Hotels

Category Archives for Hotels.

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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Booking Hawaii: Part 3 – Hilton Hawaiian Village and Tending Reservations

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I’ll go ahead and tell you the moral of this story: tend to your reservations.

After booking 4 flights to Honolulu, then adding my little brother into the mix, the final piece of the puzzle was to book the hotel rooms.

Step 1: The paid stay

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Hotel Review: ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka

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I should say up front: I really wanted to stay at the Hilton Osaka, but there wasn’t availability – paid or with points – for my dates.

And the Hyatt Regency Osaka wasn’t available, either. (Even if it was, it’s pretty far from most attractions, unless you want to be near Universal Studios Japan, which I hear is incredible.)

Lobby of the ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka

Lobby of the ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka

The only thing available as far as chain hotels was the ANA Crowne Plaza Osaka, an IHG hotel. It was between this and an Airbnb.

In the end, I opted to pay 50,000 IHG points for 2 nights here because:

  • It was free
  • I randomly earned IHG Spire Elite status and wanted to see if it made a difference
  • IHG Spire Elite status comes with 25,000 bonus IHG points, so one of the nights was a total freebie
  • I have a ton of IHG points and wanted to burn some of them
  • The Chase IHG card gives you 10% of your redeemed miles back in your account
  • The stay at the Hilton Tokyo was paid and I wanted to decrease the overall price of the trip

Arrival and check-in

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Hotel Review: Hilton Tokyo Shinjuku

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To start, I wanna say, I loved this hotel! The location, ambiance, and staff were all wonderful. Getting out at the Shinjuku station and walking to the Hilton Tokyo with the lit-up neon lights is an experience I’ll never forget.

Hilton Tokyo review

Entrance of the Hilton Tokyo

But first things first.

Landing at NRT

I’ll do a review of the flight over soon.

I was nervous about flying into NRT because it’s a solid 90 minutes from Tokyo no matter which method you choose to get to the city: train, bus, or taxi.

We landed around 5pm, so I figured the train was best to avoid rush hour traffic. The airport is incredibly well-signed. But once you get to the trains, you’re bombarded with a zillion options and routes. I looked at the JR lines, the Tokyo metro, and rapid transit to another station.

To sort through it all, we entered the options into the individual machines until we found the best routing and price. All told, it took 15 minutes to price out 3 or 4 train tickets. We paid a little more to get there a little faster. From NRT, the faster you go, the more it’ll cost. But even the most expensive ticket was only ~$40.

Arrival and check-in

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Just Booked: 2 Nights at Hyatt at The Bellevue for $150 (Worth Over $900!)

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I’ve written about the incredible value you can get with the annual free night from the Chase Hyatt card at Hyatt Category 4 hotels.

A hotel I listed as an “honorable mention” is the Hyatt at The Bellevue in Philadelphia.

For my last weekend as a New Yorker, I’ll actually be in Philly, at this Hyatt. Jay and I both recently got our free night certs and I’ve been itching to burn them.

We got a super deal on a weekend getaway.

Hyatt at the Bellevue

Hyatt at the Bellevue

This is an awesome example of how easy it is to get value from the Chase Hyatt card. The annual free night makes it well worth keeping!

By the numbers

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Hotel Review: La Pagerie, Les Trois Ilets, Martinique

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The ticket to Martinique cost $67 out-of-pocket ($317 fare – $250 Citi Prestige airline credit). And I booked Hotel La Pagerie through Citi Travel Concierge and got the 4th night free.

Citi Prestige saved me a boatload of cash on this trip. Safe to say I love this card.

Grounds of the Hotel La Pagerie

Grounds of the Hotel La Pagerie

Arrival and check-in

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Hotel Review: Alexandra Doubletree Barcelona, Dream Suite

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I wrote about my experience arriving and checking-in to the Alexandra Barcelona, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.

Lobby of the Alexandra Doubletree Barcelona

Lobby of the Alexandra Doubletree Barcelona

It couldn’t have been better. I was upgraded to a Dream Suite worth ~$1,660 as a Hilton Diamond member.

Now, I want to show you the Dream Suite and review the hotel more in-depth.

The Dream Suite at the Alexandra Doubletree Barcelona

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My Hilton Diamond Experience in Barcelona (With Suite Upgrade Worth Over $1,600!)

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I was super looking forward to visiting Barcelona.

From the initial disappointment of not getting the best deal (but still a very good deal) on the flights, to wondering which hotel to stay at, to finally getting a Citi Prestige card and choosing the Alexandra Doubletree, it was a bit of a ride.

In the end, I was able to book 6 nights via Citi Travel Concierge with Hilton’s Winter Sale rate and 4th night free.

Here’s how it all shook out.

Booking by the numbers

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Booking Barcelona: Citi Prestige + Hilton Diamond at Alexandra DoubleTree

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The hotel stay for Barcy is all set. And, I booked it – again – with Citi Prestige. I wrote about my first experience booking a hotel room it for Martinique.

View Additional Airline & Frequent Flyer Credit Card Offers Here

asd

Gonna eat the hell out of that free breakfast

I settled on the Alexandra Barcelona, a DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel.

