DISchurners Hotel Reviews Thread (extension of I love credit cards so much! thread)

calypso726

Escaping reality one Disney vacation at a time
Joined
Dec 11, 2006
Hilton Marco Island
April 2021
Marco Island, Fl


PlanePrincess and I each have an Aspire card. It’s my favorite sock drawer card. We haven’t taken the plunge back to our normal international travel just yet so decided to use our FN certificates closer to home. We booked separate reservations for one night with our certificates at the Hilton Marco Island. The rooms were going for over $900 per night this weekend. When we arrived Friday night they combined our reservations so we didn’t have to switch rooms. I asked if upgrades were available since we have Diamond status with our Aspire card and we were upgraded to the top floor with a full ocean view room. The standard night we booked was for a partial ocean view. We were also given breakfast vouchers good for $23 per person at the restaurant or market place and $15 drink vouchers.

The room was clean, although I did find a few spots they missed. I imagine most people wouldn’t have noticed but we are in the habit of wiping down rooms and plane seats. The food and the drinks and the restaurant were good. Not on par with Calusa’s at Bakers Cay in Key Largo but definitely worth it if you’re looking for reasons not to leave the resort and do as little as possible. I’m not a beach person and am quite content to sit on the balcony enjoying the view. Walks on the beach at sunset are the extent of beach activities I enjoy and collecting interesting seashells.

We used our breakfast certificates for bagels with smoked salmon, capers, egg, onion and cream cheese and some avocado toast. Both were quite tasty. Their cocktail creations are also fantastic

Given the choice to burn a FN cert on another staycation, I’d be fine with staying here again but still prefer Bakers Cay. If you like the beach, then the Hilton Marco Island is a better bet.

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WVMomof3

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 21, 2005
Hilton Head Marriott Resort and Spa
Used 35,000 pt FNCs
April 2021


It did not have the best reviews. A lot of the people complained about it needing a refurb and I can definitely see that. The carpet was worn and the sofa in the suite was uncomfortable. However, I really liked the location right on the beach. There was a $25 resort fee that included parking, free waters and some other BS things like basketball court and board games at the desk. It is very close (just 1 property in between them) to Disney's Beach House if you are familiar with that location. We used 4 Free night certs and 4 Suite Upgrades. The choices for suite upgrades were a Junior Suite Resort view, a King bed regular room but with an ocean view and I can't remember what the 3rd option was, I think it was 2queen Beach view. I checked that I would be happy with the first 2 but not the 3rd. We ended up with the Junior Suite resort view (aka parking lot view). We did get a great sunset from it every night though. We had 2 balconies, one off the bedroom and one off the sitting room. The master bath had a room for the tub and toilet with the vanity outside. I like this kind of setup so 2 can get ready at once. It also had a half bath in the sitting area. Seemed kind of a waste for just 2 of us, lol. We were on the 10th (top) floor which turned out not so great when DH kept making me go up and down the stairs because he was not happy with all the people piling in the elevators. I got my work out in! We are not pool or ocean people, lol, so we did not go in either but we did spend time by the pool and walked the beach every day. The pool seemed adequate, they had plenty of chairs for when we were there. They were not offering their Platinum perks (should have been free breakfast) and instead offered us a one time $10 F&B credit. I tweeted Marriott and voiced my displeasure as all the restaurants were open and they came back and offered a $100 credit. I was happy with that and in fact, didn't end up eating breakfast at all and didn't use the full credit. We used it at the coffee bar every day, drinks by the pool and dinner one night. I think the only breakfast option was a buffet and we did not want that. The rate for our 4 nights was over $1000 for the standard King room so I was more than happy with our upgraded stay for just $100.

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  • WVMomof3

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 21, 2005
    Andaz Savannah
    Category 4 - used Free night Certificates
    April 2021



    Excellent location right on Ellis Square and not far from River Street. Though this also made it very loud late into the night. We were at the far end of the hotel and just had a small view of the square, I was disappointed at first but I think the closer view would have been louder. This was our first trip as Globalist and we felt very spoiled. We were upgraded to a suite and had the Ellis Square view. I think the other side overlooks their pool. We had free breakfast every morning and free valet parking as Globalist. The hotel itself has no parking, but a public garage is right next door. The breakfast was in their restaurant and had a menu, I believe the standard before covid was a buffet. The website description says every room has a free minibar with snacks and drinks. They did not have this. They told us to ask at desk if we needed anything. We got water and orange juice several times, I think you could have gotten soda options also. We did not get any snacks, I don't remember them offering any but I could have missed it. They offered a free welcome drink of a local beer or a champagne. We were on floor 4 (I think there was 6 floors) I was fine with 4 because once again we used the stairs a lot. The bathroom was large with a soaker tub and separate shower and double sinks (forgot to take picture) but all in one room. We briefly looked at the pool area, it seemed small and few chairs, we did not use it at all. It was on floor 2, so rooftop of part of the hotel. We really enjoyed our stay here and would stay again. As Globalist we got 2 free mini liquor bottles and 2 chocolates, all locally made as our welcome gift.

