Last weekend, Aisha and I spent a night at the Delta Grandview in Huntsville, and I was more than a little surprised that it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment.
Knowing that Aisha was into astronomy, I had paid for a night at the hotel so we could also take advantage of the Echo Valley Observatory that the hotel operates. At the time I booked, I picked a reasonably priced room that looked like it wasn’t going to be a total shoebox. In the past, my experiences with Delta had been less than impressive (the Delta Quebec City springs to mind as one disaster), but the Grandview looked pretty reasonable.
When we got to the hotel, the place seemed to just be coming out from under its winter wrappings. There were construction materials here and there, including in front of our window, the grounds hadn’t quite been fixed up yet, and they hadn’t opened up their waterfront bar/patio. Still, it looked nice, so we checked in and headed to our room.
Now, I don’t mind saying I paid a decent price for the room – around $210 – which is not a huge price, but it’s enough that you expect a decent room (in Toronto it would have gotten you decent rooms at nearly any hotel). Instead it was literally the smallest hotel room I had ever stayed in, and I’ve been to a lot of hotels.
When I asked the staff why the rate was so high considering most of the resort options weren’t even open yet, they said it was because it was already high season for them.
What I can’t believe though is why a hotel would consider it high season, even though the outdoor pool wasn’t open, the beach was too cold to use still, and as we learned from one family, they didn’t even have their planned ghost story for the kids in the tepee that night (it was on the daily program though).
I give the staff decent marks for being fairly courteous, the hotel gave us a complimentary pass to play some golf (we don’t play golf though), and there was a decent indoor pool. But compared to other resorts I’ve stayed at, nothing really stood out about the Delta Grandview.
There were also some fairly negative aspects to the hotel. For instance, in our room there was a large mark by the shower where water had rotted away part of the wall. Everywhere we went there were pipes sticking out of the back of the buildings (in plain sight of public areas) that suggested the buildings spit out waste water or something over the hill. And when we ordered a meal from the bar it took a long time, just over 30 minutes, and that was for stew and a cold sandwich – and the stew was lukewarm.
The hotel does seem to have some nice rooms though, no doubt about it, but you can expect to pay plenty for that luxury. I’m also not sure the services really match what you’re getting.
On the total bright side, Aisha and I did have a decent stay otherwise, and the Echo Valley Observatory was very cool. It’s perched atop a nearby hill, accessible only by a really questionable dirt road, but the new astronomer – Tom Kovacks – gives a really good tour of the skies. We lucked out on one of his first nights at the job when there was only one family there with us, and the sky was absolutely crystal clear.
I’m going to write up an article on the experience with Tom, but I’d just suggest to people that the Delta has a way to go in making the Grandview a compelling place to stay. It’s about the little touches, the feeling you get when you check in, and knowing the hotel doesn’t take you for granted. Three areas the Grandview totally missed with us.