Jan202015

Country Inn & Suites West Valley City Fire False Alarms

One of the most frightening events a hotel guest can experience is a fire alarm waking you from a deep sleep. From what I overheard from guests and later confirmed by a hotel employee is the fire alarm sounding at Country Inn & Suites West Valley City, Utah has been a regular occurrence this past week.

Fire, Fire, False Alarms

There is a high-pitch constant sound in the room as I write this hotel review. My hearing is not good, especially for high-pitched sounds. This is my third night at the hotel and the high-pitch sound, which ceased as I am writing this sentence, has been present about 50% of the time I am in the room. While writing this review, I determined the source was the room refrigerator. I unplugged it. Only took me 48 hours to figure out the annoying sound source. Like I said, my hearing is not too good.

That recurring refrigerator whine was nothing compared to the screeching alarm that woke me from sleep at 11:20pm on the second night of my three night stay. The fire alarm in the hotel went off for perhaps ten seconds and ceased. I got out of bed, smelled for smoke, and did not smell anything. Several guests in the hallway were walking around talking to each other. Surprisingly, there were no real signs of panic or urgency among the guests. Apparently a fire false alarm. I went back to bed.

Laying in bed on the third floor, the highest floor of the hotel, I thought to myself about what I could do if there was a fire trapping me in the room. I could tie the two bed sheets together and tie one end to the King bed leg and probably get 15 feet of bed sheet rope to reduce the fall to the ground by half. That is, if I could tie a secure knot to hold the sheets together and stay tied to the furniture and assuming the sheets did not rip from my weight, then I might make it to the ground without breaking any bones. The fitted sheet had already slipped off the corner of the mattress several times as I slept so I knew it would come off the bed easily. I felt under the bed and there were no bed legs. The bed rested on a rectangular wooden box frame.

I looked around the room and saw the large heavy dresser has legs. My room is a two-room suite with a wooden table chair in the sitting room. I could smash out the window with the chair, tie together the sheets, move the dresser to the window, tie the sheets to the dresser leg and climb out the broken window. Lucky the hotel is only three floors high. That strategy would not work as well from a 4th floor room. Of course there is the issue of broken glass falling to the ground below. Better keep one pair of shoes by the bedroom window and one pair of shoes by the front door.

A few minutes later the fire alarm wailed again for several seconds and ceased. My ears were ringing from the piercing noise. I have heard hotel fire alarms before. This was the loudest alarm I recall. I guess a loud fire alarm is a positive factor when it is functioning correctly.

This time I jumped out of bed and quickly threw on pants, socks, shoes, shirt and sweater, grabbed my computer and camera and stuffed them in my backpack, snatched my coat from the closet and headed out the door in less than two minutes. At 11:30pm the temperature outside was in the upper 30s.

A dozen or so people were in the third floor hallway. Nobody spoke. I followed several guys to the end of the hall and down the stairs. Two West Valley City firefighters were present at the front desk. Obviously, the first alarm had brought them to the hotel.

A group of men and a couple of women staying at the hotel were standing or seated along the lobby stairs to the second floor. I sat on the lobby couch. The front desk clerk and firefighters said nothing to the dozen or so guests sitting and standing around the lobby.

From the conversations I heard among the hotel guests, several who apparently were extended stay guests, the hotel fire alarm briefly blasting had been a frequent occurrence over the past week at the hotel. Several guests stated that a person smoking marijuana in a second floor room was responsible for the most recent alarm. The police had been called to respond to that incident.

I sat in the lobby for 45 minutes as several firefighters moved around the hotel, the front desk clerk made several phone calls, and the police arrived, confirmed the guest had admitted to smoking marijuana outside the hotel, but apparently not in the hotel room, and they left. The second floor guests questioned the officers as to why the smoker was not in custody. The officers said they were not going to arrest the person for being high since there was no evidence he had marijuana in his possession or had smoked it in the hotel room. I heard the firefighters say that smoking in the hotel room would not have triggered the fire alarm anyway.

Eventually there was only me and one other guest in the lobby after the police had come and gone and the firefighters left the hotel. The front desk clerk never said a word to the guests sitting around the lobby about the fire alarm situation during the entire time I was present. Her only interaction with guests had been with a guy who wanted a refund for the hotel stay. She told him she had no authority to process a refund.

I went back to my room and started reading the book America 1908 I had picked up in the lobby Read It & Return Lending Library.

The next morning another hotel employee confirmed the fire alarm had gone off several days last week.

Besides the false fire alarms, there are several other issues I had with this hotel stay.

Hotel shuttle

Country Inn West Valley City

The complimentary airport shuttle runs hourly from 6am to 11pm, but only by prior reservation. I assumed the hotel was an airport hotel, but it is not really an airport hotel. I arrived at SLC after 11pm and getting to the hotel was a $25 taxi ride.

On a positive note, the UTA TRAX light rail Decker Lake station is only ten minutes walk from the hotel. The green line route goes from SLC Airport to West Valley City. Ticket prices are $2.50 one way or $6.25 for a one day pass.

