Hello fellow Insider Peeps. I've gotten rather behind on my platinum challenge journey, and before I fall behind yet farther, I thought I'd post a quick update. My first two stays of this challenge were at the Costa Mesa Marriott and the wonderful Irvine Marriott in early January, as posted here in My Platinum Challenge 2017.
Next up was a weekend to the California Central Coast, where we stayed one night in Paso Robles and one night down the road in Atascadero. We did mobile check-in at both properties, and were notified in the morning that our rooms were ready, despite not requesting an early check-in.
We rolled into the Paso Robles Courtyard around mid-afternoon. We were kindly welcomed, greeted and handed our keys. No mention of elite status, but since it was a CY and I am only gold, I didn't think negatively of it. We were offered bottled water, which we accepted.
When we entered our room, we were surprised to see that we had been upgraded to a one bedroom suite. That was pretty exciting. I have to admit, I love having lots of space to spread out! About 20 minutes later, we received a phone call from the front desk asking if everything was to our satisfaction and if there was anything they could do for us. I made sure to let them know that we were thrilled with our room, which they appreciated.
Later, when we headed downstairs to go to dinner, the bar area was really hopping. They actually have a happy hour, so I'm sure that, plus the fact that the NFL divisional playoffs were on the tele had something to do with that being "the happening place to be" for many guests. Additionally, the bar and lobby areas at this property have a much more upscale look and vibe to them than most typical Courtyards that I've visited. Downtown, we dined at a really cool place that we fell in love with called Berry Hill Bistro. Paso Robles has a fun town square and surrounding area with an active night life scene that provides a bounty of restaurants and bar/lounges, many which looked inviting. We enjoyed spending the evening there, just strolling around and checking out all of the shopping and dining options (yes, mid-January, it was cold, er - well, cold by California standards. )
The next day, we were up and off to Atascadero, just a few miles south on US-101, where we checked into our next Marriott property, a SpringHill Suites. So... while on the outside it appeared very much like your typical SHS, it was very much different on the inside. The lobby area was massive by SHS standards, and as we found out later that evening, also has a popular bar scene (yes, more happy hour for those interested) as well as dining offerings. Like the CY up the road, this too is not your standard SHS. This particular SHS reminded me of the marketing ads that I had seen last year for SHS, where at the time I thought, this (marketing ad) does not come even close to any SHS that I've ever stayed at, however I'm pleased to say that this particular property is indeed reflective of the marketing ads, which depict the brand as a place to not just stay, but spend time at and enjoy. It too has sort of a full service feel to it, without actually being - full service. The decor and amenities, lovely pool area with nice view of rolling hills and vineyards, outdoor seating with fire pits, and a really large and attractive lobby with cathedral ceilings and interior architectural design features that were more than trendy, actually very cool, all served to make this property a stand out for its brand and a place where folks might actually like to hang out, rather than just being a place to shower and sleep. In speaking with the front desk folks, I found out that this hotel group owns quite a few Marriott properties that are - a little bit extra special, including a couple in San Diego near the gas lamp district.
Me lurking in the weeds of the infamous Marriott Pricing Matrix? (Where is erc? )
The room was a typical SHS suite, however it is one of the more modern ones with the frosted dividers and light colored wood between the sitting area and the sleeping area. Also, the hard product in the bathroom is much nicer than I've seen in typical SHS properties. The rooms at this property are very much like the rooms at the SHS in Oceanside, CA, and appear to be indicative of the new redesign of the SHS brand. We like it.
large bathroom (less than half shown) with lighted mirror and upscale hard product. Sort of reminded me of some Renaissance properties that I've stayed at.
I thought the lighted "artwork?" over the bed was kind of fun, or at least interesting/unique.
This California coastline map throw pillow added a bit of uniqueness for the locality. Nice touch!
This ended up being a very relaxing, kick back weekend for us. We drove in the hills and did some house hunting, even visited a realtor office (no, we're not moving there, the airport - of great importance to me - is not acceptable, I'm not thrilled with the hospital/medical offerings and there's not much in the way of refined culture; when I asked the realtor about cultural activities in the area, she just laughed (like I was silly) and said, "Well, we like to drink wine." I hope so, since it is wine country, with over 300 wineries in the area!) The area is beautiful, peaceful, not crowded, a half hour drive to the ocean, and well, there IS all that lovely wine. But - nah.
We rounded out the weekend with dinner at Dorn's in Morro Bay, while enjoying an ocean sunset view of Morro Rock. Breakfast the next morning at the SHS offered typical SHS fare and was crowded. The staff worked hard to keep up. I suspect that the kitchen and buffet area is too small for the property.
That pretty much wraps up platinum challenge stays # 3 and #4.
Platinum Challenge stay #5 was supposed to be at the Monterey Marriott. When I originally booked that property, both nights were over $200/night. I kept checking back, and the first night dropped to $173/night, the second to $199. Just a few days prior to our stay, the price for both nights dropped to a very sweet $161/night (it pays to keep checking prices!) Also, I received a welcome email from the concierge a few days prior to our stay, which also served to gently notify us that with no CL, they are one of the "exempt" properties regarding complimentary weekend breakfast, but would provide 750 MR points in lieu of, each day. I replied to the email by politely expressing my disappointment that their "in lieu of" offer fell decidedly short ($7.50 in MR points vs. two buffet breakfasts valued at over $50 (really?), and that I would have to look for lodging elsewhere (it really did irk me, and one of the reasons why is because their breakfast buffet is truly wonderful!) I received a reply stating that since they valued my loyalty to the Marriott brand, they would be happy to provide complimentary breakfast to us for this stay, which I of course accepted! So with the excellent pricing and the comp breakfast, along with the fact that we're talking Monterey Peninsula, I was really looking forward to this stay!!
On the Wednesday evening prior to our stay, I got sick. Check-in was on a Friday. I powered through work on Thursday (thank you, Tylenol), feeling worse by the hour and thinking, we can't cancel now, we're inside of the 24 hour cancellation policy. Well I thought, we'll still go, even if I have to spend the entire weekend in a (wonderful, at least) Marriott bed. By Friday morning however, there was just no way. I could barely get out of bed. My throat felt like razor blades, I couldn't breathe and I had a high fever. I contacted the property and explained the situation, with genuine apology. The associate was very kind, stating that she could tell by the sound of my voice how sick I was, and not to worry, there would be no charge. but all at the same time. We probably won't see rates that low in Monterey again until likely - next January.
So, stay #5 (as well as #6 and #7) were all moved to last weekend, where I spent the weekend in Boise. I stayed at three different properties over three nights, and here's why: these were the first three stays of the Spring Megabonus promotion, and in order to get in 3 stays, plus 10 additional nights (for the 15K additional MR points), I had to do it this way. Very low double points for me (each night came in at $90 at CY's and FFI), but I did the math, and with my schedule during this bonus promotion, lots of short weekend stays, it was the best way to maximize bonus earnings.
This brings me to just two more stays until my 2017 platinum challenge is complete!!
On Deck, Hawaii (just 2 sleeps away!)
Looks like they're expecting us. See you soon, kharada46!