Wednesday, December 31, 2014

London Club Enhancements

It was nice to see all the beautiful Christmas trees at Heathrow Airport.

London Heatrow terminal 2

The new United lounge at Heathrow Terminal 2 is really the best United lounge that I’ve been to. They even have food so you can help your self to a hot meal, before your flight and then some people can sleep the flight away. I wish I was one of them,but I am never able to sleep, even on the flat bed seats. I was so thrilled to eat Curry at the lounge!

That is one thing I always do on my trips to the U.K. Curry is something that most Brits eat frequently,so you can find a good Indian Restaurant in most towns. On this trip, I was so busy that I did not have time to give my patronage to one of these exotic establishments.

And Elite members get Club lounge access, at the JW Marriott did not help. It’s so easy to grab a quick bite to eat in the lounge.

Grosvenor JW Marriott Hotel Club Launge

The Executive Lounge, photo above at the Grosvenor JW Marriott Hotel is really beautiful. We sipped Champagne, served with hors d'oeuvres.

It seemed like I was always eating! Well it was the season to be Merry, I even had a late night snack that was a nice surprise found next to my bed, from a very kind Hotel staff member.

Grosvenor JW Marriott Hotel London

Two spectacular new lounges for premium customers – the United Global First Lounge and the United Club – at London Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 2. United’s 22 Star Alliance partners serving Heathrow are also moving to Terminal 2, the alliance’s new home at the London LHR airport. Together, the two lounges occupy 22,000 square feet (2,043 square meters) of space. I love the spacious feeling but it will probably fill up fast, and It will be difficult to find a spot to sit down as it is at many of the United lounges.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

We found Nemo at the Boston Waterfront

We enjoyed meeting Myrtle, the giant turtle and we found Nemo at the New England Aquarium (‏@NEAQ). They even have dragons! (Sea-dragon, to be precise) But the penguins were the cutest to watch.


Make sure that you spend time researching to check out ticket pricing discounts, because the cost is a bit steep. We paid about $100 for 3 adults and a 3 year old. It is located at 1 Central Wharf Boston, MA.

We stayed at the Renaissance Boston Waterfront Hotel. They have a nice fireplace in the foyer lounge that was nice to step into from the freezing cold outside. Unfortunately, they did not have the warm fireplace on the next morning. It would have been pleasant to feel comforted from the frigid weather. Can’t imagine why they don’t use it if they have it, considering that it is easy to switch on the fake fire. I had the feeling that the hotel concentrates all their efforts on Weddings. The noisy wedding, the previous night resulted in a grumpy me after not getting enough beauty sleep. The Breakfast buffet is good but a bit pricey. $40 per person. Marriott Reward Platinum Elite members get a Continental breakfast for free but we had guests and had to pay for the full breakfast. It is the first hotel of their brands that enforced the Continental Breakfast rule. Most of the other hotels just let Elite members have the full buffet,since it is usually “self service.WP_20141101_22_36_17_Pro

The Aquarium is at Central Wharf, and their website stated that they are next to the Boston Marriott Long Wharf Hotel and near Faneuil Hall/ Quincy Market, but the walk from Faneuil Hall seemed very long in the freezing rain. We decided to take an Uber car to return to our parked car at Faneuil Hall. The Aquarium can be accessed by MBTA/subway and boat, on a good day but we had miserable weather. The only way to exit the Aquarium is through the gift shop. This is not so easily done with a child grabbing at all the Disney fish toys, though it was a delight to watch the little Angels face as she discovered all the amazing sea creatures.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Do you trust online reviews?

My reviews are un-biased, so I seldom read or write reviews on the big review sites because I cant help suspecting that most of the reviews are written by staff of that particular establishment.

It’s crazy how most reviewers claim that their hotel is “clean” ! I think that is insane. All hotels SHOULD  BE  clean or they should not be in business. The reviewers must have low standards?

I seldom write reviews on these sites, in fact it has been more than a year since I wrote one, so I was astonished that they sent me an email telling me that I am in the top 10%. It is brilliant marketing on their part because I felt obliged to write a review. TripAdvisor  has hotel reviews and travel advice for vacations.


If you are in the hospitality industry, whether it is a hotel or a restaurant, it should be clean!!! Even fast food Restaurants know that cleanliness is the cornerstone of a business, so McDonalds and Burger King employ their own inspectors. For those that don’t have in-house inspectors, the Government (City) has food inspectors. Food Safety and Inspection Service by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Tripadvisor has a handy symbol on the Stock Market. TRIP. Liberty Media purchases nearly 4.8 million shares of Tripadvisor from Barry Diller and his foundation so Shares of Expedia were higher on that news. But both are down today. Airfarewatchdog™, the most inclusive source of airfare deals researched is verified by experts as is TripAdvisors. on Nov 13th 2014 launched Hotelwatchdog, – a free new service to compares hotels based on price, location and traveler reviews.  Hotelwatchdog sifts through millions of data points and delivers the most relevant hotel results based on a destination selected by the traveler.  TripAdvisor is still the world's largest travel site for trip planning.They also made an announcement today to launch a new feature that allows users to easily compare and book tours and tickets for attractions Globally by integrating tour inventory and pricing information from Viator, which was acquired by TripAdvisor.

