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Hotel Review Travel

A Review of the Brand-New Park Hyatt Mallorca

Mallorca is a place I’ve always wanted to visit. Each Mediterranean island offers something different for the traveler, whether it be food, culture, or sightseeing. As luck would have it, our trip dates coincided with the opening of the Park Hyatt Mallorca, and we were fortunate enough to check in a day after opening.  While the resort was still ramping up to “full” operations, our stay proved to be nothing short of what the Park Hyatt brand has come to be known for- personal service, high-end luxury, and fantastic memories. Keep in mind, this resort is normally 20,000 World of Hyatt points a night.

Finding the Resort

The resort is located near the beach town of Canyamel, about a 15 minute walk from the beach, on the northeastern side of Mallorca.  This is about an hour’s drive from Palma, and with all the other sites the island offers, a car is a must. I’m sure that directions will improve with time, but the resort is not easy to locate, as there is no signage pointing to the resort (not even a sign from the small road outside its gates). Expect a few wrong turns, but that’s part of the adventure!

Checking In

We had three people staying in a room, which took a bit to process for the check-in agents. However, they couldn’t have been more courteous and really made sure we were comfortable while the room was arranged. The check-in area was sparse, which will undoubtedly change in a few days/weeks as more decorations make their way to the resort. Across from check-in was a library with snacks and coffee.

The Room

We stayed in a standard room on the property, which are properly gigantic. At 538 square feet, ours included a king bed (as well as our rollaway), a balcony overlooking the courtyard, giant flatscreen in the bedroom as well as in-mirror in the bathroom, (surprisingly) reasonably priced mini bar, and a palatial bathroom. The room has whites abounding, with marble floors and hearth framing the cream drapes and walls. Windows let the ever-present sun pour in.

While all the buildings look similar, each is named after the trees that are planted around each main building.  We stayed in “Limonero,” but others included “Olivero,” “Serenita,” and more. When the trees grow more, it’ll be easier to differentiate I’m sure.

The bathroom’s shower and tub were gorgeous, but I felt that the window made me feel a bit exposed to the outside. Also, the doors are fogged glass, so don’t expect privacy if you’re sharing the bathroom getting ready in the morning.

The resort left us a bottle of Cava, as well as a large bowl of fruit when we arrived. Additionally, the hotel sent up another bottle of local Mallorcan Red later that evening to celebrate the opening of the hotel.

The Resort

As previously stated, the resort is not directly on the beach, but very close. The resort does have a van to shuttle you to the closest beach to the hotel, but if you have a car, over 200 beaches are on offer on Mallorca.

We had the chance to try out two of their three main restaurants, as “Asia” was still closed at our time of visit. The tapas restaurant, helmed by a one-star Michelin chef, was delicious. After a few days in Spain, we were happy to try out a new spin on the traditional tapas plates like croquettas. The restaurant has so many types of cured ham that you’ll have trouble deciding. I expect this place to be the most popular on property.

The Balearic restaurant features dishes more endemic to Mallorca. We had some seafood paella, as well as the tenderloin (both delicious). However, the most impressive part of the meal were the deserts, which were designed by a high-end Barcelona chef. The “Summer Ferrer” is not to be missed. This is also where daily breakfast is served, which was included in our room rate (we were only Hyatt Platinum).  Items are similar to those across the way, but with a much larger buffet spread. I sampled the Belgian Waffle which was amazing.

Additionally, the resort has a coffee shop, which has delicious fresh-baked breakfast croissants and rolls, baked on property. Don’t miss this- the flakiness of the croissant was a true highlight.

Built like a traditional Mallorcan Village, this resort is stunning. However, if you hate stairs, you may not enjoy your stay here. Lots of hill-climbing involved to get from our room to the main resort, but it was definitely part of the adventure. Several streams of water flow from the top of the resort, paralleling stairs, through fountains, and finally to the resort’s stream, which ends near its pool complex, featuring four pools. These pools frame the restaurants, and add to the relaxed feel of the Park Hyatt Mallorca.

The resort is next to a golf course, which we didn’t get to try out, but also features a nice, but small gym that features brand-new equipment. The beach club is open, as well as the country club.

