I'm a big fan of the Holiday Inn Express brand - so much value for the money... theoretically. The payoff is in the execution, however, and I found it somewhat lacking at this HIE location.
The primary rationale for this location's existence is to function as a one-night, pre-cruise crash pad and transportation service to the JAXPORT. Cruisers stay here for that transit service - if this HIE can't absolutely nail that function, then one might well consider staying elsewhere.
Don't get me wrong - the three person shuttle team worked like the proverbial one-legging man in a butt kicking contest to get everyone to and from the port in a timely fashion - Edward, Sheila and the shuttle coordinator hustled all the way. I just don't think that management has given them the resources needed to do the job right.
A better ride registration system (perhaps using an iPad?) is needed, along with a better method of notifying guests when their ride is ready to go (using the hotel TV channel?). We almost missed our ride because we were left off of a handwritten list. The service might also benefit from giving the shuttle drivers two-way radios so that they can report their location to the shuttle coordinator.
I also think a third shuttle van is needed on days when the Carnival Fasciation both arrives and then later leaves on the same day (as was the case when I returned from my cruise). There are simply too many bodies to move to and from the ship (some even being transported directly to the airport, a rather lengthly trip) for the process to run to anyone's satisfaction. My group stayed over one night after the cruise and so we spent a bit of time in the hotel's lobby (waiting for a rental car to arrive), and listening to the grumbling and complaining of those waiting for their ride to JAXPORT told a tale of near failure. I'm sure all those folks made it to the port on time, but not many of them seemed particularly happy.
I also thought the breakfast buffet was subpar by HIE standards. The pancake maker didn't work on either of the mornings I ate there - might as well put it in the closet (I suspect there wasn't any batter on hand). The biscuits were rock hard (a sheet of foil over the warming pan would have kept them moist). Worst of all - no cinnamon rolls. I was told that the cruisers really cleaned them out - curious, but shouldn't such demand be planned for, given the primary purpose of this location? Was the influx of cruisers a surprise? How do you run out of the signature breakfast buffet item?
Bottom line: I get the feeling that management doesn't embrace their cruise-centric role as fully as they should - they're doing a passing job but hardly up to expected HIE standards. Maybe this location is great for regular guests, but my impression is that cruisers are being shortchanged.
Plusses: the outdoor heated jacuzzi was the bomb and the outdoor pool was also heated (for real), making it usable in mid-January. The reception desk was staffed by very friendly and helpful folks.
Need to Know: The only food available for those without transportation is the next door Wendy's. There are some delivery options, however.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- We are ideally situated just off Route 9A near the picturesque St. Johns River, Jaxport Cruise Ship Terminal and the Jacksonville Airport. As the closest hotel to the Jaxport Carnival Cruise Ship Terminal, our accommodations are the perfect choice for cruise ship travelers.. Our J hotel is minutes from downtown Jacksonville and area attractions like Anheuser-Busch Brewery, Jacksonville Zoo, Kinsley Plantation and Jacksonville Landing. We are just 11 miles from the beautiful Jacksonville Beach.Corporate travelers also find our hotel's location in Jacksonville to be ideal. Trapac, Jacksonville Electric Authority, Atlantic Marine Shipyard and Dry Dock are just a few of the nearby businesses, and we are just 15 miles from the Mayo Clinic. Staying productive has never been easier with the Business Center and free Wi-Fi access. And, we have a 644-sq-ft meeting room that can seat up to 30 people.When staying at this Jacksonville, Florida hotel, you can expect a comfortable stay and great amenities, such as the free, hot breakfast bar, a fitness center, outdoor pool and whirlpool. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Holiday Inn Express & Suites Jacksonville - Blount Island Hotel Jacksonville
- Holiday Inn Express And Suites Jacksonville - Blount Island