Hotels in Europe
1) Residence Lord Byron: Hotel Residence Lord Byron,m 5 rue Chateaubriand, 75008 Paris www.hotel-lordbyron.fr Ph: +33 (0) 1 43 59 89 98
1) The Amsterdam American Hotel: Amsterdam American Hotel, Leidsekade 97, Amsterdam NL, 1017 PN, Ph: 31-20-5563000
located just a few short blocks to the main Avenue des Champs – Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe; and within a long walking distance to The Louvre and the Cathedral of Notre Dame; this quaint hotel has the staff that will do anything to ensure you have a wonderful stay! They have all the directions, recommendations, and know the do’s and don’ts of Paris. We had a Junior Suite there, which we were upgraded to upon arrival. It was not lavish, but it was really spacious for a European room, it had a separate sitting parlor, a great view, and a room safe. This hotel offers rooms at very reasonable rates for such a good location! The lobby was small, but very pretty, and the private courtyard of flowers was perfect for pictures and bit of romance. They offer breakfast daily, but we chose to eat at this delicious bakery just down the street (the yogurt in Paris is amazing). Tell them Riana from New Jersey sent you!
An Art Nouveau building built in 1902 located right on a canal on central Leidseplein Square, the site of some of the busiest nightlife in Amsterdam; this beautiful hotel has a very welcoming lobby, an incredible restaurant off the lobby (Cafe Americain), a romantic bar room (Bar Americain), outdoor dining, and located centrally to almost everything. Cafe Americain, which serves International dishes, has stained glass windows and Tiffany lamps which create the ambiance of the 1920’s. We relished our dinner at the restaurant, where both the service and food were worth the moderate price. Enjoy the Sunday Jazz brunch, live piano music, and a terrace that overlooks the square.
The trolley stops right outside of the hotel, so it is easy to get around to all areas of Amsterdam. The room had an incredible view, was very large with a separate room for working or lounging, and the beds were extremely comfortable. I loved the Art Deco decor within the rooms and bath. Check-in was flawless and the staff very courteous. There is a fitness suite and sauna also on site. If you are single, it tends to attract an upscale single, business clientele. We stayed 2 nights for $357 US – not the least expensive hotel in the area, but I feel a real beauty for the price – worth every penny!
St. Maarten, Neth Antilles
Simpson Bay Resort and Marina, Billy Folly Road # 37, Philipsburg, St. Maarten, NETH. ANTILLES 599-5-442503 (877) 700-1154
The Photos of this resort were amazing online and I thought it would be reputable as it was offered through Interval International. What a disappointment! We exchanged for a large 1-BR Suite, and was offered”an upgrade” because we told them we were writing up the resort on this site. Their upgrade was a studio room with two small full beds, and horrendous sheets and bedspreads. The only thing good about this room was the view – overlooking the pool and turquoise blue water of Simpson Bay. The bathroom was also nice and was upgraded. But we only had a bar-sized frig, microwave, and toaster. It was small, and on the timeshare vacations, we do like to eat breakfast and lunch within our suite. The kitchen was missing items that I had to hunt down, because no one from housekeeping would answer the phone. I asked to talk to the Manager about our room situation, and he never called all week. This “lock-off” room had a gate around the small patio, so we couldn’t even go from our room to the pool. We always make the best of things, but this was a HUGE let-down, and I would NEVER recommend this resort – ever.
I was upset at the size of the room, and to get what we were supposed to (1-BR Suite) they wanted to charge us another $1300/week – isn’t that ridiculous? When we asked to see a 1-BR suite, they had us go up over the hill to a room that was small, smelly, and downright disgusting. The chemical bleach smell was so strong, I could not have spent a night there without being sick. It had a view of the parking lot and the kitchen was in a closet; so we went back and took the small room with the view. A local resident told us the resort had gone bankrupt last year, and the older rooms are in severe need of being upgraded. Supposedly, this has been bought by The Royal Resorts – which we stayed in Cancun, and was lovely. They have a lot of work to do – start by firing the entire staff, and gutting the rooms, and start over. Good Luck!
Hotels in the US
New York; New York City
1) Washington Square Hotel 103 Waverly Place, NYC, 10011. Ph: 212-777-9515 www.washingtonsquarehotel.com (Sept 2010 – Newsletter Featured Hotel; Issue 1)
My companion and I really enjoyed our Anniversary weekend at the New York City Washington Square Hotel. Tucked away in Greenwich Village, one of Manhattan’s most desirable neighborhoods that are rich with history, culture, artists, authors, and architecture. Fine cafes, restaurants & clubs abound, with the Meatpacking district (the latest party spot in NYC) just a few blocks away.
The hotel offers an Art Deco motif, restaurant, lounge/bar, Sunday Jazz brunch, lobby café, and a small gym. We had a beautiful, big, King Deluxe suite, room 802, which was huge for NYC standards! It featured a large bathroom with a lovely marbled double sink and shower for two, the softest sheets in the biggest king bed I have ever seen, and a lady’s vanity desk with a mirror. The price was extremely reasonable for location and amenities, and this one-of-a-kind room. The staff was great, especially the doorman who really knows what to recommend! We were treated to a VIP breakfast, with fresh squeezed orange juice, freshly baked bread, and wonderful omelets. No longer, do you need to search for the right boutique hotel in this section of town!
