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The Sheraton Roanoke has been one of my hotel choices during work trips to western Virginia. I’ve certainly not been loyal to one hotel in the area. Between varying rates that eclipsed the allocated budget and trying to maximize promotions with other chains, I’ve only stayed there 8 nights over 4 stays. Compare that to my total of 22 nights at 10 different hotels in the Roanoke area (SEE: Map of all my hotel stays).
After a more extended stay this past trip, and my first where I’ve held SPG Platinum status (SEE: Fast track status: how to sign up for a Marriott Platinum challenge), I figured I’d give the Sheraton Roanoke a review. It used to be a Category 2 SPG hotel, but has transitioned to a Category 3 hotel on the new Marriott chart. At 17,500 points, this represents an award cost increase of 5,500-8,500 Marriott points, making it one of the losers on the chart changes.
But I was paying cash instead of using points. I checked rates nearly every time I was headed to town and found that they varied between $84 (prepaid) to over $140 for a standard room.
Arriving at the Sheraton Roanoke
I’ve always arrived at the Sheraton Roanoke at night after a late flight into town. It’s usually quiet and the staff are friendly. I parked my rental car in the lot. the Sheraton Roanoke barely a 5 minute drive from the airport.
During previous visits, I’ve sometimes arrived so late that the rental car counter is closed. One of my favorite experiences during my first visit to town was actually chatting with one of the shuttle drivers. Xavier is a funny storyteller. But he isn’t ever in a hurry (case in point: he took me to Kroger one evening during my first trip to Roanoke and waited for me in the lot).
Check in was smooth and quick. The agent noted that I’d been upgraded, but didn’t mention if it was to a suite.
Lobby and public spaces
The lobby of the Sheraton Roanoke is nice enough. There is a nice area to sit in the middle near the front desk. If you’re in the mood for “fruit infused” water, they have that, too.
During my first few stays, I casually asked at the front desk about club access as a SPG American Express Business cardholder. Each time they acted surprised that this was a thing. Only once did they actually give me a key that worked at the Club, and that was after the guy went and discussed it with the manager. The other times I got a “I’ll see what I can do”, which resulted in no closure to the issue and a key that didn’t get me into the club. I never pressed the issue. It would be nice if they covered policies better (although this specific issue is now moot).
I headed to the B tower, which contains the Club rooms, the Cub itself, and the rooms designated for SPG elite members. During all but one stay I was given a room in this tower on an upper floor.
Honestly, the best views in the place are from the elevator landings in the B tower. I’m sure a few rooms have a similar one. Mine never did.
I arrived at my room and walked into a Club King Room. So much for a suite upgrade. But as a single business traveler, it wasn’t like I needed anything more than what they’d given me.
Club King Room
A Club King room at the Sheraton Roanoke is spacious and functional.
The desk, coffee maker, TV and other room amenities are all condensed along one wall.
I’ve always found Sheraton beds to be quite comfortable. This one was no exception.
While I’ve spent some evenings working from the desk in my room, I found more often than not I stuck around late at our Roanoke office instead during this trip.
There were two bottles of water waiting in the room as a SPG elite. I’m not sure if they would have been replaced each day. I didn’t find out, as I declined housekeeping every day as part of the Make a Green Choice program, pocketing 500 SPG points each night in the process. My bedding certainly didn’t need to be changed over 4 days, and towels are easy to reuse (there were a;ready three in the room).
In addition to in-room coffee, the Club room sported a mini-fridge. I’m not sure if this is a standard amenity at the hotel, or just restricted to this room type.
The bathroom is to the immediate right as you enter the room. There is no door between the room and the sink.
There is a door that separates the shower and toilet. The bath has a tub/shower combo. I prefer a tiled shower, but hey, it was clean and functional.
There were a second set of glasses with the bath amenities.
The windows in the room were large, but the view wasn’t much of anything. Through the dirty glass you can see a row of cypress trees and the roof of the Courtyard next door.
In summary, the Club room at the Sheraton Roanoke was plenty spacious, clean, and comfortable for a multi-night stay while in town for business.
Breakfast at the Sheraton Roanoke
This is the very first time I’ve used the breakfast benefit since I earned SPG Platinum status via a Marriott Platinum challenge (SEE: Fast track status: how to sign up for a Marriott Platinum challenge). I had intended to just eat in the lounge, but it turns out that due to low occupancy, the lounge was not going to be staffed, nor was food going to be brought there in the morning. So I was given both breakfast vouchers and the points as my welcome amenity.
Breakfast was at the Pi Restaurant each morning. It is a self-serve buffet, although your waiter or waitress will come bring you coffee, juice or water as requested.
The Pi Restaurant offers a decent assortment of both hot food, and fruit and pastries. I stuck to eggs and biscuits and gravy, although they could have done better on the latter, given that we’re in the south.
I had a funny exchange with a pilot while plating my breakfast one morning. He made a comment about the cardiac arrest-inducing ability of biscuits and gravy. I smiled broadly and chuckled, to which he replied, “He just laughs in the face of death. Poor soul.”
