Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Great hotel pool and golf

The Hilton Belfast Templepatrick Golf & Country Club is set in the beautiful Northern Irish countryside. It’s a wonderful backdrop to play golf or to have a wedding. It’s close to the Belfast International airport, but does not have a shuttle bus from the airport, (as many airport hotels do) It’s about a £15 taxi ride.

As I approached the nice long, wooded hotel driveway, I saw a man walking his dog and he lifted his dog to let the dog see the sheep over the old stone wall. Such a lovely location in the beautiful green countryside, where people are delightful.

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I have a routine when I stay at a hotel with a spa. I phone the spa as soon as I check in to make an appointment. Unfortunately, the spa/health Club, did not answer their phone, so I phoned the front desk and a very nice man said that he would get them to phone me. He said that they are open till 9pm but when I looked at the Hotel info book in the room and saw that it is open Thurs and Friday till 8pm and the Spa pamphlet states that they are open every day of the week till 9 pm. Anyway, at 2p.m. Grace, from the Spa, called and I asked her if I could have an appointment for Thursday or Friday. She abruptly told me that there were no time slots available and they would not even be able to accommodate me for a half hour appointment. This made me think that they did not have staff on the premises and my suspicion was confirmed when I went to the health club and saw that the treatment rooms were empty, all afternoon and evening. I decided to swim and looked in the room for the slippers and robe, but it was not there, so I had to wear my winter boots to the pool and Yuk, walk bare foot to the pool, where I discovered that I would have to wait an hour to swim because there was an exercise class in the pool. I wish that they had left one lane open for swimmers. I can’t help thinking that this is a fake hotel Spa, that it is only interested in catering to the locals and not to the hotel guests. The health club may as well be located in the village. Many hotels that have similar treatment rooms, call a local spa therapist, to come to the hotel when guests request it. It usually works well when the front desk of the hotel organizes this. I had the same problem last time I stayed at this hotel. There were no appointments available unless you book 2 weeks in advance. Occasionally, this is the case with Sheraton hotels, but they warn you on their website at the time of making a reservation, that the Spa or restaurant needs to be reserved early.

I was a hotel guest, so I did not know that I should bring a £1 coin to use a locker. I was in a bad mood, nothing seemed to go my way, that day. I was at this hotel for much needed R&R. The pool was a nice warm temperature and this alleviated my mood.

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I saw that another guest was wearing hotel slippers and she confirmed that they were in the room, so I asked the housekeeping lady in the hall if they do or don’t have slippers in the room. She was very nice and explained that the rooms on the one side of the corridor do and the other rooms don’t. Apparently, I was a lowly elite HHonors member, (I’m top with SPG Marriott and Hyatt), so I did not get a Delux Hilton room. Now that I know they do have them, I will ask for slippers next time, so I don’t have to walk to the pool looking as if I was walking on broken ice, and I will bring a £1 coin to use the locker. Luckily, most Spas in the USA have the code system… When you travel to different hotels all the time, it’s not easy to predict what each hotel is like, that is why I like to remain loyal to a brand like Starwood, Marriott and Hyatt, where you know what to expect, within the brand conformity. It is nice that they have a business center with 2 computers, but the printer did not work to print a boarding pass. I was glad that they had Bloomberg channel on the TV and had a nice evening relaxing.

There was no mini bar /fridge in my room but I put my milk for tea out on the window ledge to stay cold. The room is nice, a bit dated shape of the bathroom vanity, but it is a functional, good sized bathroom and no reason to modernize it because it is comfortable. I like that the window can be opened, because the heating worked too well and I like fresh air. Many hotels near airports, don’t have windows that open.

On the whole, I really like staying at this hotel and will return.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Hilton is ending “Double Dip” on Points & Miles

I enjoy beach areas in the winter. Galveston in Texas is one of my favorite places to walk in the winter and now Brighton, U.K. is also on this list. Something so peaceful about looking out at the lonely, ocean from the tea room, with the wind blowing invigoratingly.

I've stayed at a few Hilton hotels lately, to take advantage of the Double Dip on Points before it ends in March. Hilton Honors hotel loyalty program, will stop their Double Dip® Points & Air Miles earning program. My stay at the Hilton Brighton, was pleasant as beach hotels always are.

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The Yellowave beach club is on the beach at Madeira Drive, open from 10am in the morning where the Yellowave and Barefoot cafe offers snacks coffee and beer. I had a delicious Samosa and a salad. In the summer it is more active with people playing volleyball, soccer and children fill the sandpit. The Clubhouse has uninterrupted sea views of Brighton beach

The Hilton Brighton Metropole in one of the grand, old buildings along the seaside. This landmark is in walking distance of Brighton's famous attractions - The Royal Pavilion, Brighton Wheel and British Airway's i36. I like walking along this promenade with the seagulls, peacefully landing on the beach.

it is a 125 year old Victorian elegant building, with modernized, stylish dining venues and a health club facilities. Parking is expensive, at is £25.00 over night, but I suppose to be expected, considering the location in this premium location in Brighton. It's a lovely seaside hotel offering stunning sea views. The accommodation has average U.K. style rooms, we did not make use of the other facilities because we were exploring Brighton from morning till noon.  The central location on the seafront made a great base for exploring the city. I'm afraid of heights so did not take to the skies to see Brighton from above on the British Airway's i36. We drove along the beautiful South Coast Downs and The "Seven Sisters", England's newest national park, which contains some of the most iconic views of the white chalk cliffs, similar to the more famous cliffs of Dover.

