Local

Weekend Travel

Steven and I went to my first ever Auburn game over the weekend and we had a blast!!! Auburn won which made the day even better for me! We spent the weekend in Auburn and stayed at this little hotel called the University Inn. It is right in the heart of downtown Auburn and near everything.

I was skeptical at first as the hotel has some pretty awful reviews, but ultimately I decided that even if it was absolutely terrible it was just a place to sleep and didn’t really matter. I wasn’t surprised by the caliber of the rooms or the parking lot, but what I was amazed by was the fact that the owners are sitting on a gold mine and not doing anything to fix it up. That being said, I am taking this post to a place where I have never gone before….hotel consulting. (insert dramatic music here)

The first thing you have to understand about this location is a 14 minute walk (approximately 1 mile) from Jordan Hare Stadium, home of the Auburn Tigers. 

There is only one other hotel closet than the University Inn. The other hotel is a 3 star hotel. They have tons of room and have an amazing location. If the University Inn were a restaurant, Guy Fieri from Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives would do a feature on it.

Depending on the website you visit the hotel has between 41 – 46 rooms. There are several issues, but I think the greater majority of the challenges at this hotel are cosmetic. Yes, there are some construction issues as well, but I’ll get to that.

The number one thing that should be addressed is the electrical needs upgraded. In our room there were a total of 3 outlets. Each of the outlets in the main room were over loaded and one actually had an extension cord hooking the mini fridge, microwave, TV, and a lamp all to out outlet. The second outlet in the main room had two lamps plugged in. The other outlet was in the bathroom sink/closet area. We also found that the overhead light in the bathroom sink/closet area was a “recent” addition. They had installed a long florescent type light over the sink, however there was once upon a time a different kind of light there and the hole for the wires was still visible. To be able to plug in our phone chargers we had to unplug lamps.

The stairs heading up to our room gave me a sense of vertigo. There were uneven and shook in some places. The building itself needs painted and some upgrades to the wiring (there were cables and wires all clearly visible in the breezeway).

The parking lot could use some could also use some work (repaved, striped, reconfigured).

The tubs and showers need replaced and retiled. The tub in our bathroom looked like it had been painted. It had a teeny tiny shower head that barely put out any water. There were 3 different kinds of tiles on the walls. The floors in the bathroom and sink areas are clearly stick down “wood look” planks. There were very cheap and uneven to walk on. The sink/vanity itself needs updating and was stained. The toilet was a commercial style toilet that you would expect to see restaurant, not what you would expect to see in a hotel.

 

The floor in the main room was uneven, but the carpet appeared to be relatively new.

That covers the greatest majority of the “construction” things. Depending on the electrical this should cost approximately $46,000. I estimated high on quite a bit, but still $1,000/room to bring it up to standard isn’t bad. I also got estimates from my friends and contacts in the business. The Inn would have to be able to use my contacts to get some of these rates.

After that it’s all the “fluff”, the cosmetic/decor stuff (and the amenities).

In our room there was a table that we used as a night stand on one side of the bed, nothing on the other side. There was a desk, double dresser, two side chairs, and the mini fridge “holder”. The TV sat on top of the double dresser. There were two side lamps and one touchier type lamp. There were 2 generic “flowery/pastel” pieces of art.

As for upgrades, I don’t think the bed was that bad, the mattress slept fine and the headboard was ok. The linens (both on the bed and the bath linens) desperately need upgraded. There should be a side table for both sides of the bed in a King room and one in the middle for a double room. The dresser was cheap and the laminate was pealing. None of the furniture matched.

I think the artwork should be changed out to something that would depict the fact that this is an Auburn hotel. The hotel is less than a block away from Toomer’s Corner. If the owner took pictures around town and framed them, this would be perfect art for the rooms. As for the linens, I would monopolize on the burnt orange and navy of the Auburn colors. Navy bedspreads with burnt orange throw pillows. Upgrade the sheets and the towels. As for the rest of the furnishings in the room I would choose one style and go with it.

The overall decor upgrades should cost approximately another $65,000. Again I estimated high. And again, I used my friends and contacts in the design and decor industry. I also didn’t include the price of a coffee maker per room, which they could desperately use.

Now I know what you’re saying. “Carol, that’s $111,000 just in upgrades and repairs. How could they ever recoup that cost?”

The current base rate for a room on a football weekend is $220. They have a 2 night minimum stay requirement which means that each football weekend each room brings in approximately $440. This season alone, Auburn has 7 home games. If they sold out the hotel (which it usually is) for each of those games, that brings in a total of $141,680.

