Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sarasota, FL - Hotel Indigo

This is my first stay at a Hotel Indigo.  I have seen the advertisements but I have never had a chance to try aa Hotel Indigo before this trip to Sarasota.  Hotel Indigo in Sarasota, FL has a light & airy feel to it.  The decor in the lobby and the guest rooms is distinctively beach cottage themed.  It seems that that this hotel brand has done everything it can to be different from other hotel brands.

I felt wanted and appreciated as a guest from the moment I walked through the door.  The lobby and the rooms all had wood look flooring.  Everything in the lobby and my room smelled fresh and clean.  The bathroom was huge with a walk in shower that would easily held 4 people.  The bedroom seemed a little small but I am sure this is due to the space taken up by the larger bathroom.  There was plenty of room around the king sized bed for me to be comfortable. The decor was pretty and bright and the furniture and bedding all looked new and clean.

I did seem to hear more hall noise and noise from other guests.  I suspect this is due to the hard flooring choices. It was not at a level that bothered me or kept me awake.  I prefer the hard surface clean flooring over carpet that harbors no telling what germs in it's depths.

The view from my room was beautiful and I really enjoyed the sunset over Sarasota.

I did have breakfast in the hotel restaurant.  The restaurant has the same light and clean feeling as the rest of the hotel.  The server was cheerful and attentive and the food was good.  The breakfast prices seemed to be about the same as other hotel's restaurants. I did see the board for dinner specials for $25 that included dinner, soup or salad and a glass of wine.

I enjoyed my stay and I felt appreciated as a guest at this hotel.  I would happily stay here again and this is a perfect hotel for anyone whether you are a woman traveling alone or a family.  I felt safe in the parking lot and hotel.  There is a parking deck under the hotel and a few parking spaces in the front and to the side of the hotel.  I was always able to park in the front or the side of side of the hotel.

Hotel Indigo

Hotel Front Desk: 001-941-487-3800 | Hotel Fax: 001-941-487-3801

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tampa, FL - Hilton Tampa Airport Westshore

One nice thing I can say about this hotel is that it has a big parking lot and the parking is free.  I was able to park right across from the entrance which I always appreciate.  The location is very close to the airport but I was not awakened by airplanes all night.  The lobby is very pretty and the front desk staff is eager to help.  The girl gave me ideas for restaurants and even offered to schedule me and my coworker on the shuttle but we had a rental car.  The shuttle will go most anywhere within a couple of miles. 

My room was nice with a big cushy king sized bed and lots of down pillows which I love.  The carpet looked like it could use a good cleaning.  It wasn't dirty all over I just noticed a couple of stains.  Since I am at diamond level with Hilton I had access to the concierge lounge.  The girl at the front desk said there would be drinks and appetizers in the evening and breakfast in the morning in the lounge.  On visiting the lounge in the evening I did discover hot and cold appetizers and free sodas and water but any alcoholic drinks were for purchase and the price of the drinks seemed expensive.  This seemed a little weird to me and I haven't ever been in a concierge lounge where the alcoholic drinks were not free. I only got a soda and some cookies.

As much as I was disappointed in the evening reception in the concierge lounge the breakfast exceeded my expectations.  I had expected a continental breakfast and I had a pleasant surprise.  A full breakfast of scrambled eggs, sausage, and hot oatmeal along with fruit, coffee, juices, tea, breads and muffins.  It was a nice breakfast and the lady tending the breakfast bar was very nice and she was working to keep the area clean and well stocked.  

My overall stay in this Hilton was nice.  The hotel seems to be aging a little and the carpet can use cleaning in certain areas.  I did not try the hotel restaurant or the pool/hot tub.  The pool area looked very nice when viewed from my room.  This Hilton is very convenient to the airport and businesses around the airport.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tampa, FL - Miguel's Mexican Seafood & Grill

My companion and I asked at the Hilton where we could get some good seafood in the area and Miguel's was recommended to us by the front desk clerk.  Our navigator found it readily enough and we found plenty of available parking in the back of the restaurant.  We were a little early for the dinner crowd and when we left the parking lot was full.

We were greeted by the hostess and after consulting her chart and another hostess she headed to a table.  We passed a very large and loud party on the way to a table further in the back.  I was glad we were being seated away from the large party.  As soon as we started to sit down the hostess said 'oh no this is the wrong table' and she had us get up and head to another table.  The second table was a tiny table for two right next to the large loud party.  My companion asked if we could sit somewhere else and we were taken back to the original table.  The hostess acted like it was an improvisation on her part to reseat us but we were much happier away from the large party.

