Photo Review Lodge of The Four Seasons (Sounds Fancy)

Recently I had a business conference at Lake of the Ozarks. The group elected to have it at Lodge of the Four Seasons (yeah, not THAT Four Seasons). When having large conferences in Mid-Missouri there are only really two places at Lake of the Ozarks to choose from traditionally. You can pick Tan-Tar-A (Now Margaritaville) or Lodge of the Four Seasons. Both are historic sprawling resorts right on the water. Both are past their prime but are trying hard. Tan-Tar-A was originally a Marriott resort for many years until they ran out of nearby timeshare houses and ran it into the ground. Lodge of the Four Seasons is a bit more historic. The original family still owns it since its opening in 1955 as a Chase Park property. Many movie stars like Frank Sinatra visited at one time or another but those times are gone. It still has some of that old spark but things have become a bit worn out over the years. I have a feeling that Covid hasn’t helped. Tan-Tar-A was recently modeled a couple years ago since Margaritaville bought them out. It has the edge on shopping and entertainment facilities but both have a lot to offer and neither one is owned by the Byrd’s or any drug cartel as far as I know.

Main Lodge
1955 Style. Hard to get this photo as everyone at the Lodge seems to love this spot with a wood-burning fire going all day.
HK restaurant (understaffed and slow service during our off-season visit).
Main Lodge Entrance

We visited this resort on a very cold week in early April so still off-season. Lake of the Ozarks is a major Summer destination for sure. It didn’t impact us much as we spent 95% of the time inside generic large meeting rooms but it was a fun visit. They seemed very understaffed for food service which would be my main complaint. The staff really made this resort shine but they need more staff for the bars and restaurants. It was difficult to impossible to get a beer at 4pm when our meetings ended. The staff at the rooftop and main restaurant bar spent much more time trying to get their computer POS to work than serving customers.

Overall I would stay here again as the rooms are dated but spotless. Next time I hope they provide bars of soap but no other complaints about the room. Think old Marriott hotel. I wish they have some affiliation with a hotel chain for points earning or elite perks but that isn’t too big of a deal in this area as most don’t.

I think a visit in the Summer would be the best idea for this property to take full use of the outdoor pools, lake, boating, and golf course but they do have a Spa and indoor pool (sorry no photos). This hotel could use some remodeling and I hope they do so long term as the buildings are starting to show some wear for sure. It might need a major influx in cash to return it to its historic glory. Here is the non-affiliate link if you want to check it out. https://4seasonsresort.com/

A few of my favorite travel photos

Just sharing a few of my favorite travel photos while I wait for covid travel stabilization. Sure I have some travel coming up. A cruise, road trip, and trying to book a new Europe trip from my AA covid miles stash but on a cold winter day, I like to look back. I’m not a professional photographer so forgive the average quality of some of my photos. Just because they are a favorite doesn’t mean they are the best quality photos in the world. I only had to go as far back as 2019 to find some of my favorites in this edition.

North Shore of Hawaii in 2021
Schipol Airport AMS Dec 2019 (before the covid storm)
Christmas Market in Munich Nov 2019
Denver Colorado August 2019
The Upper Room in Jerusalem 2019
Honduras February 2019
Road trip to Phoenix May 2020 in our 2001 Porsche 911 at the Little Grand Canyon in Arizona

Marriott $25 gift card on 7+ night stays targeted offer. AKA: Travel Makes us Joyful in 2022

Marriott has a niche, targeted offer out where you get a $25 grocery gift card for 7+ night extended stays at “Participating” properties using corporate/coupon code ES7 in the booking details. The offers says “Hang out with us for awhile and save with extended−stay rates and a $25 grocery card on 7+ nights.” If you are targeted you may find this in a recent email with the subject line “FOR YOU: Special Offers on 2022 Travel”.

Credit: Marriott email offer

Travel Makes us Joyful

Need to Know

  • Earn a $25 Grocery Gift Card
  • Package available for guests staying 7+ nights
  • Book by April 6, 2022
  • Promotional Code: ES7 What’s this?
  • Valid Stay Dates: January 1, 2022 – June 19, 2022

Description

Settling in for an extended stay in the New Year? Receive a $25 grocery gift card on us when you stay for 7+ consecutive nights.

Available at participating properties in the U.S., Canada, Caribbean and Latin America.

More offer details show:

How to Book:

Be sure that the Promotional Code appears in the Corporate/Promotional code box when making your online reservation, or call 1-800-228-9290 and ask for the promotional code. For toll-free numbers outside the US please visit Global Reservation Numbers

T&C

Terms & Conditions:

Includes a $25 grocery gift card for every 7 nights consecutively stayed; grocery store location may be preselected by hotel. Minimum length of stay required (varies by participating hotels). A minimum length of stay may apply. Offers may be advance payment/non-refundable and non-changeable. Offer must fall within valid dates and is only valid through the stay window end date. Limited number of rooms are available for this promotion. Tax is additional. Offer does not apply to groups of 10 or more rooms. Offer cannot be combined with any other promotions. Blackout dates may apply. Advance reservations required. Other restrictions apply. Rates are per room, per night and based on availability at the time of reservations.

While it seems many hotels don’t allow this rate code it could be valuable. My random search for a Wednesday night in mid-February in Chicago (not tourist high season of course). Only showed two properties you could book this for at this moment in time.

Apparently cold weather and hot chocolate is involved with this marketing effort.

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