Should you really book that incredible travel deal right now?

Want to fly between Houston and Newark for $30? How about a $22 transcontinental flight? And a flight from the New York City area to London? That starts at a cool $111 all-in.
You don’t have to be an aviation analyst to know that that those prices are significantly lower than normal. You can also probably guess why with 100% certainty. In many cases, the low fares extend into the normally peak summer months, if not beyond. While no one knows how long coronavirus will have an affect on daily life around the world, the hope is that it will, at some point, lessen its grip.
So, should you be guessing when the situation will improve and taking advantage of some of the outrageous travel deals available right now?
Maybe. But also, maybe not.

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Avoid near-term travel
I don’t care if an airline is offering free flights right now: Unless you absolutely must travel to relocate to a better location for the duration of the outbreak, or for a medical reasons, no price is worth a leisure trip at the moment due to the priority of social distancing to slow the spread of coronavirus.
If you’re curious, here’s TPG’s official stance on travel at the moment:

The team at The Points Guy loves to travel, but now is not the time for unnecessary trips.
Health officials note the fastest way to return to normalcy is to stop coming in contact with others. That includes ceasing travel.
We support the travel industry and want to be there for it and encourage more trips, but only when the time is right.
Instead of traveling right now, we suggest this is the time to plan your next vacation. You don’t have to book yet, but figure out where you want to go and map out the right strategy for building up the right points and miles for those trips.
TPG can guide travelers through this process. We’ll share the news when it’s time to start booking, but at least for the short term let’s all do as much as we can to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that includes hitting pause on travel.

Visit TPG’s guide to all coronavirus news and updates
Know the change policies
Once you start looking at potential travel deals further out on the calendar, you still need to be mindful of change and cancellation policies.
While no one knows when “normal” will return, if you spot an appealing travel deal for later in the year, just be sure it’s either so cheap you won’t mind walking away, or there’s a generous change or cancellation fee waiver in place. When it comes to booking airfare, most U.S. airlines are waiving change fees on future travel booked right now. I recommend booking directly with the airlines to cut down on the extra hassle you might encounter when reserving travel through a third-party site.
The change policies, however, aren’t consistent across the industry. They vary from airline to airline, from one hotel chain to the next, and you’ll find them to be vastly different from cruise lines to vacation rental sites. So, read the fine print before swiping your travel rewards credit card on a future travel deal.
Related: The best credit cards that offer trip cancellation and interruption coverage
Can you tie up more money in travel?
Even if the travel deal you want is changeable, think long and hard about whether now is the time to tie up more of your funds in travel. Changeable and fully refundable aren’t the same things, so carefully evaluate your personal situation in these ever-changing times before giving a travel company more of your cash.
If you’re using points or miles to book an incredible deal, that equation shifts since you can’t typically eat your miles or use them to pay rent — well, unless you’re cashing in for a fancy premium cabin award where the airline may indeed feed you pretty well once this event is over. If you’re using a travel voucher, miles or have the budget to put aside funds for future travel, that’s a very different scenario than if you are struggling to stock up your pantry with necessities.
For example, those normally almost impossible to book premium cabin awards might be more bountiful than ever at the moment. There’s probably nothing wrong with scooping up some of those awards for travel later this year as long as you’re comfortable with the change and cancellation stipulations.
Air Tahiti Nui business class awards are wide open (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)
Do you know where you want to travel?
Six weeks ago, most of us were probably avoiding trips to Asia, as COVID-19 intensified there first. Then we canceled trips to South Korea, Japan, Iran, and later Italy and other parts of Europe.
Now, the U.S. has growing hot spots of its own, while some parts of Asia are (hopefully) beginning to round the corner of this crisis. Disney World in Florida, for example, just closed its doors to the public on Sunday night, while Shanghai Disneyland has been closed since Jan. 25. But as Cinderella Castle in Florida enters its period of darkness, Shanghai Disneyland is showings signs of a phased reopening. As the first step toward welcoming back guests, the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, Wishing Star Park and some shopping, dining and recreational experiences have recently resumed limited operations.
Disney’s castle in Shanghai. (Photo by Dia Adams)
This one example shows that it’s hard to guess which parts of the world will be ready for tourists before others. So, before you book a travel deal, just think about whether you really know where you’ll want to travel. Of course, if you make very flexible plans, you may not need a crystal ball to start booking future travel.
Related: Should I travel? Advice for the coronavirus outbreak
Bottom line
I’m a deal hunter. I love the thrill of finding and booking a travel bargain. I’m also a serious supporter of the travel industry and want to see it emerge from the other side of this crisis in one piece.
But even I am being very conservative about booking new travel at this juncture, despite the tempting deals. There are just so many unknowns. There’s also the reality that I still have some travel already booked for later in 2020, so I’d rather wait and see if that happens as planned and apply those travel credits elsewhere if needed, than put any substantial amount of additional dollars on the table. That said, you may find me speculatively making some future award travel plans that I’m OK with changing if the situation warrants.
I’m not 100% opposed to picking up very inexpensive or truly refundable deals later in the year, and I’m much more likely to use miles or less flexible points to book some award travel deals than spend large amounts of cash — at least until we’re closer to the other side of this trying tunnel.
Featured image by SasinParaksa/Getty Images.

