Nov062008

aloft Portland Airport Cascade Station

The drive across Oregon on Interstate 5 yesterday was miserable.  Passing truck after truck through white-out conditions from the road water spray was simply a pedal to the metal dash to get in front of another truck for improved road visibility.  

The cold rain dampened sightseeing adventures.  The last twenty miles to the Portland Airport on Interstate 205 at 6:00pm was bumper to bumper traffic.  Portland has grown quite a bit since I last drove the area in 1992.  

Airport travelers don’t need to be concerned with the traffic.  The aloft Portland has a shuttle and light rail access from the airport or city. 

The hotel

The bright lights outside the hotel entryway and an array of glass windows in the lobby seemed like “a vision of W Hotels”.

aloft Portland Airport at Cascade Station

aloft Portland Airport at Cascade Station

Terminals at the entrance can be used for self-check-in.  I used the desk and redeemed my SPG American Express annual certificate for 50% off to cut the rate from the lowest published internet rate of $139 per night down to $79.50 based on a $159 rack rate.  An SPG member could also lower the rate using 1,000 Starpoints for a 50% off award. 

The receptionist did not ask me about a platinum amenity at check-in.  I asked her on a trip back through the lobby and I was told I’d receive 250 points.  I guess there are no alternative choices and I hadn’t realized aloft hotels are second-tier amenity class with only 250 points like Four Points.  I’ll have to check if the new Element brand is the same at 250 instead of 500 points.

aloft Portland Airport pool table and computers in lobby

Mac computers and pool table in aloft Portland lobby

The Lobby

The lobby is set up for socializing or work.  A pool table is a prominent feature.  A computer cubby contains two Macs with large screens, complimentary internet access and the major MS Office applications. 

There are a variety of board games around the room, seating for dozens, and a long counter adjacent to the pool table with outlets for working on your own computer.

aloft lobby area

A variety of books from Rock Encyclopedia to Zodiac astrology, large screen TVs, magazines, and loads of board games can keep you busy for the night and day.  The w xyz bar was not happening on a Wednesday night.  Thursday is the happening night with a “diva dj”.  At checkout I learned that Missy Higgins had played in the aloft lobby Monday night.  I am so bummed to have been two days late for that show.

aloft Portland w xyz bar

aloft Portland, w xyz bar in lobby

Two elevators for the five floor hotel.  The hotel is so green you can grow roots waiting for the elevator.  Seriously, I have been in very few hotels in the past twenty years with a slower elevator.  Good thing the hotel does not have twenty floors. 

aloft Portland lobby

aloft Portland lobby

The indoor pool is separated from the lobby by an interior open-air courtyard.  The rain kept people out of the courtyard.

aloft Portland interior courtyard

aloft Portland courtyard between indoor pool and lobby

The pool faces the road and the window design of the hotel means pedestrians on the street can gaze in.  On the other hand, swimmers can gaze out to the mall across the street.  Driving by the new mall I wondered if the lack of shoppers is due to the economy or the location.

aloft Portland pool

aloft Portland indoor pool

The pool room was unused in the numerous times I passed by or viewed it while waiting for the elevator.  The pool room was quite comfortable with plenty of lounge chairs, tables, a shower, toilets, and a lovely temperature.  All the glass allows you to look from the pool across the courtyard into the lobby.

The hotel strikes me as a great place to socialize or entertain yourself with the games, magazines, books, and gadgets.

The Room

The first thing you see when walking in the room is the bathroom area and small closet space.

aloft room design 1

The coffee maker, safe, and magazines are across from the sink in the aloft room.

From other reviews I have read and photos I have seen there is a uniformity to the room design in aloft hotels around the country.  You would be hard pressed to tell which hotel location you are seeing when looking at photos of the lobby and rooms.  Unlike W Hotels which all have unique character, the aloft brand is a formula hotel and if you like the formula you can count on a consistent feel at other locations. 

 aloft kohler sink

Bathroom sink is located next to room doorway and empty refrigerator is beneath sink.

aloft shower

The toilet is located between sink and shower. 

aloft shower amenities

aloft doesn’t have little toiletry bottles of Bliss products to take home.  Refillable jars are on the shower wall.

aloft bed

aloft bed sits in center of room and looks onto a wall with large screen TV.

aloft TV

The TV is the only wall feature in the room.  The barren walls would drive my wife crazy.

aloft desk

The desk area is where I spent most of my aloft stay working away on the computer and making phone calls.  Complimentary wireless internet, local calls, and toll-free calls saved me some money.  I paid $12.95 last month at the W Hotel Silicon Valley to access the internet for 90 minutes.

One complaint I have about the room design was the cold room could quickly be heated with the room thermostat, but the warm air did not circulate under the desk where I was working on the opposite side of the room in front of the window.  Putting on shoes solved that issue.

aloft iron

Iron and Board are tucked away in a nook on the side of the bed.  Lucky I even saw them.

Which leads me to another complaint regarding no hotel directory in the room.  There is a laundry room in aloft hotels and I only knew this from reading a Hotel Chatter review and seeing the photo of the “Clean” room.  The Portland aloft laundry room is on the 5th floor.

The aloha staff are helpful if you ask questions.  A laundry room is something I would be more likely to read about in a hotel room directory rather than asking.  Since the aloft hotels are so uniform a room and hotel map would be a simple feature to provide to indicate things like the location of the iron and laundry room and the other features of the hotel.

 

I like the functionality of the aloft space.  From the games and recreational activities, to the lobby bar and food court, to the 42 inch TV on the bedroom wall and basic room clock the objective is to provide the basic amenities a traveler is most likely to need.

The room is great for a single.  Two people will likely be fine for a night.  A family may find the room a little sparse and cramped.  There was only the desk chair and the bench directly under the TV for seating. 

As an airport hotel these aloft hotel designs are a good option for the traveler.   

 

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.

More articles by Ric Garrido »

Pingbacks

  1. […] My first hotel stay at the Aloft brand was in November 2008 at the Aloft Portland Airport (PDX) at Cascade Station. I missed Missy Higgins playing in the Aloft Hotel lobby by one night. My review of the hotel still stands as a basic description with photos of what guests will find at any Aloft Hotel. This hotel brand is so uniform that I am fond of stating a guest needs to look out the window to remember where they are located. In the past three years I have also been to Aloft Denver Airport and Aloft National Harbor, Maryland. […]

Comments are closed.