Review of the Sheraton Suites Hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

For the week we were in Ohio for my brother's wedding, we stayed at the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. The hotel was memorable, both for its good experiences and bad.

The Good

  1. The lobby is clean and nice, but not gaudy.

  2. There's an indoor pool, which, while not spectacular, was plenty fine for Anthony to enjoy himself in. Towels were provided, which was a nice plus.

  3. It's the most expensive hotel in the area, and has a reputation to match. When you mention to the local folk that you're staying at the Sheraton in Cuyahoga Falls, the reply is invariably “oh, that must be nice!”

  4. Its location has some picturesque views. Here's a picture of Anthony on a balcony accessed by a somewhat hidden “not an exit, no reentry” doorway from the pool. (We propped the door open with a chair so that we could get back in.)

    A nice view from a "hidden" back balcony at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, a hotel having the most unbelievably dumpy rooms.

    As an aside, the water might look a bit dingy and gross in this picture, but that's because it is. It's the kind of dingy that comes from pollution, not from silt being stirred up on a stormy day. This is, after all, the Cuyahoga River, famous for its tendency to catch fire. Anyway, I digress, as this has little to do with the hotel.

  5. The staff was always polite.

  6. Again on the location, across the street is the Falls River Square, which includes an “interactive fountain” of water jets that squirt straight up at unpredictable times and heights, much to the delight of kids running in and around them.

    Anthony playing at the Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio "Falls River Square" fountain

    Here's Anthony just as a whole set of jets had started to squirt — he hadn't even had time to notice and react. Moments later, he was cowering, half in shear delight and half in shock at being surprised.

  7. A few days before we arrived, they sent email with the five-day weather forecast. I thought that was a nice touch.

  8. The fruit plate we order via room service was excellent. It was all very fresh, and very tasty.

    A tasty fruit plate, a bright spot at an otherwise dumpy
       Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
  9. They couldn't provide us a humidifier, but did have box fans we could use. These were very helpful.

  10. Another nice touch is that they email a copy of your bill, for your records.

  11. Parking is free. Having paid up to $43/night extra for parking (on top of a $250/night room rate) at other places, free parking is appreciated.

  12. There's a mini little store where you can buy snacks and such, and while it's not open late at night, the front-desk staff can access it any time to get you what you need. That's convenient.

  13. They're generous with the towels. We tended to keep the “do not disturb” sign on the door at all times, and had the room serviced only a few times during the stay. One byproduct of not having the room serviced was that we would run out of towels. The first time I asked for extra towels, they brought a huge bag full that ended up lasting the week.

The Bad

  1. The rooms were absolute dumps. I've not seen as crappy a room even in a no-name offramp motel. There were water stains at various places on the ceiling, and dirty scuffs all over the walls. The wallpaper, pedestrian and uninspiring at its best, was stained and peeling all over. Here's a representative view right above the entrance:

    Peeling wallpaper and ugly drywall work at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    Here's the view from the bed in the (quoting from their web site) “self-indulgent bedroom:”

    Poor maintenance evident in and dirty, ugly room at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    The ugly-looking panel sticking out slipshod like a sore thumb was the maintenance access to the air conditioner unit, and was just gross, surrounded by peeling wallpaper, dust, and Lord knows what:

    Ewwwww!
    Ewwwww!

    The bottom stuck out about an inch from the wall, and was held in tenuously by a big nasty drywall screw:

    Yuck!
    Yuck!

    Here's what the front of the minibar looked like after we cleared it out (we got rid of everything so we could use the fridge for milk and such):

    Ewwwww!
    Ewwwww!

    The vanity area had it's own panel sticking out:

    Poor maintenance and at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    I'm only on the first “Bad” bullet, but I can't stress enough how depressing abandoned this room was. The carpets, clearly cheap and industrial when new, were now dingy, sticky, and plain gross. (“Gross” seems to be a developing theme here.) The clear lack of quality evident in every aspect of the room, and its maintenance just screamed “dump”.

    It wasn't just our room, either. I'd had the opportunity to see their premier $355/night “VIP Multi-Level Suite”, and it was not in any way better.

    The reason we got to see that “VIP” (Very Icky Place?) room is a mini story all it's own:

    I'd reserved what they call a “Penthouse Suite”, which, as their web site says, are supposed to be “ideal for discriminating guests or long-term guests who prefer to set up residential-type arrangements.” It had a full kitchen and such, which we'd find convenient.

