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 A lot of historic hotels are cool but this one doesn’t suffer from being outdated.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.

Staybridge West Valley City (SLC)

A quick 2 night stay at the Staybridge West Valley City location in Salt Lake City Metro area. I might stay here again on business, haven’t made up my mind but I am very picky. I’m still searching for just the right hotel in the SLC area.

Pros:

  • Attached to the Holiday Inn Express that features an indoor water park.
  • Great fitness room.
  • Typical Staybridge evening reception and free breakfast.
  • New feeling hotel although I suspect this property is older than it looks.
  • Very clean and comfortable.
  • Great service.
  • Not far from the airport.

Cons:

  • 6:30am breakfast. This is a big deal since I often have to leave early in the morning.
  • Fairly noisy hallways (it seems that the housekeeping staff is talking loud and working hard from 8am to 5pm). Kids running down the hall. I suspect due to the water park feature.
  • Not many restaurants or shopping close by. There is shopping and restaurant near here but you have to drive a bit.

How the TSA and Airports can reduce security lines.

So this blog post is about smoking. I know it can kill and it is a terrible addiction. I don’t smoke but did many years ago so I understand the addiction and how tough it is. Please save your comments about how bad it is as I understand that. Not the point of this post.

According to the CDC and other sources about 16% of the American public smokes.This is great since it continues to drop each year.  So out of 318 million documented citizens that is about 50 million smokers. According to the US Bureau of Statistics about 1.73 million passengers fly daily so about 16% of those are smokers or 276,800 roughly. Many smokers fly daily and these are rough averages but still should be fairly close. Now figure that most smokers can hold off and not smoke on short flights and don’t want to risk going through security to miss a flight etc. The problem is that many of these passengers do connect and are on longer flights.

Let’s look at a large hub as an example. Say Chicago (ORD). This airport averages about 213,000 passengers daily or over 77 million annually. So some days will be worse than others but lets just say it’s s slow day at ORD and only 150,000 passengers are going through that airport. Out of those 150,000 passengers about 24,000 are smokers. How many are going out through security just to smoke? This doesn’t even include employees. According to Airport Smokers  Chicago ORD is a non-smoking airport. So let’s just be really light with the numbers and say only 10% of those smokers exit security and then come back through the TSA lines to catch the next flight. That is 2,400 people per day that would not need to be in front of you at the TSA checkpoints just because the airport won’t allow and/or doesn’t provide a place to smoke airside past security. Many airports have outlawed smoking or are the victim of a city like the Peoples Republic of Chicago. It’s not the TSA’s fault but maybe they could help by either requiring the airport to provide a smoking area inside security. What if I’m wrong and it’s more like 50% of those 24,000 are going through the TSA lines for no reason?

As of October 2016 29 of the top 35 airports in the USA are non-smoking. Some got worse as airline lounges did away with smoking areas in the lounges as well. American Airlines took out all the remaining smoking lounge areas in early 2016 (Like DFW Terminal A Admirals Club). Again I’m against smoking but I’m also against long TSA lines.

In addition this isn’t a USA only problem. Many airports around the world are working to outlaw smoking inside security. It’s dumb I tell you. It would be like outlawing liquor inside security but having bars set up outside. Or maybe outlawing coffee inside security but then having a Starbucks outside each exit. In this case I think it’s worse as smoking is a more addictive issue for “most” smokers overall compared to other bad addictions.

Some other airport smoking related sources:

www.airportsmoking.net

 

 

Trip review Houston / Kemah Texas

I had a recent quick trip to Houston for business. I stayed at the Kemah Texas Holiday Inn Express. Not a bad hotel located near the Ocean front boardwalk area in Kemah. This is on the South side of Houston.

The room was decent although I’m not sure it was much of an upgrade based on my IHG Spire and Ambassador status. The room was comfortable, clean and quiet.  The only negative was the HVAC system. It seemed to be set way too sensitive. It has the dumb Inncom electronic thermostat which can be set to VIP mode but it would switch between cold and hot. For example I came in the room and it was slightly too cold like at 68 degrees so I turned it up to say 69 and the AC would go off and then switch to heat to try and moderate 1 degree.