High/Low Travel Strategy: Mixing Luxury and Budget Travel on the Same Trip

While my favorite way to maximize travel is through points and miles, my husband and I have come up with a few other tricks over the years to find that elusive balance between my love of budget travel and his taste for the finer things. Our go-to technique for a vacation with the right mix of off-the-beaten path adventure mixed with pure luxury and true downtime is our “high/low” technique.
Much like pairing an Ikea mirror with an Eames chair in your living room, mixing high-end travel with lower-cost experiences in the same trip can work well. It also has helped us tame our children’s unrealistic expectations around travel.
On a boat we rented for $15 in rural Vietnam
High/Low in Practice
Our budget for accommodations during a recent weeklong vacation in Vietnam was an average of $350 per night. This was on the higher end, but it turned out to channel us toward hotels that we found didn’t cater to families. Instead we chose to look for somewhere in the $75–$100 per night range for four nights followed by somewhere in the $500–750 range for the next three nights. We also tried to find a third or fourth night for free through select hotels in Amex’s Fine Hotels & Resorts (FHR) program. FHR is available to holders of certain Amex cards, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express and The Business Platinum® Card from American Express. 
We loved exploring Hoi An’s food markets.
Tips for the Lower End
The key to the “low” end of the stay is to realize that while it may cost less, it isn’t actually less enjoyable because it is culturally rich. During the “low,” we do lots of sightseeing and driving, eat at local restaurants or cook and keep costs relatively low by engaging in the local economy rather than staying insulated within a resort economy. Our family is able to see areas we wouldn’t normally get to enjoy if we were only sheltered at luxury hotels and resorts. It is also a great time to do purposeful travel. Plus we often travel with our two young kids and want an Airbnb or family-run hotel for reasons beyond budget.
Make sure you’re using the best credit cards to book an Airbnb. We sometimes are able to book our “low” accommodations through Hotels.com/Venture and use my Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card for 10x the points on the room stay, then use it toward our 10th night free with Hotels.com, which is effectively a 20% return.
You can also choose a lower-category points hotel for your stay. A large welcome bonus, such as the one offered by the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card that earns you 100,000 points after you spend $3,000 on purchases in the first three months from account opening, could get you several nights at a Category 1–4 Marriott redemption.

