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Riley Family Travels

Posted by cajunprince Jul 11, 2019

My family and I love to travel. I have been traveling all over since I was two years old growing up in Louisiana. My father worked for Texaco at that time one of the Biggest Oil Filed Companies. He had us traveling all over this beautiful country at the age of two years. Now I find myself traveling with my family like my father did for my brother and sister and mother. I think traveling all over is very good for kids it makes them well rounded and cultured meeting new people and seeing new places. Also give them the experience in traveling they can always say I have been there and seen this place or that place. In our travels we always stayed at a Marriott maybe Holiday Inn Nine times out of ten we were in Marriott Hotels. So I love Marriott Brands. Now my wife loves Marriott and she is always looking to see where to travel to next. In this blog I will share a few places.


On July 4th, we officially celebrate the birth of our nation (United States of America) and what better way to celebrate than heading over to our nation's capitol and experiencing it for yourself.  Take in the museums, monuments, and explore our diverse and rich culture. Lounge on the national mall and see the fireworks display over the city.  Its a great experience.  I have been fortunate enough to do this several times.


Its a real shame that for some unknown reason the latest issue of Marriott Bonvoy Traveler: titled "Where to Celebrate the Red, White and Blue on a July 4th Weekend Getaway" did not even mention our nation's capitol?  That was very disappointing.


There are plenty of great Marriott Hotels to stay in Washington D.C.  I have much enjoyed staying here:


  1. The JW Marriott Washington Hotel Near White House - National Mall | JW Marriott Washington, DC
  2. The historic Mayflower Boutique Hotel Washington, D.C. | The Mayflower Hotel, Autograph Collection
  3. The downtown Weston Downtown Washington, D.C. Hotels | The Westin Washington, D.C. City Center 


If you cant make it for the July 4th celebration, Washington D.C. is still a great place to visit anytime to learn about our nation and how it works today.


TownePlace Suites Wichita East

Posted by wsm78 Apr 4, 2019

I've stayed at TownePlace Suites by Marriott Wichita East in Wichita, Kansas, a number of times since last summer and have been really impressed with this hotel. Prior to the SPG/Marriott Rewards combination, my Wichita hotel of choice was Aloft Wichita; after the loyalty programs combined in August 2018, I started to venture out to the various Marriott-branded hotels in the city. I've found myself returning to TownePlace Suites Wichita East not only because the price is right, but also because it's clean, modern, brightly-lit and completely inoffensive in the best possible way. While I love a sumptuous, wallpapered to the nth-degree Sheraton or Westin suite in a city-center high-rise, there's something refreshing about these clean, bright, freshly-painted rooms: the two-room layout is my favorite, as it makes me feel like I'm staying in a modest apartment or guest house. Maybe this is what I want when I'm travelling for work: something that makes me feel like I'm staying at a friend's place and not quite so removed from how I actually live (because really, I'd only run into the walls if my hallways were as dark and moody as those found in an Aloft). The staff here is friendly and competent, professional and nice, and I like that when I'm checking in and out of a hotel. I don't always need an over-the-top greeting; sometimes just a simple welcome is all it takes.


I've included some photos of the room and view from my most recent stay. TownePlace Suites Wichita East may not be the most spectacular offering in Marriott's portfolio, but it's definitely worth checking out if your travels ever bring you to Wichita, Kansas, as mine have.


A view of the sitting area and bedroom as seen from the kitchenette. Note the vaulted ceilings; this is a top-floor room.The small, comfortable sofa-bed in the sitting area.The kitchenette and work area of the room. The cabinets contain dishware and utensils for use.The bedroom features a queen-size bed in this room; other suites contain double beds or king-size beds. The two-room layout features a second television in the bedroom and a small closet with shelving.The bathroom has usable drawers in the vanity for storage and plenty of bright lighting.

Amidst all the different pros/cons of the Marriott Vacation Club membership ("time shares" and "destination points"), my wife and I are looking forward to our planned trips in 2019.

