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Thursday, December 8, 2016

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina / Coligny Plaza, Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge, beach, trails, shopping restaurants...

November 2016, Weekend-weekday, 3-nights

Following is information about some of the places we visited during our stay at Marriott Resort & Spa on Hilton Head Island. 

Restaurants, dining options

We had a late lunch at Joe Loves Lobster Rolls in Ridgeland, SC on our way to Hilton Head. If you are arriving from the north, this is right on the way on N. Okatie Hwy. My husband had the Smoked Wild Boar sandwich special, and I had the Lobster Mac 'n Cheese side special. The sandwich came with a side and drink, which are not visible in the photo below. The food flavor was excellent, although afterward, we wished we had ordered the largest lobster roll and shared it instead. Yes, we wanted more lobster!

Joe Loves Lobster Rolls
We dined at two locations in Palmetto Dunes, which were less than a half mile walk from the Marriott: Palmetto Dunes General Store and Big Jim's BBQ, Burgers, and Pizza. Our breakfast from the General Store was not what we had initially planned that morning; however, it was very good. We had a freshly made bagel egg sandwich and sausage egg burrito. The portion sizes were good, and the cost was around $5 each. There is a sitting area outside the store. Other breakfast foods were available, as well as deli/lunch-type sandwiches. All of the foods looked fresh and appetizing.

Palmetto Dunes General Store

Hilton Head Island, South Carolina / Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa

November 2016, Weekend-weekday, 3-nights, 2-Queen beds oceanfront guestroom

Sunrise from guestroom 710

Gold perks and arrival/check-in

Our GPS was pretty accurate with the Marriott location; however, we were mildly confused about the resort location when we arrived, as I know there are several Marriott properties on Hilton Head, and the entrance sign did not exactly match the property name on the website. The website says, "Hilton Head Marriott Resort & Spa," and the entrance sign says, "Hilton Head Marriott Beach & Golf Resort."

Beautiful sand sculpture in lobby
I had checked in online the day before our arrival because I received an email that said, "check in now to access your Elite benefits! one of our most loyal guests, you'll jump to the top of the list for: Priority Room Assignment, Priority Upgrades - Get notified of a room upgrade before your visit, Priority Late Checkout - Find out how late you can sleep in … right when you arrive." I entered 2:30 p.m. for our arrival time, and 1:00 p.m. for a late checkout time. Check-in time is 4:00 p.m., and checkout time is 11:00 a.m. I did not receive any notification before we arrived around 2:45 p.m. The agent told me our room has just become available. He said we had been upgraded to an oceanfront room with 2 queen beds. He said there were no king oceanfront rooms available. This hotel has 10 floors, and we were assigned a room on the 7th floor. My profile is set for a king bed on a high floor, and I always request the top floor. I am not complaining about being three floors down; I am merely sharing this information for other elite members who may want to know what to expect. The agent did not mention my late checkout request, and I did not ask about this.

Guestroom 710

This was a typical Marriott guestroom. The property showed a bit of wear in some areas; however, the room was comfortable and clean. 

Just inside the entrance
Two closets were located outside the bathroom near the entrance. The closets contained two robes, hangers, and a folding luggage rack. The bathroom was spacious with a decent size vanity. The bottom of the mirror behind the vanity was slightly deteriorated from age. Thann bath amenities were provided, along with good quality towels, a hairdryer, and glass glasses. I do not recall for sure if there was a makeup mirror in the guestroom. Extra amenities, like mouthwash and cotton swabs, which are provided at most Marriott hotels, were not provided at this hotel. The tub/shower combination was located across from the vanity, with the toilet between the two.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Wytheville, Virginia / Holiday Inn Express & Suites

November 2016, Weekday (holiday), 1-night, King suite 317

Sunrise from guestroom 317

We redeemed points for this stay at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites on the evening of Thanksgiving.

Platinum perks and check-in

We received an upgrade to a suite, and I received the 500 Platinum member bonus points. The front desk agent recognized my status, and our guestroom had been upgraded before our arrival.

View from suite 317

Suite 317

This spacious guestroom is located on the third floor of this four-floor hotel. There is a large tile foyer at the entrance, and the bathroom is located to the right. The bathroom contained a long vanity with mirror, and tub/shower combination. Bath amenities, good quality towels, and a hairdryer were provided.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Lansing, Michigan / Crowne Plaza Lansing West

November 2016, Weekday, 1-night, King corner guestroom 436

This was our first stay at the Crowne Plaza in Lansing, Michigan. In fact, I did not recall knowing this hotel is not too far from the Lansing airport the last time we had stayed in a Lansing airport hotel. I will definitely choose this hotel again the next time I have a Lansing flight, or need to stay in the area.

Status perks and check-in

We arrived a bit before check-in time of 3:00 p.m. The employee who completed the check-in process provided excellent assistance, and she went out of her way to meet our needs. I needed a ride to the airport around 5:00 a.m., and the hotel shuttle does not normally operate that early. She checked the schedule to see if there was an airline crew scheduled for the next morning, and was able to schedule a ride time for me that met both our needs. We received an upgrade to a king corner room (I requested this), and the 600 bonus points for Platinum members.