Tips for the Higher End
When we head over to the “high” end, we enter pure resort mode — we don’t have to worry about driving or where to go for lunch because everything is right there. We often do not leave the grounds because we’ve already explored and just want to stay put. We like to book the luxury piece at the end of the stay and utilize early check-in and late check-out to really stretch the stay (FHR benefits and elite status are great for this).
This can be a fantastic time to use a high-end redemption to bring down costs and use the savings for extras such as cooking classes or a spa experience.
During a 10-day trip to Bali, for example, we spent five nights in a low-cost villa and then did a five-night redemption at The Ritz-Carlton, Bali (Category 6, from 50,000 Marriott points), taking full advantage of its incredible kids club and inexpensive babysitting.
Here are many different ways to stay with your family in Bali using points.
Our one-bedroom villa at Four Season Resort The Nam Hai.
Riding on the sleeper train between our high- and low-cost stays in Vietnam.
Lower End: Rural Vietnam
In Vietnam, our lower end stay was in the Bong Lai Valley at Phong Nha Farmstay for $85 per night, including breakfast. It was essentially a backpackers spot, but had a large family room next to the owner’s apartment. My older son became fast friends with the owner’s son, Howie, and talked about him for months afterward.
Enjoying the cooler weather at Phong Nha Farmstay.
In Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, we rented a private 14-seat boat for just for the four of us where I could easily breastfeed the baby; the privacy gave us the flexibility to turn back if our 2-year-old was scared of the caves. The three-hour cave gondola ride was $15, plus a $6.50 entrance fee for the national park. Rather than a scary experience, the ride turned out to be peaceful and done at the perfect pace for our family.

Another day, we took advantage of the advertised free bikes at the farmstay. The only family bike had a flat seat on the back. We used my sarong to tie my older son on the back, and my husband wore the baby on his front over the bumpy, muddy roads to the only local attraction called The Duck Stop.
Using a hand-drawn map, we found the family-run spot, which offered a package of food and a visit to see their raft of ducks ($4, kids free). Suddenly, we were in borrowed sandals and feed was being thrown on our feet. The ducks chased us while trying to bite our feet with their bills as the owner screamed, “It’s like a massage!” We then greeted the resident water buffalo before heading back on our bikes. These are the types of peculiar travel experiences that I had while backpacking in my 20s and love having again with my family (my husband less so).

High: Four Seasons The Nam Hai
As much as I love reliving my backpacking days, entering the Four Seasons Nam Hai was extraordinary. We booked with a fourth night free, which brought the cost down from $750 per night to $660 per night for a one-bedroom, ocean-view villa with an included exquisite breakfast. Yes, that is pricey, but that is why we balance it out with more affordable accommodations. We also considered the Intercontinental Nha Trang, Vietnam using IHG Rewards Club points from the generous IHG®  Rewards Club Premier Card (bonus currently up to 120k points) and the fourth consecutive award night free for cardholders.

The magical thing about a luxury resort is that they pretty much know where you are at all times and can reach you. With the kids safely in childcare, we attended a Vietnamese cooking class arranged by the hotel that included a visit to the local market. When we returned from the market with our fresh ingredients, the cooking assistant notified the babysitter to bring my youngest son to me at the cooking school via a golf cart because he needed to breastfeed.

When the baby finished his lunch, his babysitter whisked him away again, which made me feel like a mother in “Downton Abbey.” We could not have dropped the fresh shrimp into hot sizzling oil with our tiny children in tow. The Cooking Academy was $115 each and included our fantastic five-course lunch of grilled calamari skewers, grouper in banana leaf and wok-fried prawns in tamarind sauce.

To round off the experience, on our last night we went into the ever so photogenic Hoi An to see the lanterns lining the streets. We wandered the streets until our children melted down, and then hopped in a taxi back to the hotel and into bed.

When packing the next morning, we realized that my DSLR camera was gone and must have been left in the taxi. Normally, that might been adios to the camera, but the hotel quickly pulled the license plates off the security camera of us arriving the night before, located the driver and had my camera back in my hands by our 11am departure.
That could have been a sour note to end the vacation. Instead we were happy to be staying somewhere where we were just taken care of — our problem suddenly became their problem. We enjoyed the bountiful breakfast buffet rather than scrambling to track down the camera and avoided the sadness of losing all the photos from our trip in Asia with the kids, including those in this story. It was also a reminder to make sure I know what insurance protections my credit cards have.

