When I’m looking for a hotel in a location I’m unfamiliar with, I’ll use TripAdvisor to help sort places I’d stay from places to avoid. Over time, I’ve learned how to negotiate TripAdvisor; that is, to read reviews and get relevant information while ignoring everything people want to complain about.
But never had I seen a hotel that received almost universal excellent reviews.
I mean, even 5-star hotels get some crappy reviews but 396 of the 446 guests who stayed at this hotel loved the experience. (When I stayed there, the ratings were even higher; it was the #1 hotel in town.)
If only to see what the best hotel in Gainesville, Florida looked like, I took one for the team and stayed one night at the Drury Inn & Suites.
Yep, that’s the #1 rated hotel in Gainesville.
The hotel is just off I-75 and only a few minutes drive from the University of Florida.
The lobby area was large and the line to check in was a few people deep. I noticed the hotel guests were high school and college sports teams, parents visiting their kids at school, people with pets, families with small children…and me.
The hotel was very picky about checking that IDs matched the name on the reservation. I assume that’s because it’s a college town and they’re worried about parties. Besides the name on the reservation, they asked for the names of other guests in the room.
There were other seating areas around the lobby, which initially seemed to be overkill. I’d understand why there was all the seating later on that evening.
I headed to my room, which didn’t look much different from other roadside hotels. However, I noticed that the room was spotless. No dusty cabinets or fingerprints on the counters. The staff took time to make sure everything was clean and ready for the next guest.
It wasn’t until I headed downstairs for the 5:30 Kickback that I realized why everyone who stays at the Drury Inn & Suites loves the hotel. I was expecting something like a Kimpton wine service but what I found was a full-on dinner buffet.
It was too crowded to take pictures, so I had to take them the following day.
Almost every table was full of families eating dinner. That’s because you could choose from salads, two soups, hot dogs and the main dish of BBQ pork sliders. If you’re a family of 4, getting a free dinner is a huge plus. In addition, I was provided a drink ticket at check-in, good for 4 alcoholic beverages.
The following morning, a large breakfast spread appeared.
I was starting to see why people loved this place so much. Not only was there a large selection of food but there were also multiple staff members to help guests carry items to their tables. They also ensured all the service trays were filled and the tables cleaned as soon as guests left.
It was early spring when I visited but the hotel has a large pool and hot tub area.
What did I learn from my stay at the 5-star Drury Inn & Suites in Gainesville, Florida? I’d say that the key to impressing your guests is to get the simple things right, like having enough people to work the meal services. In addition, you need to exceed guest expectations. The dinner and breakfast offerings blew me away. Not only were the multiple options, but the food was also edible. That’s a sincere compliment considering some of the meals we’ve had at roadside hotels. I almost felt sorry for the Waffle House across the street, as no one staying at the Drury would go there for breakfast.
I understand why Drury Hotels has won the J.D. Power award for “Highest in Guest Satisfaction Among Upper Midscale Hotel Chains” for the past 17 years.
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Nice. I’ve never stayed at one but good to know for future reference.
It’s amazing how nice a hotel can still be these days when management isn’t cheaping out on everything to make a buck. There are plenty of Drury’s in the San Antonio area the next time that you go to Schlitterbahn.