Hotels

Category Archives for Hotels.

Last Chance to Get the Hilton Surpass Amex for 100,000 Points (And Why I Got It)

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Through May 31st, 2017 (this Wednesday), the Hilton Surpass Amex has its best-ever sign-up bonus. Yes, it’s offered 100,000 Hilton points before. But this go-around, you also get a free weekend night certificate after your first cardmember year.

I wrote how 120,000 Hilton points can easily be worth over $700. But throw in the free night cert, and you’re approaching $1,000 in value from a single sign-up bonus.

hilton surpass amex 100,000

I used Hilton points to stay in colorful Colorado next week

Plus you get Hilton Gold elite status with the card which means… free breakfast! (My fave perk lol.)

I was low on Hilton points and am becoming intensely interested in a trip to Mexico City this year. There are lots of lower-category hotels there – and you get the 5th night free on any award stay.

In general, Hilton points go further at low-tier hotels. But it’s all about how you like to use them.

The Hilton Surpass Amex is worth it if you’ve never had it

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Hotel Review: The Drake (Hilton), Chicago

This past week, I ventured up to Chicago to see Hamilton and hang out with some old college buddies.

I booked 5 nights at The Drake hotel Chicago, located on the Magnificent Mile/Michigan Avenue, with Hilton points. The 5th night was free on this award booking, so I paid 200,000 Hilton points (50,000 X 4) for the entire stay.

the drake hotel chicago

My eventual room would’ve cost $1,400+ out of pocket

Because I’m Diamond with Hilton, I got an upgrade to a King Bed on the Executive Floor. Similar room rates to when I stayed say this would’ve been ~$1,404 in cash. But I didn’t have to pay taxes on the award booking, which are over 17% per night (!!!).

That means my Hilton points were worth .07 cents each – and more when you count the free breakfast and free food in the evenings. That’s a good rate for Hilton points!

I took a Lyft from Midway after flying on Southwest from Dallas-Love Field. Traffic was backed up, but I made it to The Drake in about 30 minutes.

Arrival and check-in

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Mexico and Bust: Eating at All the Hyatt Zilara Cancun Restaurants

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OMG, y’all. I have never eaten so much in my life. I seriously – like legit – have new stretch marks from how much I gorged myself during my recent free stay at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun.

I knew I wanted to write about the food and drinks at the various restaurants. But found balance a hard one to strike because I was literally always eating and drinking. So I was torn between wanting to capture the moment and be in the moment. But I have enough to  give you an idea of what to expect.

Also, I tried every dang restaurant there – some of them twice.

hyatt zilara cancun restaurants

Love is a many splendored thing

I was impressed by the quality, selection, and creativity of the dishes. There was a huge variety. And all the drinks are made with top-shelf liquor.

Girdle thy loins, let’s look at each one.

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Index

Hyatt Zilara Cancun restaurants

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Review of My Free Stay at the Hyatt Zilara Cancun

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Ahoy, mateys! I have so much to tell you about – just back from a week of meetings in Austin.

I’ve been meaning to report on the Hyatt Zilara Cancun, so here goes.

I booked 3 nights with points in late January.

The flights were paid with Citi ThankYou points (which I’m always rolling in). And I charged the $55 round-trip airport transfer to my Chase Sapphire Reserve, which trigged part of the $300 annual travel credit. And because it’s an all-inclusive, food was covered (more on that in a future post!).

Hyatt Zilara Cancun from above

Hyatt Zilara Cancun from above

So flights, hotel, food, and transportation were all completely free. I did bring $100 in cash to leave as tips for the drivers, bartenders, servers, and housekeeping staff.

This trip would’ve cost north of $2,000 out of pocket.

But back to the hotel!

Hyatt Zilara Cancun Index

Arrival and check-in

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Bahama Breeze: Part 2 – Exploring the Atlantis Resort in Nassau

Atlantis Resort Nassau

I referenced the enormity of the Atlantis Bahamas complex in my earlier review. But wow, this place is gigantic!

Walking through it all would be a nigh impossible task. There’s a free shuttle bus to get around the various towers. Most places are a 5- to 30-minute walk, depending on which tower you stay, and how quickly you walk.

Atlantis Resort Nassau

View from Dolphin Cay

The Atlantis is a city unto itself. It would take several weeks to experience the dozens of bars and restaurants, swim in all the pools, and walk around the beaches of Paradise Island. So go into it knowing you won’t see everything. But do sketch out a rough idea for what you’d like to see and do.

Atlantis Resort Nassau

You won’t get to all 21 restaurants and each of the 19 bars and lounges – not to mention everything else!

I had a Casino Experience Pass included as part of my 4 free nights, and that set us on a course to exploring the Atlantis.

Bahama Breeze Index

Using the Casino Experience Pass

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Bahama Breeze: Part 1 – Review of My Free Room at Atlantis Beach Tower, Nassau

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There are a few things in life that make me say, “Hell, yes!” as fast as 4 free nights in the Bahamas.

atlantis beach tower review

Exterior of the Atlantis Beach Tower

I wrote about the details of how I did it, but in a nutshell:

Booking was simple. I requested my dates (December 10th to 14th), booked a non-stop flight there from DFW to NAS with Avios points, and booked a flight back (with a connex at MIA) with American miles.

I was aflutter about the experience, how the benefit would play out, and what the room would be like. I am happy to report it was a wonderful trip.

Bahama Breeze Index

Arrival and check-in

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Hotel Review: Aloft Winchester, Virginia

During my drive from Brooklyn to Dallas, I planned to stay 2 nights at hotels along the way. Long story short, my freaking car broke down. And I was plunged into a land of endless Plan Bs.

