Entries in ‘Lodging’ Journal

MGM Grand Guests Stay Well in Las Vegas

Friday March 27, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

Back in the day, a trip to Las Vegas meant late nights in smoke-filled casinos and cheap all-you-can-eat buffets on the strip. Today, travelers to Las Vegas are more health conscious in their dining choices and their tolerance to second-hand smoke. With that in mind, MGM Grand Hotel & Casino has expanded its offering of Stay Well rooms.

stay well, mgm grand, las vegas

Stay Well in Las Vegas. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


Introduced in 2012 with 42 Stay Well rooms, the hotel has since expanded the program to offer the entire 14th floor of the hotel’s main tower. A joint venture between Dr. Deepak Chopra, Delos, a pioneer of the wellness real estate industry and the Cleveland Clinic, Stay Well rooms offer hotel guests a cleaner way to experience sin city.


Stay Well guests have their own check in room with bottled water and fresh fruit on arrival. I opted to check in via the VIP suite, as I’m an M Life member and I like pretending that I am a Las Vegas VIP. Did I mention that I saw Kiefer Sutherland in the lounge checking in with his guitar in hand?

mgm grand, hotel lounge, las vegas

VIP Lounge photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

We were given our hotel keys and ushered to the Stay Well elevator corridor for the 14th floor. I don’t know if it’s mind over matter, but I did feel good about my hotel room. I noticed the quiet hum of the air purifer, the special lighting in the bathroom mirror, and the shower head that dissipated vitamin C to reduce chlorine and keep my skin feeling soft.

stay well room, mgm grand, las vegas

MGM Grand room photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

vitamin c shower, mgm grand, las vegas

Vitamin C reduces chlorine levels. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


After a night out on the town, sink back in the king bed, lower the blackout shades and prepare for a good night’s sleep with the natural memory foam mattress. Wake gently with the dawn simulation clock and check out the mini bar or room service for healthy menu options designed by Cleveland Clinic Wellness.

stay well light, mgm grand

Dawn Simulation photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


Of the approximately 5,000 rooms, including the West Wing and Skylofts, the Stay Well rooms make up a small portion of the hotel. Perks include access to the fitness room within the spa and cardio room. Rates range from $89 to $600, check the website for details.

Insider Tip
To keep your healthy habits going, guests have the option to continue with Cleveland Clinic’s wellness programs online. For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter and @MGMGrand.

Check-In Time: 3:00pm

Check-Out Time: 11:00am

If You Go:
MGM Grand Hotel & Casino (877) 880-0880
3799 Las Vegas Boulevard South
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119

Hotel review, video and photos courtesy of Lodging Editor Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of MGM Grand Hotel while researching an article for another publication.

Hilton Huanying Program Welcomes Chinese

Wednesday March 25, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

Hilton Hotels have mastered the art of making guests feel comfortable during their travels. However, if you’ve ever traveled to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language and the customs are different, you know a smile and warm welcome can go a long way. The company recently introduced the expansion of their Hilton Huanying (huan ying) program to welcome Chinese guests.
Hilton, Huanying, Chinese

I had the pleasure of meeting with several Chinese journalists during their visit to San Francisco to experience the program first-hand. With outbound tourism from China forecast to double from 100 million to 200 million by 2020, capturing the Chinese tourist market is key to many hotels. Hilton was a pioneer in rolling out the Chinese welcome mat back in 2011 and continues its expansion with a more comprehensive program in 2015.


“Huanying is an essential part of the Hilton hospitality promise, welcoming Chinese travelers with a level of service and personalization we know they expect and enjoy,” said Rob Palleschi, global head, full service brands, Hilton Worldwide. “Since being introduced in 2011 at 51 properties in 13 countries, Huanying has empowered more than a million Chinese travelers to explore new destinations with the comforts of home.”


coit tower, san francisco, huanying, tea

Coit Tower and tea photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


Some of those comforts include a Huanying greeting in Chinese; Mandarin interpretation services, guest room amenities such as tea kettles, Jasmine tea, slippers and a Mandarin-speaking television channel. Additionally, the breakfast buffet offer two varieties of congee with condiments, fried noodles, dim sum and fried rice, as well as fried crullers, hard boiled eggs and Chinese tea.

chinese breakfast, Hilton huanying, san francisco

Chinese breakfast buffet photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


Not all Hilton Hotels offer the Huanying program, but hotels may request the program if they have an average of four Chinese travelers requesting rooms per day. This is why my hometown of San Francisco is an integral component to the Huanying program. The Hilton San Francisco Union Square, Hilton San Francisco Financial District, Hilton San Francisco Airport Bayfront in Burlingame and Parc 55 San Francisco a Hilton hotel, all offer the program due to our large influx of Chinese travelers.

karaoke, SF financial district hotel, huanying

Karaoke at Hilton SF Financial District. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


Not only does San Francisco offer the largest Chinatown neighborhood outside of Asia, it’s the oldest Chinatown in North America and being a city of foodies, we serve up some excellent, authentic Sichuan cuisine. I also love that Hilton SF Financial District has a karaoke room for guests to enjoy in addition to amazing views of Coit Tower.