Bottom Line
The adage goes that a vacation with kids is just a trip and never a vacation. After enjoying sightseeing and adventure time, end your family trip at a luxury resort with safe, reliable on-site childcare so you have time to truly unwind and maybe even have a date before returning home. Using this high/low method, you can average out the costs either with points or cash while enjoying both secluded luxury and local culture.
Have you ever tried a high/low vacation? How does your family balance different interests during travel?

SkyTeam Launches New Metasearch Tool to Find and Book Flights Across All 20 Members

Delta loyalists, take note: You’ll be doing yourself a favor by bookmarking SkyTeam’s new Find Flights portal. Fresh out of the coding oven, the revamped metasearch tool allows you to evaluate your paid routing options across all 20 member airlines, including the likes of Delta, Air France, KLM, Alitalia, Korean Air and Aeromexico. One of the most powerful elements of the new tool is its ability to integrate and surface many airlines that are lesser-known among US-based flyers: Saudia, TAROM, Vietnam Airlines and XiamenAir, for example.
The tool, which is available now on the web via flights.skyteam.com, is a first among the major global airline alliances — at least at this level of granularity. The engine shows “real-time availability, schedule and pricing information across 1,074 destinations with clearly displayed results all in one place.” It even includes a direct link out to whichever carrier is selling the flight for the lowest fare, enabling users to purchase and complete the booking without having to reconstruct the route elsewhere.
SkyTeam airlines transporting passengers around the globe. (Photo by the author / The Points Guy)
As of now, the new tool is only available via web, though we’re told that the next iteration of the SkyTeam mobile app (due out in October 2018) will include the new functionality. It’s of particular interest to those seeking to maintain or earn Medallion status on Delta, as it removes the guesswork when it comes to answering the question: “Can I fly to this destination on airlines that I can credit back to my Delta account?”
Delta’s earning chart for partners (located here) lays out what you can expect if you decide to credit SkyTeam partner flights back to your account. It’s worth noting that it can be advantageous to book flights sold and marketed by SkyTeam partners while crediting the flight(s) back to Delta, particularly on cheaper business-class fares, which can provide a huge boost in the MQD department. Delta ranks partners on a tiered status, with its closer allies such as KLM and Air France earning more than distant partners such as Air Europa and Kenya Airways, so be sure to check those before booking.
In our testing of the new functionality, we found it both quick and accurate. It’s pretty intelligent, too. For example, in looking for a round-trip flight between St. Louis (STL) and Rome (FCO), it surfaced an outbound flight that included legs on Delta and Alitalia, while the return was best served with a one-stop journey entirely on Delta metal.

Similarly, a round-trip flight between Portland (PDX) and Kuala Lumpur (KUL) surfaced an outbound itinerary involving Alaska Airlines (PDX to SFO), Korean Air (SFO to ICN) and Malaysia Airlines (ICN to KUL), while the return involved Korean Air and Delta.

Presently, the tool allows you to sort by cheapest, quickest and best, but those only apply to economy fares. There’s no option to search for the lowest fares on premium economy, business and/or first, but we’ve inquired with SkyTeam to understand if this is something that may be the product roadmap.

Lastly, the new SkyTeam portal only surfaces paid options. If you’re looking for SkyTeam award routes, Air France’s booking portal is still your best bet.
Featured image of SkyTeam livery at Atlanta (ATL) airport by the author.

