My First Stay at a TownePlace Suites by Marriott Hotel — and The Verdict Is…
Having decided to leave where I am based in the greater Atlanta metropolitan area due to the loss of electrical power which was caused by Tropical Storm Zeta, I headed north on Interstate 75 to Chattanooga, which is a city that I always considered underrated and enjoyed every time I visited it — and the point of this spontaneous trip was to keep costs as low as possible without sacrificing comfort…
My First Stay at a TownePlace Suites by Marriott Hotel — and The Verdict Is…
…so when I found a rate of $76.00 at the TownePlace Suites Chattanooga Near Hamilton Place for the first night, I booked a reservation because I had never stayed at a TownePlace Suites hotel property before — plus, this would be the first time I stayed at a hotel property since the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic was officially declared by the World Health Organization on Wednesday, March 11, 2020.
TownePlace Suites is a lodging brand of Marriott International, Incorporated which is designed for extended stays and offers such amenities as spacious suites with full kitchens, complimentary hot breakfast, free access to the Internet via Wi-Fi, a fitness center, and a swimming pool as many examples, which all sound promising…
…but what is staying at one like the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic? Let’s find out via my personal experience.
I arrived at the hotel property late at night because I waited to see if electrical power would be restored where I am based — but as I waited for hours for someone to resolve the issues, no one ever showed up to remove the fallen tree nor repair the downed electrical power lines as the sun was setting — so I left.
After parking my vehicle and passing through the front entrance of the hotel property, I arrived at the front desk, which had an makeshift barrier of tables to force keeping guests at a distance from the employees at the hotel property who were assigned to the front desk. Although the appearance seemed rather odd, the setup generally did not inhibit the typical business which occurs at the front desk — and I was greeted warmly by an agent.
Once I informed the agent behind the front desk who I was, he pulled up my reservation. “They call me an Arthur”, he said with with a big welcoming smile. Arthur started off with “There was a problem with your reservation…” Please. No. That was the last thing that I wanted to hear after leaving my home due to no electrical power — but he let me know that the pipes burst and ruined the original room with one queen bed to which I was assigned and several other guest rooms; so I was assigned to a “much larger room” which was equipped with two queen beds instead. Thankfully, that was not bad news to my ears.
To the right of the front desk was an area called In a Pinch where guests can purchase items for eating and drinking — such as cold fruit juices and sodas, ice cream, frozen pizza, nuts, ramen noodles, candy bars, soups, potato chips, and other assorted snack items and beverages.
Once I received the two plastic key cards to my room on the fourth floor, I passed the area where the laundry room, public toilets, and the ice machine was located and headed for the elevators — and mounted conspicuously on the wall was a machine which automatically dispensed liquid hand sanitizer when a hand was placed under it.
The two plastic key cards which I was given to access my guest room contained information on an outdoor patio which is equipped with a Weber grill; and outside of the elevator door was a paper taped to the wall with a message printed on it directing you to place your trash in the can below — and someone wrote “and don’t let your door slam! The rest of us.” A crude drawing was added to the handwritten message. Please refer to this article pertaining to the annoyance of allowing doors of hotel rooms to freely slam.
This hotel property has a main yet ordinary hallway of sorts, with a few shorter hallways which spurred from it that created small alcoves which seemed more private.
I am unsure as to why the room numbers had a large recessed number and a smaller embossed number — but it also included the room number in Braille on the bottom as well.
The first thing I saw when I entered the room was a double set of doors at which the hallway in the room turned left.
Opening the double doors revealed a spacious closet with a bin, several adjustable wire shelves, a portable luggage rack, ten wooden hangers, a plastic laundry bag, an ironing board, and an iron.
The hallway led me to the main sleeping area of the room, which contained two queen beds. I then wondered how much smaller the guest room to which I was originally assigned was compared to this room. Although the room itself was not small, it did not feel like a suite.
The room also contained several pieces of furniture and lighting — and although plenty of lights were available, some parts of the room still seemed to be a little dark at night.
