Saturday, May 29, 2010

Hotel Spotlight: US Grant Hotel - San Diego, California - A Starwood Luxury Collection Property

The Grant Grill - Seating Area off of the Bar

Hotel Spotlight: US Grant Hotel - San Diego, California

I recently had the wonderful pleasure of staying at the US Grant Hotel in San Diego, California. The hospitality exhibited from the moment I checked in, until I checked out was exemplary. It didn't matter if it was the Manager on Duty, a Valet, or any other individuals who worked there, all of the employees were courteous, polite, and seemed to enjoy their job - even if that wasn't the case, they didn't let any guests feel any differently.

If you like a hotel that has that Old World Charm of understated elegance, then you will definitely enjoy staying at the US Grant Hotel. While it's not a budget hotel, it is definitely worth the price to stay there. The rooms are well appointed, clean (barring some windowsills that were a bit dusty) and intimate. It wasn't the largest room I've ever stayed in, but it was cozy, intimate and I slept like a baby every night. I will add that I stayed in a street side room, so it was a bit more noise than probably would have been in an interior room, but that was ok, since I was on a higher floor, the noise was not overwhelming at all.

The artwork was exquisite. I felt like I was in Paris, because everywhere I looked there were eclectic pieces of art disbursed throughout the property - bronze sculptures, unique paintings and elaborate chandeliers.
The pros about staying at the US Grant Hotel were:
  • Close to the airport
  • Within 10-15 minutes to any of the attractions (Sea World, the Zoo, etc)
  • Close proximity to any ships departing from San Diego for cruises
  • Walking distance to great restaurants, House of Blues, Croce's restaurant and many new bars and clubs
  • Intimate rooms with exceptional customer service
  • Nice "Happy Hour" at the Grant Grill - located off of the lobby area
  • Inexpensive and short cab rides to a majority of locales outside of the downtown area
  • Shopping, shopping, and more shopping were just steps away from the hotel (directly across the street)

Some cons of staying (fortunately, not that many):

  • There was a fee to use the internet in your room; however, if you worked in the lobby area it was free of charge
  • My drivers who would come to pick me up or drop me off had a problem figuring out which entrance to go too, and since I wasn't certain, I ended up walking around the entire building on numerous occasions looking for my transportation
  • The neighborhood is definitely sketchy. There were obviously tourist around, but there was an enormous amount of (seemingly) homeless people in the surrounding area by the hotel - most were relatively harmless, just asking for money or usually just carrying on conversations with themselves

This picture was taken in my room. It's a headboard that is made of cloth and then painted with black, depicting these unusual characters. I loved it!

This divine, bronze sculpture was located off of the 4th floor elevator area. The chandelier is not given any justice in this photo. It sparkled like a million stars.

*photos taken by That Chick of the US Grant Hotel, San Diego, CA


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Gas Prices...

Recently I wrote on May 12, 2010 regarding the increase in gas prices and lo and behold, I was reading that gas prices may decrease as the summer months go on. If you are interested in the article I've provided the link:

I will remain silent on this for the time being...but even in this article stating that gas prices may decrease, there is STILL that run around language about crude oil prices...stay tuned. I'm certain I'll be writing more about this annoyance!

I Don't Care Where I Stay...

I Don't Care Where I Stay When I Travel

I hear this comment a lot by people who travel both frequently and infrequently, and I always have to hold back a chuckle. I think what people should really say is, "I don't care where I stay if I'm paying for it, but if someone else is paying, I want to stay at the Four Seasons/Ritz/St. Regis." You get the point!

I understand that a lot of us are on budgets, and while I'm not meaning to imply that you can't enjoy a vacation unless you stay at the most elaborate establishments around the world; there is a lot to be said for enjoying a great day of sightseeing and then going back to a beautiful B&B, Hotel Suite, etc, and just relaxing like a King or Queen.