A server soon approached with chips and salsa and he offered us several alcoholic drink options and told us about the Kobe beef offerings.  The salsa was incredible.  It has roasted peppers or something special in it and I couldn't get enough of the salsa and my companion said it was the best salsa she had ever tasted.  The prices do seem a little higher than other Mexican restaurants in the area but Miguel's is cleaner and seems more upscale.  I had the Tacos Michocan with chicken and they were delicious.  The tacos had huge slices of avocado, fresh chilantro, fresh onions & tomatoes.  The shells are hand made corn tortillas which were limp and not all that wonderful tasting but the contents of the tacos were wonderful.  These tacos were served with refried beans and yellow rice.  My companion had fajitas and she said they were wonderful too.  The fajitas were served without cheese and she ordered a side order of cheese.  I also noticed that the tacos had very little cheese.

The server had another table seated next to us after we were seated and he seemed to spend most of his time waiting on the second table.  They had ordered alcoholic drinks and he seemed to know them and he spent most of his time visiting their table.  Our service was fine since we had drink refills and salsa refills when we needed them.

All in all the hostesses and the server did not do a great job of making us feel wanted and appreciated as guests but the food more than made up for it.  I will happily eat here again if just for the salsa!

Miguel's Mexican Seafood & Grill

3035 West Kennedy Boulevard
Tampa, FL 33609-3136
(813) 876-2587
Hours: Sun 11am–9pm; Mon-Thu 11am–10pm; Fri-Sat 11am–11pm

Lakeland, FL - Hampton Inn & Suites

This Hampton Inn & Suites is located inside Lakeside Village Shopping Complex. It's a really nice complex of shops and restaurants and all are within walking distance to the Hampton Inn.  If you had time to walk around in the evenings and shop in the shops and eat at the restaurants it would be a fun thing to do.

This is a newer Hampton Inn and it comes across as a more upscale hotel.  The lobby is nicely decorated and inviting. I was traveling with a coworker and we were greeted warmly and we were quickly checked in and on our way to our rooms.  I did notice that the tile on the elevator floor was cracked and it looked like it needed to be replaced or repaired.

My room was comfortable and clean.  The bathroom was a nice size and I had plenty of towels.  The air conditioner was very quiet and it seemed like the entire floor was very quiet during the night.

I did visit the breakfast bar the next morning and I found it to be a nice 'Hampton Breakfast' with a couple of hot items offered along with breads, juices, coffee, cereals, yogurts, and fresh fruits.  The cereal was in individual boxes and I do like that so much more than cereal from a dispenser.  There are usually more selections and the cereal seems fresher from the individual boxes.  The breakfast area was arranged in Hampton Inn's new style of a large table in the center with several bar stools around it and then banquette seating along the walls and a few traditional tables in the middle.

This was a very nice Hampton Inn and I would not hesitate to stay here again.  I would recommend this hotel to anyone including families, business travelers and women traveling alone.

Hampton Inn & Suites Lakeland-South Polk Parkway

3630 Lakeside Village Blvd, Lakeland, Florida, USA 33803
Tel:  1-863-603-7600   Fax:  1-863-603-7601

Monday, October 17, 2011

Wesley Chapel, FL - Holiday Inn Express

I booked this hotel in spite of reading not so flattering reviews online.  The reviews for this hotel seemed to be slightly better than some of the other hotels in the area.  I felt like I had a choice of staying in Tampa and fighting the traffic to work daily or staying near my place of work and taking a chance that this hotel would not be too bad.  This hotel is in a convenient location since it is just off of I-75 and very near to several restaurants.

The parking lot seemed to be getting new pavement in one place or another each day of my stay so parking was a little strange as there seemed to be several large trucks that were hard to get around with the limited parking.  The outside of the hotel looked ok and the lobby didn't seem bad.  The front desk clerk was very nice and she smiled and had me on my way to my room quickly.

The first weird thing I noticed was that the wood look plastic coating on the elevator door was peeling off.  Each time the elevator opened the plastic coating would get caught and make a noise and peel back a little more.  This makes it seem like the management doesn't care if the hotel looks to be in disrepair.  The ice machine on my floor was not plugged in so I don't know if it was out of order or just unplugged.

I noticed that the floor my room was on was very warm in the hallway and the hallway had a musty smoky odor.  When I entered my room the smell seemed to get worse and my room was very warm.  I turned the air conditioner on the high cool setting but it didn't seem to be putting out a lot of cool air.  I went out for a couple of hours and when I came back to my room it was nice and cool.   My room ended up getting so cool that I had to turn the air conditioner on the low cool setting.  Running the air conditioner did seem to help the smell in the room a bit.