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    MarBee

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2015
    Courtyard Marriott Fort Myers/Cape Coral Florida
    May 2021
    Stayed here for 3 nights while visiting family in the area. The hotel was located in a somewhat industrial section of the city. We chose this hotel because I had some free night certificates (35,000 points or less) to use up, and the Marriott brands had slim pickings in the area.
    We had a 2 queen room on the first floor that allowed you to walk out sliding doors into the courtyard where the pool was located.
    The lobby was very nice and offered a small snack bar (we didn’t eat there). There were lots of places to sit, and we saw some people working from the lobby on their laptops.
    I’d read that it was recently refurbished. However, it was one of those refurbs where someone goes in with a paint sprayer and says it’s redone. There was major signs of wear (cracked light switch covers, screen door broken, sheets with holes in them...)
    There was also cleanliness issues. The shower walls had the weirdest material. It wasn’t tiled but it was like a paneling. It looked like the bathroom had all the materials sprayed with white paint. The tub constantly felt like there was gritty sand underneath and the walls had stains of all colors on it. I tried to wipe them off and couldn’t.
    The water pressure wasn’t great and the tub trained extremely slowly. The carpet was the kind you wear socks on your whole stay.
    The beds were comfortable and there was plenty of storage space in the room.
    We’d requested extra towels through the app and they never came.
    Overall, I would not recommend. However, given the reviews of the other Marriotts around, if you must stay at a Marriott in this area, this would probably be it. Next time, we will go with a different brand.
     

    hsmamato2

    <font color=magenta>Tink in Training-Good Girl,Bad
    Joined
    Mar 28, 2005
    Holiday Inn Regency Bar Harbor,Maine.
    Used our free night certificates, plus ihg points for 4 night stay.
    Basic hotel- very pretty grounds- set right on Frenchmans Bay- absolutely gorgeous views! About 5 minute drive into town- so easy to go grab dinner from here. We could see Bar Island from our room balcony. (have I mentioned it's beautiful here?) They still used all safety protocol in lobby with masks, plenty of Purell stations everywhere- hotel is only 3 floors so easy to have elevator to our own family. Room was basic, a little old, but very clean(you could smell the disnifectant,which reassured us) and very comfortable. We requested no housekeeping during our stay (and used our own disinfectant spray in room upon arrrival) but they were great about leaving some needed items at our door quickly upon request. Free kuerig coffemaker in room- Our room balcony overlooked the pool area and the bay....it was incredibly relaxing to spend a couple of hours sitting out every morning with a cup of coffee,just taking in the views and relaxing. The pool was clean,and nice warm temps (bc it's chilly at night!) hot tub was big and beautiful- very nice grounds. I liked the walking path along the water,and when the tide went out we enjoyed just wandering the rocky shore beside the hotel. I saw tennis courts also. I will definitely go back again. It was less than a 5 minute drive to enter Acadia itself,so very convenient also. There's a restaurant onsite,we didn't go there. Even found some hidden Mickeys in the rug!:flower1:577407
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    wanderlust7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2015
    Andaz Napa
    June 2021
    Category 6
    Napa, CA

    We stayed at the Andaz Napa for 2 nights on the way back from Sea Ranch. Points cost is 25k/night. I found a cash rate of $210 for Sunday and Monday (usually much more on weekends), so that was a better deal to me than using points. With the Bonus Journeys Q2 promotion, I got an extra 2500 points for the 2-night stay, and it pushed me over the 10 nights to get the FNC. Also had the 8x Hyatt offer on my Hyatt card. Valuing the points at 1.5 cpp, the points earned came out to more than 25% off our stay. 😊

    There is a destination fee of $30, which covers self-parking in the public garage behind the hotel and a $10 food and beverage credit. Also included a branded wine bag, wine mug, and a bottle of Pathwater (reusable aluminum). We were charged the $20 parking (in error apparently) and it was removed after I texted to ask about it. We used the $10 daily F&B credit on a cupcake, chocolate covered toffee (very hard!), chocolate covered banana (each $6), and pastries ($5). I thought we would be charged the amount and then a credit applied, but it just shows up as a charge for the difference and any tips.

    Andazs usually offer a free minibar (alcohol excluded), but due to Covid, the Andaz Napa wasn’t doing it in room. They could offer K-Cups with sugar and creamer in room though, so 🤷‍♀️ lol. Instead, we got $10/day to pick from the minibar offerings in the lobby. We usually did 2 candy ($3 each) and 1 soda ($4) to make it come out exact. They don’t seem strict about the limit though. Just had to give our room number, no bill to sign. They offered me an extra pick when I asked if I could use the F&B credit on the minibar (nope). We could use both the F&B and minibar credits on check-in and check-out days.

    The hallways and elevators at the Andaz Napa are really dark. The lobby too, depending on the light coming through the front door. It reminded me of the Hyatt Centric we stayed at in Long Beach. We had a 2 King room. Beds were very comfortable. But the room felt a little small. I had to push in the chair at the desk to walk past. There was one bedside table in-between the 2 beds. Would have been nice to have ones at the other side of each bed too. There’s enough space for them. Bathroom was spacious, but showed some wear, like a big rust stain on the marble near the drain in the shower.

    The room and hotel don’t say luxury to me and I’m not sure it’s worth 25k points. However, the location is excellent. We walked everywhere. There are so many great restaurants nearby. We went to Zuzu for Spanish tapas. That was the best food I’ve had since the pandemic started. Pricey though and made me miss the tapas in Spain. We also went kayaking in the Napa River on a Travelzoo deal. Service was great - friendly and texts were answered quickly. When we checked out, the guy knew which room we were in without asking.


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    wanderlust7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2015
    Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa
    June 2012
    Category 5
    Huntington Beach, CA

    We stayed here 3 nights after going to Disneyland. Used points at 20k/night since cash rate would have been almost $500/night with taxes and resort fee. Valet parking is steep at $42/night. We parked at the large beach parking lot across the street instead. It’s $30 for the first night, then $15 each additional night. It was convenient as there’s a foot bridge from the hotel to the parking lot. But a major con was that you can’t get into the parking lot after 9 pm. We went to SIL’s house one day and got back late, so had to park on the street at a meter ($2/hour, 6 am to midnight). The parking lot opens at 5 am, so DH moved the car then before we had to pay the meter again. If it were up to me, I would have just paid to valet that night lol.

