Photo Review Marriott Fairfield Inn San Antonio Schertz Texas

Decent hotel. Fairly typical Fairfield Inn with proper 6am (not 6:30am) breakfast time. Good location right off I-35 and near shopping and restaurants. I would stay here again due to clean rooms and super great staff.

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Microtel Round Rock Texas

Quick photo review of Microtel Round Rock (Austin area) Texas. Much better property than expected. Clean, well appointed, great fitness center and pool. Super friendly staff. This is one of the better Wyndham properties and at a good value.

Photo Review of Marriott Renaissance Denver Stapleton Hotel

When is an airport hotel not an airport hotel. Well for many hotels around the Stapleton airport this became reality when they moved the operations to the new Denver airport. So this hotel is like an airport hotel and has that vibe but now sits about halfway between downtown and the new airport. Just South of I-70. I recently booked this hotel for a business trip to Denver. Hotels in Denver can be expensive but I got a fairly decent price on this stay. I also recently hit Marriott Gold or now Platinum Elite so I was also able to access the lounge. They had a temporary lounge on the 3rd floor but just opened the newly remodeled 10th floor lounge during my stay. I couldn’t get photos of the new lounge as it was fairly busy and I try not to get people in my photos if possible.

The highlight of this hotel is the staff and service. I don’t usually like the hassle of full service hotels but this one was very good and laid back at the same time. I had a “newly renovated” room on the 9th floor with a balcony that was very nice and spotless. I am kind of picky with 100+ hotel nights a year but I could find little wrong with this hotel. Even the parking garage is free for guests.

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Pool area20180829_060733

My blurry lobby photo. There is a paid breakfast buffett and a starbucks in the lobby.  I didn’t see any free coffee however. 20180828_164329_hdr

The temporary 3rd floor lounge. Offering good evening snacks. 20180828_162510

Funky airplane on room ceiling are kinda cool.20180828_162711_hdr

View toward downtown from balcony20180828_160034

Nice bathroom20180828_160018

Room featured fairly comfortable table workspace, fridge, coffee maker. Very good TV service and again spotless. Even the sliding door to the balcony worked flawlessly.20180828_160013

Double Queen beds in this room.20180828_155918

Atrium views 20180828_155842

Front lobby20180828_154646

Front lobby20180828_164036

dining area and business center part of atrium20180828_154739

Lobby area seating. This may not be a “Five Star” hotel officially but to me it is.

Photo review Townplace Suites by Marriott Lubbock Texas

Quick stay in Lubbock Texas. Not much to report. Upon arriving I was checked in very quickly by the very professional and friendly Lesa at the front desk. Given key to room 317 and told breakfast starts at 6:30am 😦 since my first appointment is at 7am this seems a bit late for breakfast but most hotels have gone to the 6:30am model even on week days with a hotel full of road warriors. Many times this doesn’t matter.because they put the food out much earlier but at this hotel it was dark in the breakfast area at 6:20am unfortunately.

Room 317 was ok and typical setup for a Townplace but I couldn’t help notice worn and stained carpets throughout the entire property. The room was clean but not quite spotless like most Townplace or Marriott properties. The bathroom was mostly clean but a bit dingy in spots.

Overall it wasn’t a bad quick overnigbt. Not much within walking distance but there is an Arbys and Joes Crabshack within a block. Shopping limited to the Home Depot next door but plenty of other things to drive to nearby.

My state of mind on hotels today

So I was reading the Travel with Grant blog today and he states how he is in a funk over hotel programs. I agree and attempted to give my 5 cents. Why because it’s free. Not I’m not a troll on Boardingarea. Well maybe I’m sort of a big fan that is opinionated.

So I share some thoughts on most hotel programs below. Keep in mind that I travel 100 to 125 nights a year on business plus vacations and cruises so yes my dogs hate me. My wife travels 75 to 100 nights as well. She is a real IHG Spire loyalist as am I and am a Spire Ambassador (sounds impressive) but I also branch out with Hilton and Marriott a lot. We both hold Silver status with Marriott and I have Diamond with Hilton as well as Gold with Radisson.

Radisson used to be better but 40k a year is worth keeping the card for an odd night or so plus Gold status. I love Radisson Blu hotels and have stayed at a lot of them all over the world.

Hyatt, I love love them but…not enough properties. So I don’t want to waste my stays there.

Marriott, I want to love them, they have properties everywhere, but it’s too hard to earn top tier status. But…once you do you can earn United Silver. But…the free night certs are limited and expire too quickly. I’ve got about a dozen stays in with them this year so far but as a Silver i wonder why I’m not at other chains where my status is higher.

SPG, you should have already moved your points over to Virgin to Alaska when you had the chance. They also have too many places where the hotel selection it too eclectic and it’s not my thing. Points super valuable but a bit hard to rack up quickly in my world.

