This review was made possible by TownePlace Suites. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.
PCSing often means spending time in hotels. You might be waiting for on-base housing to open up, for your apartment lease to take effect, or to close on your house (exciting stuff!). No matter the reason, you’ll probably be camping out in a hotel for an extended period of time (read: long enough where it doesn’t feel like vaycay anymore). If that’s your situation, you must make sure that you choose lodging that meets your family’s needs.
If it’s just you and your spouse, you can suffer through anything for a certain amount of time. Add kids, and you’ll want to make sure that you have enough space so that everyone has a little breathing room. If hotels with suites or larger rooms are out of the question, consider the other spaces in the hotel– the lobby, business center, gym, and pool. After all, there will be some times when you’ll all need to get away from each other.
If you’ve got a pet that traveled with you, don’t forget Fluffy! Policies on pets vary widely and might incur extra charges, so you’ll want to be upfront and honest when booking lodging. Ask about amenities for your pets if needed, like an on-site dog park or dog run. If nothing is available, ask for information pertaining to the surrounding area. Is it safe to walk the dog? Are there sidewalks? Is there a park or pet-friendly outdoor area nearby?
Proximity to Base
If your spouse will be with you and working, choosing a hotel close to base is vital, especially if you’re a one-car family or have other special circumstances (like watch schedules or child care issues). Make sure that you ask about traffic– both driving to base and getting on base. Sometimes being five miles away is a five-minute drive. In other areas it might be an hour drive.
Safety and Cleanliness
In my experience, many hotels close to base are kind of… well, scuzzy. They’re not well-cared-for and they’re often older. (And sometimes they’re just a little–and I mean a lot— on the scary side.) Go with hotels that have good reviews and are in safe areas. Ask your sponsor for suggestions and run your lodging plans by them for feedback. Ask to inspect the room before you plunk down for the next month or so. If you’re not satisfied, have a back-up plan.
Staying in a hotel for a long time often means a change in habits and lifestyle. A hotel that comes “fully loaded” can help to keep things steady and normal (which is especially important when you have young children). If your family regularly works out, look for lodging that offers a gym or pool. Many hotels offer a continental or hot breakfast for guests in the morning which can keep your family on track, especially as you’re getting to learn about your surroundings (and how long it takes to get onto base or to school in the morning).
Staying in a hotel is expensive and can strain your budget, even if you’re living on per diem. It means a lot of prepared foods and eating at restaurants. It means buying things that you might not have planned on (especially if you don’t have access to your belongings). It means incidentals you weren’t expecting. Anything you can do to reduce that burden is helpful. Look for hotels that offer special rates for extended stays or military families. If you’re a AAA member, make sure to check on those discounts as well. In addition, choosing a hotel with certain free amenities can help to reduce that strain (free breakfast, free gym, a kitchen stocked with cookware, etc.).
Looking for a hotel that meets all of that criteria? Check out TownePlace Suites by Marriot. TownPlace Suites offers studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartment-style suite options that are perfect for long-term stays. Many are located near military bases and all offer fully stocked kitchens (including dishwashers, cookware, and utensils), a fitness center that includes a gym and pool, a hot, free breakfast, and free wi-fi. They also purposefully work with government per diem rates and offer discounts for long-term stays.
Have you stayed in a hotel for a long time? What did you learn? What would (or wouldn’t!) you do again?