We begin with six nights at the Hilton Head Island, S.C. Grande Ocean (ocean front villa) this month, when our oldest daughter (age 55) and one of her walking friends, will join us. The Grande Ocean is perhaps the signature villa on H.H., where there are six other villa complexes, all with own individual features.

This complex, just outside Sea Pines Plantation, affords excellent opportunities for beach walking, bike riding and hiking on protected trails throughout the island;   indoor, heated swimming pool; exercise room overlooking the beach and multiple nearby restaurants, for which Hilton Head is well known. 

By the way, Hilton Head Island has again been voted, "Best Island in the U.S." -

Why Hilton Head Is the Best Island in the U.S. | Travel + Leisure 


Then, in late May, we're returning to another favorite MVC - Ocean Watch at North Myrtle Beach, S.C. - for four nights.

Lastly, we're headed to California in late September for five nights at the Newport Beach MVC, a new experience there for us; therefore, no photos to post yet. However, we've got neighbors who have stayed here on several occasions and highly recommend this facility as well.

We've scheduled these trips on a minimal number of "Destination Points", having been members since 2012. 


Always Dependable

Posted by omegaet1 Nov 5, 2018

Fairfield Inn & Suites Orlando Kissimmee/Celebration  property is my “go to” place when doing business in Celebration, Florida. 


The staff is efficient - from check-in thru complementary breakfast - thru check-out. 


A wide selection of casual dining places within easy walking distance or a short drive. 


I always manage to get a room on the top floor away from the main road.


Always seems to be good parking available, making it easy to haul gear in and out of my room!


Big rounds of thanks to all team members who work there!

For years, I’ve been searching for the perfect NY hotel — good location, clean and business-traveler friendly room, modern, great service, and a price that doesn’t break the bank.  The NY Edition checks all but the last box.  


Location - you’re located right next to Madison Square Park and a ton of great restaurants/stores.  You can get the best prime rib sandwich in NYC at Eataly across the street, then work it off at the Peloton studio a few blocks away.  The area is not busy with tourists.


The room was fantastic.  Very spacious for a NY hotel.  The closet was the size of a bathroom at most hotels.  The television had to be at least 70 inches, and offered the ability to log in to your Netflix and YouTube account.    As a business traveler, a good work space is important to me.  This had an excellent work space.  It’s not a desk but a large table with a couch on one side of it and a cushioned bench on the other side of it. I loved it because I had room to spread out my papers, laptop, snacks, etc., while sitting in a comfortable seat.  The room had a nice B&O speaker you can connect by bluetooth to your phone.laptop.  


The bathroom was nice and the soaps, shampoo, conditioner, and all the other amenities were second only to Molton Brown.  There’s a well stocked mini-bar and the prices, while high, are not insane.  The robe is one of the most comfortable hotel robes I’ve experienced — really soft, light, and good size.


What is insanely priced, however, is room service.  But you won’t need to order it.  There are so many good places to eat within one or two blocks.  I hear the Clock Tower restaurant is excellent.  I may try it if I return.  


Though the walls of the room had no artwork, I was fine with that because of the enormous headboard and the large window that had an awesome view of the Freedom Tower.  


The bed deserves its own paragraph.  The sheets were incredibly soft and the mattress was perfect.  Definitely one of my favorite hotel beds of all time.  


Service - the best way to describe the service is friendly, unobtrusive, helpful, and genuine.  The check-in process was smooth.  I was given a room even though I was checking in at 1 pm.  


The price - this is what may potentially be a long term dealbreaker for me.  I travel a lot for work.  I can’t stay at hotels that cost several hundred dollars, so I may have to save this hotel for the low season travel.  Nevertheless, it rivals any Four Seasons or Ritz Carlton I’ve stayed at in the past and I’m sure it will have no trouble filling up.    


In short, I HIGHLY recommend this property if you can swing it.  

Last week I had organized a small get together with my family and friends. We travelled from Wisconsin, DC, New jersey and Georgia to spend some good quality time with each other in Miami.


