Disclosure: As a media attendee to the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group 2014 Radisson & Radisson Blu Americas conference February 18-21, I stayed three nights at the Radisson Blu Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota for free. Carlson Companies headquarters is about 13 miles from Bloomington in Minnetonka, Minnesota.
My hotel stay was a convention experience with several large room meals for 600 or so attendees. This was my setting for a review of the second Radisson Blu hotel in the USA when Radisson Blu Mall of America hotel opened March 15, 2014.
Light rail trains run between Mall of America in Bloomington and downtown Minneapolis. MSP airport is on the main line. Having already spent five nights in Minneapolis before the conference, I took the Nicollet Mall bus from Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, picked up a transfer from the bus driver and rode the light rail from Minneapolis to MSP airport for $1.75. At the airport, I picked up the Radisson Blu complimentary shuttle to the hotel a few miles south from the airport.
Mall of America gets more visitors annually than the population of Minnesota. Radisson Blu is physically connected to the mall by a bridgeway and is the only hotel connected to MOA. There are a variety of hotels surrounding the mall, including a Country Inn & Suites, Best Western and another Radisson hotel. There are likely several more, but those were the three hotels I saw from the hotel shuttle.
Radisson Blu Mall of America seen from bridge window between hotel and Mall of America.
I have been to six Radisson Blu hotels and the blue lights design is a feature I like for a cool environment. Some pictures in this piece are photos without a flash to emphasize the blue imagery that is closer to what the eye sees.
Radisson Blu MOA ground floor lobby.
The camera flash provides crisper detail.
View from escalator to second floor from lobby entrance. Stairs lead to main convention hall space.
Nearly all the social activity of the hotel occurs on the second level with the FireLake Grillhouse and Bar, guest floor elevators, conference room wing and bridge to Mall of America. There is one elevator that only travels between lobby level to the second floor level. Guest room elevators are in a different corridor.
FireLake Grill & Restaurant, Radisson Blu Mall of America
As I was writing this I thought about the 1970s song Fire Lake by Bob Seger with backing vocals by the Eagles.
One of the features of the Carlson Rezidor conference is an opening night small room dinner for media. Rudy Maxa was there and I spotted Juliana Shallcross from Hotel Chatter with her long blond hair and fashionable style as she was leaving the dinner. Those high-profile media types never seem to hang out too long at conferences. Juliana had a news piece written and published on HotelChatter.com before I finished drinking free beer and returned to my hotel room.
I confess. I ordered bison to find out how it tastes, a specialty entrée from FireLake. Tasted like cattle beef to me, but I know for a fact having been a professional taste tester in my past work experience that I have poor taste bud differentiation compared to many people.
I kept thinking about the bison paddock in San Francisco and those adorable faces I photographed in December.
Entrance to FireLake Grill.
FireLake Grill and Bar has two separate large rooms.
One of the nice features of the hotels is five elevators and even with a full house during the conference, there was barely a wait for elevators.
The hotel has 13 floors. My room was on the 13th floor, the same room as the hotel elite lounge.
King Bed room at Radisson Mall of America.
I stayed at Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago in March 2013 for the Radisson Americas conference and I recognized similar features between the two rooms.
Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago King Room.
Radisson Blu Mall of America desk and TV.
Sitting area in Radisson Blu Mall of America.
Coffee pod maker took me a few minutes to figure out.
I guess I don’t stay enough in fancy hotels to learn the different pod styles. Lift the bar to open the coffee maker and insert the pod. There were no directions I saw in the room for how to operate the coffee maker.
Bathroom sink, scale and toiletries. Toilet on left and shower on right. One piece of information I learned from the conference is Radisson Blu is changing its toiletries brand from Anne Semonin to ThisWorks. The new bath products will roll out across Radisson Blu hotels globally this year.
My wife Kelley would love this bench feature in the shower for shaving her legs. The shower leads into the one complaint I had with the hotel room.
There is only half a shower door. The issue I had during my stay is the room temperature set at 70°F was blowing cold air for most of my stay. Sure, I should have called engineering to fix the problem, but I loved the cold air at night while snuggled under the duvet when I would normally be insufferably hot. So I suffered the cold.
The first night I estimate the temperature in the room was under 55°F. Sitting at the desk with the AC blowing on me for three hours as I was writing Loyalty traveler blog pieces was chilling to the bone. I think I was hypothermic by the time I got in bed under the duvet to get a couple hours sleep before a 16-hour conference day.
With the shower not having a door, I had to close the bathroom door to keep the cold air from the bedroom chilling me in the warm shower when I was not directly under the water. By the second day, I compensated for the cold air by turning the room thermostat to 76°F.
Another media attendee and I consoled each other about the cold rooms, but other people staying on Floor 13 did not experience this problem, so apparently an isolated incident.
Room view of Minneapolis skyline 13 miles away from Radisson Blu Mall of America.
Fitness Room and Pool
Radisson Blu Mall of America indoor pool on 3rd floor. Open 5am-11pm.
The guest floor elevators, pool access and fitness room are all key card activated providing added security for a hotel with open access to the Mall of America during the day.
Pool looked small in other photo and I did not sense it was a small pool. This photo gives another perspective.
Fitness room seemed adequate for the hotel.
Radisson Blu Mall of America is the hotel location for someone wanting proximity to Mall of America. I went into the mall and walked around for about an hour. The place was enormous with an entire amusement park and 500 shops. Not the kind of place I care to be in the suburbs of Minneapolis.
Radisson Blu Mall of America is currently a Club Carlson Category 6 hotel at 50,000 points per night, but drops to category 5 at 44,000 points per reward night on March 15, 2014.
Next: Radisson Blu Minneapolis coming Summer 2014
I preferred downtown Minneapolis as the place to be compared to the suburbs. The next Radisson Blu opening for the USA will be the downtown Radisson Plaza Minneapolis Hotel when it completes a remodel for summer 2014.
Radisson Minneapolis at 7th Street on Nicollet Mall was the original Radisson Hotel opened in 1909. Radisson was named for a 17th-century French explorer and fur trapper with the Hudson Bay Company, Pierre Esprit Radisson, who may have been the first white person to reach present-day Minnesota. Curtis Carlson, founder of Carlson Hotels, acquired the Radisson in 1962 and expanded the hotel brand into a chain of hotels. The historic Radisson Hotel structure was demolished in the 1980s. The new Radisson Blu hotel is connected to Macy’s.
Radisson Blu Minneapolis coming Summer 2014.
Ric Garrido of Monterey, California is writer and owner of Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler shares news and views on hotels, hotel loyalty programs and vacation destinations for frequent guests.