    Anyway, when we'd first arrived and were loading all our luggage into the room, I was surprised to find that the “penthouse suite” was in the basement. I didn't realize it until writing this post that they'd screwed up and put us in the wrong type of room, the aforementioned “VIP suite.”

    Spending the amount we were, I'd had high hopes for a really spectacular room, but within seconds of walking in, it was painfully clear that the room was spectacularly bland and dumpy. It was supposed to have been a big surprise for Fumie, but instead I felt the need to apologize. This apology was within the first 20 seconds of entering — that's how clearly bad it was.

    Despite the mistake in putting us into the wrong type of room, because it's a more expensive room some might consider it an upgrade, but I'd wanted the “Penthouse suite” because of it's more residential-oriented amenities. But as I mentioned, I didn't realize it at the time that it was the wrong type of room, and in any case, we didn't stay there more than a few minutes.

    Before we even had all the luggage in, I noticed that the bathroom floor was covered with water dripping from a stained, wet ceiling. I found out later that someone had left a shower running two floors above, and it had dripped and seeped through two bathrooms on its way down to us. Ugh.

    They moved us to a different room, and at our request, to a single-level room. Fumie had worried about Anthony and the stairs. We ended up in room 325.

    It was virtually impossible to use the water in the kitchenette sink. Turning the handle resulted in a startling, bone-rattling, teeth-jarring water knocking that could be heard many rooms away, I'm sure. (I'm sure because we could hear the same type of knocking from other rooms.) I've certainly seen water-knocking problems before, but this was the worst I've ever seen by an order of magnitude. The cold water tap in the vanity area had a similar, but much less pronounced problem. The hot-water tap, at least, could be used without waking up the folks next door.

    That was the first “bad” bullet — dumpy rooms.

  2. These “luxury suites” were “appointed” with cheap crap. Here's the microwave oven:

    The cheap microwave oven placed on an even cheaper, sagging shelf at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
    The cheap microwave oven at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    The curve to the shelf is not lens distortion — it was just sagging.

    The microwave itself was clearly state-of-the-art, allowing for fine-grained timing control as fine as down to the minute:


    There were two TVs, both of which were equally pedestrian. No DVD player. (But you could watch movies on demand, for a $10 fee, of course.).

    There was almost no storage space. The vanity area had two empty drawers, and three others filled with pillows and blankets and such, a small (5-foot-wide?) closet to hang things, two small bedside tables, and the thin pencil drawer of the writing desk. That's it — that's the storage space for a room advertised to handle up to six people. Thus, we mostly lived out of the suitcases, and things were in disarray the whole time.

    The poorly-designed Hamilton Beach Aroma Elite cofee maker that
   tends to spill its coffee all over the floor, at the Sheraton Suites
   hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    The coffee maker in the kitchenette had a tendency to leak:

    • The first time I used it, things went fine. Coffee good.
    • The second time I used it, I found that about 2/3rd of the coffee had spilled out and all over the counter and floor. “Ooops,” I thought, I'll have to pay more attention next time.
    • I was very careful the next time, to place the pot exactly under the drip, yet returned to find again that about 2/3rd of the coffee had not found its way into the pot. Now I was starting to understand why the carpet and floor was so yucky, at least in this area.
    • The next and final time I tried to use it, I kept close watch on it from start to finish, and it quickly became apparent that it's just a moronic design. The coffee is supposed to drip onto a raised bulge in the pot's lid, down the edges of the bulge and through some holes in the lid, into the pot. But it's just as easy for the coffee to miss the holes and pour off the lid, onto the burner, then overflow onto the counter and destinations south. What a stupid design.

    It's not the hotel's fault that this Hamilton Beach Aroma Elite coffee maker has a design flaw, but it's the hotel's fault for keeping them. It was clear that my overflows weren't the first this room had seen (just as it was clear that this room hadn't seen much in the way of competent cleaning), so why do they keep them?

    Anyway, there was nothing in or about the room that was any better than what one might find at a garage sale in the middle-to-low rent section of town. The fridge didn't even have a freezer section.

    A lamp on one of the bedside tables had a broken bulb socket, so that its top half (and the bulb) were hanging sideways by the exposed high-voltage wires connecting it to the lower-half of the socket and the lamp proper. Luckily, I found this before Anthony did.

    That was “bad” bullet point #2.

  3. There were ants.

    Actually, since Anthony enjoyed watching them, perhaps I should file this in the “good” section?.