The room just didn't seem as clean as I would like.  There was dust in the corners.  I found hair in the bathroom sink, hair in the bath tub and hair on the bed covers.   The curtains looked dingy.  The carpet didn't seem really clean either.  I did have a microwave and a little fridge in my room which I find to be really convenient.

The breakfast bar was disappointing.  The juice was so watered down that it didn't have much of a juice taste.  The waffle maker was 'out of order.'   The hot items looked like they had been sitting under the lights for some time and I did see a guy come into the breakfast bar and wipe off the counters and stir the hot items but he did not replace them so I suppose they stayed out until they are gone no matter how long they had been under the heat lamps.   I did toast a bagel and the bagel was so hard that I could barely bite it and it wasn't that I toasted it too long since I only let it get a little warm.  There was no fresh fruit until I saw the attendant out out some very ripe bananas.  There was coffee,yogurt, and a few bread selections.

This isn't one of the nice and new Holiday Inn Express hotels.  It seems old and worn.  It was an OK place to stay since I was only there for two nights but  I don't know if I would stay at this hotel again and I will definitely check out some other hotels in the area before I stay here again.

Holiday Inn Express
27615 STATE ROAD 54

Clearwater, FL - Candlewood Suites

I have stayed in this hotel before but I did not review it on my blog. Candlewood Suites is an extended stay hotel.  You do not receive maid service daily but you can exchange your towels or linens for fresh ones at any time at the front desk.  I had a queen studio suite so my room was set up like a studio apartment with a little kitchen that was stocked with pots, pans, a microwave, stove top, dishwasher, and a full sized refrigerator.  The hotel has a little food pantry with sodas, bottled water, frozen meals, yogurt, snacks, etc. for prices that really are not terrible.  There is a free laundry but you have to provide your soap and fabric softener or purchase soap and fabric softener from the hotel.

This Candlewood Suites is in an area that seems industrial so there are not restaurants or shops within walking distance except for a fast food hamburger place and in this area I don't think you would want to be out walking at night anyway.

My room seemed like it could have used some attention to detail.  The corners showed some dust especially in the bathroom.  The furniture looked a little worn.  My pots and pans had stains in them and I ran any dishes I planned to use through the dishwasher before I used them to be sure they were clean.  The room wasn't bad it just seemed like the carpet needed cleaning or replacing, the curtains were hanging a little crooked, and things were not quite as clean as I would like them to be.  The tv was very fuzzy on some channels and other channels came in ok.

All of the desk clerks that I met were very friendly and pleasant.  I felt safe once I was in my room. The rate at this hotel is less than other hotels in the area but you do not receive some of the same amenities - no free breakfast, no daily maid service, etc.  However if you are looking to save money or if you will be in a hotel for an extended period of time this might be a good choice for you.  I enjoy having a little kitchen and being able to heat up soup or make myself a snack.

Candlewood Suites
Hotel Front Desk: 1-727-573-3344  Hotel Fax: 1-727-573-3074

Billings, Montana - Hilton Garden Inn

This was my second hotel of the week for my Billings, Montana stay.  I arrived on Thursday and checked out on Saturday.  I was able to park near the door which was a plus since it was raining the latter part of the week and it's a cold rain that falls this time of year in Montana.  I was greeted warmly at the front desk and there were warm cookies on the counter.  I was offered two bottles of water and I was quickly on my way to my room.

My room was clean and comfortable and I adjusted the bed all the way to the soft setting so I could snuggle down for the night.  This seems to be a newer hotel and it was clean and the decor was attractive and inviting.  There was always a fire in the fireplace in the lobby.

Since I am a Hilton Diamond member I received a free breakfast buffet.  The first day I got my usual spinach omelet and it was huge.  I couldn't finish it!  Along with egg dishes that are prepared to order there were breads, yogurt, fruits, juices, etc.  I will say that the fruits did not look like the fresh fruits I get at home in Florida. I did talk to some local people and I was told that fresh fruit in Montana is hard to come by out of season since it has to be shipped from so far away it just isn't really tasty or fresh by the time it is finally received in Montana.

I asked for a late checkout since I had an afternoon flight and I was given a late checkout with no problem or hesitation.  I did take the hotel shuttle back to the airport and the shuttle driver was very personable.  He talked about the town, told me about the weather and helped me with my bags.  I was the only person on the shuttle and he acted like it was no problem at all to run the shuttle for just me.

I had a very nice stay at this hotel and I would recommend this hotel to anyone traveling, families, women traveling alone and business travelers.  This hotel is near several restaurants and shops that are within walking distance so it is a convenient location. 