    We asked for late checkout, but they could only do to noon. DH is Explorist, so should have been able to get 2 pm. It was pretty busy when we checked out on a Sunday, so I could see why. With this stay, he's now Globalist, woohoo!

    We had a 2 Queen room that faced a courtyard. We could see the pool and the beach across the street looking right. The room was nice and spacious. Bed was comfortable, except I didn’t like that they used a flat sheet on the mattress instead of a fitted one.
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    View from balcony:

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    View from balcony, looking right:

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    We spent most of one day at the pool where the slides are. There are 3 slides - small, medium, and large (although the large isn’t that high or long). There’s also a fairly big hot tub. DD had a lot of fun. DS, being a jaded 12-year-old, got bored of it after a while. 🙄 The server from the poolside bar and grill came by often. It was relaxing for the adults. Nice weather to just lie around. On Friday nights, there is Cosmic Sliding at the pool (music, fog machine, and lasers), but kids didn’t want to go since it gets chilly at night.

    Saturday morning, we went to the sand castle activity on the beach. The instructor went around to each party to give tools and a quick demo on how to build. There are beach chairs, umbrellas, towels, and sand toys you can checkout on the foot bridge right before heading down. After the kids had enough of the sand, we rented a double surrey and biked on the beach path.

    There is koi feeding in the pond by the spa at noon every day. DD enjoyed that. The ducks in the pond will steal the food and they’re super fast! Other activities we didn’t do are movie nights by the pool on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and s’mores on Sundays. There is also a for fee activity learning to swim like a mermaid.

    We went to their restaurant, Watertable, one night. Food was pretty good, but pricey. A lot of the reviews mention their steak, but I actually liked the sea bass better. We had breakfast one morning at Surf City Grocery, kind of their convenience store/coffee shop. My breakfast sandwich was cold in the middle. :crazy2: One night, we walked about 15 minutes to Pho 10 for dinner. Tasty, nice portion size (lots of meat in the pho!), and good prices.

    Sunset from the foot bridge:

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  • wanderlust7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2015
    SpringHill Suites Paso Robles Atascadero
    June 2021
    Bonvoy Category 5
    Atascadero, CA

    Stayed here for 1 night on the way back from Disneyland and Huntington Beach to go see the field of lights in Paso Robles. Used a 35k Bonvoy FNC. When I was planning the trip, it was 40k, so I had another hotel booked. I don’t find the 35k FNCs that easy to use, so happy to use it up and not have to worry about it later. Cash rate with tax would have been $188. Location is a little further from Paso Robles than the Courtyard (also Category 5), but reviews seem better. It was about a 15 minute drive to Sensorio field of lights.

    I was pleasantly surprised by this mid-level hotel. The room had a lot of space and an interesting layout. Sofa bed divided from the beds by the desk, shower and sink in one room, toilet with very small sink in another room. Closet was deeper than usual. Beds were comfortable. Only complaint was the low water pressure in the shower and it could use a new shower head.

    Front desk staff were very friendly. They had a bowl of lollipops out, the kids loved that. Also had water and coffee out. They’ve gone back to the continental breakfast buffet, not the grab and go I saw in reviews. Pastries were a little stale. They also had cereal (individual bowl containers and in dispensers), yogurt, granola bars, and hard-boiled eggs.

    We had dinner at the hotel restaurant since DH was tired from the drive (traffic). I was confused at first since it just looks like the lobby. But you order at the bar, and they bring it to wherever you are sitting. There are tables outside too. Not surprisingly, a bit expensive, but at least the food was pretty good.
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    Sensorio field of lights was very cool to see!
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    MarBee

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2015
    Brewster Green Resort
    Brewster, Massachusetts (Cape Cod)
    June 2021

    Original redemption was 15,000 Chase UR points per night but wound up having to switch our dates and paid $200/night in cash since booking through Chase was unavailable for new dates.

    The resort is a Condo/timeshare style resort on Cape Cod. It has an indoor pool, and outdoor pool, and a hot tub indoor. I believe they do arts and crafts at the lobby area although we did not take part. Although there were not a ton of amenities, the ones they did offer were very nice.

    We had a 2 bedroom/2 bathroom condo that slept 6. It was very well appointed with just about everything you’d need to stay. It had a fully equipped kitchen, came with all linens, and had a working wood burning fireplace. Very clean as well.
    Some minor issues: the shower head in the master bathroom sprayed every which where but on your body, and it caused the bathroom curtain to blow in the shower. The carpeting in the place was also poorly laid so that there were big gaps in all the places it should have been seamed. Minor issues but thought I’d note it.
    Overall, it was a good use of 15,000 UR points if you’re staying on Cape Cod.BF84A7DD-72DA-4D71-A53B-6D81D2917FCD.jpegA0793A75-295F-4CF3-98B9-3B1809026AA2.jpegCD4833E5-1C56-42DA-884B-90E9D1F78203.jpegA5B98533-E4EB-4F12-9734-2FB394AAFCA0.jpeg129C2B52-10B1-4C17-9A25-28DAC0CE7198.jpeg
     

    wanderlust7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2015
    Grand Hyatt Kauai
    July 2021
    Category 6
    Koloa, HI

    We stayed for 4 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai on points (25k/night). Cash rates were $750/night, so it was a great use of points! This was our first Hyatt stay since DH made Globalist. At check-in, I asked about upgrades and was offered a suite, but it only has a king bed and L-shaped sofa (no sofa bed and no rollaway). With 2 kids (ages 9 and 12), that didn’t sound comfortable, so we kept the assigned upgrade, which was an ADA partial ocean view 2 queen room. The kids were given cute plushies of Duke, one of several parrots at the resort. A manager also came out to introduce herself and thank us for being Globalist.

