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Every year for the last 10 years, my wife and I travel to the village of Rockport on Cape Ann to witness Santa's arrival by lobster boat. The event always takes place on the first Saturday of December. So we'll book the night before in Massachusetts and the night of the event we move to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where the town welcomes Santa by parade at night. The first weekend in December also works for us to shift gears and kick off our holiday shopping.


For Rockport, we've stayed at every single Marriott property within a half-hour drive. For Portsmouth, the Wentworth is our favorite, with the Residence Inn Portsmouth Harbor and Sheraton tied for second.  


This year we decided to stay two nights before and selected hotels on the basis of which property had the best rate. We also wanted a property within an hour of the Premium Outlets in Merrimack, NH where we like to shop.  


Residence Inn Boston Marlborough rose to the top of the list. We enjoyed our first stay at this property and look forward to going back. Check-in was smooth. Our King studio was cozy, comfortable, and quiet. Not sure why, but we almost had the entire place to ourselves for breakfast.


If you're traveling through the area, consider the Residence Inn Boston Marlborough. You won't be disappointed. 

My wife and I booked a preview package for 5 days 4 nights at the Westin Resort & Spa in Cancun. To extend the package, I booked 2 nights before and 1 night after for a total of 7 nights. I used a combination of paid, Bonvoy points, and comp upgrade leveraging my Lifetime Titanium status. The property is in the midst of a transition to timeshare as Marriott Vacation Club purchased all Vistana Signature properties and this resort is on of two in Cancun, the other being Westin Lagunamar. 


The check-in exceeded expectations, we were upgraded to a Gulf of Mexico view with a full balcony. The first 15 minutes in the room was extremely disappointing. In the Yucatan environment, the salinity is very high. When the hot tropical breeze hits the conditioned air, condensation forms in a way that can trigger the smoke alarm. That's exactly what happened when we opened the balcony doors. We were standing on the balcony enjoying the view when the alarm went off. Hearing an alarm, one's first instinct is to exit and that's what we did.  As soon as we exited the alarm stopped.  I decided to see if I could replicate the behavior, so I re-entered the room, opened the balcony doors and sure enough the smoke alarm went off again!  My wife was hysterical.


From our perspective, there was a faulty/defective smoke alarm. It actually turns out that there is no sensor on the balcony door to let the AC know to shut off because the door is open. With the AC in full swing, the condensation forms that triggers the alarm.


Since they did not have another room to move us to, we suggested disabling the smoke alarm. We were eventually moved to a totally refurbished 2 BR villa with 2 baths, balcony, full kitchen, and washer/dryer.


The service at this property is exceptional.