Making the choice to stay at a Sonesta hotel was hard. I never really planned on leaving Marriott Bonvoy (and hated it the few times I had to stay somewhere else), so willingly staying at another hotel chain was pretty outside of my comfort zone. Keep in mind, I've stayed 2,134 nights in Marriott hotels (since I joined in 2003), an average of 118 nights per year. And now I've logged three nights with Sonesta Travel Pass. Although this blog is about the hotel itself, it is hard for me not to think about the implications of my actions. I don't currently have any more nights booked with Sonesta, whereas I do have more nights booked with Marriott, but I might start staying at both.
Sonesta Select Indianapolis Carmel
The Sonesta Select Indianapolis Carmel is a former Courtyard by Marriott that I have stayed at a few times. Being there wasn't that strange. When I first walked in, I was greeted by a very friendly staff. They were all former Marriott employees (the Courtyard was managed by Marriott), and mostly had good things to say about the transition from Marriott to Sonesta.
I did have one hitch when I was checking in: I booked my stay through Sonesta's website (which can be a bit challenging), but when I arrived, my Travel Pass number was not attached to the reservation. I have to admit, I've really gotten used to Marriott's contactless checkin, where I just checkin on my app and go directly to my room. To have to stop at a front desk was bad enough, but for my Travel Pass number to not be attached to my reservation shows some of the growing pains that Sonesta is going through.
I was given a first floor room, which I don't care for (in my Marriott profile, I have high floor set as my preference), but there were only a few people in the hotel, so it wasn't a huge bother. When I got to the room, I was welcomed by a COVID "we've-cleaned-your-room-and-have-not-gone-back-in" sticker, which looked like it had been removed once or twice:
Once I was inside the room, I almost forgot where I was. The room still has the classic (or renovated, I guess) Courtyard look:
I can't say I'm overly surprised, because it had been such a short time that there really wasn't anything unique to the Sonesta brand at the hotel yet (the exterior sign was just tacked over the old Courtyard sign).
Here's what I'm curious about: What will the identity of Sonesta Select become? There are a number of former Courtyards that are now Selects, but they still look and feel like Courtyards. Where will Sonesta take the brand? What will it become.
As I work through my personal feelings and beliefs around my own loyalty, I wonder a lot about where Hospitality begins and ends. I've been a Marriott loyalist for years. I've spent a good deal of my life at their hotels, as well as a good deal of my money. On Instagram, Marriott follows 34 accounts (their brands), which isn't even something creative like when KFC followed 6 guys named Herb and the Spice Girls. On the flip side, Sonesta has been following me, liking my posts, and generally engaging with me. For those of you who know me, you know that with each United employee I meet, I become that much more loyal. If Hospitality only exists inside of the walls of your hotel during a paid stay, then is it really hospitality?
I'm sure I'll stay at a few more Sonestas, and I know I'm staying at a few more Marriotts (be on the look out for a few new reviews coming soon), but, where will I end up in the long run?
That's all for now. Just remember, wherever life takes you, love the journey.