Monday, September 22, 2014

Not so Quality Inn.

Certain names of businesses can set you up for failure.  Speedy Cash looses the effect of its name if it takes forever to get your money. Tasty Cakes are not so tasty if you get a bad batch. 

We can add to that list Quality Inn Sea-Tac Airport, since the one we just stayed at was anything but "Quality".

A better name would be "Holding out until the building falls apart Inn." A little wordy, but a better fit for what your expectations should be.

We had been a guest of this Quality Inn apparently an owner or three ago, so when fate and vacation had us needing to spend the night in the area again, we were eager to spend our money where we had before as we were expecting another quality stay.

The problems started a month prior when we had called asking a few questions. Now the first problem was getting the call to complete. We are in Denver and only have cell phones, so likely at the time cursed phones and carried on. Once we did get on the phone, we asked if the hotel offered airport shuttle service. "Yes we do. Just give us a call from the shuttle pickup area as soon as you arrive." "Sounds good. Do you also offer a shuttle service to Pier 91, as we are taking a cruise." "Yes, we do offer shuttle service to the piers." "Great, thanks!"

The day before we left, we called to see if we needed to let them know when we were arriving so they can pick us up. We were told that all we have to do is go to the Courtesy Shuttle and call them to let them know we were there to be picked up.

When we arrived on 9/13/14, we were eager to get to the hotel room. We hurry down to the busy and loud waiting area and start calling the hotel to let them know we are there for pickup, as instructed. The phone rings and rings and eventually hangs up. It must be those blasted cell phones again, right? We tried countless times, both trying on our own devices likely longer then we should have wondering what was going on. Meanwhile watching a fleet of other shuttles going by, stopping and picking up other guests for other hotels.

We decided to call customer service for Quality Inn, Choice Hotels, and realized it was not our phones as we got right through. "Rob" answered the phone and I expressed I was having trouble reaching one of their establishments as the phone number was just ringing and there was no answering. And Rob's day saving solution? Read me off the phone number from the hotels website. Thanks, Rob. For a second there I almost forgot I called to report there was a problem with the phone number working... I explained that we were left stranded at the airport and asked if they could try to contact the location to see if they can help us. Maybe they had a special number or line? Surely the organization that has their name on the building can offer some help. But I had given them too much hope. They came back to let me know the number was indeed not working for them either. I explained one of the reasons we chose their hotel was because of the shuttle service and asked what we should do. They replied I should just keep trying to call them. I stated I was already left hanging for some time, and asked if I could receive some sort of compensation as a paying customer. I was informed since I booked the room through Orbitz, that there was nothing they could do for me and I'd have to take it up with the hotel.

So hoping still there was some kind of problem with our phones that was causing the problem, I ventured over to the courtesy phone at the airport and tried calling them, to still be greeted by the endless ring. We admitted defeat at that point and hired a taxi to drive us to the location. Once we arrived we were greeted with a lobby fairly full of other customers I would not describe as happy.

Quotes I remember are "I reserved a room that was handicap accessible." Followed by a "where on here does it say that?" Another guest was fuming that the hotel had lost their reservation. We make it up to the front to check in and ask them if they know their phone system is down, which they respond they do, "tee hee." I explained we could not call them to have a shuttle pick us up, and had to pay for a taxi and they said "Oh, sorry about that." And it was back to business. No apology that they couldn't provide one of their advertised services at their guests expense and offer to discount the room or anything past a "wish I wasn't here" sorry. I explained we never even saw them come by and they replied they were by every half hour. Now as we waited an hour, that allows at least once for a shuttle to pass, and that didn't happen. Also so nice we couldn't speak to them since their phone system was down and they knew it, I guess we would have needed to dash in front of traffic to get the drivers attention or maybe throw a milkshake at his window to get him to stop.

So I ask  if they can compensate us at all for having to pay for our own way to their hotel and was still never given an answer. The conversation shifted to "the cleaning staff hasn't gotten to your room yet, so it's going to be a wait." We reply "Seriously?" And we get a matter of fact shoot back "check in is at 3". Now for a moment I figure hey, maybe the schedule is off due to the time zone difference between Denver and this one is on us, and it was ten tell three, But then I notice the room key holder has printed right on it, "check in is after 2" not "Check in After 3".(Also on Orbitz, it states that check in is at 2.)

As we make the march to the room, which was on the 3rd floor and given no direction so we had to wander around the halls for a while, we noticed that the floor boards seemed weak, and bounce with every step. The issue continues to the room itself, which took us a while to notice, not because all of the other amenities dazzled us, but because it took 3-4 swipes of our keycard to get in. At that point we just started to notice all of the wear and tear of the place, and we get the feeling this place had some water damage or just is finally starting to break down, and they don't even seem to care if anyone noticed.