2) The Mansfield Hotel: 12 West 44th St (between 5th & 6th), New York, NY 10036 (212) 277-8700.
We stayed two nights here in August, 2009. We were looking for a hotel convenient to almost any location in Manhattan, and we found it at a reasonable price! Bryant Park is just a block away South, Central Park is 15 blocks North, Times Square 2 blocks West, and shopping on 5th Avenue is one block over. What a location! The Mansfield Hotel, originally built in 1903 and restored in 2007, is a quaint Art Deco historic landmark that is tucked away on a side street, that offers 126 rooms and suites (27 of them suites) on 12 floors.
There is a complimentary European-styled breakfast buffet served in the M bar, and 24-hour coffee and tea service. There is 24-hour room service and a full-service concierge, a 24-hour fitness room, and a cozy Club room/library with a fireplace. The staff was friendly, knowledgeable, and very helpful in making our stay one of the best we have had in New York City. Our Suite was just beautiful, very luxurious bedding, and a full parlor room off the bedroom. Very romantic for couples, and safe and convenient for singles (Bryant Park is a great location to spot other singles!) We loved this hotel for the price of $259 for 2 nights, and would definitely return again!
The Hamptons, NY
1) The Montauk Yacht Club: 32 Star Island Rd, Montauk NY 11954 (631) 668-3100 A Hampton’s legacy since 1928, the Montauk Yacht Club has been a favorite playground on Long Island’s eastern end and has been home to many of the rich and famous. The resort features 1 indoor and 2 outdoor heated pools,l a private beach on Lake Montauk, full0service spa and fitness center, complimentary kayaks, paddle boats, bikes and weekend yoga (in season), 232-slip world-class marina, and Surf camp and lessons for kids.
Atlantic City, NJ
1) The Tropicana Hotel/Casino: Atlantic City, NJ (Ph: 800-345-8767); Review of the Romantic Getaway Package (Update June 2016) – Enjoyed another night at the TROP on Thursday, still one of my favorite casinos. However, AC seemed empty for a nice Thursday night in June. We did dance at Boogie Nights which did pull in a crowd but was sorry to see The Comedy Stop at the Trop had closed. The whole Havana Tower hotel rooms were closed off! for our check-in, but we did receive a nice suite for being a part of Romance International. Hopefully, it is hopping on weekends in the summer months, because I always loved the energy in the Trop casino hotel!
This is one of my favorite hotel/casino properties in Atlantic City, due to all the offerings of top-shelf restaurants, shops, and entertainment in the newer section called, “The Quarter.” I recently went there on a getaway. It was offered Sunday through Thursday in the months of February and March, 2011. Here was the package:
- Classic King-sized room
- One $75 Trop & Quarter Gift card – can be used for dining, shopping and entertainment
- Breakfast for two in the room the next morning
- Health club admission – free use of gym, pool and hot tub
- 2 pm late checkout
- Cost: $78 pp for one night, or $103.00 per person for two nights (February) – in March, the fee is $83.00 per person/one night, and $113.00 per person/ two-night stay
This package was Fabulous! Being from Romance International Travel, we got upgraded to a huge corner room with a great view of the Atlantic Ocean and also a city view (thanks to Jose at the desk). The breakfast the next day was meant for royalty – and all included! They brought plenty of food, enough for six – and we loved taking our leisurely meal in front of the large window. The room was extremely clean and spacious, and the spa/gym was also clean. The casino atmosphere itself is lively and feels fun. If you come to AC – make sure you stop at The Trop!
The $75 gift card was used at The Red Square in the Quarter, a favorite of mine – for fabulous food and service, and a very romantic bar with a cool, South Beach vibe to it. Ask for the Private booths with curtains for a very sexy, private, romantic meal. I had the lamb, and my companion the Filet, and both were just perfectly prepared! So using the gift card, we indulged and the meal and drinks were quite reasonable after that.
We then went to The Comedy Stop at the Trop (2nd floor in the Quarter) – which I have been going to for years! There is a special for two for one ticket, Sunday through Thursday – and with the Trop VIP card, you save an extra $2 per/ticket – so for both of us, the show was only $27; with a minimum of two drinks to be ordered once inside. There are always 3 comedians, and they are fantastic! Never a disappointing date night when you come here! (Call 609-822-7353 for tickets or information).
The next day we did use the hot tub and loved sleeping in late and checking out by 2 pm. From there we enjoyed the rest of the day at the Ceasars Pier, having sushi for lunch and enjoying some shopping at my favorite stores, Cachet and BeBe.
This One – or – Two-night special is REALLY WORTH IT! Go and treat yourselves to the specials at The Trop in Atlantic City, NJ! Sign up on their website to be notified of the deals – you’ll be glad you did!
