travel

Hotel Review: Rodeway Inn and Suites, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Happy Sunday, friends! Here is my overdue review of the hotel that I used when I went on my cruise in October.

Prior to, and immediately after, my cruise, I stayed at the Rodeway Inn and Suites Fort Lauderdale Airport and Port Everglades Cruise Port Hotel (now that’s a mouthful!). I selected this hotel because it offered quite a few attractive amenities. Firstly, it was close to the airport and featured a free shuttle service. This service picked up and dropped off guests at both the airport and the cruise port. As someone that has paid for several shuttles to get around before boarding a cruise ship, I appreciated the complimentary service provided by the Rodeway Inn.

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Secondly, the hotel had a complimentary breakfast for guests. The breakfast was available for several hours each day, so it serviced both the early birds as well as the slightly late risers. The offerings weren’t luxe – it was just a step up from a continental breakfast – but it was nice to get some fresh fruit, pastries and coffee before heading out for the day.

Thirdly, the hotel offered a very reasonably priced early check-in option. Since we got to Florida well in advance of the standard check-in time, it was nice to pay the small fee and get into our rooms early. Finally, the hotel had a laundry room on site, as well as a gift shop and restaurant. With so many of amenities at the hotel, I truly didn’t need to go anywhere else to get the things that I needed during my stay.

Now, here’s my review of the staff and room.

The staff was excellent! The ladies at the front desk were all friendly, professional and thorough. They made sure that we knew everything we needed to have a comfortable stay and a seamless transit to the ship and airport. If only all hotel staff would be so spectacular!

The room was clean and adequately sized. I especially liked the fact that the room did not have carpeted floors: while most hotels do an excellent job of keeping carpets clean, I’ve seen a few that made me cringe. The floors at the Rodeway Inn were spotless. The bathrooms, too, were immaculately cleaned. I breathed a deep sigh of relief when I saw how much care had gone into preparing our room.

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In a nutshell, I enjoyed my stay and I will return. The convenience of a complimentary shuttle, combined with great service and a good breakfast, are fantastic reasons to return!

travel

Review: Hyatt Regency Washington on Capital Hill

A couple weeks ago, when I attended the event at the Haitian Embassy, I stayed in DC so that I wouldn’t have to drive home late. I reserved a room at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capital Hill, a hotel that is walking distance from my job. I was impressed with the friendly staff that welcomed me as I walked into the hotel.

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I went to the front desk and was greeted graciously by a charming young lady (I wish I could remember her name – I’d give her a proper shoutout if I could!). The only downside with my check-in experience was getting to my room: the elevator took FOREVER to get to the lobby. However, the hotel is doing some renovations so the elevator delays are to be expected. Aside from that, it was a smooth check-in process.

The room was comfortable, beautiful and quiet. I really liked the immaculate restroom and super comfy bed. Sadly, I didn’t spend much time in the room, since I left out early the next morning. But the time I spent in there was wonderfully restorative.

This was a good hotel experience overall: the location is great, the room was lovely, and I had a great night’s rest there. I’d love to visit again!

relaxation · travel

Review: TownePlace Suites Hotel in Cary, NC

 

I’ve been to Raleigh numerous times, but when I visit, I stay in Cary, a small incorporated town bordering the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area. Every time I visit, I stay at the TownePlace Suites, a cozy aparthotel that meets all of my needs.

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Quiet? Check!

Conveniently located? Check!

Reasonably priced? Check!

Ample amenities? Check!

Eligible for reward points? Check!

I always love my stays here and I’ve raved about it each and every time. However, I wasn’t blogging when I’ve visited previously. So now that I’ve had a recent visit, I can finally share this information with you all!

Instead of adding a bunch of photos, you can check out this video room tour. I stayed in the studio-style suite with an “office” (it had a desk area). If you’re ever in the area, I can’t recommend this hotel enough!

travel

Review: Microtel Inn and Suites, Philadelphia Airport

Even though I adore luxury experiences and love sharing those reviews with you, it’s important that I try a variety of things because you may find it necessary to scale back the luxe and enjoy more economical experiences.

