Posts Tagged With: Hotel

Lodging Review: Fairfield Inns and Suites, Chicago O’Hare

A Quick Trip to the Northern Plains
Lodging Review: Home2 Suites by Hilton Rapid City, SD
Our Visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park
Our Visit to Mount Rushmore and Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Lodging Review: TownePlace Suites, Dickinson, North Dakota
Lodging Review: Fairfield Inns & Suites, Chicago O’Hare

After driving literally all day, we made it back to Chicago and pulled into the Fairfield Inns & Suites Chicago O’Hare about 10 PM. We’d booked a room here anticipating that our Chicago-based friend would drop off my LA-based friend and me so she wouldn’t have to drive us back out to the airport the next day for our flights. But my LA-based friend decided to stay an extra few days visiting another friend so I had the room to myself. Once again we’d use an expiring free night certificate for our room, booking a room with two queen beds. Shortly before we departed on the road trip we called to see if we could switch to a 1 King room but they said the hotel was nearly sold out so they couldn’t make the change. We didn’t ask about it again at check-in as it really didn’t matter at that point.

Fairfield Inn & Suites Chicago O’Hare
photo from marriott.com

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Categories: Fairfield Inn, Hotel, Illinois, Lodging Review, Marriott, North America, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: TownePlace Suites, Dickinson, North Dakota

A Quick Trip to the Northern Plains
Lodging Review: Home2 Suites by Hilton Rapid City, SD
Our Visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park
Our Visit to Mount Rushmore and Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Lodging Review: TownePlace Suites, Dickinson, North Dakota
Lodging Review: Fairfield Inns & Suites, Chicago O’Hare

We drove about 30 minutes east of Theodore Roosevelt National Park to the town of Dickinson, ND where we had booked a room at the TownePlace Suites Dickinson, which is a Marriott property. With pre-paid rates as low as $113 plus tax this was by no means an exceptional value for the free night certificate we used. But the certificate would expire within the next month or so and with no other plans for it the choice to use it instead of letting it go to waste was easy.

The hotel was easy to find, not far off I-94. The colorful exterior of TownePlace Suites makes it stand out and those bright colors are continued inside.

TownePlace Suites Dickinson Exterior

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Categories: Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott, North America, North Dakota, TownePlace Suites, United States | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Home2 Suites by Hilton Rapid City, SD

A Quick Trip to the Northern Plains
Lodging Review: Home2 Suites by Hilton Rapid City, SD
Our Visit to the Crazy Horse Memorial and Custer State Park
Our Visit to Mount Rushmore and Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Lodging Review: TownePlace Suites, Dickinson, North Dakota
Lodging Review: Fairfield Inns & Suites, Chicago O’Hare

We arrived in the Rapid City, SD area on a sunny, windy afternoon. The temperature was quite pleasant with only a light jacket required. The Home2 Suites is located on the south side of I-94 in an area with four other similar hotels. The Home2 Suites, La Quinta Inns & Suites and Fairfield Inn are all connected to the WaTiki Indoor Waterpark Resort. There’s also a Residence Inn next door so it’s obviously a popular area for tourists like us. To reach the entrance of the Home2 Suites you take the road past the Fairfield Inn, take a side road that runs between the Residence Inn and the La Quinta and drive past the side of the Home2 Suites before turning right towards the main entrance.

Home2 Suites Rapid City Exterior

I’m very familiar with the Home2 Suites brand as I often stay at the one in the Bellevue area of Nashville when I visit my parents so I had a good idea what to expect and by and large the hotel met my expectations. Home2 Suites’ color scheme involves a lot of neon yellow both on the building’s exterior and in the guest rooms. One of my companions found it garish but I must admit it doesn’t really faze me anymore as I’ve become accustomed to it. We were met by a couple of friendly reps at the desk who checked us in quickly and let us know that we wouldn’t receive housekeeping except by request or complimentary after the fourth day. That was fine by us as we were only staying two nights. Continue reading

Categories: Hilton, Home2Suites, Hotel, Lodging Review, North America, South Dakota, United States | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Express, Gunnison, Colorado

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison

I stayed here on two separate nights on either side of a ski trip to Crested Butte Resort, which is about 35-40 minutes away.

Airport Shuttle

I had called two days prior to my arrival (a Monday) to ensure the hotel had an airport shuttle. They asked for my name and flight info and I provided that. However when I arrived on Wednesday and called after collecting my bag, the message had not made it to the proper folks. There are only three people who are allowed to drive the shuttle and fortunately one of them was available to come pick me up but I did have to wait.

