We have just returned from our fifth or sixth stay at The Willcox, and it was mostly a pleasure. The hotel is still beautiful and well managed. The rooms are large and comfortable; the food is good; the pool is pretty (but freezing still, in April). The staff is always warm and welcoming, and housekeeping does an excellent job in the rooms. The fact that the entire hotel, except for the dining room, is dog friendly is really remarkable. It's a reflection of the attitude of the entire town...everyone just loves dogs in Aiken. Just a few comments, and these issues are what prevented me giving The Willcox a five-star rating. 1) First, I understand that "new" management's business model is different from that of "old" management, which viewed the Willcox as a destination property. "New" management (not so new anymore) wants the Willcox to be the "center" of the social scene in Aiken, and with all the planned social events at the Willcox, it seems that the leadership team has achieved its mission. That being said, with the heavier use of the hotel, the lobby furnishings are beginning to take a beating. Couches and chairs look worn out, and the public places don't look particularly clean or smell fresh, especially in the mornings. It looks like a well-used bar, after hours, which it what it has actually become. It is disconcerting, as a guest, to see a full lobby almost every evening...loud, with lots of people and live music. It's not relaxing for a hotel guest from out of town...might work for the locals and seasonal horse people looking to party, but management should not forget about overnight paying guests who might be looking for some peace. We literally had to sit outside on the front porch with a half dozen other hotel guests to escape the crush one night; we all watched the parade of visitors pull up in car after car, and we all commented on the same thing. 2) Second, I used the spa this time for the first time. It was well intentioned but amateurish, and high-priced for what you got. If you are going to have a spa, do charge for it, but get some skilled professionals in there to do the work. 3) Finally, and least important...I think the hotel can do a better job on the continental breakfast in the morning. It's pretty dull.
Suffice it to say, we love The Willcox...we are loyal, long-time customers, and we want to see the hotel pick up its game a bit. We're glad to see that it seems to be successful, but don't let the wonderful hotel slide down the slippery slope of mediocrity on these issues we raise. You can be sure that we would not want to stay anywhere else in Aiken!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The award-winning, historic Willcox Hotel cultivates a sophisticated, yet informal glamour amidst America's storied thoroughbred country. Cloud soft beds, an intimate Salon & Spa and one of the South's Best Restaurants - All in a setting of Easy Going Elegance. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- The Willcox Hotel Aiken