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Friday, January 19, 2018

RENTAL CARS BEST QUOTES

When it comes to booking hotels, it is best to go directly to the hotel brand website for the lowest reservation, but with car hire, the opposite is true. The best deal is a website that checks all the prices of the car rental companies. The main reason that I don’t go directly to the car rental websites is that they always end up costing more than the  quoted price, whereas, with AUTOEUROPE, you do get the best price. So, if you have no preference, which car rental company, you use, it is smart to find the best price. They are the experts and, trust me, you will have the best possible rental car experience. Fortunately, you have the option to cancel for FREE,UP TO 48 HRS BEFORE PICKUP. They get the best rates at FIREFLY CAR Rental, the discounted HERTZ subsidiary.

I always check with several websites directly before booking a rental car in Europe, but always end up reserving with A because AUTOEUROPE they are the cheapest.

click here to go to AutoEurope

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Book and pay by 1/31/2018, for 5-21 day rentals with pickups through 03/22/18, blackout dates may apply. Discount is dependent upon rental location, pick-up date, and rental duration. Additional restrictions may apply depending upon pick-up and drop-off country. This offer may not be combined with any other offer, promotion or discount. Discounts apply to the mandatory rental costs, excluding taxes, fees, and surcharges. Offer is valid at participating locations but may vary by country, location, or availability. One way fees, local fees, and optional extras such as child seats, additional drivers, and fuel are charged at normal rates.

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I rented in Belfast, Northern IRELAND and enjoyed driving along the spectacular coast. The only extra charge was a “Location service charge of about $20”

Saturday, September 2, 2017

NYC's biggest rooftop Bar

There has only been one United Club lounge open at EWR Newark Airport for a few months now. and even that one is in the process of being renovated, so I just grabbed a gin & tonic and did not stay because it was so hot! I hope they do get proper Airconditioning while they are renovating.

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I do like the new restaurants in Newark, New York airport, You can use the iPads to go on the internet and you can use miles to order food. It is easy to use your United airline miles at the airport in New York. I was able to order a bite to eat on an iPad at dining tables near my gate.

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There is a brand new Hotel with the trendiest evening Rooftop bar in Manhattan. Enjoyable, stunning views at Magic Hour, NYC's largest rooftop lounge. Moxy Times Square boasts "that affordability doesn’t mean sacrificing style or comfort."I'm not so sure that you can call bunk beds, "style" but I can understand that space is limited in NYC. 612 bedrooms are cleverly designed by Yabu  to adapt to pack traveler’s needs, with a wide variety of room types, flexible furniture (you can store your suitcase under the bed) The grey industrial look is kind of cool but I prefer a bath tub to a shower, so I would not be a happy camper. I do like that at last there is a hotel entering this century with personal screen  streaming technology – Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, in these immersive social spaces good for hanging out.image

Marriott's new brand the Cosmopolitan Moxy Hotels is less expensive than their namesake brand. They want to cater to a young crowd so offer snacks and cocktail drinks, games, arty-farty stuff and advertise that they have Lobbies like living rooms with a bartender with secret hiding spots, comfy couches to snooze off in and guestrooms like treehouses".

I always like staying at the Marriott Newark because it is across the road from the airport, though I preferred it more 2 years ago because they had a pool then. I am disappointed that they removed the pool because it really feels good to swim after a long flight.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Best and worst airports in Europe

I try to avoid Amsterdam airport because it is always hot and crowded, with long wait lines. Even when they have the “Self serve” Passport control open, it is a long queue.

2017-06-25 10.58.51 (2)It’s frightening to be enclosed in a small space with a low ceiling. I was afraid of someone so close to me that they could take something out of or put something in my bag.

I used to like @Schiphol AMS airport, but the last 8 years it has always  been long lines and lots of passengers cramped in a small space

One thing that I do like about Schiphol Airport, is that they have the Massage pods near the gates. I like to sit in the massage chair costing two Euros

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It ‘s nice to find small treats like the free water at Heathrow water after security and the free coffee at Frankfurt airport.

Take an empty bottle to fill with purified water at LHR airport.

Luton Airport is on the list of worst European airports, coming in eighth place for high Wi-Fi charges. Sleepinginairports.net annual list of the world's worst airports, has Paris' Beauvais-Tille International Airportvoted in sixth place, and described as 'cramped, rundown, debatably clean, and not particularly friendly.Frankfurt Hahn International Airport, Germany and Bergamo Orio al Serio International Airport, Italy were in the top worst European spaces. But I like Frankfurt International Airport (FRA), known in German as Rhein-Main-Flughafen, because they have free self-serve coffee.The Elite access lounges at Frankfurt are superb. The SKY LOUNGE at Frankfurt Airport is located outside of the security area and the Lufthansa lounges passed security are the best I have been to. The First class lounge has a sleeping pod and a spa with top restaurant food served at tables. Free breakfast buffet and Hot/cold buffet with Drinks at a complimentary full bar. The LuxxLounge at FRA- Main Terminal 1, landside, between concourses B and C, above checkin counter 680 on the mezzanine next to the market (accross the skybridge to the Sheraton Hotel.) is also good and open to Elite travelers in several airlines.

I really like that Boston airport has a special, glass encased area for smokers, away from those of us that like to breath. I had to inhale smoke at Brussels Airport the day before arriving in Boston, so I  was suffering from Asthma. At Brussels, even the Police stand at the door, smoking in groups, so you cant pass through the exit without a lack of oxygen. Then I had to wait 2  hours for the Holiday Inn bus. The bus stop is in the covered garage, where everyone smokes.