Hilton Garden Inn Billings

2465 Grant Road, Billings, Montana, USA 59102
Tel:  1-406-655-8800   Fax:  1-406-655-8802  

Billings, Montana - Hampton Inn West I-90

I called the hotel before I left home to see if they had an airport shuttle and I was told to call the hotel when I arrived at the airport.  So when I got to luggage claim I called the Hampton Inn and I was told to meet a Yellow Cab at a certain place outside and the hotel would cover the cost of the cab.  The cab arrived within minutes and the cab driver was very friendly and as he drove he pointed out landmarks that might interest me and he told me about the town.  I did see the hotel's shuttle parked outside the hotel so the shuttle must run during certain hours and when the shuttle is not running the hotel is set up to work with Yellow Cab.

When I arrived at the front desk I was greeted very nicely and I was quickly checked into the hotel and on my way to my room.  This Hampton Inn is very clean and new looking.  It has an updated attractive looking lobby.  My room was very nice and clean and overall it was a nice place to stay.  Since I did book at the last minute I wasn't able to stay at this hotel the entire week I was in Billings.

The breakfast bar was well stocked and it had the breakfast items I have come to expect at a Hampton Inn.  There was a waffle station, a hot egg and meat item every day, a yogurt selection, breads, juices, cereal, etc.  There was an employee keeping the breakfast area clean and stocked.

I would recommend this hotel to anyone including business travelers, families and women traveling alone.  Every time I walked by the front desk I was greeted nicely and told to 'have a nice day.'  I felt appreciated as a guest.

Hampton Inn & Suites Billings West I-90

3550 Ember Lane, Billings, Montana, USA 59102
Tel:  1-406-656-7511   Fax:  1-406-656-7513  

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Jacksonville Beach, FL - Quality Suites Oceanfront

I am always happy to be pleasantly surprised and this hotel was a pleasant surprise.  I was afraid it would be old, run down, crowded, not clean or have the usual musty smell that many beach hotels seem to have.  However this hotel really exceeded my expectations.

The hotel has a nice and well lit parking lot.   The lobby is clean and attractive and the desk staff were always pleasant.  My room was a king jacuzzi suite and it had a separate living room and bedroom with the jacuzzi with the bathroom in between.  My room was clean and comfortable and it had a little balcony overlooking the beach.  The hotel is right on the beach so the views from the rooms are lovely and the sunrises and sunsets are not to be missed.

The 'hot breakfast' did have some hot breakfast items but I think they were prepacked items that were heated or microwaved like cheese omelets.  There were fruits, cereals, breads, juices and the hot items so there was plenty to choose from.  The breakfast area is a little small but I never had to wait for a table and the breakfast bar was kept well stocked.

The air conditioner in my room did make noise but I love a rattling old air conditioner as it drowns out other hotel noises.  So a loud air conditioner is not a negative as far as I am concerned.  The bed was comfy and I slept great.  It was a really good stay overall and this would be a great hotel for anyone including families and business travelers and I will happily stay here again.

11 N. 1st StreetJacksonville BeachFLUS32250-6908
  • Phone: (904) 435-3535
  • Fax: (904) 435-3536

Monday, September 26, 2011

Dallas DFW Airport Area - Hilton Garden Inn Irving, TX

This hotel is very convenient to the DFW airport rental car return center.  The rental car return center is a little over a mile away and it is very easy to get to from this hotel. My main focus in choosing this hotel was to be close to the airport and not have to fight rush hour traffic to catch my morning flight.

The Hilton Garden is very nice.  It is on a busy road but it is located back off of the road so I did not hear any traffic noise in my room.  I was able to park very near the door and I always like it when I don't have to drag my bags across a big parking lot.  The check in process was very fast and easy and I was given two cold bottles of water at check in.  My room was clean and comfortable.  The hotel is either new or well kept.  I liked the adjustable bed and I turned my bed all the way to soft and I put the air conditioner on a very low temperature and I had a good night's sleep.

My room included a free breakfast buffet since I am a Hilton Honors Diamond member.  The breakfast buffet was very nice.  The chef was making omelets and egg dishes and there was bacon, sausage and French toast on the hot bar.  There was also a nice selection of cereals, breads, fruit, juices, coffee, tea, etc.  The waitress kept the coffee refilled and she was very pleasant.

I enjoyed my quick stay in this hotel and I will happily stay in this hotel again & again when I need to be near the airport.

Hilton Garden Inn DFW Airport South
2001 Valley View Lane, Irving, Texas, USA 75061
Tel:  1-972-313-2800   Fax:  1-972-313-2885

Dallas - Embassy Suites Dallas - Park Central Area

I just want to preface this post by saying that I don't like parking garages.  I especially dislike underground parking garages so I avoid parking garages if at all possible.  When I read the reviews on this hotel and the reviews said something about a nice sized parking garage.  I knew I was going to have to park in a parking garage.  I looked around for another hotel in the area but there wasn't anything available in this same class of service that was located in the area where I would be working.  It seemed that most of the Hilton properties were full.  

