Tag: Hotel. Review

May 16

Classic Resort on St. Pete Beach

Postcard Inn on the Beach — A treat for those wanting something different.

This place, along with a few other locations are the dieing breed to the classic hotel of the 50’s and 60’s. It’s cute, nostalgic you might feel that a Star from the old movies might walk around the corner.

That is what I was after and that is what I found. Was it your modern box hotel with the same old, same old? No way. This place oozes a rich history that you just can’t find everywhere but still exists here.

This 2 story walk up is located directly on the beach with a classic tiki bar style bar with live music that will have you smiling no matter what your age. While we were there we saw young couples, people living a dream, people wanting to escape and even a couple young boys where one was being deployed the next day.

At 57 years old, it was a fun night of people watching and yes, I bought the young fella a drink that was shipping out the next day. My wife and I watched the usual gang at the bar, One lady celebrating a divorce and some younger kids that couldn’t keep up with here.

In the day time, it was kiddies in the pool, people celebrating young love and the classic walks up and down the beach looking for discoveries that have yet to be found.

There are very few places left on earth that are so close and easy to get to yet transport you to a vacation spot that feels half way around the world.

Was it perfect from a travellers stand point no, but the good over rode the bad and when you are vacationing, to me that is the most important point. The beds were very comfortable, We had the usual things in the room but , here, the room should be a place to sleep and if that is what you want, this will fill the bill.

I usually work while travelling, I look for a good work station etc and you will not find that here. There was a spot to set up my gear, but you would not want to sit there for any length of time and I did not. About the only real complaint that I had on the room is that it was newly refurbished and did not have light blocking drapes. The mini-blinds gave you privacy, but did nothing for blocking out the morning light. I saw some rooms on the other side that had the drapes, but I do not know the condition of those rooms.

The food was quite good for breakfast, but a little expensive, we took leftovers back that did us for several meals. 😉 But really, you are on the strip, there are so many places to try out for food it is unreal.

Towels are available at the pool, but also available at the front desk for the asking along with bags of ice that are also available out of the machines, but the commercially packaged ice had no “flavor” so it was a plus to take the extra 2 minutes to walk to the lobby.

I should also point out that the staff was very professional and looked after us very well. When we arrived early, the place was sold out and the room was not yet ready. However, they invited us to take advantage of the resort and phoned us when the room was ready. We still checked in several hours early.

I would 100% recommend this property for your next trip. I feel you should take advantage of this and a few others that most likely will be replaced with the typical 500 room resort in the near future. At some point the land will just be too valuable for this to remain, but I dearly hope that it will be here for years to come.

The owners of this resort seem to take pride in keeping things as they were and take pride in the up keep of the physicality. Enjoy and have a blast soaking in the atmosphere.

Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=585

Jul 27

Travel as far as you can

How Far Can You Fly?

How Far Can You Fly?

When you travel, are you taking full advantage of the connections that you have to take? Have you considered extending that business trip by a few days and taking in the sights of one of your stops?

Pacific Coast

Pacific Coast

Why not do this on purpose and take full advantage of the possible stops along the way.

Recently I had to take a business trip from the East coast of Canada to the West coast. As I thought about stopping off in Toronto or Calgary for a few days, I thought, “I wonder how far I can travel on the same number of points.

For this particular trip, I was travelling on AeroPlan points. They have an option on booking that you can plan a “Multi-Leg” journey where you can pick an extra stop along the way and chose different dates. This allow you to select the path of your journey and the duration of each segment stopover.

Yes, there are limits to how far you can journey but it is very flexible and well worth the time to investigate this great option. It seems that if the extra leg is within a short-haul flight of the farthest destination, you can easily book it at no extra points.

My flight would have seen me leave New Brunswick, fly through Toronto and on to Vancouver. But, as I looked at my options, I went from my home base, and selected LAX as my first stop. This still took me up to Toronto and then a direct flight down to LA for an awesome Memorial Day weekend at the end of Highway 66. Some of you will know this as the Santa Monica Pier.