There are many individuals who really don't want to stay at a high-end location because they don't feel comfortable, or they believe it's too stuffy. I get that. I have a host of friends and family members who really do prefer to stay at a place that's more relaxed, less pretentious (as some high-end hotels can be) where they feel like they are at home and can kick their feet up - figuratively and literally. These individuals can most assuredly afford to stay anywhere else, but their preference is something along the lines of a Holiday Inn or Best Western. But, there are others I know and have met who truly do want to live the high life, just as long as they aren't footing the bill.

While I'll admit that I do enjoy staying at an eclectic, less expensive establishment from time to time; in general, I prefer to be somewhere lavish and luxurious. I love walking into the lobby of the Phoenician (in Arizona), and just admiring the lobby area and the high-tea room with it's elaborate table settings and high brow clientele. I prefer jumping out of my rental car at the trendy and hip "W" at any destination, and rubbing elbows with trendsetters and the like. I enjoy imbiding an expensive cocktail while sitting on an exquisitely upholstered lounge chair, in some funky Manhattan hotel (too many to name).

I guess my point is to those who truly don't care where they are staying - please don't look down on those of us who do care! And in turn, those of us who enjoy a little luxe in our lives won't judge your choice of accommodations either!

In this current market, if you are one of those travelers' who wants to upgrade to the next level, there are many wonderful accommodations that are a fraction of their prices from two years ago. One such destination that is enjoyed by travelers' around the world, and is currently experiencing a fire sale that I've never seen before is Las Vegas - even on weekend days! Some of the most luxurious hotels are advertising their standard rooms for less than $100 a night. I recommend anybody who has wanted to stay somewhere expensive but just hasn't had the money, this is the time to do it, because as we all know these prices won't last forever.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Part 7 of Series: 101 Reasons to Use a Travel Agent

Part 7 of Series: 101 Reasons to Use A Travel Agent

Whenever I hear that gas prices have increased I think to myself, "Oh, summer must be around the corner." I don't mean to sound cynical (well, actually I do), but it's curious to me that every year the gas prices always miraculously increase during the heaviest driving/travel time of the year. That's not to say that it doesn't go up any other times, but it's ALWAYS during the summer months. Yes, I realize there are extenuating circumstances that are typically cited for the increase in fuel charges - sorry, I don't buy any of it. I would much prefer that they just come out and say, "It's summer, and we know all of you lovely people are going to be jumping into your cars; taking a cruise; or flying somewhere during the summer, and this is when we can really make the most money."

Gas prices are passed on to the consumer, so no matter what catastrophic occurrence transpires, it is the consumer who is left holding the gas pump.

Recently I've received emails from some of the cruiselines and guess what? Yep, they are implementing surcharges for fuel. Hmmmm...curious isn't it? I never saw that coming.

Wherever your travels may take you during the Spring and Summer months, Chicks That Trip wishes you happy trails - despite the gas increases.

  • Avoid Any Unexpected Expenses That Might Come Up - Travel agents know a lot of the little expenses that you might experience while on your trip, that you might not have even thought of.
  • Exchange Rate Knowledge - Travel agents are knowledgeable of what countries your dollar goes further.
  • Useful Travel Books to Have with You - A travel expert can give you advice on what travel books are the most useful to have with you. Some of these books list restaurants, customs, and small amounts of the local language.
  • List of Not- to- Miss Places - Travel specialists can give you a great list of not- to- miss hikes, waterfalls, and cliffs that may or may not be published elsewhere.
  • What to Wear - Many restaurants have different types of dress codes. If you are interested in dining at specific places on your trip your travel expert can advise you on appropriate dress wear for the occasion.
  • What Not to Wear - Travel agents can help you to be in the know of local dress code restrictions. So if a thong is part of your favorite beachwear you should know that they are illegal in places like the Isle of Palms. (This is one of my personal favorites - nothing like seeing a tourist in a fancy restaurant in Paris, attempting to gain access while wearing his Hawaiian shirt...)

*Source: American Society of Travel Agents


Sunday, May 9, 2010