Thursday, July 5, 2012

New Hampshire

I hope everyone had a nice, relaxing holiday.  It may have been because the 4th was smack-dab in the middle of week but we didn't know of any friends or family having parties or BBQs.  Well, either that or we weren't invited.  We couldn't find any nearby parades that weren't "fire truck" parades so we simply stayed at home.  The girls played outside in their mini blow-up pool, which they have sadly somewhat outgrown, for a few hours.  We had to drop off a few birthday cards later in the day so we stopped at the grocery store for some items, including toppings for make your own sundaes.  It was so easy to set up but yet, the girls absolutely loved it and thought it was a great surprise.  (They are really big into surprises right now.)

Last weekend, we enjoyed our annual vacation to the North Conway area of New Hampshire.  Or New Hampsha if you happen to live in Massachusetts.  For the past two years, we've stayed at my brother-in-law's vacation home but this year, because we were going during prime time (the weekend before July 4th), we didn't want to ask to use their house.  Rich mentioned renting a condo but for two nights, I thought it would be more of a hassle.  In other words, more work for us in setting up beds, etc.

So the search for a hotel was on.  That area of New Hampshire is extremely popular and therefore, expensive. Because Grammy would be joining us, we would need either two hotel rooms or a large suite.  Hotel rooms were priced in the $200+ range.  Per room.  Rich mentioned the Red Jacket because we've had several co-workers stay there and it's a popular resort, mainly known for its indoor water park.  We didn't have time to use the water park but thought it would be a good back-up plan if it happened to rain and if you know our luck, that was a good possibility.  (It was cool and rainy during our first trip and last year, there was the hurricane.)  I want to note that the water park is for hotel guests only and there is an additional charge of $20 per guest per day.

When reviewing what options this resort had available for suites, I found the following on the main page:

Rooms and Suites

Family lofts
Featuring two double beds in the main living area, loft rooms have a staircase leading up to a separate area with two twin beds, these rooms offer terrific garden or mountain views.

Bunk rooms
Bunk rooms include two double beds in the main room and an attached alcove room with either one double bed or bunk beds. All of these rooms overlook the Moat Mountains and the surrounding valley.

It looked like we would be able to fit all of us into a suite and they had a package which would give us Story Land tickets for a day and a full buffet breakfast both mornings.  (We were only staying for two nights.)  I used their online reservation system to run numbers and was given a quote of approximately $425 a night.  I added the cost of just the suite alone and the Story Land tickets and breakfast for all of us at the resort and there was some savings.

Here was the description given to us through the reservation system of the room/suite:

Mountain View Loft or Alcove

Mountain View Loft or Alcove rooms (non smoking) overlook the west side of the property and the Moat mountain range, White Horse Ledge, Cathedral Ledge and the Saco River Valley. Perfect for families, our loft rooms include two double beds, television and private bath in the main living area with stairs leading to a loft room with two twin beds, a hand sink, and a second television. Refrigerator, hairdryer, coffee maker, iron and board, complementary coffee and WIFI access included. Not recommended for children under three because of open loft stairs. No balcony in loft rooms. Alcove rooms have two double beds in the main bedroom, and a separate sleeping area with a pocket door for privacy with either one twin, one double, or a set of bunk beds depending on the particular room layout. No stairs in Alcove room.

Rich called the resort instead of booking online and reserved one of these rooms/suites.  He made it clear that there would be 6 people.

Here was our itinerary for this vacation:

  • Drive to North Conway in the morning
  • Stop at the resort to pick up our Story Land tickets
  • Spend the remainder of the day at Story Land
  • Swim in the resort outdoor pool after dinner
  • Breakfast at resort
  • Spend the day at Santa's Village
  • Swim in the resort outdoor pool after dinner
  • Breakfast at resort
  • Drive home :(
We arrived in North Conway shortly before noon and stopped at the Red Jacket for our Story Land tickets.  We hadn't expected to check in at that point but the woman at the front desk checked to see if a room was ready.  It was not.

