As we all know, the new Saline hotel will be a Best Western Premier. A lot has been written about the process of getting all sorts of ducks in a row to begin construction.
But I haven't seen anyone describe what it felt like to spend the night as a guest at one of these prestige properties. So I booked a room at the Best Western Premier in Southfield — at my own expense. During the holidays, I stayed there with my husband, Dell.
Here's what that experience was like for us.
In a word, that hotel is fantastic!
The lobby is obviously what makes your first impression, so I'll start there. Even on some of the coldest evenings we've had so far this winter, it felt warm and inviting. That's true any time of day or night. It's also very open, unconfined — but without feeling like it needed to double for a ballroom.
Part of the Southfield Best Western Premier lobby can be seen in the background of a December 18 feature article here on The Saline Post.
The best hotel lobbies must function as chameleons. For arriving guests, it's often all about check-in and orientation to the facility and surroundings. When departure time comes, that same space must be one of efficiency.
Throughout the time you call this lodging home, it may need to serve as your family or business gathering Piccadilly Circus: It's that public place, common, known to all, a comfortable for spending time if you're the one who's arrived early to meet another person who'll unexpectedly arrive late.
I can also see it serving as a destination in and of itself, given the appeal of its cozy lobby lounge area.
This seems very consistent with what I saw in the layout for the proposed Best Western Premier that was shared with the Saline Planning Commission last December 13.
At the Best Western Premier in Southfield, we stayed in one of the king-sized layouts.
I've often ask Dell what sort of accommodations he's been set with when traveling in Europe on James Bond watch projects over the years. As we opened the door to room 904 here he said, without prompting, "This is what the rooms were like in Frankfurt and Paris."
The Southfield venue is actually a top-to-bottom renovation, opened just after Mother's Day this year. Everything is thoroughly modern. At the same time, the designers have finely captured the essence of a wonderful "old world" feel. Floors and shower, for example, feature hand-grouted ceramic tile; art on the walls is historic Southfield and Detroit. Yet the television thoughtfully included three different hook-up types for guests bringing their own media for play.
Although we didn't get a chance to try out the Fitness Center, by all appearances it's an amenity that needs to be on our list for next time!
We arrived a bit later for check-in than we'd planned, although this was no problem at the front desk, of course. After dropping luggage in our room, this made for a good excuse to stay in for dinner after having drinks at the bar.
Dell and I have each traveled quite a bit over the years and I imagine our approach would be similar to what's likely to happen at the Best Western Premier Saline: First night at the hotel bar and restaurant, second and subsequent nights venture out.
Imagine someday taking our hotel shuttle to downtown Saline for drinks at Dan's Tavern or Salt Springs Brewery (which I still remember as the Calico Cat from when I was a manager for some time in the 1990s).
And what's that that Saline hotel guests will see down the street? The News Arts & Antiques? Pineapple House? The Cheese Shop of Saline — established in 2017?
The same sort of serendipity would serve for dinner as well. But where? Ruby Tuesdays? Mancino's? Saline Inn? Maybe Mac's or Brecon Grille.
During dinner at the Premier Southfield, we got to spend about half-an-hour with the general manager of The Nomad Grill, its restaurant. Among other things, Nicholas Samra described the three-year path it took to opening and a hotel now booked to capacity through New Year's Day.
Southfield obviously is not Saline. But we couldn't help but feel a sense of kindred spirits between that Best Western Premier and our own local Emagine Theatre. Great minds must think alike, because there's also an Emagine Theatre in Royale Oak, not far from the Southfield Best Western Premier.
Before the morning we checked out, we took advantage of the complimentary hotel breakfast buffet. This is actually run by the same business that is responsible for the Nomad restaurant at the Southfield Premier — and it shows. The setup was varied, creative, and neatly maintained from start to finish.
I imagine we could put it up against any nearby restaurant that we might have gone out to and the hotel buffet still would have come out with top marks.
As others have said before, Best Western Premier properties are not cookie-cutter hotels built to one particular style and layout. "Premier" status is a level of standards that must be met, and Southfield gave us a tangible look at a real-world example of the high-bar that's now being discussed for Washtenaw County.
Despite having followed updates on "The Saline Hotel" for a couple of years now, I must confess that I really had no idea what a grand and wonderful new inn we have coming our way.
I can't wait for groundbreaking later this year!
Additional photographs can be found elsewhere here on The Saline Post at the following links: