Entries in ‘Lodging’ Journal

Small Ship Review: UnCruise

Friday October 17, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 6 Comments

"Safari Endeavour" crew

The crew of Safari Endeavour. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


It’s not often that you meet a hotel manager while cruising on a small ship through Alaskan waters. In fact, I had no idea that the role of hotel manager existed on the high seas. Yet when you think about an 84-guest passenger ship, it really should be considered a floating boutique hotel.

I was one of 84 guests to experience an UnCruise Adventure aboard Safari Endeavour while exploring Alaska and Glacier Bay National Park. The 232 foot luxury vessel Safari Endeavor is Un-Cruise Adventures top-of-the-line ship. Similar to an all-inclusive resort, meals, alcohol, airport transfers to and from the ship, as well as all shore excursions are included in the price of the adventure. Something else that is included in the price of the cruise; one complimentary massage per person. You won’t find that at any luxury hotel!
 

"Safari Endeavour" stateroom

Commander Stateroom #318. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Like the television show Fantasy Island, passengers are individually shown to their staterooms (offering five accommodation types) and sparkling wine awaits guests in the main lounge. The crew is friendly, energetic, knowledgeable and professional. From expedition leaders to waitstaff, wellness instructors and Safari Endeavour Captain Barrett Whitten, the mindset is “how may we make your experience unforgettable?” The goal of Un-Cruise – un-plug, un-wind, un-stress.

My stateroom on the third floor deck featured two single berths, a desk and chair, full-length closet, as well as several cabinets and drawers. The bathroom was small, but clean and functional. I loved coming back to my cozy room after an expedition and reading a book while the scenery passed by.
 

"Safari Endeavour" "Philip Bley"

Safari Endeavour Chef Philip Bley. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Onboard dining

After touring the ship’s all electric galley kitchen, I have new respect for preparing hot meals for 80+ passengers in one sitting. The pastry chef worked her magic throughout the 7 day voyage and the executive chef prepared fresh Alaska salmon, as well as rack of lamb, among other menu items while sailing along Glacier Bay National Park.

“Our food service is based around the expeditions,” said Hotel Manager Kathy Madison. “The guests come to experience southeast Alaska. Our role is to support that adventure.”

 

"Kathy Madison" "Safari Endeavour"
 
Insider tip

For anyone concerned about food allergies or special dietary needs, Un-Cruise aims to please. Notes are kept in the kitchen with any special requests from guests, as well as birthday or special occasion celebrations. I also took advantage of the healthy snacks and granola bars available 24/7 for guests to enjoy in the lounge. I travel with my own water bottle, but the hotel staff had placed eco-friendly water bottles, as well as binoculars in each stateroom.
 

"Alaska" salmon

Fresh Alaska salmon. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @UnCruise on Twitter.

If You Go:

Un-Cruise Adventures (888) 862-8881
3826 18th Ave
W. Seattle, Washington 98119
 

Article written by and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Kathy Madison photo courtesy Un-Cruise. I was a guest of Un-Cruise Adventures.

Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Monterey

Friday October 10, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 3 Comments

Author John Steinbeck would have been happy to stay at Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel during his Travels with Charley, as this hotel is very pet-friendly. They have an entire building dedicated to people traveling with their pets, as well as offering outside dining and fireplace access to pets and their owners.
 

"Hyatt Regency", Monterey

Hyatt Regency Monterey Lobby. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

What I liked about Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel and Spa; the 22 acre resort will keep everyone happy. With two heated swimming pools, tennis courts, shuffle board, 24/7 gym, jogging paths, on-property 18-hole Del Monte Golf Course, several restaurants and the Marilyn Monroe Spa, there truly is something for everyone! My Golf Course king room opened up directly to the golf course.
 


 
 

swimming pool, "Hyatt"

One of two heated pools. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

"StayFit gym"

StayFit gym available 24/7. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Is there a better way to spend the day in Monterey than Pebble Beach golf, followed with a spa treatment, dinner at TusCa Ristorante, a dip in the pool and s’mores by the fire pit? Make that a weekend with horseback riding in Pebble Beach and I’m one happy camper.

Traveling with your pet? This Hyatt Regency is pet-friendly and charges a one-time $100 fee. The fee includes a pet bed and bowl to borrow, doggie treats and privacy hanger alerting house-keeping so no one spooks the dog. Outside dining options include heat lamps and fire pits, keeping man and his best friend toasty warm.
 

"Hyatt Regency Monterey" king bed

Monterey Golf Course King. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

fire pit, "Hyatt Regency Monterey"

Pet-friendly fire pit. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Upon Request
Monterey county is tough on water wasters; this includes hotels and restaurants. When you dine in Monterey restaurants you’ll need to ask for a glass of water, as it is only served upon request. Want a bathrobe in your room or nightly turndown service? You’ll need to ask at the Monterey Hyatt. I learned of these two options after I had already checked out of the hotel – but they are available to all guests – upon request.
 

"Hyatt Express Check-in Kiosk"

Hyatt Express Check-in Kiosk. Photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown


 

Insider Tip
Hate waiting in line to check in or out of your hotel? The Hyatt Express Check-In Kiosks might be just the ticket for you. Guests are able to utilize web check-in online and receive e-mail notification when their room is available. Bypass the hotel lobby line by heading straight for the Express Kiosk. Swipe your credit card and your confirmation will be printed, along with keys and directions to your hotel room. Hyatt Gold Passport members (free to join) are able to request specific hotel floors and receive points for their stay. Points may be redeemed for hotel or restaurant rewards.

