GETTING A $6 HOTEL CONVENIENCE FEE REFUNDED

My son recently had a soccer tournament in Wichita, Kansas (they came in second). So while it’s an easy drive from Oklahoma City, its fun for the kids to be able to sleep in a hotel for a few nights and eat out and swim with their friends.

The team stayed at the Hampton Inn Wichita Airport. Of course I am pretty picky when it comes to hotels and getting a good deal. There aren’t a lot of choices in Wichita, I am Hilton Diamond and this hotel was just fine with me as it was under $100 a night plus taxes.

I did a mobile checkout and reviewed the bill the next day. This hotel charged a $3 convenience fee per night. I have no idea what it was for. I checked my reservation and saw they only mention the taxes, nothing about a convenience fee.

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I immediately emailed Hilton Honors. They contacted me within an hour saying that they consider this closed as the hotel had already contacted me and closed this. The next day I emailed Hilton back saying I have yet to receive any correspondence from the hotel. Hilton responded about an hour later saying that a $6 refund should be posted in the next few days- and it was.

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$6 is not a big deal, but I am ticked off at Hilton that they charge this and do not disclose it. I wonder how many people pay this. Shame on you Hilton!

REVIEW: THE BEVERLY HILTON

The Beverly Hilton is an iconic LA hotel.  Numerous Presidents, Dignitaries, and Celebrities have stayed here over the years.  While it’s not the fanciest hotel in Beverly Hills, or the newest, it is still a place to be seen.

When you first pull up, you immediately recognize the hotel from pictures you may have seen. It actually looks just like the pictures. There is typically a line of high end luxury cars out in front.

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There was only one person working the check in desk at about noon on a Sunday. The line was a little backed up, but 2 more people come out to help. I had booked just a standard room, but was able to get an early check in and I received a Diamond upgrade to a cabana room overlooking the pool. He also offered me a suite, but it was right next to the elevator in the Oasis Tower. I appreciate that he told me that and that he asked if I was a heavy or light sleeper before just giving me the suite. As a diamond member I also received a $20 per person credit for food an beverage that could be used at the pool, hotel restaurants, or room service. (more on that later) I also asked for a late checkout as I just like to see how they handle Diamond members and they gave me a 1:15 checkout. (Isn’t that a pretty random time?) Valet parking is also $44 overnight.

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The cabana rooms are not part of the Oasis to Willshire tower. There are a small set of rooms that directly overlook the pool. While I would have liked a room on the first floor where you could just walk out to the pool, I was still happy with my second floor room.

The room was light and bright and above average size for a hotel room. Beds were pretty standard and comfortable.

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Standard TV with basic cable options including about 3 HBO channels. There was a mini bar inside the cabinet as well. as a Diamond member, I was able to drink the 2 cold bottles of water at no charge.

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The desk area was a little small. I had some work to do and I prefer to have a standard work desk instead of a small round desk. There is a tablet on the desk with all the info of the hotel and room service menus. There is no book containing this info, just the tablet.

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The bathroom was adequate as well and provided nice toiletries. They only provided soap, shampoo, and conditioner though. I appreciate when hotels provide more amenities like cotton swabs, but the Beverly Hilton did not. But they do have a TV in the bathroom. Its actually pretty cool because the top of the shower curtain is sheer so you can watch TV while taking your shower.

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There was also turndown service at night with chocolates on the bed and they replenished your towels.

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While there was no balcony, they did have some really small doors that opened up overlooking the pool.

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The pool got pretty crowded on a Sunday afternoon, but I was still able to find a lounge to relax for an hour. They provide towels and the attendants can help you get your lounger all setup. They also have food and drink service out to the pool, but it was not very fast.

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As I mentioned, I got a $20 food and beverage credit. As a Diamond member, typically you receive a free continental breakfast. However that was $23 for the basic continental, or like $35 for the full buffet.  They did have eggs benedict which i am a sucker for so I went with that instead. It frustrates me though that Hilton provides a voucher that wont even cover the cost of the buffet. (I also received my hotel bill before i went down to breakfast breakfast and it looked like they just took $20 of the bottom line of my bill….)

