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homeschoolmom

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Everything posted by homeschoolmom

  1. If it makes you feel any better, I had a similar problem getting accepted with reasonable bids in D.C. this time last year. I still suspect it had something to do with hotels not giving availability for the next calendar year as soon as I thought they would have; I think that somehow it takes them longer between Dec and Jan than it does between other months of the year. I know it is difficult (exceedingly difficult for a Trip Commando like me-- I like everything planned out, down to the restaurants I want to try), but I think you should keep checking the rates and bidding reasonably relative to them. I have a hard time believing that you should be paying $115 for the Peabody during that time period; don't let PL and the hotels "get your goat" and make you bid higher than you should. Keep in mind that the JW Marriott is a resort in the Universal/SW area. It is next door to the Ritz-- both are just gorgeous properties and are quite new. They have a lazy river pool (less of an attraction in Jan, though), marble bathrooms with separate shower and tub, and they're on a lake. I paid $115 for it last year, and, although I have not stayed there, I have seen the Peabody, and although it looks nice, it doesn't look like it could touch the JWM. You still have plenty of 3-day lockout periods to go, so don't get crazy with the bidding. Orlando has loads of hotel rooms, and I am positive you will end up with a fabulous room at a great price if you keep your cool.
  2. I like Disney transportation esp. to Magic Kingdom, so we have almost always stayed onsite (only times we didn't, we were there on business trips). That said, there are some fantastic deals on PL and the Gaylord is a masterpiece (it is worth just stopping by to look around). I have also stayed near the Hilton in Downtown Disney and although the transport isn't great at all, I liked the area. I think you are right to stick to the DW and Universal zones; a downtown hotel may cause you major traffic headaches on I-4. I recommend you check out www.mousesavers.com as they have a very organized list of discounts available for tickets, resorts, dining, etc. My personal feeling is that if I was willing to spend about $85 on a PL resort, I would probably try to get a residents/AP rate (yes, they do offer special rates to residents of states other than FL) at one of the Moderate Resorts like Port Orleans or Coronado Springs (which has the absolute best bus transport). I know your situation is different than ours, so this may not work. You may also consider buying APs and squeezing in a second trip just before your year is up. Just some ideas... P.S. You don't happen to be military, do you? The Shades of Green Resort on Disney property (near the Contemporary!) was recently renovated, and I've heard the rates are very reasonable. Hope this helps, and I wish you and your family a wonderful time together!
  3. We arrived late. Key machine was broken, so attendant met us at side door and ushered us up to our room. Not a problem for us as this was a quick stopover; we only planned to sleep and leave in the morning. This is a fairly large Courtyard that is part of a larger complex that includes Fairfield Inn and Residence Inn. A good location close to I-75, but sort of hidden at night, so you may want to look at the marriott.com map before you head over. As I recall, it is east of the interstate and left at the first light. Room was well-maintained and clean. Breakfast was $9 adults and $4.50 children (why are they always so pricey?), so we crossed under I-75, got a few donuts and pieces of fruit at Publix (on the left after McDonald's). Plenty of restaurants incl. a Carrabba's, Publix, Kroger, and (I think) a K-Mart were all very close by. Overall, a very good stay.
  4. Another last-minute bid. Marriott.com wanted $129, so I think I still did just fine. Needed DT location; tried 4* up to $80 and 3* up to $70 and was rejected over and over again. Hotel was very nice and great location. Will post review separately in its own category. Used savingsbarn.com as portal.
  5. Don't remember bidding history... It was last-minute. Good stay; close to I-75 with plenty of rest. and groc. stores nearby. Will post review in appropiate category. Bid through savingsbarn.com.
  6. Amazing customer service from Priceline!!!! I got my refund notification via e-mail today. I only called them 2 days ago. I did make sure to emphasize the broken glass as well as the extreme dirtiness and that I was willing to provide them with a copy of the receipt for the Ramada next door for that same exact night. Thanks to Joe and the Hotel Quality team. Now I hope they remove this hotel from participation with PL until its problems are remedied. I am already sending Marriott an "onion" letter hoping they will investigate and take some sort of action whether dropping their label or renovating it. Wow, I just LOVE Priceline!!! P.S. to thereuare: I forgot to mention that I bid this through savingsbarn.com, as well as a few other bids I need to post yet. Thanks for your encouragement; I wouldn't have dared to hope for such an outcome!
