Joe has said again and again that we have no brand loyalty. We don’t stay at any hotel brand often enough to get status; whatever status we do get it through credit card spending. So wherever we stay is usually based more on a mixture of cost, convenience and sometimes experience.
With that, there are only a handful of hotels that we specifically make it our business to stay at. The Goldener Hirsch is one of them, simply because it’s a favorite. The same can be said for the TWA Hotel – it’s just so kitschy and cute.
Another hotel where we’ve stayed time and time again is the Candlewood Suites in New Braunfels, TX. It’s not super fancy and it is convenient to the places we visited a lot (Schlitterbahn water park and, of course, Buc-ee’s) but its location is no better or worse than the Courtyard by Marriott, LaQuinta and various bed & breakfasts we had stayed at during earlier trips to the area. However the Candlewood Suites offers full-sized refrigerator-freezer combos (we used the freezer to freeze the pounds of Texas BBQ we’d bring home [here’s how we keep it frozen on the plane] and eke out for the rest of the year). And we’ve mentioned in the past that this hotel had one of THE BEST hotel clerks we’ve ever met (click here to learn more about her).
Welp, we just came back from New Braunfels and stayed at the candlewood Suites again. Tasha is still there. She’s as cheerful as ever and if not for COVID, I’m sure we would have hugged hello on our most recent visit, like we do every time we check in. Unfortunately, the rest of the hotel has changed over the years, and not for the better.
- This Candlewood Suites is looking sad and worn out and REALLY needs to be renovated. Half of the Italian pines on the property are dead. The sign facing the highway doesn’t light up and although there weren’t overgrown plants blocking the sign this year, it’s been a near-constant thing in years past. The hallway rugs are worn, faded and have “bubbles” that need to be stretched out. The kitchen cabinets have lots of nicks. The standing lamps in each room, which were beginning to rust at least 3-4 years ago, are really rusting out now. The beds squeak like crazy. The air conditioner is LOUD and doesn’t cool the room properly (here’s why). These weren’t just issues in our room, by the way. We were in a room on the 3rd floor and our friends were on the 2nd floor – their room had nearly all of the same issues.
- This was just a little thing but it was annoying – each room has a dishwasher, along with a coffeemaker, plates, glassware, cutlery, etc. When we checked in, we discovered that housekeeping left everything in the dishwasher. Everything. Want a clean glass? It’s in the dishwasher. An unused fork? Check the dishwasher. It wasn’t so bad until you have a sink full of dirty dishes and have to empty the dishwasher to put the dirty dishes in. I’d blame COVID but I stayed at a Residence Inn a few weeks ago and didn’t have that issue. So I’m chalking it up to a time-saver for housekeeping…but an annoyance for guests (and again, the same thing happened in our friends’ room; it wasn’t “just us”).
- Candlewood Suites are extended-stay places and over the years the clientele has changed. Years ago it was mainly construction workers…they’d be out of the hotel first thing in the morning because they’d be working, and were generally quiet at night. In the past few visits, it seems to be more “regular people” living at the hotel and in the past visit or two we’ve smelled pot in the hallways, seen drunk people in the lobby, and heard the guy who kept screaming at “his woman” each night, which caused other guests to complain and Tasha to call the cops, but the woman wouldn’t ever press charges so it would happen over and over again.
With all of that, we’ve decided it’s time to move on and find a different hotel for our visits to New Braunfels. We’ve always been just as happy to stay in a “not so fancy” place as we would a fancy-schmancy place, but not when it’s gone this far downhill.
I’m not sure we’ll ever find another Tasha, and hopefully we’ll find a place with a freezer. But at this point, the “good” of the two of them no longer outweigh the “bad” of the hotel.
It’s been a good run, but nothing gold can stay. Pity.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary