Built in 1986, the Tacoma Sheraton appeared not to have been vacuumed since opening day. I had an uneasy feeling about this hotel from the moment I walked into the lobby and I was not disappointed. As I checked in (I was a speaker at a conference, and my room was to be part of the master bill), I verified the billing arrangements only to be told I was to pay for my own room. I told the front desk clerk to look into this and just to check me in. This was eventually resolved, eventually, but the front desk clerk needs further training in how to interface with guests. Aside from this person, everyone else at the hotel was exceptionally pleasant and friendly.
WHERE IS IT?
It’s in Tacoma. I only went there to speak at a conference. Why the organizers selected this venue is beyond me.
I was given a room on the 22nd floor, a “Preferred Floor,” with a view of the water, some buildings, and a few condemned houses that wouldn’t have looked out of place in a third world country.
The room was spacious and the armoire smelled of fresh cedar. It did not seem very clean; the furnishings were old and tired. The bath, which had an almost brand new shower curtain, also had a three-foot long hair curling around it. The lighting in the bathroom sometimes took a minute or two to get to a decent level of brightness.
ROAD WARRIOR SUPPORT
The hotel is tired and faded but it boasts wireless Internet in every room. What the hotel doesn’t promise, however, is that there will be working Internet.
As I sat in my room with a colleague, preparing for my presentation, every tab on my browser was replaced by a Sheraton “Connect to the Internet” tab, which in many cases just would not go away. Only rarely was I able to connect to a page and that lasted at most for a minute or two.
To the hotel’s credit, the front desk clerk immediately offered to credit the cost of the Internet (”why should you pay for something if it’s not working?”) but on the whole, I’d rather have working Internet and pay the fee.
The next morning, the system was “working”. It was slow, but at least it worked.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
The rooftop lounge would have been pleasant if its furnishings hadn’t appeared to come out of a thrift store. The view of Tacoma at night was much prettier than when the city was actually visible during the day. Service was pleasant but sporadic. The restaurant served a hearty buffet breakfast and the service was excellent.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
Meeting rooms were exceptionally well sound-proofed although very bland. Two of the meals (a sit-down lunch and dinner banquet) were quite good all things considered; the buffet lunch left a bad taste in my mouth, literally. The on-site AV company managed to change mic and sound board configurations (I was presenting three times and the sessions were being recorded for an eventual podcast) without explanation. They connected our recorder to an input rather than an output so the first session was lost.
I was too busy trying to get the Internet to work than to seek out the gym.
I couldn’t wait to leave. And I could not in good conscience recommend this to anyone nor would I ever come back. There are far nicer hotels nearby in such cities such Redmond and Bellevue. The carpeting in the elevators and halls looked like it had last been cleaned when Jimmy Carter was president. Breakfast trays from room service that were near the elevator on my floor mid-morning were still there when I returned at 5 p.m.
–Jonathan B. Spira is the Editor of Executive Road Warrior and Chief Analyst at Basex, a knowledge economy research firm.