Friday, September 10, 2010

Trip Report - Alaska First Class SEA-SFO

Here is what's being served for Breakfast to San Francisco on the early flight from Seattle on Alaska Airlines (First Class meal) - its good, but the hollandaise sauce is a bit heavy.

Alaska Airlines First Class Meal Sep 2010

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

SYD - Marriott Hotel

Sydney Marriott
36 College Street
Sydney, New South Wales 2010 Australia
Phone: 61 2 9361 8400
Fax: 61 2 9361 8599

Trip Report and Hotel Review - Sydney Marriott

Note: there is another Marriott in Sydney, the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay.

I have stayed at this hotel before (in 2001) and not much has changed. The rooms are nice, clean but still a bit outdated. However, the promotional rate online was too low to pass up for this hotel (about $100USD a night). Plus this hotel is pretty central to everything in Sydney. 

The hotel sits near the intersection of College and Oxford streets and is right across the street from Hyde Park in the CBD. The hotel is a basic Marriott design, nice lobby - with a bar and restaurant. There are 241 rooms plus 13 suites.

I was in Room 9001 - which is on the non-view side and a bit smaller than the other rooms on the floor. It looked like the X001 - X003 rooms are the smallest, plus you can see into the room from the far side of nearby Elevator waiting area.

The rooms are typical of Sydney hotel rooms: very basic bed, couch+table, Flat Screen TV, desk, in room safe and a small but handy kitchenette area.

The bathrooms are very large with a huge tub/shower area.

The room service was very speedy and had a decent selection of food. My only issue was the internet was still pretty costly ($24.95AUD per 24 hours) and the wireless connection was hopeless around 5pm-7pm each night -- maybe too many users?

As mentioned there is a kticheenette in the room -- but no laundry machine (unlike the Medina or Meriton Serviced Apartments). After a week long trip, its nice to be able to wash some clothes for the return journey.

Rooms on the 9th floor have a decent view -- even though my room was not on the Park. The windows do open so you can get some fresh air if needed.

Not a bad place -- but there are some better options in Sydney if you are staying for more than 4 nights. The hotel is also due for some updating on room decor, but otherwise its clean and friendly.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Old Terminal C in SJC closes

Well its out with the old and in with the new at San Jose International Airport this week.

Gone is the old Terminal C (built in the 1960's) and IN is the new, fancy, probably overbuilt terminal B.  Terminal C was from a different era -- here is what I remember from it over the past 30 years, most of these have been shut down or are long gone -- replaced by "improvements":

- Super close-in short term parking (literally across the road from the terminal)
- Walkable Rental Car location next to Baggage claim (no buses, long "tram" rides)
- A real open-air Observation Deck
- Ticket counters located directly infront of bag holding areas (no long bag belts carrying your bags for miles)
- And course the open-air walk out to the plane 

Anyway, I know post-9/11 "security" and traffic growth changed the Airport facilities model forever. I just wish some of these airport managers would take into account some simple requirements for new improvements -- keep it simple and conveinent for travelers and airlines.

Some video from CBS5:

Photo of America West 737-100 (!) at SJC during the late 1980's

Airstairs used to board a Morris Air 737-300 at SJC

Monday, June 14, 2010

DCA - Radisson National Airport

Radisson Hotel Reagan National Airport
2020 Jefferson Davis Highway
Arlington VA 22202, USA

The Radisson DCA is located on Jefferson Davis Highway near the other DCA hotels in Crystal City. The Van pick-up was pretty quick on the lower level of the Airport. Check-in was very fast and its clear they are used to the airport-hotel crowd, letting folks know when the restaurant opens in the morning, etc. 

My room was on the top floor - but I think I got the "priceline" room, which was a smaller handicap room at the end of the hallway -- next to the service elevator. Even on the top floor there isn't much of a view.

The bathroom was very large and had just a handicap shower -- no bathtub, but that was fine.

The room was well appointed, but no sleep number bed -- just a regular mattress on the basic bed.

My TV remote had some dead batteries, so I called down for a replacement. I also ordered room service about a minute later. After 30 minutes my dinner arrived and about a minute later a new TV remote arrived -- not sure why it took so long for the remote. The room also has a microwave, and mini-fridge, plus a free bottle of water. Wired internet is FREE (there was a wire in the desk drawer).

There are a couple different dining options within walking distance of this hotel -- so don't feel like room service is the only option.

The Crystal City Metro station is a quick 2 1/2 block walk away. I would probably stay here again -- but any of the DCA Hotels are probably just as good. The Hampton Inn is right next door and offers free breakfast in the Morning -- while the Radisson offered some decent Coffee in the lobby.

The hotel is good for business travelers meeting in Crystal City, Arlington or the Pentagon.

LAS - Suncoast

Suncoast Casino
9090 Alta Drive
Las Vegas, NV 89145

Hotel review and trip report - Suncoast Hotel and Casino

I have stayed at this hotel a couple times of the past few years. Its an very off-strip casino hotel that is near the Summerlin area of Las Vegas. If you are looking for a walkable, Strip experience this hotel is not for you. However, if you are traveling to Vegas for business and want a large, clean and cheap hotel room in a 3.5 star hotel -- this place is for you.

