Unicoi Lodge, Helen, Georgia

logo

Fabgrandpa and I recently spent the night at Unicoi Lodge, at Unicoi State Park in Helen, Georgia. In the past, we have camped at Unicoi State Park many times, and spent four winters during our workcamping “career” as volunteer campground hosts. We had never stayed at the lodge before, though.

The lodge has 100 guest rooms, a dining room, and several meeting rooms that  you can reserve for your functions like corporate retreats, weddings, or reunions. I once attended a quilting retreat there. I reserved our room online and received a lower rate than I would have if I had called the reservation desk. We went during Oktoberfest, which I had forgot about, so it was a peak demand weekend in the area, but we only paid $176 for a Saturday night in a tourist area.

Our room was handicap accessible

Our room was handicap accessible

We were lucky in that we got the last available room. It had two double beds, and was handicap accessible.

The TV and Dresser

The TV and Dresser

There was a desk, a large dresser, a flat screen TV, a chair and a side table. This room was comfortable, as were the beds. There was plenty of room to move around in, and I imagine someone in a wheelchair would have enough room. Wifi and cable TV were both available in the room.

The bathroom

The bathroom

The bathroom is where I really need for a hotel room to be handicap accessible. This one was really great, with a shower that had no barrier: you just walk in. There was a shower seat and grab bars, and a hand held shower head.

The sink

The sink

The lodge provided plenty of towels and washcloths. The sink area was a bit cramped but functional. Our room was clean, and did not have a smell like some older hotel rooms can have.

Map of the area

Map of the area

Unicoi State Park and Lodge is located at 1788 Highway 356, in Helen, Georgia. There is a buffet restaurant on the premises, and many restaurants nearby in Helen. Visitors to the state park can hike, bird watch, ride bikes, fish for trout, and take part in ranger programs provided by the staff. There are many other attractions located in surrounding areas, including the Appalachian Trail, Brasstown Bald, Babyland General Hospital (the home of the original Cabbage Patch Kids), the Dahlonega Gold Museum, and a Folk Pottery Museum of Northeast Georgia in Sautee Nacoochee.

 

Amelia Island Restaurant Week: Residence Inn

Amelia Island Beach

Amelia Island Beach

Last week Fabgrandpa and I finally left the house headed for Amelia Island, Florida. Restaurant Week, that annual celebration of the best meals at the best restaurants on the island, ran from January 17th to 26th. Of course, we needed a place to stay while we were in Fernandina Beach for the festivities, so Residence Inn by Marriott stepped up to the plate. What a delicious place! Yes, a lodging can be delicious, as compared to other places we have stayed that were merely functional. The Residence Inn, was, well, marvelous!

Residence Inn by Marriott

Residence Inn by Marriott

As soon as we walked in, we were greeted by the front desk staff. I introduced myself, and when I did, they all knew me by name! They had been waiting for us to arrive. I was introduced to the manager as “our special guest” and was given a welcome package that had been left there for me by the public relations person. I felt just like a star arriving in Hollywood!

the lobby and cafe area

the lobby and cafe area

There were people sitting in the lobby, enjoying the fireplace, and waiting for the hamburger cookout to begin. We were invited to attend, but we had reservations at another place for dinner. So, we went up to our room to freshen up and get ready to go to our restaurant.And just look at this room:

Living Room

Living Room

The living room had a desk, sofa, coffee table with ottoman, a chair, and a large screen TV with Cable. Free wi-fi made it super easy to get online, too. There was a small dining table with two chairs. And A FULL kitchen:

The kitchen

The kitchen

The kitchen featured a large refrigerator/freezer, a stovetop with two burners, a convection microwave oven and a dishwasher. It was also fully stocked with cooking and eating utensils for four. And I do mean, there was everything you would need to move in for a while and start cooking. I want this kitchen at my house! Or, I want to live here at Residence Inn. For the whole winter! I went into the bedroom to lie down for a while, and just look at this:

the bedroom

the bedroom

The bedroom featured a king size bed that was oh! so comfortable. I slept like a log the two nights we were there. A large closet with mirrors on the doors, a dresser, and a bedside table on both sides of the bed. The lighting could be adjusted from full light to just above dark, which made it great for sleeping or watching TV on the second big screen TV.

The vanity area

The vanity area

The vanity area had plenty of room for two people to move around and get ready to go at the same time if necessary, with a separate area for the toilet and shower. All of the rooms were so beautifully decorated in a warm red and beige color scheme. I loved it!

The bath area

The bath area

When we got ready to go to the restaurant for dinner, the front desk staff offered to have the shuttle take us. But, because we had to run a couple of errands on the way back, we declined. It was nice to know that the shuttle was available though. Other amenities offered were an outdoor heated pool, a hot tub, free Continental Breakfast,  Business Center, Fitness Center, and Laundry Services. Residence Inn Amelia Island hotel is pet-friendly too, so my sister, Linda, wouldn’t have to leave her Bunny Boo at home if she came to Amelia Island for a visit.