View of desk from entrance area
View from entrance

King corner guestroom 436

This guestroom contained a king size bed, night stands, desk and chair, soft chair with footstool, and a large flatscreen TV on an armoire. A small fridge, microwave, ice bucket, glass glasses, coffee mugs, and coffeemaker with supplies, were located in the armoire. The bed was super comfy, and the sheets were good quality.

A large vanity and a closet with mirrored doors were located left of the armoire. The closet contained two robes, along with hangers, and a folding luggage rack. Bath amenities were provided on the vanity. The towels were good quality. The toilet and tub/shower combination were located in a small room at the end of the vanity.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Old Mission Peninsula and Beulah, Michigan / Northern Michigan Wineries & Jolly Pumpkin Brewery

November 2016

This post is a brief update with some information we learned during our last visit to a couple of northern Michigan wineries and breweries.

You can find more information about Michigan wineries and breweries in the following blog posts: May and June 2016May 2016 (Grayling), May 2016 (Cadillac)May 2016 (Petoskey)October 2015 (Grayling), October 2015 (Petoskey), May 2015 (Tahquamenon Falls)March 2015,  and October 2010

Black Star Farms wine taste glasses being discontinued

Black Star Farms

We have a couple of the old style Black Star Farms wine glasses, which we purchased several years ago. The glasses came with six tastes at the time of purchase, and then we could get five free tastes every time we visited with our glasses thereafter. Keeping the glasses wrapped in a small carrier in the trunk of our car has been a good thing for us, and Black Star Farms - we always bought at least two bottles of wine every time we stopped in one of their wineries for a taste! During our most recent stop at Old Mission Tasting Room, we learned they are discontinuing complimentary tastes with these glasses at the end of 2016. The person who provided us with our sample tastes did not tell us this; when we paid for our purchases, the cashier asked us if he had told us the glasses were being discontinued.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Waco, Texas / Holiday Inn & Suites Waco Northwest

November 2016, Weekday, 2-nights, King whirlpool guestroom 504


The Holiday Inn & Suites in Waco, Texas is similar to a few other Holiday Inn & Suites I have stayed in: the one at the Denver airport, Ft. Myers Airport Town Center, and I do not recall the others for sure. I recall the lobby visual, and my exact experiences in the bar and dining room, in one of the other properties I stayed in; just not where it was!

Lobby view from elevator; restaurant and bar straight ahead

During check-in, the front desk agent recognized my status and mentioned a whirlpool, as she was talking about upgrades. I told her I probably would not use a whirlpool this stay; I said I was mainly interested in a guestroom in a quiet area with a nice workspace. I was uncertain about exactly which guestroom type I had received until I arrived at the guestroom. I also received a 10% discount dining coupon, and my choice of bonus points or an on-property amenity. 

Whirlpool guestroom 504

This spacious guestroom is located across from the elevators. The tile bathroom was on the right after entering the guestroom. It contained a large walk-in shower, and the vanity counter extended the length of the room. Bath & Body Works amenities were provided, and the towels were good quality.

View of bathroom just inside the entrance

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Kalkaska, Michigan / All Seasons Resort

October 2016, Weekday, 1-night, King whirlpool suite 119

We stayed at All Seasons Resort because we were traveling to an area nearby, and I had won a free night's stay from West Michigan Tourism! This hotel is a good choice, if you need an overnight stay in the area. 

Reservations and check-in

I called on the telephone to make a reservation as indicated on the award certificate. The certificate I had won said it was good for any guestroom type, so I reserved a whirlpool suite. I asked if all of the whirlpool suites have a sofa in them, like the photos I had seen online, and the person I spoke with said she did not know. I told her we would prefer a sofa, if all of the rooms do not have this, and she said okay.  

Photo from website showing
sofa in background
Photo from website showing 
sofa in background

We arrived around 6:30 p.m. During check-in, I inquired whether our room has a sofa, and the front desk agent said she did not know (we prefer to watch TV sitting together, and have stayed in many guestrooms with only one sitting chair). When we got to the guestroom, we saw that there was only one soft chair in the room, and this guestroom also has a connecting room door. The front desk agent had told me there was one more guestroom of this type available, so I returned to the front desk to ask about that room. She escorted us to a guestroom at the opposite end of the hall, guestroom 103, I believe. That guestroom had the same furnishings, and it did not have a connecting room door. The agent then told me that there was a dog in the guestroom next door, so we decided to stay with the original guestroom.

Whirlpool suite 119

This guestroom is very spacious. It is on the ground floor near the end of the hall. The window faces the parking lot. It contained a small fridge, microwave, coffeemaker, flatscreen TV on an armoire, king size bed, two night stands, a telephone, soft chair, and a small dining-type table with two straight-backed chairs. There was a floor lamp in the corner by the table, two wall mounted lamps above the nightstands, and one above the armoire. An iron, ironing board, and coatrack with hangers were located near the entrance.

Supplies with the coffeemaker included local coffee from Leelanau Coffee Roasting Company--delicious!