 In this spirit of this, I am reviewing a lower priced hotel in the Philadelphia area. I stayed at the Microtel Inn and Suites near Philadelphia International Airport (on Tinicum Drive). The hotel is modest but boasts a continental breakfast, close proximity to the airport, and free wifi.

I reserved a room with a double bed, and I was impressed with the simplicity and tidiness of the room upon settling in. However, there were a few issues that I want to note, for anyone interested in visiting this location.

 For starters, only the suites have microwaves, coffeemakers and refrigerators. Since my room technically wasn’t a suite, there was no way to preserve the takeout that I ordered. Also, the walls are very thin: I heard the television next to my room for quite a few hours. I know that complete soundproofing isn’t possible – nor is it desirable – but I would have enjoyed a quieter stay (for the record, the room next door did turn off/turn down the TV before 12 AM, so I didn’t have to listen to their set all night).

The main issue came after my first night at the hotel. The following morning, I went to use the internet and . . . it wasn’t working. I contacted the front desk and I was advised that they were aware of the issue but they were waiting on a technician to resolve it. It took nearly 4 hours (from the time I woke up around 6:30 AM to sometime before 11 AM) for the internet to be fixed. It wouldn’t have been a major issue except I needed to access systems for my job and send reports. I ended up using my cell phone as a hot spot, but that is my least favorite way of accessing the internet.

My overall takeaway is this: Microtel Inn and Suites Philadelphia Airport location is fine for one night, two maximum. It works out just fine for someone that may need to rest before continuing on their journey, or if you’re traveler that plans to just crash for the night after having a whirlwind tour of the city.

life curation · travel

Review: Drury Inn and Suites Charlotte Arrowood

During my last trip to Charlotte, I stayed at the Drury Inn and Suites in Charlotte’s Arrowood neighborhood. This location is conveniently located directly off of I-77 and is close to lots of Charlotte’s great restaurants and shopping.

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Photo from the Drury Hotels website

There are so many “pros” and only one or two “cons” from my stay. Firstly, the restaurant location is convenient and it has plenty of amenities (indoor AND outdoor pools, whirlpool, 24 hour gym and fitness center, hot breakfast and happy hour, free wi-fi, ample free parking, etc.,).

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The bed, so comfy, and there were plenty of pillows, too.

The room was comfortable and immaculately clean. I really enjoyed the product dispensers in the shower: no more mini-bottles slipping through your fingers when your hands are soapy. For curly girls, the conditioner dispenser is a godsend: you can finally use the hotel conditioner without having to ask housekeeping for extra bottles (ask me how I know about this struggle!)

Photos from the bathroom

The breakfast was tasty and had a lot of variety. Kudos to this hotel for having more than two waffle irons available for customer use. Also, the smell of fresh popcorn in the lobby (it’s available until 9 PM every night) was heavenly.

Now, I did mention that there were one or two “cons”. We contacted housekeeping to receive a few extra clean towels and it took nearly two hours to receive them. To the hotel’s credit, it was earlier in the day, so I’m assuming that the housekeeping staff was just busier than normal. Also, it’s a lower-cost hotel, so don’t expect super luxury. That’s not a true “con” in my opinion: after all, the hotel exceeded my expectations for the price point.

Overall, I loved staying at the Drury Inn and Suites. I recommend them and will stay again in the future!

international · travel

Review: Ibis Styles Nairobi Westlands Hotel

During my incredible trip to Nairobi, I stayed at the Ibis Styles Hotel in the Westlands neighborhood. The recently remodeled hotel is a member of the Accor Hotels family. It is modern, secure and tastefully appointed. I stayed for a week, so I’m pretty comfortable mentioning the pros and cons of the hotel as I experienced it.

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The rooms are small but comfortable. The view isn’t particularly incredible but it’s a major city, so you should expect to see lots of buildings and not a ton of lush greenery. Oh, it was kind of nice to look down from the room and see schoolchildren playing during recess. I could even hear them when the television was turned off: it was fun hearing them laugh.

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Room photo as available on the Accor Hotels website

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Views from my window

The hotel security is top notch, quick and pleasant. Had I chosen to drive, I could have parked there for free all week (that’s a big plus!). The hotel has a restaurant on site that served incredible meals (I chose half board, so breakfast and dinner were included in the price of the room). There was also a small cafe that served quick, tasty snacks and small meals. Sadly, these options weren’t available after 11 PM, so if you want to nibble late at night, you’ll either have to stash goodies in your room or be prepared to go out and grab a bite.

