Category Archives: Hotels

Get Your Groupon On!

Whenever I am getting ready for a trip, or I need a night out for dinner, or a massage to relax, there is one place I look to without fail. That place is Groupon. I am sure that many of my readers will recall hearing me speak of Groupon in the past. Groupon is a site where you can get goods and services, as well as vacation packages, for a fraction of their original cost.

Groupon is located all over the US; some cities have caught on more quickly than others. My home town for instance, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, has some Groupons available, but not enough to make me happy at this point. Places like Las Vegas, however, have all sorts of Groupon services and items to choose from.

To use Groupon, all you have to do is add the app to your phone, or go to their website: www.groupon.com. You then type in the location you are interested in, and voila, all sorts of things will pop up. One thing to note is that most goods can be ordered no matter your location, but the voucher will say if it has any stipulations.

When we go to Las Vegas or anywhere on vacation, I always check to see if there are deals on hotel rooms, restaurants, or things to do. Most often we will find several restaurant options. Something important to understand is that most likely the business providing the offer is only making a quarter of what they normally would on the service or item they are offering. Groupon gets the other quarter of the price, because the price is half of what it would normally be. With this in mind, please tip well if you are going to dinner, or to get a massage, etc.

If you purchase a Groupon, always make sure you keep the expiration date in mind. You want to make sure your voucher is good during the dates you are traveling before you purchase it. If your voucher expires, however, you can still use the amount you originally paid, toward the service.

For the business owner who is looking to use Groupon, there are things you should keep in mind. The purpose of Groupon is to help businesses bring in new clientele, however, depending on whom you are and what you offer, most often the people who buy Groupons do not return. They are simply looking for a deal and providing you with fast cash, though it is a fraction of what you would normally make on your provided service. If you are a massage therapist, this could be great for you. If you are a Reiki Practitioner, like me, and people don’t necessarily know what Reiki is, this will bring in some clients, but not necessarily the amount you would hope for.

As a business on the selling end of Groupon, I have had a lot of frustrations with the company. They wouldn’t give me what I wanted in my advertisement; they didn’t like to return my calls or emails. I requested a different account manager and never had my request met, and then suddenly my account manager was gone from the company and I was never told about a replacement. I am not saying this will be your experience, I am sure others have had great experiences; mine just didn’t go how I had pictured.

If you are dealing with Groupon as a client who has an issue, they are pretty great. They tend to rectify issues quite quickly. Usually if there is a problem with the Groupon, they will refund your money. Sometimes they will give you a credit. I have never been let down by the final outcome of my request for remedying an issue with a business.

If you love online shopping and deals, check out Groupon. They can save the average person quite a bit of money on a daily basis, especially if you are open to trying new things. Just be careful, Groupon can become a little addicting when you start receiving discount codes on a regular basis.

For more information on Groupon, please visit: https://www.groupon.com/

 

Check Out The Silverton

When I visit Las Vegas there are certain things I look for and very much enjoy. One of those things is a tasty buffet. The other is an atmosphere that can entertain me for hours. The Silverton Casino has both of these aspects, and much more.

If you are looking for a great buffet experience, check out the Season’s Buffet at the Silverton. I prefer to go on Sundays for brunch. Sundays the Seasons Buffet does a Bellini Brunch, and it is exquisite. They have five or six different Champagne drinks to choose from, including your typical Mimosa. My favorite is the pomegranate because it comes with strawberries on top.

Beverages aside, this buffet has a lot more to offer. They have some of the best macaroni and cheese I have found, as well as some wonderful pizza. They have a vast variety of foods and they keep their food hot, or at least they did when I visited. They also have a great dessert bar with ice cream, cakes, brownies, cookies, pies, and for those who are looking for it, sugar free, or gluten free items.

If the buffet doesn’t grab you, then perhaps one of the other many restaurants will. I haven’t checked out the other possibilities other than dessert. The Gelato is amazing. They have several flavors to choose from. Three of my travel companions tried it and loved it. If the other food options are as good, then you are in for a real treat.

Outside of the buffet you have a vast variety of slot machines to choose from, both old and new. You can also go visit the Bass Pro Shop entrance to the casino. There you will find waterfalls with ponds of giant coy and a huge fish tank. On certain occasions you may even see a mermaid. This is a great attraction that a lot of people like to stop and view. There are jelly fish in small tanks above the bar near the pro shop entrance. You will find even more fish within a tank inside the actual store.