It was 6:30 by the time we returned to the resort to check in.  I had decided to make this a non-photography trip - meaning that I only brought my 35mm lens.  I had thought about bringing my wide angle lens and my Speedlight but it was more than I wanted to carry around for this trip.  This is why I don't have any pictures of our room.  (Plus, I was lazy.)

Our hotel room was a normal hotel room that was a tad bit wider (4 feet or so) than your standard hotel room.  This room had two double beds.  This would sleep 4 people.  There was a sliding door to an alcove, which was the size of a walk-in closet and contained a twin bed.  That would sleep 1 person.  We had reserved for 6 people.

Rich and I trekked to the front lobby, assuming that they had placed us in the wrong room by mistake.  No, it was no mistake. 

We explained that we had made a reservation for 6 people and the description of the room on their website stated that there would be enough beds for 6 people.  There were two woman helping us and they were both very nice but I didn't like the way the conversation went.  When I explained that the website said that there would be either 3 double beds, or 2 double beds with either 2 twin beds or a set of bunk beds, she said, "Let me see if any of those rooms are available."  

They were not.

So I said that I didn't understand how we could book a room for 6 people but be assigned to a room with beds for 5 people.  "Well, fire code allows for 6 guests in those rooms.  Most people book a cot.  We'll be happy to provide one to you.  Complimentary."

So basically, two different parties can book a room for 6 people and pay the exact same price.  Party #1 will receive a room with beds to sleep 6.  Party #2 will receive a room with beds to sleep 5 and have to dish out an additional $20 a night for a cot.  This makes no sense to me. 

While we were changing into our bathing suits after the bed situation was taken care of, we could hear a kid running around above us.  "Oh, great," I said, knowing exactly what was going to happen in a few short hours.  Now, my kids did go to bed hours past their normal bedtime but they were in beds, not running around the room and jumping on furniture.

At 9:10, the guests above us returned to their room and for the next 40 minutes, we listened to this kid run back and forth, back and forth and then bam, bam, BAM.  He had to have been jumping on and off of the furniture.  A few times, I fully expected him to crash through the ceiling and land in our room.  At 9:50, Rich called the front desk.  Heather told Rich that quiet time would begin in 10 minutes and she would call that room.  The noise somewhat slowed down for 5 minutes or so but returned with a vengeance.  I thought my head was going to explode.  I had been awake since 6:00 that morning and I wanted to go to sleep.

Rich waited another 20 minutes or so and then called the front desk again because it was apparent that without intervention, the noise could continue indefinitely.  Heather was very nice and told Rich that she didn't know what was going on but she would send security to the room.  That seemed to be the solution because the noise abruptly ended and didn't return until the next morning.

We had the fan for the air conditioner running in our room not only to cool it down but to also generate white noise.  After the noise above us disappeared, I could hear a little girl talking.  I couldn't understand what she was saying but I could hear her over the fan even though she wasn't screaming.  I drifted off to sleep only to be awakened 10 minutes later to the sound of someone trying to get into our room.  The people in the room next to us had either checked in or returned and the kids were trying to get through the connecting door.  The parents were quick to respond and we didn't hear much from them again.

The next morning, we discovered that the tub didn't drain properly.  As in, it took half an hour for the water from a shower to drain out so if someone wanted to take a shower right after you, they would either have to wait or stand in a pool of your filthy water.

So as not to sound like a complete crab, there were some positive aspects.  In addition, most of the people we ran into were polite and courteous.  The first night that we used the pool, a woman approached us who was there vacationing with her 7 year old triplets.  Her friend was there with her 7 year old twins.  The friend looked so familiar and she said that we looked familiar too.  Through talking, Rich realized that he knew of her through friends.  Such a small world.

