Monday, August 7, 2017

Sheraton Tarrytown Hotel

Sheraton Tarrytown Hotel
Tarrytown, New York
(August 2017)



In choosing this hotel for my recent stay in New York over other hotels, the price was right for the amenities provided and it was convenient from the airport (LGA - only 30 minutes away) and has a diner right down the block called the Eldorado Diner which is open 24 hours. They also have a Shop and Stop in the vicinity as well so you don't have to spend an exuberant amount of money on something as small as a razor when buying it at the hotel.


When we arrived, and it was pretty late, the lobby was very clean, smelled great and they had fresh lime/lemon/fruit infused water and Starbucks coffee complimentary. The front desk staff were very attentive and professional. When I originally asked for a room near the elevator, they already had everything waiting for me. There was also a bar and restaurant where you could get a quick bite or drink before retiring for the evening.


  

We splurged a little and got the Sheraton Club Room. The Club Room gives you VIP treatment with private, round-the-clock access to the Club lounge and preferred rooms, complimentary breakfast, evening hors d’oeuvres, all day snacks and beverages, free wi-fi, and a full range of business supplies and services.


 


 

We absolutely loved it! Just going into the room it was not only clean, but the beds were comfortable, soft, and lots of bath amenities with a hairdryer as well! There was a very large closet with an iron and ironing board, along with a safe and a robe! 

Here are some pictures of the Club Lounge:

    

In addition, since I am a Starbucks fanatic, we were able to have Starbucks coffee every day at any time. In the morning, we tried the continental breakfast and of course, great coffee. At night, we were able to have some hors d’oeuvres and drinks, complimentary! No, it was not liquor although I wish it was! It was coffee, water, soda and tea.

In addition, the hotel also has a pool and exercise room for guests to use, and of course, complimentary. 

OVERALLFor the price of a regular room to a Club Room it was well worth it!  Nothing wrong with spending a little extra for all the amenities it comes with.  Plus the service is spectacular!  



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Monday, July 10, 2017

Southwest Airlines June 2017

Southwest Airlines Review




Ok, so with the catastrophe of Spirit Airlines and the not-so-bad flight on Silver Airways, we now try one more airline to from Tampa to West Palm Beach/Delray Beach, Southwest Airlines.  A new, reinvented, and a whole new experience of customer service airline.  I would say this is not your typical airline like all the other commercial airlines.  Their approach to flying is a little different.


Southwest Airlines notes that they are dedicated to the "highest quality of Customer Service with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit."  I must stay that this statement is true, amongst some of the other airlines I have experienced.  Like Jet Blue, the employees of Southwest Airlines go out of their way for their customers.  I witnessed Southwest Employees assisting many handicapped individuals with their carry on's and small luggage onto the plane, a very rare occurrence that I have seen.  


When I first got through airport security, I did not have to wait too long for the plane to board passengers.  However, Southwest does not allow you to pick your seat on the plane.  You have to wait on line, in your numbered row, to be called.  Now to me, this is a little silly.  I asked one of the flight attendants why they do this.  They stated that it makes it easier for passengers to board the plane quicker by letting them pick their own seats.   Southwest believes that this is a quick, easy, and efficient boarding process. Its called "Upgraded Boarding" and you pay $30 to $40 each way depending on the destination which gets you in the A1 - A15 boarding group. How this works is when you arrive at the airport and you are ready to board the plane, you look at your boarding pass to find your assigned boarding group (A, B, or C) and boarding position (1 - 60). When your group is called, you stand by the column with your number on it until it’s your turn to board.  You do have the option to purchase this "Upgraded Boarding" before purchasing your ticket online with Southwest. Not too bad as the other airlines, for instance, Delta, who charge anywhere from $22 to $75 for an upgraded seat.  I did opt for this as I wanted to get the full experience. 


Now boarded on the plane, I get a pretty good front row seat, aisle of course!  Now looking inside and around the plane, it is very clean and roomy.  I really like the HEART symbol (aka "LUV") on the plane.  What's LUV you say?  As Southwest stated: "Southwest has been in LUV with our Customers from the very beginning. Therefore, it's fitting that we began service to San Antonio and Houston from Love Field in Dallas on June 18, 1971. As our Company and Customers grew, our LUV grew too! With the prettiest Flight Attendants serving "Love Bites" on our planes, and determined Employees issuing tickets from our "Love Machines," we changed the face of the airline industry throughout the 1970s. Then in 1977, our stock was listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "LUV." Over the ensuing years, our LUV has spread from coast to coast and border to border thanks to our hardworking Employees and their LUV for Customer Service."