2) The Flagship Resort: 60 N. Main Street, Atlantic City, NJ (part of the Fantasy Resorts) Ph: 609-343-7447
(Update – April 2016) – ANOTHER great stay at the Flagship – beautiful balcony room with ocean view, and small kitchen. Had a nice dinner at the restaurant where we enjoyed a great female singer. We had a free transportation bus to the Golden Nugget deck where we heard the BEST Shore band – “Don’t call me Francis” and enjoyed the outdoor hot tub at the Flagship the next morning. Nice rooms at a great price!
I have been an owner at this timeshare Resort since 1997, and recently gave this to my two daughters as a gift. I held my daughter Stephana’s Bachelorette and Shower Party here in March and reserved two of the large suites with full kitchens, with 1.5 baths at the member’s rates of $99/nt plus taxes. I hosted 12 ladies, and the rooms were gorgeous, with ocean views. We had a feast, much of what we prepared, plus we ordered direct from the resort Chef to the room – a pasta dish with Turkey meatballs, and Talipa white fish – everyone loved the hot dishes.
This hotel resort has a huge pool, game room, gym, a beautiful restaurant overlooking the ocean with a DJ on weekends. The Concierge is great; he was really helpful to me and our guests – and check-in was extremely efficient and the Rep really understood our needs. With the two suites we had, one offered a King sized bed, the other had two doubles, and everyone remarked how beautiful and spacious they were.
Two weeks later, the Head of Security called me and told me one of the Bachelorette favors was found (a pink hat with many signatures from our night) and he is mailing it to Florida directly to my daughter – now THAT is service! Remember, the choice of rooms is better in the offseason of October through April, but stay posted to see what offers I may be able to bring if you book here!
OCEAN CITY, NJ –
We stayed one night on 9th Street at the Tradewinds Hotel. I knew the location was only about 2 blocks to the beach and boardwalk, and so we chose this one for location. It has a very small pool that no one used – right off the parking lot – so there was no ambiance. The rooms were dingy and OLD – I’m talking 1960’s with no updates. The charge was $168 a night, and we felt ripped off. This was NOT a romantic hotel in the very least, the best thing about it was the nice Manager who checked us in. For the money that hotel makes, PLEASE remodel – my gosh! This is rated only 1 star for location – this is a college flop motel; so be warned.
As of April, 2014, Delray Beach Florida is my hometown – and I LOVE it! Here are some recommendations from a new local –
Delray Beach, Florida
1) Cranes Hotel – 82 Gleason St, Delray Beach, FL 33483 (561) 278-1700. Feels like a tropical paradise – and that you are really on a vacation even though I live down the street. I won a Free room to this pretty, little hideaway, and the staff was gracious enough to let us stay Halloween night. We had a smaller, second-floor suite, but was thrilled it had a kitchenette. It wasn’t glamorous, but more earthy and island-like; which was fine for us. The shower was oversized and fun for two. There were tons of little free amenities throughout the room, which I really liked as well as offered a ton of side services that could make your stay more enjoyable. The only downside was the headboard of the bed wasn’t attached properly, thus noisy. Free breakfast was offered under a tiki hut, which was a great bonus for us. I liked that it had two pools, one with a Tiki bar, we chose the one with the serene rock waterfall; and we stayed for the day, even though the beach is only one block away. Parking was free – a real bonus! They also give you discount perks from other businesses in the area. My favorite part was the gorgeous, island flowers and waterfalls all over the property. Very quaint, and a great romantic getaway! We Loved it!
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Marriott’s BeachPlace Towers: 21 S Ft. Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale, FL Ph: 954-525-444 This is a very pretty hotel with a Fabulous Beach view off the balcony. There is a nice pool, but get there early to get a chair and the sun starts going down beyond the building at about 1 pm. You’ve got some bars and restaurants right in the mall complex, you’re right across the street from the beach, and you’re on the AIA strip that leads to Las Olas – an upscale shopping area and tons of restaurants – so you have a great mix of two vibrant areas. The staff is very nice and accommodating. Just know this is also a time-share resort so there are usually a lot of kids – if you want something for the family this is perfect, if you want something more intimate there is the W and the Ritz Carlton right nearby.
Miami South Beach, Florida
1) Carlton Hotel South Beach: 1433 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
This newly remodeled Boutique Hotel is in the perfect location – one block to the ocean with an Olympic size swimming pool on location. Located right in the middle of South Beach, it is two blocks from the famous Lincoln Road where the locals like to hang at the many outdoor cafes, close to many hot nightclubs; yet close enough to walk to the tourist section and Deco area of Ocean Blvd.
We enjoyed the Lobby Bar, with Owen the Bartender quite friendly and accommodating. Michael at check-in was great, the pool had a wonderful southern exposure and nice lounge chairs, and we were able to park our car right next to the hotel – rare in South Beach. We loved our room, #101 – only 3 steps up off the lobby, very large, with soft white linens, a huge king bed, large Plasma TV, CD Player, mini frig, and room safe. There was Internet access throughout the hotel for free, and we were offered a generously extended checkout.
We loved this hotel and will be back. Our only recommendation is to have a more generous breakfast offering, as breakfast is offered with the price of the room. The choice was either toast or cereal – perfect for the South Beach skinny models, but not enough for my companion and I. We paid $287.59 for two nights, for an upgraded, renovated Superior King room – quite reasonable for South Beach!