If you happen to be staying at the Silverton, or you just need to stop and rest for a bit, you will find several differently colored Adirondack chairs around fire pits at the entrance to the casino. This is a new addition in the past year. The Silverton has done a great job cleaning up their exterior and making it more inviting to their hotel guests, as well as those who are just visiting for the day.

I very much urge people to check out the Silverton; as an off Strip casino, it is a lot of fun and it’s one of my favorites.

For more information on the Silverton, please visit: http://silvertoncasino.com/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=places&utm_campaign=google_places_ms

 

Updates To The Wyndham Grand Desert

I am back from vacation and I have lots of things to write about. The first thing I would like to talk about is the Wyndham Grand Desert. You may recall that I have spoken of this Wyndham location previously; I mention it again because, Neal and I, stayed at the Grand Desert for a couple of days last week.

Upon check-in we found out that tower 3 had been completely remodeled. We requested this tower so that we could check out the changes. My hope was that the renovation included the addition of some color to the rooms; boy was I pleased with what I found. To me the tower looked much more sophisticated and inviting.

The new remodel included improvements to the furnishings as well as the addition of lots of color. The room we stayed in had beautiful purple flowers on the walls and the artwork was much improved. There was still a whirlpool fit for two and I was very happy to see that.

The exterior of tower 3 included a new pool area, which seemed small, but clean and attractive for relaxation. I did not get a chance to check out the other towers to make sure the large pool area was still present. I know that there were a few other updates made as well to the grounds, but I did not get a chance to check those out either. I will have to do more investigating on our next stay; I am sure we will be back again. I look forward to seeing what else their remodel includes.

For more information on the Wyndham Grand Desert, please visit: http://www.wyndhamgranddesert.com/specials-packages?hotelid=2960&identifier=spg17&gclid=CP-Uj_z26NMCFYU2aQodoUYHmA

A Look At Stillwater, Minnesota

Minnesota is a beautiful state, full of wonderful things to do during any season. One of my favorite towns to visit, especially during the summer, is Stillwater. This city is located right on the St. Croix River and really is a great place to visit any time of year. I prefer summer months because of the river and being able to sit out on patios while enjoying a glass of wine or a meal.

Stillwater has a ton of options for staying. There are many Bed & Breakfasts to choose from as well as hotels. One particular place I love to stay at is the Water Street Inn. I have stayed at this Inn on three different occasions and every single experience I have had was memorable and fun. The Water Street Inn features fireplaces and whirlpools in each room. You also have a community patio that faces out toward the river. You won’t be staying on the water at any of the other Inn’s in town. They also have their own restaurant and bar and they are located right in the middle of downtown. Location, location, location; it doesn’t get much better than that.

If you prefer something more secluded for your stay in Stillwater and you don’t mind driving, you could definitely choose any of the other B&B locations around town. I have previously stayed at the Outing Lodge at Pine Point. Not all rooms have a whirlpool, but this Inn has great food and a bar in the basement that showcases live music at times. It is set back in the woods and has a very nice romantic feel to it. This makes a great place for staying in the winter; you can easily go snowshoeing or skiing on the trails nearby. The owners make your stay very homey, at one point they brought around fresh made chocolate chip cookies, talk about winning some points there.

For those who are into good food and wine, downtown has a lot to offer. Northern Vineyards is a great place to go and take part in some wine tasting, they also have a balcony in the back where you can sit and drink wine while looking out at the river. If you are looking for great food and a view of the river, The Freight House is a wonderful experience, though on the pricier side. To enjoy some tasty Italian, Buona Sera features some great food, which I very much enjoyed; reservations are recommended. For a more low-key outing away from the high end food, there is also any number of pubs on Main Street to choose from, some of which have music on weekends.

During daylight hours you can easily wander Main Street and find plenty to do. There are quite a few antique shops, bookstores, and art stores to keep you busy. Stillwater frequently is the place to be for outdoor craft fairs as well. If you would like to spend some time on the water you can take a trip over to the St. Croix Boat & Packet Co., and sign up for one of their scenic river boat cruises. Whatever you do, be sure to end your day watching the sunset. You won’t regret this beautiful view over the St. Croix River.

