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Hotel Review and MCS Problems

By Gary F. Zeolla


      I competed in the 2018 RPS Lexen Dog Days powerlifting contest in Grove City, OH, on Saturday, August 18, 2018, held at Lexen Xtreme Gym. For a contest report, follow the preceding link. Here, I will review the hotel I stayed at. It was: Days Inn by Wyndham Grove City Columbus South, 1849 Stringtown Road Grove City, Ohio 43123.

      Across the main highway is a Motel 6, and there is a Comfort Inn across the side road the Days Inn is on. I made reservations at the Days Inn as it was the cheapest of the three.

      It was about a four-hour drive from my home near Pittsburgh, PA to the hotel, but the hotel was only about half a mile from the contest site. That is why I stayed there. I had reservations for Thursday evening (8/16) through Sunday morning (8/19). That way, I could weigh-in Friday morning, then spend the rest of that day resting, eating, and rehydrating, compete on Saturday, then drive home on Sunday.


Two Basic Requirements


      I have two basic requirements when it comes to a hotel: that it is quite and that it does not smell. The former is because I am a light sleeper. In fact, getting a good night’s sleep is very difficult for me due to various health problems.

      One of those problems is allergies/ multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS). If I am exposed to something I am sensitive to during the day or am in an allergenic state when I go to bed, I cannot sleep. Due to this problem, I rarely leave my home. To enter a powerlifting contest once or twice a year is one of the few times that I do.

      But that leads to the second basic requirements—that my hotel room does not smell. Most of the time, it is not too much of a problem, but I do often have problems with smells in the hallway, stairway, and the main lobby. As such, I try to get into my room as quickly as possible. Then I take a shower, put on clean clothes, and then stay there, except to go out for weigh-ins and the contest itself. When I do, I again take a shower when I get back to my hotel room, put on clean clothes, and then stay there. That is my pattern at home as well.

      This time, the room did not smell much, but the hallway, stairway, and the main lobby did. But if I could have just unloaded my car and stayed in my room, I would have been alright, but that was not the case.


Top Floor/ Microwave and Fridge Please


      I made reservations for this hotel online over two months before, back in June. When I did, I called the hotel to make sure I could have a room on the top floor and was told I could. I always do that, as given my being a light sleeper, I do not want someone walking on my ceiling, keeping me awake at night.

      Also, when I called, I made sure there would be a microwave and refrigerator in the room. That is becasuse I take all of my food and drinking water with me, since due to my allergies, I cannot risk eating restaurant food or drinking tap water. The fridge enables me to keep the food fresh and the water cold, and the microwave is of course so that I can heat the food up.

      I also am leery about leaving my contest gear in the car trunk, lest someone steals it, so I take that in as well. What that means is, I have a lot of stuff to take with me, and it takes me several trips to get it all into the room. That is the downsize to requesting a room on the top floor, as it usually means carrying it all up a flight of stairs. But once I am situated, it is worth it to be able to sleep at night.

      However, this time, when I got to the hotel and checked in, I was told there were no rooms available on the top (second) floor. After a bit of auguring with the check-in lady, I finally convinced her to find a way to give me a room on the top floor. But it was very irritating having to explain over and over again why I wanted a room on the top floor. What ever happened to “The customer is always right?” That also meant I was in the lobby that was bothering me allergy-wise much longer than I would have liked to have been.


Initial Lock Problems


      I then began unloading my car. It took about six trips up a flight of steps and down a long hallway to get everything into my room. Again, each of those trips bothered me allergy-wise, with having to go up the stairway and down the hallway.

      When I was on my last trip, my keycards would not work. I tried both multiple times. I would get the little green light, so I knew I was doing it right, but the handle would not turn. As a result, I had to walk back down the steps, outside, and to the other end of the hotel to the lobby to talk to the check-in lady, with again, all of those locations bothering me.

      She reset my cards and said that should do it. I tried to explain it that the green light was coming on, so it was probably a problem with the lock not with the cards. But she was obviously not listening to me, so I walked all the way back to my room, tried the cards, and predictably, they did not work. I then had to walk all the way back to the lobby. But as I did, as I was walking outside on sidewalk, which ran right along the parking lot, three construction vehicles pass by.

      Now, that might not sound like a big deal to most people, but for me, it is a really big deal. In fact, a similar occurrence a few years back forced me to change my training protocol.

      I had been walking outside for my cardio, usually a couple of miles in about 30 minutes. But then one day, as I did so, four construction vehicles passed by me. The exhaust fumes and dust from them really caused me problems. I felt terrible the rest of the day—exhausted and stiff and was barely able to put in my afternoon lifting workout. I then barely sleep that night, leaving me to again feel terrible the next day. It literally took me several days to fully recover.

      As a result of that incident, I gave up on walking outside for my cardio and now do all indoor training instead. In fact, since such things can happen anytime and anywhere, that is another reason I rarely leave my home. It is also why I was very upset at this point, as if it were not for the lock problem, I would have been in my room for the night, and this allergen exposure would not have happened.

      As it was, I still had to go into the lobby that also bothered me and talk to the clerk again. She now agreed to come up with me, but as she did, she muttered, “If you knew how to use technology …” and “I told you to take a room on the first floor.” I ignored those snide comments, and we proceeded to my room.

      Sure enough, she was not able to get the door open with the keycard either. I expected an apology for her snide “Technology” comment, but none was forthcoming. But what she did say is that I would need to move to a room on the first floor, as the repairman was gone for the day.

      At this point, I had about had it. I told her there was no way I was going to take all of my stuff back out of the room and down the stairs to another room. She again muttered that I should have taken a room a room on the first floor in the first place.

