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Reviewed 7 September 2021

TL/DR: This property is an embarrassment to IHG, the town of Hiawasee, the state of Georgia and the lodging industry in general. This hotel is to lodging what Yoko Ono is to music.

Read on if you want to know specifics.

We were in town for a family wedding and this was the property that was recommended.

Upon check-in we were given keys to rooms 306 and 302. We went to 306 and got ready for the wedding. It was after the wedding that the others in our party went to 302, only to find that it was occupied! After scaring the daylights out of the people who were in the room already, we were forced to carry ourselves and our stuff back down to the front desk and have a different room assigned. I believe we were sent to room 323, which was dirty.

This is a good time to point out that room 306 was also dirty, which was surprising since we were explicitly told that there were Covid cleanliness standards set by IHG. I later learned that that wasn't the case, and that apparently - according to the hotel's management - it's acceptable to be given a room that's not clean by anyone's standards, let alone corporate standards in the midst of a pandemic.

When a family member arrived at 2:45 pm, after a seven-hour drive, he was made to wait in the lobby for an unreasonable amount of time before he could check in. It wasn't that there were no rooms ready; he was told that they were changing shifts and that it would be a few minutes. After 3:00 pm I went to the front desk to speed the process and get him checked in (the wedding was to begin promptly at 5:00 pm). While I was having a private conversation with my uncle at the front desk, the male clerk announced to me that he had a gun. I do not know what this was meant to imply or address. Am I supposed to watch my back when this guy is around? Who knows? I have never had a worker at any establishment announce that they were armed. Perhaps it's the extremely rural setting where people think that kind of thing is okay, or perhaps it's a misguided attempt at trying to intimidate someone. Regardless, it was 100% unprofessional, unwelcoming and uninviting, and I'm certain it does not conform to any IHG standard or represent what the parent company wants out there representing any of its brands.

I was bothered by the fact that the free breakfast was reasonably non-existent, although the manager explained to me that with this specific thing he does abide by corporate Covid restrictions. No hot food, but also no clean rooms. The through line seems to be that he can cut services and save himself money when it's convenient, and he can blame it all on Covid.

I will add that nobody was staffing the front desk when I went down at night seeking a bottle of water. There also was nobody at the front desk the next morning when I and many other people were trying to check out. There was a handwritten note that said to write your email address if you want a receipt. I picked up the phone at the front desk and dialed 1-2-3 (instructions printed and left by the phone at night to reach someone). The person who answered told me that they were short-handed because one person had Covid and another didn't show up for work. Another person in the lobby, who was dressed in jeans and a Super Mario Brothers t-shirt, saw this all happen and told me that wasn't the case. He then went behind the front desk and handed me printed guest folios. It turns out he worked there, but he quietly watched the chaos as an entire hotel full of people tried to check out, and he only stepped in when things started to heat up. This was actually the only thing that was good about this stay, but it's difficult to understand why he wasn't behind the front desk prior to that.

After I contacted corporate to let them know about this embarrassment of a property, the hotel manager called me. He doubled down on their failures and blamed me for having standards that are just too high. He refused to comprehend that the experience was not in any way acceptable; he told me he doesn't actually abide by the IHG cleanliness policy (in the midst of a pandemic!), and that his staff only does their best to clean to expected guest standards (SHOCKING!!), but I think his definition of cleanliness needs updating. Further, the manager blamed be for being a part of a wedding party that was loud (guilty by association, so I don't deserve to be properly compensated for a lousy experience?).

He simply wasn't interested in accepting any responsibility for anything that went wrong, and he dismissed valuable feedback that could actually serve to make his property better, thereby improving the impression of IHG and its brands. A manager who can't internalize feedback to make improvements is no manager at all. He realizes he benefits from being one of the only "name brand" lodging options in a touristy area, so why bother making any improvements?

This manager's solution to a terrible experience is for the guest to lower their standards. Perhaps that's why his property sucks so bad. What an absolute abomination.