In addition, Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, no change fees, and the in-flight entertainment portal* featuring a flight tracker, arrival and connecting gate information, games, and access to Southwest.com® at no charge! You can also enjoy free live TV, on-demand TV, movies, web browsing (with paid WiFi access) and messaging during your flight. You just download the app on the Southwest.com website from you phone and you are ready to go!  I love it!

They also offer drinks and snacks such as soda and pretzels, but do offer other drinks and snacks at a price.


So on the way both to PBI and back to Tampa was very smooth and fast!  We were there and back in less than an hour and we were on time both times.  Great flight and nice people.  Was not bad at all!

OVERALL: I liked it so much that I booked my trip to New York on Southwest.... BONUS!  I would definitely recommend taking them whether for a short trip or a long one.  They are just like Jet Blue and the service is great!  




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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Silver Airways Review 2017

Silver Airways Review



In May 2017, I went to go see my mother in West Palm Beach. I really didn’t want to drive 3 ½ hours from Tampa, so I researched some alternative ways of transportation. I could have taken an Amtrak train, but it would still take just as long, if not more expensive to take it. So, I went and researched airlines. The first trip I took was on Spirit Airlines… which, as my followers on Facebook came to realize, that was the worst airline ever to fly. Don’t worry folks…. I won’t be sending ANYONE I know or any of my clients on that airline no matter how cheap it is!

Next airline available is Silver Airways. This is an interesting company which started operations in 2011 with the purchase of only 6 SAAB 340B+ aircraft. It was originally Gulfstream International Airlines but when they went bankrupt in 2010, Victory Park Capital bought the company along with 21 Gulfstream Beechcraft 1900D aircraft (mostly used for regional travel or hauling cargo). Over the next several years, the company has grown to 23 Saab 340B+ aircrafts and flies to over 28 destinations. The longest you would ever be on one of their flights would be 2 hours.

Passengers with special needs should read their policy before booking their flights as it might be difficult to fly their airline: https://www.silverairways.com/more-information/travel-policies/policy/special-needs

Seating also may be an issue for those who would not fit into a 30 pitch/18.5 width seat. It can be quite uncomfortable and you would not be allowed to fly due to weight/balance requirements.

    


Here is the Contract of Carriage:   https://www.silverairways.com/docs/site/legaldocs/contract-of-carriage.

However, there is no legal weight limit for passengers on U.S. commercial flights but some airlines ask customers who cannot fit into one seat to book two. It says if a passenger cannot lower the armrests on one set they must buy another - whatever they weigh. Safety regulations from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandate that passengers must be able to lower their armrests and sufficiently buckle and fasten their seat belts. However, the average seat width for a domestic economy flight ranges from 17 to 19 inches between the armrests. So what happens when you can’t fit in the seat? According to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), airlines are not required by law to provide additional seating or an upgrade in the event additional space is required for a passenger.

Leaving from Tampa International Airport was a breeze, as I didn’t have to check a bag and my personal carryon items are free of charge. Bonus! However, in finding out from other passengers, if you were trying to check in a bag (Fee is $30, etc.), there was no one at the ticket counter. Even if they called someone, no one came. Can you imagine trying to get thru the security check point with that? In addition, Silver Airways does not participate in the TSA Pre check program so you would have to wait on the long line to get thru security. They do, however, participate with Jet Blue & Frontier Airlines reward points so that is a bonus!

Got thru security with no problem and went down to Gate A1. This gate is near the tarmac and in order to board the plane, you have to walk on the tarmac to get to it and walk up very tiny stairs to board the plane. The inside of the plane had two long rows of seats on the left and one row on the right and one long row in the back of 4 seats (exactly 34 seats). I had chosen my seats (2D – Front row left aisle seat) before printing my boarding pass but it seemed that Silver Airways gave my seat to 2 other people! These seats are very small. Honestly, it really didn’t matter as people had to move to different seats so that the plane could be evenly balanced when taking off and landing. Little did we know! I found out pretty quick when we were taking off as you can feel the plane “fish tailing.” Pretty nerve-racking for the queasy but cool for the roller coaster riders!



The plane ride was only 50 minutes and they gave you a very small bottle of water to tide you over.

Landing in West Palm Beach, even though the weather was great, the pilot was all over the place! Got me queasy and was praying for a landing! I promised myself that I would never fly in the front again because of the “fish-tailing,” the disgusting smell coming from the bathroom, and the noise from the propellers (on a scale from 1-10) was a 7.


