Nov052008

Last Night I Stayed in a Holiday Inn Express

I am at a Holiday Inn Express in Ashland, Oregon and Obama won the Presidential election. 

I frequently comment about the great value of Priority Club PointBreaks and last night was a good value for me.  Portland, Oregon is over 700 miles from my home in Monterey and I needed a stopover hotel.  The latest PointBreaks list has three hotels within 50 miles of each other in Medford and Ashland, Oregon, and another hotel in Yreka, California and any of these hotels made for a good break in the long drive across California and Oregon.  The rate for this hotel stay in Ashland, Oregon was reduced from $135.25 to $62.50 by just buying points from Priority Club and booking the room using 5,000 points. 

As I drove north yesterday, up the Big Valley of California on Interstate 5, I was blown away by the number of Holiday Inn Express hotels off the freeway exits. 

Holiday Inn Express sign Ashland, OR

Holiday Inn Express, Ashland, Oregon

Searching for hotels by route on the Holiday Inn Express website this morning, I see there are 40 Holiday Inn Express hotels between Los Angeles Airport and Seattle Airport within 5 miles of Interstate 5, most directly visible just off the Interstate.  And there are probably at least half as many Hilton Hotels’ Hampton Inn & Suites locations near the HI Express hotels.  There are an incredible number of good quality freeway exit hotels for those of us making the 1,000+ miles drive along the western states north-south I-5 corridor.

Yesterday, I rushed to register my vote and get to AAA for maps before heading out of town.   I vote absentee ballot, but I like to drop it off at the polling station just to get a feel for the social activity of voting.  And I get to fast-track the line and just drop off my ballot.

my-monterey-polling-station

Monterey Votel Polling Station at Lake El Estero Park

I hit the road at 1pm, a good four hours behind schedule.  So much for sightseeing on the first day of the drive.  I took some photos at 70mph.

California Aqueduct next to I-5 somewhere near Stockton, CA

View of California Aqueduct (state’s water transport system) next to Interstate 5, near Stockton, CA

By the time I reached Sacramento at 3:30pm I had the desire to go cruise around the State Capitol building and see if there was any activity, but the remaining hours of driving to Oregon kept me freeway bound.

Sacrmento City of Trees water tower

Sacramento, City of Trees

I had the number 411 miles in my head to reach Ashland, OR as I drove from Monterey, past Sacramento, and north to Redding.  I figured gas would be less in Oregon, although $2.47 along I-5 was 40 cents per gallon less than I paid in Monterey on the way out of town.

I realized 411 miles was not the correct number for the distance to Ashland as I passed Redding, California and headed into the rural hills on a dark night with little traffic.  Amazing how the election had people off the road yesterday evening.  I had another 135 miles to drive to Ashland.  Unfortunately, my decision to wait until reaching Oregon for gas was no longer a viable option and I had to pay $2.87 in Weed, California to make the remaining miles to Ashland, Oregon.  Stepping out of my car in shorts and a t-shirt to fill the gas tank was a wake-up call at 7:30pm and a temperature of 36 degrees.  The temperature dropped from 64 in Redding to the 30s within thirty minutes of driving.  Ashland, OR was 33 degrees and I went from the cold to a too warm hotel room at the Holiday Inn Express.

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Holiday Inn Express, Ashland, OR

I value function over form in most decisions.  Holiday Inn Express is a functional lodging option.  I have to admit that I don’t even recall having stayed in a Holiday Inn Express hotel before now.  The room had a comfortable king-size bed and good pillows and a traditional white comforter.  Room furnishings consisted of a cushy chair, a desk with two chairs, an empty refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, iron and board, and the most comprehensive TV selection I have seen in a hotel room in a long time.  The hotel had the regular cable package and I could flip from station to station for all the election coverage last night. I loved it.

Holiday Inn Express bed

Holiday Inn Express bed in room, Ashland, Oregon

The bathroom had the simple amenities that make the difference to me.  The shower had a curved curtain rod.  I get wigged when the plastic curtain liner touches me.  It is amazing I can stay in hotels with my microbiology background, but my love of travel is greater than my germophobia.

I chuckled over the plastic sign on the bathroom countertop,

“Items in this room are inventoried daily to ensure your comfort.  Please be considerate of the next guest and leave all items.  If we find items missing, we will assume you chose to purchase them and will charge your account accordingly.”

