Reviews (updated February 16, 2013):
- Expectations for my reviews: In my reviews I strive to take into account the reasonable expectations for the target audience. In the case of hotel/motel reviews, if the target audience is seeking an economical motel type experience, then I am happy to evaluate the site on that basis and give an excellent rating that might seem ludicrous in comparison to a luxury hotel. But the luxury hotel’s target audience has entirely different expectations and my evaluations reflect that.
- Best Western is the world’s largest hotel chain but each hotel is independently owned.
- Look for hotels designated Best Western Plus (or full service “Premier” but those are mostly in Europe). Their quality is significantly better. Plus hotels provide rooms with a nice desk with lighting, easy access to power, a good desk chair, free Internet access, a nice reading chair, a comfortable bed, a decent free breakfast, a complimentary USA Today, and warm cookies in the lobby each evening.
- When I refer to a “decent” breakfast—hey! It’s free! But then, I admit…I like freshly cooked Belgian waffles. There are pastries and muffins, cold cereal, juices and milk, and usually an entree choice like biscuits and gravy, eggs of some variety, and sometimes bacon and sausage.
- Don’t expect much from the pool or hot tub. They are very small (usually indoor).
- Repeat visitor? By calling a given hotel in advance and arranging for corporate rates, you can get a much lower nightly rate.
- Sign up for the rewards program. You can quickly get to platinum and diamond status. Besides earning bonus points, you can upgrade your room when one is available (in my experience, a room upgrade is usually available and is worth it).
- Marriott or Best Western Plus? I participate in the rewards programs for Marriott, Hilton, and BW properties. I love all of the Marriott properties. If you are going for the extra comfort of a high-end hotel, or to seek to impress, or for a quality restaurant on site, then go to a full service Marriott or similar. You’ll pay exorbitant rates for Internet access, parking, and telephone use if you need those services from the hotel. You’ll get central air conditioning vs. a wall unit (the latter being loud and often irritating).
If, on the other hand, you’re looking for a comfortable room, nice staff, decent work space, and a clean place to sleep, all at a competitive price, then a Best Western Plus is often an excellent choice.
Discovery: Best Western’s “Plus” designation is not as helpful as I’d hoped.
For example, the Grand Strand Inn & Suites, Myrtle Beach, SC, while very nice as a motel, is not in the same league as The Inn at Valley View in Roanoke, VA. Checking the hotel’s website doesn’t help. As you would expect, the photos on the website give no indication that the Grand Strand is actually a motel, not a hotel. Best Western needs to correct this and apply designations that are more informative. It would be very helpful to guests (and, in my opinion, to the brand) to know when a hotel is of the caliber of the Inn at Valley View.
The owner of Grand Strand Inn & Suites, Jack Robertson, explained that Best Western has much more variation in its properties as a membership organization (not franchise) vs. a wholly owned chain. Owners sit on the board of directors and are slow and careful about whatever is approved by them. The “Plus” designation requires a list of upgrades but owners have a few years to fully meet those requirements. Even then there will still be a wide range in the caliber of properties that earn the Plus designation. So setting accurate expectations is still a point of guest research.
What are the requirements to be awarded the Best Western Plus designation? Here is a link to the official requirements
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
1221 W State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33315
visited April 2012
For some reason as I made preparations to stay at the Best Western Cruise Port in advance of our cruise, I had the impression that this hotel would be a “low end” Plus. Maybe it was because the price was so attractive. But on arrival I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is a “high end” Plus. Very nice. Very comfortable. Very convenient to the airport and to Port Everglades. The complimentary limo service to/from the airport worked well.
The rooms are designed more for cruisers than business travel (well, it is the Cruise Port Best Western). The small
desk is not configured well for work. It is too high, does not have a comfortable desk chair, no lamp on the desk, and no desk power outlets. The room does have the special lamp with a built in power outlet that I’ve seen on the desk in many Best Western Plus hotels, but in this room it was on the night stand on the far side of the bed away from the desk.
Our room had a funky smell but I did not notice it elsewhere in the hotel. Thanks to nostalgic fatigue it was no issue after a few minutes.
On the very positive side, the room was clean and the bed was comfortable. A king room was not available.
We must have come to breakfast at a bad time. There were no plates, no salt & pepper, and no syrup for the pancakes. This hotel does not have nice Belgian waffle maker found at most others. But, hey, it was a free breakfast in a nice breakfast area.
