Archive for the ‘hotel’ Category

Hyatt Place in Plano, Texas, Wins For Friendliness

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

plano-texas-friendly-service-hyatt-placeThe staff at Hyatt Place in Plano, Texas, may just be the friendliest hotel staff that I’ve encountered on my travels. It’s a marked difference from my colleague, Spencer Spellman’s recent experience at a Hyatt Place in Charleston, South Carolina.

From the warm greeting the desk staff gave us as my husband and I walked through the door to the personal tour of the facility, I felt as if we were long awaited guests. Each time I passed through the lobby, one of the staff would ask, “Do you need anything? Are you pleased with your accommodations?” They even delivered my husband’s shoes to our room after he left them under the portico when he unloaded the luggage from the car.

Seating areas and a dedicated TV viewing alcove encourage guests to hang out in the lobby. The 24-hour food bar (food for sale) is a welcome change from the typical hotel vending machines. It even includes Starbucks coffees, a limited hot food selection plus alcoholic beverages. A separate eating area housed the complementary continental buffet breakfast.

Our king room offered a separate living area with sectional sofa, where a large flat panel TV pivots allowing viewing from the bedroom or the sofa. Of course, I always appreciate free wireless internet. A dedicated desk area with convenient electrical plug-ins (a rarity in hotel rooms) made connecting that much easier.

The layout of our room would have made an excellent headquarters for an extended stay in Plano. I’d love to tell you about the free breakfast but our comfortable bed encouraged us to oversleep, so we missed out. But, with Hyatt Place’s convenient location, it wasn’t hard finding another breakfast spot.

I’m looking forward to the same friendly service on my next stay at Hyatt Place in Plano, TX.

If You Go:

Hyatt Place Plano
3100 Dallas Parkway
Plano, TX 75093, USA
Phone: 972 378 3997

Photo courtesy Donna L. Hull

Review by Donna L. Hull, My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel

Boutique hotel-hostel at Hôme Rooms Deluxe in Valencia, Spain

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Last year I enjoyed a short spring break in Valencia with my family when we stayed at Hôme Rooms Deluxe, a new kind of lodging that’s increasingly springing up around Europe – a sort of hybrid that has hostel facilities but with a boutique hotel feel. I love the relaxed communal atmosphere of hostels, the free wifi and the flexibility to cook my own meals, but these days I can’t face anything less than a private en suite bedroom. In Valencia the stylish Hôme Rooms Deluxe fits the bill perfectly.

Burma room at Home Room Deluxe Valencia

Burma room at Home Room Deluxe Valencia

When looking for somewhere to stay that would suit both my own tastes and those of my teenage children, I was attracted to Hôme Rooms Deluxe by the individually designed rooms, each created by a different artist and with a different theme. I stayed with my husband in a dark and mysterious Burmese room with golden walls, teak furniture, mantras on the walls and red fringes around the bed that we got a little tangled with. Next door, our children were surrounded by frescoes of Venetian gondoliers, masked carnival-goers and a view of St Mark’s Square, with hand painted gauzy draperies. Each room is different and you can even check out some of the designs on the website and choose your favourite, whether it’s a Moroccan Rhiad, a sci-fi silver space odyssey or a blue ceiling-ed swimming pool.

Venice Room at Home Room Deluxe Valencia

Venice Room at Home Room Deluxe Valencia

As you enter from the street there is a 24 hr reception and the hotel is situated on the first and second floor, with apartments also for rent on a daily basis on the floors above. On the first floor there is a bright red self-catering kitchen where the breakfast was served and a communal sitting area with large TV and 2 free internet stations. I didn’t see the apartments that sleep 2-4 people but they are furnished in the same modern style and benefit from the manned reception and internet access.

Hôme Rooms Deluxe is in a modern building in a residential area that’s a 15 minute bus ride out of the older centre of the city but just a couple of minute’s walk from the City of Arts and Sciences, the ultra modern and visually stunning cultural centre. There are a few neighbourhood restaurants, cafes and small shops close by and a shopping mall 5 minutes walk away and unusually there’s an underground car park the which is very useful if you are touring around Spain by car. This is an ideal hotel for those who want a quieter base for sightseeing than the heart of the old quarter which has more character but can also be more noisy at night once the restaurants and bars get going (remember the Spanish rarely sit down to dinner before 10pm)

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

I loved the stylish feel of Hôme Rooms Deluxe and the proximity to the City of Arts and Sciences which we could explore once the coach parties had gone home. The hotel is ideal for those who want a base for sightseeing although party animals and those with a very short time in the city might be better to stay closer to the old centre of Valencia.

If you are that party animal and want to stay in the heart of the old quarter with buzzing nightlife, then read our review of Hôme Backpacker’s Hostel or if you’re a keen golfer try the 4 star El Saler Parador close to Valencia.