I’d originally booked the Hilton Barcelona as a Points & Money reward.

Why the switch?

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Taking Another Look at Hilton, Hyatt, and Diamond Elite Status

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To begin, I must say I’m disappointed I wasn’t one of the lucky ones to receive Hyatt Diamond status. Although I did luck out with Hilton Diamond status.

I realize I’ll likely sound like a spoiled brat whining about something I didn’t get for free. Especially when others have spent much more time and money to actually earn the status. That said, the way Hyatt handled the Diamond status match – from free-for-all to the later restriction to only match SPG Platinum members, and all the missteps in between- was very mishandled.

Booooo

Booooo

Hyatt had an opportunity to capitalize on the SPG/Marriott merger and they blew it – unless you got the match, then you win. I likely would’ve gone out of my way to stay with Hyatt more in 2016 and beyond. This whole thing has left such a bad taste behind that it makes me want to actively avoid Hyatt, and only use them for free award night stays.

Although I think what Hilton is doing is genius, at least from a marketing perspective. And, let’s face it: Hilton has a much larger footprint than Hyatt (4,100+ hotels compared to ~600). And Hilton is in every place there’s a Hyatt with few exceptions.

For example, there are NO Hyatt hotels in Barcelona (where I’ll be in a few weeks). But there were 4 Hilton options:

Furthermore, the next time Hyatt has a Diamond status challenge to stay 12 nights, I won’t even consider doing it (even though you can complete it with only 9 nights if you have Citi Prestige). Why would I spend $1,000 on something so many others got for free?

Anyway, that’s my preamble – just wanted to clear the air here. Again, I completely understand I don’t “deserve” the status in way. It just sucks to see so many get it for free, even though my credentials where enough – at one point – to get me in, too. A case of “early bird gets the worm” if there ever was one.

But now, I’m taking another look at Hilton, as I expect to have more paid stays there, at least for now. And, it’s not as bad as you’d think.

Hilton Diamond Vs Hyatt Diamond

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5 Hyatt Category 4 Hotels Where the Hyatt Card Annual Free Night Rocks

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I’ve had some pretty good experiences with Hyatt points, even though the way they handled their recent Hyatt Diamond promo was a disaster. #jaded

Anyway, one can have a finite number of Chase cards, but I choose to renew the Chase Hyatt card year after year.

That’s because you get a free night certificate when you renew the card each year, and it’s good at Category 1 through 4 hotels. So obviously, I try to use them at Category 4 properties to get outsized value.

Last year, I gave my free night away to Jay’s grandparents for a night at the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at The Arch (which is a Category 2), because the certificate was about to expire and it was their anniversary. Jay and I both have the Chase Hyatt card, so we gave them 2 nights at the hotel. They loved it!

hyatt category 4 hotels

New year, new options!

I just renewed the card again and paid the $75 annual fee, so I thought I’d take a spin through the Category 4 hotel list to see where I might use the annual free night in 2016.

I found at least 6 hotels where you’ll recoup the annual fee 4x over… or more. It got me thinking.

Never change

Never change

Oh, and because these are all Category 4 hotels, you can also redeem 15,000 Hyatt points for a free night. In many cases, you’ll get over 4 cents per point in value!

5 Hyatt hotels worth 4x or more than the annual fee on the Chase Hyatt card

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Hotel Review: Hyatt House Dallas/Uptown

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After staying at the Hyatt Place in “Austin”, I headed to Dallas to do some house-hunting.

Picking up the rental car was a nightmare, but once on the road, I was at the Hyatt House Dallas/Uptown in about 25 minutes.

The parking garage is beyond a gate where you have to swipe your room key, and there are maybe 4 parking spots outside the hotel, as it’s located off a major thoroughfare (Harry Hines Boulevard), which, if there are more than a few people checking in, creates a huge, annoying queue.

Thankfully, I got a spot, grabbed my wallet, and headed to checkin/get a room key within a couple of minutes.

Checkin and arrival

After flying and driving, it hit me that I was super thirsty once I saw the water for sale near the checkin desk.

The desk agent greeted me warmly, and quickly found my reservation.

He acknowledge my Hyatt Platinum elite status, which is completely useless except for random scenarios like this checkin.

I didn’t know parking was an extra $14 a day, and had a 3-night stay… an extra $42.

For some reason, I thought it would be included as the hotel isn’t in downtown Dallas or in a particularly clogged area. Whatever, I asked if he could add it to my Chase Hyatt card along with… abottleofwaterI’msothirsty.

He validated my parking, gave me a room key, and said there would be no charge for the parking, and to enjoy the water. In fact, he gave me another bottle to take to the room!

I was bowled over by the gesture after getting through a flight and driving and parking and finding the place. It was very kind, and I was grateful. It really is the little things.

So, checkin could not have not any smoother. And the gracious service from checkin continued through the entire stay.

 

Hallways of the Hyatt House Dallas/Uptown

Hallways of the Hyatt House Dallas/Uptown

Everyone, from the cleaning staff to the bartenders to the other desk agents were attentive and professional the entire time.

The room

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