The staff is friendly. They handled the scheduling of our transportation to Port Everglades and later to the airport using a different transportation service than that offered by Royal Caribbean. I was a little nervous about that, but it turned out to be the best option. The cost (albeit very high for a two mile trip…likely because of the high entrance fees to the cruise port) was less than the other option and all went very smoothly, both to the cruise port and after the cruise to the airport.
Our room was generally comfortable and our stay was routine…just the way we like it.
This was the first Best Western I’ve stayed at that installed deflector shields on the heater/air conditioning unit. A small thing but appreciated.
A fast food restaurant is next door with a paved walkway between it and the hotel. Convenient.
We were very pleased. And now, having discovered this hotel, and having thoroughly enjoyed our cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas, we are definitely coming back. We hit a home run on all of our selections from this hotel to the cruise line and ship. Why try to improve on perfection? Well, next time maybe we’ll try the sister ship Allure of the Seas.
The Carolinian Beach Resort
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
2506 N Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
The Best Western Plus Carolinian Beach Resort in Myrtle Beach raises expectations for Best Western hotel experiences. Click here to see the full review.
Grand Strand Inn & Suites
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
1804 South Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach, SC 29577
visited fall 2011
First, repeating my comment above, you should know that in my reviews I strive to take into account the reasonable expectations for the target audience. In the case of hotel/motel reviews, if the target audience is seeking an economical motel type experience, then I am happy to evaluate the site on that basis and give an excellent rating that might seem ludicrous in comparison to a luxury hotel. But the luxury hotel’s target audience has entirely different expectations and my evaluations reflect that. So, with that in mind…
Looking at the photo on this hotel’s website and seeing its Best Western Plus designation, I had certain expectations before arriving. It was a surprise to discover it is a motel, not a hotel. As motels go, this one is reasonably nice. My room was clean. It has a small kitchenette, a flat screen TV, a king bed, and a very tiny bathroom. Unusually, the a/c wall unit (quieter than normal) is controlled by a room thermostat—much better at controlling room temperature. It has a work desk and comfortable chair. For the whole day I thought there was no power outlet for my computer, so I unplugged the TV to make room. Then I discovered I’d not been very observant. Having sat at the desk looking along the top and underneath, looking on the wall on both sides…I did not see the big black power box mounted to the right side of the desk.
The night stand power outlet is full so I was not able to plug in my cell phone charger there (I use it as my Kindle—much better for reading in bed…or anywhere in my opinion…than the Kindle pad). Why don’t hotels use night stand lamps with an easily accessible (while lying down) switch? I tried to connect to the motel’s wi-fi but was not prompted for authentication with IE9. I was able to connect with Firefox. Normally I just use by Verizon Wireless broadband connection and it works fine in this area as you’d expect.
The room has a balcony (see the photo below of my “view”). I knew before arriving that this property is not beach front (it is across the street and down from a beach entry point). The staff is exceptionally friendly and helpful. I observed the manager, Dennis, helping guests to feel welcome.
Breakfast was fine. It was the usual light breakfast fixings that are practical for this type of property. The breakfast area was managed by a brightly smiling and very helpful Teresa (she even made my waffle for me and other guests…which I suspect is partially to do with messes that guests can make of it). They even set tables outside to reduce crowding.
The owner, Jack Robertson, gave me a tour of their beach front property across the street from the main complex. The rooms are small but otherwise comfortable. It has an indoor pool available to all guests at either site in addition to the outdoor pool and small lazy river at the main site. When guests check out they can get a special key that provides access to the indoor pool and dressing rooms/showers. So a family can continue enjoying the beach after they check out, take a shower, and head out for home.
Jack also showed me the stand alone cottages behind the main complex. I saw a three bedroom unit and a one bedroom unit. All are nicely appointed and look very comfortable.
|motel room entrance
|The “beautiful” balcony view from my room.
|the beach is across the street, access down the road a bit
Beach front building (across the street from the motel complex:
Cottages behind main motel complex:
On Myrtle Beach (9/23/2011):
|the new Sky Wheel at the boardwalk
|Home of the world’s worst hot dog. Last spring my father-in-law and I stopped here, got a dog, took a bite, looked at each other, and wondered what animal that meat might have come from.
|Late September is a great time to be at Myrtle Beach. Today is September 24, 2011, it’s a beautiful day, warm, the water is nice, and there are now crowds (and accommodation rates are low).
|stormy sky at Myrtle Beach on 9/23/11
|stormy sky at Myrtle Beach on 9/23/11
Ocean Sands Beach Resort
North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
1525 S Ocean Boulevard, North Myrtle Beach, SC 29582
visited spring 2011
We stayed here in the spring of 2011, off season. We thoroughly enjoyed North Myrtle Beach, especially this time of year when the beach and roads are not crowded. That is the good news. Now let’s consider the hotel. Keep in mind that it is NOT a Plus version.