When I got to the hotel and I got myself parked in the parking garage it was no big deal.  I parked near the entrance to the parking garage since I had no idea where the elevators to the hotel were located.  Some cars came into the garage and I watched where the people went so I would know where to find the elevators.  Even though I had parked all the way over by the entrance to the parking garage it was not a long walk to the elevators.   There were four elevators and no sign to say which elevator to take to check in to the hotel.  I picked elevator number one along with another guest that was also checking into the hotel.  Once I arrived on the 1st floor I still wasn't sure where to go.  I did manage to go in the right direction and find the check in desk but I did find the total lack of signs in the parking garage and also when I got off of the elevator to be a little disconcerting.  I did hear other guests commenting on the lack of signs in the hotel and elevators.  This is the only negative thing I have to say about this hotel.  Of course once you are checked into the hotel and you have found your way around the lack of signs is no longer an issue.

The check in process was fast and easy.  The desk clerk was friendly and smiling.  She gave me directions to my room, the times of the free breakfast and I was off to my suite.  My room was on the 9th floor and I like to be on the top floor and away from children and families.  I have stayed in several Embassy Suites that seem to be overcome with children, families and traveling sports groups. I did not see any children at all.  It is not that I dislike children I have just found in my travels that traveling groups of children tend to be loud and rowdy and they can take over the breakfast area and generally make my business trip less than pleasant.  

The hotel is very attractive and well kept.  My suite seemed smaller than some other Embassy Suites where I have stayed.  It was still very roomy and nicer than a plain old hotel room.  I was greeted with a snack basket that had M&M's candies and snack bars and two bottles of water.  My suite had a sitting area with a wet bar with a refrigerator and a microwave.  The bedroom and living area is separate in Embassy Suites and I enjoy this very much.  My bathroom was small with a shower - no tub - but it was very clean and nice.  My king sized bed was comfortable and even though I had asked for extra pillows I only had four.  I think four pillows is the normal number of pillows for a king room.  I did have the extra towels that I had requested with my reservation.  The room also had a real closet which I prefer to a wardrobe because sometimes the wardrobes are not very tall and my longer pants and skirts are dragging on the bottom of the wardrobe and getting wrinkled.  My room was very quiet and I slept very well.

The breakfast bar was not overcrowded in the mornings.  The chef prepares omelets along with other egg dishes, French toast, etc. to order.  The omelet fillings are set up so that you fill a little bowl with whatever you desire and then you hand the bowl to the chef and let him know if you would like any cheese.  I loved this set up because I like a pile of spinach and only a little sprinkle of the other fillings.  My omelets were perfect both days!  There were many different bread offerings, several types of fruit and coffees, teas, cereal, juices, etc.  It is a very nice breakfast and the breakfast area was kept clean and items were being refilled quickly.

This Embassy Suites is located off of the service road that runs along the south side of 75.  I needed to go north on 75 to work and this was no problem at all.  Just to the south of the hotel is a turn around to get you on the north bound service road and then to 75 north.  I truly enjoyed my stay at this hotel and I would recommend this hotel to anyone including business travelers, families, or couples looking for a quiet place to get away for a weekend with a good breakfast!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Wichita, KS - Vermilion Rose Bed & Breakfast

It has been a couple of months since I stayed in Vermilion Rose Bed & Breakfast but it was so nice that once I realized that I had forgotten to post about it on my blog I decided to post about it today.  I have actually stayed in Vermilion Rose Bed & Breakfast two separate times. I was working in the downtown area of Wichita and there just aren't any decent hotels in this downtown area.  I decided to look online for a bed and breakfast since I had seen several historic type homes downtown I was hoping there was a bed and breakfast in the area so I wouldn't have to drive from a hotel several miles away from my place of work.  I came across the website for Vermilion Rose Bed & Breakfast and I called and talked to the owner and he seemed very friendly and nice and he said they had available rooms so I made a reservation.

The house is beautiful.  It is located inside a beautiful wrought iron fence and the home has a deep porch with chairs for sitting when the weather is nice.  The second time I stayed the weather was nice and after work each day I would sit out on the porch with other guests and enjoy freshly made cookies and a cold drink.   There is plenty of parking behind the house inside the wrought iron fence.  Once you enter the home there is a beautiful wooden staircase that leads to the second floor and the guest rooms.  Both times that I stayed in Vermilion Rose Bed & Breakfast I stayed in the Serenity Rose room.  It is a large and roomy guest room with vintage fixtures in the private bath.  There is a little room at the front of the second floor that has a fridge with cold water and soft drinks, popcorn & a microwave, and books & games for the guests. 

