- Seattle drivers treat pedestrians very well. As a pedestrian, you don't have to walk defensively as you do in most cities. If you have the right-of-way, the driver will always yield. Even in times when you don't have the right of-way, they will allow you to go.
- Top Pot doughnuts are the best. Hotel Vintage Park stalked me on Twitter, and ended up sending a box of five of these delicious doughnuts to my room.
- Due to my experience at Hotel Vintage Park and Hotel Monaco Seattle, I will now be a loyal customer to Kimpton Hotels. What other chain brings a pet gold fish to your room? Just one thing, I wish they knew they didn't have to address me as "Mr. Eubanks" each time they saw me.
- One disappointing thing about Seattle is that they don't have a visitor pass available to purchase for the public transit system. It's always nice to be able to buy a pass that will let you ride the rails and bus an unlimited amount of times for a set amount of days.
- Walking down the street, most people in Seattle will not make eye contact with you, but once you go indooors, they become the friendliest people no matter where you are.
- Pike Place Market is a wonderful place to spend time. The vendors would spoil me with samples of fresh fruit.
- If you ever go to Seattle, Fremont is a neighborhood you need to check out. It is home to Archie McPhee's, a Lenin statue which one called Czechoslovakia it's home, and the infamous Fremont Troll.
- It's quite easy to meet friends anywhere in Seattle. I made a couple of friends at the Fremont Troll. We ended up going on the Underground Tour together. I also went to a Big Head Todd and the Monsters concert with three friends I met previously that evening during wine hour at the hotel. I had never heard of Big Head Todd before that night.
- The EMP (Experience Music Project) Musem is a lovely place to visit. No other place has as much Nirvana, Jimmy Hendrix, Pearl Jam and science fiction memorabilia as they do.
- After eating Alaskan cod in Seattle, it is difficult to eat any seafood in Kansas.
- I think people in Seattle may be coldblooded. At 55 degrees, they were all bundled up in heavy winter garb.
If you missed my previous post, I was in a bit of a disagreement with American Express.
To sum it up; I believed I was eligible to receive 15,000 SPG Starpoints as part of a promotion, but they believed that amount was 0. I was contacted today and given the details why I was not eligible for this promotion. It's plausible, maybe they're right, maybe I'm right. I don't know now. They gave me 7,500 points as a gesture of goodwill, which I consider very generous. I am somewhat pleased.
To avoid this situation in the future, I'm going to do the following when dealing with these types of promos:
I want to repeat what I said in my previous post, all the American Express representatives I dealt with were as polite as can be.
As of now, I am considering this situation resolved. American Express is a great business to deal with. In the 8 years we've been together, this has been our only disagreement.
I've been an American Express member since 2005. If you've been around me since then, you will notice that I almost always pay with an American Express card. Last August and early September, American Express was running a promo for the Starwood Preferred Guest branded card. You would get 10,000 Starwood points after you first used the card, and an additional 20,000 points if you spent $5000 within 6 months. This was all over the travel blogosphere, the American Express website, and American Express emails. I was late to the game. I signed up when they were offering their more standard promo, 10,000 points for using the card, and 15,000 points if you spent $5000 within 6 months.
If I were to purchase these points directly from Starwood right now, it would cost me $393.75 with the current 25% off sale. If you redeemed them for a room, they would be roughly the same value.
Let me recap: If you signed up this card online in September 2012, you were either eligible for a total bonus of 30,000 Starpoints (if you signed up before September 4) or a total bonus of 25,0000 Starpoints (if you signed up after September 4). There were no promo codes. Here's what you would have seen when you went to the American Express website:
I got the card. I kept track of my spending the moment I began using the card. I had no issue with the 10,000 Star points being deposited to my account. I reached the $5000 spending threshold in January. At that time, I asked American Express how long it would take my 15,000 points. They said between 8-12 weeks. 2 months had passed and I began getting a little antsy, so I began researching it on the FlyerTalk forum. I found out a lot of people are getting the shaft on this 15,000 point bonus. I contacted American Express three different times through email. Here is their last response:
I understand their position, but their position is wrong. They have a history of not linking the correct promotions to accounts. There were no other promotions available at the time I signed up but the one I have the screenshot for. I called American Express after receiving this response. The gentleman said my issue has been sent to research by their marketing team. It could take 4 to 5 weeks to get a response. I'm holding on to hope that my situation can be remedied correctly. It has been suggested to me that I cancel my card. I'm gong to be patient, but it is possible that I may eventually end my 8 year relationship with American Express over this matter. For the record, everyone at American Express that I have contacted has been very polite.
The Evolution of my Hotel Tastes
Back in 2001, my best buddy and I set out on an adventure to Detroit, Michigan. Being cheap, naive, and young, I booked a room at a Motel 6. This just wasn't any Motel 6, it was a Motel 6 in the middle of Eminem's neighborhood. I continued for a few years, staying at lodges in questionable areas, just to save a few dollars.
Things changed when I decided I was going to stay in the heart of downtown in Chicago. Still being very price conscious, I blindly landed (via Priceline Name Your Own Price) into a great property in the middle of Chi-town. Before arriving, I interacted with the hotel on Twitter. Upon arrival, I was greeted with a couple bottles of beer and gourmet popcorn. I continued to take my chance on Priceline to stay in above average rooms, in great locations, at great prices.