    When we were done, the valet took our luggage and walked us to our room. He showed us where things were and put our luggage on the luggage racks. A short time later, someone came to give us our Globalist goodies. 😊 We were on the top floor (6th) and the view turned out better than expected for something labeled “partial” ocean view. We could see the pool and ocean just slight right and the koi pond at Ilima Terrace Restaurant slight left. The room was a good size and beds were comfortable. Bathroom had a Japanese toilet, which we like (keep talking about installing one at home). Shower has no edge since it’s an ADA unit, so water would come out, but it wasn’t a big deal.
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    Being Globalist, we had access to the Grand Club Lounge, which we used every day. It was never crowded. I assume due to Covid, they’re having staff serve the food. The ladies there are very nice. Coffee and the juice machine are self-serve. You can also grab boxed cereal, yogurt, soda, and bottled water yourself. The main menu items change daily, but some things they always have. At breakfast, I would always have the smoked salmon (yum) and we always had some fruit whenever we went (papaya, melon, strawberry, blueberry, pineapple, canned lychee, and kiwi once). The breakfast really filled us up and we tended to have late lunches. The two nights we didn’t have dinner reservations, we made light dinners of the hors d’oeuvres.

    We had dinner at Tidepools and Stevenson’s Library (made reservations ahead of time on Open Table). At Tidepools, the Hawaiian Catch was sooo good. Every single component on that dish was delicious. Best thing I ate the entire trip. DH and I usually order two different dishes so we can swap. The other dish we had was the Opah, which was just okay. I was so sad to swap lol! For dessert, I wanted the malasadas, but DS wanted the lava cake, so we got both. Turns out the malasadas were just okay, but the lava cake was yummy, especially the POG ice cream. At Stevenson’s, the lobster dynamite and misoyaki salmon were delicious. Also had the Stevenson’s and Shipwreck rolls, which were good, but not too different from rolls you can get anywhere.

    We did one pool day. There’s a slide, lazy river, and lagoon pool. They don’t provide tubes, so we bought a couple large ones for $5 each at Walmart. They inflated it for us at the recreation desk where you get your towels. We got there around 10ish, so not surprisingly, couldn’t find chairs in the shade. But we just went to enjoy the pool and shady spots opened up later when we really did want to lounge.

    For resort activities, we did the parrot talk and koi feeding. I think we missed some of the parrot talk, even though we got there at the start time. Not sure what happened. But we were able to get close up photos afterwards with Duke. For the koi feeding, they set up a box outside Tidepools with bags of fish food. One per person and it’s a pretty big bag. Way more than they gave at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach where it was a small condiment cup. Maybe it’s because the GH Kauai has a whole lot more koi (so many!).

    Some other random tidbits – self parking is free for everyone; valet is free on award stays for Globalists. We’re kind of DIY people, so just did self-parking. They give 2 branded, reusable plastic water bottles. There are lots of refilling stations around and we found it very convenient. Self service laundry is free for everyone. I didn’t see any laundry rooms close to our room though, so I used the Globalist benefit that the GH Kauai offers to have laundry done. Max is $150 per stay, which doesn’t go as far as it might sound. One full bag of regular laundry (not dry cleaning) came out to $110 lol.

    We had a great time at the GH Kauai. The grounds are just gorgeous and service was wonderful. Before we left, we put our leis at the stones along with all the others, in remembrance of our trip. A hui hou (until we meet again).

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    wanderlust7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2015
    Grand Wailea
    July 2021
    95k Hilton points
    Wailea, HI

    We stayed at the Grand Wailea for 3 nights using free night certificates. DH and I are both Diamond since we both have the Hilton Aspire. 2 FNC were from opening the Aspires and 1 was for spending 15k on the Hilton business card. Cash rate was $950 when I booked (just went up from there), so it was a great use of FNC! We used our $250 resort credits here too. I really feel like I got my money’s worth for the Aspire AF.

    Instead of breakfast, they’re doing a $50/night F&B credit now. It just shows up on your bill as a credit. Doesn’t look like you need to spend it each day, though we did spend at least that every day.

    We were upgraded to a very nice ocean view in the Lagoon Wing right in front of the pool. Second floor, but it’s actually the third level since there’s a zero floor (not sure what it’s called - ground floor? The room numbers start with zero). There was one more level above us. We were towards the end of the wing and close to the stairs - very convenient, occasionally noisy. Being close to the pool was very convenient too, but noisy when kids decided to play Marco Polo in the morning lol. Humuhumunukunukuapua’a Restaurant was also very close.

    The room was comfortable enough but had many signs of wear. For example, the leather (faux?) headboards had pieces chipped off. There's a lot of square white tiles in the bathroom. Curious design choice for a luxury resort. There are 2 bottles of Grand Wailea branded Pathwater in the room (refillable aluminum containers). There aren’t a lot of refill stations though. We only saw two near the pools.

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    Pool slides are only open from 10:30 am to 4 pm. The water elevator is still closed. 😞 They aren’t doing the pool chair reservation system anymore. Though the tags with the chair number that say “reserved” are still there. Luckily, I saw that mentioned in a TripAdvisor review, so knew that they weren’t actually reserved. I also saw that the chair situation is a source of angst for many, supposedly you need to line up at 7 am to get a shady spot. I decided that I wasn’t going to worry about it. Worst case, we put our stuff on the floor somewhere! First day, we got to the pool about 11 am. Found a spot on the strip of lawn facing the ocean. No shade, but we put our stuff down and went to play. By the time we wanted a late lunch, a shady spot opened up at Baby Beach (the zero entry, sandy bottom part of the pool). We had some late afternoon pool time our second day and found a spot there as well. I guess the younger kids call it a day earlier. 😊

    The pools and slides were a lot of fun. There are smaller pools on different levels that connect with small slides. There’s also a longer open, curved slide. The enclosed lava tube slide usually had a bit of a wait. That one was really fast! The Grotto Bar is still closed, but it was fun to sit there. Debris tended to accumulate there, surprised that they don’t keep it cleaner. There’s a lazy river that sometimes got crowded. No tubes provided, so we used the ones we bought for the Grand Hyatt Kauai. The pool shop next to the towel stand inflated them for us. Wrist bands are required. If you cut them off, you have to bring the old ones to get a replacement. I always scratch myself in the shower with these things, so we took them off. Any flagstone not in the shade is like lava on bare feet! Better to go through the pool and through the tunnel to get to the top.