We head down to at least arrange for the shuttle to pick us up and take us to the Pier so at least we can be done with this place come morning. At that point they ask for my credit card. I ask why and they let me know it's 12.00 per person. I let them know I had called to ask about the service earlier and no one mentioned there was a fee. The response I got was a glance around the room as if too say once again "I wish I was anywhere but here right now". And I said "we asked if there was a shuttle to the pier and you said yes." And they "well we do, so the answer is yes" "I get that, but it was never mentioned there was a fee for it." I suppose this was my fault, as a traveler passing through one night, I should have known the trip to the pier was not covered with the other shuttle service we asked about at the same time. No empathy, not even sympathy, just a "sucks, huh?" Attitude and an eagerness to run my card. "Well it sucks mostly because of you." "I know, right?"
(After doing more research when we got home. It states at the bottom of their page that there is free one-way shuttle to Piers 91 and 66. 
Good thing that the girls that were working the front desk were idiots and even messed up that charge. They entered it in as the $100 hold for additional charges and we weren't charged the $24.)

The next morning we find out that our card has two $100 pending charges. We were baffled as we had already paid for everything through Orbitz. All that should be on there is the $24 charge for the shuttle to the pier. We go down to see if there was another person finally working at the front desk. The front desk manager Crystal was there. I explain to her what happened the previous day. She apologized and gives us back our money for the cab fare. She also apologized for the two $100 pending charges and said that they should fall off in the next couple of days. We appreciate her attempt to make things better but we will not be staying here again.  This Quality Inn is the worst that we have ever stayed in.

Aloha Hawaii

Simon and I went to Hawaii back in October 2012 and I am now just finishing it. I'm not to sure why it took me so long to write this up. Maybe it was that I didn't want to share it with anyone. Maybe it was that my Grandfather had died a few months before we went. Or maybe it was the unseen and unfortunate circumstances that happened after we returned. With everything that happened before and after, it was a wonderful, magical trip that I will never forget. I find Hawaii singing to me telling me to go back.

So when it came time to determine where in Hawaii we were going and where we were going to stay, we felt that it's our first trip to paradise so we went all out. We picked Oahu and stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikki Beach. We stayed for 7 days. This is one place that you have to book direct and can't go through a travel site. To save a little money we went ahead and got the breakfast package with the room.  This was a great idea and I would do it again. We asked for a room with an ocean view. We weren't sure just how much of a view this would be until we got there. The nice woman at the check in counter told us that they had overbooked the rooms that we would have been in. Because of this, we got a free upgrade to the Rainbow Tower. Not a problem here as those are usually the more expensive rooms.
This was our view when we opened the curtains to the patio.
  The view took our breath away. Right below was the pool area and you could see Diamond Head.
The pool below us.

Diamond Head


I was so happy that we stayed at the Hilton. The village had everything that we needed. We could have just hung out on the beach and do our shopping there without ever going out to see the island and city. However we wanted to get out of the resort and see the Island. 

The second day we were there we got a 7 day pass to the Waikki Trolly. This was worth it! The first ride we took was to the mall. Holy cow! That was a zoo as it's a huge tourist site. The best part of it was the food court. Different restaurants from around the world. It was so packed I grabbed a table while Simon went to find us a meal. He found a Japanese place and got us Cold Soba Noodles and tempera shrimp and sweet potatoes. It was so hot that the cold noodles and Iced Green Tea was perfect to cool us off. Unfortunately we didn't get any pictures.

Before heading back we stopped in the ABC Store (They are ALL OVER THE PLACE!) and a local market that was in the mall that sold Beard Papa.  Because it was so packed with people and parts of the mall was outside, we couldn't wait to get out of there.

The next day we hoped back onto the Trolly and took the Green Line. It loops around Waikiki and goes into Diamond Head. At any point if we wanted, we could get off and walk around. What was also really nice is that the Trollies had a stop in front of the Hilton.

A stop just outside of the entrance to Diamond Head.

The route was fun. It took us through the "Beverly Hills" area. Basically multimillion dollar homes. The film studio where Hawaii Five O is filmed and other movies that have been there and in to Diamond Head. I have to say, the inside of Diamond Head looks like  Colorado.   

The next day we took the Red Line. It took us around downtown Honolulu and by China Town. The drivers on both routes were full of knowledge of the history of the city and the sites.

