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Archive for the ‘Traveling’ Category

Econo Lodge Review – Marion, IL


Econo Lodge is one of the brands owned by Choice Hotels International of Maryland.  Starting with a few motels 75  years ago, through creation and acquisition of brands, Choice now has Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, Quality Inn, Sleep Inn, Clarion, Cambria Hotel & Suites, Mainstay Suites, Suburban Extended Stay,  Rodeway Inn, and the Ascend Hotel Collection.  There are nearly 7,000 locations worldwide.

The Econo Lodge competes at the budget end of the accommodation segment, and most Choice locations are operated by franchisees.  At the end of 2015, there was 940 Econo Lodges with 56,000 rooms, according to the company’s website.

At the, it states one needs $2 mil to open an Econo Lodge, with a $25,000 franchise fee and 8% annual royalties.

Owning a franchised motel requires some trust on both sides. The franchisor hopes the franchisee will keep the motel in accordance with their operating contract and up to date, and the motel operator hopes they get the correct support from the parent company.  I don’t know for sure, but one would assume the franchisor sends people around to check franchised operations every once and awhile.

All that to say, I can’t imagine that this motel lives up to the contract.  Although inexpensive, the rooms are dirty, there is updating needed throughout the motel, and the exterior entrances (and there are a number of them) are unlocked 24 hours.

On the plus side, they have the standard free breakfast offerings, and that room/operation seemed pretty clean. Waffles, breads, fruits, cereal, coffee, cocoa, oatmeal, and so on.

This motel is off the north frontage road of Highway 13, just off I-57. If you’re driving around in the dark, in a strange city or pouring rain, good luck locating it, as it is behind the auto parts store pictured below.  The motel in the foreground (right) is an “America’s Best Value” Inn, and those can be inconsistent too, from superb to disgusting.

If you’re blowing through Marion, and just a place to run in, sleep, shower and get out, Econo Lodge might be ideal for you. If you’re traveling with the family or staying an  extended length of time, probably not.

This location is also handy if you’re visiting the Marion Federal Prison, just a few miles south of town.  Marion was originally constructed as as maximum security prison to replace Alcatraz, but has since been downgraded to a medium security facility.  Past guests include John Gotti, Pete Rose, the bomber of the WTC the first time,  Other international and domestic terrorists are also housed there.

Econ o Lodge Review Marion IL

Econo Lodge Review Marion IL

                                Marion Federal Prison






Econo Lodge Review


Extended Stay America Review – Metairie, LA


Extended Stay ReviewI’ve racked up a ton of nights at Extended Stay over the years;  I like them simply because I like having a full kitchen in the room – when I am traveling for an extended period, I’ll eat healthier if every meal isn’t in a restaurant or delivered.

The kitchens come fully equipped – flatware, glasses, plates, coffee maker, toaster, with one small change in policy recently. The whole package used to be in the room upon arrival, but now you have to request it from the front desk.  Not really an inconvenience, they will deliver it to you right away.  The kitchens include a full size refrigerator, 2 burner stove and microwave – what else do you need?

Your room has an ironing board and iron, and there is a pay laundromat in-house. Free parking.  Most of these I have been in have been immaculate and well kept up.  This one was no exception.

Some motels have pools, all offer a complimentary light breakfast – very light, less than you are probably used to these days.

For my money, for 3 – 30 nights, Extended Stay is the cat’s meow.  Kudos to the employee who hails from Thibodeaux.  You’re the best, and thanks for making my stay perfect.





Extended Stay America Review



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