decent location opposite Universal Studios Theme Park!
For those who do not follow my infrequent reviews in Hotels and Travel, I make two yearly trips down to Orlando, Florida. I travel within my chain, which is Choice Hotels and I have had some interesting trips to Florida over the years. I stayed at the Quality Inn North (reviewed here!) for some time, though I became dismayed with it when its rates were raised. The convention I go to Orlando for was moved and the Quality Inn Airport (reviewed here!) became the closest to the hotel the convention was at. But on my latest trip, I decided it was worth it to spend $20 less per night and drive twelve miles, which put me at the Quality Inn & Suites in Orlando, Florida.
The Quality Inn & Suites in Orlando, Florida (FL717 in the Choice Hotel numbering system) is located at 5635 Windhover Drive on the outskirts of Orlando. It is located outside virtually everything else in Orlando on a little stretch of highway that is easy to find using MapQuest directions. What MapQuest - and the hotel's website - severely underplay is just how close this hotel is to the Universal Studios theme park in Orlando. The Quality Inn & Suites is literally across the street from the park. Literally. Across the street! I'm talking easy walking distance. In fact, it's easier to walk to the theme park than it is to drive.
This last part is because of the one severe drawback of the Quality Inn & Suites and it does have to do with the hotel's location. The hotel is located on a weird little road (Windhover Drive) that is poorly market to get into and inadequately marked to get out of. Leaving the curving, odd driveway of the hotel, one finds themself stuck on a one-way highway and in need of doubling back. There is, I discovered after a few days, a convoluted back way out of the hotel that will allow one to turn left onto the highway, but it is unmarked. That's problematic.
All in all, though, as someone driving around Orlando, the Quality Inn & Suites has a wonderful location that is out of the way of most everything and is ideal for travelers to the Universal Studios Theme Park!
I checked into the Quality Inn & Suites using early check-in after driving down to Orlando from upstate New York (which is a real fun thing to do!). The staff was very friendly and able to accommodate my request and they did not seem terribly put out by my arriving early (there was a note on my reservation regardless). It is worth noting here that the hotel is currently being renovated.
I used the internet and was able to get my room for $49.46 per night in November, which is the best rate in the chain for the Orlando area. My two night stay clocked out at $116.27 (less after I had the safe charge removed from the bill, always check for that!) and I have to say that was a real deal!
I booked a room with a King bed, nonsmoking and I was instantly impressed. The room was big: approximately thirty-three feet deep by sixteen feet wide! The bathroom was bigger than my first studio apartment!
The nice thing is that even with a king-sized bed, desk, television area and the microwave and refrigerator, the room did not feel at all cramped. In fact, while I was there, the staff brought in a new reclining chair and footstool for the room! And still, it had an amazing amount of space.
The room also had a great deal of light, which was nice and made the whole place seem very inviting.
The amount of light in the room is relevant because it immediately raises the stakes for the room's cleanliness. The Quality Inn & Suites was perfect in that regard! The surfaces and mirrors were all spotless, the bathroom was clean and the toilet easily passed the first flush test (water pressure was real good!). The tub was spotless and the Dove handsoap in the room was actually brand new!
The refrigerator was cold when I arrived and clean as well, which is always nice.
The bedding was perfectly clean and well pressed, not a hint of smoke scent on the comforters or linens. All of the towels were clean, dry and fluffy. In other words, the cleanliness of the room was perfect and it hit the ideal; there was no evidence that anyone had ever occupied the room before me. That's what I always hope for and this time I got it completely!
The lobby was (mostly) clean, though there was an entire area cordoned off by plastic dropcloths due to the renovations, which will likely be completed soon. The breakfast area was kept consistently clean and free of messes. The breakfast crew and cleaning staff were remarkably friendly and quite efficient.
For such an inexpensive hotel, the Quality Inn & Suites pretty well rocked when it came to amenities, both included and extra. Starting in the lobby, the hotel is a virtual gift basket of goodies. Upon check-in, there was a goody bag with razors (umm, for shaving) for men and women, splenda drink packs, gum and chocolate bars along with children's pepto samples! The atmosphere upon check-in was one of simple delight that made the stay feel . . . like a vacation instead of a chore. Also in the lobby were other brochures and coupon books.
In the room, there were miniature bottles of Dove moisturizing hand soap in a pump (yes, the sample worked, I went home and bought some, which is reviewed here!), the usual shampoo, conditioner and hand lotion (though with the Dove soap, that was pretty redundant!). There was a television with approximately seventy stations of programming, the refrigerator, microwave and a decent shower. There was also the standard coffee maker, ironing board, and hair dryer. While I was there, they added a comfy chair for lounging in.
The breakfast nook was not officially open 24 hours, but there was coffee available there and the front desk seemed happy to let me raid the room for cocoa at weird times. The breakfast the hotel provided was pretty decent. In addition to the three juices (apple, orange and cranberry), there were presliced bagels, cream cheese, four types of cereal, oatmeal packets, milk and the Choice standard waffle maker. In addition, this hotel had a wonderful hot option which was eggs (an egg patty) and sausage patties which fit perfectly on the bagels (could have used cheese!). As well, there were oranges and apples. Breakfast was VERY good, which was surprising. I recall that the hours for breakfast were somewhat limited (6:30 - 9) so it is not ideal for those who want to sleep in. The breakfast area had tables for about seven families or individuals.
The hotel has internet in the rooms, provided you supply a computer and there was no public terminal for those who did not have their own laptop. There was, however, a laundromat on the premise and a little arcade outside the breakfast nook.
My one real gripe with the hotel - outside it's problematic entranceway/exit situation, and I hate to do this, was with the staff. The staff was remarkably friendly all around and they saw to my every need, especially for weird things like a 1:15 P.M. wake-up call (there was a perfectly good alarm clock in the room, but they accommodated me graciously)! My problem with the staff was that while they were courteous they were somewhat . . . intrusive.
After checking in, exhausted, I called down to the front desk within five minutes to request my wake-up call so I could get a nap in and not be late for my meeting. I was interrupted twice in my attempts to rest by: 1. A call about a car in the parking lot - which was not mine and the front desk ought to have known because I had just given the make, model and license plate to them, and 2. A moving crew which insisted on putting the new furniture in right then. I don't think it takes a terrible amount of perception to realize that when one arrives exhausted and makes it known that they are looking to get some sleep that the front desk . . . you know, NOT bug them!
That said, one of the amazing things about the hotel is its soundproofing. Judging by the parking lot and the crowded breakfast nook the hotel was packed the weekend I stayed there. I swear, I didn't hear another person in the hotel in my room. I didn't hear people, their televisions or the slammings of doors. Nothing. It was amazing.
Honestly, so long as my convention stays at the hotel it is at, I will continue to stay at this hotel! I found a Panera Bread between the convention hotel and this one, so I'm set for food and a decent place to stay! Honestly, this Quality Inn & Suites is more than worth its cost and the fact that it's less expensive and out of the way works out well for me. I have a feeling the staff will be more in tune after their renovations and should I stay there again, I might revise this. Until then, it's a steal and a wonderful place to stay!
For other hotels in the Choice Hotels chain, please be sure to check out my reviews of:
Comfort Inn Livonia - Livonia, MI
Comfort Inn Towson - Towson, MD
Quality Inns & Suites Warren - Warren, MI
For other travel reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2012, 2007 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.