Hôme Rooms Deluxe, Instituto Obrero, 20, 46013 Valencia. We paid €70 per night per double room and €100 per triple room but prices vary according to the season.

Photo Credits: All photos by Heather on her travels on Flickr

Hyatt Big Welcome Back Sweepstakes Winner

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Hyatt Key West Hotel and Spa

The sweepstakes have closed, the entries are in and we have a winner of our two-night Hyatt hotel giveaway. If you missed it, last week we asked readers what their favorite, and least favorite, cliches were. Every person who entered a cliche was entered into our sweepstakes to give away two nights at a Hyatt hotel. Additionally, readers could tweet about the giveaway and have two entries. We got some great cliches. Some of them included: “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” and “When in Rome…(do as the Romans do)”.

Using, we randomly picked a winner out of all the entries. Drum roll, please…And the winner of two nights at any Hyatt hotel is Crystal Harlow! Coincidentally, Crystal is a travel writer herself, known as the Traveler’s Barista. Crystal’s two free nights can be used at any Hyatt hotel between now and August 30th.

This hotel giveaway was done in conjunction with Hyatt’s Big Welcome Back Promotion. Stay at a Hyatt hotel on two different occasions between now and June 30 and receive either 5,000 reward points or a free night at a Hyatt hotel. Free nights must be redeemed by August 30th, while there’s no expiration on the reward points. Congratulations to Crystal Harlow, and continue to check back for future giveaways at Uptake.

Photo courtesy of Hyatt.

The Beaumont, Maastricht, The Netherlands

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

On the banks of the River Maas, the ancient city of Maastricht is home to several universities and venue of numerous international conferences. Just last year, the 13th United World College opened here, so it’s a vibrant city with a large international student population. Maastricht is a popular recreational destination as well, with heaps of great shops and restaurants. Furthermore, this is a very convenient location for exploring not only the Netherlands, but also Belgium and Germany, both only minutes away.

Conveniently located between the railway station and the old city, the Beaumont is a great lodging option and I ususally stay here whenever I’m in Maastricht for a conference. Everything in town is within easy walking distance. For US history buffs, the Beaumont has an American connection as well. During World War II, it was for a while home to the 9th American batallion. This is commemorated with photos around the hotel.

The rooms are affordable, clean and comfortable with rates from EUR 49.50 per person, including an ample and delicious breakfast buffet. Superior rooms are very spacious and have cool rain showers. Some rooms have a little balcony, so you can have a look at life as it passes by. There’s a large suite as well as a family-room with two baths and two TVs!

For other lodging options in the Netherlands, have a look at our reviews here.

Wycker Brugstraat 2
6221 EC Maastricht – The Netherlands
tel + 31 43 325 44 33

Review by Anne-Sophie Redisch of Sophie’s World
Photos courtesy of mylimburg at flickr’s Creative Commons

Le Meridien opened earlier this month in Philadelphia

Friday, May 21st, 2010
The bar at Philadelphia's new Le Meridien hotel.

The bar at Philadelphia's new Le Meridien hotel.

Le Méridien opened earlier in May in Philadelphia (that’s the East Coast city you keep saying you’re going to visit because you’ve “heard nice things,” but always opt for New York or Washington, DC instead).

Here’s a rundown of what folks are saying about the 201-room hotel in a 10-story Georgian revival-style building that used to house a YMCA (what a way to cop out of having to come up with an original review of my own):

  • “With so much history steeped in its walls, the hotel is a melding of past and present…The furniture is minimal, functional, and stylish in a natural palette accented with red and chrome throughout. An example: sliding red barn doors in each bathroom, which help conserve space.” [Philadelphia Inquirer]
  • One of Le Meridien's 201 rooms.

    One of Le Meridien's 201 rooms.

    “The setup of Le Méridien (1421 Arch St.), which opens May 7, is unique in that the first thing you see upon entering is the long, illuminated 18-person bar — lots of restaurants like to brand themselves food-forward, but this is a very geographical step in that direction.” [Philadelphia City Paper]

  • “Have you ever wished you could recharge your cell phone or laptop while you’re refueling yourself with lunch or dinner? Now you can—thanks to Amuse, the restaurant inside the new Le Meridien Philadelphia.” [Hotel Chatter]

Rates start at $189 a night.

Le Méridien
1421 Arch St.
Philadelphia, Penn. 19102

Photos: Courtesy Le Meridien

Experience opulence more affordably in St. Barts with Hotel Guanahani and Spa’s summer rates

Monday, May 17th, 2010
The Hotel Guanahani & Spa's pool is cheaper, but no less amazing in the off-season.

The Hotel Guanahani & Spa's pool is cheaper, but no less amazing in the off-season.

While the economy’s getting better, like last year, luxury for less is going to continue to be a trend in summer travel in 2010.

