REVIEW: MARRIOTT BEACH HOUSE GRAND CAYMAN

I knew I wanted a nice relaxing vacation spot where just my wife and I could sit on the beach, relax, and do nothing. The Marriott Beach House Grand Cayman hit the spot perfectly for doing so.

After a flat rate taxi cab ride of $18.25 and 15 minutes later, we arrived to The Beach House. It’s off the main road and there is not huge sign or anything for it. Pulling up, it didn’t look anything that special. There were employees there to open our doors and help with our bags and offered us some juice welcome drinks. We were only staying 2 nights so we didn’t really need help with our bags. Walking in through the front doors, it was nice, but still nothing amazing and I started to get worried if I picked the right spot over the Westin or even the Ritz.

Rates can vary greatly depending on the season. In September we paid $189 plus taxes and $50 resort fee per night. Point rates vary from 40k to 60k points per night.

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No line for check-in in and Jose at the front desk was very friendly. I saw on my phone they had lots of different types of Ocean Front rooms available. He said they could only give me a 2 double beds ocean front room. I asked if Platinum members receive free breakfast, and he said that since they are not in the US, Canada, or Europe, they do not give out free breakfast but that I could have 1k points or some wine and cheese. I told him I was frustrated and probably should have picked a different hotel.

First impression are always so hard to overcome, but the Marriott Beach House did that, and the next 2 days were prefect. First Jose called me 15 minutes later when we got up to our room and informed me he could give breakfast vouchers instead of the wine and cheese.

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Second, about 2 hours later while we were swimming in the pool, Jose hunted us down and told me he could be me put us in a large king size Oceanfront Jr suite. 90% of my hotel stays are for business and while I like upgrades during business stays, they don’t really matter since it’s only be working and sleeping in the room. One of the reason I am stay at brands like Marriott is to be able to get upgraded when I am with my family, so this is appreciated.

Our first room of the 2 double bed ocean front room was nice but a lil small. If our kids were with us they would have driven us nuts after a few days. Except for the view, it felt like a normal hotel room.

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Man, that view is great though. small balcony with 2 chairs and a table. They also have a small mini fridge in the room. There is a liquor store a block away that you can stock up on drinks. The great thing is you can bring a cooler and drinks down to the beach and it’s not a big deal.

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The bathroom was also pretty plain and similar to most other Marriott’s.

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Now our second room which was a Jr Suite, was about the same width, but double in length. It had a nice sitting area with a double pull out sofa. They should have had a larger sofa in this space though. Same balcony setup. Bathroom was also similar, but they had different toiletries which was kind of weird.

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The water and beach off the hotel is amazing. They have 12 lounge rings and 4 swim platforms. Even on a Saturday afternoon, you could always find a spot in the water. You can get your towels from the towel hut, and a beach attendant will help you find a spot on the beach, and get an umbrella if needed. It would get crowded, but you could always find 2 chairs next to each other. The towel hut also had water , aloa vera gel, and even Go Pro cameras for free daily use. When asking one of the beach attendants for help, his reply back was “unless its impossible, I can do it.” That attitude was of the entire staff, and exactly what you like to hear when on vacation. Staff would also walk around with ice water and even fruit sometimes.

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To me it seemed like we were at mile 6.9  of 7 mile beach. The water and sand was great, but it was pretty narrow and there was only a few condos after the Marriott. It was interesting that the condos around were very empty, while the Marriott had quite a few people. The Westin and The Ritz were about a mile down the beach. While their beach was wider, the people there didn’t look like they were having as much fun as our place. The beach had no sea weed and was crystal clear. It was a lil rocky, but they seemed like “soft rocks” and not the painful sharp rocks at some beaches. There is also a man made reef and a natural reef right of the beach. They provide snorkel masks and it’s very easy to see lots of fish there.

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They also had a watersport stand with free kayaks, paddleboards and similar items.  The dive shop had excursions you could book for a fee.

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Up by the pool, they also had a gelato stand.