Wifi was strong in places, but in parts of our guest room, we had zero signal. I’m sure that much of this will be worked out as the resort fully opens.

Conclusion

Overall, another win for the Park Hyatt brand. The designers really took into account the resort’s setting, and used it to the resort’s advantage. We cannot wait to return, especially to utilize the resort’s upcoming features like the beach and tennis club.

Interested in Booking the Park Hyatt Mallorca? Fill out the form below to get started.

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A Review of the Boulders Resort and Spa – Curio- A Collection by Hilton

A Review of the Boulders Resort and Spa – Curio- A Collection by Hilton

It’s hot here in Phoenix, with temperatures rising steadily above 110 degrees. While this is reason enough for most of the part-timers and vacationers to leave the city, there’s actually several great reasons to stay in Phoenix. The traffic is cut in half, the golf is cheap, and there are many hotels that one can staycation at for a fraction of the normal price. When we saw the Boulders going for $87 a night with a Hilton MVP rate, we jumped on it!

An Overview of the Boulders

The Boulders was built in the 1980s, with 221 guestrooms spread out over a large amount of acreage. It was once a Waldorf=Astoria resort, but is now a “Curio Collection” hotel, still under Hilton management. Rooms are “casitas” here, starting at 550 square feet, which is what we stayed in, though they can grow in size all the way to full-blown 3-bedroom standalone villas.

The resort features the main lodge, with its main restaurant Palo Verde and lobby bar, as well as one of the resorts’ four pools. This pool straddles one of the amazing boulder rockpiles on the resort property, and is open 24 hours, which I find amazing. Countless times, I arrive too late to use pool facilities, so I thought this was a great feature, especially given the heat during the day.

Other hot spots in the resort is its massive spa complex, complete with its own pool and gym. The resort includes fitness classes in its resort fee. There’s also a restaurant in this area as well. Further on, there is the golf and tennis facilities, which has the Grill and Bogey’s restaurant facilities, 7 tennis courts, and two 18-hole golf courses. Slightly off property, but still associated with the resort, is the Salted Donkey, featuring casual Mexican food.

Arrival

The Boulders is a bit north of Scottsdale, about 15 miles in the upscale community of Carefree, Arizona. We drove north up Scottsdale Road, and arrived at the gate of the property. We were met by a guard, who handed us a printed parking pass with our name on it, and told us to drive about a mile up the entry road until we hit the Lodge. There, a man met us with our check-in information, Diamond amenities envelope, and certificates and directed us to the self-parking lot, where a golf cart met us to take us to our room.

This part of the experience was flawless- we didn’t even have to step out of our car to check into the hotel. A quick golf cart ride winding through the resort led us to Casita #265, on the second story in a secluded corner on the north side of the resort.

Keep in mind when visiting- there is a $30 per night resort fee, but this includes fitness classes, internet, and tips for the golf cart drivers. You’ll be using them often during your stay, so I was actually happy that they included that in the fee.

Room

The room itself is brand-new, having been renovated in 2015. An entry way led to a living room-area with flatscreen and fireplace.

Of course, it being summer in Arizona, you don’t need it, but it’s available for when you’re there in the winter months.

A very comfortable king bed awaited us, with end tables on either side.

A nice touch were the electrical plugs on either side of the bed, with USB inputs in the wall. The bathroom was spacious, with a separate tub and shower, as well as two sinks with plenty of counter space.

We had a private balcony as well, outfitted with a table and two chairs, and views of the surrounding valley.

Check out the video of the room below:

Note- this resort is in the middle of the desert, and we actually had to kill a scorpion in our room in the middle of our last night. The resort is crawling with wildlife, so if that at all alarms you, maybe try to stay somewhere more in town. You’ll need a flashlight at night, which they thoughtfully provide:

Hilton HHonors Amenities

As a Diamond Member, I received a welcome letter detailing my special amenities:

Complimentary Water Replenished Daily

Complimentary Welcome Beverage in the Discovery Lounge

Complimentary Room Upgrade based on Availability

Late Checkout

Notice anything missing? Apparently, Curio is transitioning into a similar category as the Waldorf-Astoria properties, and won’t be required to offer free breakfast in the future. Nothing on the website denotes this, however, and a quick call to the front desk had breakfast vouchers delivered to our door in minutes.