In our group, we had small baby and few people allergic to outside food, so I preferred to stay in Residence Inn, since it comes with full kitchen. Though this hotel is far from downtown and food joints, we preferred it, because of kitchen.


4 Rooms which were allocated to us had good space. We stayed in rooms 220,420,520 and 518.


Main problem we had with our stay was kitchen utensils and cookware. All the utensils were old. In cookware, Teflon coating was coming off. When we cooked food, we could see Teflon coating pieces in food. This was serious problem, since one of my family member is very sensitive towards food and things can serious harm her health.


 When we checked with reception, they just handed over one pan. I was surprised with their response. You call RESIDENCE INN as full kitchen hotel.  I believe their hands are tied, what else they can do, they did what they were told to do.


After that, we bought kitchen utensils and cookware from outside and had to trash it on return.


I will not recommend this hotel for anyone. Since it can put your health at risk.

Greetings Marriott Insiders, TJCNewYork is back!


Taking a break from the 'race to Lifetime Platinum', let's shift gears and refocus on what this community likes to do - travel!


Here are a few postcards from a recent trip to Montreal Old Port. We spent the first two nights in Delta by Marriott Montreal and the last two nights in Springhill Suites Old Montreal. The Delta Montreal is iconic Marriott with large guest rooms, Concierge Lounge and on-site dining, and so on. The primary features of the Springhill Suites Old Montreal is the location, the service, and convenience. The property is steps away from Old Montreal, Place Jacques Cartier, Vieux Port, cafes, restaurants, souvenir shops, and boutiques.


Panoramic view of Place Jacques Cartier in Old Montreal


Panoramic view of Montreal from the deck of Le Bateau Mouche which you can board from Au Vieux-Port.


Panoramic view of the interior of Jardin Nelson in Place Jacques Cartier in Old Montreal.


The Jardin Nelson is an 8-minute walk from the Springhill Suites Old Montreal. This cafe/restaurant is open from 11:30 in the morning and closes depending upon the season and weather between 10 pm and 1 am. We came here for dessert and enjoyed an unexpected performance from a live Jazz band. We came back for a full dinner and instrumental Jazz. You won't be disappointed. The French adopted Jazz as their own and there's Jazz entertainment every day.


Irvine Marriott (SNA)

Posted by mcgahat Aug 11, 2018

I found myself with the need for a one night stay in the area and decided to try a new hotel.  Typically I have stayed at the Hilton Irvine/OC Airport or Hilton Costa Mesa.  


Pre-Arrival - Whenever I have a stay at a property that has an club lounge or shuttle I will often contact them to verify the lounge hours and shuttle access process.  I love the Marriott app chat feature that saves me the trouble of calling. I have had situation where it did not work but this hotel responded reasonably quickly and thoroughly.  


Arrival - Armed with the shuttle information....I decided to walk.     Typically I am ready to stretch my legs by the time I arrive and the weather in SoCal is usually nice enough that I enjoy the walk.  This hotel is a bit further than my usual haunt (Hilton) and took about 20 minutes from exiting the airport to the hotel front door.  If you are inclined to take the shuttle it shows up at :15 and :45 on the hour and you just follow the signs to the ground transportation center which is in the middle of the airport.   If you choose to walk, it cant be a little difficult to find your way to MacArthur Blvd as street access is actually tucked away at the back of one of the parking garages (pretty sure it is B2), if memory serves me correctly you just use the walkway between the number 8 and 9 pillars and at the back there will be a door marked MacArthur Blvd access and from there just use Google Maps etc. 


Check-In - Very friendly and chatty agent checked me in and was a great way to start out a stay.  Explained about the hotel and M Club access etc.  Also verified my Plat late check out time for the following day.  I took the $10 F&B credit versus the points at Plat Amenity.


