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Posts Tagged ‘Hotels’

Here at Amazing Journeys, we're lucky have the best jobs in the world—and we think our good fortune is worth sharing. So, when your next journey seems like a distant dream, take a few minutes to explore our WANDERLUST blog—it's chock full of engaging tales and helpful tips from our travels around the world. Check out the most recent entry (at the top) or search by your preferred criteria. Consider it motivation for your next embarkation.


AJ Staff Picks – Hotel Edition

Monday, November 16th, 2015


At Amazing Journeys, we think travel is seriously fun!  Over the years, we have clocked thousands of miles traveling by trains, planes and automobiles and now we want to share some “insider information” from our travels around the world.  In this first edition of Staff Picks, we will be focusing on our favorite hotels.  With so many fun options to choose from, we each narrowed it down to our favorite hotel and explain why it is at the top of our list!

Malori: Without a doubt, the W Barcelona. Perched along the beach in the newly revitalized area of Barceloneta, this chic and modern hotel had everything we wanted from a free day in Barcelona after a busy trip.  Big comfortable loungers poolside with a never ending supply of iced tea and marcona almonds – check.  Seaside views – check.  Fun décor – check.  Stellar service – check.  Rooftop bar – check.  Trendy party by the pool that went on until 5am – check.  We didn’t want to leave!


Michele: Baldi Hot Springs Hotel in Costa Rica.  Imagine going inside the hotel but you are still outside in nature… in the hot springs, no less.  The ambiance is like no other.  You can experience over 20 thermo mineral hot water pools flowing naturally from the base of Arenal Volcano.  Each “pool” is magnificently lit and surrounded by magnificent landscape.  If you are lucky, as you continue traveling up to the top of the hotel where you find the hottest water temperature, you will also have the amazing view of the volcano.   An amazing experience for the soul!


Stacey: The Leela Palace in Udaipur, India.  It is the most gorgeous hotel, has stellar sunset views over a lake, amazing grounds that you could spend hours exploring, and the staff is some of the best I’ve ever worked with.  And when you step off of the ferry and enter the hotel, they shower you with rose pedals from above.  I could not make this up.  Oh yeah, and they give you freshly baked gourmet cookies in your room and they are magically replaced every time you eat them!


Erin: The Grand Wailea Resort in Maui – the rooms have amazing balcony views of the incredible grounds, beautiful gardens, an incredible world-class spa and included classes like sunrise yoga on the beach and scuba lessons in the tiled pool.


Hotels: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

I’ve never been to prison, but I can’t help but wonder if convicts get a nicer breakfast than what you find on the breakfast buffets at most American chain hotels these days.

If you’ve ever had the displeasure of sampling the breakfast buffets at any major hotel chain–including Hampton Inn, Residence Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Hilton Garden Inn, Hyatt House, Westin and others–your level of being impressed might be a little bit compromised….even when the breakfast is free.

The free hotel breakfast is a decidedly mixed blessing. Its always nice to go out for a nice breakfast when traveling but the budget conscious may have a hard time treating a family of four to breakfast when there’s a free breakfast at the hotel, no matter how dreadful it may be. But on many occasions, going down to eat the free breakfast feels more like an obligation than a pleasure.

A couple of weeks ago, I stayed at an otherwise excellent Hilton in Paris and encountered one of the more pathetic breakfast buffets I’ve seen in some time.   I typically like to eat a leisurely morning breakfast after the sun gets a little warm and on this particular morning my 9am sit down time should not have warranted what I encountered.  I don’t eat sausage, but if I did, I wouldn’t have touched any of these little shriveled up dry pieces of elongated tree twigs.  The eggs were, well, I just wondered if somewhere in the process of presenting this watery yellow drippy hotplate of gelatin-looking breakfast option, they once were in fact cracked from a shell.   I really don’t think they were.  The pancakes were hard enough to crack someone’s skull with but innocently I didn’t ascertain its digestability until after it was almost too late.  A pair of tongs makes it easy to skip over the fresh-abilty of a pancake, but when you try to cut into it using only a fork…THEN the naked truth came out.  You could have laid a square of porcelain tile on my plate and painted it to look like a pancake, and I wouldn’t have known the difference. 
Hey, the coffee was good.
Sadly, bad food is par for the course at many breakfast buffets not only in the U.S. but also around the world. Here are a few ways hotels tend to ruin their breakfast buffets.

Not everyone wakes up at the crack of dawn

In places that are very busy, they might replenish the food and beverages frequently, but at places that aren’t very busy they might just set a large quantity of food and drink out at opening time and just leave it there for the next two to four hours.

Beverages are warm, Food is cold!

Some places set the milk and juices out without any way to keep them cold, and have inadequate heating to keep the food warm.

Nothing but sugary, dessert-like breakfast items

OK, I admit it: those breakfast muffins taste pretty damn good, but putting a bowl of those suckers out is more appropriate for Halloween than breakfast. Men’s Health did a piece on the worst foods you can eat for breakfast at hotels, and the least healthy things to eat are items you see everywhere: sausages, waffles, cranberry muffins and fruit flavored yogurts to name a few.

Stale Cereal

I wish hotels bought their cereal from Trader Joe’s but that’s probably a pipe dream. The reality is usually a choice between Cheerios, Wheaties, Raisin Bran, Frosted Flakes and Fruit Loops, often stale, and sometimes with lukewarm milk to boot.  Its so funny how Coco Puffs seems to be an international breakfast cereal whether you’re in Chicago, Rio, Ho Chi Minh City or in a lodge in the middle of the Masai Mara.

Wonder Bread (or worse)

Most people don’t actually require a ton of food for breakfast. In fact, I’d be content with just a bagel, if it wasn’t a machine produced product in a factory.  But hotels tend to buy the cheapest, blandest bread, English muffins and bagels imaginable and that just adds to the dissapointment of staying at an otherwise very respectable property. 

No Variety

This problem is particularly pronounced when you stay in a hotel for several days or weeks. How many days in a row can you eat runny eggs, shriveled up, fatty sausages or very lame, yet highly fattening waffles?

Do you want some coffee with that warm, murky liquid you’re drinking?

Finding a good cup of coffee at a hotel breakfast buffet is often difficult indeed, although this area of importance tends be a lesser worry as many (not all!) hotels have brought in a product worthy of a finicky coffee palate.  The bigger question, though, is why in the world does the hotel have a higher quality coffee in the room (that you would have to make in your room with bathroom tap water) than down at the breakfast buffet?

Quantity, Not Quality

Most hotels feel like they need to provide a visual spread of food, but not a lot of variety or freshness.  One buffet for two different kinds of eggs. One buffet for three different kinds of fruits. One buffet for all the cereals…etc.  I’d rather see a hotel provide a few high quality items that can be maintained fresh and honest, than a dozen mediocre ones.

Bottom line

You get what you pay for, right? But is the “free” breakfast really free? Not really, because hotels build the cost of it into your room rate. Recently I stayed at a small bed and breakfast and as you would expect, this ranked up there as one of the best.  What could be better than a freshly made egg with french toast made by a hospitable homeowner in her own living room?

Personally, I’d rather have lower room rates and go out for breakfast. What about you?