Drinks are expensive in the Discovery Lounge, at $14 each for a cocktail. So, we managed to get about $32 in value after tax and tip from that amenity. Plus, our daily breakfast tab came out to over $50, so $132 plus an upgraded room is good value for my status. Our water, however, was not replenished on the second day.

Dining

We had a dinner on property at the Salted Donkey Cantina. They barrel-age their own tequila, which I thought was unique, though be prepared to pay $16 for a margarita to try (though I’ll say it was one of the best I’ve ever had). I went with the carne asada, while Laura went for the fish and shrimp tacos. I thought my carne asada was perfect, but Laura thought the fish was too much batter, not enough fish. Overall, very good quality food, if a bit expensive.

Breakfast at Palo Verde was delicious, though overpriced if you were paying out of pocket. I went with the blue corn waffles, and Laura with the pulled pork and egg. Both were scrumptious, but we both thought service was a little slow.

Our drinks at the Discovery Lounge were delicious, but too expensive, even for a resort. We had the Lemon Berry Crush and the Grapefruit Paloma, which paired well with a dip in the pool.

Recreational Activities

The first morning, we got up and did a cycling/core class. We found the instructor to be a little rude (possibly hungover?) when setting up our bikes, and the whole class felt a little low energy for the normally-exhausting spin classes we’re used to. The second half of the class was suppose to work our core, but it was more of an instruction on how to use a Bosu Balance Ball. We were left disappointed.

Golf was exceptional, however. With two of the prettiest golf courses around, winding in and around the boulders of the resort, it’s truly one-of-a-kind. Pace of play was a little slow on the back 9, but that’s to be expected.

While we didn’t have a chance to try out the tennis courts, they are free after 11 AM in the summer (normally $25 per hour). Also on offer during the winter months is on-resort rock climbing, at $165 per person.

Overall Thoughts

While it is advertised as a 5-star resort, I feel as if the resort is a solid 4.5 star. My new benchmark for 5-star service is the Conrad Dubai, so the Boulders didn’t quite meet that. The setting is stellar, the resort is great, but I can’t help but feel that it would feel overpriced in the winter months. While many on the resort were incredibly nice, including all of the golf cart drivers, others like the marshalls at the golf course and the fitness instructor were less than courteous.

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Hotel Review Travel

A Review of the Four Seasons, Scottsdale at Troon North

To continue on with our summer of staycations, we checked in for a Thursday night stay at the Four Seasons, Scottsdale at Troon North. Rates were $179 plus the required resort fee and taxes, but coupled with Four Seasons Preferred Partner benefits by booking through a travel agent, we saved big with a free room upgrade, $100 food and dining credit, and free breakfast. We paired this with a Travelzoo voucher ($45 for $100 in food and beverage) for their lobby bar Onyx to have a truly free 5-star dinner.

The Resort

The resort is located in the foothills of North Scottsdale, just far away enough from the city to feel secluded, but close enough to still take advantage of shopping and dining in the area if you so wished. It advertises itself as being “at” Troon North, but in reality it’s just down the street.

The resort property is definitely sizable, but not sprawling like the Boulders was. It’s nestled between two craggy peaks in the mountains, and actually, a popular day hike leaves directly from the resort to Pinnacle Peak. A few dozen rooms and villas spread out around two pools, a spa complex, the main lobby, and two tennis courts.

The Lobby

Arrival and the Room

We drove up to valet and walked inside to check-in, but first were offered iced tea by the bellman. Our front desk clerk offered us a $200 upgrade to a suite with private plunge pool, but we declined. After an overview of the resort on their map, we were shown where to complimentary self-park (valet is over $30).

The view from outside our room

We stayed in an upgraded regular casita in building 1, the closest to the main building. It felt very private; you do share the building with about 7-8 other rooms, but never do you feel like others are present. The casita had a great view of one of the desert mountains from its patio.

