October 15, 2012

My Three-Week Stay in Holiday Inn Hotels & Suites

It's been two weeks since we landed back in Manila, but I am still feeling lazy and hesitant to get back to reality. Do you also feel that after a vacation? In our case, we didn't go on a holiday. We traveled more than 17 hours, crossed timezones and got all frozen in Toronto, Canada - and we worked, and worked harder. We were lucky that we came on a summer time and just when leaves are turning red and spell Fall.

We found our home in Toronto in Holiday Inn Hotels and Suites. When we were preparing for the trip, we were pushing for Marriott Hotel, however, the one in Canada is not company accredited. We were also hopeful to book Hilton Hotel, however, since it was Toronto International Film Festival, we were not able to book 6 rooms as the hotel was fully booked on the first two days of our itinerary. Our next goal is to book a hotel with kitchen so we can also cook. But the one that we found got bad reviews. So we confirmed the reservation in Holiday Inn Hotels and Suites which is a good 5-minute drive from our office. I am all okay staying in Holiday Inn, as my first stay in the hotel chain was pleasant.

Judging from the pictures from the internet, I know we would be staying in a business hotel. So I forgot about grand entrance doors, fancy chandeliers and nice staircases. The image in my mind was true as soon as we arrived. I do not know if I should say that the pictures are far better than what it is in actual, but I know for sure, I am missing that time when we arrived in our hotel. It is one of the best days (or nights) in our stay in Toronto - because it signals the start of our adventure. I missed that time that we were just getting our luggage from the cab service, and checking in.

Anyways, let me share more stories..

Hotel Location

I have to say, Holiday Inn Hotels and Suites is not near any mall or supermarket - but we thought it is the perfect hotel for us because it is just less than 5-minute drive from our office. We were always teased by our colleagues that we were staying in a "province" - a rural place - probably  because most of them got to stay in downtown areas during their business travels in USA.

It is funny that the businesses near the hotels are mostly industrial businesses - like wood carving stores, carpet stores, printing press, etc. Nothing for shopaholic like me. The nearest grocery store would be Food Basic (cab fare around $10CAD) but there are Esso Stores (two of them!) in Steeles Ave (like 5-minute walk from hotel), and there is a good Italian Restaurant that offers buffet - Frankie's Tomattos! (also 5- minute walk from the hotel).

Restaurants like Swiss Chalet and Starbucks are 15-minute walk from the hotel. You have to be covered though when walking because it is TOO CHILLY outside.

Seriously, talking and writing about these places makes me sad and miss the place. I will write about these restaurants SOON. Promise.

The hotel is near the hi-way, and bus stops. But to get to the nearest subway station, you have to take a bus first (Bus 53 Steeles Avenue).

The Room

It was Janine who welcomed us that morning (we arrived past 2AM). We already had reservation, so she patiently logged our records in the system and provided us the Vhing Card (that hotel key card! My colleagues were so amazed to know what it is called..)

As usual, we presented our cards and she asked us to sign an agreement - something like, the room is not smoking room and we need to pay $10,000CAD for any room damage. Then, she provided us with our keys, and breakfast vouchers (our room has free breakfast included). We were surprised to know that each of us would have two queen-sized beds!

Since we are a big group, the reservation officer tried to keep everyone in the same floor - and we stayed in the 8th floor which is a Priority Club Level.

Click Read More to see more pictures of my room...

The room which was assigned to me was right across my colleague's room - however, I found the lighting too gloomy and sad. Anyway...
There is the usual dresser/desk

View from the window side
I found my original room too big for me 

The two queen-sized beds!

TV which you can also use to surf the net

Desk comes with business essentials
There is a LAN connector but the hotel offers WIFI internet
for FREE

Mini-bar with no alcohol, whatsoever
because it is meant for business travelers.
Good thing is, this mini ref became useful for all our grocery items!

Complimentary coffee and tea
I love Arabica coffee!

The comfort room is nice too!

Love the basin sink!

Toiletries from Bath and Body Works

Bathtub (check!)

Cabinet has hangers and extra pillows

Well-pressed clothes are a must for business travelers.. 
 So.. tadah! Flat iron and board.

