I stayed at this property from late September through early December 2011 for a consulting project in Dallas. As with many of my projects, I did not have a great deal of say in where I would be staying, though I am pretty particular because of the duration of the projects that makes lodging a huge factor. Though, after a horrible lodging experience six years prior in the Dallas area, I arrived rather leery and skeptical about where I would be staying.
This property is just off the North Central Expressway (Highway 75) in Richardson, and is tucked in the middle of a corporate park. Even with familiarity of the area, the property can be tricky to find, GPS or no. Once found, though, you realize it is easy to get to, as it is just off Greenville Avenue, which is a major thoroughfare and great alternative to get into downtown Dallas on the morning commute. First-time visitors - especially those unfamiliar with the area - should definitely have GPS or very precise directions.
The property is divided into two buildings (3 floors each) of guest rooms, with a central "community" building where the front desk is located. There is an outdoor pool, a gym with limited equipment. Laundry facilities seem limited - during my stay, it seemed that there was only one laundry room for each building, and cleanliness was sometimes an issue.
I believed I was booked into a one-bedroom suite, but wound up with a studio-type suite. There was no division between kitchenette, living ,area, and bedroom. An HD flat-screen TV was set on a low table so that it could be rotated 180 degrees from the bed area to the sofa. Adjacent to the bed was a vanity area and the closet, and a small separate bathroom with toilet and shower. Shelf space for clothing was extremely limited, though the closet was sufficient. TV channel selection was rather limited; while they operated off of a Dish TV system (different from most Marriott properties), it was perhaps 25 channels - and that's not counting the multiple ESPN channels that were offered in both HD and non-HD formats. That proved to be quite a waste.
Internet access was offered only in wireless format, which was fine, but it was set up in a pretty stupid way. They had one option that was free, but which limited a lot of the functionality and data you could use. The other was purportedly a "business" option that was unlimited, but cost $4.99/night. However, for the duration of my stay, I could never make the "business" option work. Frankly, as a Platinum member, I would figure that I could at least be able to access it. Also, business travelers should be warned that the "business" center advertised on the property was only a desktop computer next to the front desk that did not have any of the Office suite or PDF capabilities to open, view, or print those documents. Basically, it's only function was to print boarding passes, provided the computer was working.
The property does offer a daily breakfast, though due to the nature of my project, I never ate there. However, it was interesting to note that while the breakfast was free at the Residence Inn, there was a charge for breakfast next door at the Courtyard. So, you would always see guests of the Courtyard walking over to the Residence Inn for the free breakfast. It was interesting to me that this was tolerated, even though these properties are owned by the same corporation. A few nights each week, the Residence Inn also offered a limited dinner-type selection. I only ate there once, and it was not particularly good, nor were the nightly offerings particularly appealing to me.
Dallas seems to have a problem with its extended stay lodging, probably as a result of being used for temporary housing after Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Ike. My previous stay in Dallas was marred by a property that had been thoroughly trashed by those moved in from the hurricane areas. It seems that this property was also used, or at the very least is a high-traffic property, because there was a lot of wear and tear throughout my room and the property in general. Specific to the room, there was a lot of paint chips, exposed nail heads in the walls, a semi-functional closet door, and kitchen appliances that worked to varying degrees.
Another thing seemingly unique to Dallas, compared to every other location around the country where I have traveled for business or pleasure, is that these extended stay properties seem to have a fairly significant number of long-term residents. By that I mean, people that are actually staying at the hotel as anyone else would an apartment. There were quite obviously several on the floor in rooms near mine, based on general observations and overhearing conversations in the hallway when I would encounter them. It seems a little odd, and while not necessarily an inconvenience to me, it might be to other travelers.
Although this property is close to the expressway, it is really isolated in terms of groceries, restaurants, and dining. Travelers staying at this property will have to drive anywhere from a half-mile (for a couple of sit-down dining options and a handful of fast-food) or more for dining options, at least a couple of miles for groceries, and 3 or more miles for more upscale dining and any of the plethora of shopping malls. So, travelers should definitely have a vehicle to get around; though, if you're visiting the Dallas-Fort Worth area, you really can't get anywhere without a vehicle.
Housekeeping services were wildly inconsistent in terms of quality of the cleaning services. Worse, a few of the housekeepers had the bad habit of opening the windows in the room and/or cranking the thermostat up to 80. So there were several occasions where I would return to the room on days I had housekeeping done, and had to spend the evening waiting for the room to cool down or - if thunderstorms had blown through - trying to dry the curtains and furniture nearest the windows. As for the front desk staff, they were generally courteous and helpful, though there was one - apparently a supervisor - who was a little more overboard than was necessary with regards to guests picking up packages. On two occasions, I had express/priority mail packets that arrived during her shift. While I appreciated the fact that she double-checked my photo ID to make sure the parcel was being picked up by the correct guest, I did not appreciate the litany of questions that followed, quizzing me on the sender and the exact contents of the parcel. In one case, I was not expecting the package, and so was extremely frustrated when it seemed like I wasn't going to be able to receive the parcel because I couldn't tell her who it was from and what was in the parcel. Frankly, those questions are not appropriate for anyone to ask, regardless of what the guest is really receiving.
One last inconvenience: during the last several weeks of my stay, a locksmith was on site purportedly changing out the keycard locks on the guest rooms and building access doors. In fact, the management posted notices on the guest room doors in early October notifying us that the room locks would be changed that week. But they weren't actually changed until late November. The keycards - particularly to get into the buildings - were often problematic from the outset of my stay. So, I hoped that whenever they did change, they would resolve that problem. Instead, when they finally changed, I first had to go back to the front desk, where I received two different key cards - one for the building access, and one for the room (instead of the one I used for both up this point). Over the course of the next four nights, I had to return to the front desk to get new key cards for the room, the building, or both. It wasn't that they got erased; it was that the locksmith kept fiddling with the locks, and invalidating the cards that the guests were issued the previous day. It was a huge nuisance.
All told, this property was servicable for what turned out to be a very difficult project. However, it was not up to my expected standards for a Marriott property, and seems to demonstrate that Dallas (as a whole) still seems to have a problem with the quality of their extended stay properties. I was reluctant to move elsewhere during my stay, if only because there was no guarantee that I could find better. In that regard, it was unfortunate, and I could only classify it among the "least-worst" option for business travelers if they cannot find better in the area.
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- Also Known As:
- Residence Inn Richardson
- Richardson Residence Inn