  4. As I mentioned, the fruit plate was wonderful in every respect, but it took over an hour to arrive. We were going to leave for the airport once we were done eating, so its taking so long was inconvenient. They promise that room service will arrive within 30 minutes, so after an hour when I called to ask about its status, they apologized and said that it would be free. (It arrived soon after the phone call.) Still, they charged us for it anyway, after the fact.

  5. The staff was universally polite, but not universally clueful. For example, two times I had to talk to the Front Desk while Fumie and/or Anthony was sleeping (once because of problems with the thermostat, and another because the free internet was asking for $10 before it would let me connect), I left explicit instructions not to be called back because people were sleeping in the room and the extremely loud ringer would wake them. I made it clear that I would call back if the issue didn't resolve itself.

    Both times, of course, they called back. The second time I was furious, and asked “what about DO NOT CALL didn't you understand?” to which Erica replied “well, I just wanted to make sure your service worked.” Sigh, that's why I said that I would call back if it didn't resolve itself. Instead, she woke up my sleeping three-year old.

    We kept the “do not disturb” sign on the door pretty much the whole time, unless we explicitly asked for the room to be cleaned. Our jet lag was really playing havoc with our schedules, and 2pm could find us just going to bed as easily as just waking up. So housekeeping called to effectively say “you have the 'do not disturb' sign, so we wanted to disturb you to see if the room should be cleaned.” Sigh, which word of DO NOT DISTURB didn't she understand?

  6. They have the most ridiculous “energy management system.” The thermostat on the wall is simplicity itself — there's a temperature readout and two buttons to adjust the temperature up or down. Four minutes after making an adjustment to whatever temperature you think you'll like, it reverts to its default of 72F.

    Let me say that again: when you adjust the temperature, the heater or air conditioner moves into action, but four minutes later, the “target temperature” reverts to 72F.

    We froze the first night. The next day, once I realized that the temperature was getting reset, I called to report it broken, but they told me that it's suppose to be that way. This, in itself, just boggled my mind.

    It turns out that they can control things from their computer, and so she could set it so that it would reset after nine hours rather than 4 minutes. I thought it was ridiculous that the default wasn't nine hours to begin with, but in any case, I asked her to do it. That evening, right on schedule, it reverted to 72F as I expected, so I set it back to 78F and we went to bed.

    And we froze.

    It turns out that she did a one-time setting, not a setting that would hold until we checked out. How was that supposed to help, other than for the first day of our week-long stay? I couldn't decide which was more stupid, the original policy or the girl that “helped” us.

    Having been frozen for two nights, I was unhappy. Having to deal with moronic policy and stupid people made me unhappy. Thus, it was with some relief that the next person I talked to said that the issue could be resolved for the entire length of our stay by having maintenance visit the room and do something to the unit. Why on earth didn't the first lady suggest this?

    Two maintenance guys showed up in short order, and quietly (Anthony was sleeping) removed the groady access cover (shown above), did something inside, and replaced it (with gross dust/lint/Lordknowswhat intact), and we had no further frozen nights.

  7. The room was generally dirty (sticky floors, etc., as mentioned before). We even found multiple shards of glass on the carpet near the kitchenette. We found a pair of glasses under the bed. Don't they ever clean under there? Don't they even look under there? They were dusty, so I suspect that they'd been there for a while.

    We had the room cleaned only three times during our week-long stay. The second time was while we were at my brother's wedding. We returned exhausted from a long day to find the room almost exactly as we left it, except that one of the beds was made, we had new towels in the bathroom, and the tip I'd left on a pillow on the TV (so as to be clearly a tip) was taken.

    They didn't take the old towels. They didn't take the dirty glasses, dishes, and silverware. They didn't even move the pillow I'd put on the TV to make clear that the nice crisp bill sitting on it was a tip.

    Here's what the vanity area looked like, both before and after the “cleaning”: (Remember that there was virtually no storage space, and so we were living out of our suitcases, and thus the clutter.)

    Used towels and glassware left after a supposed "cleaning" at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    Notice the used towels and glasses? Nothing straightened?

    The cleaner of the two bed-side tables:

    A used towel and general disarray left after a supposed "cleaning" at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    The other bed is a hide-a-bed in a couch, which we'd closed with the sheets and blanket in place. They left it sitting just as it was.

    It was ridiculous. The only thing cleaned out was my wallet.