Okay, here's my list of pros and cons of the Red Jacket:

  1. Our room and what we saw of the resort was fairly clean.  (I would grade it an A-.)  
  2. Although some areas seemed outdated, our room had recently been renovated and contained new furniture, a new tub, new tiles and new carpet. 
  3. The balcony to our room was spacious.  (See picture below.)
  4. The outdoor pool, which was separate from the water park (and free), was large for a hotel pool. The water temperature was good too.
  5. There was a good variety of food at the breakfast buffet.  Everything was fresh and tasty.
  6. The majority of employees were very friendly. (The waiters on our last day seemed a bit grumpy.)
  7. The fan for the air conditioner was fantastic.  I love sleeping with a fan going and this one was smooth and consistent.
  8. The mountain views were beautiful.  (See pictures below.)
  9. Convenient location. 
  1. The walls and floors/ceilings are paper thin.  You can hear everything.
  2. The rooms are not worth the cost unless you can obtain some type of deal or discount.  
  3. Expensive.  It costs an additional $20 per person per day to use the water park.  Out of pocket, the breakfast buffet costs approximately $14 per person, including children.
  4. Although most everything in our room had been updated, the mattresses were old.  If Grammy didn't sleep in the middle of her bed, she would roll out of it.  I tried to lie down on the edge of the cot next to Allie and I kept rolling into the middle of the mattress.  My bed wasn't too bad but Rich said his was very uncomfortable. 
  5. The location of the parking lot and the layout of the hotel was a bit awkward, especially for those of us with three small children and a lot of bags and crap to carry. 
  6. There was no air conditioning in Grammy's walk-in closet alcove.  She had to sleep with her window open for fresh air and there was a bit of street noise and guests wandering around the property late at night.
  7. When Rich checked out, he was not given an itemized receipt.  There were 3 lines:  total charges, deposit and amount due.  (We need to call for an itemized receipt because I'm convinced that they charged us for the cot.)
  8. The tub drain issue.  I read the reviews on Trip Advisor and we were not the only ones with this problem.  
Here's part of (not even half of) the balcony.


View from the balcony.


View from the dining room.


Evening view from the balcony.


Well, this was really the view.


I didn't expect to write up a huge resort/hotel review but I felt like I had to.  Plus, one of my pet peeves is reading vacation write ups on other blogs that are only a few sentences long with a splattering of photos.  I mostly read other mom blogs and I'm interested in traveling to different parts of the country so I love to read detailed reviews of hotels, vacation destinations, etc.    


KC Squared said...

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience! I agree with our about writing honest reviews about places you have stayed. I rely on other folks reviews before I go places so I take the time to review after I've been somewhere.

EWO said...

We used to go to that resort every year for my stepson's birthday (from 10 to 13) and he loved it! His birthday is in January so it was totally worth the extra charge for the waterpark, but yes it was NOISY! We haven't been back in nearly 3 years, and then it was definitely a little dingy - glad to hear they updated the rooms. We weren't thrilled with the customer service either, so it's good to hear that it is better.
Glad you guys got to get away for a bit!

Melissa B said...

We were there mid June during the very hot week and I agree almost completely with your review - we did not have the noise you did though. The water park was a lot of fun although its too bad its not included in the price of the hotel considering what you pay for the hotel!

Michele said...

When we went to DC we had a similar bed issue - I booked for 4 people and were given a room with a king only. We didn't get there until 11 pm, and that was all they had. We got a cot to fit in the room, but that meant 3 of us had to sleep in the king. And no extra blankets for the cot. There was not much sleeping that trip.

ctmommyx3 said...

I cant believe we were there too. well at storyland. we went saturday. drove up friday mid day. we stayed at the hampton inthey have water slides too and the kids loved it. so funny if i had seen someone with triplets i am sure i would have recognized you all!

Debbie Hein said...

My husband and I used to take our girls all over from New England area down to DC. The we hit Disney. It spoiled us. We are a month away from trip #39, and I am never disappointed. They always make good. Glad your girls enjoyed their trip.

Victoria said...

Beautiful pictures and such a beautiful family! We have 5 children :)

mryan said...

When we go we always stay at Nordic village. We love it there.