I prefer Hilton hotels. So during a fuel stop around dusk, I searched for a room on the Hilton app. Nothing was available within 100 miles. And I was tired from driving since 4am.

I didn’t have 100 miles left in me. I was ready for anything – even a roadside motel, “Psycho”-style.

So I checked Hyatt and Starwood. No Hyatt hotels in rural Virginia (not a surprise, but worth a looky-loo).

But there was a random Aloft hotel 45 miles away. I booked a room at the Aloft Winchester, nestled near the West Virginia border in extreme northern Virginia. It was ~$120 with taxes for the night.

As an added bonus, there were no pet fees! Hilton likes to charge $30 to $75 as a non-refundable pet deposit. So that was a silver lining.

Aloft Winchester review

Location of the Aloft Winchester

I booked on my phone and sped down the highway. I was so tired, my eyes were literally crossing. And I was getting bad road hypnosis.

Obviously, I made it because I’m writing this now. That day is etched into my memory as one of the longest of my life…

Arrival and check-in

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4 Free Nights in the Bahamas, Thanks to FoundersCard!

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The (good) hits just keep on coming! (I wrote about a free private jet flight from FoundersCard yesterday).

I got free Caesars Diamond elite status this year from FoundersCard, which comes with a ton of benefits, including:

  • Diamond lounge access
  • No resort fees at Caesars properties
  • $100 celebration dinner
  • Priority lines everywhere

Because of this, I’ve been thinking about a weekend trip to Las Vegas.

Up next: 4 free nights in the Bahamas!

Up next: 4 free nights in the Bahamas!

Another benefit of Caesars Diamond status is 4 free nights at the Atlantis Resort in the Bahamas (part of the Marriott Autograph Collection).

Well, I just called to book it – and it went off without a hitch!

I used British Airways Avios points for flights there. And American miles for flights back. Total cost of ~$214 for round-trip coach flights for 2 from Dallas to Nassau. But the whole experience is worth nearly $2,600.

That includes 4 free nights from Caesars Diamond status – courtesy of FoundersCard. I’m so stoked!

About the 4 free nights

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Hotel Review: Capital Hilton, Washington, DC

I’m back in Dallas and still reeling from an incredible trip this past weekend to Washington, DC, for BAcon 3 (BoardingArea’s conference for the blogger crew).

The more I stay in hotels, the more I feel it’s the staff that makes a good stay above all else. Location is probably second. Yep. Followed by breakfast. All I ever want is breakfast.

I took a Lyft for the short ~4-mile ride from DCA to downtown DC for my stay at the Capital Hilton. It was nice to see the foliage, and feel the fall chill: two things I’ve been missing in Texas.

capital hilton washington dc review

Back like a heart attack

I was in DC this August for FTU Advanced. So it was nice to be back, twice in a year.

The location of the hotel is incredible.

Easy walking distance to

Easy walking distance to so much good stuff (Click to enlarge)

You can easily walk to the White House, and Logan Circle or 14th Street for bars and restaurants. And anywhere downtown. Or take a quick Lyft to the Smithsonian museums, Washington Monument, and Lincoln memorial (or just walk it – it’s a beautiful part of the city).

It’s also 2 blocks from the subway, for those who like to ride the train. The location is the biggest reason I chose to stay here – it was the closest Hilton hotel to my conference location.

Arrival and check-in

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Hotel Review: Hilton Hawaiian Village, Honolulu

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After months of anticipation, the day finally came to travel to Hawaii. I was a Nervous Nelly because of a line of thunderstorms moving through Dallas (where I was) and onward to Memphis (where the fam was).

Thoughts of missed connections, rebookings, and sitting in an airport instead of in Hawaii came to mind. But thankfully, it all came together without a hitch.

I flew over with my Mom, stepdad, and Jay. And my little brother met us at HNL.

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

Entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Honolulu

We took an Uber to the Hilton Hawaiian Village, about ~20 minutes away. Really, couldn’t have gone more smoothly.

Arrival and check-in

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Hilton Makes More Award Rooms Available for Diamond Elite Members

I made a glancing comment on my Booking Hawaii: Part 3 post:

There were technically no award nights available, but I love the soft perk of Hilton giving Diamond guests enhanced award availability.

(Yasss, quoted myself!)

Which prompted some discussion in the comments. Drew asked for more detail. And Brandon reported getting more award space at a lower rate.

Aye verily, I was able to book an award stay when no award rooms were “technically” available:

hilton diamond

Boom

Hilton also has the room rate as “confidential.” Fancy!

This is, as far as I know, an unpublished benefit of the Hilton HHonors program.

They go on to say:

asd

How Hilton describes this perk

If you’re Diamond with Hilton, this could come in handy more often than you think.

Is this actually useful?

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Hotel Review: Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

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I was in ABQ this past weekend checking out some potential investment properties.

I’m not sure I found a good mix of price, appreciation, rental demand, and location – but maybe I’m being too picky. It’s a whole other thing I’m thinking through now.

To set the stage for this heady trip, I booked 2 nights at the Homewood Suites by Hilton Albuquerque Uptown (and booked the flights and car rental, all within 10 minutes).

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

Breakfast area at the Homewood Suites Albuquerque Uptown

It was so good to remember the serenity of the high desert. The days were gorgeous. And the skies there are incomparable. I love seeing mountains in the distance. I’ll take mountains over sea any day.

After landing, I immediately drove to the East Mountains to meet the real estate agent. And checked in to the hotel around 8pm that night.

Arrival and check-in

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