  7. Fairfield Inn Lexington Mount Sterling 2-star 105 Stone Trace Drive Sterling, Kentucky 40353 Although I have overbid before, this is the first PL stay I have had to "eat." We got this dump for $30 (well, total was just over $40). It is interior corridor and looks okay on the outside; the inside is just horrible. We were given rm 316. Immediately we noticed the suffocating smoke odor in the hallway. Then it got much worse... room needed major rehabbing... extremely dirty carpet and furniture, stained bedspreads, broken glass in picture frame above bed, and so on. I gingerly peeled off the bedspread to reveal (as there were no dust ruffles/bedskirts) stained mattresses, one was ripped and had wooden framing peeking out. I immediately called downstairs to see if we could try a different room-- the answer was "no, we're sold out"; I am 99.99% sure this was a lie as the Marriott website still showed availability. I cannot believe the Marriott Corporation would allow this dirty, dangerous (would you want to sleep with broken glass hanging over your head?) dump; I haven't seen a place this bad in years, and I have stayed in a few $23 Exit Guide coupon motels, too. Oh, I forgot to mention-- if you need to stay in this area, I would advise staying in Lexington, hopefully at a higher * level. If you must be in Mt. Sterling, I would recommend finding a B&B or staying in the Ramada Limited next door; it was clean and the attendants were very nice-- it does have an indoor pool/spa and free cont. bfast.
  8. Fairfield Inn Lexington Mount Sterling 2-star 105 Stone Trace Drive Sterling, Kentucky 40353 Although I have overbid before, this is the first PL stay I have had to "eat." We got this dump for $30 (well, total was just over $40). It is interior corridor and looks okay on the outside; the inside is just horrible. We were given rm 316. Immediately we noticed the suffocating smoke odor in the hallway. Then it got much worse... room needed major rehabbing... extremely dirty carpet and furniture, stained bedspreads, broken glass in picture frame above bed, and so on. I gingerly peeled off the bedspread to reveal (as there were no dust ruffles/bedskirts) stained mattresses, one was ripped and had wooden framing peeking out. I immediately called downstairs to see if we could try a different room-- the answer was "no, we're sold out"; I am 99.99% sure this was a lie as the Marriott website still showed availability. I cannot believe the Marriott Corporation would allow this dirty, dangerous (would you want to sleep with broken glass hanging over your head?) dump; I haven't seen a place this bad in years, and I have stayed in a few $23 Exit Guide coupon motels, too. Do any veterans here think I have a prayer of getting PL or Marriott to refund my $$? We are Silver with about 30 nights so far this year, most of them at reg rates for business travel.
  9. I believe that the rule for disputing a credit card charge is that you must be less than 55 days from the posting date, so he would unfortunately be beyond the scope of that protection. Oh, heck, your bank might still go to bat for you... ask them anyway; just realize that they aren't obligated to help you. Hope it works out for you.
  10. Sorry, I can't advise you on PL in BGM, but I'll throw out what I do know. I would bid on the 2.5* in Vestal, if I did any bidding in that area. We did like the Fairfield Inn in BGM, though, although it'd prob. cost you about $100. It had by far the best pool of any FI I've seen... indoor, with a vaulted wood ceiling, and as warm as bathwater (I realize this is not as big a deal in the summer, but we were watching snow flurries through the floor-to-ceiling windows while we swam). Oh, yeah, and, besides the cont. bfast, they had free cookies! Please report back after you bid; I'll be very interested to hear what you get. Good luck!