Dottie with Fabgrandpa

Dottie with Fabgrandpa

You know Fabgrandpa and I took advantage of the free breakfasts each morning. Of course Fabgrandpa makes friends everywhere he goes, and met up with Dottie, the very nice lady who takes care of setting up the breakfast and keeping the coffee urns filled. We both met a lot of very nice people who were also staying at the Residence Inn. Amelia Island is a popular spot for snow birders to visit when it is cold and snowy up north. I talked to people from Wisconsin, Illinois, Canada, New Jersey, New York and Virginia.

if you want to go there and find out for yourself what a wonderful place Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island is, here are the particulars:

Residence Inn by Marriott Amelia Island

2301 Sadler Road, Fernandina Beach, Florida 32034

Contact: 904-277-2440 Fax: 904-277-2449

Email: ameliainfo@residenceinnamelia.com

Make a reservation

Another Trip To Flagstaff

We had to go to Flagstaff again this week for my follow up appointment with the surgeon. They took out more of the stitches but not all. There is one place that is a skin fold that is not healing as quickly as the rest of the incision. I have lost another 3 pounds since last week, for a total of 39 pounds lost since this ordeal began. My doctor wants me to loose about 46 more pounds. I hope I can. We made another appointment in two weeks for them to look at it again. Other than that one place, everything looks great and I am doing quite well, considering the extent of my surgery.

Because Travel Lodge messed up our room reservation last time and were not very accommodating about it, we decided to try a different hotel. This time we chose Springhill Suites by Marriott. I called the location in Flagstaff directly instead of calling the 800 number or reserving online, because I wanted to be sure that I got a handicap accessible room that would sleep three adults, because Becky is here taking care of me. I even spoke to the general manager, and he assured me that we would have a room with grab bars in the bathroom and a shower large enough to fit my shower chair.

The bed was very comfortable

When we arrived, the room did have the handicap accessible amenities that I needed, but it only had one king bed. Fabgrandpa was very upset and told them in no uncertain terms that it was not acceptable. They finally did accommodate us, by giving us the adjoining room for Becky at no additional charge. There was a door between the rooms that made it easy to just walk back and forth between the rooms. However, the A/C unit in our room did not work. It was hot and uncomfortable.

Two TV’s?

Becky went down and talked to the people at the desk, and they offered to move us to another handicap accessible room one floor up. So, Becky kept the room she was given to start with, and Fabgrandpa and I moved up one floor.And we found out that when making a reservation for a specific type of room, you have to ask the clerk you are talking with to “block” the room. If a room is blocked, they can not change you to another room. Personally, I do not understand how a hotel or motel can change your room from a handicap accessible room to a different kind of room. Who is going to specifically ask for a handicap room if they don’t need it? I certainly wouldn’t and never have.

The handicap accessible bathroom had grab bars and a telephone by the toilet

After all that was done, and we were situated, I have to say that it was a very nice room. The bathroom was large, with grab bars by the toilet and in the shower stall.

lots of grab bars in the tub/shower

Their was also a built in shower chair, which was very nice to have. There was a telephone next to the toilet, too. The sleeping room was huge! And what a comfortable bed!

The built in shower chair was nice to have

Even with all the hassle at check in and with the non working A/C in the first room, I would stay there again. The regular rate for this hotel is $129 a night, but with a medical discount it came to $84 plus tax, making it $92.

And look at this weird looking mirror in the bathroom

While we were in Flagstaff, we went to New Frontiers for some groceries and supplies. I love that store! They always arrange their produce to be so pretty! I got some chard, which I love, and some basil and fresh mozzarella cheese. I took advantage of their electric cart to get around the store:

That cart made it so much easier to get around.

Why Can’t I Just Make A Reservation???

We have had to go back to Flagstaff twice now for follow-up appointments with the surgeon. And we have to go back again next week.  I love Flagstaff, but making that 400 mile roundtrip every week is getting old, especially since I am recovering from major extensive surgery.

The first week we went back down to Flag, we stayed at the Travel Lodge at 1560 E. Route 66. I have a walker and a shower chair that I have to use, but didn’t think about needing special accommodations for the bathroom. We were able to squeeze the shower chair in the bathtub, but since there were no grab bars, I had to have Fabgrandpa or my daughter help me get in and out of the tub. I am still having a hard time lifting my feet up very high, so this was a challenge.

This week, instead of making the reservation online, I called the Travel Lodge and asked if they had any handicap accessible rooms. They said they did, so I made my reservation for one. However, when we arrived, the person at the desk said that whoever took my reservation did not make a note that I had requested a handicap room, and they had already given that room to someone else. I was livid!

