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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Kalamazoo, Michigan / Camping, Biking, Breweries, Downtown

October 2018, Weekend, 2-Nights

Michigan map on the floor at Bell's Brewery

Markin Glen County Park, Campsite #36

We decided to camp and visit Kalamazoo less than two weeks in advance. When I called the park to inquire about making a campground reservation, I was surprised to learn there were only two campsites left for the weekend we wanted to visit. We made a reservation, and when we arrived, the other open site had been filled, as well. When you make a reservation less than two weeks out, or pay when you arrive without a reservation, you need to pay in cash or by check. Credit cards are only accepted at the main county office, which takes reservations more than two weeks in advance.

Taken from island bridge in park

Monday, October 15, 2018

Newaygo, Michigan / State Park on Hardy Pond during Hot Boat Weekend

September 2018, Weeknight-weekend, 3 nights, Campsite 85

Watching boats on the river from Newaygo State Park during Hot
Boat weekend. Photo credit goes to a camping friend of mine.

Advance reservations and check-in

We made a reservation on the Michigan DNR website as soon as possible, because we wanted sites overlooking the water. The campsite photo on the state website is accurate for site 85. The photo shown for site 84 is still incorrect. The photo on their website for site 84 is actually a picture of site 85. See my previous post about this park for further details.

Watching boats on the river from Newaygo State Park 
during Hot Boat weekend 
The rate is $17 a night, and the reservation fee is $8. Although this is a state of Michigan campground, it is rustic like a state forest campground. The office was closed when we arrived Thursday evening, so we did not need to stop and check-in. Details for incoming campers with reservations were posted on the window.

View of site 85 from bank looking toward road

Thursday, October 11, 2018

West Michigan Distillery and Winery Visits

September and October 2018

A shout-out for a couple of new locations we visited this fall!

18th Amendment Spirits Co.
Picture above fireplace

18th Amendment Spirits Co. in Muskegon, Michigan

This was our first visit to the craft distillery that opened in downtown Muskegon, Michigan in 2017. We only had beverages this visit. We self-seated at a tall bar table, and each tried something from the menu. The beverages were flavorful and good quality. I hope to visit again soon for dinner, because the photos they post on Facebook look amazing! 

18th Amendment Spirits Co.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Grand Rapids, Michigan / Lodging, Dining, Brewery, Meadery, Distillery, and more!

September 2018, Weekend, 1-night, 2 days


You can find more posts about the Grand Rapids area by clicking on labels at the bottom of this post. I am sharing a few brief details about new experiences here.

View from guestroom at JW Marriott Grand Rapids

JW Marriott, 2-Queen bed guestroom #1318, Gold status

This is the first  time we have stayed in a room with two queen beds, and it is also the first time I did not receive an automatic upgrade to the concierge floor at this hotel. I did receive an upgrade to a river view guestroom. I am not sure if three adults in the room had something to do with the concierge upgrade. After I inquired, the front desk agent said there were not any concierge floor rooms available with two queen beds; however, she would code our keys for access to the lounge. We were not in the hotel that evening, so we missed the concierge social hour. It was nice to have access in the morning for speciality coffee and continental breakfast. The only difference I could see between a king and queen guestroom is that the queen guestroom contained a chair and footstool instead of a chaise lounger. Both beds were super comfy, as usual!

2-queen bed guestroom at JW Marriott in Grand Rapids
My Marriott app has not been working properly since the Marriott-Starwood merger. Following is what happened this stay: After I checked in on the app, it was still saying I needed to check-in. Additionally, the guest information showing was incorrect after I checked in; it said 1 guest on the app, and 6 guests in my website confirmation. My reservation had been made for 3 guests, and the hotel confirmed it was correct on their end. When I arrived, I was told that it showed I had checked in. I did not receive a notification that my room was ready via the app, and I never received a bill after checkout. Usually, I receive a bill via email after checking out on the app. I had the same check-in and similar checkout app experience with a recent Marriott Courtyard stay.

Hog Heaven pizza at Mitten Brewing Company

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Ludington, Michigan / Harbor View Marina, beach, shopping, boat launch, and trailer parking

August 2018, 2-nights, Harbor View Marina Slip #D24


Anchored on Lake Michigan in Ludington
This post is not very detailed, as some time has passed since our stay. I thought about skipping it; however, we learned some new information that I would like to share with others, and that I want to be able to find next time we visit.

Peter Copeyon Park boat launch and trailer parking

We learned about this boat launch when I inquired during my call to the marina to make a reservation. We liked it better than the more popular boat ramp in the arms on Lake Michigan (Loomis Street). The charge is the same at both places; $10 per launch, and overnight parking is not allowed. Peter Copeyon Park is about a 1 mile walk from Harbor View Marina, and Loomis Street ramp is just a tad closer (.8 mile). 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Columbus, Ohio / Fairfield Inn & Suites Columbus Airport

September 2018, Weeday, 1-night, King guestroom 319


Gold perks and check-in

Check-in went smoothly. The agent asked my preference for room location (yes, I had entered my requests online when I made the reservation). I told her I usually prefer a top floor corner room in a quiet area. I did not receive any extras for having Gold status, other than the automatic 250 bonus points.

Guestroom 319

This guestroom is located fairly close to the elevator on the third floor of this 4-floor hotel. If you enlarge the floor diagram farther down in this post, you can see the exact room location. During check-in, the agent had used positive words to tell me she had the perfect room for me, so I was surprised to see my room so close to the elevator. Fortunately, hallway noise was not a problem.

Bathroom in guestroom 319
This guestroom has a long entrance hall with a large bathroom off the hall. The bathroom is tile, it has a large vanity, and nice large shower with glass doors. I loved the bathroom in this guestroom! Bath amenities, good quality towels, and a hair dryer were provided.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Grand Rapids, Michigan / DoubleTree by Hilton Grand Rapids Airport

September 2018, Weekend, 1-night, King guestroom #300

I have stayed at this hotel at least four times, and this was my second stay after the property became a DoubleTree.

Gold perks and check-in

Check-in was efficient, and the DoubleTree cookie was delicious. I was impressed with the Gold perks and attention to detail at this property. I had reserved a queen guestroom, and received an automatic upgrade to a king guestroom. Two bottles of water had already been placed in the guestroom before my arrival. I also received beverage coupons to use in the lobby lounge and breakfast coupons. When the agent learned I would be leaving before breakfast in the morning, he gladly offered bonus points instead. The offer of breakfast and then points puzzled me, because I have always chosen extra bonus points for my stays, rather than breakfast. Fortunately, I checked my online profile after this stay, because all my bonus point preferences had been lost or reset, and continental breakfast or snack was checked under "my way" preferences. If I had paid closer attention to my receipts and points as they posted this year, I would have noticed this sooner. This change had been made sometime between the middle of February 2018 and the beginning of May 2018. I changed my choices back to points, and will pay closer attention going forward.

Guestroom 300

King guestroom 300

This guestroom is on the third floor at the end of the hall. The room location further reflects staff member's attention to detail, because I always request a top floor room in the corner or at the end of the hall, as it is usually quieter. I think I have stayed in this exact room before when this property was a Hilton; however, I could not find a previous post for this guestroom. Sometimes, when I get busy, I do not always post a review after my stay. Guestroom 411, which I previously stayed in at this DoubleTree, seems like a slightly larger room with a small fridge.