Category Archives for Hotels.

Booking Dublin: Hotels

The Delta attack on United hubs elicited my first post written in utter excitement with little no editing.

After I booked the Dublin trip, I realized there were more pieces that had to fall into place, and thought it would be a good opportunity to document my trip-planning process.

The trip is IAD-ATL-DUB, and back the same way. I’m in New York, so I am anticipating:

  • Booking hotel rooms for six nights
  • Probably renting a car
  • Getting myself down to Washington, DC from NYC
  • Using my American Express Platinum Card to get into Delta and/or Priority Pass lounges in IAD and ATL (and DUB on the way back)
  • And of course, being in Ireland for the first time

Hotel options

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Hotel Review: InterContinental Sydney, Australia

From the way overdue files…

This time last year, I celebrated the start of 2014 in Sydney at the InterContinental.

I got in on the annual Daily Getaways promo to buy 150,000 IHG points – and promptly redeemed them for three nights in a “King Standard City Side Room.”

Now, I expected the area downtown to be crazy for New Years Eve. The location was amazing.

Location of the InterContinental Sydney

Location of the InterContinental Sydney

I don’t remember how, but I was somehow Gold with IHG at the time. This was with zero stays – maybe I status matched? Whatever the case, I am still Gold with them today despite not having any paid stays in 2013 or 2014. Mysteries of the universe.

I thought maybe, just maybe, I’d get some sort of upgrade for being Gold during a time where there would be a lot of tourists with no status. I didn’t expect it, but thought I had a ghost of a chance.


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Club Carlson-ing my way through Europe



In the middle of Eurotrip 2014, I had a moment where I was like, OMG, I’m staying exclusively at Club Carlson properties (except for one night at the Grand Hyatt Berlin).

So the news that US Bank, issuer of the Club Carlson Visa, may be imposing cash advance fees for Serve reloads was disconcerting. And now that Amazon Payments is over, too… I don’t know what I’ll do to manufacture spend now. This is a hot topic in the points and miles community, and there is some speculation about the new REDcard and possible changes to Serve. In any case, I am looking forward to the next step because I do think the Club Carlson Visa is a very good card to focus on for day-to-day, non-bonused, or manufactured spend.

I couldn’t have done Eurotrip 2014 without that card.

How I did it

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Hotel Review: Park Inn By Radisson Munich-East

Eurotrip 2014 has been very centered around Club Carlson properties. In fact, I’ve done 80% of it with their properties (4 out of 5 – and 3 of those were Park Inns).

The one in Munich was the first.

The hotel

This Park Inn is located about 100m from the Johanneskirchen stop of the S8 S-Bahn stop, equidistant to downtown Munich and the airport. After landing at MUC, I was at the hotel, door-to-door, in about 30 minutes. Not bad.

Park Inn Munich-East check-in desk

Park Inn Munich-East check-in desk

The part of East Munich it’s located in really doesn’t have that much going on. It’s a sleepy section with a suburb-like feel. There isn’t much in the way of food and watering holes. Really just the hotel and a restaurant/beer garden across the street. But for what I needed from this stay, a little off the beaten path was perfect.

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Confession: I didn’t love the Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome (A Review)

a building with many windows and plants on the side
park hyatt paris vendome review

Park Hyatt Paris-Vendome Entrance

Yep. I stayed four nights here as part of my free Paris vacation valued at over $20,000. Both my partner and I opened a Chase Hyatt Visa credit card. Both came with two free nights at any Hyatt property in the world. Hyatt now has a handful of properties that are in a new category: aspirational Category 7. I was torn between redeeming the free nights at the Vendome or at one of the two Category 6 properties in Hawaii. It’s obvious which one I picked because I’m now reviewing the Vendome. I was underwhelmed by it. It was “meh.”

The reason I chose the Vendome was mostly because of the hype. In the points-and-miles blog stratosphere, people talk about the Vendome like it’s the holy grail of hotels.

Expectations. I tried not to have very many. I was hoping for a nice room as a Platinum member with Hyatt. Nearly the second I walked into the Vendome, I kinda had this sinking feeling that I’d wasted my precious four free nights.

