Town Country Inn & Suites (West) – Asheville, NC

Destination: Asheville, NC
Date: December 2014
Hotel: Town Country Inn & Suites Asheville West
Brand: Club Carlson
Status: Concierge
# of travelers: 4

Hotel & Brand – Making the Decision

Back in October we had planned to visit Biltmore Estates in Asheville, NC at Christmas for my mom's birthday (hint, hint), but no final decisions were really made until the week before we were suppose to go. We talked about staying in a log cabin one of my dad's friends owns up in the mountains, but the two-hour drive was almost as bad as the three-hour drive from my home especially when we discovered that our booked viewing of the Biltmore house wouldn't be until 10:45 PM. While we may have played with the idea of staying at a hotel prior to that little tidbit of info, once we knew we had a late viewing, we decided (or really, Justin decided) that driving so late at night wasn't in the cards. As seems to be typical for me anymore, I began a frantic search for a hotel a mere 2 days before needing it. Doesn't anyone plan anymore?!?!

I began my search with my typical favorites: IHG and Hilton. Was IHG having a points break at any hotels nearby? No. I then branched out to Club Carlson, Marriott, Omni (specifically the Grove Park Inn), and any hotels available with Groupon. I saw one promising prospect on Groupon, but as it turns out that particular weekend in December was a black out date. :( I haven't been too happy with Marriott and their *need* to have people pay for the internet while blocking the internet from cell phone companies nor have I been impressed with their push for guests to tip housekeeping staff. Needless to say, silver status or not, they are not at the top of my list of places I want to stay. I really wanted to stay at the Grove Park Inn, but considering I have no status with Omni and they were charging in the $400 range for a room, I put my desire aside to go for something a bit more practical with the knowledge that prices will go down once the holiday season is over. Actually, prices are what let me to decide between the IHG Crowne Plaza Resort, which I had stayed at before, and the Club Carlson Town Country Inn & Suites West, which I had not stayed at before. Since I began writing blog reviews of the hotels I've stayed out, this has inspired me to experience the unknown and try new hotels even if I have a hotel I've stayed at before that I like. Plus, the Club Carlson hotel offered free breakfast whereas, for close to the same price, the IHG one did not.

Getting There & Getting Around

We drove 3 full hours to get there. And if you think your driving is done once you arrive at the hotel, you are sadly mistaken. Asheville is a very large area with a lot to do and never enough time to do it. You can visit the city center for delicious hot chocolate, a peak into one of the many bookstores, or taste some of the fantastic food there. If cities aren't your interest, there is so much land dedicated to parks, trails, and gardens around the city that I'm not sure you could ever truly see it all. I have had the pleasure of visiting the backwoods walking trails of Montreat, the Botanical Gardens of Asheville, the city center (of course), the view from Grove Park Inn, and the private residence of Biltmore Estate. Next in line: North Carolina Arboretum. :) The main problem you will find with visiting all of these places in Asheville is that you need to drive because they are so spread out. There aren't many public transportation alternatives other than trolleys that can help you navigate the city center, which is walkable anyway.

The Lobby, Checking In, & Public Spaces

After driving three hours through the meandering hills in the rain, we were quite happy to arrive at our hotel mid afternoon on Saturday right at check-in time, 3 PM. The front desk staff was super nice and checked us in almost immediately providing us with a local map, directions to get to different places, and the times for the breakfast buffet.

The lobby was beautifully decorated for Christmas with an elegant staircase in the front room, a fireplace with some seating, and the breakfast room within a stone's throw. Also in the lobby, you were able to get coffee, tea, hot chocolate (swiss miss), and chocolate chip cookies. Yum! My parents were particularly enthused with that having never stayed in a hotel with free cookies. :) Plus I knew that Justin would take complete advantage of the free coffee making our stay less expensive with fewer Starbucks runs.

Price, Room, Breakfast, & Status

During the Christmas season, prices are generally more expensive in Asheville, NC. Recent searches have shown that were I to book the same room during January or February, I would be paying half of the price. While paying half of the price would have been fantastic, I was pretty happy with what my family got for the price we paid. Free breakfast, coffee, and cookies really make a difference in how I perceive my stay. Furthermore, the internet was fast, there was actually a full bedspread on the bed (instead of those half bedspreads that have recently become popular in hotels), and the room was decent-sized. The only thing that could have been improved was the view; unfortunately, a view of the parking lot just doesn't do anything for me. :( All of the rooms included toiletries, a blow dryer, and a fridge.

Breakfast at the hotel was very simple and what you would expect from most hotel buffet breakfasts in the states anymore. You had your choice of waffle, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit (oranges, apples), muffins, toast, bagels, eggs, sausage, biscuits with gravy, and cereal. Juices included peach, apple, and orange with coffee, tea, hot chocolate, milk, and water also available. It was a very basic breakfast and tasted pretty basic without any interesting flavors or foods to write home about. It was nice knowing that we were saving at least $60 by having our breakfast at the hotel rather than in a restaurant, though.

If you have concierge status, you are in for a real treat. Obviously, you have the ability to check-in early or late, but the hotel staff also brought us two bags of goodies immediately after checking-in. Each bag contained 2 water bottles, candy, chips, and peanut butter crackers. It was fun receiving a treat just for visiting the hotel, my first stay ever at a Club Carlson hotel. (I won my status in a giveaway and have not had a chance to use it until this trip. I will definitely be considering the Club Carlson credit card to keep my status and enjoy perks anytime I stay at one of their hotels in the future!)

Disability Access, Parking, Pool, & Exercise Facility

The hotel definitely seemed disability friendly. I noticed nothing out of the ordinary. Elevators, first floor rooms, and parking in the front should make it easy to get around.

There is minimal parking in front of the hotel so most people will be forced to park in the back. This wouldn't necessarily be a problem except that there isn't an entrance to the hotel from the back parking lot. :( There is at least one side entrance accessible at this time of year, so that's good. The other side entrance is located next to the outdoor pool, which is currently closed. (Big surprise, right?) I'm not sure if that entrance is accessible or blocked by a gate preventing wanderers from accessing the pool during the summer.

We did not attempt to find the exercise facility, but the website claims there is one…

Photo credit: zen via Visual hunt / CC BY-NC-SA/td>

Overall Review
★★★ (average)

For a one night stay, this hotel was a fantastic little place to get away for a night. The hotel had enough luxuries to make you feel like royalty without being over-the-top. I really enjoyed having a full bedspread for once in my life at a hotel, especially since the weather is much cooler in Asheville than Atlanta. It was especially fun to go during the Christmas season and see all of the beautiful decorations. The staff was wonderful and the treats were fun. I would definitely recommend this hotel for a family getaway.

Your Turn

Have you ever been to Asheville, NC? Or visited a Club Carlson hotel? Were your experiences different than mine? Would you consider staying at this hotel for a stay in Asheville?

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