  8. Their web site fails to mention that they're essentially right next to an intersection where a train must apparently blow its horn for long durations, at frequent intervals throughout the night. They're not exactly right next to the intersection — there's a river and a major highway in between — but its really noisy. This is where the aforementioned box fans came in handy, to provide “white noise” to drown out the trains. Mostly. Perhaps the train would be less noisy in a “city-side” room.

  9. Speaking of the major highway, that's the view we got from our “riverside” room:

    Saffolding and a highway, the view from our "riverside" room at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    Our view: scaffolding and highway

      If you put your nose up against the window and looked down, past the saffolding, you could see the river. This, from our "riverside" room at the Sheraton Suites hotel, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

    If you looked way down, you could see some water.

    As an added bonus, men would appear outside our window at random times, climbing on the scaffolding. Of course, no mention was ever made by the hotel that there would be scaffolding or people outside our windows.

  10. The tap water was disgusting. The water served with room-service meals, in wonderful crystal glasses with little paper hats covering them, was the same disgusting tap water.

    I'd suspect that the crappiness of the water is the cause to both the water knocking and the poor coffee-maker performance. That's a guess, but it's certainly the cause of my spending $4 for a bottle of water from the minibar. Crappy water has its benefits (if you're hotel management).

  11. The web site says that rooms “include complimentary weekday newspaper,” and while this may be true, you also get a second paper with a sticker indicating that you're paying 35 cents extra for it, and that you should contact the front desk if you don't want it, to have 35 cents credited to your bill. So I told the front that I didn't want any paper (complimentary or not), and to their credit, they stopped leaving them in front of our door.

    However, they neglected to credit my bill, and when I brought it to their attention, they had no idea what I was talking about. I told them to read their sticker. (I don't care about 35 cents; it's the principle of the thing.)

    Soon after the call, I saw that another copy of my bill had arrived via email. I didn't look at it at the time, assuming that it was the amended bill crediting us for 35 cents a day. I found out later when I got around to looking at it that it wasn't amended to credit us for the paper, but to charge us for the room-service order (fruit plate, etc.) that was supposed to have been free.

  12. They advertise that all rooms have “deluxe amenities like computer data ports and complimentary high-speed internet access” but there were no data ports to be found. It turns out that the it's all wireless, and that if you need wired access like they advertise, you have to get a device from the front desk. The thing is, they don't have enough — I called once for something else, and thinking I was asking for one of these, they had to apologize that they didn't have any. I guess their definition of “access” is “if you're lucky.”

    The access, if you do get it, is via some strange gateway. You have to go through several web-site pages, clicking on “free access”, before you get full access. Besides being a hassle, this means that non-browser internet appliances, like my Vonage phone, can't be used. That just sucks.

  13. They advertise that “hotel guests enjoy complimentary high-speed internet access in the lobby, lounge, restaurant and all guest suites.” That's not true: I don't know about the restaurant, but if you try to access the Internet from the lobby, you're required to pay $10.

  14. When it was time for us to escape leave, I called ahead and asked for help with the luggage. (We had a lot of luggage.) It was 11am on a Sunday, so I expected that we'd probably have to wait a bit, but I didn't expect to have to wait half an hour. After half an hour, I just started making trips to the car. It turns out that while I expected that luggage carts might be in high demand during checkout time, the hotel neglected to think about it as they apparently have only five luggage carts to service the entire 209 “luxury suites.”

    On my third trip to the car, I noticed an empty luggage cart sitting where they park them. I had to remind them that we were waiting. Perhaps they forgot. They eventually made the last trip for me. For reasons I can't understand, I still tipped them. I guess I'm the dummy here.

There are so many more things I could complain about with this hotel, but probably shouldn't.

I shouldn't complain about the fire alarm having gone off one day. It was probably a kid playing a prank, or something like that, for which the hotel would certainly be blameless. Still, knowing how well the rooms are maintained, and how clean they're kept, it wouldn't surprise me to find out that the fire alarm was triggered by rats in their kitchen. I don't know.

I shouldn't complain that a 1-liter bottle of water is four dollars, or that you have to pay $10 per day to listen to the in-room music, or that they charged us more than the going rate for the new room we were moved to when our original had water dripping from the ceiling. Exorbitant fees at every corner is standard practice these days, even for a dump like the Sheraton in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Overall we enjoyed the trip — my brother's wedding and seeing family — but I don't think we'll be staying in a Sheraton again any time soon.