    We ate at Kula Café for 1 dinner and 2 breakfasts. Food was pretty good. One breakfast, we waited for 30 minutes before checking, turns out they put the wrong buzzer number on our order. 😞 We had breakfast at the Grand Dining Room once. Went at 9:30 am thinking we’d miss the crowd (breakfast ends at 10), but still had to wait 20 minutes to be seated, then another 45 minutes or so for our food (the waiter did apologize). At least it was nice and breezy and fun watching the birds fly around and steal the leftovers. We had lunch once from the taco truck near the pools, that was really good (can charge to room here too). The kids didn’t want tacos, so I ordered kids’ meals from the poolside mobile ordering system. It worked well and we didn’t wait long (it was a late lunch though).

    We had dinner once at Bistro Molokini (made a reservation on Open Table). Service was very good. We had the hanger steak, fresh catch, and the clams. Everything was good. DD had the kids’ pizza and it’s an entire small pizza! She only ate one slice out of four. I had the mango mojito, that was really good. The kids got turtle plushies at the end of dinner. 😊 We also ate at Humuhumu once (had to call to reserve). The restaurant is built over water, very similar to Tidepools at Grand Hyatt Kauai. But I’m not sure why the water level seemed very low, and they had very few koi. Had the surf and turf and the miso butterfish (that was especially good). Service was not as good here. Had to ask for the kids’ ice cream that came with the kids’ meal and the humuhumu plushy that they give (after we got the turtle plushies, I looked up reviews and realized it’s a thing). Not as magical when you need to ask. 🙄 Food is very expensive here, but having the Aspire credits and the Waldorf Astoria Amex offer (hopefully it stacks!) really takes the sting out.

    The grounds are beautiful and there is a lot of grand art work in the public areas. We had a good time. Some issues and I can see where the bad reviews on TripAdvisor are coming from. I would not be happy to pay $1000/night to stay here. But for “free”? Perception is highly dependent on how much you paid lol. Since we were just at the GH Kauai, it’s hard not to compare. I liked the GH Kauai more, but I'm glad we got to experience the Grand Wailea too.

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  • MarBee

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2015
    AC Hotel Washington DC Downtown
    2 Free Night Awards (35,000 or less)

    Stayed two nights at this newer hotel to do a bunch of sight seeing in DC.
    The hotel was gorgeous and situated within walking distance to the National Mall and Smithsonians. The bathroom shower was huge, had a rain shower and hand held sprayer, and looked brand new. It did have a square shaped toilet, which we found to be a little weird.
    The AC went down to 62, which we loved on the hot days. The room was “European style,” which meant that it was modern and clean with hardwood floors, but it didn’t really have any drawers for storage. We knew beforehand, so I packed accordingly, but if you were staying for a long trip, I could see that being an issue.
    The only other cons we could think of was that parking was $50/night with tax, but that’s fairly typical for DC.
    Overall, this hotel was exceptional. Get it now while it’s still a Category 5 and 35,000 points. I’m sure it will be bumped up shortly.
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    wanderlust7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2015
    Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa On Del Monte Golf Course
    August 2021
    Category 4
    Monterey, CA

    Had 2 FNC expiring before the end of the year, so decided to book the HR Monterey for a weekend. Cash rate with tax was $600/night, so in that sense it was a great use of FNC. We booked a 2 Queen room and that’s what we got. No Globalist upgrade as they appeared to be completely sold out. We didn’t get bottled water in the room but was able to get some from the front desk. There is also a filtered water machine in the lobby near the restaurant.

    Breakfast is in their restaurant, Sea Root. The Globalist benefit covers 1 entrée and 1 drink per person. They have a kids’ menu, so I wasn’t sure if the kids needed to order off that for it to be covered. When I asked the front desk, they said yes that was required. But when DS ordered something from the regular menu, it never got on our room charges anyways. So, I’m not sure if I got bad info or got lucky. 🤷‍♀️

    The restaurant is in a nice space, very bright and open. We enjoyed the food. Service, for the most part, was friendly, though food takes a while to come out. Breakfast goes until 11 am on the weekends (10 am on weekdays). We went around 10 am both days, Saturday was no wait, and Sunday was just a few minutes. The steak and eggs at $28 maximize the benefit lol (but the steak is not that big). The frittata and breakfast burrito were good too.

    The rooms were supposedly recently remodeled but seems like only the furniture and wall air conditioner is new. The carpet is definitely old. Would have made a world of difference if that had been replaced. DS noticed the popcorn ceiling. I don’t know why he always notices that lol. The new furniture is nice, though not a lot of storage (only 3 drawers). Beds were comfortable and the desk is a nice size.

    The bathroom is small with only 1 hook to hang bath towels. It didn’t look remodeled but was in good shape. The sound insulation is awful. We could hear the room in the floor above walking around and jumping(?). Could also hear conversation, baby crying, and the blow dryer of the room next door in the bathroom. Luckily, didn’t hear it in the room. Maybe the aircon drowned it out.

