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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Traverse City, Michigan / Hampton Inn

March 2015, Weekend, 1-night, King study guestroom with sofa bed #433

I was a bit uncertain about our choice to stay at this Hampton Inn because of the reviews I had read online. There were many comments about noise, small rooms, and that this hotel does not live up to the Hampton Inn standards. I needed one more night's stay to keep my Gold status, and I had found a great rate, so we made the reservation and hoped for the best. 

Status perks and check-in

We had reserved a king guestroom and received a king study. The agent did not say this was an upgrade because of my status, although I tend to think it was. I had written in my reservation comments that we would like a study upgrade, if available. When I tried to choose the "upgrade with points" option online before check-in, I received a message saying that nothing was available. This may have been because I did not have many points since I had recently made a couple of reservations with points. I have bonus points selected as my on-property perk, and I also received my choice of a beverage and snack. 

Guestroom 433

This guestroom is located on the top floor near the south end of the hall, and the window faces west.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Traverse City Michigan Area - Tour of Breweries & Wineries

March 2015, Saturday

We spent a full day in the Traverse City area visiting breweries and wineries, along with some walking and dining. Following is information about the places we visited and what they have to offer.

Brewery Terra Firma

Samples: Black Orchid Vanilla Bean Porter &
Ancho Chili Dutch Double Chocolate Porter
Brewery Terra Firma is a brewery, farm, and taproom (tasting room) just south of Traverse City on Hartman Road. It is pretty much located behind the Crossing Circle shopping center where Home Depot, Staples, and Office Depot are located, although there is not a road behind the shopping center. Hartman Road runs between US-31/37 and Cass Road.

This location opens at 10:00 a.m. Monday - Saturday, and it was our first stop as we were arriving from the south. It was more like a tasting room than any of the other locations.

They sell snacks (visible in the photo behind the beer samples, if you click on the photo to enlarge it), and food can be brought in or delivered to eat, as well. Beer samples were $1.50 each.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Frequent Traveler Status Changes

March 2015

March 1st is the day my status changed in a couple of guest programs, and if I keep with this less traveling way of life, I expect there will be more next year. I have updated my program status changes in the header of this blog, and this post provides further information.

Delta - status change from Gold to Silver

First, a bit of background about the travel style I had been used to - When Delta and Northwest Airlines merged in 2008 my status was Silver. Silver status with Northwest had been worthwhile before the airlines merged. After the merger, Silver status became insignificant because there are so many travelers from my home airport (GRR) with Gold status or higher. Since most flights from GRR are not direct flights, I expect that many of those travelers earn their status from segments rather than miles. In the beginning, I earned my status by miles flown, and the last two years I earned it by segments flown. My status had fluctuated between Gold and Silver for a couple of years, and then I remained a Gold flyer for the last four years years until March 1st.

We left on a trip in February 2015 and returned March 1st. My Delta status was Gold when we left, and Silver when we returned. We checked in online 24 hours before our return departure when my status was still Gold, and my boarding pass said Sky Priority on it. I was glad for that, although I was not sure if anything would be different the next day.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Cancun, Mexico / Intercontinental Presidente Cancun Resort

February 2015, Weekday-Weekend, 4-nights, Club ocean view with 2 queen beds #612

morning view from guestroom balcony

Arrival experience and status perks

We had reserved a king guestroom with points for this stay. About 10 days before our arrival, I contacted the resort via email to ask if it was possible to upgrade to a club level room. I was told that if we paid $70 plus tax per night to upgrade to a club lagoon view room, we would receive a complimentary upgrade to a club ocean view guestroom because of my Platinum elite status. A king club ocean view guestroom was not available, so we had the choice of a guestroom with two queen beds, unless we wanted a suite, which does not have a balcony. We opted for the queen room with the balcony. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Cancun, Mexico / Holiday Inn Cancun Arenas

February 2015, Weekday, 3-nights, King ocean view guestroom #2415

view from balcony
We stayed at Holiday Inn Cancun Arenas around the holidays at the end of 2011, and a review from that stay can be found here. One change I saw online before this stay, is that the words "all inclusive" have been removed from the hotel name. I think that was a good move because this hotel offers guestrooms that are all-inclusive, and they offer rates for only the guestroom. I never had a problem knowing which kind of room I was reserving, although I have read complaints from others who expected their stay to be all-inclusive, and then discovered it was not when they arrived. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Cancun, Mexico Airport and Transportation ~ Canada Transfers and between hotels

February - March 2015

Arrival experience - February 2015

Delta baggage claim

We waited a long time for our bags, because we did not know that Delta has a new process for Sky tagged luggage. I do not know if this is a new process for all International travel, or if this is only in place in some airports. We traveled to Jamaica less than two months before this trip, and our experience was different at that time.

When the bags from our flight came around on the carousel, only a couple of them had Sky Priority tags on them. After most of the bags had been delivered, I started to look around and walk over toward the Delta baggage counter. As I walked around the carousel, I observed our two bags lined up, along with several other Sky Priority bags. I do not know how long the bags had been sitting there or how they had been delivered to where they were. When we collected our bags for customs in Detroit (DTW) on the way home, I observed a sign on baggage claim #5, which said that all Sky Priority bags would be delivered at baggage claim #3. We saw no such sign stating this in Cancun, and when we returned through Atlanta (ATL) from Jamaica, Sky Priority bags had not been delivered separately.

Hotel shuttles/Canada Transfer information

We booked transportation with Canada Transfers a couple of weeks before our stay. The cost for non-shared transportation for two was $53 round-trip between the airport and our resort in the hotel zone (before tip). We would have preferred to pre-pay with a credit card, and then just pay the tip in cash upon arrival; however, that was not an option with this company. The company accepts pre-payment through Paypal only, or payment in cash upon arrival. We opted for cash upon arrival.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Grand Rapids, Michigan - GRR airport / Hilton - DoubleTree

February 2015, Weekend, 1-night, King guestroom with mini-fridge, #411

I did not realize when I made this reservation that the hotel was changing from a Hilton to a DoubleTree. We stayed at this hotel a few times when the property was a Hilton, and here are links to reviews for two of those stays: March 2011 and April 2011. At the time of this stay, the hotel was still classified as a Hilton, and some remodeling was still in process.

Status perks and check-in

I received the 1,000 bonus points I have chosen for my Hilton Honors "my way" benefit, and I received two beverage coupons. This hotel does not have an executive floor, and I was told that they could not give out a suite upgrade unless it is authorized by the sales department (I may have the department name slightly incorrect), because the suite cost is so much higher.

Guestroom 411

This guestroom is located on the top floor near the center of the west wing. The window faces the courtyard. It had been nicely remodeled; however, there was a strong scent in the hallway and in our room that smelled like glue or urethane. Since the windows in the guestroom do not open, and there was no exhaust vent in the bathroom, I returned to the front desk to inquire about a different guestroom. The only other remodeled guestroom like the type we had reserved was on the first floor in a high traffic area. The front desk agent gave me a key so I could look at the room, and see if we wanted to switch. The odor in the second guestroom was much fainter than it was in guestroom 411; however, I decided not to take it since the first floor room was located by the elevator and corner to both halls where guests would be passing by on the way to and from the lobby or lounge.