The room
Rooms even include a functioning fireplace

Inside the room were lots of Southwestern motifs. Native American art hung from the wall, and lots of desert tones made you really feel as if you were in Arizona. A welcome amenity was waiting for us when we arrived- three peach-flavored gifts (peaches, cake, and peach tea) to note the in-season fruit. I thought this was a great idea and wish more hotels would localize amenities a bit more.

The king bed was very comfortable, and the sheets were obviously of top quality. The bathroom was large, with a separate shower and tub, two sinks, and a separate toilet with door.

Overall, I felt that while the rooms weren’t the “newest” I’ve ever seen, it didn’t detract from their utility.

Restaurants

Armed with our dining credit and Travelzoo voucher, we headed to Onyx to take advantage of their happy hour specials. Laura had a peach sangria, and I had a classic margarita. Both felt freshly made and were worth the $10 happy hour price.

 

For food, we were lucky enough to find out that their fine-dining restaurant, Talavera, has an abbreviated menu for Onyx, featuring their steaks and seafood options.

First, we had queso fundido from the Onyx menu.

We elected to try the salmon and the filet mignon for our main dishes, and were glad we did. It was, no doubt, the best steak I’ve ever had in my life, and I grew up in Texas and spent 8 weeks in Argentina. It was perfect, with a horseradish crust and mushroom marsala topping it all off. Oh, and the bread served was A+.

We splurged on desert as well, with their home-made chocolate “bar” that was also tasty.

For breakfast, we were able to try Proof. I loved the interior design of the place, which felt very laid-back and comfortable. Overall, this is how the resort felt- luxurious without being pretentious.

Proof doubles as the late night “bar” on site as well, so there’s a shuffleboard table in the middle of the restaurant. Our breakfast credit covered $64 worth of items, which went surprisingly fast. Laura had the Huevos Rancheros, while I had bacon, sausage, hash browns, and toast. We each had a mimosa as well.

The Pool

The pool was open 24 hours, so we tried it out after dinner. The water was a comfortable temperature, and the complex was lit up great for night-time. They’re careful not to ruin the view of the stars above.

On the note of stars, the Four Seasons brought in an astronomer with a powerful telescope to view the moon, Mars, Saturn, and Jupiter on the night we were there. This was an excellent free activity for the resort to plan. While not heavily advertised, lots of resort guests were wowed by the planets above them. Other free amenities available at the resort include fruit skewers by the pool during the day, margarita and beer tastings on the weekends, and lots of kid activities.

Overall

This was my first stay at a Four Seasons property, and I must go to more now! The service was on point, the food delicious, and the stay relaxing overall. Unfortunately for the wallet, most Four Seasons are out of my price range, but we’ll see in the future if there are more deals to be had.

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Hotel Review Travel

Review of the Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort

A Staycation at the Phoenician, A Luxury Collection Resort

Visiting the resort nearly once a week for tennis purposes, we’ve always wanted to try out the rooms and pool complex at the Phoenician. After an awesome sale was posted this summer, we had our chance! Check out the review below.

As stated, we were able to book the Phoenician for $149 a night before taxes thanks to a Travelzoo promotion this summer. The kicker was the fact that the resort fee was waived, which at $29 is a sizable discount. Being a Starwood property, it falls in Category 6, which is 20,000-25,000 points a night. The “resort within a resort,” the Canyon Suites at the Phoenician, and the Residences, are Category 7 properties and 30,000-35,000 points per night. If you choose to book Starwood hotels, or any brand of hotels through me, rest assured you’ll receive all points as normal in your account.

Arrival

The Lobby of the Phoenician

We entered the resort around 2:30 PM, pulling up to the valet to handle check in and see what room we were assigned. There was a long line of people checking in at this time, and there didn’t appear to be any elite desk open- a minor annoyance, but still an expected perk as a Starwood Gold member at the time of my stay.

Once we did get to the check-in desk, the staff couldn’t have been nicer. We were assigned an upgraded room, apparently a Mountain View (more on that later). We received our keys, as well as our two free welcome drinks (in lieu of 500 SPG points).