    We had a relaxing weekend. Air was bad at home due to the wildfires, so it was a nice escape. We did a kayak tour at Elkhorn Slough; saw sea otters, sea lions, seals, jellyfish, and lots of birds. Also did a little hiking at Point Lobos.

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    calypso726

    Escaping reality one Disney vacation at a time
    Joined
    Dec 11, 2006
    Review on a travel hacked weekend. We spent the long weekend in San Francisco. It’s a great city and we enjoy coming back from time to time.

    We stayed at the Mark Hopkins Intercontinental.This hotel is bookable with IHG points earned on the Chase IHG card, paid through the UR portal or transferred to IHG from UR and also with various airline vacation packages.

    When we checked in, we were offered a paid upgrade from our 4th floor Junior suite to a 1 bedroom corner suite on the 14th floor for $100 per night. I asked if there were better offers for platinum members. The clerk checked with the manager and we were offered the same but for $80 per night. Top of the Mark is on the 19th floor so I figured the view would be much better from the 14th over the 4th and we took the upgrade. If you have a vehicle, be prepared to pay quite a bit for valet each night as there is no self parking area. Public transportation is an available option.

    Our room had an amazing view and was very clean. However, it was very dated and in desperate need of an update.

    Top of the Mark opened back up this weekend and we enjoyed a drink at the end of the evening. We were asked to show our vaccination cards and ID to enter. This seems to be the norm for dining establishments as we needed to bring our cards with us and show them.

    There’s lots to do and tons of amazing places to eat. We visited the Walt Disney Family museum and Alcatraz this trip. I finally rode on a Cable Car and had my first In-N-Out burger.

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    calypso726

    Escaping reality one Disney vacation at a time
    Joined
    Dec 11, 2006
    Now for some info on the Alila Ventana Big Sur, an all inclusive Hyatt property for 3 nights. Everything is included except alcohol. The resort accommodations range from $1,600 -$2,000 per night. But they are bookable for 30k per night for a standard room, a bit more for suites with Hyatt. Chase UR points transfer 1:1 to Hyatt. I did use a suite night certificate to get upgraded from a standard room to a suite for our length of stay.

    The resort is serene and peaceful and has a rustic and romantic feel to it. I love the hammock on the porch and fireplace in the room. There are pools, hot tubs and bath houses. Some are clothing optional. But the reception attendant lets you know which areas are if you don’t want to swim with someone in their birthday suit.

    There is a lot one can choose to do as far as activities but they do up-charge for those. We didn’t purchase any of the activities and have been content to just enjoy getting away from it all. S’mores and hot chocolate at the Social House are available each night with a convenient fire pit right outside. The food has been good, but not as spectacular as I would expect for the cash price point of the resort.

    We’ve indulged in simply relaxing and enjoying the property. I would definitely come back here and feel it is amazing value for Chase/Hyatt points.

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    WVMomof3

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 21, 2005
    Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa
    Albuquerque, New Mexico
    September 2021
    Category 3


    We stayed 3 nights here on a New Mexico road trip. We used one FNC and then 2 nights at 12,000 pts each. I had read really great reviews of this resort. They filmed the latest Bachelorette here earlier this year and darn if I didn't miss seeing Adam Levine stay here a few weeks earlier than me according to some people we met on one of our hikes. lol I thought the resort was meh. It wasn't bad, wasn't great. We checked in on Sunday of Labor day weekend and it was full that day so probably why we didn't get the best upgrade, but we did get "mountain view" instead of pool view which I think is a slight upgrade. We did have a full balcony. It looked like most rooms had full balcony but a few just had a french balcony where maybe you could stick a foot on it. We were also in this weird section, I couldn't tell if it was better or worse, but most rooms were off hallways like a standard hotel. We were in this block in the middle that was open air. It would have sucked in the rain, lol, but it was fine for us. But the way the stairs were if you wanted to use them in this block was you had to go all the way around to the stairs, circle all the way around to the next stairs, circle all the way around to the next stairs, circle all the way around to our room, 4th floor. It was a strange set up. The room was fine, fairly big. My hairdryer was broke but they brought me up a new one. We had no housekeeping services but could have called for fresh towels or water bottles. We did touristy things in Albuquerque Sunday and Monday so didn't spend much time at the resort. We did watch the Notre Dame football game at the bar Sunday night and there was only one other table with people in there. They did have a nice outside section so I imagine that was full. We got free breakfast at the other restaurant, it was a nice breakfast the 2 days we could use it. The first morning we left before they opened to go hiking and we got coffee at the "Starbucks" in the lobby area and they did comp that for that morning instead of breakfast. Tuesday we stayed all day at the resort and road the bikes they have and lounged at the pool for a few hours. They required us to wear helmets for the bikes and they were pretty beat up. Dh only found one that fit him and it didn't even have a working strap. He just stuck it on his head. They were limited to 30 minutes on the bikes which I guess I can see when they are busy but there was no one there on Tuesday. You can only ride around their trails, so didn't take too long anyway. The property is right on the Rio Grande but it is fenced off so you can't go near it. The pool could use refurbishment. The chairs were all stained and a lot of the umbrellas were broke. I think there was maybe 10 people the whole time we were at the pool, but they have tons of chairs. I can't imagine if they were all filled. I would have hated that. They did have 3 pools, the main one, and adult one and one they called the oxbow which was an odd shape the towel lady said was like a lazy river. But it didn't connect in a circle so I don't know how that would work. lol They had a wedding there Sunday when we checked in. They have a wedding pavilion near the river. It would not be my pick for a wedding venue, but neither would New Mexico. lol All in all, we enjoyed our stay but probably won't be back.

    The first 2 pics are of our little outside cellblock (I couldn’t quite capture all of it to show how weird the stair set up was) and last is view from our balcony.