Key West, FL
Opal Key Resort & Marina Hotel 245 Front Street, Key West 33030; Ph: (305) 294-4000 Ask for Robert Slider, Guest Services Manager. Ning Shag – Front Desk Manager.
The Opal Resort is my absolute Favorite place to stay in Key West! It’s in an excellent location on Front Street and right next to Mallory Square where Sunset is Celebrated each evening. For Fantasy Fest and changing into multiple costumes a day; we felt so fortunate to be staying here! We received absolutely Great service – Everywhere! From the Bellmen who greeted us and offered us cold drinks and efficiently packed our cart with tons of bags for Fantasy Fest, to the front desk staff and Manager Robert Slider, and the waitstaff at their ocean-view restaurant, Bistro 245, we couldn’t have felt more taken care of! This hotel has a great layout with the pool wrapped around by the rooms, and the pool gets sun all day which is rare at many Key West hotels. Our pretty room overlooked the pool and you could see the ocean beyond as well as the sunset. The room was very clean, and spacious, and had a mini frig with a coffee maker, microwave, safe, 2 plush white robes, and slippers for each of you. The restaurant served the most delicious breakfast, was quick, and even got the bacon just perfect! The only disappointment was calling for maid service for room cleaning and more towels, and they never came. In general, I would rate this a 5-Star Hotel, and we feel it’s PERFECT in so many ways! We will be back – Call the Hotel directly and tell them Romance International Travel sent you and see what deals they have at that time. Their promotions are often better than any prices you’d pay online. **** Be sure to book EARLY for Key Fest Fantasy Fest 2023 – I can’t wait to come back! Rated 10/10.
2) Southernmost House, Key West, FL – 1400 Duval St. Ph: 305-296-3141 email@example.com Manager Nina Powers
I did not have the pleasure of staying in this magnificent mansion that dates back to 1897; but they hosted our FAVORITE Fantasy Fest Party for 2023 – The Playboy Bunny Party. I was so happy to meet the owner, Michael Halpner (Hef in the Pic); who was most gracious in welcoming us to the party! Manager Nina Powers worked very hard to prepare the property for their guests and this huge event since Hurricane Ian hit Key West a few weeks prior. This gorgeous luxury resort is at The Southernmost point and on the beach. I was shown one of the guest cottages that was beach and poolside, and it was such an incredible location. The history is amazing – with Thomas Edison himself installing all the home’s electricity; and leaving his home Phonograph as a gift for the owner Judge Harris and his wife, Florida Curry, the youngest daughter of Florida’s first Millionaire. Stay amongst the prior famous guests such as Al Capone, Ernest Hemingway, Louis Armstrong, John F Kennedy, and Harry Truman, to name a few. As a young girl visiting Key West every year and sunning at the Southernmost Beach right across the street, I always wanted to “go in the property” one day. I’m so thrilled to have been invited as a special guest, and I look forward to returning and staying with them soon. For those preferring a more Bed & Breakfast experience in a luxurious, private, quaint, famous – yet very personalized experience; this is our recommendation for Key West – located at the top of Duval St and being on the beach the same time. This is rated a 10/10 – Enjoy!
1) Embassy Suites Orlando – Downtown: 191 E. Pine Street, Orlando, Fl 32801 Ph: 407-841-1000
This was a perfect hotel for my daughter’s wedding – located just one block away from where the wedding was held at the Orlando Historic Center & Courthouse. The hotel had a huge, open atrium where a free buffet breakfast was served daily. The breakfast choices were healthy, offered a large variety and an omelet station, and in all – was delicious! There was a great lobby bar where we all gathered after the rehearsal dinner – the bartenders were friendly, the drinks were reasonable, and there was plenty of seating for all of us. There is a free daily Happy Hour (I heard) from 5-7 pm, but with the wedding, we were not able to attend – but many of the wedding guests who stayed there were able to go and really enjoyed it. Also, they loved the outdoor pool and the gym looked very clean and nice.
We had a two-room King suite (for only $119/night – wedding promotion rate) which was immaculate, really spacious, had a huge bathroom; and a mini-bar and Frig, microwave and coffee maker all within the living room. It was a beautiful room. There are a few larger suites with a balcony – which I tried to reserve, but there are only a few of the Master suites which were filled with wedding couples, so we could not reserve one. But the ladies gathered in my daughter’s wedding suite which was amazing – it had two large full bathrooms, a huge living room and dining room table, a balcony, and an oversized bedroom – perfect for Stephana & Charles!
Everyone from our wedding party loved their rooms and overall accommodations. For us, there was only a problem with a delay in check-in for our room (I had called ahead to say I needed an earlier check-in b/c of the rehearsal dinner – and we got to the room with only 15 minutes to spare b/c it wasn’t ready). Also – we were charged an extra night for parking (16.95/night) but the desk manager promptly removed the mistake once I asked him about it. All the staff was very nice and very service oriented. We ALL recommend this hotel highly! It is also close to many outdoor bars and restaurants, so you can walk to most places once you park there. Enjoy!