  11. Trust me, you really don't want the 2.5*. It is most certainly the old HI on Fowler... We've stayed there before at full price and they still stuck us out in one of their old bldgs. miles away (or so it seemed) from the pool. Old, musty room... more like a Days Inn. The 3* is prob. still the DoubleTree Suites, while not new, are quite nice... MUCH better (cleaner) than the HI. I suspect the price difference between the 2 is only $10, maybe $15. The Embassy Suites, although listed as a PL possibility, is prob. too high for you to hit on PL. We've stayed at ES on a direct reservation (although I'll admit I overbid once and got DT instead of ES that I wanted). It is much newer; we love the atrium and the breakfast (you can get a lesser version at DT for a nominal charge), but is prob. not worth 2x the price you can get DT for on PL. On the other hand, if I was traveling without my husband, I would pay it because I felt much safer at the ES tower. (The pkg lots at the other two are very large and sinuous... I'd feel like I was begging to be mugged or worse after dark.) I believe you should be able to get the DT for at or near the $50 mark. In fact, it seems as if I saw a posting right at $50 very recently. This far out, though, I'd try it at $40, use my rebids, and take some time. I doubt they'll fill up this quickly even for their Halloween shindig.
  12. Something I forgot to mention: No parking or resort fees (which are much too common esp. at non-"resort" levels).
  13. We had a great time at Universal Studios and IOA. Although I was hoping for the Sheraton, the Wyndham was a pleasant surprise. (I posted a review.) Thanks!
  14. Your Offer Price: $44.00 Number of Rooms: 1 Number of Nights: 2 Subtotal: $88.00 Taxes & Service Fees: $18.88 Total Charges: $106.88 I bid this on 5/16/05.
  15. Ha! I should have read the previous review before my vacation!! I, too, was concerned about this win, because I don't remember this hotel NOT being here (which would put it at 25+ years old). BTW, we won it for $44 on 5/25-27/05. The room quality was not as good as other 3* I have been in; the mattresses are very tired. I did like the laminate (wood-look) flooring; this is such a smart thing to do in a hotel room-- soooo much cleaner than carpet. Front desk was friendly, but lost one of our wake-up calls. Housekeeping did a fine job. At check-in, I was asked whether 2 doubles, nonsmoking was okay (of course it was) and pressed my luck by asking if he had a room near the pool complex and also convenient to parking. He did get us quite close to the pool, not so close to parking (this resort's layout makes most rooms either close to parking or to pool, but not both). As mentioned above, the Wyndham's grounds are very impressive. This is a huge area with fifteen 2-story room buildings plus a convention center, all gathered around 3 lagoons (on is a free-form concrete pool inhabited by ducks-- I wish we'd brought bread-- there was a Mama, Daddy, and Baby while we were here), West Pool, East Pool and Jacuzzi. They also have a very large fitness center (with plenty of machines), playground (small, but very new and clean), and a video arcade. The Wyndham has several restaurants including a pool bar, ice cream shop, etc. The expansive lawns, flower beds, etc. made me feel much more relaxed, not as if we were on a large, city lot bordered by International Drive, Sand Lake Road, and Universal Boulevard (which it is). This property is really a gem in a great location.
  16. Got this on first bid on Sunday, 3/13. Your Offer Price: $35.00 Number of Rooms: 1 Number of Nights: 1 Subtotal: $35.00 Taxes & Service Fees: $10.61 Total Charges: $45.61
  17. Hi, there, We recently stayed in Arlington at the Hyatt and Marriott at around $60 per night. If you stay outside D.C., you may save $10-15 per DAY in self-parking fees alone. The room tax is also cheaper, I think. We were never more than 4 blocks from the Rosslyn Metro (which has 2 lines running to it-- 2x as many trains to catch into D.C.) and we were right across the Potomac from Georgetown. Check my reviews in Arlington VA and see if these hotels might be a good match for you. I think Crystal City might also be a good suburb to research. I'd bid this as soon as my plans were firm, in order to try a lowball. In Arlington, for a 3*, I think you should be able to get it for $55. Check what other people got as well as the reviews in order to give yourself better odds of getting the best place for you! P.S. Arlington is a high-rent, high-density area. There were always plenty of people around and (by myself with 2 young children) I never felt in danger-- and we really walked around a lot. I think you'll find much more dangerous surroundings in parts of D.C. itself (esp. northwest of the Capitol).
  18. Forgot to mention one thing: We had a 7:30 am tour of the White House on Sat. morn. Since Metro doesn't run early enough on weekends, we took a cab. For 4 of us, it was $11 not including tip, which I thought was very reasonable; this is only about 2x what it would've cost to take Metro, and with less walking and waiting. I think cab service from Arlington to D.C. is a much better deal than cab service from point-to-point within D.C.