But like what I mentioned, I found the room too gloomy, so the same night, I asked Janine if I could transfer room since we originally booked 7 rooms, and there were 2 spare rooms since there were just 5 of us who checked in. She gladly went up and showed me the two rooms which are both newly renovated. I choose this room with different orientation and lay out. 

I love that the new room has frames on the walls!

I basically get the same toiletries.
There were 3 towels, and lots of towelettes!

The shower is always set to HOT! whenever I take shower!

Love the fold!

And I am lucky that my room has safety deposit box!
My original room and my colleagues' didn't have one!

We get two complimentary coffee packs each day. 
One decaf and regular - these are not instant coffee drinks!
We did use the brewer!
Ice bucket is useful too! There are ice machine 
and soda vending machine
in each floor.


My working desk

Since I got a new room - the bulb of the lamp
is just sooo bright!

The beds do not have headboards..
But 4 pillows each with different "characteristics"

Now we learned two new French words.. ;)

The Service

I notice that the hotel is like a second home of different nationalities. Housekeeping peeps are from Nigeria, Jamaica, Asia and Africa. One even mentioned that their boss is a Filipino. She said I don't look like a Filipina and she invited me to Jamaica (I would have loved to visit!)

One of our concerns, since we would stay for three weeks, we wouldn't afford to give tips for Housekeeping everyday. I, personally just try to keep my room organized and clean - but just the same, I found the bed always fresh everytime I got home from work.

So how did we show appreciation? We just usually leave them food, or anything good.. One of my colleagues left a lot of good food for them since we always dropped every food we had in his room - from grapes, cakes, cupcakes, noodles, and candies. And I am telling you, his room is always polished and cleaned. I just found it weird that one time I left goods, few coins and a note to the Housekeeping, but she didn't get it. Sometimes if I found them in the hallway in the morning, I just personally handed the tip.

Anyway, the Front Desk people are the warmest people in the hotel. I am sure it is part of their job to be extra nice and accommodating, BUT they are just awesome and amazing.

Some things I appreciate:

  • The wake up call which I always set at 6AM, but then I usually get up at 7AM (from my colleagues own wake-up call).
  • Janine printed directions on how to get to this church that my colleague wanted to visit.
  • Janine ensured that the stand lamp was delivered to my new room (because there was no stand lamp when I transferred to the new room the same night of my arrival), and that I get complimentary regular coffee from Housekeeping everyday.
  • Jayson, Andrea and Janine patiently searching and giving us directions of the places we want to visit. 
  • Aaron (a fellow Filipino!) offered to take my colleague's luggage from 8th floor to the car service during our departure. 
  • Business Center printing our Wonderland tickets and endorsing it to the Front Desk for us to pick up. Seamless!
  • The staff's warm smile and greeting every morning, and night, or just everytime we see them. 
  • Check out process is quick! I saw this receipt the morning of our departure, and the bill is automatically charged to my American Express. I thought it was just a customer service survey and just dropped it in my desk.. I never know there is such a process (I was not reading well..), so I still checked out in the morning to avoid the 12PM Front Desk chaos. The good thing is, we left the hotel at 3PM and they didn't charge us for the extra night. ;)

The Hotel Rates

Checking the rates now, it is at $130 CAD (around $133.661 USD). But since we got corporate discount, we got our hotel room at a much lower price.

This is the cheapest room rate for Holiday Inn Hotels and Suites - and I think it is a good deal, as maximum of 4 can stay in the room. Best for those who would be traveling for leisure (but then again, consider the location and tips I mentioned above).

Best Times!

I seriously miss the place..

This is where we worked after work..

Ordered pizza like it is the best food in the world.

Celebrated birthday ala - OFW!

Did the laundry with excitement!

Laundry area at basement area. Accepts dollars and quarters only ;)

 Walked down the hallway to visit other rooms wearing only socks! We are that comfy! Too bad we didn't have picture..

.. and all other fun things we did!

I am missing that place which I do not know if I would still get to visit.. It is not my longest stay in a hotel (the trip was originally scheduled for 3 months!), but it is just fun to stay somewhere aside from your own room. Although, I am not sure if alot would agree on that.

The hotel lobby

Shutting the room door for the last time..

How long was your longest stay in a hotel? Any fun memories?

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