On weekdays, the first train from West Valley City to the Airport leaves at 5:03am. The last train from the Airport to West Valley City leaves at 10:42pm.

www.rideuta.com

UTA TRAX

Breakfast Bums

As I entered the breakfast room the morning following the fire alarm, tired from sleep interrupted, two people were walking out of the dining room with coffee. There was only one other guest eating breakfast when I arrived. As I poured a cup of coffee, the front desk clerk walked in to ask the breakfast room attendant if the two people leaving the hotel were actually guests at the hotel. The front desk person thought they were two street vagrants who had walked in as breakfast bums.

The hot breakfast items offered changed each morning. I thought the food selection was inferior to breakfast served at two Holiday Inn Express hotels I stayed in last month. The breakfast bums might have found better food selection at the Sleep Inn or Baymont Inn adjacent to the Country Inn & Suites.

Spontaneous Switches

A couple hours after breakfast, while seated at the desk in my room writing a Loyalty Traveler post, the overhead room light, which was turned off, spontaneously flashed on and off a couple of times and the ceiling fan began whirling at high speed. Between faulty fire alarms sounding in the night and  electrical switches spontaneously turning on, I had serious concerns about my safety at this hotel.

I am not the cookie monster

The final straw in my hotel stay experience was coming back to the hotel with a Vietnamese takeaway dinner from the Pho Saigon Noodle House next to the hotel. The hotel had cookies on the front desk counter. I stopped and took one cookie out of the case. A hotel employee walks by me and says, “Only one cookie is permitted per guest!”

I held up the cookie and replied, “I only have one cookie.”

He looked at me, “Some guests take several cookies to their room.”

Final Thoughts on Country Inn & Suites West Valley City

Country Inn & Suites West Valley City, Utah is the lowest category Club Carlson hotel in the Salt Lake City area at category 2 for 15,000 points per night. The rates were the lowest of the five Club Carlson properties in Salt Lake Valley at the time I booked but only by about ten dollars. The other four Club Carlson hotels are all category 3 at 28,000 points per night, including Radisson SLC Airport and Radisson SLC Downtown.

Country Inn & Suites West Valley City, Utah also has the lowest rating on TripAdvisor of the five Club Carlson hotels in the region.

  • Country Inn & Suites West Valley City 48% of travelers recommend
  • Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Downtown 75% of travelers recommend.
  • Radisson Hotel Salt Lake City Airport 82% of travelers recommend..
  • Country Inn & Suites Bountiful, Utah 84% of travelers recommend.
  • Country Inn & Suites Salt Lake City South Towne, Utah 90% of travelers recommend.

Positives:

  • Country Inn & Suites West Valley City hotel is convenient for cheap public transportation between the airport and West Valley City on UTA TRAX light rail.
  • The hotel is convenient to the interstate with free parking.
  • Wi-Fi worked fast during my stay.
  • The bed and especially the pillows were comfortable to sleep on.
  • The two room suite was spacious with a couch, desk, refrigerator, microwave and two TVs.
  • Plenty of restaurants around the hotel for dining.
  • Indoor pool and spa tub.
  • Read It & Return Lending Library.

Negatives:

  • Faulty electrical circuits apparent during my stay.
  • Stained furniture in the room.
  • Minimal noise insulation in room. The hallway sounds were quite loud with voices and doors disruptive to room peacefulness. I wore earplugs when maids cleaned rooms as doors slammed repeatedly.
  • Maid walked into my room when I had Do Not Disturb sign on door. She did not knock before entering.
  • Breakfast food selection was substandard in my opinion compared to other Country Inns and other midscale hotel brands I have stayed in the past year.

I had another three night stay reservation for this hotel next week. The opportunity to earn 30,000 Club Carlson bonus points on a $72.25 per night room rate is not sufficient incentive to endure another three nights at Country Inn & Suites West Valley City. There are reasons this hotel’s TripAdvisor ratings are far below other Club Carlson properties in the Salt Lake region.

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 »

Comments

  1. West Valley City is not the best area of Salt Lake valley, to put it mildly.

    Instead of taxi from the airport, one can use Uber and/or Lyft.

  2. West Valley City was not an issue. Getting into downtown was easy enough on TRAX.

    I have Uber app on my iPhone. Never used Uber or Lyft yet. I’ll be sure to book a SLC hotel with an airport shuttle that runs at midnight next week.

    I did not want to wait for Uber. The cab was sitting there at the airport. I rarely need private rides. Public transportation and hotel shuttles almost always get me where I need to be.

    SLC Airport taxi is only the 4th time I have taken a taxi since 2006. Last year I needed a taxi at Detroit Airport. Two years ago I needed a taxi to change hotels and make a meeting in Chicago during a blizzard. Several years ago I needed a taxi to my home from Monterey Airport.

    I wished I had thought of Uber Monday night when I skipped seeing the LA band Miner playing in Murray due to public transportation ending at 10:30pm. It did not even occur to me to try Uber or Lyft as an option to get home from the show.

  3. What a freakin nightmare! I would have completely lost it over there.

    I had a noisy A/C in my Radisson room in Philly and tweeted to customer service, who put me in touch with the hotel manager. They generously refunded the points I used for my stay. Your experience certainly warrants a refund, IMO.

    “One cookie!!” WTF!

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