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The food here was great. They had a beach bar with great views and they had servers who walked around the chairs asking if anyone needs anything. There are some Happy Hour specials from like 530-7. One day we went down there at like 630 and was going to have a drink around the bar. It started pouring. The Verandah Restaurant is nearby so they said we could sit in there and still get the HH specials.

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We ended up staying here for dinner as it was their weekly Brazilian meat night. We saw them cooking some of it over an open grill earlier in the day and it made us hungry. The meat was delicious, and pretty cool to sit there while it was thundering and lightening outside as well.

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The breakfast was amazing as well. Ours was free as platinum members. Not sure exactly how much it was, but I think it was like $30 Cayman dollars…. it was good though. Lots of variety and you will eat too much. While the food didn’t change drastically at the buffet day to day, they did alter the menu. Its like vanilla french toast, to apple french toast. They also had eggs benedict on the buffet which were delicious!

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Once a month they have some type of special activity there. While we were there, they had Oktoberfest. It felt like the entire island was at the hotel in the lobby and bar area. It was great and strange. We weren’t prepared to walk from the beach and see this. Still had a great time though.

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They had a rec area which we never saw anyone use. It had nice views from the area.

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They also had a kids club that always looked empty. While our kids would have had fun a few days here, there was not a ton of kids activities for more than about 3 days. I could have stayed there all week just doing nothing. I would probably not have taken my kids there, or else we would have to plan an excursion each day.

The wifi was also pretty fast here. I was able to get some work done each morning with the wife sleeping. There are lots of restaurants and a mall all within a 10 minute walk.

Overall, this Beach House was great. The service was awesome and I hope to get back here with my wife and maybe some friends some day. The room are ok, but the laid back atmosphere, amazing water and sand, and just positive attitude that is hear make me want to get back.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: ALOFT DOWNTOWN ATLANTA

I was surprising my wife with a trip to the Grand Cayman Island. We had to position ourselves in Atlanta for the night, so I decided to get away from the normal airport hotels. I also had about 13k (=~$130) Meryl Lynch points I still had in my account through a Meryl Lynch Visa card I signed up for 2 years ago. (Card had 50k bonus points, and no annual fee. I had already used the rest of the points.) I was able to use the credit card website to make the booking. When booking through a 3rd party, one doesn’t always receive their elite benefits from the hotel as noted per the reward programs Ts and Cs. I called the Aloft a few days beforehand and asked to add my Marriott Platinum number. They were unable to do so at that time.

After a $20 and 20 minute Uber ride, we pulled up to the Aloft. We didn’t get to explore around the hotel too much, but it was in a decent area downtown. Several people walking around at night.

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The check in area was immediately when you walked in. The front desk was extremely helpful and nice and able to add my platinum number which allowed us to have free breakfast the next morning.

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Our room was on the 5th of 8 floors. It was a basic setup that would be good for a night, but a lil smaller than most US hotel rooms. You immediately walk in into the bathroom which was a little strange though. The bathroom was small but sufficient with a sink and counter just outside the shower/toilet door. The shampoo and conditioner were mounted inside the shower area.

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Beyond the bathroom is a little hallway with a no door closet and safe and also 2 free bottles of water..

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The main area was basic but worked well for one night. Large comfortable king size bed. Weird retro clock that we couldn’t figure out, small desk area, and great views from the room.

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The hotel had a very nice courtyard area out front and next to the pool. You could order drinks from the bar here. There was a liquor store a block away that we walked to and had a bottle of wine outside while enjoying the nice September weather. (note our cheap yellow tail wine was still $18….)

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I have never had breakfast at an Aloft before and wasn’t sure what to expect. As a Platinum member, we got a voucher for 2 free breakfasts. It was a little confusing of what was included in the voucher, but it ended up that we could basically have whatever we wanted. We both got the Ranchero, a few pastries, and a container of milk. This was also available A La Carte.

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There was just open seating anywhere you could find a spot in the front desk area. Some people were sitting at the bar.

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Just some other pictures form around the hotel.