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Utamu is the hotel’s restaurant, and Sky Bar is the Cafe

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Some of the meals I enjoyed during my stay

One of the advantages of this hotel is the excellent insect control: the room did not have – nor did it need – mosquito nets. During the entire stay, I didn’t experience any bug bites. That may have been because I visited during dry season, but my hunch is that the hotel has a stellar repellant setup to make up mosquito nets unnecessary.

Now, as great as this hotel was, there were some drawbacks. For starters, there is NO space for storing clothing. There are no dressers, and very little hanger space in the room. But what it lacks in storage space it makes up for in room under the beds: it was easy to slide my luggage out of sight. There are also no in-room refrigerators, so you’re limited to room-temp snacks (not a big deal, unless you plan on staying for more than a few days). There is also no in-room iron or ironing board, though there is an ironing room on the floor. Every time I went to iron my clothing, no one else was in there, so I’m guessing this setup works for most people.

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Painting in my room

The room shower gets hot enough (yay for that!) but the drainage isn’t so good: water puddled and spilled out of the bathroom no matter how hard I tried to prevent it. That’s a design flaw that I don’t anticipate will be fixed any time soon. However, it was easy to contact room service and get more towels as needed.

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Mirror detailing in the room

Also, despite describing itself as having an exchange counter, the staff seemed uncomfortable and confused about exchanging US dollars for Kenyan shillings. Their rate is MUCH higher than going to the ATM at the mall that I visited (The Hub in the Karen neighborhood). It’s easier and more cost efficient to withdraw from the ATM than to exchange money at the hotel. Not a con, per se, but something I’ll remember during my next visit.

So, would I return to Ibis Style Hotel in Westlands? Yes, absolutely! The pros far outweighed any cons, and I was pleased with my stay overall. The only way I’d consider a different hotel in Nairobi is if I planned to stay longer than ten days: I need a dresser in my room LOL!

art · international

International Art: Tom Mboya, Kenyan Artist

While vacationing in Kenya, I noticed that my hotel (Ibis Styles in Nairobi’s Westlands neighborhood) had beautiful artwork lining the stairwells. Upon closer inspection, I saw that all of the paintings – about 30 in total, displayed in sets of 3 amongst 10 different floors – were done by Tom Mboya.

My curiosity kicked into overdrive and I started researching Mboya. As it so happens, Tom Mboya is a local Kenyan artist (no surprise there) that started out working in the hospitality industry before pursuing his art fulltime. The paintings are stunning and lively; from dynamic depictions of life in Kenya to breathtaking portraits of his countrywomen, these paintings draw you in and hold you captive.

Here are a few of my favorites from the hotel:

 

 

If you’d like to learn more about Mboya, check out his artist profile here.

 

culture · travel

Review of the Hilton Charlotte Executive Park

This past weekend, I stayed in Charlotte, NC to attend a kizomba weekender and to spend time with one of my best friends. We stayed at the Hilton Charlotte Executive Park on Westpark Drive.

The hotel is easy to locate; it’s less than two minutes from the Tyvola Road exit on I-77. It’s a 3- star, moderately priced property that’s conveniently located near lots of attractions and is a short drive from downtown Charlotte.

If I haven’t mentioned it on this blog before, let this be the first time I tell you all this little fact about me: I love fountains. So seeing the fountain right in front of the building was a good sign for me:

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The room was lovely and comfortable. The only drawback was that there wasn’t a microwave in our suite. No worries – we used the microwave in the Market, where guests could purchase snacks and beverages. The hotel staff was understanding and even joked that our reheated food had the lobby smelling delicious! Here are some view from the lobby:

 

And naturally, here’s the obligatory bathroom toiletry shot (seems to be a “thing” with me):

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The suite was spacious and pristine. Aside from the microwave issue, I only had one other tiny “complaint”: I couldn’t connect to the wifi all weekend! It was a blessing in disguise, though: I was able to really focus on connecting with people offline. And who couldn’t use more face-to-face connection? For that reason, I didn’t even bother asking the hotel staff for assistance with the wifi.

