Summertime, for many Kansas City area families, means road trips throughout the Midwest. A favorite destination is Springfield, Illinois, home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the Lincoln Home, Lincoln's Tomb, and even Abraham Lincoln's restored law office (in the original building).
The Hampton Inn & Suites Springfield-Southwest (on Chuckwagon Drive) is a perfect example of Midwestern hospitality, where the staff goes the extra mile to ensure guests' comfort. Staff members are so friendly and helpful (from the very hospitable GM right down to the breakfast servers and housekeepers) that you come to feel, especially if you're a "repeat" guest, that you're "family." The staff went so far as to institute a "Free Hampton Hugs" weekend last April, giving more than twenty-eight hugs to guests.
Front desk staff are unfailingly polite and, even when extremely busy, manage to smile and wave at guests entering the lobby. Once you've stayed there a few times, most staff members know your name. The housekeepers leave sweet little notes in your room after they clean it.
There are fresh-from-the-oven cookies available in the lobby just about every afternoon. (And the strawberry cookies are delicious.) On Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, staff members serve complimentary snacks in the early evening, along with beer and different varieties of wine.
I'm not even really a breakfast person, but the breakfasts at the Hampton Inn & Suites Springfield-Southwest are amazing enough that I set my alarm each morning that I stay there so I don't miss one of them. Along with the usual suspects, the Hampton serves unique offerings like flavorful zucchini bread and luscious fresh berries--strawberries, raspberries and blueberries.
But the items on the breakfast buffet that seem to grab most guests' interest are the bananas. Yes, Hampton Inn guests are going bananas about this simple fruit--because of the witty sayings written on the peels!
I'm used to seeing poker-faced people at the breakfasts hosted by hotels for businesspersons. But I found out last week that when Hampton guests noticed the "bananagrams," nearly everyone in the breakfast area began smiling, if not downright giggling. I overheard one guy (wearing a suit and tie) muttering, "Silly, but it made me laugh."
It's hard to keep a straight face when you encounter a banana that says, "No, Pick Me!" or one that says, "I'm the Prettiest!"
The banana messages are just one of the many thoughtful things the Hampton Inn Springfield-Southwest does to make guests feel right at home. The staff seems to be like a closely-knit family, and that's a great sign that management is doing something right.
So the next time you decide to take a road trip to tour the Lincoln sites in Springfield, Illinois, you might want to make a reservation before you leave home at the Hampton Inn Springfield-Southwest, a jewel in Springfield's hospitality industry. And don't forget to look for the funny bananas!