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The view from my room was nice. It was a bit cloudy and rainy but you could see the boardwalk area and ocean. img_20161106_150027654

The wild colored bathroom sink. Interesting. This room had a walk in good shower. Not sure if all the rooms have walk-in showers. img_20161106_145958886

Another view of the room. Microwave and mini frig. Desk was fairly good set up for work. img_20161106_145937762

A morning run view of the boardwalk amusement area. img_20161107_062803777Part of my morning run in the area. View of the rough sea on a cloudy morning. img_20161107_063438777

I flew into Houston Hobby on AA but had to get over to El Paso for other business so I elected to fly the United non-stop out of IAH. I was surprised that I didn’t have to pay a big surcharge to drop the rental car from National at a different airport so that was impressive.

The regional UA jets are lumped into one terminal cattle holding area where they call you down the hallway method to walk outside to board. I always love it for some odd reason. My wife things I’m an idiot for getting so excited about walking out on the tarmac. img_20161107_144617778Always a good photo-op situation. I love it. img_20161107_144643367

Holiday Inn Express MXP Italy

I stay in A LOT of Holiday Inn Express hotels. This stay was for two nights at the end of a trip to Austria, Germany and Northern Italy. It’s super close to the MXP airport but way out on the edge of Milan. The hotel was very average and kinda depressing I think as yoi may be able to see from the photos. 

While it served a purpose I was disappointed in some things that might seem picky. The ice machine was broken and the hotel bar had no ice. They only offer liquid soap, no bar soap, minor I know. The windows in the rooms are tiny so it made the room seem like a prison cell. The good part is they did offer a bar which was nice but very limited choices for dinner. Luckily there is a fantastic Italian restaurant nearby and only about two blocks away in this small town area. 

The next time I’m in the area I would tempted to try the nearby Crowned Plaza, that doesn’t look awesome, or the Sheraton that is in the airport. The MXP HIX is very average in my personal opinion. 

Is it Tripe or Tryp? Marketing Fail

I often see marketing errors. Maybe it’s just me or maybe I have a warped sense of humor but I say to my wife all the time “why didn’t they just ask me?” I could have set them straight before they launched a new product, marketing campaign or brand. This one comes under that topic.

I was browsing through my company travel discount Lifemart site. It’s fun because usually the deals aren’t that great but I’ll save that topic for another day.  I saw an add for a new brand of hotel by Wyndham called TRYP. The first thing, like the very first thing, that entered my mind was the street side signs for Tripe. So how is that bad. Well if you’re not familiar with Tripe it’s not fish or some random sandwich it’s usually beef and is usually made from the muscle wall (the interior mucosal lining is removed) of the first three chambers of a cow’s stomach. It’s fairly gross unless you are one of the few that think it’s great (I guess). Click on the photo below to go find “awesome” recipe ideas.

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So Wyndham likely has focus group research and whatever but I call this one a fail. If I was the CEO and someone brought this idea and name to me I would fire them on the spot.

FireShot Capture 1 - TRYP by Wyndham Hotels - https___www.tryphotels.com_en_

In Wyndham’s defense it does look like a nice chain of hotels and way above the Knights Inn’s and Travel Lodge locations they have in many places. I just think that, well…they should have asked me…..OH you mean it’s like “TRIP” not “TRIPE” I get it now.  You too can “Own the City”

Oh and Wyndham if you really want to turn around your company just come ask me about such ideas. I’d be glad to give you my opinion such stuff…really.

 

Quick trip summary El Paso Texas ELP

I was in El Paso for business recently and thought I’d post a few photos. I stayed at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites West hotel in the Northwest suburbs of town. Good hotel with good staff. I would recommend it if in the area. It’s a little ways from the airport, like say 20 minutes but not bad.

The ELP airport wasn’t bad but I was a bit disappointed in the AA gate employee. Super laid back and in no big hurry to board passengers. Not good about communications, boarded late, etc. It really didn’t effect the flight as it was on time and a small plane but in an IROP situation I can see where things could get ugly here.