Santa Monica Pier

Santa Monica Pier — The end of Highway 66

From there, I selected my second leg that went from LAX up to Vancouver and after my work was complete, I flew from Vancouver back to the east coast as my third leg of my trip.  You do have to love the adventure of travel and you can even make the flight more enjoyable by selecting the best craft type for your journey.

I chose to fly business class for several reasons. Most are the usual ones that have to do with comfort but this time, I selected the flights that had the most modern seating arrangements. When I booked my segments, I first looked at the craft type and then confirmed this on the SeatGuru site. I like this site because they give you tips on the best to the worst seats to select on the flights.

I wanted to experience the full sleeper seating options and I was able to select three different styles on the longer segments of my itinerary.  For the flight from Toronto Canada down to LAX I was shown the back seat on the single row side had extra space and privacy. This turned out to be an excellent recommendation and made for as close to a perfect flight as I have ever had.

Flying up the Rocky's

Flying up the Rocky’s

For the heavy traffic but shorter flight from LAX to Vancouver, I also had a great seat. This was surprising to me since it was an Air Canada Rouge flight. As many of my readers know I am not fond of Rouge and I would not call myself a fan, but, I have to admit they have really improved things. Still a long ways to go, but it is worth noting that things are getting better. Keeping in mind that my Android device still would not work on the Rouge entertainment system, but, as always, I re-loaded my tablet with a few good movies and a book or two.

I will share more on my LAX side trip later, but for now, I do hope you will consider taking a little more time booking your next flight and take the opportunity to travel to a new place. Experience what is all out there for you to enjoy and live life to the fullest.

Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=513

May 11

Cuban Resorts

Iberostar Ensenachos, Cayo Santa Maria (Isla).
Cayo Ensenachos Santa María Clara, Cuba

Iberostar Ensenachos

Iberostar Ensenachos

Well, I am overdue on my articles but, I am still unsure of what to say about this resort, this area and this Country. It is almost a question of writing about the country to understand the resort.

One one hand, I want to compare this resort to other Caribbean resorts I have stayed at, that were of a comparable price but then on the other hand, I have to look at this and say, ”This is Cuba!”. Read on to understand.

If I were to say all things are equal and I am comparing the rooms, service, restaurant quality, beaches etc. from other resorts to this one I would come up with a different chat to the one I have today. It is almost each area need to be rated. For example, the beaches in this area are among the best in the world. I’m not just saying this, it is a fact in the Cayo Santa Maria area. Much better than the other areas where resorts are allowed in this country and yes, even better than Bavaro or Negril.

On the other hand, we have all the problems of the Cuban Management System to contend with. Up to this point, I really don’t understand this part fully. I know that multiple resorts have pulled the on site upper management and replaced it with experts in the field. However, they were not experts in the local government and improvements did not happen as planned. This seems to be a consistent theme among the resorts.

You may not know what I am referring to here so just as a point or two for reference and there are many. Let’s see; from time to time, you may not have beach towels available. the official excuse for this is that all towels need to be laundered and serviced by a local Cuban company, employing people in the nearby towns and even building these towns to a larger size. At first, this sounds great. As Canadians, we tend to say, it is okay to go multiple days without a clean towel, as long as we know we are sacrificing to save the local economy.

This is a very real problem and will happen to you at some point on a trip to this country. What I do not understand is why the management, knowing that from time to time, this is going to happen, do not stock an extra week’s worth, or even two weeks worth of towels at the resort so they have a supply to draw on as needed? Seems like an easy solution that would be paid for with the saving of one bad review, not to mention 20-30 about this problem.

Another example would be repairs to pool areas, walkways, lighting I.e. Maintenance problems; Honestly, this one happened to me personally. I had a maintenance issue in my room and they were sending someone over as soon as “he” was free. this seemed odd to me so after a few minutes, I used my property management background experience to solve the issue and called and cancelled the request. When i did, I asked how many were on call for issues and i was told that there was one person for this.

I went out and headed for the main lobby and as i was walking along the path, I noticed one person working on the wiring to the path lights. I stopped and chatted to him and between broken Spanish and broken English, it soon became apparent that he was that one person looking after everything. Now, since the resort is supposed to be employing local Cubans for this work, wouldn’t it make sense to hire four or five people to make sure that no one on the resort who has a problem has to wait an excessive amount of time?

