After a four months-long stay at the Hyatt House Seattle/Bellevue I had to work on a different project which was about 2 hours south of Seattle. As it would be too much of a daily commute, I decided to move to a different hotel. Unfortunately, there were no long-term stay hotels in the area, like a Hyatt House or a Residence Inn, I decided to stay at the Fairfield Inn Grand Mound Centralia. As all of the major hotel chains came out with new cleaning procedures over the last few months, I felt just safer staying in one of them. The Fairfield Inn Grand Mound Centralia was also one of the only major hotel chains in the area that had rooms available for the length of my stay. I booked the room through the Marriott app to confirm my stay. As my job is considered essential, this was a pure essential trip for work. I miss leisure trips, but we all need to play it a little bit safe for the time being to get this pandemic under control.
The Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott is conveniently located at the Hwy 12 West offramp of I-5. Even with the proximity to the interstate, you don’t have to worry about noise issues in the rooms. Nearby are a handful of gas stations, fast-food restaurants, a Starbucks, and Talking Cedar Brewery/Restaurant, which shares the parking lot with the hotel. Location-wise the hotel is about half-way between Seattle and Portland. It is a one-hour drive to get to Aberdeen which lies on the mouth of the Chehalis River and the Ocean. This is also a great location if you are just passing through the area and looking for a place to stay. It’s away from the big cities and its easy to get to the hotel from the highway and back on. Parking is for free, but even with the location away from the cities, prices can be high here.
I arrived at the hotel after sunset and parked in front of the main entrance. The automatic sliding doors are locked and you can only enter the building with a room key or if the front desk opens it for you. As I was about to check-in they saw me arriving and opened the door for me. Otherwise, there is a small buzzer on the right side, which you can push and they will open the door for you.
Each of the front desk counters has a plexiglass wall in front of them and every staff member was wearing masks. For some reason, they ask a lot of the checking in guests to remove their mask to double-check the face with the ID you have to provide for the payment. The last time I was asked to remove my mask was at a TSA checkpoint in Miami. After that, they handed me my keys and as a welcome bonus, I received two complimentary water bottles and my room keys.
Throughout the lobby were signing for social distancing and that facemasks are required. During my elevator ride to my floor, I saw a notice in the elevator about people smoking or vaping inside the hotel which is a 100% non-smoking property. As soon as I stepped off the elevator I was able to smell it. It smelled like someone was smoking weed. The smell was only there during the first night and only in the hallway. In my room, I didn’t smell anything.
I had a second stay, unplanned stay at the same hotel just a week after I checked out. That day I arrived at 5 p.m. and my room was not ready yet. It seemed they had a few housekeeping issues that day, which can happen. They offered my a free item from the market during my long wait to be checked in.
Suite 1 King, Sofa bed, Inland View (Room 319)
All of their rooms are called Inland View and are facing either North or South. I have no idea why they add the “Inland view” to every single room. It would make sense if you would have a different view available as well.
The suite has a size of 350 sqft with a separate living area. On the description for the room, the hotel states that the living area is separated from the bed by a privacy wall. Well, there is not much separation or wall to find. If you sit on the sofa bed, you can see the whole bed just fine. The only difference is if you are working on your laptop on the desk in the room. Then you cant see the bed, as there is a small piece of wall. As I was just staying by myself, I didn’t worry about that at all.
This is a suite with a King bed and either side of the bed had a nightstand with a lamp and some regular power outlets to charge your devices. Directly opposite of the bed, on the wall, is a dresser with two drawers and a TV on top of it. The TV remote was right next to the TV and was put in a clear plastic bag to avoid you touching the remote directly. If you didn’t know, the remotes in hotel rooms are supposedly one of the “dirtiest” items in general.
Besides using the traditional TV remote, you can also use your smartphone to control the TV. All you have to do is scan a QR code displayed on the home menu of the TV. This will open a website on your phone’s browser and gives you the basic controls of your TV. I really liked that feature. It even had a nice channel list but unfortunately, it didn’t show the schedule of what was playing. It was pretty neat and easy to use. No sign in required or anything. Just scan the code and open the website and you are ready to go. There was only one downside. You weren’t able to turn the TV off via your phone. When you pressed the power button in the controls on your phone, it only closed the website but the TV was still on. For that, you had to use the actual remote control. This makes the controls via the phone kinda redundant as you still have to use the physical remote either way. Just good it was packed in a clear plastic bag to minimize cross-contamination.
Watching TV was bad. It felt like there was not enough bandwidth as the audio and video signal froze and made the viewing experience a pretty bad one. It was the same every day and not just a coincidence. Same with Wi-Fi. It was rather slow and it took super long sometimes to load websites.
