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Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Schooner Motel, Madeira Beach, Florida

Y'all might be wondering why I happen to have photos of the food we ate on vacation.  The answer is a little dull, but I'll tell you anyway.  Walker really wanted me to do some reviews.

The thing is, when I plan a trip for myself or someone else, I rely pretty heavily on reviews, most of which I get from blog posts.  I look for posts by people who live in the area we're planning to visit.  Hey, if the locals love the food, or put their family members in that hotel, you know it's good.

For all that I love reading reviews, I have mixed feelings about writing them.  Why?  Cause I don't want to screw with someone's business.  If everything is great, no problem.  But if things aren't so good.....You know, anyone can have an off day.  We mostly try to avoid chain type places in favor of local restaurants, and if there is a family run motel or a private condo, we choose that over a big chain place.  So, you know, if they're short staffed or have new employees or whatever, it has a bigger impact.  I don't want to assume that the service is generally terrible if our waitress is lacking.  That sort of thing.

Having said all that, I'm going to go ahead and post a review of our motel on Madeira Beach, Florida.  We've stayed several times, so I think we have a pretty good idea of what to expect. 

The Schooner Motel is a small facility located directly on Madeira Beach.  That was the big selling point the first time we stayed there.  The parking lot is very small, maybe a dozen spaces.  There is no street parking in front of the motel, but they do have an additional lot across the street, which is unpaved.  The street has fairly heavy traffic, but half a block from the motel they have pedestrian crossing lights. Right next door to the motel is a public parking lot and public beach access.

The motel itself is older.  While it could use some serious updating, the rooms have always been very clean.  I can't imagine what it takes to keep beach sand and bugs at bay, so I'm always impressed with the cleanliness.  The front desk staff is very friendly and will always answer questions about where to eat, what to do, et cetera.  On the other hand, you have to be buzzed into the lobby, even during business hours, and the office closes at 9pm.  I'm not sure what they do if you have a late arriving flight.  I would imagine someone would come to meet you.

Walker and I have always rented an efficiency, with a small kitchenette and a beautiful view of the Gulf of Mexico.  As I said, the room decor is quite outdated.  The very tiny bathrooms are done in pink tile, the dressers are worn, and the beds are quite soft.  We also had a table with two chairs and a small sofa. There are end tables with lamps on either side of the bed. The kitchenette has all the basics for a short stay: dorm fridge, microwave, dishes and utensils, coffee maker, toaster.

Outside, there's a shared patio with umbrella tables, plenty of chairs, and barbeque grills.  We generally grill a time or two but this trip, due to rain, we did not.  The patios are swept every morning, and each table and chair is wiped down.  The beach is also raked clean by a tractor of sorts that sifts any debris out of the sand.  The motel is pet friendly, and they keep beach toys on hand for the kids ~ all you have to do is ask for them.  There is a very small pool at the building next door, which is owned by the Schooner Motel.  That pool did not seem to be heated.  Next door to that is the third Schooner building and an even smaller pool.  That one has always been warm when we've visited, including this trip, when the weather was much cooler than normal.

We go on vacation to spend time on the beach, to shop, to play golf, not to sit in the room.  The decor and furnishings did not bother us one bit.  This trip, however, we had a few issues with our room.  The biggest problem was that the bathroom fan did not work.  There was a smoke detector mounted on the wall outside the bathroom and it went off every time one of us showered.  Since Walker was getting up very early - 5ish - to play golf, this was a concern for us as we didn't want to disturb the neighbors.  So, I would open the windows and turn on the ceiling fan, while Walker made sure to keep the bathroom door shut tight.  Which presented another problem: the bathroom door knob was loose.  Very loose. Not loose as in coming out of the door, but loose as in, you turn the knob and it just keeps going.  It didn't catch right away.   It took some fancy jiggling to get it open.  I was pretty convinced that while Walker was on the golf course I would end up locked in the bathroom, stuck until he got back. Lucky for me, that didn't happen.  The other problem we had was that in order to open the windows, we had to jiggle them as well.  The frames are quite bent.  The bent frames also mean that the windows don't stay open unless you prop them.  I used empty water bottles.  It worked but, really?  Not the greatest impression.

The bottom line for us is, we would not consider the Schooner to be our first choice when we visit Madeira Beach again.  We will keep an eye on the website, and hopefully they will make repairs and updates at some point.  If not, I doubt we would stay there again.

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