The workout room

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24/7 coffee and tea

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Pool Table and business center

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Overall we had a nice stay here. However Aloft isn’t really my cup of tea. Nothing wrong with it, but I would stay in another hotel the next time I am in Atlanta.

 

REVIEW: SHERATON GUNTER SAN ANTONIO

For the second time in 2 weeks, American Airlines cancelled the second leg of my flight from DFW-SAT and re booked me on a flight 22 hours later. Well that doesn’t work so I had the pleasure of driving from DFW-SAT again and arriving at the Sheraton Gunter at 2am to check-in.img_20180917_015504

At 2am, the hotel and area is pretty dead. It was hard to find the entrance and parking area as its not off the main road and its in a maze of one way streets. I ended up parking across the street in a garage for $10 each night vs about $35 for valet.

The hotel is an older historic type hotel. However the lobby is more on the modern side, and then the rooms are older style again. As always when I check in, I asked for an upgrade as a platinum member and did not receive a room upgrade, but did get lounge access. He asked if I wanted breakfast or bonus points as well. Since I had lounge access where I could eat a small breakfast at, I chose the bonus points. Before I went up to my room, I asked him if I was close to the elevator as all I wanted to do was sleep. He said yes I was right next to it so he moved me a few doors down. I just love how I put in my Marriott profile that I like high floors away from elevators, yet they also give me rooms right next to the elevator.

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Different sitting areas in the lobby.img_20180917_075655img_20180917_075737

Business center off the main lobby.img_20180917_075707

Hallway down to the room.

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Small entrance hallway in the room.

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The room was pretty small with one king sized bed in there. Bed was comfortable, but their pillows are too fluffy for me and I end up sleeping with 3 of them. The chair in the picture below is awkwardly placed as there is no space for it so it’s not against a back wall but kind of in the middle. I ended up kicking it when getting out of bed a few times before I finally moved it. I did not get a picture of my view, because I was just looking over the HVAC and back at the hotel. img_20180917_020314

TV stand and desk all in one. There was a spot for a mini fridge in the desk area, but you must request one they are not in every room.img_20180917_020337img_20180917_020319

They did provide 3 bottles of water everyday which is always nice.img_20180917_020326img_20180917_020358_1

The bathroom was what you would expect. Decent toiletries. Clean and enough counter space for my quick stay here.img_20180917_020412img_20180917_020418img_20180917_020424img_20180917_071829

They have breakfast in the lounge, as well as an evening reception. The lounge itself was pretty nice with several different areas and even a pool table. It was off the second floor and provide large windows to look down on the street below.

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The breakfast was smaller than what most lounges offer. Eggs, bacon, and potatoes are your only hot options.  It was enough for a short stay, but a little disappointing.

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However the evenings was probably the highlight of my stay. It’s the little customer service attention that can make or break a hotel stay. While the food was nothing special, (cheese, chips and salsa, and some not very tasty chicken skewers) the service by the 2 lounge attendants was great. When I went into the lounge I was expecting to pay $5 for a glass of wine like they charge at most Marriott/Sheraton lounges in the US. The attendant asked how I had lounge access and I said from being a platinum member. She then asked where my tickets were so I could get free drinks. I told her I didn’t receive any when I checked in. She took my room number, went down to the front desk, got my tickets, and kept my drink full while I worked for the next hour in the lounge.

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While the hotel was clean, there was lots of little stuff falling apart in my room and in the hallways. It needs some TLC.

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While I wouldn’t go out of my way to stay here, if the price was competitive to other hotels in the area, I would stay here again. I didn’t get a chance to explore the area around the hotel much, but its in prime downtown tourist area, so I am sure there are lot’s of restaurants and activities nearby.

REVIEW:MARRIOTT SAN ANTONIO RIVER PLAZA

After a 5 hour delay at DFW, I decided to rent a car and drive to San Antonio at 1am. 5 hours and lots of soda later I get close to San Antonio and realize I am not sure which Marriott I am staying at. There are several Marriott’s in San Antonio; Riverwall, River Center, and River Plaza. Of course the Marriott App isn’t working at this time, so I decide to take a chance at River Plaza and pull up at about 5am. I just leave my car out front because I have 6am meetings and just need to get my room, shower and leave.

