Positive: responsive, hard-working evening desk agent
Negative: facility shows many signs of use
Located near major theme parks and athletic venues, and surrounded by a variety of restaurants, this hotel would seem to be an ideal place to stay. But the facility shows many signs of heavy use and multiple repairs. Overall, it suffers from outdated decor and design.
We reserved a room for three nights over the Memorial Day weekend, hoping for a restful and relaxing holiday in the D/FW area. Alas, that's not how things turned out.
Bumps, scrapes, dings, and more -
Before describing some of the problems we observed, it's obvious management has attempted to affect repairs. In fact, contractors were reroofing and repairing the exterior during our stay, and the outside was slated for painting the following week.
Despite their efforts, opportunities for improvement abound. We wondered if repairs were being made on a piecemeal basis. If so, perhaps it's time for a wholesale cleaning and renovation.
The room we were initially assigned contained a broken lamp and a grimy side chair marred by a large stain. The entire room smelled sweaty. During our brief time in that space we noticed occupants of the adjacent room weren't talking particularly loudly, but could heard plainly through the connecting door.
I reported problems to the evening desk agent, who quickly moved us to another floor. Our second room smelled clean and was in better condition, so we decided to stay there. But it still showed signs of heavy use. For example, one of the bathroom towel racks was bent, kitchen flooring had a gash, and one sofa cushion had a zipper that wouldn't close. The other cushion was so compressed it was uncomfortable to sit upon.
With exception of the lobby, which was bright and inviting, wear and tear was evident throughout public areas. Examples of hard use were everywhere. The frame around the elevator control panel was broken. Paint covered scars on some doors, but many were smudged. Door frames have been repainted, but several on the third floor weren't painted all the way to the floor. Ceiling tiles in the second floor hallway sagged.
During our stay we began to think of the elevator as our own little thrill ride, like those at amusement parks across the street. It creaked, bumped, and groaned between floors, a lot like a roller coaster.
We prefer a king-size bed, but this hotel only offers queen beds. Consequently, suites are smaller than those at other TownePlace Suites we regularly visit. Rooms also lack cabinets and dressers provided in newer hotels. We stored dirty clothes inside nightstands, and pushed bags and other incidentals against walls to get them out of the way.
While we consider quality of finishes a minor point, we did notice some materials used here were dated or were not the same as seen elsewhere. The bathroom was outfitted with oak veneer cabinets. The floor was covered with vinyl and the shower was sheathed with what appeared to be plastic slabs, not tile. However, we were surprised a separate exhaust fan was provided; it's amazing how many hotel bathrooms lack any kind of ventilation.
Despite it's utilitarian appearance, the bath area was cleaned regularly (kudos to housekeeping) and certainly provided all required functionality. Best of all, the toilet, faucets and drains worked without a hitch!
Our mattress was extremely hard and lumpy, and the wall-mounted air conditioning unit was difficult to control. Together, these two components made for unusually restless nights. During most trips we acclimate to surroundings the first night and sleep well the remainder of a stay. This time we didn't sleep well any evening. Each morning my wife and I both awoke stiff and tired, with headaches and backaches.
With two treadmills, an elliptical, and free weight bench, the exercise room was typical of other hotels we've visited. Televisions were attached to the treadmills, but the set on the treadmill I rode produced a static-filled picture on the few channels it received. I turned the set off after a few minutes.
The weekend we visited, several youth sports teams were also at the hotel. Everyone was well-behaved and really didn't make a lot of noise, but they tended to monopolize public areas including the lobby, outdoor pool, and already tight parking lot. They also kept the staff busy with requests.
Breakfast boondoggles -
We weren't able to try breakfast. The first two mornings, the small eating area was so crowded we had no place to sit. Our final morning, Memorial Day, we arrived just after 9:00 a.m. to find a housekeeper putting food away. She offered waffles and summarily dismissed us as she continued to move items off the breakfast bar.
We honestly had looked extensively for serving hours in the lobby and our room and found no mention anywhere. No signs were posted and nothing was listed in our room directory. In retrospect, we should have verified with the front desk. However, we really thought hours would be extended or shifted due to the holiday.
As we left the dining area on day three, a family with young children arrived looking for food. We felt sorry for them. Perhaps they were allowed to make waffles...we don't know.
A bit of good news -
The Marriott brand enjoys a good reputation because of their high-quality facilities and commitment to customer service. The evening desk agent was the saving grace of our visit. She was a rock star, responding to requests and trying hard to make up for situations we encountered. Friendly and professional, she resolved problems quickly in a satisfactory manner.
Back to less pleasant experiences -
Housekeepers were a different matter. We've always been impressed at the way staff members in other Marriott properties acknowledged us, often with a smile. Most housekeepers at this hotel were aloof. Many turned away when we approached.
In fairness, I must report the last two housekeepers we saw did acknowledge us by smiling and nodding their heads. I think it was a coincidence we were carrying luggage out of the building at the time. Perhaps they wanted to provide a pleasant memory of our visit.
In other hotels, employees that work the breakfast bar are often the most gregarious and attentive staff members. They often engage in conversation and are typically very responsive. Although we didn't eat breakfast during our stay, we did dodge crowds to pick up cartons of milk, and noticed the keeper of the breakfast bar lacked personality. The one time we spoke directly, we were dismissed with few words. Talking with patrons is probably not a requirement of that job, but it really enhances the customer experience.
The Bottom Line -
In many ways, our experience was a lot like a mound of pebbles. Individually, most problems we encountered were relatively insignificant. A scratch here, a wayward door there could easily be overlooked. Lumped together, these conditions became a significant pile that was difficult to deal with.
If you're unfamiliar with the title of this review, "rode hard and put away wet" refers to a horse that's given maximum effort but is not properly cared for at the end of the day. In our opinion, this phrase describes TownePlace Suites-Arlington quite well.
Across the years we've stayed at hotels with fewer amenities, but they were advertised as lower-level lodging. We expected less when reservations were made.
We've also stayed at hotels that were in worse condition, but of course we didn't return to them.
The past decade we've tried over a dozen Marriott properties in the Dallas area alone. A couple of months ago we visited the Fairfield Inn two miles east of this hotel, located at the opposite end of Lamar Boulevard. We found that hotel somewhat noisy due to it's proximity to I-20, but generally was a superior property.
We've also stayed at the nearby Arlington SpringHill Suites, but that was several years ago. Given our experience then, we'd also choose it over this hotel
The final morning of our stay, a housekeeper tried repeatedly to enter our room about 7:15 a.m. It was a holiday, for goodness sake! We were still sleeping, not comfortably, but sleeping nonetheless. In many ways, this experience was a fitting end to a rather uncomfortable stay.
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- Also Known As:
- Towneplace Suites Arlington Hotel Arlington
- Arlington Towneplace Suites