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Old 05-12-2012, 11:57 AM   #21
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Al, you have finally (almost) seen the light. No international travel, no RVs or camping; it all sounds sensible to me. When you post that you are just as happy staying in a Holiday Inn as in those fancy hotels, you will have achieved the nirvana of W2R-like vacationing-habits.
I thought Holiday Inn (Express type) was pretty nice. Maybe not fancy (= pricey ?), but the ones we've been in were up to date, clean, and had decent light breakfast options.

Another thought regarding eating on vacations, it seems the challenge is to not overeat so one really enjoys the next meal time. Nothing like good food and a good appetite.
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Old 05-12-2012, 03:21 PM   #22
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A few years ago we went to a cozy lodge to relax and read our books. However, the lights in the room were 40 watts, so not bright enough to read by, the phone at the nearby desk was ringing all the time, and the cozy fireplace in the lobby had a widescreen TV with 24 hour news going. So, on that trip, we thought "We could be doing this better at home."

I'm not sure what I'm expecting in an expensive 5-star hotel as compared with a Holiday Inn. Perhaps I'm picturing the hotel in Pretty Woman.

We stayed at a very fancy hotel in St. Louis, but they still made the mistake of calling us at 1:30 AM to tell us that our delayed luggage had arrived from the airport.

So, what does one get in a five-star hotel?
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Old 05-12-2012, 03:31 PM   #23
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Welcome to the dark side Al. DW and I like to eat out at good restaurants and stay at nice places when we travel. Even bike riding, we like to take a VBT trip most years - they are basically luxury for the LBYM crowd (compared to Butterfield and Backroads).
I always think about how that fancy hotel allowed you to bring your bikes into the room.
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Old 05-12-2012, 03:35 PM   #24
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We travel local and eat nice often enough. We're blessed with all the hotel/casinos in Reno and we can stay in some nice rooms and eat at some fancy places and never leave the building. It's a nice change of pace and with the new ballpark, that is an option too and only 90 minutes from home.

Agree on the camping. It lost it's luster after we moved to the country. It's so much quieter, darker and more comfortable at our house. Barking dogs, screaming babies, people driving around all hours of the night looking for sites. We enjoyed our travel trailer, but we had a few go to spots were it was never crowded, but it was just easier to stay at home, not to mention the schedules of teenagers left us little time to go.
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Old 05-12-2012, 04:24 PM   #25
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So, what does one get in a five-star hotel?

High prices?

Name dropping?

Bragging rights?

omni
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Old 05-12-2012, 04:52 PM   #26
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So, what does one get in a five-star hotel?
I was in Portland in February, stayed at at $69/night Ramada, and slept like a baby, and there was coffee and food (free) available downstairs 24 hours a day. (which was good because with the time difference I was waking up every day at 2AM instead of 5AM).

Two weeks ago I was in Boston, and stayed at a $400/night hotel in Cambridge, and left and went home early because I found it so uncomfortable, plus when I got up at 5AM, I had to walk a mile to find a cup of coffee...
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Old 05-12-2012, 05:58 PM   #27
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T-Al,

Back when I was w*rking, I spent a few nights in some top-notch hotels (Enchantment Spa in Sedona, AZ and Spa Julianna in Interlaken, Switzerland for example). Both of these hotels belonged to the Leading Hotels in the World....meaning they were featured in a glossy magazine with other similar luxury hotels. At the time (12 years ago), I spent $350/night for my room.

For the record, most of my many business travel stays were at more modest places (Holiday Inns, Marriot Hotels, etc.).

At the luxury hotels, the rooms were larger (in some cases, complete suites), better furnished and decorated. They had plush bath robes, large & plush towels, makeup mirrors, and umbrellas in the room. The toiletries provided were first class -- with unique 'boutique' soaps, etc. One room had a tiny flat screen TV in the bathroom, a Bose Wave radio, and Aeron chair. One room even had a potted orchid on the desk.