Before checking out I made sure to go ahead and schedule the shuttle for the following Monday morning. There is no local taxi service and only one Lyft driver in the Gunnison area so if you don’t have other transportation you’re out of luck.

Side note 1: the Gunnison airport is still a major construction zone as of February 2022 and will be for several more months. The only food & drink available is from vending machines so plan accordingly.

Lobby

I arrived in the early afternoon and was welcomed right away. The lobby is large with a couple of seating areas and a faux fireplace. The business center is off to one side.

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison Lobby

Behind the fireplace is the breakfast area. There were a few skiers there on the one morning I ate breakfast at the hotel but it was by no means crowded. Though I didn’t get photos of the breakfast buffet there were several hot items, three types of cereal, some just-add-water containers of oatmeal, pastries and fresh fruit along with juices, coffee and tea.

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison Breakfast Dining Area

Just beside the front desk is a mini-mart with packaged food and drinks for sale.

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison Mini-Mart

Side note 2: in general, masks are not a “thing” in Gunnison in February 2022. I can count on one hand the number of people I saw wearing masks in town, including wait staff.

Guest Room

The room I had for my first stay was on the ground floor, immediately behind the front desk. This was actually quite nice as the main bag I had with me was my skis bag and I’d packed it quite full. So not having to drag it very far was a win for me.

The hotel seems new and the hallway seemed fresh with decorative carpeting and matching walls.

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison Hallway

My room’s layout was standard: a short entryway with the bathroom on the right and the living area behind that.

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison Guest Room Entry

The king bed was quite high off the floor and might be difficult to get into if you’re someone who is very short or has mobility issues. But it was very comfortable. I liked that each side of the bed had two pillows and they were even labeled as “soft” or “firm” so I didn’t have to guess which one I’d prefer. Each side of the bed had a night stand with two electrical outlets as well as a USB charger, which is fantastic.

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison King Bed

In the corner beside the bed was a chaise with a side table. I used this to eat a fast food lunch and it was adequate though not ideal.  While the room has an under-the-window HVAC unit, at least it has an actual thermostat where you can set a temperature and put it on “auto” as well as selecting heat vs. cold. I hate it at some hotels when you turn the thermostat down a few degrees in the winter and the A/C automatically comes on rather than just letting the room cool down naturally.

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison Chaise Longue and HVAC

Across from the bed was a furniture piece that consisted of the wardrobe, a low shelf with hooks above it and a section with three drawers and the TV mounted above them. Since I only had a coat to hang I didn’t bother with the wardrobe but used the hook for my jacket. I put my carry-on luggage on this shelf, which I found very handy. Another chair was between this furniture and the outside wall.

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The bathroom had a counter that stretched the length of the room with a sink in the center. If you didn’t want to turn on the fan, the only light was the one around the mirror. That light was great but the room was lit up much better with the overhead light on. I just wish I could have turned that light on without the noisy fan. There was no under-cabinet storage so all your toiletries had to go on the counter. The hair dryer was in a bag that was hung either on the back of the door or on one of the towel pegs.  This room had only a standard shower stall, no tub. The shower head could be adjusted both for location and for type of spray. However even in its most concentrated form it did not spray as hard as I’d have liked. But at least the water was hot and I never ran out of it!

For toiletries, two bars of Oasis hand soap were provided. The shampoo, conditioner and bath gel were all in wall-mounted bottles in the shower. They’re JR Watkins brand and I liked their smell just fine. There was also a tiny bottle of JR Watkins lotion (not pictured) that I really liked and took with me.

 

Just beside the bathroom was an area with a microwave, a Keurig and a mini-fridge (empty).

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison Guest Room Appliances

Across from that was a corner shelf with the ice bucked and some cups and the wall-mounted mirror.

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison Mirror & Ice Bucket

My second night’s stay

The second room I was assigned was on the second floor, located above the pool. Having the pool below means the room stays warmer but it also means that when there are folks in the pool at night you can hear them, not clearly but muffled voices, when you’re trying to sleep as the pool doesn’t close until 11 PM. Next time I will specifically ask not to be right above the pool, especially if I have an early flight.

This second room also differed from the first in that there was a desk positioned between the drawers and the outside wall (forgot to take a photo of that). In the bathroom there was very little counter space and the toilet was positioned beside the sink instead of on the wall between the sink and shower. The shower also had a small seat along its back wall and a grab bar. I didn’t manage to photograph that either.

