I received some odd looks when I spoke at Frequent Traveler University’s Los Angeles event last weekend.
Matthew Klint, Shabbir Hakim, and I moderated roundtable discussions about elite status — and whether or not it’s worth pursuing in 2022. I also attended a great session hosted by Kevin Song and Debra Schroeder. That centered around elite hotel status.
Throughout the day, people raved about Hyatt’s Globalist status. (A lot of people in attendance were Globalists.) And it indeed seems like a fantastic elite status. (I don’t hold it because I don’t stay in Hyatts as much as I’d like to.)
When I mentioned I often stay at IHG properties — usually Holiday Inns (both Expresses and “resorts”) — and am okay with Platinum status, I noticed a few smirks. A couple of others looked like I just passed the foulest gas in the world and should get to a doctor ASAP.
There are a couple of reasons why IHG — and Holiday Inn — own part of my heart. And one of them is fairly sentimental. (I’d love to hear about any of your cherished vacation spots, too!)
My business travel is slowly but surely coming back. So, that means hotel stays booked by my client. I might be at Marriott property one night, an Omni the next, and an independent property the third.
But when I travel with my family, we often stay at Holiday Inns. Why? We can stay at Holiday Inns for decent prices and occasionally snag a good points redemption. Plus, our IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card and legacy IHG One Rewards Select Credit Card (no longer open for applications) each give us complimentary anniversary nights to use each year.
My almost-five-year-old loves swimming (as do most kids). And pretty much every Holiday Inn we visit has a pool.
So, she can swim in the pool and maybe play with other kids, too (when she’s not being shy 🙂 ). Not to mention, there’s usually an onsite restaurant. (The one at the Holiday Inn in Anaheim is particularly good.) We occasionally get upgraded to suites or slightly bigger rooms.
The hotel sometimes throws us a free breakfast, too.
So, for family travel, Holiday Inns usually are perfectly fine.
When I travel by myself, I try to avoid family-friendly properties. I’d rather have a nice room to work in and relax. And maybe a nice restaurant downstairs and bar to enjoy a beverage. (And preferably someplace with a club lounge.)
My First Hotel Love: the Holiday Inn Fargo
Here’s where IHG sort of came into my life (before it was IHG One Rewards).
I grew up in Fargo, North Dakota. And the Holiday Inn Fargo was the hotel to host your banquet, wedding, convention, or party.
True story: the Holiday Inn Fargo was consistently named one of the 10 Best Holiday Inns in the World. (I know that’ll elicit some snark.) But I think that’s pretty cool.
The hotel featured an amazing Holidome — housing a massive pool, video games, and a putting green. Keep in mind this stuff is awesome if you’re a kid.
Even parents who lived in the local area would rent poolside rooms for a day and host pizza parties for their kids’ birthdays.
If friends or family came to town and stayed at the Holiday Inn Fargo, you visited them every second you could — just to enjoy the amazing property.
Throughout various remodels, the rooms were refreshed and the pool area got water slides and a pirate ship. C’mon, that’s pretty awesome if you’re a kid (or a kid at heart).
Seriously, I loved the Holiday Inn Fargo. Is it the nicest hotel in world? Oh, heck no. I’ve stayed at much nicer properties.
I applied for a job there in my teens. But there weren’t any openings. So I cheated on my beloved Holiday Inn — and went to work at the Radisson in downtown Fargo.
We usually stay at my parents’ house when we visit Fargo. But a couple of times have presented some opportunities for us to stay at the Holiday Inn Fargo.
The first time was when my niece was a baby. She, my sister and brother-in-law needed the last bedroom much more than we did. When my dad asked if we’d mind staying at a hotel, the words “We’llStayAtTheHolidayInn!” couldn’t come out of my mouth fast enough.
My wife looked at me like I was insane.
But once we checked in, she was very impressed with the hotel.
The next time was when I surprised my dad for his 70th birthday. I arrived in Fargo late the night before his big day. I was offered one of my stepbrother’s guest rooms. A friend offered me the guest room at his house, too.
But I turned down both so I could stay at the Holiday Inn Fargo.
I swear I could hear my stepmother’s eyes roll and head shake when I declined the offer — so I could stay at the Holiday Inn.
“But that’s your thing,” she said with a laugh.
I love luxury hotels. Really, I do.
Look, Hyatts are fantastic. I enjoy staying in them when an opportunity presents itself. Many Marriotts and Hiltons are great.
My travel is so split up across hotel chains that loyalty to one or two programs is difficult.
But I admit it: I’m a bit of a Holiday Inn fanboy. I’ve stayed at some duds (looking at you, Holiday Inn Anaheim) and some other great Holiday Inns (Sioux Falls! You rock!). For the most part, it comes down to nostalgia and a sentimental attachment to the great Holiday Inn Fargo.
Are there any hotels or other places that hold a place in your heart like the Holiday Inn Fargo does mine? I’d love to hear about them! Please share your story in the below Comments section.
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