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The workout facility was pretty large with several cardio machines as well as a decent free wight section. They also had water and apples down in this area. So even if not working out, always nice to know where free water is. The spa was closed at this time though.

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The Beverly Hilton is close to several restaurants as well as an easy walk to Rodeo Drive. There was some type of event going on in the ballroom Sunday night that was pretty extravagant. Lots of Bentley’s and Ferrari’s parked out front that night.

Overall it was a very good stay and I would stay here again whether for work, or with my family for pleasure.

Here are a few more pictures of the grounds as well as some of the restaurant menu’s.

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BOOK YOUR SKI HOTEL NOW. GREAT POINT RATE AT DOUBLETREE BRECKENRIDGE!

Our family loves skiing. Or I should say I love it, my son enjoys it, my daughter has a blast, and my wife will go along if she has to. This will be my sons 6th year skiing and he is getting pretty good. Soon he will be better than me (which isn’t saying too much). Skiing is not usually a cheap activity. Between transportation, lodging, lift tickets, clothing, ski rentals, and slopeside drinks. But it can be affordable if you know the right deals.

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Well right now you can book a hotel room for a great deal using your Hilton points in Breckenridge. The Doubletree Breckenridge over the holiday break is just 60k points a night. When staying 5 nights, the 5th night is free. So its 240k points for 5 nights in a 2 king bed room. This would normally cost ya $2,463. So a value just over 1 cent per point with Hilton is a great deal. As a Diamond member we will also get free breakfast. They used to have a resort fee which included parking. It looks like that has changed and there is not resort fee, but parking is $35 a night….

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OR

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Right now the American Express Hilton Ascend, Aspire, and Business credit cards all have 100k point offers after meeting the min spend requirements. Hilton also just started to allow points to be transferred between household members so between 2 people it can be very easy to accumulate 240k points.

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If skiing is not your thing, the Doubletree is a great location to be able to walk quickly to all the shops and restaurants and winter blazed streets of Breckenridge. It’s also a 5 minute drive to Carter park which has a great bring your own sled hill. Doubletree also provide a shuttle service around the town.

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I have stayed at this hotel numerous time over the past 6 years. It’s not the fanciest hotel, but its 50 yards from being able to put your skis on and ski down to the base of peak 9. Or you can walk another 50 yards up to other chair lifts. Typically they don’t have award nights available over winter break, and never seen it open with 2 king beds for points. So this may not last long. The rooms are quite large and offer plenty of room for a family’s ski items. They include a small mini fridge. So in the past we have bought a few drinks and sandwich making items to save a few dollars while eating lunch on the mountain. They also have ski storage which is nice and convenient. Then of course all the amenities of a normal Doubletree like their free cookies, restaurant, indoor pool, and several outdoor hot tubs. Hopefully they have their free s’mores at 4 which my son still talks about. They have a lot of seasonal staff so their service can be hit and miss based on past experiences. However the location is ideal!

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Now of course you have to be able to get out there somehow. This is the last year I will have the Southwest Companion Pass where another person flies for free (well $5.60 security fee) when I fly. We still have some unused travel credits from gift cards we have bought with our AMEX Platinum cards and CITI Prestige Cards to get the $200 airline reimbursement each year. Plus we have points to cover the rest.  So our flights are basically covered for as well.

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Now we are just debating which ski pass to get. We have had EPIC passes in the past and they are great deal to buy now before you show up as lift tickets are over $150 a person the day off. I am debating on the 4 day pass (if this is my only ski trip this winter), the 7 day pass (which means I would unfortunately have to go again) or the EPIC local pass. The local pass is the same price as the 7 day pass but local has restrictions and 7 day has no restrictions. However the local pass has no restrictions on Breckenridge so its very tempting. Just have to figure out if I would go again and when and where….

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REVIEW: HILTON COLON GUAYAQUIL

We had a one night stay at the Hilton Colon Guayaquil.  It was just a quick transit stay after our flight from Cusco to Lima to Guayaquil, then the next day we had our flight from Guayaquil to Baltra, Galapagos. I used 30k Hilton points for 2 queen beds. Regular room rates were about $160 a night plus taxes.