Holiday Inn Express Gunnison Alternate Bathroom

Gym

The gym is quite small but surprisingly well-equipped. There’s a treadmill, an elliptical and a recumbent bike for cardio, a weight bench and dumbbells as well as some fit balls, medicine balls and a BOSU trainer. Elastic bands and yoga mats are also available. You can also get free disposable ear buds at the front desk if you want to plug into one of the machines. The gym is open 24 hours and those 15 and younger must be accompanied by an adult.

Pool

The pool is open 7 AM – 11 PM and those age 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult. It appears to have a hot tub built in and pool towels are available on site.

Location

The hotel is located at one end of town on US 50 and is next to two fast food chains and Western Colorado University. As there’s no lunch or dinner service at the hotel, it’s about a 6-block (some very short blocks) walk to the nearest restaurants. To get more to the center of town (where US 50 and CO 135 intersect) is about another 5 blocks. It was quite cold during my stay (below zero overnight) but with no wind and bundled up properly I really did not get all that cold walking to and from dinner. As mentioned above there is no local taxi service and only one Lyft driver (who doesn’t work all the time) so either bring/rent your own vehicle or be prepared to walk.

In the end

There are limited hotels in the Gunnison area where points can be used for stays. I used an IHG free night certificate for one night and points for the other. With a free airport shuttle and free breakfast this was a good place for me even if it’s not the most convenient to other parts of town.

Categories: Colorado, Hotel, IHG, Lodging Review, North America, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Homewood Suites Southwind Hacks Cross (Memphis)

I hadn’t planned to stay at this hotel just a few miles from my home. My clothes dryer had other ideas. Fortunately I was home the night it decided to catch fire and I was able to call the fire department before things got too far out of hand. Though the fire damage was mostly confined to the hallway where my laundry closet is, the smoke and soot went everywhere so I spent nearly four months living elsewhere. Except for a couple of weeks where I was on vacation skiing, I was living in the Homewood Suites.

Homewood Suites Exterior
(photo credit: hilton.com)

If you’re not familiar with Homewood Suites, it’s Hilton’s mid-range all-suites brand. All the rooms have small kitchenettes with a stove, microwave, dishwasher and full-sized refrigerator. Most of the rooms are one bedroom (king) suites meaning that the remainder of the space is one large room with a bed at one end and the sofa at the other and a TV that can be swiveled between the two areas. The room I had was a one bedroom (king) studio suite. The difference in this and the studio suite is that the bedroom has a door that can be closed and there are two TVs, one in each room. Both of these room types have a sleeper sofa that looks to be a double bed. There’s also one suite with two king beds and a few rooms for the mobility-challenged that have two queen beds.

I received a friendly welcome when I arrived and over my time there got friendly with a lot of the staff. The managers, especially Brandon, took great care of me during my stay. I was initially assigned a room on the ground floor which was nice, considering how much stuff I ended up moving into the room. While I had to check out the one week I was on vacation, I was able to reserve the room next door for my return where I stayed the rest of time.

Homewood Suites Lobby
(photo credit: hilton.com)

Homewood Suites are generally considered three-star properties and that’s probably fair. This HS is not far from our local soccer complex and as such can be very busy on weekends when there are tournaments in town. Of course once the COVID lockdowns began in mid-March the number of guests dropped dramatically and it was much quieter.

This property is showing its age a bit. The kitchen and entry area have a laminate floor while the rest of the room (except the bathroom) has carpet. The edge between the laminate and the carpet was quite worn, resulting in cracked flooring and frayed carpet. Around the window were spots of rust, the kind I’d never have noticed if this were a short-term stay because I’d never have looked behind the curtains but some days in the spring I’d open the windows to let in some fresh air and thus noticed these spots.

Even before COVID I was only having housekeeping come in once a week but once the lockdown began housekeeping was no longer allowed to enter rooms where people were checked in. So I changed my own sheets and borrowed their cleaning supplies to do what I could. Still, by the time I checked out the room clearly needed a deep clean. Looking back, in mid-April I should have asked to switch rooms again just to keep my room from getting so stale. Hopefully I don’t have to stay in a hotel this long ever again but if so, lesson learned.

One Bedroom Suite

As this is an older property, the room felt a tiny bit smaller than the Homewood Suites in Steamboat, Colorado where I spent one night in February. Upon entering the room the floor is a hardwood laminate and extends to one side into your galley kitchen. Take two steps and you’re in the carpeted area that includes the living area and the bedroom The sleeper sofa is directly in front and the TV and entertainment center are opposite. Go through the door beside the TV and enter the bedroom where you’ll find a king bed and the bathroom.

