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Subject:Thoughts on motels?
Time:06:40 pm
I'm an CRM archaeologist in the US. I mostly manage projects/crews, and that involves finding accommodations for everyone. I've been thinking a lot about motels recently and what I ought to be prioritizing when I choose one.

It really goes without saying that I want to stay (and I want my crew to stay) some place that is reasonably safe, clean, and structurally sound. I also need to find a place that's reasonably close to the project. After that, there seems to be a divide between what I predict people will want/need and what they actually complain about not having.

For me, if it's a project lasting more than a couple of days, it's really nice to have a room with a mini fridge. Some motels - particularly mom and pop places and those that cater to fishing tourism, etc. - have these in every room as a standard amenity. Other places (often the more upscale ones) may only have a few available in the entire building and might charge extra to put one in your room. A microwave is also helpful, but I can survive without being able to cook. Not having a fridge really cuts down on my options for lunch.

Everything else is icing on the cake for me.

The thing people I work with seem to want most, though, is free wireless internet. I know the internet is invaluable for keeping in touch with friends and family when you're traveling all over the country and it may be vital for finding your next job. I'm probably underestimating the importance of that second part, since it's been a while since I've had to do that. I've stayed in a lot of places that advertised wireless internet, but I ended up having to sit in the parking lot outside the office to get a signal or it didn't work at all and the manager was perpetually "having someone coming over to fix it." Chain motels seem to do a better job with it, but those are also the places less likely to have refrigerators. I guess a faint hope of probably-not-very-good wireless access doesn't strike me as a fair trade for being able to keep perishable foods in my room, but again, I may be underestimating the necessity of it.

Obviously, the ideal is to find a motel with both fridges and internet access, but that not always possible.

So, any thoughts? What do you think is necessary/unnecessary in a field motel? If you had to choose between a fridge and internet, which would you go for?
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donnad
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Time:2010-12-06 03:05 am (UTC)
On one dig I was working I found a really good inexpensive motel. It had a full size fridge, stove, sink/kitchen area in the room. But they did not have internet access and I was stuck using a dial-up connection. I went through my usual ISP and found they had a local dial-up number and it didn't cost to use the phone in the hotel room for local calls. It was slow but it worked so I dealt with it. I even had to sit in the open doorway to get a cell phone connection. I was just happy to have a fridge so I didn't have to eat out everyday for breakfast, lunch or dinner. I brought my own toaster, kettle and there was a grocery store right up the street, I was quite comfortable.

Another site I worked the hotel was so bad, there weren't even phones or TV's in the room. I had to clean my own room and if I wanted clean sheets at the end of the week I had to strip the bed and bring the dirty sheets to the office and pick up the clean ones. If I wanted to just upload or download email I had to go to the office, beg to use the landline phone, and use my calling card to dial out to my ISP, I couldn't be on the phone for more than about 5 minutes before someone else wanted to use it. It was the only line out of the hotel for 20 rooms all occupied by people on the dig. Nobody had cell phone connections because we were so far out of range of anything. I used my cooler to keep a few things cold, soda, cheese etc. and stopped on my way back every afternoon and bought ice and a sandwich or pizza for dinner. Breakfast was juice and a pastry or something that didn't need refrigeration and lunch was often a purchased salad or sandwich. I couldn't wait to get out of that dump. I spent two weeks there before I couldn't take it anymore and quit.

At another site we had a campground, ten bunks to a cabin, no privacy at all, no electricity in the cabins, only the main meetinghouse and bathroom, one phone for the whole place thus minimal internet access (This was before cell modems). We had access to a fridge, but meals were provided for us including the stuff to make lunches, if we signed up for the meal plan and paid for it. The bathroom had a couple toilets, two shower stalls, and no hot water in the sink. The hot water for the shower was pumped from the lake into the hot water heater. I ended up extremely sick, after only one week I ended up in the hospital, with Giardia because the lake water was contaminated. Again, not a good situation.

The ideal situation was when we all(the crew) got together and rented a house. We had to share bedrooms, but we had it all. Cooking facilities, barbecue, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer, TV, video games, pool table, and more it was really nice. We were there for four weeks.

So I have dealt with really good and really bad. I think I can get by with minimal internet access if the other parts are decent. Nowadays with cellular modems and cell phones that do internet, I think it is becoming less of an issue that a motel/hotel has wireless access. As for a fridge, it's a nice convenience, but one can live with a cooler and ice. So it's really a matter of priority. Do you need that cyber connection or would you rather be able to save a few bucks by making your own meals in your room? In the case of many digs I have done, the students would rather go cheaper with fewer ammenities and find internet access through free wireless at a coffe shop or something. I personally, like the ammenities and can get by without the electronic leash if I have to.

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synj_munki
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Time:2010-12-06 04:55 am (UTC)
I despise sharing rooms (I like my alone time, and I go to bed/wake up earlier than everyone), hate sharing a bathroom (waiting in line and hoping for hot water when we all get in from the field? ew), even sharing cooking space (once shared rooms in a hunting lodge where we shared living/cooking space with the whole crew, and some people are nasty; by the second session i brought my own electric fridge and electric skillet so i wouldn't get food poisoning). I also strongly prefer a TV just for the noise.

If I had to choose between minifridge and wifi, I'd choose wifi-- I can (and have) make do with the ice machine and a cooler (or if I flew, creative use of the ice bucket, sink, and towels). That being said, In the last few years I've found that wifi is sooooo easy and cheap most of the places I've stayed now have it (even that lame-ass hunting lodge infested with raccoons, squirrels, rats, mice, and spiders). I've also found that minifridges are becoming quite common in mid-range motels (actually, any motel i've stayed in the last three years that had a minifridge also had wifi).

My favorite places, when available, are those "extended stay" hotels that have a mini-kitchen and what-not. If i'm somewhere more than a week I like access to laundry (coin is fine), and strongly prefer it if it's more than a 10-day. (my favorite ever? an extended stay that offered us crazy discounts because we were there for three to six months at a time; minikitchen with all the pots and pans and stuff, a couch and big tv- hell, even a fireplace- full breakfast every morning, dinner and two drinks mon-thurs, barbecue pits, and quarter laundry).
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random4233
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Time:2010-12-06 01:24 pm (UTC)
Yes, I would take free wifi over a mini fridge. When you're in the middle of nowhere being able to keep in touch with friends, family, and the outside world is pretty invaluable for staying sane. Most of the projects I've been on are survey and we would be moving hotels every 7-10 days so the idea of cooking and needing a fridge was a bit moot. Plus, I know a lot of archaeologists that own a cooler/fridge combo and don't need the room mini fridge. Free breakfast was a 2nd big plus since that meant you got to save a little per diem and maybe grab some extras for lunch.
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gwynhyffar
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Time:2010-12-07 02:45 am (UTC)
The most important thing for me in the field is having single occupancy rooms! Following the rooms is internet. After that it's nice to have a fridge and microwave if it's a long project. I get really sick of restaurants, especially in a small town where there might only be one or two. ...of course, most of my work these days is in North Dakota in the oil fields and any hotel room is hard to come by. We've had to drive up to two hours to get to the project area.
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