Monday, September 22, 2014

Hyatt Place {Denver} : A Hotel Review

I'm home from Korea and getting back into normal time and schedule, so while I get everything together from my trip to start sharing posts about it later this week, today we're diving back into Denver! During our recent trip to the Mile High City, we didn't arrive until Midnight on Friday night at the Denver airport en route from Portland, so we decided to just spend our first night of the trip at a hotel near the airport.  We have had good luck with the Hyatt Place brand in the past and it turned out to be a good choice for us for our first night.

With that, I'm adding another hotel review to the Hotel Review Guide collection today which you can find on my sidebar.  The Hotel Guides now have their very own button in my Categories section.

When we stayed: September 2014  |  Price Range: $135

Address:  16250 E 40th Ave, Aurora, CO 80011 |  Website: Hyatt Place Denver Airport

Check in - Check in was easy, though we had called to have the shuttle pick us up at the airport, thinking it would be a quick 5-10 minute drive to the hotel.  Note that this hotel is about 20 minutes from the Denver airport (as most of the airport hotels are there) so be sure to add additional time to your itinerary to get from the airport to the hotel.  

Room - The room was large but strangely laid out due to the fact that we were given an ADA room so everything was designed for someone to get around in a wheelchair.  For one night it was fine for us, though for longer stays, the layout might have been a bit to get used to.  The hotel also seemed a little worn down in terms of furniture and finishes.

Bathroom - The bathroom was large, though again, laid out for someone in a wheelchair so the shower was different and the space in the bathroom was oddly shaped.  It wasn't bad for one night though.  My one complaint was there was hardly any counter space for such a large bathroom.

Design -  The design of this hotel followed was the other Hyatt Place chains follow, with modern design and neutral color palettes.  

Overall Impressions - This hotel seemed a bit run down and ready for some updates, though overall is was fine for a night to be semi-close to the airport when our flight landed late.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Family Fun in Niagara Falls

I'm on my way home from Korea today & can't wait to share everything about my trip but in a quick break from Denver and Korea posts which I'll be getting into this week, were looking at another destination that is on my travel list today!  

Niagara Falls in Ontario is a massive tourist attraction, garnering about 20 million people a year. While the main attraction is obviously Niagara Falls, the area surrounding the falls is full of family orientated attractions that are sure to keep the kids busy and the entire family entertained.

Below is a list of some of the activities you and your family can take part in while you are visiting the Niagara Falls area:

1. Butterfly Conservancy
A perfect way to spend the day! The butterfly conservancy is a free flying butterfly aviary with over 2, 000 of these beautiful creatures flying around in the open space. Take a self-guided tour through the lush, tropical forest in the enclosure, and find the secluded waterfall. The kids will love having standing still competitions in the race to have the most butterflies land on them.

2. Bird Kingdom:
Similar to the butterfly conservancy but filled with our larger, feathered friends; Bird Kingdom is the biggest free flight aviary in the world. There are over 500 birds found in the enclosure, which boasts many different kinds of habitats, from marshes to treetops. The whole family will love spending time here, with a yummy restaurant to treat yourselves after you have walked around.

3. Marineland of Canada
One of the most popular places in the Niagara Falls area, Marineland is a great place to come spend the day and watch some of the most amazing sea creatures. You can see Killer Whales up close, Sea Lions clapping for the crowd and rare Beluga Whales in their tanks. There are a host of other animals at Marineland, such as Elk, Buffalo, Giraffe and Bears. There are also designated picnic spots with tables where the whole family can sit back, relax and rehydrate, before setting off to see more wonderful animals.

4. Various Waterparks:
Waterparks are everywhere in these parts and you are sure to find one that will keep your family busy for hours on end. There is the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, as well as the Americana Waterpark, among others. Most waterparks have wave pools, water rides and slides, tubing and various other exciting things to keep everyone happy.

5. Whirlpool Jet Boat Tours:
This adrenaline pumped crazy ride is sure to get everyone excited. Experienced and qualified captains run the Jet Boat Tour, and they drive you through the highest Class 5 rapids under the falls. If you enjoy the more exhilarating and thrilling type of adventure, this is a must do activity in Niagara Falls.

