My first tryst with the dark side started with the closest SPG hotel nearest to where we live which is not a big city. Equinox Luxury Collection Golf Resort and Spa seemed to be the right choice as its only about 2 hours drive from home.
After reading multiple reviews on flyertalk I decided to book a traditional room in the Charles Orvis Inn at a substantially higher rate than the one in the main building - there are two sections in this hotel - main building and Charles Orvis Inn. There were also good suggestions to just skip the valet and park in the back of the hotel. The other reason I booked the inn was because I wanted to see if I would get a suite upgrade and the main hotel has only 5 suites. But this hotel has a sketchy history of upgrading platinums to suites anyways (according to flyertalk).
I reached out to the concierge for planning a few surprises for my wife. He responded well to all my requests had a couple of suggestions of his own as well.
While checking inn I was informed that my room was in the main building. They did do a upgrade from a traditional room to a deluxe room and they said there were no upgrades in the Charles Orvis inn. We did see both the rooms and decided to take the one in the main building itself as it was much bigger and nicer.
The room was a corner room though it had a view of the parking lot instead of the Equinox mountain.
The hotel is in need of a renovation though. During peak season (fall season) the rates are upwards of $600 a night. I would never pay that much though.
The manchester town is about 1.5 miles from this hotel and we decided to walk from the hotel for dinner (the hotel does not have many vegetarian options and my wife did not want to eat a salad). It was beautiful - this is a very small town and the people were so friendly. Even walking back around 9 PM did not seem scary at all.
They did deliver all the things I had asked that night for my wife's birthday not like RC New Orleans last year.
I had chosen continental breakfast as my welcome gift but decided to do an upgrade as only the cold items were included. There was a 18% gratuity and 18% service charge bringing the continental breakfast to $50 for 2 people (though it was free for us). For a breakfast with no hot items this was pretty steep.
We did the falls hike which the bellhop suggested and it was very good. On our way we saw the resort's golf course and it was amazing - I am thinking of taking up golf now.
The next surprise was already delivered to the room by the time we came back from the hike. The service was pretty outstanding.
We did some shopping in town and there is a little store called Long Ago and Far away which had some of the coolest artifacts I have ever seen. This is a must visit place although some items were pretty expensive.
They did not slide the bill under my door as I had requested them not to unlike RC NO.
At checkout the next day I requested pens and key cards and they were happy to oblige. They gave me 2 pens one which had the hotel name and the other brand name. After seeing all the pen postings I have started this too now. I have CY and LC pens now.
In conclusion this is a pretty nice hotel - but charges a lot more money than it should. May be after renovation it would be worth. There is a Kimpton hotel just down the road which is apparently much nicer (according to TA) and definitely cheaper.