2) The Marriott Vacation Club – Grande Vista Resort: 5925 Avenida Vista, Orlando, FL 32821 Ph: 407-238-7676 There is no doubt that this is a pretty resort on a lot of acres – it has very many room areas, a 9-hole golf course on the property, 4 pool areas (2 large, and 2 smaller), one fine-dining restaurant (Nicks Grill – where we ate twice). We liked our food and service at Nicks, but there was no entertainment or crowd at the bar area – and that was the only indoor bar area on the resort. There are two other outdoor poolside bars that offered happy hour drink prices, but no food specials, music, or after-hours (when the kids are in bed) entertainment for adults. Even though my companion and I traveled with no kids, many parents in the resort were unhappy also that there was nothing for them to do once the kids were in bed.
They did offer food at the two pool bars, and there was a second “restaurant” that offered an order line for pizza, sandwiches, and the only thing we liked – that we felt was healthy – rotisserie whole chickens and salads. We felt there could have been a lot more choices that were healthier – again, this offered a more kid-oriented fare. There was no casual restaurant by either main pool that offered a nice breakfast, which we felt was really lacking. We did enjoy – and used – the spa and gym – as well as the Faldo golf course and school – which felt like the only adult-oriented activities on the property. I took a lesson with Justin, who was great, patient, and very skilled, but the lesson charge was very high for a 2.5-hour gig. We would have loved music and dancing after 8 pm at the resort, but it was quiet with no activity by 9 pm. Ugh….. I did ask the concierge where we could go for music and dancing close by – he had no idea – and said he would call my room with the information – and never did.
The gardens and pool areas were pretty – IF you could get a seat by the pool, as most chairs were “saved” by parents for kids who didn’t go to these chairs for hours (we watched) – and waited for over an hour for 2 seats to free up. They definitely need more chairs to accommodate their guests. Also – we had no maid service for an entire week – and our A/C was broken, as well as had a bad, cloggy sink. We were placed far from the main resort which was real hassle (even though I called ahead and requested a room close by the main activities, and told them I would be writing a review for this travel site. Even at the desk, I begged and offered to pay for a nicer, upscale larger room/suite and they said “none were available” and sent us far away to a small “lockoff room” even though I always get at least a 2-BR suite in Timeshare exchange. They said carts would stop to pick us up from our far room to take us where we needed to go – they wizzed by, but only ONE employee asked if I wanted a lift somewhere the entire week!
This resort is NOT for singles, even single parents – you’ll be bored to death. Ok, its near Disney World and other attractions, but I think a pretty resort like this has to start paying attention to the adults from ages 21 – 60 as well – NOT just the kids and Senior Citizens! As far as Romance International Travel – this resort scores a 0 for Romance, a 2 for service, (except at Nicks, Faldos golf and the spa – they all rate a 9) a 4 for food (8 at Nicks grill), 6 for the gym, and a 0 for Adult Entertainment. I’d recommend another place – unless you love tons of screaming kids, an overly quiet resort at night with NOTHING to do, and don’t like to go to pools in Florida to relax. Sorry, Marriott, you disappointed us with this one.
1) Hyatt Regency Boston: 1 Ave de Lafayette, Boston, MA 02111 (617) 912-12
The Hyatt was located in a great section of town; close to upscale shopping, the Boston Common (like a large Central Park), The Freedom Trail (Boston’s Historical walking tour), the T (subway) and close to Quincy Market/Fenneil Hall. We liked the rooftop bar for Happy Hour, and our room was spacious, clean, featured a mini-bar and an unbelievably comfortable King bed. There were a nice lobby bar and restaurant, where live Jazz music was featured Thursday and Friday. There are also beautiful ballrooms available for weddings. Charles Foster, Director of Guest Experiences, was most accommodating to our needs. He would call ahead for our restaurant, book our show tickets, and made sure all was handled properly.
The down-side of this hotel was that the lobby was on the 3rd floor, and was inconvenient for handling our luggage. There is no hot tub, and when we tried to view the pool, we had to go down a full flight of steps and couldn’t get in. The price was reasonable for the ideal location, just ask for Charles when you get there!
The InterContinental has a welcoming, large lobby area with a busy bar (professional crowd), restaurant, a very popular outdoor Happy Hour on the back deck overlooking Boston Harbor, and overly large hotel rooms with a marble bathroom with top-shelf amenities. There was a Keuring coffee maker, but unfortunately, no mini-bar. This hotel is located on the water in the Northeastern end of the city – which is quite busy for professionals, but a bit far from the historical sites. We are walkers though, so we still got up to the Quincy Market, Paul Revere’s house and the Old North Church.
The gym was beautiful, and the pool was quite large; which had a rooftop deck, steam room, and sauna as part of the health club area. The Aquarium is close by, which is also where the Ferry is for the boat ride to tour the Constitution. We arrived at the hotel by water taxi from the airport, for a small rate of $10 each – how convenient and fabulous! There are many wonderful restaurants in this area too, and we enjoyed The Sea Grille in Rowe’s Wharf. Our Concierge, Luis Branco, recommended this restaurant and gave us other great tips on how to enjoy Boston. We only stayed one night here but would have loved more time to enjoy the house amenities and the beautiful spa. It was just beautiful – perfect for a romantic getaway!