Hyatt Regency Monterey charges a $20 resort fee. The daily fee covers Wifi, parking, airport and Fisherman’s Wharf shuttle, as well as access to Hyatt StayFit gym open 24 hours, pools and tennis courts. My Monterey Golf Course King room rented for $179. plus tax. Check the website for current rates and package deals.
 

"Hyatt Regency Monterey" flowers

Flowers photo © 2014 Nancy D. Brown

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter @Nancydbrown and follow @HyattMonterey on Twitter.

Check-In Time: 4:00pm

Check-Out Time: 12:00pm

If You Go:

Hyatt Regency Monterey (831) 372-1234
1 Old Golf Course Road,
Monterey, California 93940

Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Hyatt Regency. All opinions are my own.

Serenity in Alaska: Winterlake Lodge Review

Wednesday October 8, 2014 at 7:07 AM | 0 Comments

Living in Lake Placid, New York, the home of forty-six High Peaks and a multitude of beautiful lakes and streams is not exactly a shabby existence, but my husband and I decided to venture to Alaska because it has been in the number one spot on my bucket list since I was ten years old. Fortunately I have a cousin who is a travel agent, Susan Halperin Travel, who set us up on what would be the trip of a lifetime. Knowing me as she does, Susan recommended a rustic, backcountry Alaskan lodge forty miles from civilization; accessible only by floatplane, weather permitting, or ski-plane in the dead of winter. With that, I was set on going to Alaska.

 

"Winterlake Lodge", Alaska

Winterlake Lodge in Alaska


 

Within the wild

After eighteen hours of travel and a night at the comfortable Captain Cook Hotel in downtown Anchorage, we boarded our Rust’s Flying Service floatplane from Lake Hood. Rust’s Flying Service has ten planes available for travel and sightseeing expeditions. The flight was forty-five minutes over one hundred miles of open terrain, with lots of water as it had been raining the past two weeks. We landed on Finger Lake and were enthusiastically greeted by the owners Carl and Kirsten Dixon’s daughter Carly, and several engaging employees. We were treated to hot drinks and warm cookies just baked in their large kitchen where they not only offer a daily cooking class, but produce the most delicious meals planned by Kirsten, a Cordon-Bleu-trained chef. We were shown to our cozy cabin- Happy River- where we had a log bed, private bathroom, oil-heated stove and a fabulous view of the lake. We immediately donned rain gear and met our guide, Josh. For the next three days, Josh took us out in an electric boat where we were entertained by three river otters, swans, loons and a beaver working on a dam he had built. We began to feel the serenity within the wild.
 

"Finger Lake" airplane

Floatplane lands on Finger Lake, Alaska


 

Winterlake Lodge activity

Our days at Winterlake Lodge were up to us and our guide. Activities could include any of the following: hiking easy or more difficult trails right behind the Lodge or on part of the historic Iditarod trail, kayaking, canoeing, fishing, Alaskan bird watching, wildlife viewing, nature exploring including wildflowers, berries, mushrooms, woody frogs and helicopter excursions for salmon fishing or glacier landings with hiking. The guides are all extremely knowledgeable about every aspect of the natural surroundings and clearly love what they do. Of course you could also sit in the Main Lodge, relax and take it all in, read a great book or play some board games available there. After only being there a half of a day, we felt at home and taken care of as if we were part of the Dixon’s family. Everything was so personalized. Complimentary yoga was offered daily at 6:30 am in the wellness room, complimentary massages were available to all guests, and the use of the hot tub and sauna completed the total spa experience. Three meals a day were provided in the Main Lodge. At 6 pm wine and cheese tasting with cheeses from Murray’s Cheese Shop in Manhattan and homemade appetizers were offered. Throughout the day coffee, tea, cold drinks and snacks were available at the coffee bar. You were never hungry. If you chose a day trip as we did, lunches were packed and enjoyed on top of a glacier where we were at one with nature and essentially captured the entire Alaskan experience.
 

"Winterlake Lodge", Alaska

Relax inside Winterlake Lodge


 

Gourmet cuisine in Alaska

Being somewhat of a “foodie” I feel that I must do justice to the culinary experience. All and any dietary restrictions or requests were met with the greatest of pleasure. Milestones were celebrated with a special dessert of your choice along with the daily scrumptious dessert. My husband’s 60th birthday was celebrated with apple pie and homemade vanilla ice cream- his favorite. Each meal was prepared with great thought and creativity and presented flawlessly. My favorite dessert was a combination of lemon cake, meringue, stewed blueberries and fresh homemade blueberry ice cream with freshly grated parmigiano cheese sprinkled on top for the finishing touch!!! Out of this world! I cannot say enough about the exceptional cuisine that we enjoyed over our three day stay.
 

"Winterlake Lodge" Alaska

Finding serenity in Alaska


If you are thinking about going to Alaska, which in itself is impressive for its sheer size (it is 1/5 of United States total land area), and want an experience that combines activities and excursions, cuisine elegance with extraordinary taste and relaxation, then Winterlake Lodge should be at the top of your list. This rustic, luxury lodge epitomizes and exudes all within the wild to help you find your serenity. I have found mine.

If You Go:
Within the Wild Alaskan Adventure Lodging (907) 274-2710
Winterlake Lodge, Alaska

This is a guest post by Dr. Karen Cooper. All photos courtesy Karen Cooper.