The owners wife makes a wonderful country style breakfast that is served in the dining room.  The owners are very friendly and made me feel like a visiting friend.  The Vermilion Rose Bed & Breakfast was literally around the corner from where I was working so the location couldn't have been better for me!  I would happily stay here again and I would recommend this bed and breakfast to anyone whether you are working during the week or looking for  a quiet relaxing weekend to be pampered.  

Vermilion Rose Bed & Breakfast

1204 North Topeka Avenue
Wichita, Kansas 67214

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mt. Dora, Florida - Five Guys Burgers & Fries

We visited Five Guys Burgers & Fries in Mt Dora yesterday evening.  This is a new Five Guys and we were thrilled when we heard that a Five Guys was coming to our area.  The burgers were freshly prepared with whatever toppings we chose, the boardwalk style  french fries were hot and delicious and we got a huge serving of fries.  Between the two of us we couldn't eat but half of the huge order of fries and we ordered the regular size order so a large order must be for four people!

My hubby ordered a traditional cheese burger but I got grilled mushrooms and onions on my hamburger.  The  grilled mushrooms and onions along with a lack of cheese made my burger have a swiss steak kind of taste.  It was wonderful.  

The restaurant was clean and neat and an employee was actively cleaning the dining room while we were there. The service was fast and friendly and we will gladly go to this Five Guys again when a burger craving hits us!

Five Guys Burgers & Fries

Loch Leven Landing

19009 US Highway 441
Mount Dora, FL 32757
Tel: 352-735-3500

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mt. Dora, Florida - PizzAmore'

  • On  Sunday evenings there are only a limited number of local restaurants that are open in the area.  My husband and I decided to try PizzAmore.  He ordered the lasagna and I had a small calzone.  We also had a small order of 'garlic knots.'  The garlic knots were wonderful.  They arrived sitting in olive oil and covered in fresh garlic.  No vampires will be after me tonight since I love fresh garlic.  We each had food to bring home since the lasagna was a big piece and a small calzone would feed 2 - 3 people.  Next time I want to try the pizza! 

  • The restaurant and bathrooms were clean.  The server was friendly and helpful.  I looked at some other reviews for the restaurant and I found quotes like "The ingredients are fresh, the service is friendly and the atmosphere is cute, the restaurant is quaint.." and they are all true.  It's a cute little place with good service and fresh food.   

  • PizzAmore
  • 622 North Donnelly Street 
  • Mount DoraFL 32757
  • Phone: 352.383.0092 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tavares, Florida - Soup To Nuts Diner

We eat here often and tonight we had dinner at Soup to Nuts.  This isn't a fancy place but the food is good and the service is fast and friendly and the price is right.  The chicken tender platter comes with several chicken breasts, two sides and toasted bread.  The chicken tastes fresh - not some pre-formed patty thing but whole breasts that are freshly breaded and the french fries are always hot and delicious.  

Breakfast is a good bet too!  I like the biscuits and if you get to the restaurant early enough in the day - before they run out - you can get a giant fresh made cinnamon biscuit..  

If you join their dining club (it's free) you will recieve lots of coupons in the mail, a free meal in your birthday month and rewards based on your spending.  It's a great deal and an easy laid back local place!

Soup To Nuts Diner. 383 E Burleigh Blvd, TavaresFL Tel: (352) 343-7704

Tuscaloosa, AL - Hampton Inn Tuscaloosa - East

I am such a positive person that I hate to say anything negative about a hotel property so I have waited almost two weeks before posting my opinion on this hotel. I thought maybe I wouldn't post anything at all and act like I have never stayed in this hotel but that doesn't really seem fair to all of the hotels and businesses that go out of their way to make my stay a pleasant experience.

I arrived to the hotel late at night after a long drive. I was surprised to see a line of people waiting to check in to the hotel. There seemed to be only the one girl on duty and she was doing her best to work her way through the line of people waiting. Once it was my turn at the desk my check in was quick and painless. She verified my check out date and I was quickly on my way with key card in hand.

As soon as I entered my room I was assaulted with the strong smell of cigarette smoke. It literally smelled as if someone had just been smoking in the room. I opened the door to check and see if the sign by the door said this was a 'non smoking' room and I was surprised to see that this room was indeed designated as a non smoking room. I thought I had been given a smoking room by mistake. Eyes watering and nose running I went back down to the front desk and I stood in line again. I explained the problem about the smoky smelling room and asked if I could have a different room. The desk clerk was very nice as she searched for several minutes to find another room for me while she explained that the hotel was 'very full.' She did eventually locate a different room for me and she gave me new keycards and now again I was on my way to my room.