All 4 comments so far, oldest first...

Jeff–FYI
Coincidentally, this week’s Crain’s Cleveland Business listed the area’s 23 largest conference centers, ranked by meeting space. The Sheraton Suites is No. 22 with 19,000 sq. feet. BUT–it ranks NO. 3 in the number of 2005 business events, and with only 14 conference/meeting rooms, they had 1,300 events. The Holiday Inn/Independence had 5,000; Bertram Inn & Conference Center/Aurora had 1,500. All others never came close! Of course, the Cleveland Convention Ctr. and the IX Ctr. had only 19 and 50 events respectively, but attendance at their events total in the thousands, e.g., car show, boat show, etc., etc.
“Other business services listed” at the Sheraton include: High-speed internet, riverside meeting rooms, full-service catering.
So perhaps all those business conferences and meeting attendees helped to trash the facilities since their companies are paying them to be there!!

— comment by Aunt Jeannette on August 3rd, 2006 at 1:29am JST (11 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

Thanks so much for this review!!! Now I know how it is in the rest of the hotel. I have been living in this hotel since Mid May and will be here until early October.

My room has a few flaws, but only one that you named is really true in my case. That was the coffee maker. It is a piece of crap. I gave up after 3 tries. In fact, I made a very detailed note to the maid that I did not want decaf coffee, yet every day there was a fersh packet of it. I started to move it to the counter and lever it there asking to give it to a good home, yet every evening, it was back where they put it.

I had a few issues with the heating/cooling. I like the room to be at 68, AND have the window open, yet I would find that they would either close my window or set the temp back to 72. Finally they gave in.

they like to play games with the alarm clock and move it around so that you can not see it from the bed.

Oh, FYI, I am in a penthouse (2-level) suite. It is nice and clean and only minimal stains on the carpet. There was a broken tall swivel chair that I asked to be fixed or removed for a month before they finally got rid of it.

In these rooms, they give you a daily ration of 2 bottles of water, to which I place in the fridge and stock up on.

So far, I like this place. It has a few flaws, it is certainly not as bad as some other places I have stayed over the years.

lastly, we (there are 4 of us) have a great rate here. We are paying about $95 a night for these large nice rooms, but that is what you get when you can stay for months at a time.

— comment by John P on August 15th, 2006 at 9:24am JST (11 years, 4 months ago) comment permalink

I was the Night Manager at the Sheraton Suites Cuyahoga Falls about ten years ago and its sad to see not much has changed. I could write a book on how not to manage a hotel just on my experience with this property alone. Its a shame too. This hotel had so much potential when it was first built but the owners never had the right management team in place.

— comment by Mike on April 18th, 2007 at 5:32am JST (10 years, 8 months ago) comment permalink

That was an interesting read, thank you for posting it. I don’t go to hotels much, and definitely not expensive ones when I do. I live around the corner from the Sheraton, on the other side of the tracks about half a mile down the road. In the summer I go on long walks which usually take me past the front of it.

I’ve always wondered about that place … the outside always looked dirty. They let those flags out front get really filthy before they clean them. And one day I walked past I saw a pretty teenage girl in a hotel uniform pulling weeds from the cracks in the sidewalk with a screwdriver and her bare hands. She was in the kind of uniform you see the inside staff wearing. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Shouldn’t they hire a gardner for that? Or spring for some weed killer … or at least give her some gloves??? And who would build a nice hotel on that yucky river? I live upwind of it, but occasionally the wind shifts, and when it does it stinks really bad. I can’t believe you didn’t mention the noise from one of their infamous Front Street concerts. They’re nice if you’re visiting, but a pain if you live close by and are trying to put a child to sleep. Even our house, at a distance, vibrates sometimes from the noise.

Oh, and I’m so happy to hear that you enjoyed our local water! Actually, you’ll be happy to hear that they do not suck it out of the river. Cuyahoga Falls has it’s own water company, and water supply. They get it from a series of wells. Of course the wells I’ve seen are within 100 yards of the river, so I’m not sure if that matters. I think they save money treating it by dumping large amounts of cholorine into it. Some days it’s just like drinking pool water. And the funniest thing is that the city of Kent, only a few miles away, has been voted a number of years in a row to have the best tasting water in the country.

— comment by Laura on May 23rd, 2007 at 6:03am JST (10 years, 7 months ago) comment permalink
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