  19. We stayed here 2/05-2/17-05. Tried to get a king room here, but room was too small to fit even one rollaway. The double rooms are much larger, so that is where we ended up. At check-in, they arranged for milk and cookies for my children-- a very nice treat for them. Stayed in the older section of the hotel (only 4 floors I think-- newer towers have 14 or so floors). Ceiling quite low, esp. at room's entrance, if over 6'5", you might have to duck! Small, open closet and back door leads out to balcony that is shared with many neighbors. View of dumpster, also Georgetown. Handicapped bathroom (should have asked for regular one, since it was such a long stay-- ah, hindsight). Malfunctioning thermostat (heat would not turn off) was fixed very quickly, even on a late Sat. night. Room was recently renovated in predominately navy blue and yellow. Both materials and craftsmanship were superior to the Hyatt. Room was very clean. Parking was $12 weekdays and free on weekends. We were trapped in one of the older elevators toward the back of the hotel-- near the garage-- for about 10-15 minutes, felt like much longer-- my youngest, a survivor of Disney's Tower of Terror, just about lost it. We got an apology from the maintenance people who let us out. If this is a phobia of yours, I would recommend that you use the newer elevators in the lobby. Large lobby with room for many small groups of people. 3 eateries (bar food, moderate-- hamburger, salad, type, and an expensive steakhouse on the top floor-- quite a view). Coin-op laundry on 1st floor. Very nice, heated indoor/outdoor pool and hot tub with lifeguard. They give out goggles and pool noodles, too. Fitness equipment in room next to pool and also downstairs, underneath pool area. Many treadmills and bikes; TVs everywhere (individual ones on some equipment, with headphones); also free weights and showers/bathrooms. They sell memberships to locals. Rosslyn Metro is 4 blocks away. See my other review for VA Arlington Hyatt for info on area restaurants and stores. Do not depend on Georgetown Connection shuttle to get you to the Metro and back. It ran very infrequently, and doesn't run from Metro to the Marriott (when it would be most reasonable-- $0.35 with a transfer receipt from the Metro station). We took it once: disembarked Metro in G'town/Foggy Bottom, pd. $0.35 to ride to Sweet's Ice Cream, then paid $1 to ride back to Marriott, which wouldn't have been too bad except that we had to transfer between shuttle routes-- wait 15 minutes, then ride 4 blocks, wait another 15 minutes, then ride across Key Bridge... too inconvenient. Overall, the pool/hot tub was the high point of this hotel, and the beds, although full-size, were much more comfortable than the Arl. Hyatt. The downside is the added distance to the Metro, although in a party without little kids and with milder weather, it wouldn't be a big deal.
  20. We stayed here 1/31-2/5/05. This hotel is in a quite congested area replete with one-way streets. Unless you are familiar with this locale, get a map AND directions. Porte cochere is located on a side-street. Lobby was rather small, but I didn't care about that. Check-in was uneventful except for the fact that, even though I showed my Gold Passport, I didn't receive a GP room. (Didn't complain, as I am unsure as to what the room differences would be.) Room was a decent size and decorated in shades of beige/brown. Bed left a lot to be desired (not unusual for a Hyatt, in our experience)-- only full-size and quite soft. Recent renovation, but done in a shoddy manner, e.g. ripped wallpaper around sprinkler head, bathtub sloping to one side, terrible tile job in shower, mismatched toilet tank and bowl. Everything was clean-looking, though, and staff was friendly. Fitness center (3rd floor) had 2 treadmills, 3 bikes, free weights, and some other weight machines, water and lemon slices, 2 TVS-- good (no headphones-- not so good). In the back corner of the fitness center (near the bathroom) they have a stacked washer/dryer, so you can wash your clothes for free (very nice), just bring your own detergent or pay gift shop prices downstairs. No pool, hot tub, sauna at this property; too bad. Parking was $12 weekdays, free on weekends. By far, the biggest plus for this Hyatt is its location. If you exit from the parking garage on Fort Myer Dr., you can cross the street and walk half a block to the Rosslyn Metro Station. For us, it was almost