I recently had to go on a business trip to the USA – Columbus, OH specifically. In the Spirit of Working Anywhere I thought I’d use the opportunity to review the hotel I was staying at from a mobile technology point of view, and from that of a business traveller.
The hotel I was staying in was the Hilton Garden Inn Columbus – University Area, on Olentangy River Road. It was a short 15 minutes from the airport and convenient for where I needed to be in Columbus. It also has an airport shuttle, although I ended up hiring a car as I had a number of places to get to during my visit. I was staying at the hotel for 3 nights, checking in on a Saturday and leaving on Tuesday.
The hotel had free WiFi throughout, not simply ‘WiFi available’ as many have, which in fact is a chargeable addition as soon as you try and use it. The coverage was excellent, and worked everywhere I tried it, including the pool area, gym and right out into the car park.
There was no ethernet connection in the room which for some people might be an issue, although for the overwhelming majority WiFi access is all that is needed.
There is an office just off the reception offering Business Facilities for guests, it is available 24 hours a day and accessed via your room key out of hours. Inside are PC’s for Internet Access, printing and fax services. There is also a conference room available if you need to set-up a meeting on site.
The TV has a wide range of PPV movies and tv shows, and also free to air TV channels. There is a Guest Account option, which shows you a running total of your bill and any other charges to your room updated nightly. This is a great way of making sure there are no erroneous charges on your bill before you arrive at checkout.
The Hilton Garden Inn offered a very convenient facility to print from your room giving you a secure web page to access and upload your document for printing. If you had an iPhone, iPad or other tablet you can simply use a specific email address to send your documents as attachments. The Business Centre sends you back a ‘release code’ after which you can go down to the Business Centre at your convenience and print your document by entering the code. This is an excellent service which also give your office the ability to send an updated document straight to the hotel for printing if needed.
Checking out can be tedious, especially if you pick a busy time and there is a long queue ahead of you. Hilton Garden Inn do their best to help you with their “Zip-Out Check-Out” facility. If you’ve checked on your Guest Account status on the TV, or the printed copy that gets put under your door on your final night, and are happy (I use this word judiciously!) with the amount and items on your bill, then you can simply hit the ‘Zip-Out Check-Out’ button on the phone and that’s it – your bill will be charged to your card, you need do nothing more then leave your room key at the checkout as you leave. A very handy feature if you need to leave very early or want to avoid the queues.
Outside of the business facilities, the hotel offered a very nice breakfast from 06.30 to 10.00 during the week and 07.00 to 11.00 at weekends. There was a wide selection of fruits, cereals and pastries, and a cooked breakfast available to order if desired. No part of the breakfast was included in the room which was slightly disappointing, however the costs are capped at $9.95+Tax so you won’t pay any more than that however much you eat!
The pool and gym area were small but perfectly adequate for the average traveller, and useful for some relaxing or a workout if you have the energy while travelling!
The hotel staff were all extremely friendly and helpful, and nothing was too much trouble, like for example some general directions to a meeting I had to go to. On my final day my flight wasn’t leaving until late in the day, so I requested a late check-out the night before and was warmly told this would be no problem, and no additional charge, unlike some other hotels I’ve been to.
I didn’t get as much time to make use of the Experience Columbus website and get out to see the sights as I would of liked, but there’s always next time!