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    wanderlust7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2015
    Alila Ventana Big Sur
    Big Sur, CA
    October 2021
    Category 7
    Adults only, all-inclusive

    Back for a second stay, but first time after they became all-inclusive for food. Still only 30k Hyatt points per night for a standard room. DH is Globalist and we were upgraded to a hot tub suite. Rate was about $2200/night when I booked, the upgrade is probably about $500 more. So something like 9 cpp if we’re keeping track lol.

    Our suite was the one that could connect to the Coast House to make it a 2-bedroom suite. We could see the ocean beyond the trees from the balcony (see corner picture).

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    All-inclusive now includes lunch on arrival and departure days. Alcohol is not included. I also saw some non-alcoholic specialty drinks on the menu that had a price. Otherwise, everything else is included. Breakfast and dinner are at their restaurant, The Sur House. Lunch is poolside or at the Big Sur Smokehouse right at the entrance (also open to the public). Room service is available too, but we only did that for one breakfast. There is also a late night in-room menu that we were always too full for.

    It says on the dinner menu that included are one appetizer, entrée, and dessert. We didn’t try to order more. There’s no limit for breakfast or lunch. Lunch items poolside were lighter fare and small portions, except for the hamburger with fries (yum). Other stand outs for us were the octopus appetizer, salmon special, black bass, and lamb at dinner. I really liked the poke at poolside lunch and the Vietnamese sandwich with tempeh. The frittata at breakfast wasn’t what I expected. The vegetables aren’t cooked into the egg, so eats more like a salad. The soba noodle salad poolside with Szechuan dressing was surprisingly numbing! More numbing than most Szechuan food I’ve had, but then I’ve never had it in Szechuan lol. The Smokehouse was rather disappointing. Ribs were okay, but not fall off the bone. The brisket was mostly fat.

    There are included snacks in the room (nuts, trail mix, coconut chips, apple chips etc.) and drinks (Coke, diet Coke, Pellegrino, boxed water). They still give 2 reusable water bottles, same design as when we last went. Hoping they’ll change the design next time so I can add to my collection lol. There were white, non-branded slippers in the room. Last time, there were rubber ones that looked reusable, so we didn’t take them. We were celebrating a special occasion, so they had a small bottle of champagne in the room and a charcuterie plate (I think it’s the same one on the late night menu).

    Service was still wonderful and friendly as before. Dinner service was especially good. I have another reservation for next year. 😊 Need to make it right at 13 months when the calendar opens for best availability. They require 3 nights for standard awards on weekends now. I asked the Twitter Concierge if I could shorter my reservation and was told that it’s the policy and they would need to ask the hotel. I decided to leave it as is. Maybe with a 3-night stay, we’ll actually make it off the property lol.
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    wanderlust7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2015
    Kings’ Land by Hilton Grand Vacations
    Waikoloa Village, HI
    November 2021

    Stayed at the HGVC Kings’ Land in a 2 bedroom for a week on exchange with our timeshare. Thought I’d still put a review since it can be booked with points or cash. I think there are no standard nights though since it’s all suites, so point values are usually atrocious. Cash rates can be reasonable.

    This is our second stay here. I like that Kings’ Land has its own Super Pool plus access to the pools at Hilton Waikoloa Village. I usually like to try different places and I could have exchanged into HGVC Bay Club or Kohala Suites, but the pools are important to us. Bay Club has the biggest units but doesn’t have access to the pools at HWV. Kohala is the newest, but the units are smaller. It has access to HWV but doesn’t have its own large pool complex. If Ocean Tower at HWV ever came up for exchange, I’d consider it if I was sure the conversion to vacation club units was complete. There would be a chance to have an ocean view (the other 3 do not). But the con would be the trek to and from the parking lot.

    We were assigned a unit on the 3rd (top) floor overlooking the golf course. Unit was in pretty good shape, though some wear in the kitchen and the cabinet under the sink smelled a little from the trash can. I don’t like that the second bedroom faces the walkway, so we kept the sliding shades closed. Luckily our unit was at one end with little traffic. The master bathroom has a large wooden sliding panel with open slats. No privacy, though that wasn’t an issue for us.

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    Since it’s a vacation club, there’s only a mid-week cleaning. Trash and recycling can be bagged and put outside; they took it away quickly. There’s an option on the TV to request extra towels, coffee, toiletries, laundry detergent, etc. We requested a few things and that came quick too, though they forgot the toiletries.

    There are daily craft activities, but the schedule online was wrong. We were told to scan a QR code instead of given a paper schedule. When we went to the activities desk to sign up, the ones they had up were completely different. DD wanted to do the sand in a bottle key chain and was very disappointed. 😞

    The Kings’ Land Super Pool has an open slide and an enclosed slide that require an attendant; they closed at 5 pm (though posted time was 4). The 2 tiny slides stay open (1 is at the rock bottom side). There are 2 good sized hot tubs, and we were able to use them at times with no one else inside. Loungers are nice and cushioned. They’re doing towel cards now. 🙄 There are warnings on the cards that it’s $50 if you lose them.

    There are 2 pools section at HWV, in addition to the lagoon. Kohala River Pool was closed for renovations, leaving only the Kona Pool. There’s one pool slide there that’s longer than the one at Kings’ Land (closes at 4 pm). We only saw one hot tub there and every time we passed by it was people soup. The loungers there are the usual mesh kind and not cushioned. The towel situation is better though lol. Just scan your room card to open a heated cabinet to take as many as you want. Supposedly they track that you’ve returned it to the used towel bin, but we couldn’t figure out how it would work (there were no special tags on the towels as far as we could tell).

    DH and the kids rented a water tricycle and pedaled around the lagoon. Saw many people snorkeling, though we didn’t try it. DD liked playing in the sand there. The HWV complex is sprawling. There are trams and boats, though we didn’t see the boats running this time. We preferred just walking once we got reoriented to where things were.

