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Madison, Wisconsin Notes

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Karen Shelton View Drop Down
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Joined: November 26 2000
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    Posted: September 23 2008 at 8:51am
I travel on a regular basis for business.  I have started keeping "trip notebooks" for every trip so I can remember good hotels, restuarants or other important notes for each city I visit. 
Recently I went to Madison, Wisconsin.  It was my 2nd time there in about 12 months. 
The first time I had no experience with the city so I stayed in a Hampton Inn and it was good.  The inn was clean, the rooms were quiet and they offer complimentary breakfasts and coffee. 
This last time I decided to take my time and upgrade to a "better" hotel.  Hmmmm.  It did not turn out so great.  The hotel I chose (Crowne Plaza) had the highest number of stars for that city in terms of all the hotels listed.  It was literally blocks from the first Hampton Inn.
Unfortunately the hotel was under construction.  Not a good thing.  The restaurant was closed and I noticed worn spots in the carpet in the lobby.  I had asked for a quiet room and they gave me one on the 2nd floor (238).  The hotel only had 4 floors. 
The TV would sporadically cut out and static would take over the screen. I called the front desk and they said that it was a problem with Verizon that happened on a sporadic basis.
The bed was very hard and the sheets scratchy and thin, although the shower had great water pressure and lots of hot water.  There were signs asking guest to be environmentally friendly and reuse the towels which is a nice touch.  I always reuse my towels, so it was nice to see the hotel promoting this although some believe it is just a way for the hotel to save on expenses.  Not sure but it felt like a nice touch.
I did not sleep well at all on the hard bed with the rough sheets and was awakened before 6:00 am by a persistent high pitched screeching noise.  I called the front desk and they said there was nothing that could be done until maintenance came in at 8 am.  And no, the high pitched noise did not stop, even after 8:00 am. 
The policies posted at check-in on my room receipt told me that since I had reserved 2 nights, if I left early, I would still have to pay for both nights.  Not a good omen.  I couldn't stay in that room with the high pitched noise.
I went down to the front desk and told them I was exhausted from not sleeping much and the high pitched shrill in my room.  Luckily I got the employee of the month (she had a special name tag) who was very pleasant. 
She asked if I had told anyone at the hotel I was unhappy.  I explained politely that I had called down to report the static on the TV while I was watching a movie, had asked about a clean blanket to help with the scratchy sheets and had called the front desk at 6:00 am about the loud noise.
She said OK that I could check out without penalty.  She also told me that they did not want their guests to be unhappy.  Kudos on great customer care for the hotel.  Maybe that is why they have so many stars?  I would have moved to another room if that was my only option but was happy I could leave and find a different lodging.
Guess where I went?  Yep, the original Hampton Inn I had stayed at last year.  They gave me a very quiet room - 123 - (no loud noises or screeching) and the bed was so much better.  A thicker plumper mattress.  The sheets were very soft and I was able to get a clean fluffly blanket from housekeeping.  They didn't have a restaurant although they are right across from Perkins which has great stick-to-your-ribs (but bad for your diet) food.  They also had complimentary coffee. 
The Hampton Inn was $50/night less then the original hotel - The Crowne Plaza. 
While I did not enjoy my stay at The Crowne Plaza, I really have to give them kudos for their polite handling of an unhappy guest.  They didn't argue with me...maybe because I had called 3x to report problems and because I looked exhausted...or maybe it was just their policy.  I did like their customer care.  It was top notch.
I can't really comment on the customer care at The Hampton Inn since I didn't have any problems.  The front desk people were very friendly and polite as well as efficient.  But the room was so much better that I didn't have to report any issues. 
Is there a point to my rambling?  I guess the point is that if you find something that works great, like my original stay at The Hampton Inn the previous year, stick with it. 
Also, I have come to find that the various stars and diamond ratings are subjective.  I have also found that published reviews are also not necessarily the best way to evaluate a hotel/motel.  I think in some cases you have to experience it for yourself.
I would love to hear any recommendations for great lodging or food in Madison, Wisconsin since I will most likely be going back at some point.
That which doesn't kill you makes you stronger or drives you totally insane. :-)
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