The main reason I stuck to the hot food was that none of the fruit was ever very ripe and I decided after the first day to avoid most of it. If you wanted a waffle or toast, you’d have to make it yourself.
The service was simple. The wait staff basically just seats you, serves you beverages, and then collects dishes.
The restaurant was never busy, except for Friday. Turns out the state little league championships were that weekend in Roanoke, and a few different teams (plus the kids’ families) were staying at the Sheraton Roanoke.
At the end I pulled out my SPG Business Amex card to tip the waitress, since I didn’t have any cash on me. I asked her if she could run it for that purpose. She looked sort of confused, and then told me that a tip was included in the voucher. However, the voucher very clearly states that gratuities are *not* included.
But she turned and walked away, and I had to get to work, so I decided that I wasn’t going to press the issue. She missed out on me tipping her four mornings in a row. I tried twice. I felt like a jerk, but without cash, I didn’t really know what else to do.
Sheraton Roanoke Club
Given that I was upgraded to a club room and had club access due to my SPG Platinum status, I decided to head to the club to see what it offered. The front desk had informed me that breakfast would not be served there and it would not be staffed due to low occupancy.
I did expect there might be refreshments available. Upon arriving at the club (they make it hard to find since the floor isn’t marked in the elevator), I was a bit disappointed.
There was a small cooler of drinks, and a very tiny selection of snacks.
The coffee, juice and water were all fine. But the snack selection was what made it just look sad. Even if they can’t keep it staffed, it’s pretty easy to do better than a half dozen granola bars and a few apples.
Previously, I’d eaten breakfast in the lounge when I’d been given a working key (following photos from that visit).
The food selection was similar to what is offered in the Pi Kitchen, albeit more limited.
If given the choice, I’d probably choose to eat breakfast at the hotel restaurant each morning over the lounge.
Dinner at Shula’s 347 Grill
Almost every night I ate at the restaurant located in the Sheraton Roanoke. The Pi Kitchen closes down after breakfast, and Shula’s 347 Grill is your option for both lunch and dinner. Since the Club was closed during my stay and evening snacks and drinks weren’t available there, the hotel gave me one voucher per night for an appetizer at Shula’s.
I ordered the crispy ravioli each evening, sometimes accompanied by a salad. The food at Shula’s 347 Grill in my experience is actually pretty good.
In general, I’ve not been too impressed by in-hotel restaurants, and Shula’s is among the better ones I’ve tried. Then again, we don’t tend to eat on-property, especially at high end places where the food could actually be expected to be good.
The Sheraton Roanoke has both an indoor and outdoor pool. The indoor one is fairly small.
The outdoor pool is a bit larger and has plenty of seating and tables around it. Given that my previous times at the hotel were in the middle of a cold Virginia winter, outdoor swimming wasn’t even on my radar until this trip.
The one evening I considered taking a dip in one of the pools, both of them were overrun with preteen kids. The Virginia state little league baseball tournament was in town during the latter part of the week, and it seemed like there were two entire baseball teams plus kids’ siblings in the pool each evening. I decided to pass. My kids would have been horrified. The pool is their favorite part of a hotel stay.
There is also a well-equipped fitness room. I considered spending some time there, but the decision between running on the treadmill and eating Chick-fil-A was an easy one.
There is also a business center near the lobby. Given the connectivity of people these days, it always surprises me that hotels still offer these. It would make way more sense to me to invest in much better WiFi throughout the hotel.
Things to do around Roanoke
Unfortunately, as I am always in town for business, I’ve hardly gotten to do anything in the area. The Blue Ridge area is quite beautiful, and there is plenty to do in terms of outdoor activities.
The Appalachian Trail passes close to Roanoke, and there are several sections you can hike within an easy drive. McAfee Knob, one of the most picturesque (and most photographed) spots along the trail is a 20 minute drive and 2 hour hike.
If you’re in to just driving back roads to enjoy the beauty, I recommend route 311 north toward Lewisburg, West Virginia. Of course, you can also drive the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway. If you’re feeling even more adventurous, head north to Highland County through Warm Springs. It’ll take you a couple hours, but the drive is exquisite.
Charlottesville is a couple hours, but you could get your history on at Monticello, the former estate of Thomas Jefferson. I also enjoyed walking the streets in Staunton, another historic town to the northeast.
Overall, I’ve enjoyed my stays at the Sheraton Roanoke. The hotel is a bit dated, but nice enough and plenty comfortable. I’d recommend it as a good option in the area if you’re an SPG loyalist. If not Platinum, I would suggest the Hyatt Place across the road.
Previously, I would have recommended them as one of the best points deals in the area as a Category 2 Sheraton at 3,000 points per night on weekends and 4,000 points on weekdays. But with the new Marriott award chart, the relative value (considering the nearby Hyatt is a Category 1) has decreased dramatically.
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