Four people can sit reasonably comfortably at this table — but the room contains no desk; so this table must be used if you need a desk on which to work. At least four electrical outlets are on the wall adjacent to the table. The flowers in the vase on the table were artificial and not real; and I did not check to see if this telephone worked.
The kitchen — as well as the hallway to the entrance to the room — are to the left of the table; and some framed artwork is mounted on the walls to keep them from looking spartan. Despite a reasonable number of electrical outlets throughout the room, no Universal Serial Bus — or USB — ports were found.
A flat screen television sits atop of a dresser with two drawers; while a small round table with a lamp is placed adjacent to a low chair with a pillow and an ottoman.
The climate control unit — which is located underneath the window — can only be controlled from the unit itself and not from a thermostat on the wall. It did the job of keeping the room at a comfortable temperature adequately.
The queen bed on which I slept was comfortable. The night stand between the two queen beds was sparsely equipped with a telephone which did not work, an alarm clock which I did not use, a pad of paper with a pen which looked like it was manufactured by Bic but instead was a cheap knockoff which was manufactured in Mexico, and three empty drawers — the top of which contained a Gideon’s bible and a Travelhost magazine with information pertaining to what to do and where to eat in the greater Chattanooga metropolitan area.
I noticed an entrance to another area of the suite beyond the queen beds.
That entrance was to the bathroom, which had a sink, a box of facial tissues, two towels, a vanity, a mirror, plenty of lighting…
…and amenities, which included shampoo, conditioner, makeup remover wipes, and two bars of soap…
…with the smaller bar of soap in the front; and the larger bar of soap in the rear. Both soaps had a mild citrus scent to them.
The bathroom had its own linen closet, which was located across from the vanity and sink area — and it was equipped with a bin, several adjustable wire shelves, and a rod on which to hang clothes.
Past the closet and the vanity and sink area is a room where the toilet, bath tub, and shower are located. Several more towels are located on a shelf above the toilet. Not included in the photograph is a dual hook on which towels or clothes can be hung.
A tiny dead flying insect was found near the drain; and the bath tub had several nicks in the porcelain near the drain.
Other than the linen closet, this bathroom featured nothing special about it, as it was rather ordinary — but it did have a night light which automatically illuminated when the lights were turned off.
Although it is not a full kitchen, it is equipped with what you need to cook decent meals in a small space — and plates, cups, glasses, a colander, and other items are on shelves in a cabinet which is mounted on the wall.
The top of three drawers contains cutlery — including spoons, knives, and forks — as well as utensils such as a potato peeler, a bottle opener, a plastic set of measuring spoons, a sharp knife, and a can opener.
The middle drawer only contained a large plastic spoon.
The bottom drawer contained a small assortment of pots and pans, which can be used on the set of two electric cook tops which are built into the countertop.
Underneath the microwave oven is a roll of paper towels — as well as a coffee station, which includes a coffee maker and all of what you need to brew a cup of coffee or tea.
Below the countertop is a dishwasher; and hidden in the cabinet next to it is a waste receptacle.
Information is attached to the door of the refrigerator — which was empty — with a magnet; and liquid soap and detergent for the dishwasher are provided.
The cabinet above the refrigerator was completely empty…
…as were the cabinets above the sink, with a plug in the electrical outlet in order for the microwave oven to operate.
The floor was clean, for the most part — except for what appeared to be a hook for a pair of socks or a pair of gloves. I also found a packing peanut under one of the queen beds.
View From the Room
Only two main components comprised the view from the guest room in which I slept: parking lots and vehicles…
…as well as the Residence Inn by Marriott hotel property which was across the parking lot; but to be fair, this area is so packed with hotel properties in a relatively small area that I cannot imagine any guest room in this hotel property — let alone any other hotel property in the area — to be able to boast a good view.
An area which was adjacent to the lobby of the hotel property would normally be reserved for the use of a buffet of food and beverage items for breakfast from which guests can help themselves to as much as they want — but it was closed due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic; so guests of the hotel property had to retrieve their breakfast from the front desk.