6 Things to Do When You Need a Break From New York City

Many people visit New York City with an itinerary packed as tight as a carry-on and leave thinking: “I could never live there.” But for those us who call the Big Apple home, we’re in it for the convenient (in theory) public transportation, endless job opportunities and indispensable dollar slices. But every now and again, even the most die-hard city slicker needs a getaway.
One of the best things about living in New York City happens to be how easy it is to get away, thanks to the solid network of local and regional transportation and a flurry of clever companies and programs designed to get New Yorkers out of the city. And that’s to say nothing of the places to go when you get out. Upstate, in the Catskills, Hudson Valley and Adirondacks, a boutique hotel scene is booming, and high-end campsites are cropping up, too.
Even if you’re just visiting, consider looking beyond the city for some of New York’s most unexpected — and relaxing — experiences.
With a destination in mind, your next order of business should be transportation. But fear not: It’s honestly easier to get out of town than it is to get the L to Brooklyn. Plus, virtually every mode of transportation comes with a way to score serious deals. So while we’ll always love you, New York City, a little absence makes the heart fonder.
Go camping
For those willing to brave the great outdoors — at least a little —Tentrr is a new company that’s sort of like Airbnb for backyards. Homeowners (called campkeepers) set up “fully-rigged” and completely nature-friendly campsites (think: canvas tents, Adirondack chairs, sun showers) and even arrange experiences like hiking in the Catskills or whitewater rafting in the Adirondacks. New Yorkers who want to get outside without splurging on expensive gear can book a stay at the Tentrr-approved site, like Camp Winterton by the Shawangunk Ridge.
Another option is Collective Retreats, which lets you go glamping in the Hudson Valley with luxe amenities such as 1,500 thread-count sheets, complimentary breakfast and electricity. Of course, if all you really want is to get off Manhattan island for a night, Collective Retreats offers glamping on Governors Island until late October — though you’ll still, technically, be in Manhattan. Who said New Yorkers were camping-averse?!
Take a hike
If fitness is your focus (those bagels aren’t going to burn themselves off), check out the new day trips from Equinox Fitness. Picture yourself stepping off the treadmill and heading up to Minnewaska State Park Preserve for seven miles of trail running, or — if that’s not exactly your idea of relaxing — joining an Equinox instructor at the Mohonk Preserve for a custom yoga workshop. In addition to workouts with fitness pros, the perk of booking an Equinox day trip is that you don’t have to worry about getting where you’re going. The round-trip transportation from a Manhattan fitness center is part of the price.
Catch a train
Sure, the MTA can have you beating your head on the subway doors from time to time, but luckily the commuter rails that run in and out of the city are much more reliable. Catch the Metro-North or New Jersey Transit from Grand Central and Penn Station, respectively, and relax as you’re whisked beyond the confines of the city. (Pro tip: Grab a tall boy from the concourse and get the party started early.) Off-peak fares, which include weekends, are significantly less expensive, and Amtrak often runs specials, such as its Double Days points promotion, when Amtrak Guest Rewards members can earn twice the points they’d normally get on train travel.
From Sept. 27 to Nov. 2, travelers can even ride Amtrak’s vintage glass-domed train for a scenic fall foliage journey through the Adirondack Mountains. Catch it in Saratoga Springs or Albany, both of which are serviced by regional Amtrak trains.
Get above the crowds
With three city-area airports, catching a flight to just about anywhere in the world is relatively easy from the Big Apple. And though it isn’t cheap, New York City also has a robust network of seaplanes and helicopters. For a view of the Big Apple that will really help you appreciate the city’s scope and iconic skyline, BLADE‘s cheaper Cessna Grand Caravan can take you to and from Teterboro, New Jersey and Montauk for $690 round-trip or $345 one way.
Plan a road trip
Getting out of the city by car can be a bit — how should we put this — harrowing. But once you’re cruising on the Saw Mill River Parkway with the wind in your hair, you’ll quickly forget the white knuckle drive. There are plenty of rental car deals to be had, and the service Silvercar, which primarily rents Audi A4s painted (you guessed it) silver. Simply use the mobile app to reserve the car, request pickup from the airport, unlock the vehicle upon arrival and get receipts. (If you haven’t used Silvercar yet, you can earn a $25 credit on your first rental by entering referral code: BKELLY1.) Car-sharing services like Car2Go and Maven are also popular in the city.