For more information on Stillwater, please visit the following sites: http://www.discoverstillwater.com/

http://waterstreetinn.us/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=GMB

http://outinglodge.com/

http://www.stillwaterriverboats.com/

http://northernvineyards.com/

 

 

 

 

A Night At Treasure Island

Sometimes in the craziness of life, you just need to take a night and get away from home. Lately things have been busy. My husband and I are in the process of selling our house, so we have been working like mad to get things in order. Since we haven’t had a ton of time to connect lately, we decided to do an overnight trip to Treasure Island Resort & Casino, located in Welch, Minnesota.

TI was nice enough to offer us a free night stay, but we chose to upgrade our room to a whirlpool suite. We arrived at 3pm for check-in and the line was minimal. We received our room keys and went up to inspect our room. Upon walking into the room we were happy to see that we had a living room which a couch and television, kitchen table, and mini kitchenette with refrigerator and microwave. Each fridge has free water and regular, as well as diet, Pepsi. You are left coffee, popcorn, and some small packages of Oreos. I found this gesture to be very kind since it seems so seldom that hotels offer free food and beverage amenities anymore.

The bedroom was separated from the sitting area by a set of white French doors. Inside was a king size bed, another television, and our whirlpool. There was also a vanity with sink and mirror outside of the bathroom as well as inside. The shower curtain in our bathroom was kind of yellow and old looking, but otherwise the room was clean. There was also a second bathroom with stool and sink in the entryway to the suite.

After stowing our items in the room, we decided to go check out the buffet. We have eaten at TI’s buffet on several occasions. While my husband loves this buffet, I only like certain things about it. The coffee is great; I cannot get enough of it. They have a great selection of desserts. The food, however, can be hit or miss. Last time I visited, the ribs tasted great but were cold. This time they were hot but tasteless. Neal always gets the Pad Thai, which has been pretty consistent.  They have great potatoes, pizza, and pot roast. If I could change one thing, it would be that the food would be consistently hot. I don’t like cold food; I see no excuse for it.

After dinner we did hit up the casino for a little fun. If you are non-smokers, they now have a great non-smoking section, which has its own bar. This section was newly added in February and they are currently using the bar located in this area to test different beverages and wines on customers to see what people like. They usually have a signature drink and so far, of the two we have tried, they have both been tasty.

The bed and pillows in our room were quite comfortable, once I got everything adjusted. The only problem I ran into was that apparently our mattress cover had ripped and was completely bunched up under the sheets when I got into bed; I found this to be slightly irritating, but minor. I slept well and awoke feeling quite rested after my time in the whirlpool and a good night’s sleep. We were not disturbed at all by the neighbors, which was also a win in my book.

Overall I give Treasure Island a 7. The buffet is decent but not always consistent, and we have run into issues with our rooms missing light bulbs and having broken items a couple of times. This resort does have great amenities though. We have never checked out the water-park or bowling alley, but we plan to on a future visit. We always have fun at TI and we will definitely visit again.

For more information on Treasure Island Resort & Casino, please visit: http://www.ticasino.com/

Beauty On The Strip

One particular aspect of Las Vegas that I truly enjoy is all of the beautiful architecture. As I noted previously, my husband, Neal, likes to call the hotels of the strip museums because there are so many wonderful things to look at. If you like fine art, architecture, and exploring, wandering the Strip with the decision to just appreciate the structure and beauty of the different hotels and casinos, can be a lot of fun.

It is hard for me to choose one particular casino/hotel that I find the most interesting. I have a very strong appreciation for the Bellagio because this hotel has a gorgeous Dale Chihuly installed in the ceiling of their lobby. Dale is one of my favorite artists because his glass is so beautiful. If you like his work, you can also find one of his galleries located at 3600, South Las Vegas Boulevard. You will see his pieces in some of the other casinos and hotels as well. Aside from the Chihuly; the Bellagio also has their fountains and conservatory which are very much worth viewing.

Another casino and hotel that I love is the Venetian. They have their gondolas, and beautiful building exterior. I love the frescoes on the ceiling. There is so much to look at within and outside the Venetian. It is definitely worth a look.

You cannot go wrong wandering through the Luxor or Paris. Every casino has their own theme and they are designed accordingly. Take pictures, have fun, check everything out. If you like art I would suggest photographs of your favorite views and then creating a tabletop album out of the photos. Your family and friends will love looking at all of the interesting things you saw.

