Our room at the Radisson Admiral Semmes, Mobile. In fairness, this pic is after I rolled all over the bed while watching "Ray" on the movie-on-demand system.
Room: The Radisson Admiral Semmes is one of the two 'nicer' hotels downtown (the other being the Riverwalk (upcoming post)). The website touts the 'luxury of spacious guestrooms furnished with period reproductions'. As you can tell from the picture above, the room we had is average size, and the furnishings had a rather 'cheap' feel. Okay, now I am sounding a bit too snooty. But you know what I mean. The room was.....underwhelming, especially for the cost it usually goes for (seems to float mostly between $120 and $170/night).
Lobby: The lobby would seem to suggest more elegant guest rooms than actually exist. The lobby and public spaces are pretty nice.
Service: We've stayed here three times. Service is generally good.
Food: We've had room service here once, and it was fair.
Our stay included a breakfast at the on-site restaurant. The restaurant furnishings are nice and the breakfast is a better-than-average buffet.
Our experience is this: We stay in Mobile a lot. We have a lot more experience at what is now the Riverview Hotel (formerly the Adam's Mark). I really like to stay downtown, but I'm certain there are better choices than this hotel.
Our room at the Grand Casino, Gulfport
Room: This was our second stay at the Grand Casino Oasis Hotel in Gulfport. The Oasis Hotel is actually across the street from the casino and main hotel (but both can be reached via an enclosed walkway that runs over the highway) and is a little less expensive since it is a bit of a walk. The room is average in size and amenities to a Hampton (and is a little less in cost).
Lobby: Standard-issue casino hotel lobby.
Service: Oddly, when we got in, the door to our room was open. Not all the way, but the deadbolt arm was extended, keeping the door from closing all the way. A pillowcase was left hanging on the closet door, and there was no extra pillow inside so we figured that the maid must have forgotten to come back with the extra clean pillow. I called down to the front desk to let them know that the room had been open all day and that I just wanted to make them aware of it since I wan't familiar enough with the room to realize if anything may have been taken (you never know. I really didn't want to think about someone taking something from the room, but I would have been really upset if we had gotten home and be charged for something like towels, etc.). They made a note of it.
Food: We didn't eat here, but we DID have supper at Vrazel's (see the column to the right under 'Favorite Restaurants'). This was mine and Av's first time at Vrazel's and it was great. I do have to say, though, that we walked in wearing blue jeans and although no one said anything or even looked at us weird, we should have really been dressed nicer. We both had fish, and everything was excellent!
Our experience is this: We would stay here again.
Our room at the Sheraton Four Points, Ft. Walton Beach
Room: This was our first stay at a Sheraton Four Points (which I think is supposed to be their answer to Hilton's Hampton Inn and Marriott's Fairfield Inn chains). As late as the 80's, this hotel was the Coronado Beach Resort, where Av and his brother used to go on vacations with their grandparents a few summers. Our room was on the 6th floor of the 'tower', which has been built since the Coronado days, I believe. The room was about average in size, but the room as a whole was in serious need of an update. Our room also had a balcony with a couple of plastic-y Wal-Mart style chairs. Since Ivan blew through, the hotel has decided to undergo a renovations of the rooms which will take place later this year.
Lobby: Golden Girls-eque decor.
Service: Those at the front desk and breakfast restaurant were very friendly.
Food: Our stay came with a breakfast buffet which was *much* better than average.
Extra: It's on the beach, and there's not a whole lot on either side, so I would guess that during the busy season the beach in front of the hotel isn't just overrun with other hotel's guests. During our stay, the beach was closed to repair the dunes.
Our experience is this: Honestly, there didn't seem to be a whole lot of better choices in Ft. Walton Beach, especially since a few are still closed for repairs after Ivan. Would I stay at this hotel again? Maybe. I'd sure spend some time looking for something more interesting, though.
Our room at The Beach Club, Gulf Shores
Me on our balcony
Room: We reserved a one bedroom condo for three days/four nights at The Beach Club over New Year's. When we got there, we were given a two bedroom condo (it was their reservation system's error) which we were given at the same rate as the one-bedroom we had reserved. We stayed in the Avalon tower on the 8th floor. It was really decorated nicely. I didn't want to leave!
Lobby: There's actually a separate building on-site for checking in. All the public buildings are really nice.
Food: Well, I cooked everything! The kitchen was really well-appointed, so Av and I just went down the road to a Bruno's and picked up groceries.
Spa: There is a spa, but we didn't make any reservations.
Our experience is this: We plan to make staying at The Beach Club a tradition. For a few years (when we don't go to a bowl game) we have stayed down in Gulf Shores for New Year's. There was a fireworks show practically right in front of our room this year! We'll also be coming back some time in March.
Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church (moved here from Rodney)
This organ is so pretty in person
Grand Gulf Military Park (Grand Gulf, MS) is **amazingly** beautiful. Grand Gulf was a town on the Mississippi River that used to be pretty large, but now there isn't much (save the park) since the river changed its course and engulfed the town. The picture above is one of the first buildings you reach in the park - it's the Sacred Heart Roman Catholic church which moved here from Rodney (Rodney also used to be a LOT bigger before the river's course moved *away* from it). A lot of people call Rodney a ghost town, but people live there still and there are several hunting clubs around; in fact when we drove there a couple of years ago, we must have seen over a dozen deer along the roadside. I'll blog more about Rodney later.
Grand Gulf Cemetery
Another pic of the cemetery
The cemetery pictured above is sooooo pretty. There are also trees here that drop huge (some of them had to be close to a foot long) purple seed pods. I brought a couple home to figure out what they were, but I don't have an answer yet.
Looking downward from the 75-foot observation tower
Av climbed the 75-foot observation tower where you can see the Mississippi River from. The river is about a half mile from this spot.
Also at the park is a museum (it's the first building on the left once you enter the park). It's where you go to pay admission, pick up a map, and look around at the artifacts. I believe it was named one of the best small museums in America by a television show or magazine, but I don't remember right now which one it was. Next time Av and I are in this part of the state (around Woodville and Port Gibson), we'll probably drop by again. It is just so pretty!
Our Room at the Casino Magic Hotel in Bay St. Louis
Room: The Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis is our favorite hotel along the Mississippi coast. The rooms are nice and we can usually get it for $59 or less - much better than a Hampton (my yardstick for all things ordinary in the hotel world) and we often get upgraded to a junior suite at no cost. Be sure that if you go play in the casino that you get one of their membership cards as many of the perks comes from the level of play - we get something in the mail just about every month from some of the casinos we visit offering free (or almost free) rooms, free buffets or food credit at their restaurants, and free play money. The funny thing is, we don't go to MS to go to the casinos - we just stay in them whenever they are close to where we are going to be. The rooms are almost always nicer than a standard-issue under-$100 hotel room at a *much* better cost.
Lobby: The lobby here is pretty average.
Service: We've always gotten great service here for anything we've asked for.
Food: I think that we have only had the buffet for breakfast here, but it was average. We haven't been to any of their *real* restaurants.
Spa: The spa here is nice but not ultra, ultra fancy. I've gotten my hair trimmed here a time or two as has Av.
Extra: It's just...I don't know...maybe 30 or 45 minutes from New Orleans! Yay!
Our experience is this: We have stayed here several times over the last couple of years - probably around eight or ten times, so it really is our favorite hotel along that part of the coast. The Casino Magic in Bay St. Louis is not related to the Casino Magic in Biloxi - I asked (because the one in BSL is so much nicer than the one in Biloxi) and was told that they used to be, but aren't any longer. There are actually two hotel buildings in BSL - the Bay Tower Hotel (which is joined with the casino) and the Casino Magic Inn (which we haven't stayed at), right across the parking lot. The CMI is less expensive, although there is a shuttle to get back & forth from that hotel building to the casino proper.
The hotel/casino property is not actually on the Gulf - it would be about a three minute drive to the beach, I think. When you go to a MS casino, one of the things that just really doesn't happen a whole lot is people going to the beach. Now I **love** Mississippi for about a million different reasons, but the beach isn't one of them. Truth be told, the beach in Gulf Shores (AL) or Pensacola (FL) are just.....better. The sand is whiter, and parts of the MS beach have these giant pipe-things going from the land to the water (which....I don't know what those are doing there.....), and so if we do want to play around on the beach we just park at one of the
A lot of little shops, including antique shops, are located in "Old Town Bay St. Louis".
Our Room at the Hilton in Jackson, MS
Room: Very average Hilton. One step up from Hampton Inn, and in this case was $10 more than one of the Hampton Inns that we have stayed at previously (we have stayed in HIs in Jackson on Briarwood and on Greymont).
Service: Our experience here was only with the front desk, and they were courteous.
Food: We didn't order room service or dine in the hotel's on-site restaurant during our (one-night) stay.
Extra: The Hilton is on County Line Road - **very** busy during rush hour and well into the evening.
Our experience is this: Nothing outstanding, either good or bad. In the future we would probably go back to a Hampton Inn. In Jackson - besides this Hilton and the also-mentioned Hamptons, we've also stayed at the downtown Crowne Plaza (a nice way to say 'Holiday Inn') and the Edison Warthog (officially the Edison Warthall, but we had such a **hellish** experience there.....well, that's for another post....). What I'd really like to try: The Old Capitol Inn.