Tag Archives: hyatt

Holland Part 7: Hotel Reviews in Amsterdam

Holland Part 1: Falling for Amsterdam
Holland Part 2: Jewish History in Amsterdam
Holland Part 3: Snapshots from The Hague
Holland Part 4: Meet Mondrian
Holland Part 5: Welcome to Leiden
Holland Part 6: Thanksgiving in Leiden

Since this was a last minute trip, I had to cobble together points for the Amsterdam portion of our stay. It turned out pretty well, if I do say so myself. The first couple of nights, we stayed at the Renaissance Amsterdam Hotel (Marriott) for 40,000 points a night. A stone’s throw from the central train station, I loved the location. The rooms were not huge, but not closets either. As a Marriott gold, I often find the “upgrades” are not really upgrades. But gold gave us free breakfast, which more than makes up for the standard room.

2017-05-30 18.05.362017-05-30 18.05.372017-05-30 18.05.392017-05-30 17.48.002017-05-30 17.48.042017-05-30 17.36.522017-05-30 17.36.58Our last night in Amsterdam, we tried out the new Hyatt Regency on the other side of town. Only a couple of weeks old, I thought the hotel was lovely, but I definitely preferred the location of the Marriott. The hotel is situated right on the Singelgracht canal, and our room had a view of the water. Two other positives about the Hyatt: 1) It’s a block away from the Weesperplain subway stop; 2) As a category 4 hotel, it qualifies for the anniversary free night for holders of the Hyatt credit card – a rare thing for western Europe!

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Both are great hotels, but my Marriott status and my location preference made the Renaissance the clear winner. See the below map with the Marriott in Red and the Hyatt in purple. The blue pins represent classic Amsterdam sights.

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Vietnam #7: Welcome to Central Vietnam

Vietnam #1: It’s a Long Ass Flight to Vietnam
Vietnam #2: The Best Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City
Vietnam #3: A Lesson in History and Propaganda
Vietnam #4: The Streets of HCMC
Vietnam #5: Is the Mekong Delta Worth It?
Vietnam #6: My First Overseas Doctor Visit

We chose the coastal city of Danang as our base for exploring central Vietnam. I used my Chase points and my free annual night to book three nights at the Hyatt Regency Danang Resort.

I don’t think I’ve seen Lisa happier in my life. She loved waking up to the sound of the waves and strolling along the beach every morning. Seriously, ecstatic does not begin to describe it. As an added bonus, we were only a 25 minute ride from the ancient city of Hoi An, and we enjoyed a complimentary shuttle thanks to my Hyatt gold status.

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Lisa relaxing on our patio. She quickly deemed this couch “my chair.”

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Dipping my toes in the water and – what else? – taking pictures

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Lisa. In. Heaven.

The resort is beautifully decorated with light and airy touches. There are multiple pools on the premises, a fitness center (we even squeezed in a yoga class), a spa, restaurants, a water slide, and a climbing wall.

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And now the views. Be prepared to have your breath taken away.

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**2015-11-30 07.32.48-cropped As a final touch, we came back to our hotel room Monday night and found this extra waiting for us in honor of Lisa’s birthday. Happy birthday Lisa! What a great way to celebrate the birth of you!

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The Hyatt is about a 15 minute ride to central Danang. Despite overwhelming exhaustion, we grabbed a cab into town Sunday night to watch the big local attraction: Danang’s fire-breathing, water-spurting Dragon Bridge.

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Construction on the bridge started in 2009, and it opened to traffic in 2013. It quickly became something of an artistic and engineering marvel – a 2,185 feet long beauty with thousands of LED lights that come to life at night. Every weekend night at nine p.m., the dragon actually breathes fire and spurts water for half an hour in ten-minute increments. The weekly event is a hit with tourists, but even locals gather with their tiny plastic chairs and street food to enjoy the spectacle.

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12 Nights of Vietnam Hotels for $92.50

I hope you’re not tired of listening to me gush about the  power of miles and points. WARNING: There is more gushing to come. We leave for Vietnam in one week (!!!!!), and we’ve been busy planning.

The short story is we booked 12 nights at pretty nice hotels for $92.50 a person. Here’s the breakdown:

Ho Chi Minh City: Five nights at Intercontinental Asiana Residences for 95,000 IHG points, one free night, and $40.

Da Nang: Three nights at the Hyatt Regency for 18,000 Hyatt points, one free night, and $75.

Hue: One night at the Eldora Hotel for $70.

Hanoi: Three nights at the Sheraton Hanoi for 10,000 SPG points.

The long story is, well, much longer.

As soon as Lisa and I booked our flights to Vietnam, I made a map and chart of all the possible hotel options. I did an audit of my hotel points and asked Lisa to do the same. I had spent many of my points in Scotland, so I need to figure out which points I needed to restock.

We started with Lisa. I had convinced her to get the IHG credit card for a bonus of 70,000 points. A couple of months later, Lisa was sitting on 75,000 IHG points. That was enough for three nights at the Intercontinental Asiana Saigon Residences in Ho Chi Minh City at 25,000 points a night. Ho Chi Minh has a number of nice hotels – from Hyatt, to SPG, to IHG, to Marriott – but the Asiana Residences offered apartment sized rooms with an actual living room and kitchen. That was a no-brainer. I just had to cobble together points for two additional nights. Luckily, the anniversary on my own IHG credit card reset on October 1, granting me another free annual night. Four nights down, one to go. Thanks to IHG’s 10 percent rebate on redemptions and my Chase points, I managed to accrue 20,000 points. That plus $40 gave us our fifth night.

