Every time you choose what hotel to stay at, there’s usually a list of things you want from that hotel. It could be specific amenities, or a particular location or you may be looking for a certain level of service. These things will ultimately lead you to your perfect choice (or the closest thing to perfect you can get).
I’ll admit the list of requirements we had that lead to our first stay at the Candlewood Suites last year, and had us return there this year, were very specific and very, well, “us.” The list included:
- Had to be close to Schlitterbahn in New Braunfels
- Had to be close to Buc-ee’s
- Needed to have a freezer to prepare Salt Lick BBQ for journey home
- Needed to be quiet enough in the afternoon for us to take a nap (because waterparking for several hours when you’re middle aged is fun but it’s HARD WORK!)
- Coffee (preferably Starbucks) within a reasonable distance
Which lead us to…
Candlewood Suites New Braunfels
1471 Interstate 35 Frontage Road
New Braunfels, TX 78130
We’ve gone to New Braunfels almost every summer since 2006 to visit Schlitterbahn. If you don’t know what that is, the Schlitterbahn waterpark in New Braunfels, TX has won the “Best Waterpark” award from Amusement Today magazine for 19 straight years. Over the years we’ve stayed at a variety of bed & breakfasts and hotels in the area. We’d previously found a place that fit our needs and stayed there for several years in a row, but eventually decided to try to find a new place to stay when we felt the property was overdue for renovations (it was feeling run down). Fortunately, we found the Candlewood Suites, which suited all of our needs. This was our second year staying here and the stay was much like the one last year.
I contacted the concierge from Citi Prestige to book this room for us, as I could take advantage of the fourth night free benefit that the card provides. I had the concierge book a Queen Studio Suite using our AAA discount. The Citi Concierge is not considered an online travel agency so you will get all the benefits of whatever status you have, as well as earn all the points from the hotel.
$718.68 – Room cost for 4 nights
-$233.67 – Fourth Night Free*
$485.01 – Total Paid for 4 nights
*I received the actual cost of the fourth night as this stay was booked before the changes to the Citi Prestige took effect. If I booked this room now, I’d receive the average room night cost instead.
Thank You Points earned by using Citi Prestige – 2154 (x 1.25 cents/point) = $26.92
IHG Points earned for stay – 3180 (x 0.6 cents/point) = $19.08
IHG Points earned in Accelerate promotion – 7500 (x 0.6 cents/point) = $45.00
Final relative cost = $394.01
The Candlewood Suites New Braunfels is a three story hotel with 83 rooms that was built in 2013. The hotel is located just off exit 189 of I-35 South.
If you’re not familiar with roads in Texas, a Frontage Road is a road that runs along side the interstate. This is the road you use to enter/exit the freeway but it is quite a busy stretch of road in and of itself, that’s home to hotels, restaurants and gas stations.
Directions to the hotel depend on what direction you are coming from:
If you’re coming from San Antonio on I-35 N, you need to take exit 190, then stay in the far left lane and look for this sign just past Canyon High School.
Take the turnaround and the hotel will be just a little ways up on the right.
If you’re coming from the Austin/San Marcos area on I-35 South, you just need to exit I-35 at exit 189 and the hotel will be a little up the road on the right.
It’s important to say the sign for the hotel is not easily visible. To be honest. it’s practically invisible. To get to the hotel, you need to go past the Best Western, Comfort Suites and Country Inn and Suites. Immediately look for the Sleep Inn sign, as that’s the turn into the driveway for the Candlewood Suites. Yes, really.
Upon entering the hotel, you arrive at the lobby area with the check in desk to your right and a television with several couches to your left.
Just past the lobby is the business center and the Candlewood Cupboard that sells food (including microwave dinners). The cupboard has Maxwell House coffee available for free throughout the day (It wasn’t very good when we tried it. Actually, it was pretty bad.). There is also the Lending Locker that had several different board games as well as kitchen appliances such as slow cookers, toasters, sandwich presses and blenders, all for you to take to your room, if needed.
Through the back door of the hotel is the deck (otherwise known as the smoking deck). There are also two barbecue grills if you fancy yourself a concrete picnic.