On the way back from West Palm Beach, again, no one was at the ticket counter.  As I went thru security, I asked them “what would happen if no one came to check the bag?”  The security officer stated that she would not know what I could do.  Kind of odd don’t you think?  If I had a regular weight or oversized bag, would it go thru security screening and therefore allow me to take it with me since I probably would have items over the 3.5 oz limit???  I am surprised they could not answer it.  I am assuming that you would go thru security, notify security that you were taking Silver Airways and no one was at the ticket counter, and they would hopefully let you thru.  I bet you would need to plan to be there for an extra hour no? LOL!


Now boarding the plane, I purposefully switched my seat to 12C so that way I can see if my experience flying again could be lessened by sitting in the back of the plane as opposed to the front.  In addition, I wanted to save myself from the retched stench of the bathroom, hopefully less fish-tailing, and eliminate the nausea I experienced from my last flight coming into West Palm Beach.  I took my seat in the back of the plane on the right (one row) and had a window.  Perfect!  Comfortable and relaxing.  Noise level in this location was a 2 and no smell from the bathroom or nausea.  However, it was a little rough coming in for the landing, some fishtailing, but we were prepped ahead of time by the Captain. 


As I was getting off the plane and the last one off, the 1st officer helped me with my bags!  So sweet and I thanked Captain Kaleb for the smooth ride and nice landing!  I was clapping!!









OVERALL: So, for the price it was worth it.  Keep in mind that this is not for the weary or queasy so make sure this is the airline you want to fly. 


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Tuesday, January 24, 2017

NCL Escape - Trip Home ;o(

NCL Escape - Trip Home

PLEASE NOTE: This review has nothing to do with Maraloha Travel. This cruise was for the purpose of the Reunion Cruise Group that I do every year in dedication and heavy advocacy for Travel Agents. It is also for purposes of giving insight to cruising and my personal experiences. Call your travel agent for more information about experiencing your first or future cruise.


OMG!! The cruise is over ?!?!?!. NOOOOOO.... Here we are in Miami and I can't believe I am leaving my fellow TA's. JC and I had a great time and gave JC some ideas into what travel agents do even though I am sure he had a pretty good idea. Its great getting together with others to brainstorm and get more refreshing ideas and/or remember the old ones that worked!

Debarkation is one of the easiest processes (at least in my experience). Left the bags out the night before, there are off the ship and at the pier waiting for us to pick them up, and having a relaxing breakfast before we head down to meet Pam (our Concierge) to have Priority Debarkation. Love this part. We can stay on as late as we possibly can and at 9:30AM we walk off the ship, skipping the line (priority) and go get our bags. Perfect! 

Grab the porter to get our bags and off we go to get a cab. Well... this was a bad idea. Should have called an Uber... The Uber would have cost us $12.00 to get back to the Hotel, or maybe a little more. The taxi was $40.00!!! Uck...but it was raining hard and I just wanted to get to my car at the hotel and unload the luggage. As expected, we get to the Hotel where we stayed prior to leaving for the cruise, no damage to the car, and right where I left it. Awesome!


So now, both of us tired as we didn't get much sleep the night before...I start the drive home. We reminisced about some of the great times we had, the interesting people we met, the experiences at the island, and bounced around some ideas for our next Reunion cruise!

Thanks so much for those who joined us on the 5th Annual NCL Reunion cruise! The Reunion Committee will be continually working hard to get the next one ready and will give you details as soon as it comes available. 

Please feel free to comment as I would love to hear from you.  

Thanks for joining us on this memorable journey!

STAY TUNED FOR INFORMATION ON THE NEXT REUNION CRUISE COMING SOON!

#dedicatedtravelagent, #WeExist, #cruises, #vacation, #fun, #NCLEscape, #Reunioncruises

Sunday, January 15, 2017

NCL Escape - Day 7 (Nassau, Bahamas)

NCL Escape - Day 7
(Nassau, Bahamas)

PLEASE NOTE: This review has nothing to do with Maraloha Travel. This cruise was for the purpose of the Reunion Cruise Group that I do every year in dedication and heavy advocacy for Travel Agents. It is also for purposes of giving insight to cruising and my personal experiences. Call your travel agent for more information about experiencing your first or future cruise.

I can't believe this is the last day of our cruise. We will be in Miami tomorrow so we have to make the best of it.  This is going to be a long post so get out the coffee and buckle up!