At 5AM the lobby was empty. It has a Spanish feel from it and is not a cookie cutter Marriott. It is very unique and has its own style. I asked the front desk clerk for an upgrade as a Platinum Elite member and he told me I was on the executive floor so it will be nice.

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Water in the lobby.

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Lobby sitting area.

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Bar area in lobby and more sitting area.

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My room on the 4th floor was directly next to the elevator. (not elevators, as one was broken.) I would typically always ask for a different room, but I just needed a shower and to move on so I didn’t bother asking for a different room. While the room was nice, there was nothing upgraded about it. Another “deluxe” room that is 99.9% the same as all the other rooms. Also, it was on the 4th floor executive floor, but the hotel has 7 floors. Not sure why the executive floor isn’t a higher floor.

Standard queen bed with lots of pillows. Also it was nice to have outlets in the lamps.

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Nice fancy sitting area.

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A proper desk which I appreciate so I can get real work done.

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TV and a single bottle of water. Coffee, safe, and small fridge were all in the dresser.

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The bathroom was pretty standard and adequate. Plastics cups for a Marriott and a lil cheap though.

The room also had a decent sized patio with real chairs! I enjoyed the view as well.

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It was nice being on the same floor as the lounge.  It was never crowded in the lounge and it always had decent offerings by US standards.

Now I was a little disappointed that I was not offered breakfast in the restaurant as a Platinum Elite, but I am not a big breakfast eater… Not an elaborate breakfast offering in the lounge, but big enough for 1 or 2 days.

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The drinks in the fridge were available all day long.img_20180904_081639

Coffee and Tea were also available all day long.img_20180904_081916

There was always seating available. The lounge had a Texas feel to it as you can see. There was also outside seating.img_20180904_081901img_20180904_132446img_20180904_132453_1

The lounge offered light snacks during the day as well as water and drinks from the fridge.

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They had a nice spread for evening appetizers, and it was my dinner one night. Then they have their honor bar, which is like $4 beers and $4 glass of wine.

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After Appetizers, they bring out some light desserts. My night was cheesecake and some type of brownies. Both were good.

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While I didn’t use the pool, weight room, or some of the other public places, here are a few pics of those areas.

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I didn’t take picture of the parking lot, but it was close onsite and $25, or $30 valet. While the hotel is not directly on the Riverwalk, its an easy stroll to it. Actually after staying on the walk so many times, I kind of liked being a few blocks away.

I enjoyed my 2 nights here at the Marriott River Plaza.  The hotel was unique and lounge was nicer than most other Marriott’s. It had its own charm, and I slept pretty good here. While I didn’t like my non-existent room upgrade or no real breakfast, I will probably give the River Plaza another stay the next time I am in town.

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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REVIEW: ACTIVITIES AT BEACHES TURKS AND CAICOS

There is no shortage of activities to keep you entertained at Beaches Turks and Caicos. Earlier I talked about the pools which is the highlight of the resort, but in this post I will try to cover everything else.

First let me start with a few of the water activities. They have snorkeling and scuba boats that go out just about every hour. You can bring your own gear, or they can provide some for ya as well. Its easy to reserve your spot the day before. We just did a snorkeling trip. The boat takes you about 5 minutes from the resort where you can still see the land. Then you snorkel or swim for about 30 minutes and then come back. It was fun and easy. However I did not like that they made you wear life vest that were not inflated. They were the blow up kind and just go in the way.

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There where several playgrounds around the property.

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The gym was adequate. It was fairly large, but the resort is huge and lots of people want to workout when eating so much. They had classes like Zumba and boot camps throughout the week. Beaches has a gym with a weight section and a cardio section, as well as a lil open air hardwood floor section where you can do whatever you want.

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Beaches has a large open air stage where they provide some type of entertainment each night. Sorry Beaches, but this was not your strong point. I’d rather just eat and drink on the beach.