Fast forward to today. Price pays very little role in my decision of where I stay. Here's what's making lean towards staying at a certain hotel when I visit Seattle in spring; they interact with their customers on Twitter and Facebook, they offer a complimentary bicycle, and there is a pet goldfish in the room.
Last week, I redeemed a prize had won through a TravelSort contest. TravelSort is a website which offers travel advice and great deals on 4-star and 5-star hotel rooms around the world. The prize I won was a one-night stay at Trump International Hotel and Tower in New York City.
I had a few friends question why I was so excited about winning one night in a hotel room when I had to cover my travel expenses and any other hotel costs other than my one free night. I've always wanted to go to New York City. Me visiting New York City was inevitable. Also, it puts a big dent in ones wallet to book most rooms in NYC. Lastly, it's the Trump in Manhattan, looking over Central Park. The NYC Trump makes the Las Vegas Trump look as if it has budget rates.
I'll bullet some of the highlights of my trip, with details to follow in subsequent posts.
Last Tuesday, while taking a break at work, I decided I want to go somewhere new. The remainder of September and October was very tightly booked due to personal commitments. Since I work for the largest online retailer, it's not easy for me to take any time off during the holiday season. I didn't have anything planned that current weekend. I began bidding on flights to Seattle for the following day. I wasn't able to get a flight for a price I was willing to pay. I then bid on a flight to San Francisco. My first bid was accepted. I was now embarking on the most spontaneous journey of my life.
I didn't begin my journey alone, while waiting to board my fight at the airport, a woman began speaking behind me. "This is Jennifer from Riverwalk Dental Spa," are the words she said in a secretarial tone. I looked around it saw it was the receptionist from my dental office with her family. They would be on the flight with me to the Dallas hub.
I was cashing in on two free nights at a hotel at a prime location in San Francisco. I had pay for a room for one night at another hotel. This one night, I stayed at a very charming hotel, in the middle of all the activity of Market Street and Union Square. The hotel was built in 1908. It showed signs of its age, but it was clean nonetheless. Just right outside the door of this hotel was the beginning of one of the cable car lines.
My two free nights were spent at a nice chain hotel at the Fisherman's Wharf (a tourist hot spot in San Francisco). I was given one of the larger rooms at the site, which faced the pool. The outdoor heated pool and jacuzzi were quite relaxing in the chili weather. I just had to survive the cooler air in the 4-second walk from the pool to my room.
I spent much of my first two days in San Francisco sight-seeing by myself. I did a bunch of walking around. I took a hop-on-hop-off bus tour. I did make a new friend from Victoria, British Columbia on the boat tour I was on.
I attended a CouchSurfing meet up at the end of my second day. It was "After Dark" at the Exploratorium (a museum for children and teens). The bar made the already entertaining exhibits much more fun. I had a blast with my three new friends. We were literally from all over the world... Taiwan, Egypt, California, and Kansas. We went to a cafe after the event. A couple of them had a beer, and I had the best tasting hot chocolate. The hot chocolates were unique. The servers made a design in your drink with the creamer.
I spent most of my third day sight seeing with another new friend from CouchSurfing. We visited National Maritime Park. She rode the cable car for the first time. We spent hour walk through China Town.
Day number four, the day I departed, I spent entirely resting in the hotel. I was worn out from my spontaneity. When I did leave, I was sad to go.
I'd say I'm an experienced Twitter using. I'm closing in on 3,000 tweets. When traveling somewhere, I try to follow as many places I will be doing business with as possible. It keeps me in the loops on deals and events I would have otherwise not heard of.
Before traveling to Chicago, one of the accounts I began following was @HyattChicago. I soon followed a couple members of their social media team; @jenkedinger and @sarahmordis. With little expectation, I asked them to set me up with a room with a great view. When they said they'd do their best, I thought it was all talk. I began asking them for a few recommendations on things to do in the city. I was surprised when I got replies which were not canned responses. It's at this point I became a believer.
When I get to the hotel, I am blown away by the room I get. I am given a room on the 32nd floor with a view of the river. I don't know if my twitter connections had anything to do with this, but I'm assuming there weren't very many Priceline customers in my neighborhood of the hotel. Early in the evening, room service brings me a couple of beers, a bag of popcorn and a hand-written card from Jennifer. In only a few hours at the hotel, I felt like a VIP
I have a theory about why all this happened. I don't know the exact statistics, but I do know people with negative experiences tend to share their experiences with much more people than those with positive experience. If you're a business, the trick is to find those consumers who will shout about their positive experiences from the rooftop. If you're a consumer, the trick is to be one of those people who shout about their positive experiences from the rooftop.
I'd still be very pleased with Hyatt Regency Chicago if none of the above happened. Because it did happen, I've tweeted about it numerous times, and have made a blog post happen. I made sure I wrote great reviews on Yelp and TravelAdvisor. There's hundreds of hotels to choose from when traveling to Chicago, but they've now got a customer who will choose them.
Hyatt Regency Chicago
151 East Wacker Drive
Chicago, Illinois, USA 60601
312 565 123
Public transportation is an efficient way to get from point A to point B, but that's not what I like most about it. Living in Kansas, I travel with strangers only on rare occasions. While traveling on public transportation, traveling with strangers is the norm.
While riding the "L" in Chicago, I interacted with a great variety of people. There were a few people I tried to avoid interacting with.