Their staffs were more service-oriented. But I really didn't care for their digging around in my suitcase, looking for my sleepwear to place on the bed as part of the turn-down service (along with a mint on the pillow).

The food was first class. The bar service was very attentive and we got some very nice snacks to go along with our expensive drinks

I never had time to use the spa facilities, but a quick walk-through yielded the impression of a very fancy spa (and prices to match).

The clientele appeared to be classy --- quiet and well-dressed.

The buildings, walkways and grounds were impeccably maintained.

etc. etc.

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Old 05-12-2012, 06:18 PM   #28
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Al, I think you need to switch to Bed and Breakfast stays. I have stayed in 50 B&B's from Marin to Mendocino mostly in the wine country. The folks that use B&B's are like us, interesting pleasant travelers who share experiences, best places to eat, and go to bed quietly at an early hour, and all their children are above average. Wait that's Lake Wobegon.
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:07 PM   #29
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Thanks, you guys have saved me money on the five-star hotel idea -- more to spend on dinners and other stuff.

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Al, I think you need to switch to Bed and Breakfast stays.
That's a good idea, but there are two problems for me.

First, I don't necessarily want to socialize with the B&B owners and other guests. It's fine, but not my thing.

Second, the breakfast part is going to be mostly pancakes, waffles, muffins, nonfat milk, fruit, and freshly squeezed OJ. These are things that we don't eat.

Here's Lena in 2008 in a B&B on the San Juan islands back when we ate those things:



(Blog from our trip there).

That B&B was very nice, but almost too nice. Everything felt so perfect, that I was afraid to make something dirty. From the blog:

A quick drive from the ferry terminal, and we check into the Edenwild bed and breakfast. "Edenwild" is Old English for "Martha Stuart on Steroids." Everything is so immaculate that they had to wrap me in a garbage bag before I could come in.
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:21 PM   #30
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Al, I think the answer is boutique hotels . They are small hotels jazzed up . The kimpton group has a bunch of them . Very nice rooms usually in urban locations , great service with free wine . We have been to several of them and they have become our favorite hotels .
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Old 05-12-2012, 07:58 PM   #31
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Thanks, you guys have saved me money on the five-star hotel idea -- more to spend on dinners and other stuff.

That's a good idea, but there are two problems for me.

First, I don't necessarily want to socialize with the B&B owners and other guests. It's fine, but not my thing.
DW thinks this way too. Hence we only stay at an occasional B&B.

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Second, the breakfast part is going to be mostly pancakes, waffles, muffins, nonfat milk, fruit, and freshly squeezed OJ. These are things that we don't eat.
I'm curious, what's your preferred breakfast? Let me guess, Bacon + bacon?

Actually some B&B's we've stayed at seemed to feature very rich tasting breakfasts (some with sauces) that were a bit too much for me.
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:15 PM   #32
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I'm guessing it will be cheaper unless we really go upscale.

Lena's on board, but had a funny quote: "my friends are going to Tahiti and Italy, and we're going for a weekend in Portland.
Well, if it is any month but June give me a PM and lets get together!
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Old 05-12-2012, 08:37 PM   #33
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I'm guessing it will be cheaper unless we really go upscale.

Lena's on board, but had a funny quote: "my friends are going to Tahiti and Italy, and we're going for a weekend in Portland.
That may be women's code for this is not what I think a vacation should be .
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:31 PM   #34
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I'm curious, what's your preferred breakfast? Let me guess, Bacon + bacon?
Yup. Usually bacon and eggs. Or an omelette.
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Old 05-12-2012, 09:39 PM   #35
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First, I don't necessarily want to socialize with the B&B owners and other guests. It's fine, but not my thing....

That B&B was very nice, but almost too nice. Everything felt so perfect, that I was afraid to make something dirty.
OK, I an see the not feeling like having to do 'forced socializing' when on vacation. Now, I consider myself a pretty tough guy to please, but complaining because the room is too clean? I really cannot relate.