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We landed got our luggage and planned on taking a short Uber ride to the hotel. Upon walking out we saw a man holding a sign with a Hilton sign on it. He said the bus was leaving in 5 minutes. Perfect timing for us! At 7PM there was probably 12-15 people on the bus. We hopped on it and it was a short 5 minute bus ride to the hotel.

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After we got our bags from the bus we walked into the hotel and a person handed out warm towels, which is always a night touch. I stood in line for a minute and then when it was our turn and of course I asked for a diamond upgrade. He looked in his system and confirmed I was a diamond member and said we should use the executive lounge checkin.  A bell person grabbed our bags and said he would meet us up there. Up we went and got to the exec lounge a minute later. I asked for a diamond upgrade and she said they didn’t have any rooms. I informed her online they have junior suites and she just shrugged. Eventually got our keys and the bell person lead us and our bags to our room a floor down.  While I sometimes like the separate checkin at a lounge, I don’t like when its setup like it was here having to stand in multiple lines and go to multiple floors. I just want to get to my darn room. (I also believe that my credit card information was stolen here. Waiting to here back from Hilton on that.)

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Our room resembled most Hilton’s around the world. There was a nice welcome gift and note waiting for us there which is always a nice touch. The 2 queen beds were really just double beds. I hate it when hotels call them queen beds, but they obviously aren’t.  The bathroom was bright and had all the amenities we needed. One nice thing is there was plenty of USB and regular plugs throughout the room.  Overall, the room was nothing special, but was perfect for our one night stay.

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The next morning I wasn’t feeling great, so the rest of the family went to the lounge for breakfast .My family said the lounge was underwhelming for breakfast.

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At checkin they only mentioned breakfast available at the lounge, even though as a diamond member we should have been able to use the restaurant. It looked much better there.

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The Spa, Pool, and Healthclub area looked very nice and upscale. I wish we would have had more time to use some of their facilities. The pool was large with plenty of lounge chairs. The gym was huge and fairly crowded. It could have been used by the public as well.

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The public areas were nicer than most other Hiltons. Walked around a little and they have quite a few nice nooks and crannies one could relax. The hotel is also connected directly to a mall.

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Below is a view from our room. There was not a lot to do around the hotel. Nice and close to the airport, but not a destination hotel

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The shuttle bus leaves on the hour every hour to get back to the airport. This worked out perfectly for us and we left at like 10am for our noon flight. One the way back, the bus was not as crowded, only 6 of us total.

 

2 AMEX CARDS APPLIED AND APPROVED TODAY IN LESS THAN 5 MINUTES

A few days ago our family met all the min spend requirements from credit cards we opened in my wife’s name in January. So that meant it was time to apply for some new cards! Always a fun day. Since we have had numerous cards before, the list of good cards out there is getting smaller and smaller available to my wife and I. I decided to apply for 2 AMEX Business cards- the Delta Platinum Business Card and the Hilton Business Card.

I applied for the Delta Platinum Business Card first. It comes with 70k miles after spending $3k in the first 3 months. Plus 10k MQMs after hitting the min spend. I am Delta Gold, but last year I received about 200k miles from flying Delta, but only about 60k MQMs. I really need the MQMs to try to hit Platinum this year. It also comes with a $100 statement credit after a Delta purchase in the first 3 months. As well as a $195 annual fee. I was able to login to my AMEX account in which it already had most of my information filled out. I hit submit and 10 seconds later it said Congrats, you are approved!

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The Hilton Business Card because it has a pretty high 100k bonus after meeting $3k in 3 months and another $1k in 6 months. Plus it comes with a free annual night after hitting $15k in a calendar year. (haven’t decided if i am going to try to hit that or not.) It also gives you 12x points at Hilton hotels and 6x at restaurants and gas stations. It comes with a Hilton Gold status, but I am already Diamond through March 2020 so thats not too useful to me. I used a different browser to apply for this one and again logged into my AMEX account, hit submit and this time about 30 seconds later I got the approval!