Room tip: Here's how you choose a good room: you stay somewhere else.
Date of stay: August 2021
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Service
4  Thank sgmerritt
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 31 August 2021 via mobile

Hotel is an older building, but was clean and staff was friendly. They did serve breakfast which was appreciated, and the hot coffee was great. We enjoyed that they had an indoor pool (the hot tub was empty and not open). We checked in late on a Friday (maybe 11pm/midnight) and were tired from a day of travel. We go up to our room and notice a pile of sheets on the floor in the hallway between our assigned room and the next one. We go to swipe our room key to enter our assigned room, and pause because we heard noises from inside (our) room. I look at my husband and say “There’s people in that room!”. So I stay with the luggage in the hallway while he goes down to the front desk and tells them that we think there are people in our assigned room. They check their cards and assure him multiple times that “that is your room, only your room, nobody else has been assigned that room. There is nobody in that room.” Multiple times he was assured this, mind you. Two people were working the front desk, I believe one of them should’ve accompanied us to the room. After these reassurances, he comes up and has no choice but to open the door (since they didn’t offer to switch rooms or even accompany us while opening this one). So we open the door. There were definitely 2 people in there, and they were in the bed… shocking and very embarrassing for both us, and them. We shut the door and went back down to the front desk to tell them that there are definitely people in that room. Employees seemed shocked “nobody is supposed to be in that room!” And one calls the room phone, to which the part of the conversation we could hear went like this “Hello there, is this room __? Okay, You are not authorized to be in that room. What is your name? When did you check in? Uh huh… oh oh, I am so sorry. We checked another guest into that room, that’s who opened the door. Now you will need to come down and get a new room key. I apologize.” Then they apologized to us for their mistake and assigned us a new room. While we understand mistakes happen, this complete embarrassment (for all guests) could’ve been easily avoided (by at least listening to us and accompanying us to the room). Overall our stay was decent, but we did spend the rest of the days of our stay at this hotel worried that our own room would be barged in on, which added a lot of worry and stress and affected our whole experience. Some kind of upgrade or refund for that night would’ve been much appreciated for the ordeal (we did get an apology). We will not be staying there again.

Date of stay: July 2021
Trip type: Travelled as a couple
Thank spec1313
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 28 July 2021

Recommended, with reservation.

We're big-time International Hotel Group (IHG) fans. That's because IHG is the only hotel chain to meet our price-performance criteria. Is the price commensurate or equitable, given the quality of the offering?

Hotel prices jump all over the price spectrum depending on the day of the week, time of the year, local events, and location. To some degree, IHG restrains itself a bit by acting less greedy than most other hotel chains that allow their pricing to run wild. But this trend seems to be changing for the worse with IHG too.

We stay in IHG hotels worldwide. We've seen the best and the worst of their inventory. This hotel needs renovation. Here are our ratings.

The Staff: The General Manager and service staff are superb overall.

The Facility: The hotel was built in 1992, we were told. The structure has seen better days. The rooms are out-of-date. Carpets are dingy, paint schemes are dreary, and the technology is outdated, as is the entire facility. Hopefully, IHG will renovate this place soon. Hiawassee is a significant tourist draw from nearby States and the metro Atlanta area. The volume of traffic demands a better showing on the part of IHG Corporate.

Internet Service. Horrible. 10.23 MB down and 5.25 up. This speed would be subpar today for a single-family household, let alone a hotel in a tourist-oriented Laketown.

Carpets in the room: filthy. How do we know? If you forget to wear slippers or flip-flops as you walk from the bed to the bathroom and step into the shower and see black dirt run off of your feet as the water pours down, that's a sign the carpets are not clean.

Broken electrical outlets in the room. It's bad enough this structure is woefully out of date. It's worse when the outlets don't work at all as we found out. We had to shuffle our devices that needed charging to the few working outlets in our room.

