September 23 2009 by Chris McGinnis
READ THE TEXT VERSION OF THE VIDEO:
Last week was a whirlwind of international business travel for me, from here in San Francisco to London and back in four short days.
While that sort of itinerary may sound far-flung, highbrow and jet setting, I had the chance to stay over at a Best Western, which kept me grounded and my perspective in check.
I was invited to take part in a very special British Airways program, where the company invited 200 entrepreneurs and small business owners to fly to London (on their nickel!) to discuss and draw attention to the need for face-to-face meetings in business. (See www.ba.com/facetoface for more information on their program.)
I was asked to catch a 747 transatlantic charter flight that departed New York at 9 a.m., so since I'm based in San Francisco, that meant I had to fly to JFK the night before, spend the night near the airport and then take off early the next morning on the BA portion of this trip.
The neighborhood around Kennedy Airport in Queens is not known for its beauty and hospitality. From what I've seen passing through it on my way to and from JFK on previous trips, it's a gritty and industrial area, so I was a little apprehensive about where I was going to stay.
But lo and behold, I went online and discovered the Best Western Kennedy Airport.
At about $100 per night, the price was right--especially since I'd arrive from SFO at 8 p.m. and be out the door by 7 a.m. the following morning. All I needed was a quiet, clean place to spend the night, check my email and grab a quick meal.
On BestWestern.com, I noticed that the hotel was a Business Plus property, which always makes me feel confident I'll have a good stay.
And that's exactly what I got.
So, yes, the neighborhood around the hotel was gritty and industrial. It's located on the edge of the airport grounds, just off the un-pleasant sounding "Conduit Road."
But once the cab pulled off Conduit Road, I noticed that the hotel looked relatively new.
At the front desk, the clerk was pleasant and helpful, and as requested she offered me a quiet, non-smoking room on a high floor.
She also offered me a welcome amenity.... a small bag containing a bottle of water, a nutty granola snack and a few travel-sized toiletries. Nice!
My room was small, but clean and new with a bright white bathroom, a nice desk and work area, a safe for my laptop and an iron and ironing board for the shirt I would wear the next day. There was a big-screen TV and clock radio with an alarm that chimed like Big Ben.
The front desk clerk told me that there was not a restaurant within walking distance and suggested I order in Indian food, which she said this area of Queens is known for.
The free Wi-Fi, one of my favorite things about Best Western, worked like a charm. I was able to get some work done and enjoy a quick meal of lentil soup, chicken tikka masala and rice, then hit the sack.
The next morning, after Big Ben woke me up, I packed up, checked email one more time, and went downstairs for the free breakfast.
There I discovered a few other folks on the British Airways trip enjoying eggs, sausage, biscuits and everyone's favorite--waffles--made right there. Very nice!
Overall, the Best Western Kennedy Airport exceeded my expectations. The staff was super friendly and helpful, my room was nearly brand new, clean and efficient. The Wi-Fi was fast and free, and the breakfast was a home run.
Add to that a free shuttle ride back to the airport, and I feel like I got an amazing value. I also felt well-prepared for my big trip to London.