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I already have 3 current AMEX cards, and 2 of them are business cards. I was a little surprised that I was instantly approved for both of these new ones. I have been a AMEX cardmember since 2000, and I do have a very small online business that I have paid taxes for the past 8 years.

One of the best parts of this is that the last time I applied for new cards was in Sept 2017. (in Jan of 18, it was just my wife’s turn) Since these are both new AMEX Bus cards that don’t count against Chase 5/24, I am getting closer to getting under the 5/24 limit. I never really thought I would see that day. The next round of applications will be for my wife so unless there are some new large irresistible bonuses that come out, I may be eligible for more Chase cards soon!

REVIEW: DOUBLETREE WESTMINISTER, LONDON

After landing at about 10am from Atlanta, I really just wanted to get to my hotel and take a 3 hour nap or so. Now I know that’s not always possible and was prepared to drop of my bags and walk around the city. I took a 38GBP Uber (taxi was 80) from LHR to the DoubleTree Westminster.  When pulling up you notice that there is nothing too special about the exterior building, it looks just like the office buildings next to it.

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There was a small line, and no dedicated Hhonors desk, but it was only a few minutes until I was up. They immediately started pushing their delicious cookies but I know I eat too much when I travel so I declined. (don’t worry, I did have a few throughout my 3 nights there though…. Just gotta pace yourself.) I asked if my room was ready and if I could get a Diamond upgrade. He informed me they could give me a room on the 4 floor, but the Hhonors rooms weren’t ready. (didn’t say if that’s a real upgrade or not though as Hilton often says they give you a upgrade buts its just like a deluxe room on a higher floor.) I thought for a few seconds and decided I just wanted to check-in and he gave me my keys to the 4th floor and informed me of a few highlights of the hotel like breakfast, lounge benefits, and workout room.

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quick grab n go breakfast in mornings

Once I got out of the elevators on the 4th floor, it feels much different as it’s a lil old and dark and drabby looking. I go into my room and it’s the same. Its OK but just a lil outdated. Immediately upon walking in is the bathroom on the left. Its was small and basic but clean. You have to close the door just to be able to  use the toilet. Basic Hilton amenities were given.

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Immediately after that was what I thought was a small closet, but it ended up just being an iron storage.

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Then came the main portion of the room. Again it was basic but clean. The bed was large and was just fine to sleep on. Not the most comfortable bed, but better that my airplane bed on Delta. There was also a small TV with a desk next to that. Then there was a wardrobe that had a safe in it, and some other shelves and storage next to that with a small mini fridge for personal use.  There was also a hotpot for hot water for your coffee or tea.

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The worst part was the view. As you can see, it was basically looking back into the hotel. I decided to lay down and turn the TV and try to get some sleep. I dozed in and out as it was the afternoon now and you could hear them cleaning other rooms. There was not a ton of outlets and they did not have USB charging outlets.

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Now I thought about asking to switch rooms after the first night. However during the night time, I never heard a sound in my room. I am a pretty light sleeper and I hate hearing people in hallways, or your neighbors, or well any noise whatsoever. So I decided that while my room wasn’t great, it was quiet which was more important.

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The gym is on the 13-15th floors and offers some great views. Its uniquely laid out as you take the elevator to the 13th floor, then walk up to the 14th floors where its split with the 15th floors. Its pretty cool, but once you realize what equipment is there, its small and basic.  At 7am in the morning ,there was a wait for the 2 treadmills they have. It was snowing in London at this time, so running indoors with a view was better than the alternative.

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Executive Lounge

The DoubleTree has an executive lounge on the 2nd floor. I appreciate that a DoubleTree has this as most DoubleTree’s don’t so it’s a nice lil surprise. When I say lil its because it’s a little lounge. It was just a rectangular room.  During the day you could grab some water or soda from here and they had fruit and chips to snack on. At 530, they did put on a decent spread. Not really enough for a dinner, but enough for have a drink and some food until dinner. They had some beer and wine as well, but no liqueur. It was quite crowded each night around 6pm though. Hard to find a table spot for more than 2 people.