Enter The Hotel Guanahani & Spa in Saint Barthélemy (St. Barts for those of us concerned with SEO) and one of UpTake’s celebrity hotels of the week. Through Aug. 29, rooms at Hotel Guanahani & Spa are as much as 40 percent off of their regular rate, starting at 370€ a night for a Superior Gardenview Room with a terrace in a garden setting.

Lower rates don’t mean less luxury though. Regardless of season (well, except maybe during hurricane season), the 22-year-old resort still features

  • Knowing you paid as much as 40 percent less, you may even sleep better if you visit Hotel Guanahani & Spa in the summer.

    Knowing you paid as much as 40 percent less, you may even sleep better if you visit Hotel Guanahani & Spa in the summer.

    two private beaches

  • 68 rooms in private, sea-facing bungalows
  • gourmet restaurants L’Indigo and Le Bartoloméo
  • the Guanahani Spa by Clarins

Hotel Guanahani & Spa
Grand Cul de Sac – 97133
Saint-Barthélemy – F.W.I

Photos: Courtesy Hotel Guanahani & Spa

Hotel Byblos in Saint-Tropez offers luxury accommodations on the French Riveria–just not to me

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010
The pool at Hotel Byblos, just one of many wonderful features I missed because of the volcano in Iceland.

The pool at Hotel Byblos, just one of many wonderful features I missed because of the volcano in Iceland.

Disclaimer: The author received nothing complimentary during his research for this article. It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

Last month plate tectonics joined lunar eclipses and Johnny Weir not returning my calls in my top three things I hate but have no control over. From April 23-26 I was supposed to visit Hotel Byblos, one of the few French five-star hotels, in Saint-Tropez on a press trip. But then Iceland decided to pair its economic disaster with a natural one and my butt was stuck in Louisville.

I probably would've slept well in a room like this one.

I probably would've slept well in a room like this one.

Not familiar with Saint-Tropez? Here’s a primer from the sometimes-accurate folks at Wikipedia:

It is located on the French Riviera, and it is known today for its famous and extremely wealthy summertime guests. It has been dubbed the ‘playground to jetsetters, fashion models, and millionaires’, and it is most-enduringly known as the place the iconic Brigitte Bardot “discovered” and for its role in the liberation of southern France during World War II.

A treatment at Spa Byblos by Sisley Cosmetics would've been a great way to recuperate from the stress inherent in luxury travel.

A treatment at Spa Byblos by Sisley Cosmetics would've been a great way to recuperate from the stress inherent in luxury travel.

Not feeling sorry for me yet? Keep reading to discover what I missed out on experiencing at one of UpTake’s celebrity hotels of the week, which is located smack dab in the midst of all that poshness:

  • all of its 44 rooms and 47 suites are uniquely decorated and all have a garden or pool view
  • on-site Byblos Spa by Sisley Cosmetics (a treatment here would have been part of my trip)
  • restaurants Le B. and Le Spoon Byblos, the latter of which has a wine list of more than 300 vintages (and as the restaurants’ names start with “Le,” you know they have to be good)

Open in 2010 from April 1 to October 24, while it’s probably gauche of me even to mention, Hotel Byblos’s rates range from 325 € a night for a single room to “on request” for its Suite Rivieria.

Hotel Byblos
Avenue Paul Signac
83990 Saint-Tropez

Photos: Alas, not taken by me but rather courtesy Hotel Byblos

Sleep Inn, Clemson, South Carolina

Saturday, May 8th, 2010

Guest Room at the Clemson Sleep Inn

I strongly believe that your travel experience should be adventurous. It shouldn’t just be the same old thing everytime, because why travel if you just do the mundane? I recently did something I had never done before. I went through the phonebook for a nearby city, Clemson, South Carolina, and decided to call every hotel in the city and stay at the one that had the cheapest price, which was the Sleep Inn. Adventurous because I was potentially forfeitting my comfort to stay at a hotel simply because of its price, not taking into mind user reviews, location, amenities or anything else.

If you know anything about the Sleep Inn, then you know that like it’s sister hotels such as Comfort Inn, you’re not getting luxury. However, I was somewhat surprised at what I did get, based on the price I was paying. The Front Desk Rep was very cordial and was quick to offer an even lower rate then what she had quoted me over the phone. Although I don’t mind this, I appreciated not having to run my credit card, which I often do at many nicer hotels, which results in a authorization on my credit card for up to $75 for a week. She gave me a rundown of the hotel and was preparing complimentary cookies to put out for hotel guests. The Clemson hotel was packed, I’m assuming because students were taking their last couple days of classes at Clemson University.