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Close to the water park, there is a little clubhouse with pool , ping pong, air hockey, and fusbol tables for use.

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Beaches also provides all type of water sports activities opportunities. We took advantage of the kayaks and small catamarans. If you don’t know how to operate one, they will provide a guide for ya. They also had stand up paddle boards, windsurfing, water bikes, etc.

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There is an Xbox lounge which has a least 50 systems setup. Nothing amazing but a good way to kill some time if in between activities.

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Croquet anyone? (note I never saw a single person playing, but it looks nice.)

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Basketball and Shuffleboard anyone? They also had a very large tennis section.

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Then of course, plenty of drinks to go around for all ages.

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REVIEW: BEACHES TURKS AND CAICOS POOLS

After flight delay, lost bags, and finally checking in; all we wanted to do was swim. Beaches Turks and Caicos (TCI) advertises they have like 132 pools or something like absurd like that. I didn’t keep count but there is one around every corner.

The Caribbean village had 2 main pools both with swim up Bars. The Iguana pool had a lot of the structured activities like volleyball and polo.

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Close to this pool was another Caribbean village pool. It was all 4 ft deep and had waterfalls and also had a swim up bar.

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The Italian pool was huge with lots of statues around it. It was rectangular in shape with some water features off to the side. Of course it had a swim up bar as well.

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The French pool was also huge with lots of water features to the side. Guess what- it had a large swim up bar as well.

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I would consider the aforementioned pools the main pools. While they could get crowded, I never felt like they were overcrowded. They all provide very nice and comfortable lounge chairs. There was only one time throughout the week where at 2pm we couldn’t find 2 chairs. Of course you can go down there at 9am and put your stuff down. However they will move your items if you aren’t there after a while.

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All the areas had plenty of towels close by. Beaches does not count towels like some all-inclusives, so you can grab as many as you want. They never ran out of towels either. So many other all-inclusives you have towel cards, are only allowed 1 towel per person, and if you lose one you have to pay for a new one. Then they are always short on towels at the towel huts as well. Not at Beaches though! No counting and plenty of towels to go around.

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There were some other pools as well like an adults only pool and there was an adults only Jacuzzi. Most of the pools had some type of Jacuzzi incorporated with them as well.

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Now the gem of the pools is Pirates Cove Waterpark. Its open from 10-5 everyday. There is something for everyone here.

The lazy river is quite enjoyable, just watch out for the waterfalls.

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There are 3 main slides all off the same stairs. 1 is a normal slide and 2 are inner-tube slides. They provide plenty of tubes as well including 2 person tubes, as well as smaller tubes for children. Some slides you had to be 44 inches tall, and other 48 inches tall.

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Then there are 2 smaller slides in a different area of the Waterpark for people who don’t want the gigantic slides.

There is also a pirate ship with lots of water features and small slides for the littler kids.

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Pirates Cove even has a swim up bar that only features kids drinks. This also has a nice cave with waterfall right next to it. The French swim up pool is pretty close as well for those adults who need to go get a drink.

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Another highlight of Pirates Cove is the Surf Simulator. You have to sign a waiver and be 54 inches to do the surfing part. Or at 2pm, they allow shorter people to do body boarding. The surfing was easier to catch on than what I thought. Doing tricks is hard. Standing up with barely any balance was doable. Of course they have workers to help you and they are great at their job and make the experience great.

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In Pirates Cove you have several quick bites to choose from. Bobby Dees has self serve pizza and hot dogs as well as an ice cream counter. They also have a menu that you can order from  and sit down or get it to go. There is also a Mac n Cheese truck in the waterpark and an ice cream truck there as well.

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There are spots of chairs everywhere. 2 days we were able to snag the fancy cabanas. Sometimes these were reserved for Butler Service, but if they didn’t have a sign on them, they were free for the taking.