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As a Diamond member I could have breakfast in the lounge or in the restaurant. Each morning the lounge had the same food offerings that you can see below. Enough if you are in a hurry, but nothing spectacular. It was not crowded here though.

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Breakfast

The hotel breakfast restaurant was on the 1st floor. This buffet was unimpressive compared to other Hiltons. Again, basic and nothing over the top. They seem to have a newer staff as each morning it was not crowded, but they were always running around as if they were busy or perhaps shorthanded. They would always ask when I sat down if I would like any coffee, I would say no but ask for some juice, that would never come out. They did have a juice area for self serve. Also, as you can see on the menu below, the buffet includes made to order eggs. One morning after waiting 5 minutes just to be seated in the empty restaurant, I thought I would try an omelet out.  I sat down, declined the coffee but asked for juice never which surprisingly came out. I literally sat there for 15 minutes waiting for a server to come out. After about 5 minutes I could have gotten up and waived one down, but I wanted to see how long it would take. I wasn’t craving an omelet or anything, just wanted to see if it was good or not. Well after 15 minutes, my patience was too thin and I just ate some eggs off the buffet as I had meetings to go to. Each morning the buffet included the same offerings.

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The DoubleTree also has a dinner restaurant and bar. While I did not try the food, it was a descent place to have drinks at night. Some hotel bars can be depressing but this one was lively and I had a good time in that area with my colleagues.

One nice thing was my flight wasn’t until 5pm and I asked for a 2pm checkout the night before. The front desk person immediately said no problem. He asked my room number and he looked at me like 4th floor, for a Diamond member? While they didn’t have an office center that I saw, I was able to email the bell desk my boarding pass and they printed it off for me.

Now the hotel is OK, but the best part was the location. It was a 5 minute walk to Westminster Abbey and Big Ben and everything else in that area. One night we walked to Convent Gardens and SoHo which was about a 15-20 minute walk. It was about a 6BPB Uber ride when we decided to go home.  It was also only a 10 minute walk to the office which is very convenient for me.

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In Nov I was in London for work as well and stayed at the St Ermins.  While the St. Ermins was fancier than the DoubleTree, I didn’t feel it was spectacular and wasn’t worth the money. While the DoubleTree isn’t spectacular either, its cheaper and sufficient. I would not go out of my way to stay at the DoubleTree but would recommend it based on price and location.

AMEX HILTON OFFERS AND 2 CENTS PER HILTON POINT or 4 CENTS PER AMEX POINT AT WALDORF PARK CITY

I got the mailer below today for $70 back for staying at a Waldorf Astoria or a Conrad between now and Feb 28th 2018.  After missing our ski vacation last week, I thought maybe I could plan a quick 2-3 night getaway to somewhere nice in Park City.

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I thought this was a special offer just for me, and then logged into my AMEX account and realized this was already an AMEX offer. Also in there was the buy a $50 gift card, get $10 back, which is available up to 4 times. So between these 2 offers you could save up to $110 at a nice Waldorf or Conrad.

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I know that WA’s are expensive but was thinking it could be nice to stay a night there one night but use 2 full days of the benefits there while staying at a cheaper place the other nights. Well even with $110 off, its still outside of my price range from now until the promotion ends Feb 28th. I didn’t find any dates below $900 a night, and most dates are over $1k a night.

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This would be a great redemption on points though at over 1 cent per point. As TPG reported , AMEX has increased the transfer ratio to 1-2 so these rooms could be had for 40k AMEX points as well. Throwing in the Honors 5th night free on points, this is a great redemption for 5 nights at over 2 cents per Hilton point or 4 cents per AMEX point!!!  (320k Hilton points or 160k AMEX points) Now that Gold and Diamond members get free breakfast, you can use those gift cards for tips you put on your room, or for any drinks from the bar as well.

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Anyone planning on taking advantage of these offers?

Are you signed up? 10k Hilton Points

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Don’t forget to sign up for a AMEX offer for 10k Hilton bonus points when completing a 2 night stay at a Hilton hotel. We recently stayed at Hilton Squaw Peak for 3 nights and these posted about 3 days later. I forgot I signed up so it was a nice surprise! You must have a Hilton AMEX card and be enrolled for complimentary gold status through AMEX. I had Diamond status so i never enrolled before but went ahead and linked my accounts in order to get this bonus.