There was no one else checking in when we arrived so we were helped immediately and the associate said to my wife, “You must be Sharon” (The reservation was in her name). I guess we were the only guests who hadn’t checked in yet so it was easy to figure out who we were, but it took us by surprise for a moment and was a very nice personal touch (I’ll say more on this later). She thanked Sharon for being a Club member, provided us with the wi-fi password, told us to turn on the ice maker in the freezer if we want ice and gave us our keys to room 325, located half way down the hall on the top floor.
The room was exactly what we expected, based on our last stay. When entering the room you are in the kitchen with the refrigerator, sink, dishwasher, stove top and microwave on your right and the bathroom to the left (or vice versa if you’re in a mirror image room, like we were last year). Past the kitchen area was a plain chair and “island” that connected to the desk (with an office chair), which then extended over the storage/dresser drawers and all the way to the end of the room. The bed was to the left (or vice versa) and there was a night stand by one side of the bed and an easy chair by the other side (needless to say, I got the side without a night stand because marriage 😉 ).
The room decor was fine. Nothing to write home about but the layout was pretty good. Sharon did find it uncomfortable to have to straddle the air conditioner when getting into bed since there was only about 5 inches of room between the bed and the vents.
The bathroom was plain but had plenty of counter space as well as empty shelves (which I personally prefer over counter space anyway). The tub/shower combo was acceptable (the tub was really low, if you care about those things). The water pressure wasn’t as strong as I hoped since I like a good shower after the water park to wash off the chlorine and/or river water and a bunch of sunscreen. The shower did pass the “vent test” as the curtain was not blown into the shower by any air vents.
The soap and shampoo was “Candlewood Suite” branded. Sharon was very excited by this (Edit from Sharon: Oh, please. I bring my own soap and shampoo, remember?)
There were plenty of places to recharge electronics. Sharon had a plug in the lamp on “her” night stand to charge a phone. There was another plug within “charging distance” from the table. I had a plug next to the bed so I was able to charge my phone while keeping it on the chair arm.
Since this is an extended stay hotel, we had no interaction with the housekeeping for our stay besides having them pick up a bag of garbage we left outside the room (they did). However our experience with the front desk staff, and with one employee in particular, stood out.
Some hotel staff are helpful and others are efficient, but rarely do you meet someone who just brings a smile to your face. Like, you just can’t be grumpy around them. This is Tasha and she works at the Candlewood Suites in New Braunfels, Texas.
We even remember her from our stay last year. When checking out, the group in front of us were complaining about how the loyalty numbers on each room were not correct and how this happens every time they stay at hotels and why can’t the hotels get this correct. The first thought I had was that if “every hotel” was getting it wrong then maybe it’s not the fault of the hotels????? But Tasha listened to his complaint and went through to correct the reservations one by one, after apologizing to us for the wait.
Jump to this year when we checked in. After Tasha greeted Sharon by name, we asked each other if we thought it was the same person as last year. Upon agreeing that it was, we went back to the the desk just to say how we remembered her and how nice she was to the angry people she was dealing with. She shrugged and said we must have her confused with the other associate because if she helped us, she would have remembered us because we were such nice people and Sharon has such a great smile. (Awwwww!)
Really, there are still people like this working with customers?? This continued our whole stay. After coming back from Schlitterbahn for the day (more than a little tired, sunburned and sore), Tasha says hello to us as we walk by the desk and commented, “You look like two people who had a bunch of fun today!” We said back, “Yes we did, but now we nap!” She chuckled and said how nice we were. We even talked with her boss, Sandy, who, when we said how awesome Tasha was her only comment was, “I know!” You know she’s nice to everyone when even guests walking through the lobby chime in to agree about how great she was when overhearing us complementing her.
When we were checking out, Tasha was there and said seeing us with all of our bags made her sad because it meant we were leaving. We said we had to go because we had an (8 y/o) puppy at home who missed us but we’d be back next year. It was then that we snapped a picture (with her permission, of course). After which, she grabbed one of the housekeepers and introduced us to her and had us take a picture of the two of them (we’re not using that one as the housekeeper seemed to not know what was happening at the time).
This was our second stay at this hotel but it will not be our last. Since we purchased annual passes for Schlitterbahn for 2018, we know we will be returning (Edit from Sharon: maybe TWICE next year!). This is a hotel that meets all of our needs and has one of the friendliest hotel employees we’ve ever met working there. We’ll be back next year.
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