The Room

The room is so, so far away from the main lobby. The building butts up against Camelback Mountain, which provides great views on one side facing the mountain, but views of the city and the arrival road on the other. This is the side that we found ourselves on.

This is the view from their “Mountain View” room

As you can see, the room was gigantic (over 650 square feet), but the view lacked the “mountains” we were advised on. We decided to go to lunch first, and then request a change of room.

Lunch

Lunch was great- at their casual burger joint Relish, which is in the golf clubhouse. With views over the 1st tee box and putting green, it makes for a relaxing, leisurely lunch.

While Relish is severely overpriced, at $18-$20 a burger, a summer promotion brought the costs down a bit- $20 for a burger and a dessert. My chorizo burger was absolutely perfect.

As was my butterscotch pudding.

New Room

The front desk quickly exchanged our room for one facing Camelback, which was a much better view than before, even if our room was a bit smaller (but still spacious- at over 500 square feet).

The Resort

The resort features 27 holes of golf, 10 tennis courts, and 7 pools. We were able to use the pool (open 24 hours) at night, where they were showing Minions on the blowup movie screen. We had an $11 capirinha which was very lime-y and refreshing. Unfortunately, the slide closes at 5 PM, so I didn’t have a chance to try it out. I love waterslides.

We used our drink coupons at the lobby bar. Drinks average about $15 here, so the drink coupons certainly hold their value. I elected to try the Manhattan, and Laura tried their capirinha. Both drinks were masterfully crafted.

If you’re in the hiking mood, the main trail up Camelback Mountain is right outside the resort’s gates. It’s about a two-hour hike to the top, and the views are worth it!

Overall

Overall, for an off-season stay, I thought the Phoenician provided good value. With rates rising to over $600 a night in the winter, though, I can’t see how there’s much value for money there.

Interested in booking the Phoenician? Fill out the booking form below!

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A Review of the Arizona Inn, Tucson, Arizona

A Review of the Arizona Inn, in Tucson, Arizona

We had the pleasure of staying in the very historic Arizona Inn in Tucson in 2016. While this was a quick visit, given we were arriving late at night, and leaving in the morning, we nonetheless had an amazing stay.

Booking

The reason why we chose the Arizona Inn over points-earning properties nearby is the fact that we had Expedia points and coupons to use, giving us a nearly free stay. You receive Expedia points by booking through Expedia, and I had about $50 worth of points to use. The neat part about Expedia points is that when you use them at VIP hotels, determined by Expedia, that value doubles. That still left about $72 worth of the booking to cover, but a further $50 was covered by an Expedia coupon that was given to me because of a Best Rate Guarantee request, which I won. As your travel advisor, I can do the same for you.

The Resort

We arrived around 11 PM, to the resort that’s situated in an old neighborhood of Tucson. That didn’t deter the 3 coyotes from crossing the road- we’re still in the desert, people! The resort is retro from the beginning, having been built in 1930.

The lobby is simple, from an era gone by. With no one at the desk, I rang the antique bell (haven’t seen one of those in a while), and the agent got us processed quickly. Since it was a VIP hotel, we received an upgrade to a deluxe room. This room is a bit larger than the standard rooms, includes a patio with furniture, and a wet bar.

Room photo from the hotel's website
Room photo from the hotel’s website

I especially liked the older decor- it has aged well and felt like it had “character.” Advanced technology, like an in-room iPad, with tons of information about the resort, was appreciated.

The fun part about the hotel is everything is branded- pens, soaps, shampoos, and stationary. This family-owned hotel certainly doesn’t cut corners!

One great thing about the resort is that there’s no resort fee, but lots of included amenities. I had my free morning coffee in the resort’s library-

…and unfortunately didn’t have time to play tennis on one of their two clay courts.

Other free amenities include croquet, badminton, ping pong, a fitness center with brand-new equipment, bottled water in-room and in the gym, and the pool facility, which has a free ice cream Sunday bar from 5pm-9pm every day during the summer months. There’s also free bike rentals and a dvd library to rent from. One unique feature? The DVDs are all from before 1960, and only feature actors and actresses that stayed at the resort during its heyday.