We ended up buying most of our meals or snacks at the ABC Store that was in the Village. These stores are everywhere. The best way to describe them is that they are like 7/11s or Walgreens. We got some beach toys, some of our souvenirs and a pair of swim shoes. I usually got mix fresh fruit to eat. I swear on my life, the pineapple is to die for. I couldn't get enough of it! My one regret that we didn't do is mail some home. Simon usually got Spam Musubi. I did try it but I really like my spam cooked over an open camp fire. 
The stores also had music, lotions and clothing. By going to the ABC Stores, we actually saved a lot of money instead of eating all our meals at the hotel restaurants.

Now, I'm not saying that we didn't eat at some of the restaurants that were in the Hilton Village, we did. Just don't be surprised at the prices. The food was good and the drinks were better. 

The last two days that we were there we booked two tours through the hotel. One took us around the Island and the other to Pearl Harbor/ USS Missouri.  

The first one we did was the trip around the Island. We had a wonderful guide. The first stop was the Dole Plantation. She suggested that the first thing we do is get in line to get a scoop of Pineapple Ice-cream. Simon went one better and got us Pineapple Ice-cream Smoothy. It was sooo good! We also picked up some Christmas gifts for family while we were here. Then we got our most expensive purchase. When you go, DO NOT take a key for a treasure chest. I repeat DO NOT TAKE IT! We ended up buying a pearl gold necklace. The Sales Lady was very nice but very good at her job. She could sell ice to the Eskimos. What we thought would be a couple hundred dollars ended up being $600. We failed to ask how much the chain was. Sticker shock hit us hard and we were still in shock at the next stop on the tour that we didn't even walk over to the beach. We spent the time looking over funds. Because we had been careful with spending we were fine but it was still a shock.
Simon taking a drink after going over our funds.

 The drive along the north shore was gorgeous. The next big stop was a Macadamia Nut Farm. This was fun. We shared fresh coconut milk from the coconut. It was so refreshing and cooled me off nicely. Our Guide recommended a lotion that helps with sore backs. I would have gotten some but the necklace was still weighing heavily on my mind.
  On the same farm, they have part of their land for film and TV sets, like Lost, First 50 Dates, and others. It was a lot of fun to see these sets and the mountains that appear in Jurassic Park.


The next stops were at the Battle of Nu'uanu and Eternity Beach . The views were was spectacular! 

The Battle of Nu'uanu
The over look from the Battle of Nu'uanu.
Eternity Beach

The last day we went to Pearl Harbor. Before my grandfather died, I promised him that we would go to Pearl Harbor. He was in the Navy and he disabled sea mines. He was stationed on a number of ships and subs but the one that I remember was that he was on the USS Missouri. We did the tour of Pearl Harbor and went over to the Arizona. It was a very humbling experience. We liked how it was neutral in explaining the whys, giving voice to both sides. They have a museum and a time line of the events. Then, before you get on a boat that takes you to the Arizona Memorial , you watch a documentary on Pearl Harbor.

Those that died on the USS Arizona.

The survivors that have died and are now buried with their brothers at arms.

After visiting the USS Arizona, we went to tour the USS Missouri. This was my favorite part of Pearl Harbor. I think it was because I got to see where my Grandfather had walked and worked at some point in his Navy career. 
Standing at the entrance to the USS Missouri.

After Pearl Harbor, we headed back to the hotel to wait for our ride to the airport. People say not to visit Pearl Harbor on your last day as it is very sobering. I honestly don't know when it would be a good time to visit but I encourage everyone to go at some point. 

Hawaii was a wonderful experience that we won't forget. We plan on going back. Not sure when but we want to go to one of the other islands. Even now, two years later, I still think of swimming in the ocean with golden rain falling and Simon singing to me "White Sandy Beach of Hawai'i" by Israel Kamakwiwo'ole.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Loving San Diego

We're home from San Diego and I have to say, I am still in love with it and can see why my Grandfather loved San Diego and it's calling us back.
We had perfect weather, okay, some may not say 60's and 70's with a high humidity isn't good, but after the summer Colorado has had, hot and dry, we found the weather to be perfect.  We flew out on Frontier Airlines and arrived on time. I have to say, coming in for the landing flying past the buildings was pretty cool. While we were in San Diego, we found out that the airport is the only US International Airport that has one runway. 

We rented a car from Budget Rental. It was easy to catch the bus to the lot from the airport and check in went quickly. It wasn't far from the airport and to the hotel. The car was nice a clean. We were a little worried with it being a compact but it turned out well.