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One of the great things about the waterpark is that we could let our 7 and 9 year old wonder free here. We could relax with a drink in the cabana while our kids went up and down the waterslides 30 times in a row. (longest line we ever saw was about 8 people….) One of the bad things though is that it’s so much fun, our kids didn’t want to do too much beach time.

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REVIEW: BEACHES RESORT TURKS AND CAICOS. CHECK IN, ROOM, AND CHECK OUT

We arrived on a Delta flight at about 1pm to Turks and Caicos. The customs and immigration lines weren’t too bad, as it appeared we were only flight arriving at that time. I thought there was like a Beaches lounge or something, but there was not. You walk out of the airport where there are a bunch of hotels with signs. Beaches is to the left. It was pretty crowded and they give you your room number here, but it only took about 10 minutes to hop in a van. They had some nice Escalades for the Beaches Elite, but we are not that so we just piled into a large passenger van and where on our way.

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It’s only about a 15 minute drive which is nice compared to Beaches Negril which is like 2 hours. Beaches has many different villages, and the van will drop you off at your specific village. We get dropped off at the Caribbean Village. We give our bags to the porter and they just line them up outside with all the other bags. There are cold towels and drinks waiting for you once you get out of the van. They have reps who take you to sit down on a couch and finish the check in process on an Ipad. Then you take that to the front desk to get your keys. By this time it’s about 1:30 and our room is not ready.

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We grab a bite at Reflections Restaurant as we are starving by this time. We then just walk around a lil bit until 3:15pm. I then go back to the front desk and they tell be 15 more minutes. At about this same time, a small kids train pulls up so my kids and wife jump on that so they can see more of the resort.

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At 330 I go back to the front desk and my room is ready! A Beaches lady escorts me up to room 260. We walk past my bags still lined up outside so I grab them. She tells me they will have someone bring them up, but since they are just carry ones I tell her I would rather do it myself as I don’t want to wait for our swimsuits. We get up to our room and it’s not too bad. Beaches is pretty darn expensive so I booked the cheapest room category. While our room was not huge, it had good views and would be just fine for our 5 days here.

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ROOM

Our room in the Caribbean Village #260. It was overlooking the basketball courts, but you could also see the ocean and some of the pools. I was happy with it since I booked a DK room type which was the cheapest room possible at that time.

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It included a nice large king bed. The mattress was firm but not rock hard. The pillows were pretty firm as well, but they have some softer ones in the closet.

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Then they have a day bed with trundle which is prefect for 2 kids.

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A small desk and sitting area.

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The armoire was just fine for our 5 days. It’s the beach so we didn’t have a lot of clothes. But there are only 6 drawers. The TV was in front of the bed. It was nice to be able to wind down at night and fall asleep to a show. The reception was pretty bad and they didn’t not have a good selection of channels though. Next to that they had a microwave, though I don’t know why. Then a coffee maker 3 cups. (3 is kind of random) Then they stocked the mini fridge daily. You can ask them for your favorite drinks and bottles of wine when you checkin as well. However they just brought us wine the first day and never restocked it. (we never got wine glasses though)

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The bathroom was sufficient. The best thing was that they give you plenty of large bottles of shampoo, conditioner, and lotion. There is a hair dryer as well. They also stocked plenty of towels which is a big plus when you are at the beach with kids. Here was one single glass and an ice bucket in the bathroom. I thought it was pretty strange during our stay that beaches only provided one glass in the bathroom but 3 coffee cups and no wine glasses. I kind of figure after the first night it would have been obvious that there was 4 of us, and that we didn’t drink coffee at all, but did drink a lot of wine. They never provided different cups though.

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It’s nice to have a patio, but it was tiny. Barely large enough for the 2 chairs and table. Plus a small clothes rack.

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Beaches provided complimentary internet connectivity. It was useless in our room though, I think I heard the old AOL modem cranking up a few times. You could get a very short connection from our patio though. It was pretty strong from the public areas.