The clerk went on to say that the only difference in the handicap accessible room was that there were grab bars in the bathroom and a dedicated parking space in front of the room. Well, DUH! That was exactly what I was looking for. We stayed there in the same room we were in last week, and Fabgrandpa had to help me in and out of the shower.

When we got home, I called Fairfield by Marriot, a hotel we have stayed in before, and talked to them to make a reservation. I told them we had three adults staying in the room, and that I needed a room with a handicap accessible bathroom. I also asked for their “medical rate” because a lot of hotels will give you a discount if the purpose of your visit is for a medical appointment. The girl assured me that they could accommodate my needs, and quoted a discounted rate of $132.64 (that included taxes.)

Today, I opened my confirmation email from them, and discovered that they had booked me a room with one king bed. For three adults. I called them to check on that, and was told that in order to get a handicap accessible room, I could only get 1 king bed. I told them that was not acceptable, and asked why they didn’t tell me that at the time I made the reservation.  She was very polite, and explained their room accommodations, and gave the name of another hotel across the street that would be able to provide a room with two double beds AND handicap accessible bathroom.

I called Springhill Suites by Marriot. They were able to reserve a room with two queen beds, and handicap accessible bathrooms, at a rate of $92.78 (including taxes.) My confirmation email seems to be correct. We’ll see what we get when we check in next week.

But I have to ask:  How can a motel get away with not honoring your request for an accessible room? Why can’t they just tell you the truth when you call to make a reservation? I would rather continue looking for a room to fit my needs than make a reservation and be disappointed when I arrived.

 

A Trip To The Big City

When our friend, “Polly”, who lives in Miami, found out she had to go to a meeting in Atlanta last week, she called and asked if we’d like to meet her there. And you know us, we said “Heck Yeah!”. So, off to Atlanta we went.

hotel indigo

We could see the Fox Theatre out the window!

It was just for one night, and we never left the hotel, but we had such fun!

675 w peachtree st

yeah, I used to work on the 36th floor there!

We stayed at the Hotel Indigo, which is right across Peachtree Street from the Fox Theatre! I love the Fox! And I used to work in that huge building right behind the Fox, when it used to be BellSouth. It seems like forever ago.

hotel indigo

gorgeous rooms!

Our room was gorgeous! It was not at all what I expected to see in such an old hotel building (built in 1925). It was very modern, very clean, and so nice! Because it is such an old building, the bathrooms were very small, but did all that they were supposed to do.

The bathroom was tiny, but it was so cute!

We chose this hotel because our friend has dogs, and the Hotel Indigo is pet friendly. It was also surprisingly inexpensive to be in downtown Atlanta. We have paid almost as much to stay in a motel chain in Douglasville.

hotel indigo

The lobby

I loved the chandelier in the lobby, and the modern decor. They were very gracious, and called me by my name whenever I had a reason to be in the lobby, asking if they could be of assistance. They even called us in the room after we got settled in to tell us to let them know if we forgot anything. Polly forgot the dogfood, and they were very helpful in giving directions to the closest place where she could buy some.

Look at this decor in the cafe:

hotel indigo cafe 683

very modern!

And look over there:

hotel indigo

Very comfy, too!

And of course Fabgrandpa and I enjoyed every minute of it!

dinner at hotel indigo

Me and Fabgrandpa at Hotel Indigo Cafe 683

Oh, and the food! delicious and beautiful! There wasn’t a lot of stuff on the menu that was gluten free, but I did notice that they had a fresh mozzarella, tomato, and basil flatbread, and after a discussion with the waitress, she asked the chef if he could make me a caprese salad, which he did. I felt so special, and was very thankful that they would work with me like that.We had this for an appetizer:

hotel indigo cafe 683

made especially for me!

Fabgrandpa had the Fried Chicken Tacos with blackeyed pea relish and jalapeno slaw:

cafe 683

Fried Chicken Tacos

Polly ordered a Steak and Roasted Beet Salad:

hotel indigo cafe 683 atlanta ga

Roasted Beet Salad

And I had the grilled salmon:

cafe 683

Grilled salmon with roasted peruvian potatoes

After dinner we all went up to our room, and talked and laughed until time to go to bed. We ordered dessert via room service! Fabgrandpa and Polly had Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Cream, and I had plain vanilla ice cream. My ice cream tasted sooo good! I forgot to get pictures of the desserts, but trust me when I say they were delicious!

Too soon, it was time to go home, and say goodbye again to our friend, Polly. I know it won’t be the last time we see her, but it is always sad to leave.  We are hoping to go back to Atlanta in April to see the Aretha Franklin concert at the Fox, and if we do, we’ll stay at the Hotel Indigo again!

 

Motel Review: Microtel in Brunswick, Georgia

On our recent road trip to Brunswick, Georgia, we chose Microtel on Gateway Boulevard for our lodging.  This motel was right off of I-95 ext 38. It was convenient to everything we wanted to see and do while we were in town, and cost us $123 for two nights. [Read more…]