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    wanderlust7

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Mar 10, 2015
    The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort
    Waimea, HI
    November 2021
    Bonvoy Category 6

    We stayed here for 1 night after our week at Kings’ Land. It was 50k Bonvoy points. Started out at 60k peak rate but dropped so I rebooked. There’s a resort fee that came out to $42 with tax. Parking is $30 self or valet.

    DH has Platinum status and I requested early check-in since check out at Kings’ Land is at 10 am. Was very happy to get notification from the app that our room was ready as we were checking in with the front desk about 10:30 am. The award redemption room is a partial ocean view. I think that’s what we got since the view of the ocean is over the Hapuna Beach Residences in front.

    The room was comfortable and in working order. They give 2 branded metal water bottles with infuser basket as part of the resort fee. I saw many refilling stations around. There were non-branded slippers in the closet. Toiletries are in large refillable bottles and were the Westin Spa White Tea line, which smelled nice. There’s a small container of the lotion which I took as a souvenir along with the leaf shaped soap. 😊

    View from the balcony, bottom right:
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    Lobby photos:

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    We spent some time at the beach and pool. The beach has loungers and umbrellas set up. The sand is very soft and fine. The family pool is right next to the beach. No slide but has a large hot tub that wasn’t crowded. Pool is zero edge and has a shallow area (Baja shelf – new term I learned lol). I wondered if the zero edge is dangerous for little kids though if they think it’s zero entry and just plop into a 4-foot-deep pool. Towels were as many as you want, they don’t keep track. I like being able to go back to the room wrapped in a towel and just leave them there. The adult pool is on a higher level. We could see it from the lobby. Looked nice and scenic, so we were a bit disappointed when we saw that it was marked adult on the map (no wonder there weren’t many people in it).

    For dinner, we took the free dining shuttle over to the sister resort of Mauna Kea. I made a reservation on Open Table for Manta ahead of time. They check that you have a reservation before getting on the shuttle. It’s quite pricey, but in a beautiful setting outside overlooking the ocean. All the seafood we had was really good. The tagliatelle pasta was a tad hard and disappointing for the price. Overall, it was a good experience. DH’s Brilliant credit reset, so that covered dinner (we could charge to our room here as well).

    After dinner, we walked over to the viewing platform to see manta rays in the water. There was a group of people snorkeling. I think the hotel runs a snorkeling tour from shore. Further away there were a couple tour boats too. When the manta was near the snorkelers, all we could see was either a grey or white (belly) shadow moving. When it came closer to shore, we could see it really well. Some years ago, DH and I did a boat tour to snorkel with mantas, it was a very memorable experience. It was cool to see them this time without getting wet. 😊

    Tour boats with their lights to attract the mantas (top left). Manta close to shore with a fin out (bottom right).
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    Mauna Kea hotel beach:

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    The Platinum breakfast is very nice for Bonvoy (low expectations lol), but there was some confusion with the waitress over whether we were entitled to it. I think the default is 1000 points, so possible the front desk didn’t mark it down properly. The breakfast was an assortment of pastries, fruit plate, choice of cereal or yogurt parfait, coffee, and juice. All the pastries were fresh and delicious. Loved the variety of the fruit, they even included a few longans. The yogurt was a little weird though, very hard. Unlike Hyatt, the breakfast is only for 2, so we also ordered a couple things for the kids (they have a kids’ menu).

    We enjoyed our short stay at the Westin Hapuna. Service was friendly and laid back. It’s a nice drive in from the gate through the golf course with some ocean views and goats eating the grass.


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    MarBee

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 4, 2015
    Marriott Manor Club at Ford’s Colony
    Williamsburg, VA

    December 2021
    35,000 point and a free night certificate (35,000 points or under) for 2 nights

    Stayed 2 nights in a studio at this hotel that is part of the Marriott Vacation Club to take advantage of Colonial Williamsburg and Busch Gardens Christmastown.
    The room had a King sized bed and a sofa bed. I read some reviews saying these rooms were cramped (the hotel has 1 and 2 bedroom villas as it’s part of a timeshare), but I found it to be be quite spacious. The room also had a Juliet balcony, a kitchenette area (sink, mini fridge, microwave, and full utensils), and a table area for 2. You could tell it had been recently refurbished with fresh paint, but it was an older style hotel. For example, the phone in the room looked like the one my grandmother still has mounted in her kitchen, and the bathroom door was one of the giant ones that take up 3/4 of the bathroom when opening. The room was not immaculate but was clean; water pressure in the shower was great. And even though this was a connecting room, we didn’t hear much outside noise.
    It offered a bunch of activities that we did not partake in given our short trip. It also offered a bunch of pools and play areas, as well as a fitness room that looked well appointed. We did take advantage of the indoor hot tub and pool. The pool was small but as we were the only ones using it, it was plenty for us; the spa seated about eight.
    One con was that the hotel consisted of several separate buildings, so we had to drive to the main building in order to use the pool. The biggest con of all, though, was the in-room thermostat. It was set to 68 degrees and would not go any lower. I like it freezing when I sleep and spent the first night lying awake in a pool of sweat. It was a Wisuite brand, and I could find nothing online about how to override the temperature controls. I requested a technician come to override it, and they said it was impossible to override but provided a box fan to help. It was unseasonably warm (in the 70s) and humid the two days that we were there, and 68 being the lowest temp seemed ridiculous to me. I can’t imagine how that would feel in the summer months.
    Overall, it had a nice location close to the tourist attractions in Williamsburg, was spacious and well appointed. It was a great use of 35,000 points; however, I don’t know that I’d recommend going unless you like it warm or could guarantee that it will be cold when you go.
     

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