I recently visited Flagstaff on business and was placed at the Sonesta ES Suites. I had never heard of this particular hotel, but it turned out to be someplace I was already familiar with, and one of the best parts of my trip.
As previous posters have mentioned, Sonesta ES (which stands for “Extended Stay”) Suites was formerly the Marriott Residence Inn across from the golf course. Their takeover of the property was quite recent (August), but they’ve already made their mark on the place. Upon check-in, after a long day of travel, front desk agent Lucas was friendly and welcoming. He even upgraded me to a fireplace suite; a definite treat, and one of the benefits of traveling in the off-season.
At the Sonesta ES Suites, for about the price of a traditional room at most mid- to higher-end chain hotels, you get something more along the lines of an apartment: all units have a kitchen with a full-size refrigerator, stove, microwave, coffee maker and even a dishwasher. Their cabinets are fully stocked with dining utensils and cookware – and I’m talking the nice, brand new stuff, not something someone picked up at a garage sale (I’ve stayed at places that had stuff like that in their so-called kitchens). My room was clean and inviting. The bed was super comfortable with a fluffy white duvet and 3 big firm pillows to snuggle up in. The bathroom was stocked with plenty of nice thick towels and a line of toiletries I actually liked using; most hotel soaps, etc. are a little too harsh for me, but the brand Sonesta uses is pleasant smelling and fairly mild.
Complimentary breakfast is included in your room rate at Sonesta, and here’s where I am always a bit dubious: most of the time, when hotels say “complimentary breakfast,” they mean “sugar-and-carb-fest,” but to my pleasant surprise, Sonesta’s breakfast included scrambled eggs, oatmeal, fresh fruit, yogurt, and sure, the usual items like cereal and bagels. They also had a make-your-own waffle station, which you’d think would get messy, but Marisol and the other ladies that oversaw the breakfast room kept everything spotlessly clean and well-stocked. They also varied their egg offerings up every day, one day featuring breakfast burrito fixins, the next day eggs Florentine and mini potato pancakes. They take a lot of pride in this and it shows.
Oh, and what a great idea this is: next to the front desk, Sonesta has what they call a “pantry store” or “E-shoppe.” If you’re wanting some munchies (potato chips, candy bars, etc.) or a soda late at night, or need an aspirin, Alka-Seltzer, something like that, you can come down to the lobby, grab what you want off the shelf and pay the front desk. It’s available 24/7, and of course, you’d pay more for that 3 Musketeers bar or pack of 2 aspirins than you would at the Circle K, but worth it at 2 AM when you don’t want to (or shouldn’t) drive to the Circle K.
I was in Flagstaff for a total of 4 days/3 nights, and coming back to the Sonesta to relax and unwind was something I came to look forward to after every busy day of meetings, training, etc. It was almost like hanging out at home. But as they say “nobody’s perfect,” and there were a few inconveniences, albeit minor ones. Permanent signage has yet to be installed, so if you’re not familiar with the hotel’s location, you might miss it. The biggest “con,” which has been mentioned by previous posters, is the TV’s. They’re old and ready to be put out to pasture. Sometimes my remote worked, and sometimes it didn’t. When mentioning this to the management, they stated that the property is slated for an extensive renovation next year, and replacing the TV’s with contemporary flat screen interactive models is tops on the to-do list. The shower was somewhat disappointing as it took a long time for the hot water to heat up and the water pressure was a bit weak.
Some find the hotel’s location to be a drawback. It is situated a few miles away from the Historic Downtown area, which is considered to be “where the action is” in Flagstaff. I found that to be a positive aspect – no train noise (but in all fairness the city of Flagstaff has made major improvements on that front), and the golf course makes for a nice morning walk. For those who want to get into the Historic Downtown area, which is very cool and worth a visit, fair warning: driving there is a nightmare! Lots of narrow one-way streets, parking spots virtually nil, strictly enforced tow-away zones, etc. – you’ll tear your hair out, trust me. But there’s a local tour company called the Grand Canyon Store has a free on-call shuttle that will pick you up, bring you Downtown, give you a walking map (and a pack of coupons for different stores) and let you explore at your leisure. When you’re done, you simply go back to the Grand Canyon Store, and they’ll take you back to your hotel. They offer this to all local hotels for free, too, how cool is that? But I think it’s only seasonal (spring/summer/fall), so you may have to use Mountain Line (bus) or local taxi if you’re traveling in winter. Don’t quote me on that though, check with the desk if you visit between now and the end February.
If given the opportunity, I would stay at Sonesta again in a heartbeat. They already have a lot on the ball, and it sounds like things will only get better. If you’re looking for a nice laid back place to hang out for a few days, Sonesta is perfect for that. Again, great place to “come home” to after a day of sightseeing (Grand Canyon, Lake Powell, Sedona, Petrified Forest can all be done as day trips from here) or what have you. If the prospect of eating out night after night doesn’t appeal to you, this place is great because you can do your own cooking. But then again many local restaurants deliver here too (they give you a list of them when you check in), so if pizza for breakfast is your thing, go for it!
Sonesta ES Suites is an international chain with properties near everything from Disneyworld to Machu Picchu to the Great Pyramids.