Again, I don’t profess to understand the problems with the Cuban government, but I do understand good Hotel Management and from what I could see, many of the problems I have encountered in four trips to this country are never what they seem to be. There just can’t be that many bad managers.

We Canadians are a very mild-mannered people. You can step on our toes as long as it does not hurt too much. I do think that so many of the positive reviews are Canadians defending this cherished little island that we have had as our private playground for far too many years. This is going to change for all of this country over the next several years if relations with the US start to allow tourists from that country to come to Cuba.

Americans are not Canadians or people from the EU. I can just about guarantee that they will 100% not put up with the poor management that takes place at these resorts currently. I am not just talking about Cayo Santa Maria Resorts, but also Varadero and Cayo Coco as well.

In the past, we Canadians have enjoyed trips to Cuba at one half the cost of Jamaica and about a third less than the Dominican Republic. but, this year, it is changing. I think mainly because of the demand, costs are climbing closer and closer to other Island nations and with that, they will have to compete with some of the best resorts.

Even with a hands down best beach area, they can’t continue to offer terrible service, terrible food, terrible mold filled accommodations. The sad thing about this is that it seems that it is the Cuban Government, according to the resort staff, that have caused this problem. What seems to be missing is the damage it is doing to the reputation of the nation on whole. If there are government regulations that are to be followed, then at the same time the government should have regulations on Minimum standards. resorts should face fines or penalties if they are found to be damaging the image of the Cuban Nation.

Can the Cuban tourist industry be saved? Of course it can, but not by this article. I doubt I will find a buyer for this rant so it will go largely unnoticed short of Social Media. No the solution to all of this will come from an unexpected area. I truly believe that people from the USA will be allowed to visit and spend their money in Cuba in a few years. When this happens, the reviews and hostile response that they will have for problems will force the Cuban government and the Resort Owners to come to a quick solution. Let’s see what happens.

Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=503

Mar 08

The Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta

The Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta

Posted by Laura Snow on March 7, 2015 1

Casa-Magna-Marriott-Puerto-Vallarta-2-900x675[1]

Nestled in the Puerto Vallarta Marina beach strip, the Casa Magna Marriott is a beautiful beachfront resort, with a full conference center, five restaurants, three pools and a fantastic fitness centre. The tropical grounds of the resort are covered in cacti, palm trees, flowering vines and lush gardens. The moment we walked through the front entrance, I immediately felt like I was in a tropical paradise. When you walk up the front steps you can see straight through the other side of the building to the pool and beach!

The hotel is very close to the airport, which is amazing when you just want to get to your hotel and put on cooler clothes on your arrival. It’s set outside of the downtown area, but still only a 10-15 minute bus or taxi ride to the city center or hotel zone. We had no trouble getting around Puerto Vallarta during our stay, and greatly enjoyed the quiet atmosphere of the area. The Casa Magna is not an all-inclusive hotel so has fewer people who just came to drink and party.  Even though we left our kids at home we appreciated the family atmosphere. There are three golf courses near-by, the hotel has a five star spa and you can do many water activities right from the beach in front of the hotel.

The marina is only a five-minute walk from the hotel, and has many shops, services, restaurants, boat charters and dive shops. We spent a lot of time there since we took a scuba diving trip from PV Scuba in the marina. The marina has a totally different feel at night with many open air restaurants and boats all lit up.

The grounds, pool areas, and guest areas at the hotel were kept very clean. Our bed was extremely comfortable and the room had everything we needed. You have to pay for internet in the room but wifi is free and very fast in the lobby and pool area.

All of the staff at the hotel were very friendly, and helpful especially the bellhops at the front door of the hotel. They helped us get taxis, let us know where we could walk to and remembered us when we came back.

There are many locals selling their hats, jewellery, blankets and souvenirs on the beach in front of the hotel every day. They are very nice people. Talk to them. If you don’t want to buy anything just tell them no a few times and then start a conversation. They love to talk and often have questions about where you’re from!