Room - Had a room on the 9th floor next to the elevator and no Plat upgrade of any kind.  I cant fault them for that though as I am pretty sure the hotel was pretty full and being next to the elevator bank isn't really a problem here as I heard no elevator noises, I also booked quite late.  I did however hear noises from the room next door so maybe the walls are a little thin or just a loud mouth next door.  The room itself was modern renovated styling which I like a lot more than the classic Marriott design.  I did find the room really cozy and also had a double bed room as that is all that was available when I booked, those really are double beds and not two queens so beware if that matters to you.  There was a tiny step out balcony if you want to step out and get a good view of the office buildings next door.  


M-Club Lounge - The club is located at the back of the restaurant, so just walk to the restaurant and look to the wall on the right side and you can enter there.  I arrived too late for evening appetizers but did make dessert time and there was a few sweets out, it was not the best offering I have seen for sure, maybe even the worst.  There was a couple of attendants in the room and they of course were also tending the bar.  I asked for the cheapest small pour of red wine they had and it was $14.  That is where the Hilton Cost Mesa Exec Lounge is much better.  I did find the attendants to be very helpful and friendly though. You can also order off the restaurant menu in the lounge.  I also made it down for Breakfast and it was your typical lounge offering if not on the limited side as well but perfectly acceptable.  The space itself is nice and modern and pretty comfortable.  It does the jobs I guess.  


Grounds - They have a restaurant and bar on site which stays open fairly late which is nice.  There is a Starbucks on site as well.  The pool and fitness area was pretty nice with some decent looking equipment fitness wise and the pool outdoor area looked very nice for relaxing.  I found those offerings pretty nice for what I consider to be pretty much a business and airport oriented hotel.  


Location - The hotel is situated in and area of large office buildings and parking that is $29 per day.  You might find parking cheaper via your favorite parking app.  There is not a lot that is an easy walk away from the hotel.  So, if you get a car you are stuck with high parking charges and with no car you are not close to much on foot.  I assume they are counting on business covering the parking for employees and people just wanting a airport stay will just take the shuttle and park elsewhere.  I much prefer the Costa Mesa location on the other side of the airport I think.  


Summary - I am not going to say I would never stay here again and I certainly was not unhappy with my stay but it was just a bit too isolated for me.  I like to walk but I also like being able to pop across the street to eat or grab sundries etc. relatively quickly and this location just doesn't do that.  It was fine for a one night stay but more than that it would not be ideal location for me.  


























I love reading articles like this. It's partly due to this that I am so loyal to Marriott. 


J. Willard Marriott, "welcomed all kinds of people into his house, whether it was a doorman or the president of the United States. He treated everybody exactly the same."


Keep up the great work Marriott....

Union Threatens Labor Actions at Marriott Hotels in Eight Cities

At risk hotels: 


Something to keep in mind this summer travel season.


Dining in Your Hotel

Posted by fschumpert Jun 27, 2018

You've heard the old expression: "Never eat in the hotel where you're staying for the night." Well, while this might be true some of the time, there are exceptions to this rule.


I just returned from business trip to Venice and surrounding area, which is noted for fine dining, even in some of the smallest ristorantes. However, one of the best meals (secondi piatti & dolce or, second course and dessert, shown)  I enjoyed was at the Marriott Grand Hotel Dei Dogi, (formerly Marriott Boscolo Autograph, located in Siesteri Cannerigio, Fondamenta Madonna dell 'Orto, Venice.




If you've never stayed here, it's accessible via Public Transport Waterbus from the airport to Port Madonna dell 'Orto and then a five-minute walk to hotel 


Tips for Broke People Who Love to Travel


If you have read any of my other travel tips, then you already know I LOVE to travel, but also don't make a ton of cash. Here are a few starter tips for the cash strapped traveler, then we'll get into the NYC specific stuff!



  •     For us broke folk, planning ahead is necessary. New York isn't expensive if you know how to do it right (Don't worry, I'll tell you!), but if you have bigger dreams (like Europe), plan on saving a year in advance
  •     The Change Jar - I have managed some awesome trips, including Rome, Italy by dropping my spare change into a jar every day. My suggestion is to up the ante and drop in dollar bills, too.
  •     Every time you spend money ask yourself "Would I rather spend two dollars on this energy drink here...or in New York City?" (or where ever you want to go).
  •     If you truly love to travel, you will have to sacrifice. If it is not worth it to you, that is okay! But for me skipping expensive cable,a larger apartment, and a nicer car are TOTALLY worth the cool places I have been able to visit!



