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Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 67:
 


Stanley Turkel's Review of Budget/Economy Hotels Following
a Three Week Pennsylvania Road Odyssey


By Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC, August 11, 2010
 

1.  Our Recent Pennsylvania Odyssey

My wife and I recently took a three-week automobile vacation through the spectacular mountains and valleys of the state of Pennsylvania.  We deliberately stayed at budget/economy motor inns so that I could compare the facilities and service.  How tolerant my wife was to agree with this arrangement for the sake of my research.  Our driving route took us from Queens, NY (our home) through New Jersey and Pennsylvania.  We made the following overnight stops in beautiful Pennsylvania:

  • Audubon: one night in a Homestead Suites (for a family wedding)
  • Ephrata: two nights in a Hampton Inn (for sightseeing in Lancaster and Amish country)
  • Linglestown: two nights in a Comfort Inn (for sightseeing in Harrisburg and Hershey)
  • Chambersburg: one night in a Sleep Inn (for sightseeing in Chambersburg, which was torched by retreating Confederate Army troops during the Civil War).  We ate lunch at the newly- restored and spectacular Omni Bedford Springs Resort.
  • Somerset:  two nights in a Hampton Inn (for sightseeing of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1934 Fallingwater home for the Kaufmann family)
  • Pittsburgh:  5 nights in the Crowne Plaza Hotel (for a visit with our son Joshua, his wife Susan and two grandsons, Sam and Will)
  • State College:  one night in a Fairfield Inn (for a visit to Penn State University and the famous Creamery, a vendor of ice cream, sherbert and cheese operated by students of the Department of Food Science in the College of Agricultural Sciences.
  • White Haven: one night in a Comfort Inn (for sightseeing in Stroudsburg and the Delaware Water Gap)
  • Rockaway, N.J.:  for a dinner visit with our daughter Benay, her husband Mark and two granddaughters, Samantha and Anaya.
Evaluation of motor inns- All front desk and housekeeping employees were competent and helpful.  We were pleasantly surprised by the friendliness of the various staff members.
  • Homestead Suites at $125 per night was one of the most expensive.  It was also the best of the bunch because of its kitchen facilities and the size of the bedroom. Amenities: indoor pool, free internet, free breakfast, refrigerator in room. This Homestead Suite property has installed a safety feature that should be present in  all hotels: corridor exit signs at floor level which can be seen in case of fire (because  smoke rises and obliterates exit signs at the ceiling).
  • Hampton Inns, Ephrata ($125 per night) and Somerset ($100.80 per night) were well-designed and well-managed.  Both had excellent free breakfast offerings including hot entrees and fruit.  The Hampton Inn in Somerset actually served free hot casseroles of macaroni and cheese and crabcakes along with popcorn, cookies, soda and bottles of water in the late afternoon. Amenities: indoor pool (Ephrata), outdoor pool (Somerset), free internet, refrigerator  in room.
  • Comfort Inns, Linglestown ($116.99 per night) and White Haven ($62.99 per night) were both older motor inns which were only partially upgraded. Amenities: indoor pool, free internet, free breakfast, refrigerator in room in  Linglestown but none in White Haven.
  • Super 8, Gettysburg ($87.30 first night; $116.10 second night) small room with no refrigerator. Amenities: indoor pool, free internet, free breakfast.
  • Sleep Inn, Chambersburg ($98.99 per night) small room but new motor inn.  Amenities: outdoor pool, free internet, free breakfast, no refrigerator in room.
  • Fairfield Inn, State College ($90.25 per night) well-designed, new motor inn.  Except for no refrigerator in room, it was one of the best for the money. Amenities: indoor pool, free internet, expanded free breakfast with hot oatmeal.
  • Crowne Plaza, Pittsburgh South ($119 per night) is a full-service hotel but its amenity package was inferior to less-expensive properties: no free breakfast, no indoor pool, no refrigerator in room, but some exit signs in the corridors were installed at floor level.
2. The Lincoln Highway

At Lancaster, Pa., on US 30 we saw one of 3000 concrete Lincoln Highway markers which were placed in 12 states by Boy Scouts in 1928.  In the 1890s, horseless carriages, began driving on rutted and poorly-maintained roads.  It was only in 1913 when the Lincoln Highway was built from New York to California that improved roads began to be built.

According to the AAA Tour Book 2010 Edition for New Jersey and Pennsylvania:

In 1910 there were more than 450,000 registered automobiles, yet the country still lacked a public road system. 

Organized movements for better roads brought issues to the attention of the federal government, which had not participated in major road construction since it funded the National Road project in 1806.

But one particular initiative captured the public’s support with a unique idea.  In 1913 Carl Fisher- the man who built the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1909- and automobile industry leaders chartered the Lincoln Highway Association for the purpose of defining a direct coast-to-coast automobile route.

The LHA’s first official act was to delineate a 3,389-mile, 12-state continuous route from New York to California- one that would be passable before the opening of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.  Although not perfect, the throughway was ready as promised, and a motion picture of America’s transcontinental highway was shown at the exposition…

Over time, the association improved surfaces by using better materials, shortened the driving distance with realignments and published guidebooks about the Lincoln Highway.  Automobile touring had never been so good.

Through example, the LHA educated the public as well as state and federal governments about the value of good roads for almost 15 years.  The 1919 moving of a military convoy over the “Lincolnway” foretold the utility of an integrated highway system for national defense and Interstate commerce. 

With the 1921 Federal Highway Act came the funds for states to construct and maintain connecting arteries.  Four years later the United States adopted a highway numbering system, and most of the Lincoln route became US 30, 40 and 50.

In my new book “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry”, I devote a chapter to Carl Graham Fisher (subtitled Mr. Miami Beach, Mr. Montauk and Much More).

3. Quote of the Month

Here’s what Rima (my wife) said after she reviewed one of my speeches:

 “It has many good ideas and many original ideas. Trouble is that the good ideas
are not  original and the original ideas are not good.”




Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC has just published “Great American Hoteliers: Pioneers of the Hotel Industry.” It contains 359 pages, 25 illustrations and 16 chapters devoted to each of the following pioneers: John McEntee Bowman, Carl Graham Fisher, Henry Morrison Flagler, John Q. Hammons, Frederick Henry Harvey, Ernest Henderson, Conrad Nicholson Hilton, Howard Dearing Johnson, J. Willard Marriott, Kanjibhai Patel, Henry Bradley Plant, George Mortimer Pullman, A.M. Sonnabend, Ellsworth Milton Statler, Juan Terry Trippe and Kemmons Wilson.  It also has a foreword by Stephen Rushmore, preface, introduction, bibliography and index. Visit www.greatamericanhoteliers.com to order the book.
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Contact: 

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
917-628-8549
stanturkel@aol.com

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Also See: Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 66 : Recognizing Three Hotel Industry Experts Whose Accomplishments Are Unique - Bjorn Hanson, Peter Greenberg and Richard Warnick / Stanley Turkel / July 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 65: A Well-Deserved Compliment for Steve Rushmore; Impertinent Questions in Search of Pertinent Answers / Stanley Turkel / June 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But… No. 64: Best Western Finally Makes a Move; Cuba, The Caribbean’s Hottest Destination / Stanley Turkel / May 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But - No. 63: Can Airlines Learn From Hotels?; Memo to Ian Schrager / Stanley Turkel / April 2010
Nobody Asked Me, But No. 62 / Do the Radisson Franchisees Agree with Carlson's billion-dollar Makeover Program? At Last: A Win-Win Victory for Tourism; Congratulations to the Harris Rosen Foundation / Stanley Turkel / March 2010
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