Perhaps I will go to the site more often and take it more seriously than I have due to deriding its content. It really annoys me when I read a review of a Hotel claiming to be “clean” .

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Secreted VIP Benefits you can get with Elite Points

We had a great time eating smoked Salmon, sipping cocktails and meeting a good-looking celebrity Tennis Seed.

This little known perk is offered by Starwood Hotels, Citi Cards, AMEX and several other loyalty programs. I used SPG Hotel points to get Luxury Suite tickets to the Tennis match of the WTA 2014 CT Open at Yale University. Members can enjoy exclusive access to ticket presales and once-in-a-lifetime experiences - from sports, fashion and fine dining to the visual and performing arts.
Not many people know about these unique experiences, up for the grab. I advise you to keep an eye out for offers to redeem points for your dream event.

IMG_1040I spotted the Tennis event and since it was only 10,000 SPG points, I thought it would be fun and I was not wrong. The same amount of points would get a SPG Category 4 Hotel Stay. For example, it costs 10,000 points for The Westin Houston Downtown Hotel. To be contrite, a hotel stay has an advantage because award stays, including Cash & Point stays, count toward earning elite levels at SPG. But redeeming points for unique experiences, fine dining or performing arts, can be exciting!

I redeemed the Starpoints 2 weeks prior to the event and instantly got 2 automated messages to confirm that I could attend the Connecticut Open and Meet Legend James Blake package. it said I would be ‘”contacted by a MomentsSM by SPG® representative very shortly to finalize the details of your experience. Should you have any questions in the meantime, please contact the email address provided”.

I immediately checked my online points balance and realized that they had removed 4 tickets instead of 2, so I emailed to inform them of the error. I had a lot of questions so I anxiously waited to hear from the Liaison person from Moments by SPG and I never did get a phone call, but I did get an email in response to my emails and voice mails and we were happy in the end.

Check the travel benefits that come with your card. for example the Citi ThankYou Premier Visa Card allows you to redeem Points for a cruise, travel package or all-inclusive vacation offered by their travel rewards provider, Connexions. Last year I got a free companion flight from my Cii Card, but unfortunately they don't do that anymore. Bummer, because I was about to request it.

Moments is an exclusive program for members of Starwood Hotels in which hard-earned Starpoints® can be transformed into one-of-a-kind experiences. SPG is your ticket to the ultimate in music, sports and the arts, so check the site frequently for an ever-changing array of great events. Citi Private pass also offers events like Preferred VIP Ticket Access Tickets offers only available to Citi credit card members. Now available are a wide array of Backstage tours, meet & greet your favorite artists like: Katy Perry, Larry King, B.o.B and Dierks Bentley or See the Musical JERSEY BOYS at Paris Las Vegas on September 27,2014.

The present Marriott Megabonus promotion is not as good as their previous promotions, you can earn a free night for every two paid stays. The free night earned was for a category 1-5 hotel, this time you can only redeem at a category 1-4.  Also, you can only earn a maximum of 2 free nights during the promotional period.

IMG_1055Elite Points go a long way with exclusive access to tickets. The AMEX Platinum card gives you  access to premium seats for select cultural and sporting events based on availability with the Preferred Seating program. You basically move to the front of the line, with exclusive access to ticket presales and Card Member-only events in your city. American Express Card Members can enjoy exclusive access to ticket presales from TicketMaster. “By Invitation Only” is a program that gives Platinum Card Members exclusive access to once-in-a-lifetime experiences - from sports, fashion and fine dining to the visual and performing arts.

Unique experiences can be had via Marriott also. The FlashPerks is program exclusively for Marriott Rewards members. It includes flash sales on memorable hotel deals, merchandise and experiences. Transactions can be purchased with cash or redeemed with points for the offers. Each week, they have limited availability offers – only available to members! Deals available for purchase only through the FlashPerks website from Thursdays 12:00 PM CST to Fridays 12:00PM CST each week, but once quantities are gone, you’ll have to wait until the next week to get your hands on a hot FlashPerks Deal!

Michael Ha., AMEX Card Member said:“I made a last-minute weekend trip to New York and was able to get great seats to a Broadway show for a reasonable price, and more importantly, it took me less than five minutes.”