We ate at three of the restaurants on site and I would highly recommend any of the Mexican dishes from any of them. The buffet was excellent with many, made to order, items including a local specialty: Chicadiles. This breakfast plate is made with taco chips, eggs, shredded chicken, ranchero sauce and cheese. My husband highly recommends it! There were also made to order omelettes and breakfast fajitas! My favourite drink at the Casa Magna was a fresh juice made from cactus, celery, orange juice and some other veggies/fruits I can’t remember. It was delicious and I had it almost every day. I would not recommend getting the american style food at the resort – the “american” cheese isn’t what we’re used to. It’s a much better idea to order the local food, and try new things!

The hotel has a fantastic view of the ocean, and city, especially at night. I was also lucky enough to see a humpback whale, in the ocean, from the hotel on my last day. The rooms all seem to have a wonderful view, but we really liked ours, with the sun setting over the ocean, directly in front of the balcony.

The beach was a little rough, at times, to swim in, but clean and warm. My husband did not hesitate to play in the waves, more than once! I stuck to the pool, which was warm and had a pool bar!

While we were at the Casa Magna, Marriott Hotels had a program going on with Go Pro where you could test drive a Go Pro Hero 4 camera. This was such a fun opportunity! We took the Go Pro with us on our scuba dive to Los Arcos and are so happy we have a video to remember it by!

via The Casa Magna Marriott Puerto Vallarta.

Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=494

Aug 22

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE

 InterContinental Hotel Toronto Centre

InterContinental Hotel Toronto Centre

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE

Stayed August 14-16, 2014

Room: King Suite on the 19th Floor.

What a delight to stay at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre. I was on a trip to a conference and I wanted to be within walking distance. This seemed like a good choice. Being part of the IHG Hotel line, I was able to take advantage of the priority check in which had me in my room in a few minutes. This was a nice surprise since I arrived after 5 PM and I was concerned about a check-in at this time of day.

No worries at this place. My fist session was at the Roy Thompson Hall at 7 PM which was only about a 4 minute walk from this hotel. I had time to order and eat a delightful room service burger and still had time to walk, not up the street, but rather through the City Way. An internal walkway that went through several of the downtown buildings.

Azure Staff -- Great Food

Omelet Staff -- Great Food

Omelet Staff — Great Food

The next two mornings I had a delightful breakfast buffet at Azure, the restaurant inside of the hotel. I do like a buffet, but I am fussy eater in that I want to have fresh, hot, well seasoned food with great service. They have it all here. I usually go do different spots for each meal but I wanted to come back and try more of the food here the second day. Not only was the omelets service excellent, the rest of the choices were all good as well.

I have two other points for you in this review. Usually, I like to give kudo’s to a staff member or two that I think went above the call and offered excellent service. I honestly cannot do that here. Everyone from the hotel front desk to the staff at Azure were all great. Fast efficient and making sure I wanted for nothing. Hat’s off to the staff here. Good staff means a great management team in the background. This means you should have a great experience as well. I am including a few photo’s of staff members.

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Spa

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Spa

I did not have time to treat myself at the Spa, but, I did take a walk through and the Spa facilities look very nice. I wish I had of stayed an extra day to unwind from everything and indulge myself here. Maybe next time.


Finally, if this is just a stopover, then this won’t impact you as I am sure all the rooms are great, but if you are coming for two or more days, I would highly recommend upgrading to a suite. I did and I was super pleased. It is only a modest increase and to have a separate room, separate from the bedroom to relax in, just make it feel so much more relaxing. I have stayed in other hotels where it was not worth it, but at the Intercontinental Toronto Centre, it is worth the upgrade 100%
Book InterContinental Hotels and Resorts today!

I do want to say that the prices might seem high to the budget traveler to stay in the downtown core, but I compared most of the hotels in the business district and I found this hotel to be of great value. If your travels are taking you to Toronto, save on all the daily cab fares and treat yourself to a hotel stay here. I am recommending this one.

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Business Desk

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Business Desk

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Bathroom

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Bathroom

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Suite Room

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Suite Room

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Bed Area

INTERCONTINENTAL TORONTO CENTRE Bed Area


Permanent link to this article: http://stevestravelblog.com/?p=331

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