I went downstairs to the front desk to pick up my breakfast. The woman behind the front desk cheerfully reached into one barrel cooler filled with ice cubes which was branded with Mountain Dew and retrieved a cup of yogurt from the ice; and then reached into the other identical barrel which contained a small container of orange juice. Both were placed in a small plain white paper bag.
Instead of a hot buffet breakfast — which was shut down due to the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic — I received a glazed doughnut stick, a bag of miniature blueberry waffles, a cup of strawberry banana yogurt, a small carton which contained four fluid ounces of orange juice, and a clear cellophane package which contained a plastic knife, a plastic fork, a plastic spoon, and a napkin.
I looked at the ingredients of the package of blueberry waffles and the directions on how to prepare it — and I already knew that the experience would not be like eating waffles which were freshly made on a waffle iron. Not even close.
First, the instructions on the package directed that the product be prepared in either a conventional oven or a convection oven — with no instructions or recommendation on preparing it in a microwave oven, which was the only oven with which the room was equipped.
Second, I saw no sign of any blueberry in these so-called “waffles”. They should have been called elderberry watermelon huito waffles, as those are the juices used to flavor the waffles. Does that not sound more exotic than plain old blueberry waffles?
Finally, I bit into one. The texture was dry, spongy, and was reminiscent of stale cake. What a failure was using this package of “waffles” instead of guests enjoying the real thing.
The doughnut stick tasted better and had a superior texture to the blueberry waffles — but it was still nothing great; and neither was the orange juice nor the yogurt. If you decide to skip this excuse of a breakfast, you would not be missing much — other that the opportunity to fill your stomach with mediocre food.
Health and Fitness
I first learned about the outdoor patio — which is equipped with tables, chairs, and a Weber grill on which you can cook healthy food — from the aforementioned plastic key cards which I received to access the guest room. I do not know if the use of this area had been temporarily discontinued due to the current 2019 Novel Covonavirus pandemic.
Normally, you can use the fitness area to exercise anytime 24 hours per day — but it was closed because of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic, which was a somewhat bittersweet irony. After all, would keeping in shape help to keep viruses at bay — even if only a little bit?
The indoor swimming pool was also closed, as the guest room key card would not allow me to enter either area.
The TownePlace Suites Chattanooga Near Hamilton Place does not have what I would call a “full kitchen”; but it is certainly more than a kitchenette. The room was spacious — but I would not consider it a full suite. Forget about getting that hot breakfast until further notice — as well as access to the fitness center and the swimming pool — all because of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic…
…and yet, I did not notice the room being any cleaner than a typical room prior to the official declaration of the pandemic — nor did I see any greater commitment to cleanliness as promised by Marriott International, Incorporated. I am by no means complaining, as the room was indeed clean — with a few minor aforementioned exceptions. I am simply reporting that I did not notice any difference.
All of the employees whom I encountered were very friendly and welcoming. Although I did feel bad for the ebullient April, whose house was damaged by a violent storm back in April — yes, April in April — but she told me how much worse things were for her neighbors whose houses were completely demolished.
The initial rate for the room for one night was $76.00 — but when the State Occupancy Tax of Tennessee of $7.03; the Occupancy Sales Tax of $3.04; and the Convention and Tourism Tax of $3.04 were added, the total cost of the room for one night was $89.11.
The room rate for the following night after I checked out of the hotel property started at $90.00, which would still be worth the money — but I would be hesitant to pay much more money than that, based on my experience. I certainly would recommend staying at this hotel property at the price point at which I paid — but this area of Chattanooga is not exactly the most desirable place to stay in terms of location, as it is located slightly greater than ten miles east of the downtown area.
TownePlace Suites Chattanooga Near Hamilton Place
7010 McCutcheon Road
Chattanooga, Tennessee 37421
All photographs ©2020 by Brian Cohen.