Next to the dresser is a spot to put your suitcase and a dressing mirror. The corner from the bed area to the hallway leading to the room door has a corner closet built-in. It gives you extra space to stow your belongings and also holds a mini-fridge, microwave, and ice bucker. I assume they removed the coffee maker because of COVID-19. In the same corner, next to the bed, is also the AC control.
Further up, towards the room door is the bathroom. The bathroom is very spacious and it’s easy to get to everywhere you want to get, without juggling around the bathroom door or shower door. Inside was a big single sink vanity with a big wall mounted mirror. Next to it the toilet and directly opposite to it the walk-in shower with glass front and wall-mounted soap dispensers. The bathroom was very clean, just like the rest of the room.
The very far end of the room, the living area, featuring a work desk and office chair and another TV. Directly opposite of that is the sofa bed with two small cocktail tables and a lamp in the corner. The window is centered on the outside wall of the room and had the AC unit mounted directly below it. There were no views at all from the room.
Guest room 1 King, Inland view – handicap room (Room 208)
As mentioned earlier, I had to go back to the same place for work reasons again. I booked a regular King room and when I checked in, I got a handicapped room but with a King bed. I didn’t mind at all. Usually, handicapped rooms have more space and have a more open floor plan.
The bathroom in this room was extra huge. I think it almost made up 1/4 of the total room which is only about 250 sqft. Instead of the walk-in shower, this bathroom had a “roll-in” shower with a shower curtain. The actual shower part should have been sloped a little bit better, as a ton of water was sitting outside of the shower. Instead of the regular fixed overhead shower, you also get a shower head on a hose, as you find them in Europe.
Other than that, the room was not much different from my suite I had earlier on. Size-wise it was a smaller room and only had one TV. When do you ever watch two TVs at the same time?
Across the front desk counter, were some chairs to sit down, but barely anyone ever sat in the lobby. Just one guy in the morning waiting for his pick up to go to work. Other than that, the lobby was pretty much empty and people didn’t really utilize it for social stuff. Everyone tried to keep to themselves in the room or outside.
The hotel has a fitness center and an indoor swimming pool. Both can be reserved on a first come first serve basis. They only let one party use either facility. For example, one family can go together and use the pool or if you travel alone, it will be just you. Depending on the utilization you can extend your usage of these facilities or you should leave after your timeslot is up so other people can enjoy the amenities as well.
The laundry facilities are on the second floor in the east wing of the building. That one day I had to do laundry, seems everyone was trying to do it. It got a little crowded and they only have one washer and one dryer. Normally a washer and a dryer cycle costs you $1.50 each but the coin slot for the dryer was broken and therefore available for free. I also went by the posted signs of how long each cycle will be and came back just a few minutes earlier to be ready to remove my stuff from the machines. The washer and dryer cycle are stated as 30 minutes each. That works only for the washer, the dryer cycle is more 45-50 minutes.
The breakfast area, which is located in the lobby, was pretty much closed down. A few tables were available to actually sit down, but for what? Because we were still in the middle of a pandemic, they only offered to-go breakfast items. What I really loved was their selection. They had quite a huge selection of cereals, yogurts, bagels, and even small breakfast sandwiches to warm up yourself. Most of the items were already pre-packed from the factory, others like the bagels and breakfast sandwiches got wrapped in plastic or plastic bags. You even had a choice between orange juice and apple juice for breakfast. Quite a “delicious” breakfast compared to what most other hotels do. A completely pre-packed to-go box with whatever the hotel thinks you like and it’s the same for everyone. Here not so much. I really loved the different approaches and I am not sure why not other hotels do the same thing.
Most of the tables and chairs were removed from the breakfast area. There were some individual tables along the wall to sit down and eat, which also allowed for very good social distancing. As the drive to my job site was pretty long, the grab and go solution was actually convenient as I could just make myself a little to-go package and eat it when I arrive at work and have a minute. This let me sleep in just a bit longer.
Coffee and tea are available in the lobby as well, directly opposite the front desk. On the table was a bucket with hand wipes to disinfect your hands. You can get coffee and tea 24 hours a day in the lobby.
Next to the front desk is a small market with snacks and some drinks. If you buy stuff from the market you have to do either room charge or pay with a card as they don’t accept any cash at the moment.
If you are hungry throughout the day, there are plenty of food options around the hotel. They are all within walking distance but most of them are fast food places. The hotel shares the parking lot with “Talking Cedar”, a local brewery/restaurant.
Overall it was a pretty good stay. Just sometimes I saw guests completely without mask and even sometimes the front desk worker when the was talking to a guest in front of her. Yes, there is a plexiglass window but that is not as effective as masks. Besides that I was very happy with my stay here. Sometimes when they saw me entering the building the pushed the remote door button to open the second sliding door to get to the hotel. This saved me from pulling out my room key and opening the door that way. I thought this was very kind of them.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.