Oasis on the River A review of Amway Grand Plaza Hotel
Having visited family around Grand Rapids for many years, I drove past the Amway Grand 100 times without even knowing that it was a hotel. The tower part of the hotel, a simple 80's looking glass sky scraper with an angled top, is the tallest building in the city's small sky line. I always assumed the building to be nothing more than office space. But last year, I needed a place a stay while attending a wedding, and I thought I'd give the Grand a try.The Grand is a pretty large hotel, originally built in the 1900's. But it has been updated (hence the glass tower) over the years and still lives up to the standards that it was originally known for. Upon check-in, we realized that we were booked for a smoking room (my mistake). We went to the room and within 5 minutes, my eyes were watering and my throat was burning...I had never experienced the effects of "left-over" smoke like this (and I used to be a smoker!). I might as well have been sitting in a room full of people puffing away in my face. Also, we could see that house keeping had hastily cleaned the room; we found pieces of food on the floor and wrappers/papers left behind in the drawers.Not entirely happy with our accommodations, we went downstairs for dinner and stopped by the front desk on our way. We asked if they could possibly get us into a cleaner, non-smoking room. But the hotel was full because of several weddings/conventions, so our chances looked bleak. After a minute of searching, the very nice lady at the desk upgraded us to a Tower Club room (private floor), where they still had non-smoking rooms available.The new room was great. Moderately sized, with a wonderful view of the adjacent river. Everything was clean, and the room was well stocked with towels, toiletries, etc...The view from the room was wonderful. From as high up as we were, a glance down made the hotel look as though it were springing up from the nearby river. We had access to the club room on our floor, where we could enjoy complimentary breakfast pastries, snacks, soft drinks/juices, etc...Or we could just enjoy the nice view and play a game of chess. The club room was well maintained; throughout the day, it was replenished with fresh-baked snacks, and in the evening, they offered hors d'oeuvres and discounted cocktails.The hotel had a well-stocked gift shop with everything the forgetful traveler could need. I recall seeing some clothing boutiques and other shops on the main level too.The restaurant we visited in the hotel was quite good. The 1913 Room (alleged to be the state's "first and only AAA 5-diamond restaurant") had a nice, old-world charm. The steaks were good cuts of aged beef...definitely above average. The service was polite and efficient, and the bill wasn't unreasonable (dinner, drinks, and dessert for two was probably around $100).In the lounge at top of the hotel, we enjoyed a reasonably priced bottle of champagne while people watching those who were out for an evening on the town. Since we were there late, the crowd (less than a dozen people) was tame and quiet. Once again, great views of the city abounded from our comfy lounge chairs.From the hotel, we walked into Grand Rapids' quaint city life. Several bars and nightclubs were within walking distance, and the neighborhood's friendly, small-town feel gave us no reservations about venturing out onto the night streets.All together, our stay at the Amway Grand was quite memorable. I was surprised to find such a well-kept, well-appointed hotel in the building that I had seen from the freeway for so many years. Everything was top-notch and I would recommend it to anybody who finds themselves traveling in the Grand Rapids area.