as convenient as being in D.C. and, if you do stay in D.C., you're likely to be farther from a metro station anyway. Plan on at least $3 per person subway fare (round trip to one stop), and bring $5 bills or smaller, or just pay with a credit/debit card. There is a small Safeway grocery store in the opposite direction of the Metro (uphill) -- I guess it's about 4 blocks. Prices were quite high, but then again, this store has to provide a parking garage for customers. Regardless, we were happy to have a place to buy milk, o.j., Krispy Kremes, and fresh fruit for breakfast. Restaurant options: I saw 2 in the hotel (one served bar fare, the other served steaks/seafood--$$$). There is a Ruby Tuesday's directly across the street. Also, in the direction of Safeway but on the opposite side of street, there is a BBQ (Red, hot, and Blue). We ate at the Burger King (on the other street that borders the Metro station)--- BEWARE, they gave my child milk that was so bad I almost vomited on the spot. We also ate at McDonald's (MUCH better) and just a block or two farther. Tom Sarris' Orleans House is 3, maybe 4, blocks away and was quite good; salad bar was extensive and the restaurant (and hostess) is something to see-- can't describe it adequately here, but a neat experience. If I went again, I would definitely order the prime rib. I think our total bill (3 adult entrees, milk/sodas, and a decent tip) was just over $70. I also ordered Pizza Hut delivery, that was fine, and delivery (no fee) from Mom's Pizza-- gyro dinner was good, Greek salad average, Spanakopita (spinach pie) didn't have as much cheese as we like (each dinner cost $7-9), and baklava ($2-3) was good. There is a small mall adjoining the metro station with a few restaurants inside, incl. a gourmet deli, and also a Rite-Aid drug store. I bet there are some good restaurants in Little Saigon (Clarendon Metro or drive-- too far to walk); we drove by-- I wish I'd had more time to explore there. Besides the Safeway, there is a Giant grocery store (no address on my rec't, just #771) and CVS/Eckerds Drug just off I-66 a few exits west (away from D.C.), as well as a much bigger Safeway on the other side of the I-66 overpass. A few D.C. restaurants we liked: Potbelly's (delicious sandwiches $3.79 plus ice cream/shakes/malts $2.69? I think-- neat decor, too) 4-5 locations, they're listed on the SAM (tourist helpers that stand around Metro exits) maps; China Doll (lunch specials for $6-8, good desserts-- napoleons, fruit tarts, etc. for $0.99- 2.50) across the street from the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro near CVS; buffet at Dirksen Senate Office Bldg. ($12 adult, $8 kid, incl. soda and ice cream)-- a good price for an all-you-can-eat nutritious meal and very close to Capitol, Sup. Court, Lib. of Con., and the gelato bar at the Cascades Cafe, National Gallery of Art-- pricey, but the banana mango, blueberry, amaretto, ...ohhhh, they are heaven on a spoon. :)
  21. I recently bid 3* Arlington and got the Hyatt. I'm happy because it's 1/2 block to the metro, but, unfortunately doesn't have a pool. (I first ascertained through website info and then double-checked by calling the hotel directly.) This is a frequent win, so I wouldn't bid 3* Arlington if the lack of a pool is a deal-breaker. On the other hand, the 2nd part of my stay is 3* Arlington, but at the Marriott which has a pool. So you do have a chance, but it's a gamble. As for my dates, parking's only free on Fri and Sat nights; $12 all others. Hope this is useful info for you.
  22. The Sea Turtle Inn Restaurant used to be very highly regarded in this area... you might want to check them out if you get a chance.
  23. Hi, I don't really know much about Disneyland, but if you're interested in discount codes and other promos from Disney, you might want to check out www.mousesavers.com. They keep a pretty comprehensive list. For staying outside the park, though, I'm sure you'll find a few CA experts around here. Did you post directly to the forum that addresses the Disneyland area? Good luck with your trip planning! :)
  24. I haven't stayed there, but I have stayed nearby (at the HI which used to be a Courtyard-- on an unbelievable $22 rate just a few years back from the Travelzoo list). Major plusses for this hotel are its proximity to Downtown Disney and access to the Extra Magic Hour. Hope you have a great trip!
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