Category Archive: Recommendations

Hotel Review: Mayflower Park Hotel, Seattle

  Mayflower Park Hotel Address:  The Mayflower Park Hotel is located at 405 Olive Way, Seattle, Washington. Value Luxury Rating:  (out of 3 hearts) Features:  Located in the heart of downtown Seattle, the classic European-styled Mayflower Park Hotel dates back to 1927. The lobby features chandeliers and antiques, creating an inviting atmosphere for checking in, meeting a guest or just relaxing before heading out for the day. It is accessible by light rail direct from the airport, about a 40-minute trip. The hotel has 160 rooms and 29 suites decorated in color schemes similar to the lobby, and each room features art specially designed for it. Contrasting with the classic headboards and armoires, are all the necessary modern amenities such as a flat panel television, coffee maker, and free wifi. Price Range:  I stayed in a King Suite, which had […]

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Hotel Review: Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel, Orlando

Address:  Loew’s Portofino Bay Hotel at Universal Orlando is located at 5601 Universal Boulevard, Orlando, Florida. Value Luxury Rating:  (out of three hearts) Features:  Located on the grounds of Universal Orlando Resort, and a short complimentary water taxi away from CityWalk and the theme parks (and through November first from Halloween Horror Nights), the hotel location is popular with guests wanting the extra benefits that come with staying on property. Those theme park benefits are substantial, adding up to real dollar and cents savings, and include:  Express Pass (skip the lines) valued at up to $89/per day, priority seating at many theme park restaurants and first available seating at others, first available seating at CityWalk restaurants, complimentary water taxi to both theme parks (avoid driving and parking), complimentary shuttle to Wet ‘n Wild water park, SeaWorld, and Aquatica, and one hour early […]

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Halloween Horror Nights: A Hauntingly Good Time

As daytime segued into evening, the personality of Universal Studios Florida segued from fun and frivolity into apprehension and anxiety. I was in Orlando to attend the 25th anniversary edition of Halloween Horror Night, Was I absolutely crazy for putting myself through an evening of terror? Halloween Horror Night started in 1991 with one haunted house and was called Fright Nights. The following year it was re-named to its current moniker, scaring participants for a whopping three nights. The 2015 incarnation features nine houses, five scare zones, and two show productions over 30 nights. Was I crazy? Perhaps. But I was also ready to tackle the evening! I was privileged to attend a pre-scare media session featuring Mike Aiello (the creative force behind HHN), Jon Timon (Universal), Director John Landis (American Werewolf in London), Producer Greg Nicotero (The Walking Dead co-executive producer […]

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Summer Reading 2015

Summer reading, had me a blast. It seems like there’s always so much more to read during the summer. And much more time. Lounging at home on the deck, by a pool, or jetting off somewhere for a long, lazy weekend. All provide time to dig into a great book. For me, summer reading is a combination of best sellers I’ve missed, lighter and fun reading, and meaty tomes that I’ve put off digging into. For my reading, I use a Kindle Paperwhite (a new version recently came out), with books coming from a combination of public library checkouts (King County Library System offers this, yours library may as well), Amazon Prime loans, and Amazon purchases. Here are some recent reads that I’d recommend for your summer (or anytime) reading list: A Year Without “Made in China” Journalist Bongiorni, on […]

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Review: Vice Versa at Vdarra, Las Vegas

Vice Versa Patio Lounge Address: 2600 W. Harmon Avenue, Las Vegas (at the Vdarra Hotel & Spa) MJ Rating:  1/2 (2 1/2 out of 3 stars) Features: Vice Versa is located on the center patio of the Vdarra Hotel & Spa in Las Vegas. Casual, yet hip, Vice Versa’s patio has fire pits (perfect for colder desert evenings) and a water feature that helps make you feel a little cooler during the desert heat. Indoor seating is also available. The patio lounge features tasty small plates and handcrafted cocktails, often in some surprising combinations. As they like to say, they like doing things Vice Versa. Price Range:  Moderate to high, this is upscale Las Vegas, after all. Small plates start at $8 (truffle fries, fried mac and cheese bites) to $18 (three surf and turf sliders). Specialty cocktails start at $14. Happy hour is […]