…In other news, check out Crossover Rewards. SPG and Delta take Elite travel to new heights. If you are registered for Crossover Rewards, are an SPG Platinum or Gold elite member, and you book a Delta marketed flight, this is good.  Registration for Crossover Rewards requires active membership in both the SPG Program and the Delta SkyMiles program and that an individual’s membership accounts in both programs are under the same name.  Membership into both programs may be obtained for free at and

Need extra Starpoints for a free night, free flight or room upgrade? Now, you can buy 500 Starpoints for as little as $17.50 USD. To add up to 20,000 Starpoints to your account.

This is the 2nd email I got from SPG:

Here's your ticket to the semifinal matches of this year's WTA Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University. You and your guest can join other SPG(R) tennis fans and enjoy a great view of all the women's pro tennis action from the SPG Luxury Suite while indulging in complimentary food and beverages. Fairfield native and Connecticut tennis legend James Blake will pay a visit to the suite during the semifinals. (Remember your camera!) Please note, no children under the age of 6 will be permitted inside the suite.
The Connecticut Open Semifinals with James Blake package includes:

  • Two (2) SPG Luxury Suite tickets to the semifinals of the WTA 2014 Connecticut Open at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University on Friday, August 22, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
  • Food and beverages for two (2) while in the luxury suite
  • An opportunity to meet ATP World Tour pro James Blake
  • One (1) complimentary parking pass Conditions

There are 14 Connecticut Open Semifinals with James Blake packages available. Each Connecticut Open Semifinals with James Blake package consists of: (i) two (2) SPG Luxury Suite tickets to the semifinals of the WTA 2014 Connecticut Open at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University on Friday, August 22, 2014; (ii) food and beverages for two (2) while in the luxury suite; (iii) an opportunity to meet ATP World Tour pro James Blake; and (iv) one (1) free parking pass.

Its also nice to hang out with other Elites! Preferred Ticket Access for SPG’s music fans were among the first to score concert tickets to some of the hottest tours across Europe, courtesy of the partnership between SPG and Live Nation. An Elite Member told me that "Attending the Justin Timberlake concert in Hamburg, Germany was an electric SPG Moments experience".Check out Broadway shows and concert tours, family and sporting events, and more with Entertainment Access.


Sunday, July 27, 2014

Save 20% on Hilton HHonors Points

I’m cutting down on all my points bearing accounts.

I used up my points for a Hampton Inn stay. This brand has free WiFi and free hot breakfasts but Elite members get perks too. IMG_0928

The cheapest category for a Hampton Inn stay requires 10,000 points for a stay.

A Staycation sounds good if you don’t enjoy flying anymore. The saying: If pigs could fly...well, they might have it better than humans flying in coach and upgrades are few and far away these days.

So I saved  20% on buying Hilton HHonors Points and was able to clean out my account. Redeeming Miles or points is a good idea for a weekend Staycation. Most miles expire so use them while you can. The best is to use them up, because they devalue every year and as I was saying, upgrades are becoming less frequent. For example: . You need 100,000 miles for Executive Platinum Elite on American Airlines (or 100 segments) this highest elite status gets you Unlimited complimentary upgrades. The American Executive Platinum Status gives you One world Emerald Elite Status. Just Regular Platinum AA status only gets you complimentary upgrades on full-fare tickets(booked in fare classes Y or B)

Hiltons offer to earn double points became too complicated. Annoying to not have read the small print and to have booked a Hilton stay on the strength of this offer, only to discover, after the stay, that no bonus points were on offer at that particular hotel. The list of non-participating properties for the promotion ending in October, consists of about 1,400 hotels. So be sure to confirm your hotel’s participation. I understand that most branded hotels are independently owned and operated, but it makes it too time consuming to check out the small print. Loyalty programs should make it Uniform, because the value of brands is that they get mass loyalty. Stays at any and all properties in a hotel Brands network should be uniform.

Hiltons Earn 2x points during the week and 3x at weekends, offer ending this month. You get Double Points or Double Miles applies to all eligible stays completed during the Promotion Period at participating hotels. But one third of hotels don’t participate.

The new promotion by Hilton is much better:

BUY OR GIVE HILTON HHONORS POINTS and Save 20% when you buy the Hilton HHonors Points.

From now through September 3, 2014, HHonors members can buy or give HHonors Points for 20% off the purchase price. Use Points to book your next reward night faster, help send a friend or family member on their dream trip, or simply top off your own balance.


Saturday, March 29, 2014

Snow is on Sale at Hyatt

I know that we’’ve had a tough winter, but you may as well enjoy the snow in luxury, where you don't have to shovel it.

Hyatt BeaverCreek

One of my favorite places to Ski is the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. I have wonderful my memories from family vacations over the years, that bring me back to this magical place.The hotel’s ski in-ski out access makes it easy to enjoy your R&R time, effortlessly.

