Lodging

Sometimes I’m Wrong: On Major Hotel Chains

The Omni Hotel Charlottesville lobby as viewed from the 7th floor glass elevator.

Travel is like parenting–you think you know how to do it until you are actually faced with the task of, well, doing it.  Travel is humbling.  And very rarely, while on the road, you may just find yourself growing as a person.  Don’t worry–it doesn’t happen often.

I’m a huge fan of boutique hotels, B&Bs, and inns.  I will never stop being a fan of these things.  But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some really great hotel chains that are worthy of your time and money (wow–I can’t believe I just wrote that).  I recently discovered such a chain, and I’d like to think I’m a big enough person to admit that I was wrong.  So I’ll say it here, publicly:  some hotel chains are really great.  Look–I even put it in bold!

I was never awake enough to take a photo of the breakfast beverage tray before we attacked it. Imagine my grapefruit juice and a mug for his coffee.

Case and point, my recent stay at the Omni Hotel Charlottesville, during which I did something heretofore unprecedented:  I signed up for a hotel loyalty program.

The Omni Select Guest Loyalty program offers, among other things, free wifi access for the duration of your stay.  Honestly, this is why I even considered signing up for the program (bravo, Omni corporate offices!)  But I also don’t fill out online forms randomly; I did a bit of research before hitting ‘submit’ on my application.  It’s a pretty great program, which I could blather on about.  Or you could just read about here.  I will take the time to tell you this: it is free, and after you sign up, they will bring you fresh juice in the morning.  Every morning.  Every time you stay at an Omni hotel.  They will deliver this juice at whatever time you want, knock on your door to gently wake you, and then leave it outside your door.  You will then put on your hotel-issued white robe, stumble over to the door, and collect your breakfast beverage tray complete with tiny bamboo plant-in-a-box.  Oh–and if you want coffee, you can have that, too.  I’m just more of a juice person.

But beyond the perks of the Select Guest program, I found the customer service at the Omni Charlottesville to be truly above and beyond.  From the variety of parking options–low cost valet to super-convenient self parking–to the cheese plate that was delivered to our room one night, I really felt like I was being treated like a real person, not just ‘a customer’.  And when my frantic husband discovered that he left his toiletry kit in the bathroom of our last hotel, the staff of the Omni offered him a variety of problem-solving options–detailed directions to the nearest CVS, an offer to open the lobby gift shop specifically for him (which was closed because it was Thanksgiving day; he declined) and, finally, a bag of mini-toiletries to temporarily replace his lost items until he could get to the store the next morning.  The kit was delivered to our room within minutes of his phone inquiry asking for directions to a pharmacy.

I stay at boutique hotels, B&Bs, and inns in part because of the exceptional service.  Imagine my shock and delight to find this same level of care at a giant chain hotel.  While I’ll continue to vary my lodging options to suit the destination and my needs, I’m confident I will return to an Omni hotel in the future.  And I’ll let you know how that goes, too.

Disclosure:  While I was granted a media rate stay at the Omni Hotel Charlottesville, all opinions are always my own.  Additionally, it is important to note that no one made me write this post.  I only share things on The Suitcase Scholar that I really find exceptional.  And I really found the service here exceptional.  Additionally, for those considering a trip to Charlottesville specifically, I can confidently say that the Omni is the best-located property in town.  It is directly on the Downtown mall and is located at an important five-point intersection; you can visit anywhere in the area by foot or by car without issue.  Trust me–I know.  Because I did just that! 

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