Be sure during your stay to read the history book included in every room, written by the president of the resort and the founder’s great grandson. It’s fascinating to hear what was built in then-rural Tucson!

Overall, I wish I had more time to spend here. I have stayed at many hotels in Tucson (and the world for that matter), and it’s refreshing to stay somewhere that’s focused so intently on the guest, and not the bottom line. I imagine this resort has its very loyal customers as a result.

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Road Tripping Across New England- September 2016

We scored a pretty decent rate from Budget on the rental car, having a convenient pick up in Manhattan rather than traveling all the way over to an airport nearby. Grabbing our Ford Focus, we made the drive north to Hyde Park, NY, to visit a few national park sites. While I do earn a commission on car rentals, I usually advise my clients to book through an OTA like Hotwire or Priceline, unless they have status with the rental company.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKEDsp4BiQ6/?taken-by=jacksonjetsetting

Our first stop above was Vanderbilt NHS, one of the “smaller” mansions built by the Vanderbilts. This is also where we bought our $80 National Park pass, which gets us 12 months of amazing access to our parklands. Check it out!

We then rushed over to the Home of Franklin D Roosevelt NHS, which also hosts his Presidential Library. Since the library was closing in an hour, we were let in for free, which was incredible generous. I wish we had more time to visit!

Finally, about two miles away, is his wife Eleanor’s cottage, which is its own park unit. It was closed by the time we arrived, but we had a great time looking around the beautiful grounds.

We drove and drove and drove across Connecticut and arrived in Providence, Rhode Island to the Sheraton Providence Airport. I apologize for the lack of photos in this trip report, as my phone somehow lost all the photos. It was a very basic “typically Sheraton” room, but we did receive an upgrade to the Club level with our Gold status and being Starwood Business card holders. We appreciated the free breakfast in the lounge, which was just “normal,” the hot dish being scrambled eggs and having the usual spread of yogurt, fruit, and breads. I did appreciate the 24 hour access to waters, sodas, and some light snacks, though. Also, parking was free, which is a requirement for me in non-city center hotels.

This Sheraton is a Category 2 property, which is 3,000-4,000 points a night. My valuation of SPG points is 2.3 cents per point, so your rate would have to be higher than $69-$92 to make this a “good” use of points.

Day 2

Day 2, we headed into Providence to visit Roger Williams National Memorial. It was a quick stop, but the nice 7-minute visitor center video was a great intro to what Rhode Island was founded upon- religious liberty.

Hopping back in the car, we drove straight to Newport, Rhode Island, where we used a lot of our Expedia+ points at the Hotel Viking, one of their “VIP+” properties. The hotel charges a resort fee, which I think is a bit unreasonable, but it did include delicious lemonade in the lobby the afternoon we were there. There’s also an indoor pool and  rooftop bar and restaurant on property. Our room was the smallest on property, but its corner location gave it good views of Newport and was well appointed. The restroom was definitely tiny, smaller than many closets I’ve had in hotels, but it was so nicely designed for the space that we really didn’t mind. Remember, if you’re interested in booking this hotel (including VIP benefits), fill out the form at the end of this post.

Access into the city was great during our stay, we could walk to all the attractions. We even got in another national park site, Touro Synagogue, which does charge admission for passholders, but you do get a slight discount. The main attractions, though, are the mansions along the Cliff Walk:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKGfCd5BkTb/?taken-by=jacksonjetsetting

They were spectacular to look at, and even prettier inside. We chose just one to look in, the famous Breakers, but a short walk on the Cliff Walk, a public easement between the coast and these mansions’ backyards, proved to be enjoyable enough for the others.

We also visited the Tennis Hall of Fame, which was well done and had plenty to look at for the tennis aficionado (which Laura definitely can be described as).

https://www.instagram.com/p/BKEWRF0BRqp/?taken-by=jacksonjetsetting

Day 3

We drove on into Massachusetts, briefly stopping in New Bedford to check out the New Bedford Whaling NHP. Amazing how New Bedford could be the center of energy for the US for a time, and now be just a relic.

