Saturday, January 28, 2012

Review: Wingate by Windham, Mechanicsburg, PA

My wife and I recently ventured to central Pennsylvania, home of a foodball-mad populace and caloric fave foods such as peanut butter-flavored pie and sliced Lebanon baloney. There are a handful of bed & breakfasts in the area, but they are typically pricey. The biggest of the big-name hotels in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania's capital city, is the Hilton, but it was booked when we visited.

What to do?

We booked a Wingate by Windham - part of the group that includes Ramada, Days Inn and TraveLodge - in suburban Mechanicsburg. Or, rather, we thought we did. Upon arrival at nearly 11 p.m., road-weary and wanting to fall into bed, we were informed that we had cancelled our reservation, which was news to us. In fact, we had done no such thing. Someone cancelled our reservation but it wasn't us. Evidently, it was someone on staff.

The hotel was fully booked and there were no available rooms. Or were there?

Heads were put together. Supervisors were consulted. In the end, we got a room. Actually, it was in effect a suite, as we occupied two adjoining, rarely used rooms on the top floor of this nondescript modern building, barely removed from the busy, noisy Pennsylvania Turnpike. The rooms overlooked the hotel parking lot from above the main entryway. But, hey, we had an adequate bed and two empty refrigerators that we used for bottled water, juice and milk, and we had a place to stay.

The place is - how to say this? - odd. The lobby reeks with the smell of chorination, as the doors are left open to the hotel swimming pool. There is breakfast just off the lobby but it is decidedly bland: Think tasteless yet fatty, waxy miniature muffins, small cartons of cereal, borderline drinkable coffee and the like. It doesn't taste good but it gets you going. Staff were nice and tried to be helpful, though they had that undertrained quality common in roadside inns in the United States.

Well, you get what you pay for, right? We paid $69.30 USD per night for our king bed room, breakfast included, with no extra charge for use of the second room - which also meant we had a second bathroom and second smallish closet that allowed us to spread out. The hotel also offers free Wi-Fi and in-room microwave ovens.

The Wingate Mechanicsburg is painfully far from being a destination hotel, but if you're passing through and tired of driving, it's an option.

Wingate by Windham is located at 385 Cumberland Parkway, Pennsylvania Turnpike exit 236, Mechanicsburg, PA 17055 USA. Tel: 717.766.2710.

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