For more information on the casinos in Las Vegas, please visit: https://www.venetian.com/offers.html?&gclid=CPzcnKW-uNMCFca4wAodpnAN7w

http://www.frommers.com/destinations/las-vegas/in-depth/art–architecture

http://www.chihuly.com/

http://www.lasvegas-how-to.com/7-wonders-las-vegas.php

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Las_Vegas_Strip

Visiting Mt. Charleston

A visit to Las Vegas, Nevada does not have to be all about the casinos and the crazy night life. You can also plan other daytime activities such as hiking and exploring the mountains around Las Vegas. Mt. Charleston is a wonderful place to day-trip to, or even stay for a while. The views on this mountain are very different from Red Rock Canyon and are very much worth checking out.

My husband, Neal, and I, have visited this particular area many times. We love to hike and wander the trails of the mountain as well as stay at the Resort on Mount Charleston. This resort is quite rustic and pretty comfortable, though a little bit dated. Dependent on the time of year it may also be very quiet. I love how this resort has such wonderful views of the surrounding mountains. The altitude here is much higher than Las Vegas, so the air is quite a bit cooler and can make for a nice getaway in the heat of the summer.

If you like waterfalls, there is a waterfall hike at Mt. Charleston called Mary Jane Falls. Certain times of year are much better for the waterfall; you would want to go earlier in the year, maybe April, rather than midway through summer. Even if you aren’t there during peak waterfall time, the hikes are beautiful and relaxing. On one such hike I got separated from my group and happened across a photo opportunity that I still love looking at, to this day. The picture is of a single tree, illuminated by the sun, on a cliff looking out at storm clouds over the desert. The photograph was a great take away from that particular trip. You will see many great photo opportunities while hiking Mt. Charleston.

The Resort on Mount Charleston is a great place to relax after hiking. They have a great restaurant on location, as well as a bar that serves food. You can have your wedding ceremony and reception at the resort if you so choose. I also considered Mt. Charleston as a wedding location; it would have provided beautiful scenery for saying our vows. If you want a little romance, a pet friendly room, a ski package, or a hiking package, check out their special offers. Every now and then I will see a Groupon deal for the Resort on Mount Charleston; this is a great way to try the place out and see how you like it before committing to a longer stay.

If the Resort on Mount Charleston isn’t for you, there is also a lodge on the same street. I have not stayed at the lodge, but perhaps one day soon I will check it out. I have provided their website below.

For more information on the Mt. Charleston area, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Charleston

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/nevada/mary-jane-falls-trail

http://www.mtcharlestonresort.com/mount-charleston-nevada/mt-charleston-lodge-packages/mount-charleston-hotel-vacation-packages.php

http://mtcharlestonlodge.com/

 

The Black Bear Manor In Ouray

My husband and I have visited Ouray twice; once before we got married, in 2012, and once this past year in 2016. I would like to say that I have been completely won over by the Black Bear Manor. We stayed at the Black Bear both times we visited, and in the same room.

Since our first visit, the inn did change management. Our stay was not at all impacted by this change. We still received the great service that we knew and loved, and we will definitely come back again.

What’s to love? First, the inn is clean and well kept. It has a beautiful big deck with tables and a bench swing, where you can sit and enjoy a glass of wine, or your breakfast in the morning. There is this beautiful room at the top of the house, with huge windows, where you can sit and look out at the mountains. During our last visit there was a thunderstorm and my husband and I just sat in the dark with a glass of wine and watched the lightening. It was a neat experience.

The whole house is surrounded by decks and balconies. You can take time to rejuvenate your body after a long hike, with a soak in the hot tub. If you are looking for a more private and luxurious experience, the inn does have a room called the Royal Suite, which has a steam shower and private in room hot tub. I have not stayed in this room, but if it’s as nice as the rest of Black Bear, I am sure it is wonderful.

Breakfast is at two different times, one of which is buffet style. The food is amazing and I have no complaints. There were so many great options. The chef is willing to take into consideration any food allergies, or intolerance, etc.

Black Bear is romantic, and relaxing. It’s located in a beautiful city with tons of activities. The owners are great people who take wonderful care of all their occupants. I would highly recommend this experience if you are looking to get away from the craziness of your everyday life.