6.Relax and Unwind:
After a day filled full of adventure and exciting activities, you may want to relax over some cocktails and swim leisurely in a pool with a view.  There is no better place to do this than the Marriot Niagara Falls Gateway on the Falls Hotel, its sweeping views.

As you can see Niagara Falls is a holiday destination that every member of the family can enjoy. Pack your kids, car and your bathing costume too, and come to Ontario for a fun-filled adventure for the whole family.

*This post was written by supporters of True Colours.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Hotel Monaco {Denver} : A Hotel Review

When we booked our trip to Denver in August, we jumped on a cheap fare sale for airfare from Portland.  When we started looking into hotels we realized that the weekend we had chosen also happened to be when a huge conference was taking over the city.  With hotels going for $350+ per night that weekend, we reached for our mileage points and jumped on a night at the Hotel Monaco downtown Denver.  I always love the Kimpton brand and we stay at them often, this hotel of theirs was no exception and we loved our stay there.

With that, I'm adding another hotel review to the Hotel Review Guide collection today which you can find on my sidebar.  The Hotel Guides now have their very own button in my Categories section.
When we stayed: September 2014  |  Price Range: We used BA avios points to book this hotel.

Address:  1717 Champa St, Denver, CO 80202 |  Website: Hotel Monaco Denver

Check in - We arrived at the hotel around 10am on Saturday morning (after staying Friday night a hotel by the airport since we arrived around Midnight) and didn't think we'd be able to check in, but were hoping to just be able to drop off our luggage.  Turns out, we were able to check in early as they had a room ready for us, which made the whole day so much easier!  

Room - The room was beautiful and I've stayed at Hotel Monaco's in many cities around the US and this was one of my favorites as far as the room and decor.  Great size, really comfortable and just all around a great hotel room.  My only complaint was that the refrigerator was a big noisy during the night, but everything else was great.

Photo by Nick
Bathroom - The bathroom was simple yet functional.  The shower was good and there was lots of counter space.  My only complaint here was that there was only 1 bath towel in the bathroom for us, which ended up being a little bit of an issue.

Design -  I loved the design of this hotel and even within the decor of the Monaco's, this was was sophisticated but playful with colors and patterns.  I loved the burnt orange touches in the rooms and the patterned carpet in the hallways especially.

Overall Impressions - We really enjoyed our stay here and it was extremely comfortable, great location in downtown Denver and were welcomed with a helpful and generous staff.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Denver : Larimer Square & LoDo

After spending the morning in the city center of Denver, we ventured down to Larimer Square and LoDo.  Larimer Square is a really cute few blocks of Denver with amazing restaurants, strings of lights hanging over the streets and renovated brick buildings filled with character.  We wandered the area and decided to stop for lunch at Osteria Marco.  I had read about this restaurant before going, but wasn’t sure our schedule would permit us to get to eat there.  It ended up perfectly for a late, leisurely lunch while we were in the area and it was hands down some of the most delicious Italian food I’ve ever had.  Order the burrata, the spinach salad and a homemade pizza and you won’t be disappointed!

After lunch we headed a few blocks further to explore the LoDo area (nickname for Lower Downtown) and both of these spots were my favorite areas of the city.  LoDo reminded me a lot of Portland’s Pearl District, an area where they took old warehouses and renovated them into lofts and townhouses, complete with restaurants and shops on the ground floors.  While LoDo has a much more “Western” type feel than Portland’s Pearl, we really enjoyed walking around the area and taking in the brick buildings and Denver's beautifully renovated Union Station.  The area was bustling on a Saturday afternoon, restaurants packed and lots of people out enjoying the nice weather.  

We finished the evening with dinner at Cholon Bistro, another must-eat spot in Denver.  The Asian fusion restaurant was delicious and while we were entirely too full after our meal of wanting to try everything, it was well worth it!  As the sun started to set we jumped on the Free Mall Ride bus again and rode it up to Civic Center Park as I mentioned yesterday, then headed back to our hotel for an early night in, in preparation for our early flight home the following day.  

Overall I really enjoyed seeing Denver and having a day to just wander around the city.  I really liked LoDo and Larimer Square and would focus more of my time there next time, but overall it was a great weekend trip and I’m happy to add Denver as a place we enjoyed exploring!