The hotel offers 10 floors of rooms - with suites being on the top floor. The regular rooms are very large (550 square feet) -- almost Jr Suites with a bed, sofa, table, and oversized bathroom. The windows are floor to ceiling which makes the rooms even more roomy.

The hotel offers two different views -- a strip view and golf view. The Strip side rooms are really only good if you are on a higher floor, otherwise you could end up with a view of the roof of the casino.

The golf view rooms offer a view of Angel Park golf course and the 5-star JW Marriott/Rampart Casino just up the street.

The rooms are seeing a bit of wear and tear from opening day in 2000. Gone are the real room glasses, replaced by plastic water glasses in the bathroom.

The towels are basic hotel towels. The rooms are decorated in vegas-y colors and decor.

Room TV were replaced a couple years ago with 42" Plasma flat TV and rooms now include a mini-fridge and in-room safe. There is a workable desk plus another table to work from.

There are a couple places to dine in the hotel including an oyster bar, Mexican Restaurant, Steak House, Basic Diner and a TGIFridays. The casino is a bit smokey compared to Strip Casinos -- you will see more Seniors as this is a "locals casino".

The hotel does charge a "resort fee" of $5 a day -- which seems to be a new trend in Vegas. This is not really a "resort" as there is a very small pool and little else resort-like.

- Easy access (right off Summerlin Parkway & Rampart) and tons of close parking
- BIG rooms, compared to most strip hotels
- Clean and well-maintained (for the most part)
- Usually cheap - room rates about $39 on weekdays
- Good restaurants nearby at Boca Park Shopping area

- A bit smokey in the casino which you have to walk-through
- OFF the strip -- not really for tourists (unless you like take a long free shuttle ride)
- Small Pool

Friday, May 28, 2010

Trip Report - United Seattle to SFO (A320 ex-Ted)

United ex-Ted Airbus A320
Seattle to San Francisco Non-stop - 6 am departure

Trip Report and Review - United Airlines SEASFO, First Class

I got a rare upgrade between SEA-SFO due to an upgrade of equipment (A319 was replaced by an ex-TED A320). The first class cabin is configured a bit differently from the usual A320s. I was in Seat 3C

There is no closet in First Class on this plane, so the coats are hung up behind row 3 seats on a solid bulkhead - however the bulkhead doesn’t go to the floor for some reason.

There are no power ports - otherwise its the normal “new” leather first class seats.

The overhead bin space is a bit better than an A319, even 1CD have some overhead space above them.

Sadly the 6am SEASFO meal service is still just a drink and a puffy packet of 2 small cookies. Alaska still has a BIG leg up on United for First Class on this route, with a nice Fruit/danish plate.

Inflights were nice and watched over the mostly sleeping cabin fairly often. Better than usual United inflight service.

The flight left on-time and got into SFO 20mins early -- upon arrival the Pilot promptly announced that we all remember we got in early for the “next time we are late”. Oddly, my return flight to Seattle is was about an hour late.

SFO - Hotel Palomar

Hotel Palomar- A Kimpton Hotel
12 4th Street
San Francisco, CA

Room 522

Hotel Review and Trip Report - Palomar

I have stayed at this hotel about 4 years ago and not much has changed, but thats a good thing. The hotel staff is friendly and accommodating, the Kimptons touches are still here and the location isnt half bad. It is still a 4-star hotel in my book.

My (priceline) room was on the Fifth Floor -- the lowest floor of the hotel. The fifth floor also hosts the (once very-hard-to-get-into) Fifth Floor Restaurant. The Restaurant seems to have lost most of its glamorous status and the employees looked a bit more “relaxed” compared to its once top notch status. The 5th floor of the hotel also has the business center and fitness center.

Room 522 is an outside facing room. The room is on the Market Street side and directly above the huge Old Navy store entrance below. The room windows are double windows which block almost all the noise, but I could still hear an amateur plastic pail drummer outside my room trying to earn tips until about 9pm. The next two nights were very peaceful -- much of this due to the fact that President Obama was staying across the street in the Marriott Marque. The cops had cleared much of the traffic and street folks from the area. The Palomar did give each guest a “sorry hassle with the President” gift bag -- very nice touch!

This hotel occupies a very old San Francisco building, making some of the floors uneven in spots. Unfortunately - my bed had a huge sag in the middle due to the uneven floors -- and lots of use. But I was pretty tired each night, so I just sunk into the saggy bed every night.

The bed was my only issue with the hotel - otherwise the room was fine, everything worked and it was clean and mostly in pretty good shape. No coffee marker in the room - BUT free Coffee/Tea service starts at 6:00am near the Fifth floor restaurant.

The Palomar does host a free nightly wine tasting at 5pm each night on the Fifth Floor. Plus they offer the other usual Kimpton perks.

The location is good - the Apple Store, Union Square and SF Centre are all within a block of the hotel. The hotel is right next to the Powell MUNI/BART station. In addition, there are two Starbucks close by plus a Walgreens on Market Street.

View Larger Map