The second room had a totally different aroma. This room smelled like a dirty baby diaper - a poopy one. The smell seemed to originate from the carpet. I stood just inside the door way for a few minutes trying to decide what to do. It was after 1 am and I had an 8 am meeting so I did not relish another trip to the lobby and another wait in line to see if I could get yet another room and I was wondering if there was even another room to be had. I checked the window and thank goodness the window did open a little so I opened the window as far as it would go and I turned the air up all the way and I went to bed. I was praying that my clothing and luggage would not pick up the smell of the room. I will say that by the time I returned to my room the next afternoon most of the dirty diaper smell had dissipated and the room just had a general stale smell.

The breakfast bar had the usual assortment offered by Hampton Inns. There was plenty of seating and the lady running the breakfast bar was actively cleaning tables and replenishing the food.

This hotel seems to be ageing and it is in need of some deep cleaning and/or replacing of carpets, drapes and other items that can hold smells. It isn't a bad hotel and I have stayed at this hotel many times in the past and it seemed fine. I had not been to this hotel in two years and the cleanliness seems to have suffered. I have always felt safe at this hotel and the desk clerks and other employees are helpful and smiling. The pool is in a weird place - it is just a small pool in a fence in front of the hotel and cars park right around the edge of the pool outside the fence. The pool seems like an extension of the parking lot almost like an afterthought to the hotel.

I am not sure if I will stay here again and I am hesitant to recommend this hotel to anyone. I have definitely stayed in hotels that were much worse and on the same note I have stayed in hotels that were much much better.

Hampton Inn Tuscaloosa-East
6400 Interstate Drive
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA 35453
Tel: 1-205-562-9000 Fax: 1-205-562-9859

Thursday, August 25, 2011

St. Petersburg, Florida - Hampton Inn

This hotel has a beautiful pool so I thought I would include a photo of the pool as well as the photo of the front of the hotel.

I arrived at the Hampton Inn St Petersburg after a huge thunderstorm. Due to the storm the front elevator was out of service. Thankfully there was a second elevator toward the back of the hotel. This hotel is not in the best section of town - it's not a bad section I just think that it's not an area where a woman of good reputation would be seen on the streets at night. However, the parking lot is well lit, I was able to park near the door and I felt safe going into the hotel. I was greeted warmly by the desk clerk and my check in process was fast and painless.

My room was clean and very attractive. I had lots of extra towels and a pile of feather/down pillows like I had requested with my reservation. My room and bathroom were larger than the traditional old style Hampton Inns. Everything was clean, smelled good and the bed was comfy.

The breakfast bar was well stocked and it had a hot egg dish, link sausages,a waffle station and various cereals, yogurt, fruit, coffee, juices, etc. The lady running the breakfast bar was very pleasant and she was keeping the dining area and breakfast bar clean.

I like this hotel because it is literally right around the corner from the office where I had to work in St Pete. The hotel is near several restaurants, a CVS and a grocery store so anything I need is just down the street. I felt safe inside the hotel.

I would recommend this hotel to anyone needing a hotel in this area. This Hampton looks better maintained and safer than the other chain hotels in the same area.

Hampton Inn St. Petersburg
1200 34th Street, North
Saint Petersburg, Florida, USA 33713
Tel: 1-727-322-0770 Fax: 1-727-322-0378

Leesburg, Florida - Budget Car Rental

As a business traveler I find myself frequently at the rental car counter. When renting locally I always try my best to use Budget Car Rental Leesburg, Florida. The staff at Budget is always smiling, friendly and very helpful in helping me to select a car that fits my needs as my needs change based on the number of passengers and the amount of luggage that I will have that week.

Phone: 352-787-5555

Hours of Operation
Sun 9:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Mon - Fri 7:30 AM - 6:00 PM
Sat 7:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Monday, August 22, 2011

Paris - Scholl Bros BBQ Paris, Texas

My clients wanted to take me out to lunch and we decided on BBQ. One of the girls said she was going to get the 'baked potato.' I thought to myself 'I want more than a baked potato at a Texas BBQ restaurant.' We arrived at what appears to have been an old filling station. We were waiting in line and I was studying the menu when someone in line in front of me ordered the baked potato.  I watched as a huge potato was placed on a tray and then filled with bbq meat and cheese.  Toppings were offered like sour cream, bacon bits, etc.  I decided I would try this baked potato.  I was in pain when I left the restaurant and I didn't come anywhere near to finishing the baked potato.  It was delicious.  This is not what you would think of as a fancy full service restaurant.  You wait in line in what looks to be an old gas station, then you find your seat and get your drinks yourself.  The floor is plain concrete.  There was someone keeping the dining room tables and floors clean for the lunch rush.  I would happily eat here for lunch again.