We were in the Caribbean village which is the far area. We enjoyed it very much though. No matter where you stay, it can be a quick and enjoyable walk to wherever you need to go. Compared to the French, and Italian villages, our area was definitely a lil plain. The pools were very nice and we enjoyed them, but not quit as fancy as the Italian or French pools. Of course you can swim wherever you want though. We actually spent most of our pool time at the waterpark anyways. The beach area in front of the Caribbean was definitely the least crowded though and the least amount of natives trying to sell whatever they can get you to buy.

Our flight on our last day was at 1:19pm. That mean they pick you up from the Beaches departures lounge at 10am. Bags needed to be set outside your room by 9am. We were not quite ready by 9am so we just took our bags down to the departure lounge ourself, which was a short walk from the Caribbean Village lobby. At the lounge they have some comfortable chairs and cookies and water. We were in a van by 10am and it’s a short 20 minute drive to the airport. We were checked in and through security by 10:30, which meant we had 2 hours to do nothing in their very basic airport. PLS guideline is to be at airport 2 hours before flight. We were there about 3 hours so we definitely could have left Beaches a lil later. They don’t always have vans scheduled for later but if you really wanted to I guess you could have taken a cheap cab to stay at Beaches an extra hour.

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Overall our room was perfect for 5 days for the 4 of us. As I mentioned it was a basic room but provided enough room and we slept relatively good. I figured we would have been stuck in a corner overlooking a parking lot, but we had a least were able to see the ocean.

I will be posting more reviews soon of the pools, restaurants, beach, and activities. I also plan on posting a quick comparison of 5 different all inclusive we have gone to in the 3 years and how they compare in amenities and in value. Overall Beaches TCI was amazing. I would love to go back again, just not sure if I need to sell a Kidney to be able to do so.

REVIEW:RESIDENCE INN SAN ANTONIO RIVERWALK/ALAMO

I don’t often post reviews of hotels I stay at for work travel because I usually only spend about 8 hours in the hotel and about 7 of that is sleeping. I have stayed at this hotel several times for work as its always at an approved rate and finally decided to post a review of it.

While not a fancy 5 star hotel, its very cozy place with large rooms that I am very comfortable at. As a Gold member, I have always been upgraded from a studio suite to a 1 bedroom suite.

The rooms are large and I could see my family of 4 enjoying a week in San Antonio here. Lots of accessible power outlets make charging up phones and Ipads easy and quick.

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Small kitchen would make quick dinners and lunches easy. Also would be a good place to warm up leftovers and easy to put all your wine, beer, and juice boxes in the fridge to stay cold.

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On some of the lower floors you can get some street noise, so make sure to get a high floor. Last stay was on the 9th floor and it was quiet.

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Bathrooms are pretty normal. I don’t like the shower built in shampoo amenities though.

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The breakfast doesn’t start until 6:30. I think that is too late for weekdays as I never get to experience the full breakfast. I can usually sneak in a lil early and get some fruit and yogurt to go though.

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They have an evening complimentary reception Monday-Wednesday. Free beer (Shiner!), wine, and soft drinks from 630-8.. It is a lil disappointing that they don’t provide food every night through. (but this is the unfortunately the norm with Residence Inn) Monday and Tuesday they do, but then on Wednesday they have a food truck available for food purchases. I’d rather have free food than spend $40 for a family of 4 for food truck food….

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While the location is  a few blocks back from the Riverwalk, it’s still centrally located and you can walk anywhere quickly.  I feel safe walking at night as well here. I actually kind of like it’s not right on the river, as its very quiet.

The workout room was small. It was never crowded though. Only dumbbells and no weight machines. The pool area was also quite small. If I had my kids with me, they would be disappointed. (it was always crowded with kids so i did not take pictures.

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Valet and Self-parking are both $24. Self-parking is onsite so it’s almost easier just to do that. The valet area isn’t I have stayed at The Westin down the street where parking is $40 a night…. (Yes the Westin is a lot nicer, but when only spending 8 hours in a hotel, a lot of their amenities are not useful and I would rather save the $16.)

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Overall this is a very comfortable hotel that I would bring my family to if the price is right. There are a lot of options by the Riverwalk but I would stay here again for the right price.

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