Air quality in the room. Poor. How do we know? One of us uses a CPAP. The filters were clean before we used the room and dirty two days later. A pervasive dusky smell pervades the room.

Furniture. The couch in our room felt as if there were bugs in it.

The breakfast experience. The food was good and in line with the IHG experience. Out-of-line was an American Broom-Hilda-like enforcer barking out directions for all to wear gloves before touching the food. The message is OK --- we understand --- it was the method and jarring, domineering delivery overshadowing the breakfast experience we find offensive. Signs would be an adequate substitute approach -- as we've seen in other regional hotels. This brusk approach, coupled with an overly intrusive presence by Broom Hilda from table-to-table, was an over-the-top intrusion on what might be an otherwise enjoyable wake-up experience at breakfast.

We hope IHG upgrades this place. If we come back to Hiawassee, we won't stay here.

Date of stay: July 2021
    • Value
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
Thank RoverTreks
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IHG Service, Owner at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hiawassee, an IHG hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 20 August 2021

Hi RoverTreks,

Thank you for writing us about your experience in Holiday Inn Express Hiawassee. Our hotel offers our guests an environment of peace where you can have a great night's rest. I am sorry that your stay was not satisfactory because of the issues with the electrical outlets, carpets, and outdated facilities, among other things.

I understand your disappointment with these matters and assure you that this does not represent our standards. I sent a private message to discuss your stay further. I have also shared your review with our managers. They will review everything that has happened and take the proper steps to prevent these issues from happening again.

We invite you to visit us in your future stay so we can change your mind about us.

Warm wishes,

Oscar C.
Case Manager
IHG Service

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 May 2021 via mobile

It does just very low. My room was not vacuumed, AC unit apart, curtains off the rail, same picture over each bed? Mold above tub, plug pulled from wall, overall dirty and overpriced for the room.

Bed was comfortable and the lady in kitchen was very friendly.

Would not stay here again.

Room tip: Look elsewhere.
Date of stay: May 2021
Trip type: Travelled with friends
Thank ajayhawkfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IHG Service, Owner at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hiawassee, an IHG hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 11 June 2021

Hi ajayhawkfan,

Thank you for choosing our hotel for your most recent stay.

Cleanliness has always been our standard and is what we are known for but missed the mark this time. I'm sorry that your stay wasn't perfect due to the cleaning problems you encountered in the room and the condition of its amenities. This is not the experience we want our guests to have. I have shared your comments with the management team for their reference. I'm certain that they will take the necessary steps to address this and provide a better stay experience moving forward.

We hope that we will have another opportunity to show you the excellent service our hotel brand promises.

Regards,

Virgil N.
Case Manager
IHGService

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 April 2021

my first review was censored by Trip Advisor, so let me try this again, my stay was fine, the hotel itself is a little dated and needs to TLC, I had a piece of strpping from the cornice flapping my window at different times, but I slept ok. it was clean and nothing to complain about but the signage that says it's "required by law" to wear a mask, there is no law to support this signage, so if you need to ask the staff about requirements, then please do, although they don't wear them but some of the time, I don't care if they do or not, I never did, so you should be fine. Overall on a scale of 1-10 my stay was a 7.

Date of stay: April 2021
  • Trip type: Travelled on business
    • Value
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Wesnole
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
IHG Service, Owner at Holiday Inn Express & Suites Hiawassee, an IHG hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 8 May 2021

Hello Wesnole,

We want a pleasant and comfortable stay for our guests at all times. I am sorry that this was not met particularly in our area of cleanliness and service.

I have alerted the hotel management regarding your concerns. I know they appreciate your sharing your experience, and I am confident they will take steps for further improvement and make sure this doesn’t happen again.

I appreciate your IHG Rewards membership since 2012! I am hopeful that your future stays with us will be pleasant. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

Best,

Ronald R.
Case Manager
IHGService

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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