Sign up here.

This is always a nice bonus that can help you get you to your next award night. Picture of Hilton Schipol Airport in Amsterdam that i have stayed at several times. Thank goodness its new as the previous one was falling apart.

 

Review- Hilton Squaw Peak Phoenix

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After spending the day in Sedona we arrived to the Resort at about 5pm. We have been here several times and already had our eyes on a Diamond upgrade to a Casita that we have received 5x before. I do like how Hilton often texts you the day of arrival to see if there is anything they can do. They informed me there were no Casitas available but they upgraded me to an Ambassador Agave Suite in the North Point building. I double checked online, and they did not have any Casitas available for booking. (so many times i ask for an upgrade and get turned down but there are some available online. a least this case I didn’t feel lied to.) Later we realized they were doing some construction to remodel the Casitas so many of them were closes. Online it says that there is a separate checkin for the Agave suites, but I don’t know where that is. We checked in the normal Hilton Lobby, and it was quick and easy. They gave us some bottled water, maps of the Resort, and $20 food credit per day. I don’t usually like vouchers like this but these were good any restaurant and could be used at anytime during the 4 day stay.  We then drove over to our room and went up to the 4th and top floor of the North Point Building. Our room was immediately outside the elevator, which I typically will try to avoid at all costs. I then realized that our wing only had 3 total rooms, so that wasn’t too bad for just one elevator.  I actually never saw another person get off the elevator on the 4th floor during our stay.

 

We walked into our room and were very delighted at the upgrade. The main room consisted of 2 large couches (one was a sofa bed), a large TV, and desk in the corner, and a very large 8 person dining room table. There was also a wet bar area with a microwave and a fridge that was way too small. There was also a small half bathroom off of the main room. Then there were French doors leading to the bedroom. The bedroom was quite spacious as well. Bed was comfortable. There was also a large walk-in closet. The master bathroom was relatively small, and the tub had seen better days. The sink area was just outside the bathroom. The balcony off of the bedroom was nice, but very small. A table and 2 chairs were just fine though to enjoy some evening drinks.

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View off of Balcony at sunset

They have several restaurants onsite. Ricos is where breakfast is at and we ate 2 mornings. A better than most Hilton full breakfast buffet. They also have a menu. It is  a separate building from the hotel and its kind of nice because it almost feels like you are going out for breakfast instead of eating a hotel breakfast once again. They also serve lunch and dinner here.

The resort consists of numerous pools. In October, none of them were very crowded. At our building there was a very nice pool for North Pointe guests only, and had nice comfortable lounge chairs. There was almost an identical pool at the main building. There is a lap pool at the health club and several pools throughout the Casitas. We didn’t use the health club this trip, but it’s a open membership style club so its much nicer than normal hotel gyms.

Then of course the highlight of the pools is the River Ranch.

To get into the River Ranch, you give them your room number and they give your wristbands for that day. There is several areas of seating and we always found chairs open at the main pool. There is also seating around the sports pool, as well as several other areas. There is a large waterslide, a small kids pool, waterfalls, hot tubs, and the longest lazy river I have ever seen at a hotel. There is also a bar and restaurant. We never had any problems getting chairs in October either.

There is also a basketball court, several tennis courts, as well as a miniature golf course here.

Parts of the resort can feel like a hotel, but there are plenty of little nooks and crannies that offer peace and quit as well.

Overall this is our favorite spot to travel to in October. its relaxing and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy but relaxed for a few days. We also setup a Razr tour through concierge which was very cool. We were able to negotiate a free child since 4 people fit into the Razr and we are a family of 4.  We had a rate of about $140 a night, plus we were able to get the resort fee waived for being a Diamond member and them being short on Casitas. We got aboutj 15,000 hilton points. PLUS we received an additional 10,000 Hilton points for completing a 2 night stay though a AMEX offer. PLUS we received a $50 AMEX offer credit as we registered and paid with my wife’s AMEX Plat Card.