Cheap New York City Flights and Accommodations


Looking for some great ways to fly and stay in New York City without spending a bunch of cash? It isn't as expensive as you think! Here are a few tips on making sure you don't spend a **** ton of money getting and sleeping there.

  •     DO NOT (really, I mean it!) stay in New Jersey if you want to visit New York City. Yes the hotels are cheaper, yes the city is just a twenty or thirty minute bus ride. NO you will NOT save money. I made this mistake once. The first time I visited NYC I booked a NJ hotel, thinking it was only a few dollars to ride a bus to the city. Not true anymore. We paid fifty dollars per day round trip for two people and wasted two to three hours each day doing this. DON'T.
  •     DO mix and match the airports. New York has two large airports and a great transit system, so it really doesn't matter which you fly in or out of. One may be cheaper going and the other might have a cheaper home flight.
  •     DO book several weeks in advance or at the last minute for the best deals. I last visited in New Years 2017 and paid $200 round trip. Off season I have flown in for $140 or less from Florida.



Around Town


Once you have the flight and hotel booked, here is a few tips to save you cash while in the city!


  •     DON'T pay full price to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art aka The Met).The posted admission price ($25 last time I visited) is actually a suggested donation. (It says so in super tiny letters under the price). Give em a dollar, and smile while you do it!
  •     DO BUY a weekly unlimited ride subway pass iff you are going to be in the city for more than three or four days. No matter how little you think you will ride the subway, you will need it! Inevitably you will get on the wrong line or go more places than you originally planned. Seriously. Trust me and just do it.
  •     DON'T pay for guided tours. If you are traveling on a budget, use the internet to do some research or bring along a well educated or local friend.
  •     Skip the taxis. Yes they are everywhere, yes they will get you where ever you are going quicker, but if you are traveling cheap then skip em. You can take a subway within a short walk of any where you want to go.
  •     DO pay to go to the top of the Empire State building (general admission) , but don't pay to go to see the Statue of Liberty. It is usually closed. And (for me at least) going up wasn't that important. If I was rich, sure. But I'm not, so I skipped it, maybe next time!


My Favorite Places to Go


So, the broke travelers on a budget portion is over. Here are a few of my favorite spots in New York City.


  •     Duck Duck Bar in Brooklyn. Awesome little hole in the wall whiskey/beer joint. Plus, the tattoo shop next door is called "Goose". (Duck, duck...goose...sorry, it made me giggle) Try the hot shot, and you MUST get a pickle back. Do it.
  •     Teuscher Chocolate Shop Right by the Rockefeller Center. Expect to pay $2 for the best freaking chocolate you have ever tasted in your life. (It will be a really, really small piece, but so worth it)
  •     Mamouns Falafels in Greenwich Village (by Washington Square) the other locations just don't compare. (Yes that rhymed...only sort of on purpose). But seriously, the other locations aren't as good.


For the record, I have actually been to all of these places and they freakin rock. That is why I am telling you about them and providing links so you can find them! I am not getting paid by any of these places, but am more than willing to accept donations of food!

I want to apologize for dumping a bunch of photos out in the image area, I was looking to post images and the function worked differently than I thought and apparently there is no way to delete.  I found the blog post function and that seems to be what I am looking leave a review of this property.  Hope you find it useful. 


Pre-Arrival - I used the chat function to contact the hotel as I always do to find out how often the shuttle runs and if you need to call them.  I was informed that is basically runs 24 hours without a need to call.  I don't have the chat available to me now but it was basically every 10 minutes during peak hours (morning and evening), every 15 minutes during non peak hours and overnight ever 30 minutes.  It was a good start that they responded to the chat quickly and thoroughly. 


