Resort living vs. a room at the Inn: a reportSo as I mentioned, we went to Tucson last week, allowing our daughter to take a vacation from the stress that's involved in being 9 ½ months old.
We stayed at the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, thanks to the generosity of some key relatives of the 19 Minutes staff. But for purposes of this post, let’s pretend we paid the $279/night that our room would normally go for. That’ll make the comparison with the $46/night Holiday Inn Phoenix West work a little better, anyway. We stayed at the Holiday Inn on the trip back north.
Let me start by saying that the Loews is a very nice hotel. The service was extraordinary, and it’s tough to beat having a saguaro cactus literally just outside your door (unless you’re a sleepwalker, I suppose). But I’ve always been a little skeptical about whether I could actually tell the difference between a humorously expensive hotel room and, well, a humorously not expensive hotel room. At least I wondered whether, at $279/night, the Loews was really six times sweller than the Holiday Inn.
Our comparison breaks down into several areas. Here goes.
The Loews is located, as is everything in Tucson, roughly 75 miles from anything else. The trip off the interstate gives you a good feel for what your trip to Tucson will be like – roads that go on seemingly forever, lined with expensive brown adobe homes wedged onto the hillsides and strip malls that pop up at random intervals. It definitely discourages the riff-raff from interfering with your stay. Their cars would never make it that far.
The Holiday Inn is located a convenient 75 feet from Interstate 10, meaning the sounds you got used to on the drive will follow you into your room. The marquee out front reads “Welcome Riff-Raff.”
The Loews has a recreation pool, a lap pool, an outdoor hot tub, and a “cooling off” pool replete with waterfall. The smell of mesquite from the surrounding desert wafts over the entire area. There are dozens of deck chairs around the recreation pool, giving vacationing investment bankers plenty of room to read the Wall Street Journal and bark at their surly underlings via cell phone while keeping one eye on their kids and another on the bikini-clad women in the neighboring chairs.
The Holiday Inn’s pool is located under an overhang at the front of the hotel. It’s walled off from the entry driveway, but even the wall doesn’t keep out the wafting aroma from the fast-food joints across the street.
Our room at the Loews had a king-sized bed, a couch, an easy chair, and a desk. The mattress had seen better days, or at least wished it had seen lighter guests. Reading material included Condé Nast Traveler, Tucson Living, and USA Today on the one day they got around to delivering it.
Our room at the Holiday Inn had a king-sized bed, an easy chair, a desk, and a refrigerator. The mattress was relatively new and pretty comfortable. Reading material included the guide to the hotel amenities and area attractions. This hit all the hot spots, including the Phoenix Zoo, the world-famous Heard Museum, a nearby batting cage, and the Garden of Jesus’ Suffering.
No real complaints about the Loews bathroom, unless you count the poor audio quality on the bathroom phone. The Loews bathroom also featured a TV (though it was one of those little ones you’d take camping and not a 50-inch plasma job). It also included a humongous tub, in case our 9 1/2 –month old wanted to get her lap swimming in, as well. Nice soaps/shampoos/mysterious lotions, though for some odd reason, we were never provided with soap for the sink. Enormous towels.
The Holiday Inn bathroom had working fixtures.
Loews – grand piano and lounge singer in the main foyer.
Holiday Inn – Friday night was some sort of a special “dress up like pimps and hookers” night at the sports bar just off the main foyer. Not that anyone at the Holiday Inn was calling it a foyer.
Kind of a Hobson’s choice, actually, between the two places.
Both places noted that the parking lots were under some form of surveillance, but one got the feeling that it only actually mattered at the Holiday Inn.
When it comes down to it, both places served their purpose – the Loews gave us a bed and a relaxing (well, as relaxing as it was going to get with a baby around) respite from the everyday. And the Holiday Inn gave us a bed and was, on the whole, somewhat safer than actually sleeping on Interstate 10. Was the Loews Ventana Canyon Resort six times better than the Holiday Inn Phoenix West? Pretty close, actually. Though the Holiday Inn would catch up pretty darn quickly if they put that 50-inch plasma TV in the bathroom.