Cheap hotels make happy shareholders

Posted on Jan 25, 2005

The last few times I’ve visited the Bay area the Sheraton in Palo Alto has been my home. It’s a nice hotel - comfortable clean rooms, (wired) internet access and the kitchen produces good breakfasts and dinners. Two minutes of walking brings you from the hotel to the centre of Palo Alto and it’s about ten minutes drive to the Sun Menlo Park office.

In an effort to reduce costs, hence improving shareholder value, hence retaining employment, this time I’m staying at the Homestead Studio Suites in Mountain View. The room costs about a third the price of the Sheraton, though you obviously lose out on a few amenities: no room service, housekeeping twice a week rather than every day, etc. Internet access is provided for $3.99 for the duration of your stay (compared with something like $15 a week at the Sheraton). A wireless network is provided, which is nice, except for the fact that in my room my Powerbook struggles to hold on to a signal if I wander around. That’s a common problem with the original Powerbook though, so it’s difficult to blame the hotel.

The room itself is perfectly adequate. It’s nice to have a proper fridge for storing juice, etc., especially given that you’ll be making your own breakfast. So far I’ve not used the microwave or cooking rings, but perhaps if I was here a little longer I’d get to it.

Eating at the Sheraton can be an expensive business. It’s easy to spend over $30 on dinner and visiting a local restaurant seldom results in a bill smaller than that. Alternatively, Pizza Hut and KFC provide a decent meal for around $10, but it gets boring after a couple of days (that said, I did eat steak three successive evenings last time I was here).

The location, somewhat further from our Menlo Park facility, has actually not proven to be a real issue, particularly as I’ve spent a couple of days at the Santa Clara office. The Homestead suites is about mid-way between the two. This has provided an opportunity to drive up and down El Camino Real once or twice (whilst off to pay homage at Fry’s). The view from the car along El Camino is pretty depressing. It’s hard to tell any part of a 40 mile stretch from another. Driving along in the early evening is a bit better, as the variety of neon on show lends a certain interest, but still awful.

In contrast the Sun Santa Clara campus is wonderful. Driving around Network Circle after hoofing down 101 is immediately calming.

It will be interesting to see the difference in the overall expense for the trip when I get home. The air fare and car rental should be about the same, so it’s unlikely to be half the cost, but the difference will be significant.