      But it tried to explain to her that all I needed to do was to get into my room now, and I would be there for the night. I would be going out for a while in the morning, so when the repairman came in, he could fix it then. She finally let me into my room with her master key, after again muttering that I should have just taken a room on the first floor.


More Towels Please


      While all of this was going on, I told the clerk that I did not need maid service, as it was just me, and I would not be making a mess. The reason for not wanting a maid is the same reason I never have visitors to my home—I cannot risk someone bringing smells into my home (or room) that will cause me problems.

      I also told her I would need a couple of more bath towels. Normally, that is a simple request that is quickly honored. But for some reason, she said that the only way I could get more towels is if the maid could come into my room to bring them. I asked her why I couldn’t just get them at the front desk, but she never responded. I then told her to tell the maid to just leave them in a bag by my door, and she seemed to agree to that.

      The reason I would need more towels is I only use a towel once, then put it into the wash. That is my pattern at home and at hotels. I know it is not “environmentally friendly,” but after a towel is used, especially if it is after significant allergen exposure like I was experiencing, I simply cannot reuse it as it will smell. And with having to shower every time I left and came back to my hotel room, I would need more than the two towels in my room.

      Also, as I mention in my contest report, I knew I would need to take a hot shower before the contest, and if I had been overweight, a hot bath before weigh-ins, so that would be two more towels I would need. But fortunately, I did not need the later, as my weight was fine for weigh-ins.

      In any case, after all of that, when I finally got into my room, I was absolutely exhausted and in a terrible allergenic state. Remember, this was all happening after the four-hour drive from Pittsburgh to Grove City, Ohio. It was also happening with me not eating nor drinking hardly anything all day long so as to be able to make weight the next morning.

      In any case, I finally took the shower I had been wanting to take for the past hour. I then laid down to rest. But I was feeling terrible. As a result, predictably, I barley slept that night. That was probably in part due to cutting weight, but all of the extra running around and allergen exposure contribued to it as well. As such, I was very upset, as I really wanted to be well-rested for the contest.


More Lock Problems


      The next morning, right before I left for weigh-ins, I called down to the front desk. There was now of course a new clerk, so I explained to her the situation with the lock on the door, which she seemed to be unaware of. I said I would be leaving for a couple of hours, so it would be nice it could be fixed while I was gone. She said her husband, the repairman, was not in yet but would be soon.

      When I got back from weigh-ins, I went into the lobby before going up to my room to see if my lock had been fixed. Even if it had been, the first clerk had kept my keycards, so I needed new ones. When I got to the lobby, the clerk said her husband was just getting in, so he would go up with me to my room to fix the lock.

      Before we left, I asked her if I could have a couple of more towels. She went into a back room and got them for me. Why the first clerk could not have done that is beyond me. In fact, his clerk was much nicer than the first one, as was her husband.

      When we got to the room, he tried the door and had the same problem I had. The green light would come on, but the handle would not turn. He said it probably wasn’t a problem with the mechanism but simply a dying battery. But to change it, he would need to come into my room to get to the other side of the lock. As I said, I’d rather not have someone come into my room, but I had no choice.

      He went and got the battery and changed it without too much problem. If the reader is curious, if you look at the door handle on the inside of the room, at the top is a black plastic cover. You simply take that off, and inside is a regular 9-volt battery. Once he changed it, he tired my keycards, and they worked. He said I shouldn’t have any more problems, and then he left.

      But again, that meant I had experienced more unnecessary allergen exposure and was tired out from walking back and forth, when I all I wanted was to rest up, eat, and rehydrate for the contest the next day. Then that night, I once again barely slept. I discuss the ramifications of that in my contest report.

      But here, the next day, when I got back from the contest at about 3:30 pm, tired and feeling scummy and just wanting to take a shower and lay down and rest, once again, my keycards would not work! But this time, I was not getting a green light, just a red one.

      Thus, once again, I had to make the trek back to the front lobby to see what was happening. The new clerk checked my cards and said they had been cancelled at 11:00 am that morning! He asked if I had changed my reservation and was staying an extra day. I said no. I had reserved three nights two months before, so there was no reason for the cards to have been canceled.

      But whatever the case, he reset the cards, and I was able to get into my room. But again, that was yet one more unnecessary trip from room to the lobby, with the hallway, stairway, and lobby all bothering me allergy-wise.

      I hadn’t had too much of a problem allergy-wise at the contest, as I discuss in my contest report. But this extra allergen exposure and all of the extra activity on top of that from the contest really left me feeling terrible, so once again, I didn’t sleep that night. That means, I barely slept all three nights at the hotel, yet, sleep is the main thing I want from a hotel.




      However, I need to add that if it were not for the problems with my reservation, the lock, and the rudeness of the first clerk, I would have very much liked this hotel and my room. My room was clean and did not smell too much.

      It was also quiet. I only heard a radio or TV from one of my neighbors once, and even then, it was not that loud. The only outside noises I heard were semi-truck cabs starting up in the parking lot. That woke me up a couple of times, but it was not that loud and probably only woke me up due to me not sleeping that soundly to begin with.

      The microwave and fridge worked just fine. However, there was no door on the freezer compartment in the fridge, so there was a lot of ice build-up. And there was no little bar across the inside of the door, so I could not store any items on the door. But I still had enough rom for all of my food.

      The TV worked just fine, as did everything else, except for one light, the one over the end-table by the bed.




      I hope to enter another Lexen contest sometime in the future. When I do, I am not sure if I will stay at this hotel again or not. With there being a Motel 6 and Comfort Inn nearby, I might try one of those instead.


The above article was posted on this site August 21, 2018.

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  Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS)

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