The first thing you notice is the parking. There isn’t any. And when you do manage to get your car into a slot, good luck getting out again without whacking a pillar, a luggage cart, or a hotel guest (bonus points if you get all three). You can park in a small plain unsecured lot across the street.
In the lobby you’ll find friendly staff and the typically decent Best Western breakfast room.
On the way to your room, if you need a luggage cart as we did for our group of four, the path to the room will make you think you were entered into a reality TV show along the lines of The Amazing Race. Your challenge is to discover a path into the tiny outdoor elevator foyer, get your cart into that foyer without letting it tip over, somehow managing to open the door and pull the cart through at the same time, figure out how to get the cart into the elevator with no room to maneuver and with everyone else standing outside because there is no room in the foyer for the cart and people, and then somehow get the cart out of the elevator. Rolling it to your room is then pretty normal.
Getting into and out of your room: Would you expect this to be a challenge? These rooms have a dangerously high door threshold. I kept slamming my foot on the threshold, almost scoring a face plant after a one and a half gainer. This is especially pleasant when barefoot or in sandals (this is a beach property).
Cleanliness is not this hotel’s forte. Of course, this is typical of lower cost beach front hotels. That’s not to say it’s bad. We had a clean bed and slept well.
We stayed in their Executive Two Room Suite, a free upgrade for my diamond status. This room comes with certain unusual amenities. The air conditioning unit strives hard to be loud enough so you don’t have to worry about maintaining your end of pesky conversations. It even puts out an odor that encourages a good game of “what is that smell?” It comes with a tiny kitchenette that had its most recent thorough cleaning a few decades ago. The second room has an uncomfortable work table and chair, a couch, coffee table, and small balcony. Sit in the couch and get an extended stay; you’ll never get out of it.
The free Internet access worked reasonably well…for three minutes of our three day stay. I reported the problem to the front desk and they later reported that it had been fixed. I suppose that would be true if you brought a directional antenna so you could pick up a signal from a neighboring hotel.
My in-laws were isolated to their room, being unable to go out and enjoy the balcony because smoking is allowed on the balconies. So their neighbor’s smoke wafted directly onto their balcony every day.
One of our sons stayed here at the Ocean Sands the year before and he and his wife enjoyed their stay.
2230 N University Pkwy, Provo, Utah, 84604
visited many times; see update report below from September 2012
Whenever I am in Provo this is my hangout. I don’t need a high end hotel for these trips, so this one is fine and it adds reward points. It is an old hotel and would benefit from a major round of maintenance. It has Plus status and, to be honest, I’m not sure how it qualified for that when I compare it to other Best Western Plus hotels. But it is competitively priced, especially if you use the “BYU” coupon code.
I gave it a moderate friction rating for now because a recent visit highlighted the need for maintenance work. I was moved three times before ending up with a room that had a working shower, a sink that would drain, and other routinely correctable issues. I ended up in a room upstairs that I now specifically ask for when I make a reservation. It is obviously used less frequently and is much nicer than the high traffic rooms in other parts of the hotel. And it has a nice view of Mount Timpanogas and a fast moving irrigation “river” out back.
The warm cookies in the evening are a nice touch.
Update: We returned in September 2012 and enjoyed our visit. The pool area had received maintenance work and a good cleaning. So we actually used it this trip and enjoyed it. The hot tub was hot (a nice change from many hotel hot tubs). Our room was fine (but we made sure to request the upgrade to our preferred area, so I don’t know if the regular rooms still have maintenance issues). One must still go outside to get to the front desk. While the hotel is (and cannot be) up to the standards of newer Best Western Plus properties, it is very convenient to BYU campus and is a Best Western if you’re building reward points.
Airport Inn & Suites
Salt Lake City, Utah (Airport)
5433 W Wiley Post Way, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84116
September 19, 2012: Some years ago the hotel that used to be the Best Western Airport for Salt Lake City, Utah lost its Best Western affiliation. It was a surprise on my next visit when I was directed to a “Best Western Airport” that turned out to be in North Salt Lake. It wasn’t a bad hotel, but certainly not convenient to the airport. So I as relieved to discover that a new Best Western Plus had been built a few blocks from where the previous hotel was located not far off airport property.
We arrived about midnight. At the front desk all was quiet. Nobody around. We waited several minutes and still no front desk clerk. I was dialing the hotel number to see if I could rouse someone when the clerk showed up from an errand elsewhere in the hotel. We were very tired after a long late flight and relieved to get to our room. Unfortunately our neighbors were very loud. I called the front desk who asked them to stop the noise. Eventually they did but not before we discovered that the soundproofing between rooms could be improved.
This is a new hotel with amenities nicely meeting the standards we have come to enjoy in a late model Best Western Plus. The king bed and pillows are very comfortable. The small work desk and office chair are adequately comfortable with convenient access power outlets. The other furniture in the room, as you can see in the photos, is also reasonably comfortable and attractive. Combine this with the upgraded restroom and attractive room rates and I am pleased with the value and comfort of the nicer Best Western Plus hotels represented by this property.
We left early the next morning so did not have an opportunity to enjoy the indoor pool, but we did have a good breakfast in their well appointed free breakfast area.
10695 Auto Mall Drive, Sandy, Utah 84070
visited twice in 2011
I used to stay at the Best Western Airport which was conveniently located but, alas, it closed. So now when I need a home base in or closer to Salt Lake City, the CottonTree Inn Sandy is a great choice. Conveniently located near I-15, you can quickly head off to wherever you need to go in the area.
This is another of the Plus level Best Western hotels. It is surprisingly nice and comfortable for the cost. The breakfast area is large and open with plenty of room to move around and get food. Most BW breakfast rooms I’ve seen are tight on space.
During one of my visits here I needed a place to meet for an hour and the manager kindly allowed me to use one of the meeting rooms.
9826 Midlothian Turnpike, Richmond, Virginia 23235
I stayed here on January 22, 2013. I’m glad I had my GPS to let me know when I arrived. This hotel is not at the main street level but is behind a large car wash, accessed by taking a short road (or a long driveway).
Arriving late, the very friendly Tanise greeted me and assigned my room. It was in a building behind the main building. I parked at one end where it looked like there was an entrance up some stairs, but I guessed wrong. So I pulled my luggage to the other end of the building where there was a key card entrance. I didn’t see any handicap access for that building.
My room was surprisingly big and unlike any other room I’ve stayed in at a Best Western. The interior walls are all brick and the ceiling was decorated with a grid of timbers. I found it attractive and in normal circumstances would have enjoyed it very much.
The night of January 22nd was bitter cold for Richmond, 19 degrees F. My room heater was just not up to the task. The room temperature stayed in the low 50′s with the small heater cranking for all it was worth at the highest (and loudest) fan setting. There was no extra blanket and it was late, so I found some extra towels and laid them out over the bed’s comforter. No joy. It was cold. No sleep that night. But except for the cold, the bed was very comfortable.
This hotel has a larger breakfast area than is found in most Best Western Plus hotels and offers breakfast items that are standard fare for BW+.
Inn at Valley View
5050 Valley View Boulevard Northwest, Roanoke, VA 24012
visited several times in 2011
I was very pleasantly surprised the first time I stayed here. I did not expect marble tops on the tables and counters and a leather reading chair in my room. I was upgraded to a king room that included a very nice elliptical exercise machine.
The marble top desk in the room is a very nice workspace. It has a heavy lamp, power outlets, and a very nice leather secretarial chair with pneumatic adjustable height. The desk surface is abnormally high, so I had to raise the chair to work comfortably and that made my legs sore, but I put something under my feet for support.
The hotel manager, Kathy, and all of her staff are exceptionally nice.
There is a small pool and hot tub as well as complimentary access to the small fitness center in the Comfort Inn next door.
You even get a small rubber duck in the bathroom to take home to the grandchildren.
The location is excellent. A large shopping mall is nearby as are a plethora of excellent restaurants. When you visit, try Cheddars outside of the mall. The food and atmosphere are good and the small croissants served when you are seated are wonderful.
I am delighted to know that Best Western includes such nice hotels in its properties. Save cost but still enjoy comforts.
Copyright 2011 FrictionFactor.com