The first thing I really appreciated about the Clemson hotel is that it was enclosed, meaning that the door to your room wasn’t outside, which creeps me out. As I walked into my room, I was notably surprised. I’ll warn you, that the TV wasn’t flatscreen nor high definition, but many of the other amenities were up-to-date. Although just a basic room, there was a small, yet comfortable sofa, refrigerator and microwave. My favorite part of the room was the bed. I remember as a child and teenager staying at many simiar hotels that had musty smelling beds and bed spreads that looked and smelled like they hadn’t been washed in a couple years. The bedding was very thick, and clean, and the bed itself was quite comfortable. I had stayed at a couple Hyatt Place hotels during the week, but my best night of sleep occurred at this Sleep Inn Hotel in Clemson, South Carolina.

Now I wouldn’t go as far as saying that you’re getting a steal at this Clemson hotel, however, you may be getting more than what you have would have at many similar budget hotels. If you’re in Clemson and simply need somewhere affordable and comfortable, then look no further than the Sleep Inn. It’s certainly not a jewel to necessarily look at, but it does what it should. Rates begin at $60 per night.

Clemson Sleep Inn
1303 Tiger Blvd.
Clemson, SC 29631

Photo from Spencer.

Red Sox Game Day Packages at the Millennium Bostonian Hotel Boston

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

One thing I learned about Boston when I was there is that Fenway Park may be one of the most loved baseball stadiums in the country.  And because it is so close to the historic North End it’s easy to take in a game and get a dose of Boston’s history.

The Red Sox Game Day Package at the Millennium Bostonian Hotel Boston, overlooking Faneuil Hall and Quincy Market, includes:

  • Superior Plus Accommodations with step-out balcony view of Faneuil Hall Marketplace
  • Two Right Field Box tickets within 20 rows of the field
  • Red Sox Welcome Bag including, walking map to Fenway Park, Fenway Park fun facts, information about Fenway Park Tours and a Red Sox souvenir.
  • Two $25.00 breakfast vouchers to North 26 Restaurant and Bar, the Millennium Bostonian Hotel’s new dining venue featuring contemporary New England cuisine (including tax and gratuity).

Prices for this package begin at $459.  To book you’ll need to call Millennium Bostonian Hotel Boston directly at (617) 523-3600.

While you’re in Boston you’ll want to see the sites.  If time is short here are some tips on how to see Boston in one day.  If you have a bit more time I recommend a whale watching cruise and the New England Aquarium, dinner and live music at The Black Rose and a ride in a horse drawn carriage (the drivers are witty and know their history).

Jody Halsted shares family travel tips
and destinations at Family Rambling.
Her family explored Boston for 3 months
last year and can’t wait to retunrn

Neemrana Fort Palace in India: Elegance steeped in history

Friday, April 16th, 2010

Neemrana Fort Palace Hotel is where 14th century meets 21st

Built on the top of the hills of one of Rajasthan’s plateaus in India in 1464 AD, Neemrana Fort Palace evokes the feeling that Dorothy must have felt when she first saw the Emerald City in Oz. Wow! Step into the light. Toto, we are definitely not in Kansas anymore.

The pool offers an excellent view

Neemrana, with its stone walls, multi-tiered buildings and passages that seemingly head in any direction, is an architectural gem that gleams in the distance as one travels along the Jaipur Highway from New Delhi. It’s a hotel that promises and delivers a stay like no other.

My trip to Neemrana was our family’s first foray into India’s palace hotels. For a first glimpse into the opulence of India’s royal past, we picked the crown jewel– the splashiest member of the Heritage Hotels family.

Rooms blend traditional with colonial furniture

Expect carved wood, alabaster walls and fine brocades–with each room different from another, but all evoking elegance and relaxation. The furniture throughout is a blend of colonial and traditional Indian–eye candy in any direction.

Here,  a walk slows down to an unhurried glide and conversations take on a leisurely, softer tone.  This  is where enjoying the book you’ve wanted to read is in order. So is casting your gaze across the countryside or basking in a well deserved dip in the hotel pool. During my first stay, I was almost 7 months pregnant, so that well deserved dip was well deserved. Seriously.

One of the outside dining options

Like its visual splendor, the meals at Neemrana serve up abundance buffet style. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are a perfect opportunity for people who want to try various Indian foods, but are not sure where to begin. Options are a flavorful range of mild to medium spicy. Western style offerings are in the mix as well, particularly at breakfast. Scrambled eggs can be yours. There are several dining spots outside as well as in.

To add a health boost to your stay, Neemrana has a spa and yoga classes. Massages are the Ayurvedic variety.

For a thrill, try the Flying Fox, Neemrana’s zip-line tour. This has been added to Neemrana’s cache of things to do since I’ve been there. Brilliant addition, in my opinion.

We did take a walk in the village on a successful search for a toothbrush. One of my friend’s forgot to pack hers.

Book reservations online here. This is an easy trip to take from New Delhi. Hire a car and driver, though. Better to leave driving in India to the people who have lived there for a long long time. Driver India Tour is one company to consider. Finding a car and driver is not difficult.

Photos by:

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