Photo Review Marriott Waikiki Beach Hotel

We recently had a short two night stay in Waikiki. Thanks to the Marriott points temporary discount I was able to use two of my 35k free night certs that are usually useless on Oahu.

Due to my low Gold status I did end up in a nice beach view room. We really enjoyed the large balcony and view of the nearby hotels.

Pros of this hotel include location at Waikiki and near the Zoo. Friendly staff and recently renovated rooms.

Cons of this hotel include $50 resort fee per night, $45 per night parking fee and location on Waikiki which is Branson Missouri west with tourists and traffic. Noisy night and day and also tons of homeless citizens all over the beach. Also the band at the hotel next door plays late into the evening which you can hear in your room. Street racing on the street below with horns, people yelling all night etc.

Overall I would stay here again and enjoyed most of it. The check in using the Hawaii covid website is a real pain as the hotel won’t take a printed QR code, they make you log in and go through 2 factor authentication to show them it on your phone while a line forms at the check-in desk.

A photo review of Marriott Courtyard North Shore Oahu Hawaii

A quick review of our recent stay at the North Shore Marriott Courtyard Laie, Hawaii on Oahu.

Courtyard North Shore
Patio Area
Beach access 50 yards from Hotel on NE side of Oahu
Resort Pool, hot tub, surf board checkout, pickle ball, snorkle gear, volley ball area are all available at little to no cost. Cabana are very reasonable as well.
Beautiful and well kept property (lobby area with activities desk, hula and lei lessons)
A good fitness center and laundry is available
The Polynesian Cultural Center is across the parking lot with plenty of restaurants. BYU University is a few blocks away as well.
Loaner bikes are helpful as there is a nice bike path along this part of the highway
Very Clean well-appointed rooms. They do lack balconies but good views all around.
Good WiFi and internet TV with Showtime on Demand, YouTube and Netflix
Bathroom

Pros of this property: Located on the NE end of Oahu close to the North Shore big wave and surfing areas. Close to BYU University and the Morman run Polynesian Cultural Center which is a big tourist draw. Beautiful tropical area. Away from the busy Honolulu areas.

Cons of this property: Points cost is high for Marriott and only likely to get worse with the devaluation move to dynamic awards. Cast price is about average for Oahu. A long drive to Pearl Harbor sites. Laie Hawaii is a “dry” town so no alcohol sales in this area. Most restaurants are closed on Sundays with the exception of the hotel Bistro and McDonald’s nearby.

Travel Meeting Backgrounds

Seems like a ton of people have posted zoom or other platform virtual meeting photos so I thought I’d share some of my favorite travel related ones.

United Airlines has several. I prefer the ones that make me look like I’m in a different place instead of just scenery.

credit: United Airlines, of course
Polaris Lounge credit: United Airlines

Here are some cruise ship related ones from Cruise Critic

Credit: CruiseCritic.com

Most hotel chains have posted meeting background wallpaper photos for use. Smart marketing I think and it doesn’t cost them much anyway. Here are some from Montage Hotels

Credit: Montage Hotels

And here are some from Marriott as well.

Credit: Marriott International

So have fun and enjoy. Backgrounds like these aren’t hard to find of course. I felt guilty even posting this because you can just Google your favorite brand, location, etc. for meeting or zoom backgrounds and you will find a ton of all types of subjects so have a little fun.

Credit: Air France

Win a Trip to Munich

By entering here: SALVATORFEST you can win a free trip for two to Munich in March of 2022.

The exact dates are not yet announced but drinking in Munich with free travel sounds good to me. Munich is a lovely place and fun city for a few beers. I’d rather go for Octoberfest but Munich is nice most of the year.

This prize consists of “roundtrip coach airfare for the First Prize Winner and Guest from the international airport in the continental United States that is closest to the First Prize Winner’s residence (as determined by Sponsor) to Munich Germany, and (iii) two (2) consecutive nights hotel stay in Munich, Germany at a hotel selected by Sponsor. Accommodations will include one standard room with double occupancy and a morning breakfast.” They value this at $3,500. Click Here for the official rules. This contest ends by 3-15-21 with winner announced on about 3-18-21. Good Luck.

Big Southwest Sale $50, well maybe

So it’s been awhile since posting. I guess Covid and less travel will do that to you. Plus I’ve been busy getting a new job, moving and well traveling some.

Southwest currently has a new sale. Good deals starting at about $50.