Before this cruise, I had spoken to our Representative for Atlantis Paradise Island so that we can get a tour of this enormous place. So, we set up a time and a meet at around 1pm.  I brought with me about 4 other travel agents so that they could get the same opportunity.


So we dock in Nassau at around 12:30pm and we met up with Tony and the other travel agents towards the market entrance.  It was really gloomy and damp out, no sun, so we grabbed a taxi and went to Atlantis to meet our Rep at Coral Towers.  We met up with our Rep. at 1:30pm (she is awesome!) and we all made sure that we had water and our walking shoes.  We all knew that this was a huge property and we had a lot of walking to do.

First stopCrush which is a nightclub and entertainment center for Teens 13-17.  Next we walked through the shopping area, thru the casino and then onward to The Dig.  The Dig is a walk through replica of the lost city of Atlantis which exhibits an array of exotic marine life.  Absolutely breathtaking and gorgeous!  The fish and marine life were beautiful and some like the the groupers were SO BIG!! WOW!  It is definitely something not to miss!

    

Our Rep then took us to see the rooms of the hotel at Royal Towers.  As Travel Agents, we need to get an idea of what these rooms and accommodations look like so that we can fit the right client to it, and of course, perks!  Some of the rooms we saw were beautiful, spacious, comfortable with all the finishing touches.  They were expensive, but worth it as you can see from the pictures!

  

Now walked out of Royal Towers and took the free shuttle (which is throughout the property, free of charge, for everyone to visit all the areas of the island) and stopped at The Cove Atlantis.  This Hotel is more for the relaxation, quite and surreal atmosphere, away from the hustle and bustle and touristy part of the other hotels on the property.   I really enjoyed seeing this hotel and the rooms.  Just in case you didn't know, people this hotel ONLY has suites and no standard rooms!  In addition, there is almost a Starbucks Coffee in every hotel at this property!  SCORE!! I don't know about you but I LOVE STARBUCKS!!! LOL

     

So far, the group is getting a little tired because not only have we walked for a long period of time, but we still had more to go.  JC and I didn't care.  We were excited to see this place!  So after seeing The Cove Atlantis, right next door was The Reef Atlantis.  This particular property has studios, suites and penthouses, however, these can be bought like timeshares!  Its all the luxuries of home in the Bahamas!

       

Since we were so close by, I was so dying to see the dolphins!  So our Rep was able to bring us to see them at the Dolphin Cay.  We could not touch or swim with them, but you can watch them interact and play.  So now it was getting pretty late and it was time to head back to the ship.

   

There was so much to see that we only had time to take some snapshots of areas as we were walking through.  We did not have time to eat or really go swimming but we did see Atlantis from some great heights, able to take some close up pictures and of course, got a great shot with our Rep!! We love her and thank her so much for taking the time out of her busy day to give us a tour.  I know that when our TA's book their clients they will know exactly how to do it and do it right!  Here are some of the best pictures I think of Atlantis (We took over 100 photos and they don't do it justice!  You have to see this place for yourself so call your Travel Agent today! (hint.. hint)

            

JC and I were pretty tired when we got back on the ship and unlike last year, we had plenty of time to make it back without the worries of the ship leaving without us.  Princess and Carnival ships were there as well and we were going to be the first ones to leave.  Here we go... through the NCL dancing line:


Now back at the cabin, we get another beautiful gift from Sean.  

So for our last night on the ship we decided to eat at Teppanyaki - the Hibachi restaurant.  I was not really thrilled as my past experience with this restaurant is that most chefs cook with a lot of garlic butter.  However I do remember one Chef that was excellent when I was on the Dawn, John.  

So we get seated and what a surprise!  The whole cast of The Brat Pack and the staff from the Perspective Studios.  What a treat! That was definitely the best highlight of the evening!  They were great and so much fun to be around and the Chef was JOHN of all people!!!! I couldn't believe it!  The food was fantastic and I feel like kicking myself in the ass for not eating here every night!  Not salty, garlicky, or oily!!! Loved it and I was sooooo upset that of course, my last night on the ship I discover this.  But, that is ok... at least we had a blast!!


So all good things must come to an end but at least this one was one for the history books!  We had a great time and we will miss all the people we have met and had fun with.

Tomorrow we are in Miami and one last entry for our adventure home....  


Please feel free to comment as I would love to hear from you.  

Thanks for joining us on this memorable journey!

#dedicatedtravelagent, #WeExist, #cruises, #vacation, #fun, #NCLEscape, #Reunioncruises