There are hotels in the area that are charging $300 – $400 a night with a 2 night minimum stay. If University Inn did some of the upgrades I’ve mentioned they could continue to charge the regular $220. But if they did all the upgrades I’ve listed, installed coffee makers in each room, and had a better breakfast offering (instead of day old honey buns and bottom of the pot coffee) the Inn could charge at least $300 if not more.

Yes, I know it’s a lot of up front cost, but ultimately the return would be amazing and it would pay for itself in one football season.

Summer Fun Passes at the Montgomery Zoo

Take advantage of the Summer Fun Pass, only $10
Enjoy the Summer Fun Pass at the Montgomery Zoo.  Only $10 per person (with paid or member admission), and receive UNLIMITED train and skylift adventure rides, plus receive one Giraffe Encounter Post ticket on the date of purchase.  WOW!  What a bargain!  What a deal!  Ride the train and skylift adventure rides as many times as you like during that same day visit, plus get the adventure of a lifetime by visiting the Giraffe Encounter Post, literally being inches away from our herd of reticulated giraffes.  What an awesome experience!

This is a limited offer for the Summer of 2017, valid only Monday, July 10 – Monday, September 4, 2017.  There are no ride substitutions, and tickets may only be used on the day of purchase.  Enjoy the Summer Fun Pass at the Montgomery Zoo.

Summer Fun Passes fee: $10 per person, (with paid or member admission) only valid on the same day of purchase.  No substitutions, no refunds and/or rain checks.  Summer Fun Passes must be purchased at the Zoo or Mann Museum admissions office.  Tickets may not be purchased at the individual rides and/or encounters

For more info click here.

Entertainment Books Only $7 Each + FREE Shipping

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For a limited time only, you can grab the 2017 Entertainment Book for only $7.00 shipped (Reg. $35). Just go HERE, select your state and city and add an Entertainment Book to your cart. Even better you can get an extra 20% Off when you order 2 or more books by using the code SUMMER20 at checkout to get the discount.

There are savings for dining out, shopping, travel, movies and more so you can easily save over the amount of the cost of one book using just one coupon inside the Entertainment Book! This deal ends soon, and some areas may sell out, so check it out soon if you have interest!

Sunday Fun Day 7/16/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday Fun Day

We try to do something extra special with the munchkin at least once a week. This week he wanted to go Ice Skating. Yes, believe me, I know how weird that sounds to go ice skating in the Summer in Alabama, but our Mall has an ice rink. Off we go!

This was his first time EVER skating on ice so it was definitely an adventure. It only costs $8 including skate rental for you to be able to skate for 2 hours. Friendly note: The Ice Palace is CASH ONLY! Who know such a place still existed in this electronic world?

All things considered, he didn’t do too bad. He only fell 3 times.

He also has decided that he wants to take skating lessons. I somehow don’t see that one happening. He bounces from interest to interest, but we’ll see.

 

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.

Tax Free Weekends

Can you believe Back to School time is almost here again? For more savings on all the supplies you need, you might want to take advantage of the Tax Free Weekend offered in participating states.

Check out the list of Tax Free weekend dates, and mark your calendars! It does tend to get a bit crowded, but it might be worth it, depending on what’s on your shopping list.

Note: Georgia and North Carolina are not having Tax Free Weekends this year.

Before shopping, print out the BACK TO SCHOOL BUY PRICE LIST.

Tax Free Weekend

ALABAMA: 7/21-7/23
Clothing ($100 or less), Computers ($750 or less)
School supplies ($50 or less), Books ($30 or less)

ARKANSAS: 8/5-8/6
Clothing ($100 or less), School Supplies

CONNECTICUT: 8/20-8/26
Clothing and Footwear (less than $100 ea.)
(official dates have not been released but it is assumed…)

FLORIDA: 8/4-8/6
Clothing ($60 or less), School Supplies ($15 or less)
Computers ($750 or less)

IOWA:  8/4-8/5
Clothing & footwear ($100 or less)

LOUSIANA: 8/4-8/5
First $2500 of personal property taxed at only 3% rate

MARYLAND: 8/13-8/19
Clothing & Footwear ($100 or less)

MISSISSIPPI: 7/28-7/29
Clothing & Footwear ($100 or less)

MISSOURI: 8/4-8/6
Clothing ($100 or less), Computers ($3,500 or less)
School Supplies ($50 or less)

NEW MEXICO: 8/4-8/6
Clothing & Shoes ($1oo or less), Computers ($1,000 or less)
Computer Software and Accessories ($500 or less)
School Supplies ($30 or less)

