I’ve decided to try out a new type of hotel review for this blog. As a master road tripper, I’ve seen my share of ordinary roadside hotels. These types of places usually aren’t worth writing about; after all, if you’ve stayed in an inexpensive hotel at the side of the interstate, you’ve pretty much seen them all. As long as you choose wisely, they’re not terrible, and you usually get perks like free breakfast and WiFi, but as a whole, they are very ordinary. Frequent readers of this blog will probably agree that Hilton’s Hampton Inn brand fits in that category; they’re usually fine if you need a place to stay after a long drive, but certainly don’t rank very high in the “wow” factor.
That being said, sometimes even Plain Jane hotels can provide surprising value to those chasing points, or just prove to be special “diamonds in the rough”. And so on that theory, I’m kicking off a new type of hotel review this week, where I feature ordinary hotels that fit under one of those two categories. The first hotel on the list is the Hampton Inn in Bonita Springs, Florida, which I stayed at last month while visiting family in the area. In this case, it’s the first category – value for chasing HHonors points.
Hampton Inn Bonita Springs/Naples – North
- 27900 Crown Lake Boulevard, Bonita Springs, FL
- Facilities – free full breakfast, free WiFi, outdoor pool, fitness center, small business center
At the northeast corner of US 41 and Bonita Beach Road; about 3 miles west of IH-75, Exit 116. The hotel’s name says “Naples – North”, but that is something of a misnomer. It’s about half an hour north of Naples, and is even in a different county altogether. However, it is very close to some of Lee County’s better known beaches, Bonita Beach and Barefoot Beach, both about 5 minutes away. If you’re on a budget, it’s also quite a bit cheaper to stay in Bonita Springs than in Naples or Fort Myers Beach. It is approximately 20-25 minutes from Southwest Florida Regional Airport (RSW) in Fort Myers.
Date of Stay: August 30-September 1, 2014
After a 3 1/2 hour drive from Orlando, and a quick stop at my sister’s place to let everyone know we had arrived, we checked in to the hotel about 6:15, just to pick up the keys and drop our stuff in the room. There was nobody in line at the desk, and the parking lot was half empty, but the clerk said they were, in fact, sold out for the holiday weekend, and we’d just picked a quiet time to show up. We had our keys within a minute, and headed to our room on the 2nd floor to put our stuff away.
The room was your standard Hampton room, with a king bed, a desk/working area, MicroFridge, and small sofa. It was fairly spacious, and most importantly, the A/C worked well, a big deal since SW Florida is still rather stuffy in late August. One thing I do like about Hamptons is you do get the same comfy bed that comes with all Hilton brand hotels.
Also standard with every Hampton is a full breakfast spread at no extra charge. You’ll pretty much find the same thing at every Hampton hotel – a selection of cereals, yogurt, fresh fruit, breads, a DIY waffle station, and a choice of two hot items (omelettes and potato wedges on this day). I’m not a breakfast eater, but my wife had a little bit of omelette and said it was OK. But while road tripping, this spread does the job – a good enough selection where you can grab a couple of items quickly and get back on the road.
The breakfast area was spacious and had plenty of tables. But I was once again left wondering where all the guests were at a sold-out hotel. Maybe we lucked out again by heading to breakfast late.
The property features an outdoor pool (it is Florida, after all), and a unique feature out back – a small pond and fountain. Signs admonish guests not to feed the alligators, though I didn’t see any while I was there. There are a few tables by the pond if you fancy gator watching at breakfast.
The hotel also offered one additional unusual amenity – two parking spaces reserved in front of the side entrance, by the elevator, for HHonors Diamond members. I’ve not seen this offered at other Hilton properties. I do have to wonder how they would enforce this, though it’s a nice touch, I guess.
So what makes this such a great deal for point chasers? Our room was only $71 per night at the AAA rate, but thanks to HHonors’ “Triple Your Trip” promotion, this two day stay netted 4,019 HHonors points, including an HHonors Silver bonus of 191 points. As Rocky previously pointed out, Hilton does make the HHonors triple points promotion rather difficult to take advantage of, as nearly a third of its hotels have chosen to opt out of the promotion. But if you can find a participating hotel, and you’re trying to accumulate points, there are some good deals to be had. 4,019 points is a good 80% of the way to a Level 1 HHonors award, and 1/5 of the way to a much easier to find Level 3 award – not a bad deal for $142, especially when that gets you 2 miles from the beach.