Ocean Lodge Santa Monica Beach Hotel – 1667 Ocean Ave, Santa Monica
All I can say is – WHAT A DUMP! I chose this hotel for the location – right across from the Santa Monica Pier and Beach – so that was fun to see, and 2 blocks from the shopping Promenade. However it was disgusting, dirty, had no iron — and the worst insult was the price of $619 for 2 nights! I felt ripped off. “Breakfast” was advertised – and there were muffins in a wrapper (not fresh) and that was it. Seriously! Pass this one off – only given ONE star – for location, and that is a gift!
The Mimslyn Inn – 401 West Main St, Luray, VA 22835 800-296-5105 We traveled to Luray for my brother Scott’s wedding held in the Luray Caverns (A US Natural Landmark), and decided to stay at this lovely hotel that is in the register of Historic Hotels of America. This elegant Southern mansion of Colonial design features grand entryways, crystal chandeliers, 45 rooms and suites, 2 restaurants, event space, a day spa a spacious outdoor pool and hot tub, and lovely gardens (perfect for a wedding). The Asst. Manager, Justin Baker, and his staff at both check-in and in the main restaurant were extremely accommodating and gracious. The main restaurant, Circa 31, features a huge, delicious buffet brunch on Sundays; definitely a town favorite.
We were treated to the Roosevelt Room, a spacious 2-room suite where Eleanor Roosevelt (and we hear her good friend, Emilia Airheart) often stayed. The bathroom was huge and modern with wonderful amenities and a huge jetted hot tub (a real treat!), yet the suite held a classic historic elegant decor with the sitting room offering a fireplace. It had a huge dining room right outside of the suite (which we didn’t use, but enjoyed seeing).
Although the town of Luray itself seemed quite depressed with not much to offer, the hotel was a gem. The Luray Caverns (see details under “Sites to See”) are the main draw to the town (which is right down the street), along with the beautiful scenes of the Shenandoah National Park and mountains. The Caverns are amazing, and worth seeing – so treat yourself to a night or two away at The Mimslyn Inn for a retreat from the stress of daily work and routines, and a visit back to a more elegant, charming way of life!
Hotels in Mexico
1) The Hardrock Hotel/Cancun – Blvd Kukulkan KM 14,5; Cancun Quintana Roo, CP 77500, Mexico www.hrhcancun.com Ph: 01 (52) 998.881.3699 x-4006
(10/2015) My guest and I couldn’t have asked for a cleaner, more beautiful hotel; that has a fun, over-accommodating friendly, and fun staff. They welcomed me with a beautiful Birthday cake and decorated room, with my favorite wine, cheese, and fruit – all arranged by my Brilliant and lovely Members Concierge, Sofia Cortez Aguilar. We were greeted upon arrival by Jerry at the front desk with an amazing smile – and always checked on us to make sure all was OK. Scented pillows, the MOST amazing aroma Therapy, the BEST ocean front room, and balcony – with a Concierge right outside our door, drinks and food 24 hours a day, 5 amazing restaurants, a serene, SO RELAXING spa with the best and extremely creative services (we had the chocolate wrap, facials, massage – we LOVED it there). All day there were activities at the pool (including a crazy foam party, dance contests, balloons, and other craziness for happy hours), and nonstop food and drinks. Don’t get me wrong – this was Fun, crazy, AND Classy all the way! The stage shows were of great quality. I remember hating the shows in previous years at my timeshare resort – they were cheesy – but each show had people of great talent performing. We LOVED the Italian restaurant and Impanema Steakhouse the best, with Asian third; and loved the buffet for Breakfast. We went down for a Points promotion and got some great deals! The jewelry store is Independently owned) had some beautiful things, but stopped the points early in our trip – that was the ONLY disappointing thing that happened (and Sofia, and 2 others investigated the problem – they were ON it!) Guests’ services to arrange excursions couldn’t have been nicer. Memo (Guillemo Diaz) was a great help to me there. This Hardrock DOES treat you like you are a ROCK STAR! We will be back – sooner than later. Thanks to ALL of you for an amazing Birthday visit! I will tell all my Travel club members at Romance International to go to YOUR hotel in Cancun first! Our Members Concierge – Sofia – firstname.lastname@example.org
2) Sandos Cancun Luxury Resort – Kukulcan Blvd, KM 14, Manzana 53, Cancun QRoo 77500 Ph: 011-52-998-881-2200
I decided to book this all-exclusive hotel due to an advertised promotional price. I did explain upon check-in that I was going to write up my experience for my members. though the Concierge was nice, he nor the front desk staff did anything to change our room. There was construction right outside our window all day long….and they left their rig of ropes there in our window (see pic) throughout our stay. Our room was never moved after asking 3 times. There was no balcony, but we had a “window view” of the ocean. The large buffet was nice, but the food by the pool was just fair. There was an in-house Japanese restaurant and steakhouse restaurant, and we did enjoy our dinner meals there on the resort. The room was clean, and the bathroom large and nice with a separate tub and shower. We made the best of the location, but I would not go back….this was not as Luxurious as they advertise — and with all the great Cancun resorts, I would only rate this one a 3/5.
