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Author Archives: Marsha Teslik

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Chicago Knickerbocker Front

Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago 

Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago 

163 E Walton Pl, Chicago, IL 60611, USA

WEBSITE

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Built in 1927 the Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel Chicago has a checkered and colourful history. The penthouse floor was once run as a casino by Al Capone’s brother. In the 1970’s it was known as the Playboy Towers. It has hosted John F Kennedy, Richard Nixon and the Rolling Stones. It is also high the most haunted hotels in the United States list. However, during our stay we saw no gangsters, bunnies, presidents or rock stars living or dead. What we did experience was a great hotel experience.  Located on the Magnificent Mile, Chicago’s 13 block street that is counted as one of the world’s great avenues.  This hotel is all about location and history. Central to many great attractions the hotel allows visitors to travel on foot or access the public transit system easily.  

ROOM: 

The history and grandeur of the Millenium Knickerbocker is evident from the moment you step to the entrance. Ornate and elegant filigree adorns the awning and windows. It beckons you into a hotel lobby that has maintained a classic style.  The rooms are simple and very comfortable. Soft furnishings and a thematically aligned colour palette take on a modern art nouveau meets art deco sensibility.  The rooms are bright despite having relatively small windows by modern standards. Everything was clean and fresh and it was obvious that the housekeeping staff took pride in their work.

STAFF:

The hotel staff were very friendly and accommodating. Even taking part in a surprise that one couple has arranged for the other. The concierge was very knowledgeable a got us a line advance into a deep dish pizza place that normally requires a one hour wait.  It helps to know the right people in Chicago… we guess!

FOOD and DRINK:

The bar staff were outstanding, remembering what we ordered from the first drink. Whilst handling a very high workload. We did not dine in the restaurant, but can only assume it is as good as the rest of the hotel.

We would definitely stay here again and high recommend it to anyone visiting Chicago

Our review is based on our stay April 2011.

STAR RATING: 

Accommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star Full

FRIENDLY GLOBES REVIEW RATING:

Accommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe Full

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Park Central Hotel

Park Central Hotel, New York 

870 7th Ave, New York, NY 10019, USA

WEBSITE

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Not every review starts with a positive experience. It can be tempting to list everything that went wrong and vent frustration, but we don’t want this to be that kind of website. When you travel you expect with the right research you can ensure a satisfying outcome. However, on this occasion, despite our best efforts the experience was less than exemplary.  The online reviews for this hotel are mixed, to say the least, but we didn’t expect what we experienced. 

The hotel was built in the early 1920’s and it is a great location if you want to hit Central Park and the Time Square area. They pride themselves on hosting Jackie Gleason and Mae West to Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, even First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. But perhaps that was the last time they trained their staff on customer service too.

ROOM: 

One of the rooms we booked promised a standard queen bed, but upon checking in the room had two single beds. Now sure, we are not “Honeymooners” (see Jackie Gleason reference to get that joke). But we want was requested on booking, at the very least be told about the problem/option at the front desk interaction.  After a quick trip to the front desk and some disgruntled huffing from the staff, we were moved to a new room with our promised bed type.

But it didn’t end there the second room had a broken bed, that sagged very badly. Another trip to the front desk we were told that no other rooms were available. After further disgruntled huffing, a maintenance staff member was sent to the room to fix it.  Unfortunately, the maintenance person deemed that it was not only unfixable but indeed unsleepable. At that point, one couple was moved to the two single bed room we had just rejected, with the promise that we would be moved to a new room the next day. 

The rooms were small and our non-smoking floor reeked of cigarettes. Not wanting to fell like we were complainers, which we seldom are. We waited until the next night to tell the front desk about the smoke smell.  Given that the other floors did not smell, we assumed someone was smoking on our floor and they were not supposed to be. The front desk was indifferent and did nothing to confirm or deny our concerns.

The beds were saggy and uncomfortable (even after changing from the broken one). The window view was of a brick wall and the elevators took a long time to arrive anywhere. It is almost comical now that we look back at the experience. Almost like the universe was giving us one hotel that is perfect for a bad review. Oh and when we walked out on the last day the hotel union was protesting the cleanliness of the hotel with a comical blow-up rat.