Arrival and check-in

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Hotel Review: Dome Home B&B, Healy, Alaska

The Dome Home B&B in Healy, AK

The Dome Home B&B in Healy, AK

Denali National Park is a lot of things. It’s huge, beautiful, natural, wild, raw, breathtaking – and very far from most anything. There are no hotel chains here, so staying at the Dome Home Bed & Breakfast didn’t earn me any stay credits with any points program – but it did earn me some American miles. How? Sites like Pointshound and Rocketmiles are GREAT for earning points in far-flung places – sign up if you haven’t already. There are some gems on there for boutique hotel and B&B bookings like this one that will still earn you miles! I always checked Rocketmiles for every booking I make, just to see what’s available. And everyone should absolutely see Alaska someday, points or no. It is gorgeous!

I settled on the Dome Home after seeing that I could still earn miles for booking at that it was located near to Denali in Healy, Alaska – only a 30-minute drive from the northern entrance to the park. They also had a brewery I wanted to visit, and it was a 15-minute drive from a tourist oasis where there were restaurants, shops, grocery stores, and gas stations in case we needed anything “for the road.”

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Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Manchester, San Diego

Grand Hyatt Manchester entrance

Grand Hyatt Manchester entrance

I was in San Diego for some business and spent a few nights at the Grand Hyatt Manchester, near downtown and the Gaslamp District. It was my first time at this Hyatt, and I was quite looking forward to it.

This review also feels kind of gratuitous (like the review of the Centurion Lounge @ DFW) because Lucky has also reviewed the same property. BUT – I have breakfast pictures! Take that!

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Hotel Review: New York-New York, Las Vegas

Outside New York-New York in Las Vegas

Outside New York-New York in Las Vegas

Weekend in Vegas

I took a cab here from LAS, which was super cheap – only about $15. I read a tip somewhere to the cab driver to “avoid the tunnel,” whatever that means, so I said that and about 10 minutes later arrived at my introduction to the most artificial place in the world:  Las Vegas.

I went to Las Vegas for the weekend to hang out with a friend from high school. It had been a couple of years, and a visit was overdue. Also, Ms. Britney Spears announced a residency at Planet Hollywood, so that was reason enough for us. Add to that Shania Twain at Caesar’s Palace, and you have a recipe for the gayest weekend ever.

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Las Vegas is great for Hyatt Gold Passport Members

Screenshot 2014-03-04 19.16.12

After the stay at New York-New York Hotel & Casino for two days, it was time to move across the walkway for a one-night stay at Excalibur. Both of these hotels are part of MLife, MGM’s loyalty program, and they’re literally connected by a long walkway. These hotels are located on the south side of The Strip, and very close to the airport. A taxi to/from was only $15 in each direction.

Why so focused on MLife? For Hyatt stay credits, of course. By switching hotels, I got three nights and two stays credited to my Gold Passport account, which is Hyatt’s loyalty program. A few months ago, Hyatt announced a partnership with MGM with reciprocal benefits between MLife and Gold Passport. I recently got the Chase Hyatt Visa, which comes with Platinum status just for having the card. And because of this partnership, I found myself as a mid-tier Gold with MLife, which gave me priority checkin/checkout, bonus points for staying in the rooms, and a bonus for gambling in the casinos.

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Hotel Review: Holiday Inn @ SCL

Approaching the hotel

Outside the hotel

After flying LGA-ORD on American and MEX-LIM-EZE-SCL on LAN, I pretty much felt like a pile of garbage. I had a day-long layover to look forward to at SCL and booked a room at the Holiday Inn by redeeming a free night from, who has a buy 10, get one free program – effectively 10% off all bookings made through the website. Anyway, I cleared immigration, already had my Chilean reciprocity from another trip earlier in the year (which is now a moot point since it is now free to visit Chile!) and made it through customs in about thirty minutes. I was so exhausted, my eyes were just about crossing trying to read the signs.

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Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Santiago

Atrium at Grant Hyatt Santiago
Atrium at Grant Hyatt Santiago

Holy *bleep*. And you guys know I don’t use profanity lightly (not).

This was a gorgeous property, and is only categorized as a Category 2.

Upon walking in, I immediately thought this property should be in a much higher category than it is. But after further reflection, it’s the location that brings it down so much.

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