Kitchen

The galley kitchen is quite narrow but has a two-burner stove, a microwave, toaster, coffee maker and a full-size refrigerator/freezer.

Homewood Suites Kitchen

I think there are supposed to be four sets of silverware but I believe I had only two knives and three spoons or something like that. I also noticed that I had different kitchen knives between the two rooms I occupied. I asked housekeeping about it once and they didn’t seem to think those inconsistencies were anything to be concerned with, that it was probably just something that happened over years as people in different rooms may have gotten together and exchanged the cutlery among them. All of that to say that if you’re planning to be cooking a good bit you may want to bring your own cutlery or verify what’s available before you begin cooking.

I’m not a coffee drinker so didn’t use what was provided but I did note that one guy across the hall bought his own coffee maker so I guess what was provided wasn’t great. Or maybe he’s a coffee snob.

The kitchen design had the counter on the outer (hall) wall of unit with the fridge against the far wall but facing the counter. This caused an issue when trying to open the dishwasher. The kitchen is so narrow that the dishwasher door cannot be full laid flat which means you can’t really put anything in the back of the lower rack unless you have long arms or are a contortionist. This was never an issue for me as I don’t cook and could easily just use the top rack and the front of the lower rack. It was good to see in newer Homewood Suites (like the one in Steamboat) that the dishwasher was placed at the other end of the counter so there was no interference with its door.

Across from the kitchen counter, beside the fridge was a small table with two chairs. As there’s no desk in this unit the table could double for that – but only if it happens to suit you. I found it too tall to comfortably type all day so I ended up only using it for its original purpose.

Living Area

The living area consists of a sleeper sofa with a table and lamp on one side and a floor lamp on the other, an arm chair and a 6-drawer chest with the TV on top. There’s also a rectangle ottoman and an unique coffee table that sits over it like an arch. These pieces detach from each other so you can use the ottoman as a footstool or as additional seating.  I apparently failed to take photos of this area so here is a photo from the Hilton website.  This photo appears to be from a 2-bedroom unit as mine did not have this opening into the bedroom and the TV stand was flush against the left wall.

Homewood Suites Living Area
(photo credit: hilton.com)

Bedroom

The king bed dominates the bedroom. There are night stands with lamps on either side and one side has an alarm clock. The lamps have both electric and USB outlets for charging your devices, which is very nice.

Homewood Suites King Bed

Across from the bed, on the wall with the door that backs on to the living room is another 6-drawer chest with a TV on top. Although there were approximately 50 channels available, I was disappointed by the selection. The local Fox Sports affiliates were not available which meant I couldn’t watch Memphis Grizzlies basketball or Nashville Predators hockey – although live games were shut down in mid-March, re-runs of exciting past games were aired and I’d have liked to have been able to watch them. There was also no Animal Planet or ION television, to my disappointment. I ended up rarely turning on the TV.

Homewood Suites Bedroom

Bathroom

The bathroom area has a tiled floor. The sink area is open to the room and has decent counter space on either side of the sink. On each side underneath the sink is a small drawer and a narrow cabinet. The drawer is so narrow that the hair dryer only barely fit and had to be set inside “just right” so that the drawer would close. I loved the fluorescent light built into the mirror.  For someone as near-sighted as I am it was a great to be able to see clearly up close.

Homewood Suites Bathroom

Toiletries were by Neutrogena and I wasn’t crazy about their perfume-y smell.  I ended up buying my own full-sized toiletries since I’d need them eventually anyway.

Homewood Suites Neutrogena Toiletries. I’m not a great fan.

Against the back wall was the closet. It has double sliding doors but really, only one was needed. Even then, the doors did not slide completely past the closet’s opening. This made it very difficult to reach anything that was in the farthest corner. I realize for most folks this is not an issue but as someone living there, it became a real pain.

Homewood Suites Closet
This is as far as the sliding door opened

The toilet and tub/shower are in a room with its own door across from the sink. Water pressure was decent and I never ran out of hot water.

Homewood Suites Tub and Toilet

Amenities

Dining

Pre-COVID this property offered a hot breakfast every day. Cereal and fruit were also available. Monday thru Thursday evenings a light meal was also offered that included limited adult beverages. After mid-March the food area shut down completely and had not resumed when I left in late May. But if it has started back, be sure to make friends with Ms. Betty in the mornings and Ms. Linda in the evenings and they will take very good care of you.