OHIO: 8/4-8/6
Clothing ($75 or less), School Supplies ($20 or less)

OKLAHOMA: 8/4-8/6
Clothing & footwear ($100 or less)

SOUTH CAROLINA: 8/4-8/6
Clothing & Footwear, Computers
School Supplies, Bed & Bath Linens
(no price limits)

TENNESSEE: 7/28-7/30
Clothing ($100 or less), Computers ($1,500 or less)
School Supplies ($100 or less)

VIRGINIA: 8/4-8/6
Clothing & Shoes ($1oo or less), School Supplies ($20 or less)
Hurricane Prep Items & Energy Star Appliances

School Supply Buy list

Image result for back to school supply

The back to school deals are starting! Pretty soon there will be a ton of deals in stores for school supplies. I wanted to give you a buy price list of what you should be looking to pay for certain items.

Although some schools haven’t put out their supply lists yet, you can guess what will be on them: pencils, markers, binders, and more. Go ahead and start buying now so you won’t have to pay top dollar the week before school starts.

Remember that you can also price match name brand items (not store brand) at Target, Staples, Toys R Us and Best Buy, so keep that in mind if some stores sell out of items.  Staples also runs a 110% PRICE MATCH POLICY with school supplies that makes for an ever better deal!

If you don’t need these items, consider donating. There are lots of kids in need and schools always welcome supplies.

Note: Some of these items can end up being much cheaper with store promos, but the prices below are the general sale prices to watch for. Get the printable list here.

Pencils, Erasers, Pens
No. 2 Pencils, 8-10 pk: 1¢-79¢
Mechanical Pencils, 10 ct: 99¢
Pencil Pouch: 1¢
Pink Erasers, 2 pk: 50¢
Pencil Top Erasers, 12 ct: 1¢
Pens, multipacks: 1¢-$1.99
Gel Pens, 2 pk: $1.50

Arts & Crafts
Crayola Crayons, 24 ct: 25¢-50¢
Crayola Markers, 10 ct: 75¢-97¢
RoseArt Markers, 10 ct: 62¢
Crayola or RoseArt Colored Pencils, 12 ct: 50¢-97¢
Watercolor Paints, 10 ct: $1

Highlighters & Sharpies
Bic Highlighter, 5 pk: $2
Sharpie Highlighter, 5 ct: $1
Sharpie Permanent Marker, 5 ct: $1.99

Notebooks
1 Subject: 17¢-49¢
3 Subject: $1.44
5 Subject: $1.88
Composition Books: 50¢-$1
Mini Composition Books: 20¢

Folders
Pocket Folders: 1¢-15¢
Poly Folders: 39¢-42¢
File Folders: 25¢

Binders
1″ Binder: 25¢-99¢
Zipper Binder: $9
Paper Clips, Pushpins or Binder Clips: 33¢-$1

Paper
Filler Paper, 100 Sheets: 25¢-75¢
Copy Paper, 500 Sheets: FREE-$1
Writing Pad, 80 Sheets – $2
Construction Paper, 100 Sheets: $1.50-$2

Index Cards
3″x5″ Lined Index Cards, 70-100 pk: 1¢-48¢

Adhesives & Staplers
Glue Sticks, 3 ct: 67¢-99¢
School Glue, 4 oz: 1¢-50¢
Scotch Invisible Tape, 3 pk: $2
Stapler: $3
Mini Stapler: $1

Scissors, Rulers, & Other Equipment
Backpacks: Up to 50% off
Protractor: $1
Scissors: $1
Ruler: 5¢-35¢
Dry Erase Marker, 4 pk: $1-$3
Manual Pencil Sharpener: 1¢-39¢
Bic Wite-Out, 2 pk: $1

Chilling with the family

Sunday fun day yesterday. Steven and I took the Munchkin to the Zoo for the afternoon. Despite the extreme heat (it is Alabama after all) we had lots of fun. Here are some pics from our visit yesterday.

 

The Montgomery Zoo has several different Pea Fowl that wander around freely. This young man walked right up to us and strutted his stuff.

 

Our new Bald Eagle exhibit. I love watching them fly around next to the pond.

There is a Lion Training session at 1:30. I was excited that we actually got to be there for this! I haven’t seen it before.

We have three Giraffes at our zoo. This is the baby being fed at the “Feed a Giraffe” area.

Then we got to Nicholas’ favorite place, Parakeet Cove.

    

Great day for animal browsing!

You can find out more about things to do at the Montgomery Zoo here  And things to do in Montgomery in general here.