I really had a great stay! I’d definitely return, uncooperative wifi and microwave oven and all!

luxury · travel

Review of the Omni Shoreham Hotel

Several weeks ago, I stayed in Washington, DC while I handled some assignments at the office. For this stay, I stayed in Omni Shoreham Hotel near the National Zoo. On my previous DC trip, I stayed at The Fairfax at Embassy Row.

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For starters, the hotel is beautiful and conveniently located near the Metrorail (Woodley Park – Zoo Metro Station). I found that the concierge and check-in staff were gracious and warm. The hotel is very large, and I was guided to the wing where my suite was located.

The room was simple but elegantly appointed. I found out that my room also had a balcony that had a beautiful view of the District (unfortunately, I didn’t get any high quality photos while standing on the balcony). The bathroom was a bit smaller than I experienced in other hotels, but what it lacked in size, it made up for in pristine cleanliness and luxurious touches.

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This hotel is described as a four-star property by the Five Star Alliance, and I fully agree. The room, amenities, and excellent service and hospitality made me a fan of the Omni Shoreham Hotel. I can’t wait to return!

 

luxury · travel

Review of The Fairfax at Embassy Row

I’m feeling so much better! A weekend of rest and care really did the trick. Now that I’m back to my normal self, I can finally post this review of my stay at The Fairfax at Embassy Row Hotel, in Washington, DC.

A few weeks ago, I stayed in DC to attend an event hosted by the Embassy of Kenya. Since I don’t live in DC or in any of the surrounding cities, I booked a room at The Fairfax for convenience. Also, I was overdue for a luxe experience, and since The Fairfax is a five-star hotel, I thought I’d be in for a treat.

I arrived the afternoon before my event and I was struck by the beauty of the lobby. I was greeted by the reception desk staff but it was not quite the warm, welcoming experience that I had at other hotels (the staff I encountered when I checked out, however, was far more affable). I received my room key and instructed on the location of the elevator, but that was it. Normally, especially with four- or five-star hotels, the desk staff that checks in guests tends to offer a bit of a concierge flavor: you can expect them to make you aware of any amenities as well as give you one or two local attractions or points of interest. I didn’t receive any of that. I also factored in whether there were other guests waiting to be checked in after me, but no, that wasn’t the case, either. The staff when I checked in was just mediocre: not spectacular but not awful, either.

I arrived at my room and I found it charming. The bathroom was beautifully designed and the rest of the room was classically appointed. It didn’t strike me as particularly luxurious, but it was lovely and tasteful.

I wanted to try the toiletries provided by the hotel, but the smell was overpowering. The scent of the soap, shampoo and conditioner was “Warm Oak” and it smelled like a high quality men’s cologne. I wish the hotel had opted for unscented or more neutral-scented toiletries for the rooms (to be fair, the hotel may offer unscented/neutral-scented toiletries, but I didn’t inquire about the availability).

The shower was heavenly, and the bed was comfortable. The Fairfax at Embassy Row also provided some very handy USB charging ports (I wish more hotels would make this standard in all rooms). However, you will need to bring your hot spot with you, unless you want to pay $12.95 for daily wireless internet usage. I’m still amazed that two- and three-star hotels offer free WiFi fairly consistently, but more luxurious hotels almost always charge for such a basic service within the rooms. However, public WiFi is available in the lobby, restaurant and lounge.

I took the Metro to The Fairfax, so I have no experience with the valet service. I also didn’t dine in The Capital Room restaurant or The Fairfax Grille and Lounge. My experience was pretty much all about the lobby, the elevator, and the room!

I checked out the morning after I attended the embassy event and, as I briefly mentioned, the reception staff that checked me out of my room was delightful. Checking out was easy and uncomplicated.

Would I stay at The Fairfax at Embassy Row again? Sure, especially since it is so close to the embassies. I don’t know that I would recommend it highly to anyone seeking a truly luxe experience; perhaps I missed the details that made this hotel qualify as a Five-Star location (per the Five Star Alliance).

Have any of you stayed at The Fairfax at Embassy Row? Did you all feel the “five-star”-ness of the hotel? If there was something I missed, let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you all!