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Old 05-12-2012, 11:04 PM   #36
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Old 05-12-2012, 11:22 PM   #37
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A few years ago we went to a cozy lodge to relax and read our books. However, the lights in the room were 40 watts, so not bright enough to read by, the phone at the nearby desk was ringing all the time, and the cozy fireplace in the lobby had a widescreen TV with 24 hour news going. So, on that trip, we thought "We could be doing this better at home."
Several years ago we stayed at Bangkok's Dusit Thani, where we had a suite with a luxurious livingroom. Back then we were paying about $50/night. The master bathroom tub was nearly big enough to swim in. The room service was actually on our floor at our beck & call... we'd come back from an afternoon shopping trip to find that the room had been picked up (for the second or third time that day) and the fruit bowl had been refilled. Free buffet breakfast every morning, including an omelette bar. All the other hotel amenities-- pool, gym, bars, restaurants, meeting facilities.

We decided that a suite works out way better for us because I can get up several hours earlier than everyone else and have a place in the living room (rather than the lobby) to sit with a cup of coffee and a laptop. If one of us wants an afternoon nap then everyone else can still watch TV or hang out without disturbing the sleeper.

So when my cousin had his wedding at Austin's downtown Omni Hotel, with special package pricing for the guests, I reserved a suite for me & spouse with a spare bedroom for our daughter. Through one comedy of errors after another (Seinfeld: "But I had a reservation!") we ended up being upgraded to the presidential suite: a 2BR/3BA 1400 sq ft apartment. Contents included three LCD TVs, a wet bar, armoires, bathrobes, king-size beds with two ZIP codes, artwork... almost embarrassingly over the top. It actually had a study between the livingroom and the bedroom, filled with built-in bookshelves and books. (Remember Reader's Digest "condensed books"?) Everything was ceramic tile, granite, dark wood, and leather. The entry "door" was a double-width door leading to an entryway leading to the livingroom. We had my cousin's entire clan hanging out in the livingroom with seating for 12. You had to use your room key in the elevator to get it to stop on your floor. The floor had its own central dining area with free breakfast and free happy-hour pupus.

The bad news was that we were one floor below the renovations which caused the reservation snafu. Lots of tile-jackhammer noise during the three days were were there.

As we're tried to rent suites (studio or 2BR) for family vacations over the years, we've noticed that many corporate apartments are competitively priced in cities-- even cheaper-- for a one-week stay. It can be hard to find the company but many VRBO listings are put up by these companies, or the apartment property manager has their contact info. Sometimes it's two entrepreneurs with cell phones, other times it's a company with a hundred apartment subleases scattered across a dozen complexes. The advantage is that you get a real apartment, fully furnished and with a functioning kitchen. You can get your own groceries when you arrive or (for an additional fee) ask the property mgt to stock the fridge. It's just a short-term apartment lease with all the comforts of home.

We're going to do something similar for all the relatives when our daughter graduates from college-- a place just a couple miles from campus, easy access to local restaurants, and a nice walking neighborhood.
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Old 05-13-2012, 03:17 AM   #38
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I am pleased it works for you. For some reason I always feel "guilty" when I eat at expensive restaurants... not sure why.
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Travel not so far and stay at a fancy hotel and eat at expensive restaurants.
We did this recently, and it worked out well.
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Old 05-13-2012, 07:59 AM   #39
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I am pleased it works for you. For some reason I always feel "guilty" when I eat at expensive restaurants... not sure why.
What spending level does the guilt start at?

Expensive for us might be in the $75 including tip for two range. Generally the bill at a nice out of town restaurant might run around $50 - $60 for us. I rarely drink wine at restaurants because generally I'm the designated driver. We are generally too full after the meal to eat desert. Plus I'm a fairly light eater and not a big person. So there are 3 simple variables that I can think of -- drinks, desert, big/small eaters.
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Old 05-13-2012, 10:59 AM   #40
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So there are 3 simple variables that I can think of -- drinks, desert, big/small eaters.
One that totally dominates those that you name is region. Those prices would be hard (or impossible) to find where I am, except in a student type ethnic place.
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