And the rooms? Ranging from great to spectacular. A small upcharge gets you into a large, two room suite which are also available as accessible units with roll-in shower in a large bathroom. There are also fitness rooms and swimming pools. Stay at their line of Plaza hotels and you'll be in the lap of luxury. Among the locations we were at was The Plaza at the Arch in St. Louis which is among the most luxurious hotels we've seen this year. I'd go back there in a second, what a great hotel! This all for around $70 - $120 at most locations.
Best independent hotel - Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, California. Great, true resort hotel very close to Napa Valley. If it had slot machines, you'd swear you were in Vegas circa 1960. This Flamingo was built around the same time as the Vegas version and is a perfectly restored piece of retro Americana. A huge courtyard with an olympic size pool as the centerpiece invites a relaxed, party atmosphere in the summer. Nearby, a large restaurant and nightclub complete the scene.
We like the large accessible rooms in the Executive wing at the back of the property. At around 500 sq. feet, this room is as big as a suite and features a king size bed, a large sofabed, large flat screen TV, and an accessible bathroom with roll-in shower. Rooms normally run around $150 but frequent specials can be found here for less than $100.
Although there is a fitness room on the property, guests also have access to a huge fitness club located adjacent to the back of the hotel.
A great location with numerous good restaurants withing walking distance, downtown Santa Rosa a 5 minute drive or bus ride away, and a quick half-hour jaunt over the hills will put you in Calistoga at the top of Napa Valley. Sonoma is also nearby.
Congratulations to this year's hotel winners.
While you're here you may want to check out our Year In Review.