2014-02-02 13.58.37

Elite Hyatt Gold Passport members get upgrades and other exclusive benefits with free nights and no blackout dates at any Hyatt worldwide,
•Year round heated outdoor pool and the Spa is divine!
•Five outdoor hot tubs beneath a mountain waterfall
•Outdoor fire pit for roasting s’mores and story telling.

Stay 3 nights and you get a complimentary 4th night. The Hyatt Kids camp is fun!

Diamond Membership is the highest elite tier at Hyatt. You need 25 eligible stays or 50 eligible nights in a calendar year, you will experience the highest level of membership and have access to most elite benefits like: the best room available upon arrival, but it is  excluding suites. Other hotel elite programs do upgrade to Suites. Starwood is the best for Suites. Hyatt (and all programs) do allow the top elite entry to the Regency Club or Grand Club lounges.


Endless Possibilities promotion for Hyatt Gold Passport members
Choose Free Nights
Earn a free night at any Category 1-4 Hyatt hotel after you stay five eligible nights. Enjoy 4 free nights (valid through July 31, 2014) after you stay 20 nights. From a trip to the San Francisco Bay, to an enchanting escape to Paris or a vacation in the luxurious city of Dubai, your free nights can take you far. Register for free nights.
Or, Choose Bonus Points
Earn 5,000 bonus points after your first five nights, and thousands more for every additional five nights, up to 50,000 bonus points.


If you stay 5 Nights, you earn + 5,000 Points = 5,000 (total points I earned)

skiing, snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, lounging by the pool, or sitting on the deck at 8100 Mountainside Bar & Grill taking in the scenery. so many options, to experience.This offer to stay 2 nights, and get the 3rd night free is valid: February 1 - 28, 2014


Enjoy your points anytime you like. Treat yourself to a day at the spa, a savory dinner, or a free night on your next getaway. Register for bonus points.

To get started:
- Register by March 31 for free nights or bonus points
- Provide your Hyatt Gold Passport membership number
- Stay at any Hyatt hotel worldwide January 15 through April 30

Choose your reward carefully. Once you’re registered, there’s no switching.

Last year I got in one ski trip, to the best ski resort in the world; –

Aspen’s St. Regis has majestic Rocky Mountain views and premier amenities.
The St. Regis Aspen Resort has divine food via their “Chefs Club.”

Another wonderful ski resort is the The Ritz Carlton Club, Vail but that is even more expensive. Though my memories are priceless.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Watch out for speedy cyclists in the student town

There is a saying “Er gaat niets boven Groningen” meaning that there is nothing above the Northern most Province.
I always enjoy driving up to the north of the Netherlands. We drive over a reclaimed part of the country that my mother-in-law used to travel to by boat. It’s now land and the romantic aspect is enchanting to imagine how they lived in the olden days. Farming, Friesland is close by and the dialect spoken is totally different to the Dutch you hear in Amsterdam.
Tourists go on boat canal trips in Amsterdam but you can also go on a boat tour in many other towns like Delft and Groningen.Img_2301 Groningen is the name of the city and also the name of the province Groningen and has a population close to 200,000. The city is a student city; it has over 50,000 students, which makes for a fun and busy tone. I like to walk around in the Stadspark and the main square (Grote Markt) has a lively fun fair and market. There will be Oliebollen for sale, at the Markt for New Year. I enjoyed the glass topped boat trip to see all the sights. It’s more relaxing to sit in the Canal boat because when you stroll around make sure you watch out for racing cyclists! One in every 5 residents is a student and they ride their bicycles at the speed of light. We also enjoyed sitting on the terrace outside the modern museum and watching the world go by.
Unfortunately, there are NO real Luxury hotels… but I like to stay at the Golden Tulip Paterswolde Groningen. It is near the city and has free Wi-Fi , nice countryside walks on the Hoornsemeer and near the lake. It is one of the few hotels in Holland with a heated indoor swimming pool and a garden. They have lots of free parking and a shuttle service to the city. Another hotel on the outskirts of the city is Bastion Hotel ( on highway A7 ) with easy access to the center of the city.
100 Other Chain hotel groups are the NH HOTEL MERCURE , The Van der Valk Hotel Westerbroek and the Asgard, all have close proximity to the station and Market Square. The Prinsenhof Hotel at Martinikerkhof 23, is one of the best Hotels, but make sure that you get a room in the modern section or you may end up with a dark room. But perhaps you can overlook that since it is a 15th-century building. Martinitoren (Martini Tower) is 5 minutes’ walk from The Prinsenhof, The Groninger Museum of Modern Art and Groningen Railway Station is about 20 minutes’ walk away. If you want to stay at an Hotel with an unpronounceable name, the The Hotel Schimmelpennick Huys” 3 stared Hotel, is the hotel for you -  in the heart of Groningen. … or you may want to drive a bit further, The German border is a 15 minute drive away.