Next up is the coastal city of Da Nang. This was a simple process of elimination. Da Nang has two points hotels: The swanky Intercontinental and the Hyatt Regency. We were fresh out of IHG points so I needed to cobble together three nights’ worth of Hyatt points. My Hyatt credit card give me a free annual night at a category 1 – 4 hotel. That’s one night. I transferred 12,000 Chase ultimate reward points and booked our second night. For our third night, I used 6,000 Hyatt points and $75. Three nights – done.

Our next stay is in the ancient city of Hue. There are no points hotels, but plenty of great, affordable options. You can book a motel for as low as $15, but we splurged on the four-star Eldora Hotel for $70.

Our last hotel stay is in Hanoi. We decided to stay in the ultra-bargain Sheraton (where my SPG credit card will get us access to the lounge!) for 3,000 – 3,500 points a night.

And that’s how we booked 12 nights of hotels for $185. Split between two people, that’s only $92.50 a person!

 

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Living Large in Cancun

For the record, I’m not a beach person. I get antsy. I want to see and do things. But I had two free Hyatt nights I needed to use and the idea of relaxing in the lap of unadulterated luxury appealed to me. So my friend Eliana and I hopped a direct Southwest flight from Baltimore to Cancun for a four-day weekend.

This review needs to be prefaced by the fact that I was pretty sick most of the trip. Being the stubborn overachiever that I am, when I get sick, I go all the way – boxes of tissues, endless sniffling and sneezing — the works. Needless to say, I was fairly miserable. But that is not the hotel’s fault.

The hotel is beautiful. The rooms are large (though not as large as I have seen in some descriptions) and all have lovely views of the Caribbean Sea. The massive Jacuzzi is kind of hysterical, and I caused a mild flood in our room when I gave it a whirl. Oops.

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My friend Eliana relaxing on the hammock on our balcony.

The hotel is all-inclusive so once you get your bracelet, everything (except for the spa) is free. The hotel boasts five restaurants, a cafe, and a 24-hour club room. The thrill of drinking as many diet cokes as I liked was intoxicating.

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The weather was hot and humid, hitting a consistent high 80s each day. We spent the majority of our time in the pool (Eliana) or lounging by the pool (me) and sleeping (both of us). I had big plans to go to the gym and try out the yoga classes, but the persistent congestion killed those plans. I made it to the gym on the last morning, and while small, it is modern and stocked with everything you might need – including excellent wifi. (P.S. Netflix works in Cancun!)

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As many people have reported, the cabanas and lounge chairs get snapped up at a ridiculous hour of the morning that I refuse to get up at on vacation, but we managed to find adequate spots to rest our lazy butts.

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There is nightly entertainment in the main lobby and a lovely spa where we enjoyed deep tissue massages (thanks Eliana!).

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Dancers doing something exotic.

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The spa

All in all, it was a very relaxing and luxurious weekend. It’s not something I feel a need to do again, but if you are a beach person, I highly recommend the Hyatt Zillara.

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Never Take No For An Answer (Oh, And I’m Going to Cancun!)

I’ve been AWOL for too long. Work has been busy — which is a good thing — but I have too many fun trips on the horizon and I can’t help wanting to gloat about them. So here’s the latest: Holy contributing to the delinquency of minors – I’m going to Cancun! (Andy yes, that is a real quote from the first season of Batman.)

I’ve never been a beach person so Cancun may seem like an odd choice. But I got the Hyatt Chase credit card last fall when my sister and I were thinking of going to Hawaii, and now I have two free nights at any Hyatt in the world that I need to use before September 30, 2015. I know, you’re crying on the inside for me.

I’ve read great reviews about the new all-inclusive Hyatt in Cancun, and Southwest offers nonstop flights from BWI to Cancun. I asked my friend Eliana if she wanted to go to Cancun for a weekend and this was her emailed response:

“I would freaking love to.”

So I transferred 17,000 Chase points to Southwest and booked a nonstop flight for 26,000 points and $75. Not bad for a flight that would have cost upwards of $500. I also transferred 17,000 Chase points to my Hyatt account to combine with my 8,000 Hyatt points. This gives us a third night in Cancun for a nice little weekend get away. And it gets sweeter still: Hyatt is offering a 20 percent points back promotion for award stays through July 31, 2015. So I should expect 5,000 points back in my account after our stay. More details on the promotion here.

When I called to book the free Hyatt nights the representative told me he only had one free night available. I insisted that I had called 10 minutes ago to confirm availability before I booked my flights, and he told me he couldn’t help me. I insisted on speaking to his manager, but he insisted that no one could change the available inventory for me. So I did what any intrepid travel hacker would do: I hung up and called back five minutes later. I got a new representative who, magically, had no trouble finding the free nights for me. The lesson I learned: NEVER TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER. Especially when free nights in Cancun are on the line.

Despite the fact that Cancun has never been on my bucket list, I’m pretty excited. Every room is a suite (around 650 square feet) with an ocean view that looks mind-blowing. Somehow, I think I’ll manage to enjoy this view for three days.

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