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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Flying to Indy and Sheraton Indianapolis City Center Hotel

After 15 hours, my flight from SG to LA touched down at LAX. Although I had 2 connecting flights to my final destination, Indianapolis, I had to go through customs and get my luggage bag off the conveyor belt because LA was my port of entry. I took about an hr to clear customs which is considered relatively fast - there was a lady who had a connecting flight in half an hour to San Fran and she had to ask the pp around if they would let her go ahead. That is the reason why I prefer having as few connecting flights as possible when travelling - either one cuts it too close or one ends up sitting around in transit.

In any case, because all the flights from SG to NY were full that weekend, I had a 5 hour wait in LA before my 3 hour flight to O'Hare airport (Chicago) at 11pm. And that red-eye flight was full and perhaps overbooked because the airlines made a couple of announcements asking if anyone was prepared to give up their seat on this flight for a seat on the next flight out in the morning in exchange for cash vouchers and a free hotel stay.

After touching down in O'Hare about 5 in the morning, I had another hour's wait before my flight to Indy, by which time I had finished watching all the cartoons on the ipod touch and was feeling dirty, gritty-eyed and tired from all the transits and flights. In fact, I felt so lousy I swore that I would not fly out any more to Indy unless compelled to do so. However, just like there is a silver lining to every dark cloud, I got to see a really impressive sight from the airplane's window - the lights of Chicago taken from the plane - pretty impressive, isn't it?

After an hour or so up in the air, I reached my final destination. Finally. Indy's airport is large, spanking new, clean and spacious with quite a number of shops, a pleasant contrast to the tired-looking terminals at LAX.

My boss told me that downtown Indy is built outwards from the town's circle center, the very center of which is erected this very tall sculpture.

1 of the largest shopping malls in downtown Indy is the Circle Center Mall - it has my favorite shops like Bath&Body Works, Coach, Victoria Secret and 2 departmental stores - Nordstrom and Carrie Pine Scott. The former store carries high-end goods (including more Coach stuff) while the latter is a bargain-hunter's dream come true. I kid you not - I managed to get a CK suit for just USD40, 70% off its original price.

As there was a firefighters' convention that week, most of the hotels in downtown Indy were fully booked. Fortunately, I managed to secure a room at the hotel of my choice: Sheraton City Center Hotel for 3 of the 4 nights I was in Indy. The reason for choosing this hotel was because it was a stone's throw to my offices and I could walk there easily every day instead of depending on public transport. Also, because I have the SPG gold card, I get a complimentary upgrade if a better room is available. This time around, I was upgraded to a suite on the 15th floor.

Above and below are some pictures of the room - the suite was large enough that it made me regret not having any travelling companions with me to enjoy the place. There was a separate living room and even a mini-kitchenette area!

However, the best bit about the suite was the plushy bed in the bedroom stacked with 4 pillows.

I didn't take any pictures of the bathroom which was rather smallish (but had a tub) but only of the rather spacious bedroom. Although the colors of the carpet and curtain leave much to be desired (dark blue which had a dirty cramping effect), having a couple of 40 inch TVs in the living room and the bedroom, as well as a work desk made me feel that I could live in the hotel room quite happily for a month or more.

The Slog Reviews: 7.5/10. There are many good hotels in downtown Indy like Conrad, Hyatt and Marriott which are more centrally located (connected to the shopping mall and convention center) and probably able to give Sheraton City Center hotel a good run for its money. This hotel does not have free broadband and wifi is only available in the lobby area. The elevators are spacious enough and run very quickly between floors but the color scheme of the hotel makes one feel as if it were rather run-down. It is a decent place to stay all in all though with a convenience store around the corner and a bus stop (IndyGo from the airport stops there) right in front of the hotel.

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