3) The Royal Islander – Kukulcan Boulevard, Lote 51, Sec C2, Cancun. Quintana Roo, QR 77500 Phone: 52-998-8810100
There are 4 Royal Resorts in Cancun – The Royal Sands, Mayan, Caribbean, and Islander; and we stayed in The Royal Islander in September 2010 for one week. It was a time-share exchange for Riana, and she had stayed there previously in their various resorts. As a matter of fact, her family members have been a member here for years and have been quite happy with their experience.
The Royal Islander was not as ornate as the Royal Sands, which is the nicest of the four. However, the Villa was quite large and comfortable, and every room had an ocean view. I would describe the rooms as done in tropical furniture, which is nice, but not luxurious. The King BR was huge, and there was a great balcony off both bedrooms and the living room – which was our favorite place to be. The desk staff was very accommodating and knowledgeable, as was the rest of the service staff. We did not eat at the property. but is has one restaurant, a supermarket, and a pool and beach bar. The resort was quiet at this time of the year, with most of the people gathering around the pool bar. The restaurant looked dark and unappealing, so we chose to eat outside of the property. We shopped for breakfast and lunch items and ate dinner out each night.
The one thing that upset us about The Royal Islander was that about 3-4 times a day we were asked to take a Time-share tour. We clearly stated we were not interested, as I owned one already, and didn’t want to tie up a whole day. They were relentless, and it really bothered us. Also, whenever we went out or returned with a taxi, we had to state where we were going. I thought this was none of their business. Now, if it was done to protect their hotel guests as a security measure – this should have been explained. They were quite afraid that we considered (and did) a tour with the Cancun Palace Resort – to the point of saying “they would rescue us from this” – they were so afraid of this happening it inspired me to go to their tour, and I actually bought into the Palace Resorts. The Palace is more expensive (it is all-inclusive) and extremely upscale (see review below), but the Royal Resorts can be a good choice at a lower price – for a large, beautiful room with a great view, and awesome pools.
COUPON OFFERS! Watch here for various Coupon Offers!
The Royal Resorts of Cancun Mexico – choice of The Royal Sands, Royal Caribbean, Royal Islander, Royal Mayan and Royal Haciendas. (Prices may change or expire without notice).
CUN – 301.a Ocean view Villa for up to 6 people costs $1,533.00 USD for 7 nights or $219.00 USD per night with tax included.
CUN – 301.b Ocean view Suite for up to 4 people costs $1,043.00 USD for 7 nights or $149.00 USD per night with tax included.
CUN – 301.c Ocean view Room for 2 people costs $693.00 USD 7 nights or $99.00 USD per night with tax included.
Email me at Romance@rianamilne.com to get these offers NOW! [/box]
2) Cancun SUN Palace Resort – Blvd. Kukulcan Km. 14.5 Zona G Hotelera, Cancun Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Phone: (52) 998-881-3699 www.palaceresorts.com
We ended up at the Cancun Palace when Ana, at the Cancun airport, offered us “a special” for $100 we had a choice of several tour activities and a Day Pass at one of the Palace resorts which included all meals open bar, gym, entertainment, sauna, and a massage for two; valued at $84 per person. That alone was a deal – but we also had a choice of a tour to Chichen Itza, Tulum, Isla Mujeres, Wet N Wild, Jungle Tour and Zip Line – with discounts at Swim with the Dolphins, Xacaret, Hel-Ha, and the Spa at one of the Palace resorts. We ended up choosing The Day Pass at Cancun Palace, Isle Mujeres, Wet N Wild park that included the Dolphin Swim, and the Jungle Tour with snorkeling (we both had seen Tulum and Chichen Itza on previous trips). See more about these tours in the Sites Worth Seeing section.
We had to agree to take the 90-minute tour which included breakfast, but we both knew it would take half the day – but we knew the price was worth it to get all the tours for free. The buffet breakfast was huge at the Cancun Palace, so many choices, food stations, and all items were delicious.
Then we took the tour – there are two room packages – a sleep 2-4 (with either a double queen or king bed) and a Presidential Suite – which was the nicest room I have seen in a very long time. Both had balconies, minibars, robes, amenities, large showers (for 2), and were decorated top-notch with all the luxuries.
The resort itself had a beautiful infinity pool – then at the end of it was the Cancun turquoise ocean. The lounge chairs sat half in the pool, and there was an active pool bar.
The lobby was large and spacious, with a Japanese Habachi restaurant, an upscale Italian restaurant, a buffet restaurant and outdoor casual restaurant, a large entertainment room that had a bar and dance floor (and housed children’s activities during the day), a store, and more. Weddings are also available – the basic package is free with a membership, with other upscale options available – how nice!
We were also given a Day Pass to the Moon Palace located 20 minutes outside of the hotel zone. A spacious resort with an expansive golf course, a luxury spa with all the amenities, a mega pool complex, and 3 different hotel complexes – this is a resort worth exploring. We arrived in time for lunch, swam at the pool (guests were very friendly and willing to talk about their Palace-ownership experience which they loved), then went to the spa for our “free 25-minute massage.” The spa complex was one of the nicest I’ve seen, but I was disappointed when the women’s check-in took a long time when I was trying to pay for an expanded spa session. They weren’t able to arrange it, and by the time I got into my scheduled appointment, I had 5 minutes left for my massage. I was looking forward to that all week! My masseuse was great, just not enough of his deep tissue treatment!