STAFF:

The staff were not accommodating or friendly. Every request we made, seemed to be an inconvenience for them.

FOOD and DRINK:

Aside from a couple of “ok” cocktails, we didn’t try any of the food or drink at the hotel. The experience with the rooms deterred us greatly from giving them any more money than they deserved.

Being our first time travelling as a group, we wanted to stay near Times Square.  Our inexperience showed, after reading many recommendations telling us to stay away from the “Time Square Strip” we booked anyway. The room was expensive, although that is not uncommon in NYC. However, what we got for our money and the general lack of service showed a basic lack of understanding around the term hospitality. We can only assume the hotel thinks (knows) that thanks to their location they will sell out every week and there is no need for customer retention.

We would not stay here again and we would not recommend it to people.  It may have changed since we stayed there, they may have made improvements in customer service and room cleanliness. But as they say “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Sometime, you need to eat up your pride, walk out of the hotel lobby and say “and… awaay we go!”

 

 

Our review is based on our stay April 2011.

STAR RATING: 

Accommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star Full

FRIENDLY GLOBES REVIEW RATING:

Accommodation Globe Full


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The Standard HIGH LINE

The Standard HIGH LINE, New York

848 Washington St, New York, NY 10014, USA

WEBSITE

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This hotel was recommended to us by a friend and, my goodness, we were glad we listened and stayed here.  From check in to check out, our experience was impeccable.

This hotel has a certain buzz and is definitely suited to a younger crowd.  The front desk staff were very accommodating and friendly and we got an upgrade which was lovely.  The elevator up to the room had a great video art piece and the hall was all mirrored.

Offers easy walking to the West Village with plenty of restaurants and bars close by.

ROOM:  

Our rooms had stunning views of the Hudson River and the Financial District, with floor to ceiling windows. The room has very little storage space for clothes, but given it is NY we expected it. Bathroom has a freestanding bath and the quality of the toiletries are amazing.

STAFF:  

We walked into the Standard up to reception desk and we were greeted with a big smile. The lady that served us was very helpful and gave us a complimentary room upgrade which we quite happily accepted. Everywhere we turned each staff member is smiling, accommodating and helpful, what more can you ask for?

We had a couple of meals at the hotel and nothing short of amazing, the service again was spot on. We genuinely think they really love working there, they love interacting with the people that stay there from all over the world.

If you stay here, you will not be disappointed with their staff or their customer service.

FOOD and DRINK: 

The highlight for us was the Cocktail Bar at the top of the Standard. Watching the sunset with the sweeping views over the Hudson river. The staff are attentive and they most certainly know how to make a good Amaretto Sour and an Old Fashioned.  Vades has had many an Old Fashioned in his time, and exclaimed this was the best one ever!  We started our night here, before making our way downstairs to the Standard Grill for dinner.

From the moment we walked in we received immaculate service and the food was equally matched. Being our last night together we went all out, having ordered scallops, oysters, steak, you name it, we ordered it. Everything was cooked to perfection and not one complaint came out from our mouths, this night was perfect.

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Breakfast was delightful, nothing stands out here, but nothing to complain of either.

We have found our ‘Go-To’ hotel for NYC.  

Our review is based on our stay Jan 2015.

STAR RATING (tourism industry score):

Accommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star Full

FRIENDLY GLOBES REVIEW RATING (our score):

Accommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe Full


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Kola Landing Resort at Po’ipu

Kola Landing Resort at Po’ipu, Kauai, Hawaii

2641 Poipu Road, Koloa HI 96756

WEBSITE

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We booked this hotel after reading that it has been completely renovated and when you look at the pictures the pool looks amazing and we can confirm the pool is amazing. It is a big complex as you would expect, close to Po’ipu beach. There are deluxe studios to Villas to a Penthouse Suite, the only limit is your budget. All in all it wasn’t a bad hotel, would we stay here again probably not. We will look to stay North Shore next time.