 

Breakfast is served 6:30am-9:30am and although a little carbohydrate heavy for everyday consumption, I enjoyed the rare treat of biscuits and gravy this morning.

 

Express Start breakfast Holiday Inn Express

Express Start breakfast at Holiday Inn Express

An indoor swimming pool and small fitness center offer exercise options.

Holiday Inn Express pool at Ashland, Oregon

Indoor pool at Holiday Inn Express, Ashland, Oregon

The Holiday Inn Express Ashland is a pet-friendly hotel evidenced by several dogs passing through the lobby this morning.  Pet-friendly hotels are a feature I appreciate, although others may find that bothersome.  I remember past experiences of having to sneak our pets into hotel rooms. Pet-friendly hotels are vital to some road travelers.

And best of all is the free wireless internet allowing me to work this morning.

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We all have travel biases.  My bias is a focus on air travel and international locations.  My hotel choices reflect an inclination towards big city upscale hotels.  The great value of hotel loyalty programs to me as a traveler is the ability to stay in the heart of a major city at an affordable price. 

I’ve done the hotel stays by the airport to save $75 to $100 per night on a hotel room and commute into the city.  I definitely advise against this when visiting a great city like New York, Paris, or London. 

I grew up as a camper and commuter when my family traveled around Europe during the years my father was stationed on U.S. military bases in Germany.  My teenage dream was to actually stay in a hotel on the beach or in the city rather than spending two hours each day commuting from the sleep location to the tourist location when we visited London, Barcelona, Paris, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, and other great cities of the world my parents took us to see, but not stay.

Starwood Hotels and Hyatt Hotels work well for most major cities.  Road travelers need more options and this is where the value of Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group (Holiday Inn), and Marriott exceeds the smaller hotel chains.  These major chains have large numbers of properties, particularly in the USA and more uniform standards than found with Choice, Best Western, and Wyndham Hotels Group.

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I have made long road trips before.  I drove my last car from Eureka, California all the way to Cape Breton, Nova Scotia – a distance over 4,000 miles one-way.  Not on one trip though.  I had a stopover for two years of graduate school in Massachusetts.  Eventually I drove that Isuzu Trooper SUV back to California where it survived another ten years after four years driving in the freezing temperatures of New England.  As a person who has mostly lived in coastal California, the sounds a frozen car makes when initially driven on a sub-zero morning are rather alarming.

I hope it doesn’t snow on this trip.  There is snow on the mountains around Ashland this morning.

Ashland, Oregon landscape view from Holiday Inn Express

 Ashland, Oregon view across Interstate 5 from Holiday Inn Express

I have some laminated newspapers I feel have great historic significance.  I told the desk clerk at the hotel this morning that today’s paper is a keeper.

USA Today November 5, 2008 Obama Wins

USA Today November 5, 2008 Obama Wins

“Do you remember the 5th of November?”

  John Lennon “Remember”

Long before I knew the historical significance of this John Lennon line (Guy Fawkes day in Britain), I always contributed some esoteric significance to the date as if John Lennon were a Nostradamus figure.  Perhaps he was.

“Remember the man
used to leave you empty handed
Always, always let you down
If you ever change your mind
about leaving it all behind
Remember, Remember Today”

John Lennon, “Remember”

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. I wrote about the $198 airline voucher in the October 7 Loyalty Traveler post: http://loyaltytraveler.boardingarea.com/2008/10/07/one-stay-at-holiday-inn-or-hi-express-earns-198-usa-48-airfare/

    I used 5,000 points for each of my two hotel stays at Holiday Inn Express in Ashland, Oregon and Yreka, CA. I purchased 10,000 points from Priority Club on Saturday and booked the Ashland, Portland room on the following Tuesday morning, Nov 4, election day for that evening.

    Unfortunately, hotel rooms redeemed for points do not count towards promotion activity.

    I did save quite a bit on the rates by getting two hotel nights on points for a total cost of $125. I did not even pay tax to buy points or at hotel checkout.

    The hotel rates after tax would have been over $130 for each hotel. $125 was a nice discount for $260 in hotel rooms and made these Holiday Inn Express stays quite a bargain.

    I enjoyed Oregon a little, but the rains were quite heavy for three of the four days I was in the state and kept me holed up working in my hotel rooms most of the time there.

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