Sharon and I have stayed at some really fancy hotels. A few of them even made my list of the most memorable places we’ve ever stayed. While all of these ritzy hotels looked really nice, sometimes the service wasn’t that great. The staff often seemed to be trying so hard that their actions bordered on being robotic. Other times the service we’ve gotten at expensive hotels is just mediocre and occasionally has been really poor. In comparison, we’ve often received outstanding service at hotels in the most unexpected locations. I’m sure that almost everyone has booked a hotel somewhere because that’s where you needed to be. We were recently in such a situation and were pleasantly surprised with the service at the hotel where we stayed.
It’s not every day that a friend from 650 miles away invites you to his house for a pig roast. It’s happened to me exactly ONCE in my lifetime, so it was a chance I wasn’t about to pass up on. We love to use travel as a way to meet up with friends and family so we found a way to make this happen. As it turns out when your friend (and his other friends) are all awesome cooks, this is an event that you should not miss. This pig gave its life for a higher purpose.
While I’m sure our friend would have let us pitch a tent in his backyard near the fire pit if we asked, we decided to stay in a nearby hotel.
Courtyard Knoxville Airport Alcoa
141 Furrow Way, Alcoa, TN
This 95 room, three story hotel was built in 2005. It looked very current, with most of the recent Courtyard amenities like a flat screen TV in the lobby and a fire pit outside. Now when I think of Courtyard by Marriott hotels that are located by airports, there’s not much that I expect. Typically, they’re run of the mill business oriented hotels with a lobby bar and decent internet. All we needed was a room, as we weren’t planning on spending much time at the hotel, since our friend’s house was close by and that was the reason for our trip.
Rooms at the hotel weren’t that expensive and a three night stay would have cost $350. Had I booked an award stay with Marriott, this category 3 hotel would have cost 45,000 points. Since I value Marriott points at 0.75 – 1 cent each, paying for the stay made more sense. It was then I remembered I had a large stash of Citi Thank You points available. If I used them to book a hotel through the Citi Thank You portal they’re worth 1.25 cents each. Since I really didn’t want to pay cash for our stay, I used 27,928 Thank You points to pay for our three night stay. I know that I didn’t earn any Marriott points for the stay and there’s more valuable uses for my points but that’s OK cause I have $350 in my wallet.
When we drove up to the hotel, it was exactly what I expected it to be, a non-descript Courtyard by Marriott near an airport. What I didn’t expect was the service we received when we walked in the door.
We had a 8AM flight from Orlando so that meant we had to be up at way too early o’clock to get to the airport. By the time our Frontier flight landed in Knoxville at 10AM and we drove the 5 minutes to the airport, we needed a nap. We needed a nap bad. The front desk agent at the hotel was so nice. When checking in, he asked if I was a Marriott Rewards member. When I said I was, he looked up my number before I could even get out my phone to open the Marriott app. He clicked a few times on his mouse and said that if we’d be willing to take a room with one bed, we could have our room right away. I guess we did really look that tired?
We thanked him, probably too much in retrospect, and said we’d be back later after our nap. Of course, we didn’t go to bed immediately as we had to take pictures of the room.
Our room was on the third floor, right near the center of the hotel. Despite being close to the elevators, we didn’t notice any extra noise from the hallway.
Once entering the room, you walked in past the bathroom on the right. The bed was set just past the entrance against the bathroom wall.
An oddly shaped couch was placed against the far wall under some artwork and next to a lamp. We thought the couch might be a sofa bed, but it was not.
The work area/closet/drawers were set against the opposite wall. We discovered that the table under the desk could be pulled out and used when sitting on the couch. This was invaluable when Sharon and I both wanted to work while in the room (without one of us having to work from the bed).
The bed was comfortable, had a sufficient number of pillows and had tables on both sides of the bed (satisfying my requirements for a bedroom).
Sharon and I, along with other friends staying at the same hotel, found the TV placement strange. You couldn’t watch it if you were lying in the bed. Maybe if you were lying on the left side of the bed, but not on the right.
There was a microwave, coffee maker and refrigerator in the hallway. We made use of the refrigerator and was able to bring some left over pork from the cookout back home with us for leftovers.
The bathroom wasn’t anything to speak about. The shower did work well enough to wash the smoke smell off of us resulting from us sitting next to a fire pit for the better part of two days.
As usual, Sharon was thrilled about the hotel toiletries, which were Paul Mitchell branded. (Note from Sharon: I don’t know why he says this with every hotel review – I don’t care anything about hotel toiletries. I bring my own. But Joe tells me to take pictures of the hotel toiletries, so I do. I just try to get artistic with them, is all).
After our well deserved nap, we headed back to the lobby. The kind gentleman who checked us in (and whose name I can’t remember) (Note from Sharon – it stayed with an M. Maurice?) asked how we slept. I love it when customer service facing employees are human. We said that our nap was wonderful but now we needed to find somewhere for lunch.
We did manage to take some pictures of the lobby later on during our stay. Here’s the sitting area;
the breakfast area and evening bar;
and the business center with one computer and printer (which was very helpful to print our Frontier boarding passes).
The hotel also had several amenities that I didn’t expect. One of the nicest ones was a fire pit. This made a wonderful place to hang out with all of our friends.
The hotel may have also had a outdoor hot tub which might have been a nice place to relax. However since you all know the phrase “What happens in Knoxville, stays in Knoxville“, there’s no photo evidence that anything ever happened in the hot tub (Note from Sharon who didn’t bring a bathing suit: Chicken.).
I also want to mention that when a freak hail storm broke out while we were sitting outside, the same front desk agent from when we checked in ran outside to bring us extra towels to dry ourselves off and to cover the seats so we could stay and chill out under the awning for a while longer. For real? This is a $90 a night hotel next to the airport and we’re getting Ritz Carlton service.
It’s not often that I say that I’ll remember a stay at an airport Courtyard by Marriott. A combination of getting to spend time with good friends and amazing customer service will make this a hotel stay that I will take a long time to forget.
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Cover photo is from the Knoxville Airport Courtyard by Marriott website.