Homewood Suites Dining Area
(photo credit: hilton.com)

At the time I checked in snacks and sundries were available in a small store next to the front desk. In April all items from the store were removed and the front desk no longer had cash.

Laundry

The laundry room is located on the second floor at the opposite end of the building from the front desk. There are two washers and two dryers. When I arrived the two washers worked but only one of the dryers worked. They all looked old and were removed the first week of March in anticipation of new ones arriving. However the new ones didn’t arrive right away and it was either late April or early May before the new units finally arrived. And even then, one of the dryers didn’t work. Since it was in the same spot as the previous dryer that didn’t work, I think there’s something wrong with the wiring or the outlet there.

Homewood Suites Laundry Room – these units were replaced with newer models this spring

Gym

There is also a tiny gym on the first floor, directly under the laundry room.  I never used it because shortly after my arrival it was shut down due to COVID.  This is unfortunate because it’s small enough that allowing people reserve it and allow for cleanings between uses is certainly do-able.

Homewood Suites Gym

Homewood Suites Gym

Outdoor amenities

The hotel does have a pool though of course it was too cool to use during most of my stay and then COVID. There’s also a basketball court and after the weather warmed up it was not unusual to see young men playing. I’m not sure they were guests but as this was during the most restrictive period of the COVID lockdown I was surprised management allowed them to stay and play. I had heard of other hotels removing their basketball rims to prevent this type of quarantine violation.

In the end

This is not a fancy hotel but it’s nice if you’re going to be somewhere for an extended amount of time. If kids’ soccer is not your thing you might want to check to be sure there’s no tournament in the area before booking. I would not hesitate to have family stay here on future visits.

Categories: Hilton, Homewood Suites, Hotel, Lodging Review, North America, Tennessee, United States | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

After spending a few days on the Sunshine Coast we needed an overnight stay in Brisbane so that we didn’t have to leave Mooloolaba at a very early hour to be at the airport by 8 AM. I had an unused Marriott category 1-5 certificate from my credit card (either the Chase Marriott Visa or the Amex Marriott Bonvoy) so we booked the Marriott Brisbane. We knew that with three adults in a room with only two beds someone was going to be uncomfortable but since it was for only one night we weren’t concerned.

The hotel does not have a large footprint but is about 25 stories high. In front there’s only a place to drop off/pick up passengers so if you need to park, circle behind the building where the valet can help you.

Brisbane Marriott

We arrived in the early afternoon and our room was not quite ready though we had only a very short wait until we could check in. Continue reading

Categories: Australia, Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott, Oceania | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

We left Auckland just a day after landing, flying Air New Zealand to Christchurch.  Wow, domestic travel in NZ is so much like it used to be in the US.  Nobody checked my ID.  I checked my bag myself. I did go through security but it was much less intrusive.  It was so nice!  The flight is blocked at 1h 24m but it seemed to arrive much more quickly.  The plane was a single-cabin A320 and as cheap as tickets were, this seems to be a very common way to jump between cities in NZ.

The biggest challenge I face when booking travel with two friends is that we prefer to use points for travel and we each want our own bed. I tried everything I know of to find a points-friendly hotel where we could have three beds and it just wasn’t happening. It’s hard enough to find in the US and much tougher abroad. Even suites – which would have enough room for a third bed – seem to provide only a king bed and not one that can be split apart. We could have booked through the Chase Ultimate Rewards (UR) portal, the Amex Membership Rewards portal or the Citi ThankYou Points portal or even redeemed points against my Barclays ArrivalPlus but in the end we decided to use cash. That would allow the birthday girl to pay and earn UR points from her Sapphire Preferred card which would help to offset the points she used buying her plane ticket to New Zealand.  The room was less than $200/night USD all in so with each of us effectively paying for a night, the price wasn’t bad at all.

I used Trip Advisor as a starting point and narrowed the list down to about 8-10 places that fit our criteria. I then started weeding places out based on reviews before presenting a list of about 4-5 places to my friends. The birthday girl ended up choosing The Pavilions. I was a little skeptical of how this would work but things turned out quite well.

Pavilions Hotel
(photo courtesy pavilionshotel.co.nz)

The hotel is family-owned and has been around quite awhile. It was raining the day we arrived and our room was in a building behind the main one. Fortunately a staff member helped us with our bags and guided us through the correct wing of the main building to make our dash across the parking lot as short as possible.