We stayed at the Best Western Island Palms on Shelter Island and I have to say, we'll be staying there again. The lobby was beautiful with a nice water fountain and greenery. The staff was very nice and it was easy to check in. Our room was next to the pool and had a view of the marina. It was a king size bed and was very clean. They are a very family friendly hotel. The Sunday that we were there, they had a movie night in the pool area, showing "Horton Hears a Who." It was fun floating in the pool watching the movie. 

We had breakfast and two dinners at the hotel's restaurant, the Blue Wave Bar & Grill. The food was delicious and the staff was very friendly. They have patio seating that over looks the pool area and a wonderful view of the marina. We even got to see the fireworks from Sea World as we had late night drinks and desert. The price range is typical of what you would expect from a hotel restaurant.

The first night that we were in San Diego we ended up walking down to the Bay Club Bar & Grill. It's part of another hotel so the again, the prices is what one expect for a hotel restaurant. The food was really good and the service wonderful. 
For an appetizer we had the Five-Spice Seared Ahi with seaweed salad. The Ahi, was cooked perfectly. Simon enjoyed the seaweed salad and I did try it. (Remember, it's green and green isn't my thing.) 
 For dinner I had a New York Strip with two Crab cakes. I have to say, the stake was good but the Crab cakes were the best that I've ever had. Made mostly of crab meat and it toasted in butter, just melted in my mouth. I tried crab cakes else where while I was in San Diego and they have these were the best ones! 
Simon had the Filet of Oscar. It's Filet Mignon topped with Snow Crab, asparagus and Bearnaise sauce. It was very tasty and the Filet was cooked perfectly to his liking and the crab meat was delicious. 

After dinner we had a wonderful walk along the beach and watched the sun set. The beach has fire pits to allow anyone to cook and anyone can set up camp with their camper in the parking lot.

While we were in San Diego, we also ate at Dick's Last Resort, The Spaghetti Factory, The Greek Islands Cafe and Pizza Nova

The main reason we went to San Diego was for Comic Con. Unfortunately, we were unable to get tickets as they sold out within 45 minutes and I ended up 8000+ in line when it sold out. We only wanted tickets for Sunday to get in the vender area. I had heard of horror stories of how long the lines are for panels and I wasn't interested in spending most of my time waiting in line.
 Anyway, while we ate breakfast on Saturday, our waiter had asked if we were ready to go. We explained what happened and that we were just planning on hanging out outside of the convention. About 5 minutes later a very nice man who will remain nameless gave us his Con Bag and the Con Program. He stated that he didn't want our weekend to be a total waste. We were floored at the kindness of this man. We later ran into him on the free shuttle bus that the Con had set up at the various hotels.
We met up with Simon's family and we went to various locations that were free off site from the convention.
The following morning we ran into our new friend again and this time, he gave us his con badge. Simon was able to get into the convention and get some goodies for us. While he was inside, I was outside spending time with the in-laws and people watching.

Monday, Simon and I spent the afternoon at Seaport Village. We did some shopping and then hoped on  the San Diego SEAL Tour. I have to admit, Monday was my favorite day in San Diego. While on the tour we got to see a family of Dolphins playing in the wake of a large ship and by us. There was something that was just peaceful and relaxing about the trip. It was something that I was needing. I recommend everyone to take the tour at least once while you're in San Diego. 

Since we've been home, we've had the feeling that San Diego is calling us back. We seen a number of shows that were in San Diego, like Triple D and House Hunters. Believe me, the heat is still here and I wish that I was back at The Island Palms, lounging by the pool, enjoying the cooler weather. San Diego, we'll be back again.

Bay Club Bar & Grill-Bay Club Hotel & Marina on Urbanspoon Blue Wave Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, June 25, 2012

Running from the Heat

I’ve been living in a heat wave and I can’t get away fast enough. We’ve just had our 4th day of 100+ degree temps and I‘m melting. I love weather in the 60-70 degree temps.  In 16 days, we fly out of this horrible heat to San Diego, CA. My husband and I have been following the temperatures in San Diego and we’re hoping they last through our trip on July 13th.

So, what is taking us to San Diego, besides loving it the first time I was there? We tried getting tickets to the San Diego Comic Con. Unfortunately, the way tickets were sold, I was 8000+ in line when the Sunday tickets sold out. 
We had already purchased the airline tickets from Frontier and reserved our room at Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina. Even without getting the tickets to Comic Con, we are still planning a nice trip. 

We want to go back to Seaport Village and I want to explore Downtown San Diego and see the Gaslamp Quarter. We’ll hang around outside of the convention center and people watch and maybe see some Stars that are attending. 

