Tuesday, April 17, 2012
"Quality Inn By The Bay" In Traverse City, MI Is An Odd Combination Of Perfection/Problems!
The Good: Good location, Decent sized room, Amenities, Breakfast
The Bad: No grounds, Customer service issue
The Basics: Despite a serious problem with honoring an upgrade, the rooms and amenities at the Quality Inn By The Bay make it a good place to stay when in Traverse City, MI.
Have you ever had an experience with a place that is truly like a multiple personality experience when dealing with people at a place? I have, rather recently, in fact. As I prepare to move to Michigan to be with my fiance, I have made a trip or two out to that state and I've been scouting out different places and we have been seeing how well we travel together. So, a few days ago, I drove over from upstate New York and we went on two trips. Our first one was to Traverse City, Michigan, which is only about an hour away from where we will be living.
While spending the night in Traverse City, we had a few things planned. We went and saw Twilight (reviewed here!) and the next morning, we went to Turtle Creek Casino and the Grand Traverse Mall. And we stayed at the Quality Inn By The Bay, a lovely little hotel looking out at the beautiful bay up there (that is Grand Traverse Bay, for those wondering). But the weirdest thing happened: we had an amazing check in and stay and a terrible check-out experience. I had been prepared to rate this hotel quite high, but the closing experience truly soured me some on the hotel. So, it is worth noting from the outset that the hotel is surprisingly nice and that some of the staff is ridiculously friendly (if, possibly, slightly incompetent).
The Quality Inn By The Bay, MI731 (in the Choice Hotel numbering system, a good number to have if making a reservation on the phone, etc.), is located at 1492 US 31 N. in Traverse City. This, rather conveniently, is about five miles away from the Grand Traverse Mall and about an equal distance to the Turtle Creek Casino. It is easily accessed by Route 31, which seems to be the main road around the Bay.
The Quality Inn By The Bay has entrance, right off US 32 and extensive parking (presumably for when it is packed in the summer); around the front of the main lobby and the side section where at least most of the rooms are located. The Quality Inn By The Bay in Traverse City is not a huge hotel and it is not much to look at on the outside. There are no grounds to speak of - the hotel is stuck between other hotels and restaurants. It is a three or four story hotel and it is located within walking distance of the Bay itself. One imagines in the summer, this is a bustling area (I suppose I'll find out this summer).
The Quality Inn By The Bay has more of a motor lodge layout as the hotel extends back from the lobby/breakfast area as essentially one long hallway. Rooms here are designed for comfort, but it is not a resort-type location where one has a great view. No, there are things to do in the city, but this hotel is designed to be more a place to stay as opposed to luxuriate.
Upon entering the hotel, I was greeted quite warmly by the desk clerk. There were packs of gum available (for free) right on the front desk and I began to check in. I had called ahead days early and asked if this Quality Inn honored the Choice Privileges free room upgrade policy and I was told they did. I had also checked the day before to find out what types of rooms would be available if I did upgrade. When I asked for my free upgrade - preferably to a room with one of the in-room whirlpools. The staff member went into the back and talked with (it turned out) the hotel manager and general manager. She came back out, said she could upgrade the room and I noticed the sign about the safe charge and I asked to have that removed from the bill as I would not be using it. She said that was not a problem and I was checked in. And wow! The room I got was amazing. Upgrading from one of the least expensive to the best room in the place is always fun and in this case, it was quite a room!
This was a fairly substantial sized room for a location intended just for sleeping in! Measuring twenty-four feet deep by twelve feet wide, the room included a king-sized beds, a heart-shaped whirlpool in the room and a full bathroom with shower, toilet and sink.
From the first moment I opened the door to the room at the Quality Inn By The Bay in Traverse City, I had an excellent feeling about it. First, the nonsmoking room smelled . . . like nothing. There was no evidence or trace of scent that would have indicated it had ever had a cigarette smoked in it. Instead, the entire hotel smelled good; even the pool area smelled good and did not have any excessive smell of chlorine spilling into the hallway.