Birth of a Brand: The Avid Hotel by IHG in Oklahoma City

IHG is my primary go-to hotel brand. In the last year, I’ve spent 103 nights in IHG properties all around the world — including stays I’ve reviewed for TPG at Kimpton in New York City, Hotel Indigo in Berlin and Hotel Indigo in Austin, Texas. So when I noticed IHG’s new Avid brand would be opening its first location outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, I booked a two-night stay just days after its grand opening.
Here’s my take on IHG’s newest brand and hotel.

In This Post

Avid bills itself as a new kind of hotel where “the essentials are done right.” According to the online marketing materials, Avid hotels aim to provide: sound sleep through premium pillow-top mattresses and blackout roller shades; high-quality grab-and-go breakfast; a room that is clean and “just right”; and friendly service.
IHG says Avid properties will generally run $10 to $15 less than Holiday Inn Express properties. Although there’s only one Avid hotel open currently, other locations are planned throughout the US, Canada and Mexico. IHG reported in June 2018 that 126 Avid properties were in the pipeline, so you’ll likely see one popping up near you soon.
Booking
I booked my stay just a couple days beforehand. For my stay — the first Friday and Saturday night after the hotel opened — rooms were going for $89 per night plus tax for the AAA rate ($204 total), $99 per night plus tax for the triple-bonus-points rate ($226 total) or 15,000 IHG points per night (which TPG’s latest valuation valued at $90).
I considered the triple-bonus-points rate but found on the checkout page that I’d only earn the bonus on the base earnings. This meant I would have earned 6,930 IHG points (valued at $42) instead of 2,970 points (valued at $18) if I’d booked the more expensive triple-bonus-points rate.
Although I would have earned 10x IHG points if I’d booked either of these cash rates with my IHG Premier Card, I opted to use 30,000 IHG points for this stay, since I wasn’t working toward an Accelerate promotion.
Location
Avid’s first property is situated in the northern suburbs of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, next to Quail Springs Mall. Although we found there were many restaurants and shops within walking distance, it was best suited to those traveling with a vehicle.

Check-in
When we pulled up at 7:00pm on a Friday, I counted 10 cars in the parking lot. We were greeted both by a woman at the front desk and by a sign that read, “Welcome IHG Rewards Club members. You’ve arrived at the first Avid hotel on Earth.”
I’d booked our two-night stay using points, so I simply needed to provide my ID, confirm my information and agree to the hotel’s policies regarding pets and smoking (neither of which was allowed).
While we were looking around the lobby on the way to the elevator, the front-desk agent came over to apologize for not providing my IHG Platinum member welcome gift. He asked if I wanted 500 welcome points, which TPG’s latest valuation valued at $3, or a welcome gift. When he said the welcome gift was a reusable Avid coffee cup, I opted for the commemorative souvenir.

Room
Our original room had an uncomfortably loud air-conditioning system. After trying different settings for a few hours, I called the front desk and mentioned it. The agent immediately offered to move us to a new room. After a few update calls, she delivered keys to Room 413, just down the hallway.

There were two room types: one king bed or two queens. We opted for the king room. While talking with a manager at breakfast, we learned that all of the rooms featured mattresses that were ranked as the best for hotels by JD Power. The mattress was indeed very comfortable, and we slept well both nights.

The king bed (80 inches long by 76 inches wide) took up much of the room, but there were bedside ledges on either side of the bed.

The ledge on each side of the bed had a power and two USB outlets, and the open design allowed for luggage storage under the ledge. There was an individually controlled light above each ledge.

There was an air-conditioning and heating unit underneath the window. Unfortunately, the work desk was located right next to this unit, and there was nothing to deflect the hot or cold air blasting from it, so I never wanted to sit at the desk. Installing an air deflector would’ve gone a long way toward fixing that problem.

A 55-inch TV was directly in front of the bed, hanging above part of the desk.

I liked that the TV supported casting from personal laptops, cell phones and tablets, but there were bugs. For example, although we needed to use our room number and name to access the Wi-Fi, it was possible to cast to other rooms. If fact, sometimes only other rooms were listed as casting options.