I’m looking forward to staying at the Best Western Island Palms Hotel. No matter what room we get, we’ll have a view of either the bay or the marina. (Personally, I’m hoping for a view of bay!) To just have a cool breeze will feel better than the dry hot wind that seems to be blowing through Colorado lately.

We were excited to find that Frontier Airlines flies direct from Denver to San Diego now. We always try to fly Frontier as they were a Colorado company, even if they aren’t anymore, Colorado is still in their hearts!

San Diego, watch out, we’re on our way!!

Our first trip to San Diego in 2009.
 Any suggestions on good places to eat?

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Point No Point- Vancouver Island

A month doesn't go by that I find myself daydreaming of our trip to Vancouver Island, BC. It was my second trip there and Simon's first. We had flown into Seattle, WA and then drove a car rental to the island via Black Ball Ferry Line. It goes between Port Angeles, WA and Victoria on Vancouver Island, BC.

One of the days that we were there, we decided to just get in the car and drive. The direction we picked was north along the west side of the island from Victoria. It was a chilly wet day but the gray made everything more green and romantic. It was interesting as every where we went, the locals kept apologizing for the weather as it was colder than normal for early June. We had to keep telling them not to apologize as we were really enjoying the weather.
We wanted to walk down by the ocean so we finally saw a pull off to a park at French Beach Provincial Park. We were the only ones there. I think if anyone saw us, they would think we were crazy for being out in the cold drizzle, but coming from Colorado, 56 degrees wasn't freezing. It was a beautiful walk down to the pebble beach. The park is a camping/picnic area. We saw wild berries and sweet little yellow flowers. 
 After spending some time down on the beach and getting a nice layer of mist on us, we realized that we were getting hungry. We made our way back to the car and continued north. A little way up the road we came upon a little resort, Point no Point. It's a beautiful little resort that has a little Tea House restaurant and cabins.

It was here that we stopped for lunch and have no regrets for it.  As we were getting out the car, we were greeted by a sweet old Labrador Dog. It just sniffed us and with approval it just turned and headed back into the building. When we entered the house, it felt like a home, nice and warm with a cozy fire going in the waiting area. We didn't have to wait as it wasn't busy. 

The view from our table!
Our table had a fantastic view of the ocean. We were told on good days, you could see seals playing down by the rocks, whales and bald eagles soaring above.  Every table had binoculars for you to use for viewing the wildlife. We can only imagine what the view would have been on a bright sunny day. 

Something that we learned while we were in Victoria was that the majority of restaurants participated in a program called Ocean Wise. It's a program that is dedicated to promoting sustainable seafood harvesting practices. The Vancouver Island restaurants and chefs, partner with fishers to guarantee quality, freshness and sustainability. Most chefs also get most of their food from local farmers, either it being seasonal berries or lamb meat. The quality of the food that we had was evident of this relationship between the chefs at Point no Point and the local farmers/fishers.

Simon had ordered a bowl of Seafood Chowder and the Grilled Salmon with Yam Noodles and cucumber. On top of it, there was a delicate yogurt sauce. The Grilled Salmon was nice and flaky and it didn't have that fishy taste to it. It was a marriage of flavorings that we haven't ever had.
I had ordered their hamburger that was topped with their home made Jalapeno relish/jelly, special mustard and cheese. The bun was nice and soft. At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like it as I thought it would be too spicy. Our waitress ensured me that it wasn't spicy and it went perfectly with the meat. I'm glad to say that she was right and happy that I listened to her. The burger was perfectly cooked and juicy. The Jalapeno jelly and mustard added the perfect flavoring.
For desert Simon had the Chocolate Moose and I had the red velvet cake with a scoop of berry sherbert. Simon's Chocolate Moose was light and fluffy and not overly sweet. The red velvet cake was nice a moist with the berry sherbert adding just the right amount of tartness to the sweetness of the cake. It was most delicious!

Our little day trip ended up being one of our favorite days while we were in Canada. If we had know of this little jewel hidden on the coast of Vancouver Island, we would have spent our entire vacation here. The cabins don't have TVs or phones, so this is the ultimate romantic get-away. This would be the perfect time to catch up on that book that you started but haven't been able to finish. I highly recommend that you visit their website to see what all they have to offer. We're looking forward to when we can return to Point No Point and experience that happy bliss that we had experienced on that single day.

Point No Point 
10829 West Coast Road, Shirley, BC, Canada  V9Z 1G9
To reserve, call:
Found on Facebook.

Blackball Ferry
Port Angeles, Washington, USA
101 E. Railroad Avenue
Port Angeles, WA, 98362
Tel: (360) 457-4491
Fax: (360) 457-4493
Hearing Impaired
TTY: 711 or 1-(800) 833-6388