IHG, I love IHG. They have properties everywhere, well they are weak in Hawaii (come on IHG). As an IHG credit card holder you get a real free night cert that you can use for a year. In addition they have good promos. I also like buying up in points or cash to Intercontinental status for the free night rebates or status share and free weekend BOGO cert although it’s not always the best deal. The IHG card also gives you Platinum status which is a nicer level than some others.

Choice Hotels. They have been going down hill for years. The Cambria properties offer some hope and I really like them but they don’t have Cambria hotels in most areas. In general they are a fancy Wyndham motel or an Ex-IHG,Marriott,Hilton property. The card is OK I guess but I’m not a fan in general.

Wyndham…..They have lied to me many times on promotions and have for years. They have a few good properties but unless you work on a transient labor crew and are forced to “do time” in Super 8’s  or HOJO’s then they are not a good place to be, trust me.

Best Western. They are like an honest Wyndham with slightly better rooms or maybe equal with Choice. The future is bright for them as they seem to be putting in a real effort to improve the hotels but unless you do business travel in a region where they are all over it’s not my first, second or third choice and I’m Diamond with them (don’t ask).

Hilton. You’ll notice they are lumped at the bottom. If it wasn’t for nicer hotels they would be even with Choice or Best Western. They have devalued SO much I’m not sure where the bottom is. I want to love Hilton but they don’t love me back. The Hampton’s are a weak HIX and they devalue faster than I can earn points and I’m a Hilton Diamond. Sure they offer free breakfast and free wifi but isn’t that like free HBO and air conditioned rooms? They also did away with the double dip in another devaluation. 2017 may have seen some of my last stays with Hilton as I watch my Hilton points currency burning in front me faster than I use it. It’s like the Wiemar Republic of the hotel points world. Maybe I’ll start referring to their points as HHonormarks or RReichmarks.

So bottom line is use the cards from the random hotel chains for the perks and odd location awards but Marriott or IHG should be your future until they follow Hilton to the Neverland Ranch. The dynamics change for certain types of travelers I know and I don’t think everyone will agree with me. Just my personal opinion based on my experience and how I’ve been treated by these programs over the years. Plus I’m biased. Now IHG go build some Hawaii properties so I can go there on vacation already 🙂

My advices is to put most of your day to day spend on a good card like Chase Sapphire Reserve and forget doing much spending on hotel cards unless you need the hit to earn a promo, etc. Churn these cards to get points unless your a business traveler and if you are pick the best one that works for you everywhere you go or want awards.

Notice I have no affiliate links in my post so I’m trying to be as honest as I can about my feelings on these properties but keep in mind that I’m a bit biased to IHG in general. 20171218_1448131057734389.jpg

Hilton President Hotel Kansas City Diamond Review

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The Hilton President Kansas City is a classic hotel that was built in 1926 during a boom in Kansas City downtown roaring 20’s construction. It was a popular hotel in Kansas City during the Kansas City Mob days, Blues icons played at the famous Drum Room lounge while celebrities watched. As downtown KC struggled through the 1970’s so did the hotel. It finally closed in 1980 and sat vacant until a local business investor group spent over $45 million to restore it and open it as the current Hilton President in 2005. It saw success as downtown KC has gone through a revival. It now sits between the theaters, convention center, Sprint center and KC Power and Light entertainment district. After being open since 2005 it was due for a refresh so they recently spent millions more to update the rooms, add more marble, etc. A lot of historic hotels are cool but this one doesn’t suffer from being outdated. The rooms are fresh and updated. IMG_20170615_165015574IMG_20170615_170317552

The Drum Room Lounge is mostly original. The restaurant is good and a great place for a pre-concert or pre-theater dinner. IMG_20170615_165332449

As a Hilton Diamond I was upgraded on arrival to a corner room overlooking the Power and Light District. The hotel was fairly slow which I’m sure helped. IMG_20170615_165322865_HDRIMG_20170615_165607061IMG_20170615_165613142IMG_20170616_072052271

The only negative thing I can say about this hotel is the motion sensing Verdant thermostat. There is a hack to override it but it’s not an easy hack. The hotel is guilty of not having this set properly for the overnight hours. This is something can be set by the main system. It did go off in the middle of the night and made the room too warm on a hot Summer evening. IMG_20170615_165337663

View of Power and Light District and Sprint Center.IMG_20170615_220143177IMG_20170615_165345906

View to the South of the Kauffman CenterIMG_20170615_215635004IMG_20170615_215541046

Overall it was a nice stay. As a Hilton Diamond they do offer free breakfast in the restaurant. There is also a Starbucks coffee stand in the lobby. Great service from the front desk, restaurant and valet parking staff. I will return here even as a local the next time I need to stay downtown. This AAA four diamond hotel is well worth the visit.