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