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Celebrate World Book Night with a Good Book

World Book Night is about celebrating the joy of reading. Nothing quite matches the enjoyment that comes from losing oneself in a good book. Oh sure, we all have plenty to read for business purposes, but when was the last time you picked up a book just for pleasure? It may have been a classic, read in your local coffee shop, or it may have been the latest chick lit or popular mystery read on your last flight or by the pool. Since World Book Night is about promoting ready and literacy, it’s also my opportunity to share some of my recent favorites reads. I hope you’ll find one you like. These are all nonfiction travel books this time. sometimes it goes like that. Remember, reading is for winners. Pass it on. Thailand’s Best Street Food In Thailand’s Best Street Food, freelance […]

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Hotel Review: Hotel Giraffe, NYC

Hotel Giraffe Address:  365 Park Avenue South (at 26th Street), New York City Value Luxury Rating:   (out of 3 hearts) Features:  Located in the recently named NoMad area of New York City (North of Madison Square Park), Hotel Giraffe is conveniently situated between midtown and downtown Manhattan. The hotel, part of the Library Hotel Collection, offers a generous package of complimentary amenties including continental breakfast buffet each morning (served 7-10:30 am weekdays, and till 11 am on weekends), wine and cheese reception every evening (5-8 pm), wi-fi throughout the hotel, reading material (books, magazines, newspapers), DVD library, bottled water in guestrooms, and passes to New York Sports Club (various locations throughout Manhattan, closest one is three blocks away). Price Range:  A search of room rates for April 2015, show rates starting at $287 night. Check for specials and promotional rates. Personal Notes:  Hotel Giraffe […]

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Hotel Review: The Kimberly, NYC

The Kimberly Address:  145 East 50th Street (50th Street between Lexington and 3rd Avenue, Midtown), New York City Value Luxury Rating:   (of 3 hearts) Features: Located in the heart of the midtown, The Kimberly is an upscale property that is well situated for business, shopping, or just a sightseeing getaway. The 192 European-styled rooms, most of which are suites, feature flat screens and satellite TV, kitchen or kitchenettes with microwave, refrigerator, coffee maker, sink and untensils; robe and slippers, electric shoe-shiner, complimentary water, and the expected upscale bathroom amenities. Some rooms have balconies and jacuzzi tubs. Price Range:  Low winter rates range from $160 night for a deluxe guest room to $223 for an executive 1-bedroom suite. Rates jump up in spring to $430-550, and if you can bear the heat of summer, drop down to $320-440. (Prices based on a random […]

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Recommended Reading for Read in the Bathtub Day

One of the relaxing joys of my life is a bubble bath and a book, and maybe a glass of bubbly to go with it. It’s a time for me to relax and escape, to think about the days to come, or to plan a great adventure. I indulge often, whether it’s at home, in a decadent hotel bathroom, or a relaxing hot tub or jacuzzi. When I learned that today was Read in the Bathtub Day, I thought it would be a good time to share a few recommendations culled from what I’ve read over the past couple of months. You might find something here that you like. Behind the Beautiful Forevers:  Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity In this brilliant, breathtaking book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is […]

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Travel Product Review: Neo-Cover Luggage

  Neo-Cover Art Inspired Luggage Product:  Lady Harvest 2-piece Hardside Spinner Set from Neo-Cover Value Luxury Rating:   (of three hearts) Features:  This multi-colored luggage set features a brilliant artistic polycarbonate exterior with a special matte finish. The fully lined interior has multiple pockets and zippers while the multi-directional spinner wheels provide a convenient mobility. The aluminum handle has a soft rubber grip with impact locking telescopic handle. Built in TSA combination lock helps protect valuables. The set includes two pieces, one 29-inch and one 22-inch the latter suitable as a carry on. What I thought: What was great: It’s not black! I didn’t need to worry about which bag was mine. It’s pretty. I can’t tell you how many compliments I received about the luggage. While at first people may have been startled by its vividness, they often looked closer and […]

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