ROOM:  

We stayed in a deluxe studio room, it comes with a little kitchenette including a fridge, microwave and you can’t forget the coffee maker. If you find that you have run out of clean clothes they have washing machine. We found the bed too soft, so we actually pulled the sofa bed mattress out and slept on the floor for the 4 nights we were there. Nothing stood out for the bathroom, this room would definitely suit those families with kids.

RESORT AMENITIES:  

Let’s talk about that pool. That pool is remarkable and is one of the biggest in Kauai, they have private cabanas you can rent. The pool is open from 7.30am -10.30pm every day and the kids (incl big kids) can have a little fun on the pool slide.

They do have a spa, but we did not have any treatments, the pool was relaxing enough for us.

FOOD and DRINK: 

The resort has one main restaurant called Holoholo grill and we actually didn’t eat here at all, so no reviews unfortunately. There is a marketplace where you can purchase snacks, milk, cereal etc. this is great if you are on a budget and don’t wish to eat at the restaurant every day.

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Our review is based on our stay March 2017.

STAR RATING (tourism industry score):

Accommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star Full

FRIENDLY GLOBES REVIEW RATING (our score):

Accommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe Full


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The Modern Honolulu

The Modern Honolulu, Honolulu, Hawaii

1775 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA

WEBSITE

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Hearing great reviews ourselves, we thought we should check this place out. It is about a 20min walk away from Waikiki beach or you can take the trolley for $2. It is closer to Ala Moana shopping centre. The front desk checked us in quickly and with a smile, the desks themselves were formed with layers of plywood and has been sculpted to an impressive curve to resemble a set of eyes. The reception area has such a cool vibe about it, very Minimalistic, very natural.

Thankfully our room was ready as we arrived a little earlier than the desired check in time.

ROOM:  

Having many room styles to choose from, we stayed in a partial ocean view. The room is all white and you feel relaxed as soon as you walk through the door. The bathroom was nice and clean, a decent size and the vanity was also a good size. The room had cute little touches like towel hooks and ukulele’s. The bed was incredibly comfortable and you know how sometimes the pillows can be either too soft or too hard, well these were perfect. We loved the room.

RESORT AMENITIES:  

They have 2 pools there and wow the pool may have been small but the hotel itself is classified as more a boutique hotel, therefore less guests. Poolside service for any drinks and menu items that you are after. The spa looks amazing, but sadly we did not book any treatment here. They have a nightclub should you wish for a night out without having to go far, but given our limited time we spent most of our time in Tourist hotspots.

FOOD and DRINK: 

We had breakfast here one morning and the service was superb, the food matched and they make a good bloody mary. Poolside dining was a win, with the service being impeccable and the drinks matched. The serenity sitting poolside enjoying cocktails is what everyone looks for when they go on a holiday. It felt like we were in an Adults only hotel with no screaming kids around at all.

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Our review is based on our stay March 2017

STAR RATING (tourism industry score):

Accommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star FullAccommodation Star Full

FRIENDLY GLOBES REVIEW RATING (our score):

Accommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe FullAccommodation Globe Full


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Chicago, USA

Read our suggested travel itinerary here

“Cabin Crew prepare the cabin for landing.”  These are exciting words we will never get tired of hearing. Words confirming we have arrived safe and sound, but more importantly announcing that another adventure awaits. Chicago we have arrived!

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Millennium Knickerbocker Hotel.  Check-in complete.  Nothing unusual, until Moosh and FT were given a note from behind the desk.  “Welcome to Chicago, Hope your stay is full of fun and surprises why not start now by joining us for a drink in the bar. Love The Captain and Tennille.”

It didn’t take long to figure out from whom this kind invite came and after a quick freshen up the elevator headed down to an awaiting Captain and Tennille.  There they were, Vade and Sherri with beers in hand, surprising us 2 days early in Chicago (not NYC as planned!!).  It felt like long lost lovers reunited, we gave each other enormous hugs and started “catching up”.