Continue reading

Categories: Award Travel, Hotel, Lodging Review, New Zealand, Oceania, Other Hotels | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik

Trip Report: Amsterdam, Iceland and Munich
Review: Iberia A340-600 Business Class
Review: Kimpton DeWitt Amsterdam
A Brief Tour of Amsterdam
Review: Sheraton Amsterdam Airport Hotel and Conference Center
Review: Radisson Blu 1919, Reykjavik
Review: Center Hotel Plaza, Reykjavik
A Week in Iceland
Review: aloft Munich
Visiting Dachau
A Brief Tour of Munich
Review: Hilton Munich Airport

For our tour of Iceland the tour company had us staying at the Plaza, one of six hotels in the area owned by CenterHotels. The CenterHotels website says they offer “six first class hotels in the city center of Reykjavik” but then follows it up by mentioning their 3- and 4-star hotels. Well, I’m sorry but a 3-star hotel is not “first class”. I realize that the whole tone of this paragraph makes me sound spoiled and entitled. Several folks on our tour did not seem to have a problem with the hotel. But I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed as this hotel was definitely a step down from any we’ve used in the last several years. Lodging in Iceland is expensive and I guess our tour was so reasonably priced because we were at a second-tier hotel.

That being said, if you’re not as choosy as I am, the hotel has a fantastic location and the price includes breakfast. The staff was great and very international and for the most part very young. They always seemed to be smiling and were quite helpful.

Photo courtesy Center Hotels website.

The hotel has two wings and I’m not sure if they’re connected above the ground floor or not. (Our room was on the ground floor so I didn’t spend much time exploring other floors.) I do know each wing had its own elevator. The halls and the rooms both had hardwood floors. I believe my roommate and I actually got a slightly larger room, believe it or not. Continue reading

Categories: Europe, Hotel, Iceland, Lodging Review, Other Hotels | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: SpringHill Suites Salt Lake City Airport

One good thing about flying to my ski destination a day before the group is that often I can use the free night that comes with one of several credit cards in my wallet. That’s one of the reasons I selected the SpringHill Suites at the SLC airport. Another is that they have a free airport shuttle. Normally the included breakfast would be a draw as well but in this case I have friends in the SLC area and they came and picked me up for breakfast so that was a non-factor this time around.

SpringHill Suites Salt Lake City Airport

I arrived at the airport and while one of my bags was one of the first bags on the belt, it took another 30-45 minutes for my skis to be delivered. It was after 10:30 PM before I collected my luggage and called the hotel regarding the shuttle but fortunately it did not take very long for it to arrive. The shuttle services both Hilton and Marriott properties that are all very close together. In my case the cabin crew from a recent flight was on the shuttle with me but was not staying at the same hotel. The SHS was the third stop for this particular shuttle run. Continue reading

Categories: Award Travel, Hotel, Lodging Review, Marriott, North America, United States, Utah | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Fairfield Inns & Suites New Orleans Airport, Kenner, LA

One perq of holding the Marriott credit card from Chase is that each year you pay the monthly fee you get a certificate good for one night at a Category 1-5 hotel. I had a certificate that was due to expire in October, when the annual fee is due, and the stay must be completed by that date, not just booked. That’s one thing I’d like to see changed with the Marriott-SPG merger – let me book the certificate within the date range, even if the stay is not completed by then.

Since the annual fee of the “regular” Marriott card is $85 (moving to $95 with the next renewal), you can sometimes get great value from using a certificate. The Fairfield Inn and Suites in Kenner is not an especially great use of this certificate as rooms are just over $100 pre-tax but since the certificate would otherwise be going to waste it just made sense to spend it here. This is also the only Marriott property in the immediate airport area and thus the only one with an airport shuttle.

After touring all day in the sticky heat and being caught in a rainstorm just 2.5 blocks from the Hyatt House, we were fairly drenched by the time we caught our Uber to the Fairfield Inn, arriving in the late afternoon.

While we didn’t spend a lot of time inspecting the exterior it looked to be in good shape and we made our way to the front desk. We were assisted by a very friendly associate who noted our status and that we were staying on an award. She filled us in about breakfast though we’d be leaving too early for the buffet. She did arrange for us to have sack breakfasts available for the next morning and got us booked on the appropriate shuttle.

The lobby looked as if it had been recently refreshed and I liked the furniture and the geometric designs on the carpet. Though the breakfast area was not in use I liked the layout and the bright colors of the seats.

A quick note that this hotel is in the flight path for the airport but flights are typically operating in the 0530-2130 timeframe so there shouldn’t be an issue with plane noise overnight.

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Categories: Hotel, Lodging Review, Louisiana, Marriott, North America, United States | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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