I went to the spa desk to buy another service (we were given a $100 coupon to spend at the spa that day) so I got a body scrub for 50 minutes, which was great. I was able to enjoy the hot tub – but for only about 5 minutes – so I felt terribly rushed at a spa I wanted to spend all day in! Well, next time – I’m an owner now! My companion’s spa experience was perfect, he arrived for dinner refreshed, and I harried – but we ended up going to the Japanese restaurant which was wonderful. We never made it to the disco at 10:30, but I heard its fun, and we will experience it next time.
The Palace resorts include Cancun Palace, Beach Palace, Moon Palace Cancun, Moon Palace Grand, Adventura Cove Palace, Xpu-Ha Palace, Cozumel Palace, Playacar Palace, and Vallarta Palace. The adult- only resorts include: Le Blanc Spa Resort, Adventura Spa Palace, Sun Palace, and Isla Mujeres Palace.
[box type=”info”]****Since Riana is a Palace Premier Member, YOU are extended a special rate if you use her as a Referral should you travel to any Palace Resort (except Le Blanc & other Couples-only Resorts) and take a tour! See important Limits below:
LIMITS: Riana is limited to Two Personally Referred Couples/Rooms per Year. You must contact Riana directly for referral information; no coupons available for The Palace Resorts. Couples must be 35 years of age or older (or at least one person) to take advantage of a Referral offer.
This website is operated by By the Sea Enterprises, an independent company not affiliated with Palace Resorts. Palace Resorts is not responsible for the content displayed on this website, but has granted permission to Riana Milne of By the Sea Enterprises to use certain trademarks and images owned by Palace Resorts, including the trademarks PALACE RESORTS, the Palace Resorts logo, AVENTURA SPA PALACE, AVENTURA COVE PALACE, BEACH PALACE, CANCUN Hardrock Hotel, COZUMEL PALACE, MOON PALACE, PLAYACAR PALACE, SUN PALACE, VALLARTA PALACE, XPU-HA PALACE and MOON PALACE CASINO, GOLF & SPA RESORT. Riana Milne and By the Sea Enterprises is solely responsible for any reservations made or other contractual dealings conducted through this website.
1) Vidanta Resorts – The Grand Mayan and Mayan Palace Playa Resort. Don’t let the name fool you, this is not a part of the RCI Palace Resorts which I own in Cancun, MX. Yes, the hotel surroundings itself is pretty and tranquil, and the staff works very hard to please. The food in the main restaurant, however, I would rate a D. On Shrimp night, they had still the legs and shells on them, were doused in sauce, so you had to peel them once served to you – it was a mess. The breakfast buffet I had to walk around several times to find 3 things I desired to eat; I am not one to eat a large amount of Mexican dishes first thing in the morning. The best restaurant there was Il Forno Di Gio down the street and a small cafe that served crepes called Sweet Paris where I had breakfast every day. The Hotel room I traded for a timeshare was a sleep 8 at a 5 star rated hotel, and what I got was a 1-bedroom with NO luxuries. I would have had more luxuries at the motel down the street. The very small TV only had 2 English-speaking stations, one with 24-hour cartoons, and CNN news. No movies or music were provided in the room anywhere, nor an alarm clock, no soap dishes, mini-frig, or microwave, the small balcony offered no chairs. David & Oscar at the Reception desk were kind enough to offer me an ocean-view “the upgrade” so the best thing I had was the view of the ocean and the pools – Thank God! The spa closed at 2 pm “for cleaning” and they kicked out about 30 of us out of there to do this, and the gyms were overcrowded and had lines to use the equipment. They offered “a trendy Beach Club” that never opened. The “live entertainment” – the performers worked very hard, but every night it was held out in the humidity outside, with no fans blowing. And, it was the same entertainers every night – no variety. The Disco was empty almost every night. Also, when I tried to book an Echo tour trip, I was refused a spot because I was refused a spot because I was “Single” but if I paid $120 US dollars, he would have assured me a spot to go. Total ripoff and turn-off. A BIG ZERO for the Travel & Tour Desk! Romance Score – is a 1. This place was full of families and a few couples, and a total of 3 singles. It just does not make the grade for a Romance International referral. I suppose I am super spoiled at the Palace Resorts, and I will return there.
The best thing at the Mayan Palace and Grand Myana Hotel were the pools & Gardens and Salomon Espino, The Concierge, who got me some passes to the Palladium Nightclub and recommended Tony’s Asian Bistro and Becco Restaurants. He kept me sane getting me “out there – off campus” to other spots to visit. The second best thing – was Jonathan Basilio – My personal Taxi and Tour guide, who took me on a City Tour all day on Sunday (see view under Sites to see the best of Acapulco). He is very polite, reliable, and knowledgeable and helped me with money exchange. He took me to all the highlights in one day – he was awesome! Jonathan’s direct number is +52 – 984-158-1105.