So among the many changes in the past 6 months one of my sons and his family moved to Hawaii. He’s in the Army and also has a new daughter. I’ve been avoiding flying because wearing a mask with asthma isn’t my idea of fun for more than 10 minutes but I still haven’t met our new granddaughter yet. I saw this sale that Southwest has and was thinking it would be a great way, well cheap way to get from our new home airport in St. Louis to Honolulu using my wife’s companion pass. Sure it’s cattle car festival seating but I’m tough.

So I started searching and found some potentially great deals. <$500 for both of us roundtrip….or did I.

The sale goes through May and I’m trying to put this off a bit due to work and vaccine roll-outs but before another big trip in August. Found a good date on May 7th only to find no return dates… No worries I’ll look at April.

OK? How about March

How odd but I’m flexible how about next week?

Now I’m no fool. I know that Southwest isn’t the best way to get to Hawaii from most of the country but I didn’t think it would be that bad. It’s like the Hotel California. You can check-out anytime you like but you can never leave. Maybe I’ll check out my companion pass on Alaska Airlines 🙂

Photo Review of IHG Staybridge Albuquerque North

Recently had a chance to do an extended stay at the IHG Staybridge Suites Albuquerque North hotel. Some of the features such as full breakfast, evening reception, indoor pool and the fitness center remained closed due to the Covid19 scare. The laundry pet area and pantry was available. They also feature long term storage closets at this location as well.

The pantry was nearly empty but had a few items for purchase. The local staff as this hotel was the true bright spot. The rooms are super clean and had standard Staybridge set up with kitchen and sperated bed area. I’d say the only compliant I’d have was that many of the rooms have queen sized single beds which are a bit small in two player mode.

$100 Statement Credit off $550 for Chase Sapphire Reserve, targeted?

I just got a secure message through my Chase account regarding the upcoming $550 annual fee on my CSR. “We recognize this is a difficult time for everyone. As a way to help, we’re providing you a one-time $100 statement credit toward the 2020 $550 annual fee on your Reserve credit card. On an upcoming billing statement (based on your renewal date), you’ll see a $550 charge for the annual fee, followed by a $100 statement credit. We will continue to bill the $550 annual fee in 2021. Because this credit only applies to open Reserve accounts, if you’ve closed your Reserve account or traded to another credit card before your renewal, you will not receive the $100 statement credit. We know COVID-19 has affected people in many different ways. Please check chase.com/StayConnected for updates and helpful ways to stay connected to your accounts.

I wasn’t super worried about the increased fee as I still get value out of the travel credits, insurance and increase in Ultimate Rewards points redemption but had considered closing my account. This is enough to keep me a customer for another year. I don’t find much value in the new Doordash or Lyft credits as I will only use those when I travel but neither service is available in my rural town, yet.

Chase

Hilton Garden Inn Cherry Creek Denver Colorado Photo Review

A quick overnight for business at the Hilton Garden Inn at Cherry Creek was a good experience.I usually stay at the Holiday Inn across the road but a client booked this hotel for me. While the Holiday Inn is nice and a bit cheaper I think I’d give the edge to this hotel. The best part about the Garden Inn is that it’s located in an upscale trendy shopping center so there are multiple restaurant basically on the ground floor.

Overall I enjoyed my time here. I like staying in this area because of the Cherry Creek bike trail which offers a great place to run or bike. There are public shared bikes along the trail as well.

Travel in my own Backyard

Sometimes you go very far to travel. I’ve been on 17 hour flights to Asia and 35+ hour transits from the USA to the Middle East but other times you can find fun in your own backyard.

On a recent snowy day I went for a run down a local rails to trails path here in Ottawa Kansas and managed to take a few photos I thought I’d share here. Why? Well because it’s my blog and even with heavy snow and a wet camera they came out fairly decent.

Hope you enjoy the pictures. They really don’t reflect how heavy the snow was coming down.

Photo Review Holiday Inn Express Austin Airport Texas

Short one night stay at the HIX at Austin Airport. Hotel is a good location just a few minutes from the AUS terminal by car. The hotel features a nice outdoor pool, fitness center with decent equipment.

It also passes my test of offering the free breakfast at 6 am instead of the weird trend of 6:30 am that many hotels have moved to. It also has small guest laundry and the fitness center is open 24 hours. This hotel is located in a business park type area so not a tourist centric property but most of Austin is a car centered culture anyway. #traffic.

Separate bath and toilet area are a bit dated with dark lighting but spotless. Only complaint is the overdone water softener setting giving me that “swimming in the dead sea” spa experience.
I didn’t use the airport shuttle but they seem to have two drivers and vans on call at all times. Check with the hotel for details of course.
Overall a nice hotel with clean comfort and well located.