If you’re wondering why I’ve been missing in action, here’s why: I had a little impulsive trip to Philadelphia from Wednesday – Friday.
In case you aren’t up-to-date with the film world, April 1 marked a date in history for film actors. The two major TV/Film unions, SAG and AFTRA, have merged after decades of “talks”. I was in Bangkok when it was announced that the merger was approved, and let’s just say I was not a happy camper. Long story short, AFTRA pretty much had an “open door policy” all along, so many parole officers and unemployment offices were instructed to tell those who were unlikely to get a job to just go join AFTRA (true story) before April 1, and then they would automatically become a SAG member once the unions merged and could qualify for full-time benefits.
Unlike most fields of employment, there isn’t a “background check” one must participate in when deciding to become an actor, and I have met my fair share of people who have previously served long sentences for all kinds of crimes before. The union health and pension benefits are very good, and it’s a flexible job, so I can see where the attraction to the industry comes from. More power to those who have recently joined, but in the end, I was pretty devastated about the news because I worked very hard for my SAG card back in 2007. Now finding work in NYC has been become even more impossible for us no-name actors post-merger. #EndRant.
What’s a girl to do? Use my points to my advantage and take work in other cities, of course.
Tuesday evening, I received a phone call notifying me of an opportunity to work for a few days on a new film project in Philadelphia. First thought: yay, work!
Normally the drive from North Jersey to Philadelphia is about an hour and 45 minutes, so I usually can suck it up, commute round trip, and work a 15 hour day with the aid of several Rock Star energy drinks (the blue kind).
Sure, I’ve pulled several all-nighters and worked back-to-back on day and night shoots consecutively in the past, but I easily get cranky now and find myself unpleasant to those around me when under those circumstances.
I decided to “treat” myself to a hotel room. We were shooting on location in center city Philadelphia, and my goal was to stay within a 1-mile walking-distance radius from set since my parking garage expenses were already covered for the week by production. Usually I’ll travel for work with other out-of-town actors and we’ll share a room, but this time I was solo. Like most big cities, hotels in downtown Philly are generally very expensive during the week (cheapest one within walking distance was $125),
After logically reviewing several options, I decided to go with the Travelodge Philadelphia Convention Center, a Wyndham Rewards property. If you recall my post from 2 weeks ago, I was able to buy 48,000 Wyndham Rewards points for $148 during the Daily Getaways sale with the intention of transferring them to United miles. The Travelodge was selling for roughly $130 that night, with a free night costing 16,000 points. Quick math allowed me to justify that those 16,000 points was like me paying around $50 for the room. Bingo.
There were several mixed reviews about the property, but at the time I was not worried because I am generally pretty minimalistic and easy to please at a hotel, especially knowing that I will only be there for 8 hours of sleep. It couldn’t be terrible, right? Hmm…
Situated next to a homeless shelter near the “rougher” part of town, the Travelodge looks everything but inviting. Once I arrive at the check-in counter after a long day, all I want to do is get into my PJs and go to bed. I then notice that the property looks more like a warehouse than a hotel, and 80% of the rooms in the hotel do not have an exterior window. I politely requested a room with an exterior window, saying I really enjoy natural light, especially when I had to wake up super early. The woman at check in said that there weren’t any rooms with windows available. I sighed, but accepted that I’ll be having to experience my first windowless room that night.
When I got to my room, it felt anything but comfortable. It was very dated, stale, depressing, had irritating florescent light, a prison window with lovely views of the hallway, thin blankets filled with holes, and my sink was less than a foot from the bed. Was I in a hospital? No, I’m just living my worst hotel experience to date.
OK well there were a few perks: since I walked, I didn’t have to pay for on-site parking ($18), there was free wifi, and the bathroom was surprisingly very clean.
I didn’t sleep well that night (who would have thought?). The next night, I ditched the hotel idea all together ended up making the 4-hour round trip commute home just to sleep in my own bed for a few hours.
After a long 3 days of work, I’m finally home to enjoy the weekend. Although my hotel situation wasn’t a complete “wyn”, at least I was able to rely on points to get me a night without having to shell out any additional out-of-pocket money. I always find it good to have a few stashes of points an miles spread across various programs in case of last-resort travel needs like this situation. Even though I didn’t have an especially pleasant experience, the points did save the day in the end and that’s a “wyn” in my eyes.
Anyway, I’m heading back to Philly again Monday – Wednesday of next week. Have any [cheap] accommodation suggestions?
Bed time now – Sweet dreams!
ouch, never thought i’d see a review on a Travelodge hotel :) starwood properties next time! Cash + Points are your friend
great post angelina. your bit about the actors unions was very interesting.
sorry your hotel stay was a bust – at least you didn’t have to pay “actual money” for it. good choice to just head home…
Hint: Hyatt Penn Landing with the most popular corp code;) it’s $109+
My lord I wouldn’t be able to sleep in one of those rooms!
Pamela Hyne says
That is some very bizarre artwork on the walls! It looks to be a cartoonish bear playing soccer and skiing! Is it repeated on the lampshades? EeeeeekKKKKK!!!!!!
Sounds like you had an awful week. Enjoy the weekend!
The Hotel Tonight app often has some pretty good options for Philly, especially if you check right after 12 noon. The deals vary by day, but can be as low as $99 for the Embassy Suites or Sheraton. Good luck!
WillRunForMiles (katstarr) says
Id hold the hyatt reservation mentioned above, and in the meantime, check http://www.betterbidding.com for the Priceline win rate of rooms in Philadelphia and throw a “name your own price” bid in
I live in the San Fernando Valley and booked a Coke commercial on a Sunday(!)in Irvine, about 70 miles away. It was a 7AM call, so I decided instead of commuting to use a reward night at the nearby Irvine Marriott.
Bad idea! Apparently there was a firefighter’s convention already checked in. And the front desk warned, “They party all night, too.” Alcohol all over the place, including the elevators.
Did have a long day on the job. But I was no better rested than if I had simply made the commute.
Sometimes home is best.
Book hotels on priceline? And give up earning hotel points? Sacrilege!
Ouch on the Travelodge hotel! Agree with some others about Starwood points+cash or betterbidding.com for priceline hotels.
@Jamison & carwag25: def going to be friends with spg cash & points this time around :)
@Andy: Thanks for the suggestion, I’ll keep my eye out for that one
@colleen & jimgotkp: exactly! home was way better than my sleep there. Did I mention that I got a nasty spider bite on my leg too? eww
@Pam: haha that was my first thought too! The eerie bear artwork reminded me of a creepy carnival or something
@Paul: I love hoteltonight! Unfortunately the cheapest I saw on the days I was looking was $149 – too steep for a starving artist lol
@Willrunformiles: I love better bidding, but I hate that I have to sacrifice earning points/stays because priceline is a 3rd party :-/
@Patrick: wow, we had similar experiences! Awesome work booking a weekend commercial.. double $! Haven’t worked a weekend commercial in 2 years (universe, are you listening?)