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