Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Hiawassee "Budget" Inn

As we drove through town on our way to the Hiawassee Inn, we passed a nice Holiday Inn Express as well as a Ramada Inn.  They look nice, but the Hiawassee Inn got several "thumbs up" from other AT hikers so I figured it was the place to stay if hiking the trail.  As we turn into the entrance of the Hiawassee Inn, this was probably the first point of the trip that Bruce finally began to quietly question my superb planning abilities.  Why again are we not staying at the Holiday Inn Express?... Well, this place only charges $40 per night for hikers and my shuttle driver knows where it is... it has met all of my requirements.

We unload our gear and remind Gene to pick us back up in the morning around 8:00 a.m. for the 8 mile ride over to the beginning of our hike, Unicoi Gap.  Bruce and I make our way into the "office" of the hotel which at first seemed rather deserted.  After a minute, out comes the "manager de jour" in charge of the Hiawassee Inn.  I tell the manager that I called a couple of days ago and made a reservation for two nights.  This is usually the point that most front desk clerks begin frantically typing on their keyboards for 5 minutes before eventually handing over the swipe key cards to the room... that didn't happen.  He simply said, "uh...okay, are you paying with cash or credit card"?  Although I typically use a credit card in these situations, I suddenly had an eerie thought of spending several hours on the phone with American Express trying to identify all of the extra charges that were on my bill. It only took me two seconds to respond... "Oh, I'll be paying cash for both nights... it's $40 per night, right?"  Here is where he really got me thinking...  The manager responds, "Yeah, but I tell you what... since you are paying cash, I'll take $100 total for both nights".  I then proceed to stare at the manager for about 7 seconds while I wait for him to figure out that $40 x 2 nights = $80.  If you have never stared at someone for 7 seconds in complete silence... try it sometime... its longer than you think.  After all, he obviously doesn't realize who he is dealing with... I'm the son of a math teacher and the proud recipient of a solid "C" average in every math course I ever took.  I then calmly respond, "I think $80 is better".  As I hand over my $80, he mumbles something about the lady that took my reservation must have given me the "winter" hiker rates so he will honor what she told me.  Easy mistake... after all it is August.  We collect our key and head over to our "Presidential Suite".
Here is a helpful tip for any of you that research the internet looking for that perfect hotel... if "private bathroom" and "hot water" are listed as amenities... keep looking.  I'm surprised they didn't go ahead and list "beds" and "electricity" as some of the other amenities.  Oh well, we are only staying two nights... how bad can it be.