Next to the desk and below the TV was a padded bench for luggage or sitting. Above the bench were two hooks. A third hook was next to a full-length mirror and then another hook was on the other side of the mirror toward the entrance.

Across from the mirror was an open closet. The nook had four hooks, four hangers, two shelves, a mini-fridge, a steam iron and an ironing board. Instead of using this area as a closet, I sat in this padded nook while writing this review, since sitting at the desk was uncomfortable.

The bathroom was to the right by the door. There was a sink with two plastic cups and a box of tissues, as well as a toilet on one side of the door. Next to the sink were large bottles of J.R. Watkins hand soap and moisturizing lotion.

Under the sink, open shelves held towels and an efficient hair dryer. The towels were surprisingly soft and absorbent, although they didn’t dry quickly after use.

Across from the sink and toilet was a walk-in shower, which had good water pressure and a ledge for your foot while shaving.
The foot ledge really helps when shaving.
Large bottles of shampoo, conditioner and body wash were mounted in the shower. Although many people dislike these large bottles, I appreciated the more ecofriendly approach. The aloe-and-green-tea-scented amenities smelled great.

The entire room had hard flooring, more durable and easier to clean than carpet. There were 10 power and four USB outlets throughout the room in convenient places, so charging was easy.
In general, we liked the room. The blackout curtain kept the room very dark, and the transparent curtain provided the right level of daylight while maintaining privacy. However, our room became increasingly humid throughout our stay, and the desk was uncomfortable because of the A/C. And don’t expect a room with a view, as all rooms at this property looked out over parking lots.
The privacy shade allowed enough light throughout the day.
Food and Beverage
Instead of kettles or coffeemakers in each room, the hotel provided complimentary coffee, hot water, still water and sparkling water in the lobby 24 hours a day.

Breakfast was available in the lobby each morning from 7:00am to 10:00am, although the buffet wasn’t packed either morning of our stay until around 10:15am. In addition to the coffee and water that were always available, apple juice, orange juice, lemonade, flavored water, almond milk, skim milk and 2% milk were also out during breakfast.

Certain breakfast items were displayed on a large circular table.

You could eat in the lobby or take your breakfast to go.

 

Near the front desk was a small vending area for snacks. Although not cheap, the prices weren’t prohibitive, and there was a good variety.

Amenities
The lobby had a variety of sitting areas, ranging from large tables to couches. Most of the tables made charging easy with power ports and wireless charging. However, the lobby contained no sound-absorbing materials — which was obvious to us because several kids soccer teams stayed at the hotel during our weekend stay.

Free Wi-Fi was available to all guests. While the Wi-Fi didn’t test well, we never found it to be too slow to work or watch videos that we streamed to our devices and cast to the TV.

In the lobby was a computer with a printer in a nook by the hotel’s main entrance.

An outdoor pool was open from 9:00am to 9:00pm. There were lounge chairs and tables surrounding the pool.

A 24-hour workout room was on the ground floor near the elevators. All of the equipment looked brand-new. There was an elliptical, two treadmills, an exercise bike, an exercise bench and a large workout center complete with pictures of exercises. There were also various exercise balls, kettle weights, dumbbells, yoga mats and towels.

Overall Impression
Avid is IHG’s new attempt at a functional, budget brand. A manager at this Avid property described it as a Holiday Inn Express without hot breakfast but with higher-quality mattresses. Although I generally agree with this description, Avid rooms are also more basic and practical than most Holiday Inn Express rooms — but not necessarily in a bad way.
Although this particular property has some kinks to work out — namely the humid room, air-conditioning placement and loud lobby — I’d stay at the brand again. It satisfied my main requirements of functional design, usable Wi-Fi, friendly staff and affordability. That said, there’s nothing luxurious about a stay at Avid — except perhaps the comfortable mattress — so it’s best for stays where all you want is a clean and comfortable place to lie your head at night.