Z&Y restaurant, sichuan, San Francisco

Chinatown offers authentic Sichuan. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown


z&y restaurant, sichuan, san francisco

Culinary delights in Chinatown. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Have you traveled to China? What are your favorite things about San Francisco’s Chinatown? Article, video and photos courtesy of Nancy D. Brown. No red peppers were consumed in the creation of this story.

Napa Valley Boutique Hotel

Friday February 6, 2015 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

A Napa Valley retreat for the senses, Senza ignites your sight, smell, touch and taste experiences. Situated in the heart of Northern California wine country, between downtown Napa and Yountville, this boutique hotel is a retreat for the mind, body and soul.

Senza, hotel, Napa, California

Entrance to Senza. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Owner Ann Hall’s sense of whimsy comes forth with Monarch butterflies suspended in the air, moved by soft Napa Valley breezes. Icelandic statues stand guard in the front of the luxury Senza hotel, welcoming guests to step inside the modern 41 room compound, while an installation of tiny blue butterflies swarm like bees to a hive up the staircase in Senza hotel.

Parker Mansion, Senza, Napa, California

Parker Mansion photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

The hotel grounds are divided into five separate buildings; the Parker Mansion dating back to 1870 houses eight rooms, the Senza House includes 12 rooms, in addition to the dining room, reception and lobby, the Hall Building is home to 10 rooms, the Walt Building holds eight rooms and the Cellar House features three rooms. There is also a heated swimming pool with cabanas, separate hot tub, conference room, fitness center (open 24/7) and spa facilities.
pool, Senza hotel, Napa, California

Relax in the pool and hot tub. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

After I dropped my bag in the Cellar House king room, I stepped outside on the communal deck to take in the vineyard view and water tower. The two acre property includes pine and redwood trees, in addition to vineyards. No surprise there, as the Hall family is a well-known player when it comes to Napa Valley wines. Tastings may be arranged by appointment only at the exclusive Hall-Rutherford Vineyard, while tasting is open daily at the Hall-St. Helena Winery. Hat tip to the family for offering a nightly wine and cheese tasting hour at Senza that includes a nice selection of neighboring vintners. During my mid-week visit, St. Supery was pouring their 2012 Napa Valley Estate Élu, a Bordeaux blend retailing for $75. that Robert Parker rated very highly – if points are how you select your wines. Personally, I chose my wines like my hotel beds, if it makes me feel good, I like it.
Senza hotel, Napa, California

Vineyard views from the deck. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

wine & cheese tasting, Senza, Napa, California

Nightly wine & cheese tasting. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

On that note, my Cellar king room #16 was very spacious and light-filled with a kitchenette, fridge & microwave oven. All hotel rooms come with a gas fireplace and generous sized walk-in shower. If you prefer a wood burning fireplace, you’ll want to stay in the Parker Mansion. Rooms come with robes, slippers to take home, free wifi, two bottles of water and a small bottle of Senza lavender mist to spray on your pillow for guaranteed sweet dreams.
Senza, hotel room, Napa, California

Cellar House king room. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Continental breakfast served from 7:30-10 a.m. includes fresh juice, coffee, tea or espresso, yogurt, fruit, cheeses and pastries from nearby Bouchon Bakery in Yountville – yum! Whether you’re headed downtown to do Napa like a local, or looking for things to see and do in Calistoga – up valley, be sure to take time to stop and smell the roses. Afterall, Senza is all about creating an experience that stirs your passions while blending big city sophistication with wine country charm.
Senza dining room, Napa, California

Breakfast is served. Photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Insider Tip
Ask about the California resident rate during the off season. Shhh! It’s like the secret menu at In-N-Out Burger, only better. For additional insider tips follow Northern California Travel Writer @Nancydbrown on Twitter and @SenzaHotelNapa.

Monarch butterfly, Senza, Napa, California

Monarch butterfly photo © 2015 Nancy D. Brown

Check-In Time: 3:00pm

Check-Out Time: 11:00am

If You Go:
Senza (707) 253-0337
4066 Howard Lane
Napa, California 94558

Hotel review, video and photos courtesy of Lodging Editor Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Senza while researching an article for another publication.