Scholl Brothers Bar-B-Q
55 25th St NE
Paris, TX 75460
(903) 739-8080

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Ozark, Alabama - Hampton Inn

This is a New hotel. I could not find a photo of the outside of the hotel so I give you a photo of the bathroom! There is a sign on the outside declaring "Now Open." My navigator seemed to want to take me further down Hwy 231 but I could see the hotel so I stopped in hoping that I was checking into the correct Hampton Inn. The friendly front desk clerk checked and said yes indeed I had arrived at the correct hotel. There were two ladies at the front desk and they were both friendly and they welcomed me as a Diamond member. The hotel decor is very attractive and has a more updated look than some of the older Hampton Inns.

My room was clean and fresh and I was happy to have a little fridge. The breakfast area is very attractive and all of the usual items were offered - yogurt, coffee, juice, cereal, and breads to toast and in addition there was a waffle station for making your own hot waffles and a hot egg selection that looked like a cheese omelet. The seating in the breakfast area is a little different from the norm. There is a big high table in the middle with 10 or so bar stools around it and then there is banquet type seating along the walls. There were only one or two traditional tables with chairs.

The hotel is back off of the highway a little bit so it is quiet and it looks to be in a nice area. I felt safe and I would recommend this hotel to anyone including families and women traveling alone. There are not restaurants right up next to the hotel but just down the road there is anything you could want.

Hampton Inn Ozark
235 North US Highway 231
Ozark, Alabama, USA 36360
Tel: 1-334-443-6669 Fax: 1-334-443-6670

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Dallas Area - Hilton Garden Inn Richardson, TX

This hotel comes across as a new hotel. The lobby and all public areas are very clean and attractive. I was greeted warmly by the front desk staff and I was offered a cold bottle of water from the pantry. The check in process was fast and easy.

My room was clean and attractive. I turned my adjustable bed all the way to soft and I set the air conditioner as low as it would go! I had requested extra towels and pillows in my room when I made my reservation and no extra towels or pillows were present in my room. I made do with what I had available since I arrived after 11 pm and I was ready for bed.

My Hilton Honors Diamond benefits gave me a free breakfast buffet the next morning. All egg dishes were cooked to order and I got a yummy plate of eggs and bacon and then from the buffet I got yogurt and fruit. The breakfast service was fast and pleasant.

My stay was very enjoyable and I felt safe in the well lit parking lot. The hotel is visible from the President George Bush Turnpike which made it easy to find. I would recommend this hotel to anyone and I will happily stay here again soon.

Hilton Garden Inn Dallas/Richardson
1001 W Pres George Bush Turnpike
Richardson, Texas, USA 75080
Tel: 1-972-792-9393 Fax: 1-972-792-9494

Dallas Area - DoubleTree by Hilton Richardson, TX

One great positive about this hotel is that it is easily visible from the highway. The traffic in Dallas is so horrible and my navigator seems to be easily confused by the access roads so I was glad to see the tall hotel with the big DoubleTree sign as I got close to the hotel.

I easily found a parking place close to the door and I was greeted and checked into the hotel in a snap. Two warm delicious cookies in hand I found the elevators and headed to my room. I had been upgraded to the concierge level which is on the top floor. My room was spacious, tastefully appointed and clean. I had a pile of soft down pillows on the bed since I had requested extra pillows. The room had a little fridge and microwave and I love to have a fridge in the room. I turned the air down hoping that the room would be cooler when I returned later.

The room was never really cool. I like a room to be cool enough so that I can sleep under the comforter. My room was facing the west so it got loads of afternoon sun and it was 115 degrees in Dallas. The room was comfortable it was just not super cool. If I return when the temperature outside is over 100 I will ask for a room on the other side of the hotel in hopes that my room will be cooler.

My Diamond level with Hilton Honors got me a free breakfast buffet and the buffet had everything I wanted in a breakfast. There were scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes and grits already prepared and a cook was waiting to take special orders for omelets. Of course there was coffee, juices, cereal, yogurts, breads to be toasted and fruit.

I would definitely stay in this hotel again and I actually have a reservation in two weeks to do just that. I will let you know about my second stay in this same hotel. I felt safe with a well lit parking lot. There were three elevators so I never stood for long periods of time waiting on the elevator and there was always someone at the front desk to answer questions and wish me a good day.

I would gladly stay here again and I would recommend this hotel for anyone.  I felt safe and appreciated, my room was comfortable and the food was delicious.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Dallas - Richardson
1981 North Central Expressway
Richardson, Texas, United States 75080
Tel: 1-972-644-4000 Fax: 1-972-644-0135