Aria Las Vegas Review

aria las vegasThis past weekend I spent three nights at Aria Las Vegas, one of the Vegas mega properties located in MGM’s CityCenter.  Other hotels that share the CityCenter location are Vdara and Mandarin Oriental… as well as what is left of the Harmon (it is getting smaller each day as they demolish it).  Aria, with 4,004 rooms, opened in December 2009 and is considered MGM’s top property alongside Bellagio.

I have stayed at the Aria five or six times, it is my go-to hotel in Vegas.  Good location, luxury, and a great spa.  I received a deal through Mlife that got me a rate of ~$200* for Saturday night and ~$130* for Sunday and Monday nights (*I include the mandatory $32 resort fee in this price).  The deal also came with an included $200 resort credit that I could use at onsite restaurants, spa, or show.

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Hyatt Regency Washington DC Review

A friend of mine won a raffle put on by the Washington State Lottery that included airfare, tickets to an NFL Playoff Game, and two nights at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill.

Bright atrium
Bright atrium

We stayed at the hotel Saturday-Monday in January.  The hotel overall was fairly quiet. Great location near the Capitol; but otherwise you will need to plan on a bit of a walk to anything.

On the weekend, prepare to travel a good distance for meals as there are no restaurants besides in the hotel and the hotel across the street. The food in the Hyatt is decent and moderate price, so not a big deal to eat there; but just realize you are eating in the hotel lobby. They have a nice shop that sells all sorts of snacks, water, drinks and even has a small cafe for coffee and pastries. The staff was great, always helpful and cheerful. We enjoyed talking with the doorman especially.

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Radisson Fisherman’s Wharf San Francisco Review

View from our room, over looking the courtyard and parking garage to the Bay.
View from the room, over looking the courtyard and parking garage to the Bay.

Today I read that the Radisson Hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco is being transitioned into Hotel Zephyr.  I decided to share here a review I wrote a year ago about my experience at the Radisson.  I was actually very happy with the hotel, mainly because it felt safe and was in a great location on the Wharf.  It also felt modern, so I am not sure how much work they will need to do for the transition.

I stayed for a weekend in November, got in late Friday and left Sunday evening. I booked directly through the Radisson website to get 10% off, however it was still expensive for what you get. But, this is the Wharf, and you are paying for the tourist location.

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Royal Kona Resort Hawaii Review

Royal Kona Resort
View from my Ocean View room

I recently was in Kauai and stayed at the Waimea Plantation; a rustic resort that I said you must know what you are getting into.  The Royal Kona, in the town of Kona on the Big Island, is another place that you will enjoy if you have realistic expectations.  It is not fancy, it is not over the top, it is not modern. If you want somewhere that is uber deluxe, there are probably better options north of Kona. However, the Royal Kona Resort, and Kona in general, is a great casual place to relax and have fun.

I have stayed at the Royal Kona Resort three different times.  The price cannot be beat.  The first time I stayed was for my sister’s wedding and they treated everyone right.  Now it feels like a second home.

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Mirage Las Vegas Review

mirage las vegas
The pool at Mirage, notice the waterfall to the left.

The Mirage Las Vegas is the quintessential Vegas resort. It is the original mega-resort that started it all. National Lampoons Vegas Vacation. Siegfried and Roy. Steven Wynn. The Volcano. Lots of reasons to stay here.

The property is amazing and you can tell that Steve Wynn really left his finger prints all over this property. Beautiful grounds. Recognizable architecture. Sprawling pool. Over the top volcano in the front. Indoor jungle with huge glass dome. However, I do feel that some of the original magic created by Wynn is gone now to be replaced by the safe corporate decisions of MGM.

What I imagine was once a standout property has become a bit bland. Nothing stands out about the casino, restaurants, clubs or rooms. They are all fine, but thats about all you can say.

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Waimea Plantation Kauai Review

Cottage "D"
Cottage “D”

While Hawaii is one of my favorite travel destinations, I took my first trip to Kauai in January.  Dramatically different than the arid sprawl of the Big Island, Kauai is smaller and much more lush.  I had wanted to check out Kauai to check off the four large islands of Hawaii and I am glad I did.

I stayed at the Waimea Plantation; located on the southwest side of the island at the base of Waimea Canyons.  The town itself is a 45 minute drive from Lihue airport (the only commercial airport on the island).  You drive through various jungles, next to canyons, and past coffee groves.  The town of Waimea itself is small and seems to be stuck in the 1950s.  The next town over is Hanapepe, known for it’s art galleries.  While you will find tourists here; there are no large resorts on this side of the island.

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