Arrival - I got extremely lucky as the shuttle had just pulled up as I got to the shuttle area.  If you have not been to SFO before the hotel shuttles are at the departure level in the middle island. The shuttle is shared with the Hyatt down the street so look for the bus with both their names on it.  It was a quick 10 minute or so ride after being picked up at terminal 3 to the hotel.  The Marriott is the first stop after the airport and it will then head to the Hyatt which is the same path that you will take when taking the shuttle back to the airport so plan accordingly. 


Check-In -  There is an Elite line but it all seems crammed into one little area so it cant get a little scrambled during peak times but the agents are quick and pretty friendly.  I was shown the M Club lounge which is on the first floor just to the left of the check-in desk but not mention of any upgrade for me as a Platinum member.  I found the front desk to be pleasant in all my interactions. 


Room - Room had obviously been renovated as it had a more modern interior and design.  It had plenty of space to put bags and a nice chaise lounge with a table.  There was enough of a desk albeit small to work on.  Plugs near the bed on both sides, USB and electric.  All the typical items you would expect from a Marriott, iron and safe etc.  The shower was pretty nice and actually had good shower pressure which was shocking as you don't get that anymore it seems. It was also fairly quiet and I am not sure if that is the room design or just got lucky with no noisy neighbors etc.  I had a view of the street and didn't really hear much noise from there.  All in all, I found the room comfortable and well setup. 


M Club Lounge - I wish I thought to take some photos of the lounge but didn't, sorry.  It is actually a nice looking space and pretty comfortable.  For breakfast it did get busy but never had a problem finding a spot to eat and the hotel was quite full.  The offering at breakfast had some sort of hot meat such as sausage or ham, eggs and some other hot specialty dish such as mini breakfast quesadillas then they had fruit, oatmeal, cereals, yogurt and some really good pastries. The coffee machine actually makes lattes, cappuccinos etc instead of just coffee which is what I have seen at other lounges and it is quicker.  During the day you have pretty much the coffee, tea, sodas and some snacks such as M&M's, cookies, Chex mix thingy and some fruit.  The evening offering was pretty good with some nice hot appetizers, hummus and veggies from 5-7 and 7.30 to 10 there was desserts.  They also had alcohol for sale in the evening of course and there was a couple of wines I didn't remember seeing at the lobby bar and maybe a couple of bucks cheaper but still pretty high. The service in the lounge was really good in my opinion and always pretty friendly.  I dont know that I care for the space being on the first floor but sure it will help them monetize it. 


F&B - There is a restaurant, lobby bar and a Starbucks at the property.  There is also a little gift shop kinda thing with some snacks but when I say little I mean little so don't expect much there.   If you don't have breakfast or access to the lounge the Starbucks is a reasonable option, it is more expensive than a regular Starbucks but still more reasonable than the restaurant I am sure.  It is a full size location versus just a small kiosk that you find as some hotels.  The lobby lounge was nice particularly during the day when you have the windows with s nice view of the bay and aircraft landing, too bad the M Club Lounge didn't get that view.  I didn't try the restaurant.  I did find F&B expensive even by San Francisco hotel standards.  I hate paying almost $20 glass for crappy wine.  If you can, go elsewhere in my opinion.


Location - While this is the first time staying at this hotel I am very familiar with the area and always enjoy staying out here.  I love to walk along the pathway along the bay and of course watch all the planes land.  In my opinion that while this hotel is right in the middle of the runway it is actually better viewing the planes landing further up towards the pathway towards the Embassy Suites.  Still, great place to view the bay and planes.  There is not a lot less then 15 minutes walk though so plan accordingly. 


Summary - I like the property and would not rule it out for future stays but may be inclined to stay up closer to the Millbrae BART station at the Westin or Fairfield as I think there is more up in that area dining wise.  I don't mind walking so this area doesn't bother me that much. 



















I really enjoyed my stay at this Sheraton. It’s a great place to stay, location is to mall and waterside.

The major reason i love this place is because its a Cat 2 hotel!(only 3000 points-weekends) and excellent service I receive from the staff



Club Lounge







Too many photos to upload for the suite, so I uploaded a video