Cape Cod was our next stop, staying at the Four Points by Sheraton Eastham, which is conveniently located near Cape Cod National Seashore. This was one of the nicer Four Points that I’ve stayed in, featuring an outdoor pool, two tennis courts, direct access to a bike path, an indoor pool complex with sauna, an arcade, and free cookies in the lobby.

The beach, however, is the highlight.

Day 4-6

We finally started driving towards Boston, making stops in Adams NHP to check out John and John Q. Adams’ home. We also saw JFK’s birthplace, Frederick Law Olmstead’s house, and Longfellow’s house. Lots of homes, lots of history.

Our two nights in Boston, we used my two free nights from our stay two nights, get one free promotion from our Alaska adventure and one night “mattress run.” At over $250 a night for the hotels this weekend, it was a good use! We were also two stays away from Platinum status, as we were lucky enough to get a double nights and stays credit towards status earning right before our trip. Since free night awards wouldn’t count toward this promo, rather only one night for one night stayed, we elected to check in first to the Element Hotel Boston Seaport, and then switch hotels, literally across the driveway, to the Aloft Boston Seaport the next night.

The Element was the first one of the brand that I’ve stayed in, and I was impressed. We were upgraded to a one-bedroom corner suite, which features a full kitchen. Free breakfast in the morning was delicious, with lots of options across the board. We used our free welcome beverages across the way at the Aloft hotel.

The Aloft hotel was also brand-new, and was the typical Aloft layout for our particular room, though on a high floor. I did get a chance to try out the new voice-activated rooms that premiered at the hotel this month, which if they work out some of the bugs will be very impressive and could change the way we work with hotels.

Overall, I was impressed with Boston and its historic sites. I believe that it’s now one of my favorite cities to visit, though I still hate the Patriots.

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Review of the Andaz 5th Avenue

Price Paid: $250; Average Prices range from $336-$730, depending on the dates

PROS:
  • Excellent location across the street from the New York Public Library and a few blocks from Grand Central
  • Excellent service, including room service breakfast for Globalist members
  • Trendy Room
  • Free mini bar and wine happy hour
CONS:
  • Can be expensive on points or paid rates (luckily, this was a business trip)
  • No pool (though that’s pretty typical for Manhattan)

In town for a few days for the US Open, we were lucky enough to use our newly minted Hyatt Diamond status (now Globalist) for the first time at the Andaz 5th Avenue.

I had stayed here previously in 2013 as a Platinum member, and was upgraded to the same room- an Andaz Extra Large room overlooking the New York Public Library and Times Square beyond. With Bryant Park keeping the high buildings away, this view is excellent, and not nearly as claustrophobic as other Manhattan views.

We arrived late at night after yet another delayed American Airlines flight this summer. We were offered our first ever choice of a diamond amenity- either a tote bag (lame), or 1,000 Hyatt points. After initially taking the tote bag, we had a change of heart and took the points. Unfortunately, under the new World of Hyatt program, no amenity is granted at check-in any longer.

Standard across Andaz’s brand is free non-alcoholic beverages and snacks in the mini bar, as well as a nightly wine happy hour. While we were too busy to take advantage of the wine happy hour, we were pleased to make use of the mini bar. Also, their beer selection in the mini bar was delicious- a local Brooklyn Ale.

The reason why we chose this property, rather than the Grand Hyatt nearby, is the diamond (now Globalist) breakfast benefit. Andaz 5th Avenue is rare in allowing top-tier members to take advantage of their breakfast benefit via room service, $75 worth, which we did 4 of the 5 mornings we were there. I sampled most of the menu, and can definitely recommend the avocado toast and the potatoes. The famous lemon seed pancakes were delicious, but not something I’d order every day. I also had breakfast in the restaurant, alone, and can confirm that I can spend $75 on myself. It also included a mimosa or two…

The gym on property is in the basement, but is surprisingly large for a property of this size. Keep in mind, there is no pool on property.

Overall, we had an excellent stay at the Andaz, and wouldn’t hestitate booking clients here looking to explore Midtown Manhattan and surroundings.

Interested in booking the Andaz 5th Avenue? Fill out a Booking Inquiry below!