Every time I enter a new hotel room, I flush the toilet (past experience has proven this is an excellent thing to check out right away!) and the Quality Inn By The Bay easily passed the first flush test with no difficulties. The wallpaper in the room was tasteful and none of the wallpaper or paint was peeling. This was an exceptionally clean hotel. And for Greens out there, this is one of many hotels that offers the option of having your bed made instead of having the linens changed. This is a nice, environmentally-friendly way of doing business, especially for those of us who do not sweat while we sleep or otherwise make the bedding unclean as opposed to just mussed up!
The common areas were all clean and well-maintained. Given that there were no grounds, some of the maintenance is easier than at other locations. The breakfast area was kept constantly clean and the pool and whirlpool area was well-maintained and clean.
The Quality Inn By The Bay has a pretty decent package working for it for a hotel in the Choice Hotel system. In every room there were the standard coffee packets, shampoo, and lotion, along with an air conditioning unit. There were also tea bags with the coffee as well and that was a nice touch! At this location, there was also available upon request: razors, toothbrushes and sewing kits. It makes the guest feel like the hotel is full service.
This feeling is reinforced by the friendly staff and the 24 hour coffee and tea service. The tea service has at least six different flavors of Bigelow Tea and there are packets of sugar, sugar substitute and powdered creamer. In addition to the coffee from the room, the guest need never go thirsty. During the winter (at least) the hotel also has hot cocoa packets available in the main lobby!
The free continental breakfast at the Quality Inn By The Bay was one of the most unique I have encountered. There were fewer hot food options (noticeably a lack of the trademark waffles) but they made up for it with a decent variety of other foods. There were four types of prepackaged GM cold cereals, milk, apple and orange juice from a machine. There were pre-sliced raisin bagels, cream cheese, and four different flavors of oatmeal. As well, there were four types of muffins, thick cinnamon bread for toast, canned fruit mix and granola packets. There was, however, no waffle maker, which is one of the trademarks of the chain. It ought to be noted, though, that the hotel did have fresh oranges and apples, though.
What it lacks in cuisine it makes up for with its large indoor pool, which had a hottub in it. There is also a free high speed internet terminal in the lobby which guests are able to freely use at all hours of the day or night. The television has approximately fifty cable television stations.
In fact, the only problem I had with the hotel was at the time of check-out. When I went to check out, I noticed that the room rate had been chanced from $55.00 to $65.00. This, of course, would not be a free upgrade, it would be a ridiculously cheap upgrade. The value was great, but given that I had not been told of the fee associating with upgrading to such a room and I had been told upon check-in that it was a free upgrade, I stopped to make a little noise about it. The person checking me out happened to be one of the two people who the person who had checked me in had consulted with and he insisted that he had heard the person checking me in tell me about the rate change. As a reviewer, I pay attention to such things and I insisted I had not been told about a fee and I even called for the rate card I had signed when I checked in. He produced the card and I was upset to discover that the rate had been changed on the card . . . after I had signed it. I pointed out to him that I would not have called for the rate card had it been changed prior to my signing it and he insisted there was nothing he could do about it. I'm not one for returning to places where I am (even tacitly) called a liar and the treatment at check-out was both unprofessional and disturbing.
Ultimately, though, the hotel is pretty wonderful. The food, the rooms and the check-in service were good. However, that final experience (which I am writing to the Corporate offices about) was troubling. My advice (at least until I stay at one of the other hotels in the area!) is to stay here, but document any upgrades thoroughly and be clear. The staff can be friendly, but it seems they might not pass on information well, leading to problems.
Otherwise, I would consider the Quality Inn By The Bay in Traverse City, MI one of the better hotels in the chain.
For other Quality Inns or hotels in Michigan reviewed by me, please check out my reviews of:
Comfort Suites Lakeside - Houghton Lake, MI
Quality Inn & Suites - Warren, MI
Comfort Suites - Southfield, MI
For other travel reviews, please visit my Travel Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the hotel and destination reviews I have written!
© 2012, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.