MUSCATINE, Iowa–When thinking about the best hotels in the country, travelers assume that only exclusive hotels in big cities like New York or Los Angeles make the list. However, globe trotters and Muscatine County natives alike may find themselves surprised to learn that Muscatine’s very own Merrill Hotel earned a Tripadvisor Traveler’s Choice Best of the Best Award for 2020, making it the 20th ranked hotel in the United States and one of the top 1% of hotels in the world.
“It’s really is an amazing honor and an amazing achievement,” says Merrill Hotel General Manager Lee Belfield. “It gives me goosebumps.”
Though Belfield finds it rare for hotels located away from major cities and tourist destinations to receive such prestigious awards, he attributes the hotel’s high esteem from visitors to its exceptional staff. “Of all the groups I’ve worked with in my many years in the industry, this is the most genuinely hospitable group I’ve worked with,” he elaborated. Through attentiveness to guests’ needs and many procedures to make sure all stays and events at the hotel run smoothly, Belfield shared all staff members work hard to welcome guests, “into our home, and make them a part of things to the extent they want to be a a part of them.”
In an industry where Belfield finds, “service is the deal maker or the deal breaker,” he takes pride in the Merrill’s excellence in this area and recognition it receives for it. Recently, Belfield has seen this dedication to service on display more than ever as the Merrill responds to the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout the pandemic, the Merrill has continued to offer rooms and meeting spaces in accordance with state and federal guidelines. Along with these requirements, the hotel has adopted Marriot’s, “exhaustive program for cleanliness and procedures for keeping guests and staff safe,” as well as additional practices of their own. Through using hospital grade cleaners, having staff wear masks, and performing temperature checks when employees arrive at work, Merrill staff continue to find ways to keep guests’ experiences safe and enjoyable in these unusual times.
Though traveling to Downtown Muscatine may not sound like a destination vacation, booking a night at the Merrill Hotel to enjoy a stay at a top rated hotel will still provide a fun weekend staycation. Visit the Merrill Hotel’s website to learn more about the spaces they have available and to make reservations.