For more information or to book your stay at the Black Bear Manor, please visit: http://www.blackbearmanor.com/

 

 

The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park

In the past year I have visited the Stanley Hotel twice. As some of you may already know, The Stanley is known for being one of the most haunted hotels in the US. There is much more to The Stanley, however, than its ghost lore.

The Stanley has long been admired for its beauty, as well as its rich cultural history. The hotel was featured in both the movie and miniseries versions of The Shining, as well as in the movie, Dumb and Dumber. Many famous guests have visited and stayed at The Stanley.

The Stanley features ornately kept grounds with beautiful gardens. There is a very unique looking, sculptured water fountain, on the front lawn. Due to its location at the beginning of Rocky Mountain National Park, the views from The Stanley are absolutely breath-taking; you can see the mountains in all directions.

During my visits to the Stanley I did not spend the night. You can most definitely check-in and experience one of the many haunted rooms. Guests often speak of visits from the ghosts that still live within the hotel’s walls. I chose to do more of a photographic tour on my first visit; perhaps in the near future I will book a stay and experience the mysteries of The Stanley on a more personal level.

The second time I visited the Stanley, I did take the Night Ghost Tour. If you want to get in on this tour, you must book well in advance. The first time my husband and I visited, the tours were completely booked out days ahead.

The ghost tour did provide some history of the multiple hauntings at The Stanley. While I did enjoy myself, you definitely have to be into the idea of spirits existing. If you are a skeptic, or a complete non-believer, you may want to avoid this tour. I would have liked to have seen more rooms than what we visited, but I believe that may be a completely different tour, or require a stay in one of the rooms in order to satisfy that desire.

If you do not wish to stay, or wish to take a tour, you can wander the grounds on your own, as I did with my husband, on my first visit. I took tons of outdoor photos, and some indoor. You cannot go upstairs during your self-guided tour, but you can get a feel for the intricacy of the hotel and see some of the history, without venturing too far.

The Stanley hotel is full of beauty and wonder. I would highly recommend a trip to see this beautiful piece of history. I definitely fell in love with its elegance in the moments I spent exploring the grounds, with my husband.

If you would like to book a tour or find out more about The Stanley Hotel, please visit: http://www.stanleyhotel.com/?utm_source=GooglePlus&utm_medium=local&utm_campaign=GooglePlus

 

Glacier Canyon – Wisconsin Dells

When I was younger, my parents took my sister and me, on many trips to the Wisconsin Dells. We had a blast staying at the Yogi Bear Campground in Warrens, and going to Noah’s Ark or Family Land. While I love and cherish all of those memories, and I would not change them for the world, nothing beats The Wyndham Vacation Resort at Glacier Canyon.

If you are looking for a place to take your family that will have your kids talking all year long about their experience, you want to go to Glacier Canyon. Glacier Canyon is equipped with amenities galore, and will keep your family busy for days. There is no need to leave the resort unless you want to go downtown or try something different such as riding the Ducks.

The resort has very comfortable rooms that have a rustic feel. They are equipped with Jacuzzi tubs that bubble all of your walking aches away. They have fireplaces, and they have either a patio or balcony. Our room had both a breakfast bar and a decent sized dining room table. You shouldn’t run into any trouble getting everyone to a table for dinner.

If you would like to eat out, the resort has five restaurants to try. They have arcades, black light mini golf courses, go karts, three indoor water parks, including a swim-up bar, and three outdoor water parks, as well as organized activities for the kids, and a workout room for the adults.

If your children get bored at this place, I fear nothing is going to satisfy them. There is simply too much to see and do, and it takes more than one day to do it all. I did try out the Pirate mini golf, and it was a blast. I also tried the pizza, which I very much enjoyed.

The only problem I ran into at this resort was when the upstairs neighbor’s dishwasher began leaking into our kitchen. The staff and maintenance people at the resort moved very quickly to take care of the issue. We were given some comps for the resort because of the leak. I was impressed with how quickly this situation was handled.

I would definitely come back and stay at this resort again. It is one of my favorite Wyndham locations, even as an adult. I went in November, so the outdoor parks were not open, but a great time was still had by everyone involved.

For more information on Glacier Canyon, please visit: https://www.extraholidays.com/wisconsin-dells-wisconsin-getaway/wyndham-vacation-resorts-at-glacier-canyon.aspx