Sharon and I have visited Key West many times and we actually started planning this trip shortly after Hurricane Irma hit the Florida Keys last year. We wanted to visit more sooner than later to help support tourism since people will often avoid places after natural disasters. Even though we’ve found that when visiting Key West we’d rather spend time at an independent hotel than at at a chain property, I just couldn’t pass us a chance to stay at this hotel. This all worked out because before Citi discontinued their Hilton credit cards last year, we signed up for the Hilton Honors Reserve card. Instead of points, like most cards offer as a sign up bonus, this card was offering two weekend nights at any of the Hilton brand hotels. That’s including the Waldorf Astoria properties (well, except for several hotels that were excluded from the offer).
Flying on a basic economy ticket is still a new thing to most passengers. Delta was the first airline to issue a “basic” ticket starting in 2013 but their current version took effect in February 2015. Delta started slow, only selling the tickets in a select number of markets where they were directly competing with Spirit or Frontier. It wasn’t until November of 2016 that United jumped into the basic economy pool, head first, with their own tickets that had way more restrictions than Delta’s. Not to be left behind, American announced their own basic economy tickets in January of 2017. With all three major carriers offering these restrictive tickets, they began to spread to flights that had no competition with the Ultra Low Cost Carriers. Basic Economy tickets are no longer a niche product but may eventually be sold on every flight.
And BOOM, it’s the weekend! Woo hoo and HAPPY SATURDAY! Here’s a recap of what we wrote on YMMV this week. From great travel deals to what we’ve written to what others wrote that we really liked and wanted to share, it’s all here, in one convenient place!
HAPPY SATURDAY, friends! Here’s a recap of what we wrote on YMMV this week. From great travel deals to what we’ve written to what others wrote that we really liked and wanted to share, it’s all here, in one convenient place!
Sharon and I recently stayed at the Casa Marina Key West, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. We decided that we were going to visit the Florida Keys shortly after seeing the damage caused by Hurricane Irma in 2017. Too many people stay away from cities hit by disasters because they’re afraid the area hasn’t “recovered”. Resolving not to do that, we booked a long weekend with the two free weekend night stay certificates Sharon earned as a sign up bonus for the, now extinct, Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve credit card.
The hotel was nice enough to extend my Hilton Gold status to our reservation, even though the reservation was made under Sharon’s account. While I had to go through a bit of a back and forth, I finally received our letter with the Gold Benefits.
We didn’t plan on using most of these benefits, like the discount massages or watersports. I asked about upgrading our room ahead of time and I was told they hotel was almost fully booked. The only things we would use on the list were the two bottles of water (which they even replenished after the first night and never charged us for them) and the Complimentary Continental Breakfast for Two. We usually don’t eat breakfast at the hotel but “our” Starbucks was on the other side of the island so the idea of sitting outside and having a coffee, juice and a muffin didn’t sound that bad.
The Casa Marina’s breakfast restaurant is called Sun Sun and is located just behind the lobby.
I walked up to the host stand and said we were Gold Members and would like to have the continental breakfast. She asked for my vouchers. Vouchers? I never got vouchers.
“You need to go back to the front desk and have them give you vouchers.”
So back to the front desk. They look up our room and tell me that we’re not Gold Members. I show my letter from the day before. Oh, sorry. Here’s your vouchers. They’re worth $15 for each person.
Back to the restaurant and look at the menu.
I explain that we’d only want to get a continental breakfast for our $15 voucher as we were not in the mood for a $30 buffet. I was told they don’t offer that. It’s either the buffet and pay the extra $15 over the voucher, or you can order a la carte and get a $15 credit. If I wanted to get a “continental breakfast,” I could go to the coffee bar in the lobby.
So off we went to Flaglers Cafe, the lobby coffee shop,
For our $15 vouchers, we were able to get a breakfast sandwich (heated up in a toaster oven) and a brewed coffee. We had enough credit left to buy one bottle of water.
Not the restful breakfast that I was expecting when staying at the Waldorf Astoria.
ON the following morning we considered paying the extra and going to the buffet. Instead, we cashed in our vouchers for two slices of banana bread and a bottle of water, which we saved for the car ride home, and headed to our “go to” breakfast in Key West, Sarabeth’s.
For a total of $40, Sharon and I had a wonderful breakfast of omelets, toast with amazing jams and jellies and a huge cup of coffee.
We did pay a little more for this than the “subsidized” breakfast we could have received at the Waldorf Astoria, but it was worth it to eat at one of our favorite places.
I still can’t get over the Casa Marina offering an amenity of a complimentary continental breakfast for two on their welcome package when such a product is not even offered at the hotel. Why not just say the truth – you’ll receive a $15 voucher per person that can be used during breakfast at the Sun Sun restaurant or Flaglers Cafe. Probably because that sounds cheap, which it is. Why not just let Gold members go to sit outside at breakfast and get coffee, juice and a basket of pastries. Would that many people go to the buffet anyway? Even so, how much money would they lose? Instead of that, I cashed out my $15 credit and felt like Hilton values Gold Members about as much as a reheated breakfast sandwich and a coffee to go.
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I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting that much from our first trip with Frontier Airlines. Sharon and I will avoid ULCC (Ultra Low Cost Carriers) whenever possible. However for our trip to Knoxville, the stars aligned and our options were a 10 hour drive each way or taking a 90 minute flight on Frontier. I figured out contingency plans for flights (what could we do if our outbound or return flight was cancelled) and since we’d always have options available, I was allowed (Note from Sharon – yes, really…”allowed.” I would never let him book on Frontier before this trip LOL!) to go ahead and book the flights. I’ve already posted about the booking experience, so here’s what it’s like to fly on Frontier. Continue reading “Why Flying With Frontier Is Better Than Basic Economy On A Major Airline”
Sharon and I have stayed at some really fancy hotels. A few of them even made my list of the most memorable places we’ve ever stayed. While all of these ritzy hotels looked really nice, sometimes the service wasn’t that great. The staff often seemed to be trying so hard that their actions bordered on being robotic. Other times the service we’ve gotten at expensive hotels is just mediocre and occasionally has been really poor. In comparison, we’ve often received outstanding service at hotels in the most unexpected locations. I’m sure that almost everyone has booked a hotel somewhere because that’s where you needed to be. We were recently in such a situation and were pleasantly surprised with the service at the hotel where we stayed.