And so the journey of the Four Friends One World Begins.

 

Now surprisingly Moosh and FT did not actually have much planned for Chicago just the usual touristy things, with number one being the Michael Jordan statue that stands majestically outside the United Centre.

Chicago Moosh and Mike

SO THE FIRST FOUR FRIENDS ONE WORLD TOUR BEGINS WITH CHICAGO

We had a quick chat about the non-plans of Moosh and FT, but first things first we needed to decide what to do for dinner.  The Vades had heard about Gino’s East deep dish pizzas from Adam Richman on Man v. Food, a TV show like no other.  Problem solved.  But apparently there is always a massive line up.  New problem.  After a chat to the Concierge about Gino’s he handed us a ‘quick pass’ to get in without lining up, celebrity style.  Problem solved, and solved indeed – because there was a line up, a big one! We had no idea what was in store for us, the delightful smell and atmosphere suggested great things.  Gino’s was already exuding awesomeness and we had literally just been seated, surrounded by the approving scribbles of celebrities and fellow diners all over the walls, tables, in fact on everything…..except the staff (although maybe it’s not out of the question if the Tip is large enough?)  Our waiter was exceptional and helped us Newbies choose the best pizzas.  As we drank beer and chatted about what to do in Chicago (we didn’t have much time) our ‘Pizza Pies’ arrived and they looked and smelt incredible.  As any respectable tourist would do we took photos of us all eating, what is still to this day, the best pizza we have ever had.  Thank you, Adam Richman for guiding us to Gino’s East. Before heading off to the sack we took in “one for the road” at a Jazz club not far from the hotel.

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The excitement of waking up in a strange city will never get old.  With the day somewhat planned we set off to explore the Windy City, visiting all the usual touristy spots.

  • Buckingham Fountain – one of the largest fountains in the world
  • Cloud Gate (aka The Bean) – its reflective surface provided great fun taking pics of an ever changing warped skyline and of our warped selves!
  • Navy Pier – plenty to see and do, has a great view back of the Chicago Skyline
  • Willis Tower – Skydeck 103rd Floor, whilst 3 of us were standing on the glass balcony Vade thought it a funny idea to take a running jump and thump himself onto the balcony! We gasped in sheer horror whilst Vade laughed (as did many of the people watching), knowing it was more than safe to do so!  
  • The ‘L’ (Elevated Train) – as seen in many movie car chase scenes…..Blues Brothers, anyone?

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With a full day of sightseeing done, it was time to spitball ideas on what to do that night. Whilst taking a well-earnt seat in the hotel lobby Vade mentioned that the Stanley Cup Playoffs were in town.  After searching for available tickets it was unanimous – Ice Hockey, Quarterfinals, Chicago Blackhawks v. Vancouver Canucks.  Vade and Sherri – Canucks fans, in for a treat.  Moosh and FT – ice hockey virgins, not sure what to expect.  The atmosphere was intense (….in fact intense is almost an understated word), the Americans sure know how to support their teams with passion!  We loved every second of this experience and the Canucks won that game to our excitement, but admittedly we sat there in quiet obscurity – not wanting to rattle anyone of the 20,000 or so Blackhawks fans (#self-preservation).

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With only half a day left we took in the sights of Lincoln Park and briefly strolled through the city for a little more look-see.  Chicago amazed us and we wished for more time, but we made the most of what time was available – we will definitely be visiting again……one day.

 

Airport, onward – NYC.

Stay tuned for the NYC adventures of Four Friends One World, but first, check our Sample Itinerary for Chicago.

 

TIPS for Chicago

Give this Windy city a good 3-4 days to really enjoy all it has to offer

Bring warm clothes, it is the windy city after all

United Center if you are a fan of NBA

Wrigley Field if you are a fan baseball

If you love Architecture this city has it with one of the world’s best skylines

Lincoln Park – visit the Lincoln Park zoo and see how the Conservation & Science Department is dedicated to improving animal management and wildlife conservation

Best time to visit – between May and October

Get around using the ‘L’ Train


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