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Categories
Hotel Review Travel

A Review of the SLS Resort, Las Vegas, A Tribute Property

Price Paid: $65; Prices range from $49-$300+, depending on the dates

Pros:
  • Monorail on-site for easy Strip access
  • Well-appointed rooms, for the size
  • Excellent culinary scene
  • Friendly casino
Cons:
  • Far away from the action of the “main” part of the Strip
  • Small rooms
  • Small pool for Vegas
  • Can be too trendy for some

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Having arrived in Vegas with JetSuiteX, I needed a place to crash for the night. With Starwood’s targeted promotion for double stays and double nights, as well as double points at all Tribute properties, I thought it was an excellent time to check in with the SLS after becoming an SPG property. And, paired with a $65 rate, I couldn’t refuse!

Arrival

While the SLS can be criticized for its very north Strip location, the property is on the Las Vegas Monorail, which can save you a lot of money during your stay in Vegas. A one-way ticket is $5, and a 24 hour pass is $12, which is much cheaper than one single cab ride anywhere on the Strip.

Since JetSuiteX’s terminal was a 7 minute walk from the MGM Grand’s monorail station, this was my method of arrival. Construction on the new W Hotel, being added to the LUX tower at the resort, has guests entering the property through the Monkey Bar, right near the front desks.

There’s a dedicated check-in desk for Starwood Elite members, which had no line when arrived around 3 PM. Check-in was quick, and I was assigned a high floor with technically a Strip View in the World Tower.

The Room

As I made my way down this very dark hallway…

I arrived at my room.

Inside, I found two double beds (the only non-smoking rooms available were double rooms). The rooms are definitely tiny by Vegas standards, and my last stay had me staying at the LUX tower, which has slightly larger rooms.

The view from the very small window was not as bad as it could be, but still not great:

I will say that the interior design is impressive. Two giant mirrors on either side of the room definitely make the space feel a bit more airy.

A large desk with lots of promo materials on what the hotel has to offer sat opposite the beds.

The bathroom was small but featured a great shower, with Ciel bath amenities in oversized bottles, just small enough to check through security. Another corner of the room had the SLS mini bar, which featured some gourmet snacks (though out of my price range).

With some time to kill before sundown, I checked out the Foxtail pool, which was quiet for Vegas standards but had some stylings like chrome oversized rubber ducks, lampshades, and fit the overall “theme” of the hotel.

It was dinner time, and I had done my research online for some food specials. The SLS hasn’t been a home run since it opened two years ago, but I will say the food on property is the best in Las Vegas. They have 6 restaurants, and 5 of them are on the “Taste of SLS” $49 menu. Essentially a food and bar crawl, you’ll try 5 different drinks and 5 different food items at each of the 5 restaurants on the list (José Andres’ Bazaar Meat is unfortunately not featured).

I first took advantage of my Gold member free drink, which was any drink at the Monkey Bar or Perk $15 or under. Naturally, I maxed it out with this:

It’s the signature drink of the property, the “Monkey Suit,” made with Maker’s Mark Bourbon, Banana Liqueur, Sweet Vermouth, Walnut Bitters, and Torched Banana. Delicious!

I started out at the resort’s casual Northside Cafe and Chinese Kitchen, where I had the Strawberry Margarita and Fried Spring Rolls. Total value: $16.

Next, I journeyed over to Cleo’s next door, a favorite of mine from Los Angeles. Their featured item is the lamb shawarma and lotus flower cocktail. Value: $23.

Then, I went to Katsuya, their sushi joint. While the service was a bit slow at the bar, I LOVED their crispy rice and spicy tuna dish. Value: $28.

I stopped by Umami Burger next and had a beer and some of their secret menu Cheezy Tots. No picture, sorry, but value: $12.

Finally, I ended my culinary tour at 800 Degrees, their pizza place. I had the margherita pizza and a beer. Value: $14.

Also, I won a grand at the craps table in between drinks and food, which was awesome.

Overall, I gotta hand it to the SLS- they put on quite a show. Maybe with the W opening it’ll breathe some new life into the property- but the pieces are there!

Interested in booking? Fill out our booking inquiry form below!

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