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Everything posted by homeschoolmom

  1. Hi, We stayed at the Gaylord Palms a few weeks ago, and although the kids' pool is under construction, the large adult pool was open, and many families were enjoying it. They also had foosball and pingpong tables and a large inflatable slide set up near the pool so the kids would have extra activities. (These appeared to be free... included with your $15 or so resort fee-- which I take issue with when there is major construction going on and only one pool is open, but good luck fighting that battle). The Gaylord does have a small, but well maintained arcade, too, as well as reptile exhibits and daily alligator feedings in the Castillo de San Marcos atrium. Don't be upset... keep a positive attitude and your kids will probably like it just fine! It really is an interesting place to explore. PS You are wasting your time trying to get a refund from PL. Focus instead on creating extra-special moments with your kiddos. If you need "free" ideas, I recommend checking out Downtown Disney... the Lego store is awesome as are many of the other restaurants, shops. PPS I almost always request a 2 bed, nonsmoking room with PL reservations and have never had a problem. Try again, or request one again at checkin. Maybe your operator was having a bad day.
  2. Although there are always risks with PL, for me, the savings way outweigh the risks, so I always prepare myself for worst-case scenario before I bid... Problem 1: We get one room with one bed for 4 people. Solution: We purchased an inflatable queen-sized bed and pump at Wal-mart for about $25 as well as 400 tc cotton sheets at Ross for $18. They are always on the packing list and in the van if necessary (only used once when we turned down 2 doubles in order to get a king!). Note: most hotels have extra pillows and don't charge for them as they might for a rollaway, so I don't bother packing pillows. Also, this problem is highly unlikely in an area that has many single, business-type travelers... most room requests are FOR single beds! Problem 2: We get two rooms, but they're not connecting, adjoining, or even on the same floor. Solution: If rejected for all three requests here (I think very rare), my hubby and I would split the kids between us... in your case, one adult plus 2 kids in one room, and one adult plus 1 kid in the other. There are many benefits to having 2 rooms besides the bed issue; remember you'll get 2 Tvs, and especially, 2 BATHROOMS which will cut your shower time for everyone in half. As for your DC-specific questions, I think the most convenient area to the Smithsonians is CC/CH. You will probably pay a small fortune ($20+) just to self-park at a hotel in DC, so make sure you include that in your budget. You will usually find lower accepted bids with lower parking rates in areas like Arlington and Crystal City. Keep in mind that you may get a hotel without a pool. I let my kids know that up front and remind them of the purpose for this trip... we'll be having lots of fun seeing all the stuff in the museums, etc., so we probably won't miss having the pool. Keep in mind that DC is an urban area, and there are shady-looking characters everywhere.... if this concerns you, again, consider the business-area suburbs included in the zone such as Arlington and Crystal City. The one zone I would avoid is Dupont/Woodley Park/Adams Morgan due to several factors. However, if that was the only area I could get a successful bid in, I wouldn't let it keep me from going either! DC requires a ton of walking. Metro (subway) helps, but pace yourselves carefully. Prioritize the sites as you can't see them all. Consider splitting up the walking-intensive part of your vacation with a side trip to the National Air & Space Museum's Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles Airport. Call the office of your representative or one of your senators YESTERDAY so that they can help you plan, sign up for WH tour if you like... definitely accept their offer of a tour of the Capitol. Cheap eats: Potbelly's (cool sandwich and milkshake chain) and anywhere Congress eats (I like the variety and prices at Longworth Office Building Cafeteria-- it'll be the best cafeteria food you've ever eaten; also, the Senate Dining Room at Dirksen Office Building is fabulous and includes yummy ice cream for dessert). Make sure you check tripadvisor for ideas on sites and restaurants. The DC on Foot tour used to be #1 and it's free (tips only); we went and highly recommend it, esp. for the kids! One more tip: I always try to keep cheapo breakfast and snack foods in the room: cereal bars, individual applesauce cups with plastic spoons, bread, peanut butter, Pringles, a case or two of bottled water, etc. If driving, stock up at a Wal-mart or something well outside of DC. I'll end my manifesto here. Happy travels!
  3. Sorry info is a little old, but I do believe it's a new hotel for the list! Note this isn't a Marriott, but an independent, and it gets decent reviews on tripadvisor. I don't know the bid history as the info is from my parents. Sandia Courtyard Hotel 2 Star Albuquerque East 10300 Hotel Avenue Ne Albuquerque, New Mexico 87123 505-296-4852 See Hotel Website View Map and Directions Check-In Date: Tue, Jun 2, 2009 / After 03:00 PM Check-Out Date: Wed, Jun 3, 2009 / 11:00 AM Amenities: Remote control TV w/ premium channels Telephone w/ messaging Radio Alarm Clock Your Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: $40.00 Subtotal: $40.00 Taxes & Service Fees: $12.60 Total Charges*: $52.60
  4. This info is from my folks who are new to pl. Sorry it's a little old... maybe it's still helpful to someone. I don't know the bid history. Baymont Oklahoma City South 2 Star Crossroads - Moore 8315 South I-35 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73149 405-631-8661 See Hotel Website View Map and Directions Check-In Date: Mon, Jun 1, 2009 / After 01:00 PM Check-Out Date: Tue, Jun 2, 2009 / 12:00 PM Amenities: Remote control TV w/ premium channels Telephone w/ messaging Radio Alarm Clock Your Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: $35.00 Subtotal: $35.00 Taxes & Service Fees: $12.14 Total Charges*: $47.14
  5. Was hoping to repeat my previous success for Holiday Inn Express (original bid was 2.5*-- but I was upgraded). No free re-bids and this was last minute, so it'll be okay. Hilton Garden Inn Tampa North 3 Star Tampa North 600 Tampa Oaks Blvd Temple Terrace, Florida 33637 813-342-5000 See Hotel Website View Map and Directions Check-In Date: Sat, Jun 6, 2009 / After 04:00 PM Check-Out Date: Sun, Jun 7, 2009 / 11:00 AM Your Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: $50.00 Subtotal: $50.00 Taxes & Service Fees: $13.69 Total Charges*: $63.69
  6. Bid this last minute for tomorrow night. Used the handy dandy PRICELINE link; first bid was $30, countered with add $8, added Sand Lake and upped to $31 and got this: Hilton Garden Inn Orlando Seaworld International Center 3 Star Universal Studios - Sea World 6850 Westwood Boulevard Orlando, Florida 32821 407-354-1500 See Hotel Website View Map and Directions Check-In Date: Fri, Jun 5, 2009 / After 03:00 PM Check-Out Date: Sat, Jun 6, 2009 / 12:00 PM Amenities: Remote control TV w/ premium channels Radio Alarm Clock Business services Telephone w/ voicemail Iron and ironing board Hairdryer 24 hour front desk On-site Dining Your Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: $31.00 Subtotal: $31.00 Taxes & Service Fees: $11.21 Total Charges*: $42.21
  7. Bid this for my folks a couple of days ago. They are new to priceline. Hopefully this turns out okay... looks like free parking. I really hate how the previously 2.5* hotels are now lumped in with 3* hotels... I thought that PL was going to take all the Hiltons, Marriotts, etc. and bump them up to 3.5 *, but that obviously didn't happen in this zone.
  8. We won this hotel for $41 on 05/20 which I thought was a steal, esp. with free parking and hi-speed internet. Now I understand why it's priced so low. I would not recommend this hotel to anyone at this point. The staff members we saw were very pleasant, but the hotel needs a total renovation and they need to take away the huge bottles of deodorizer that someone is dumping all over the place (makes me wonder what they're covering up?). I wish I had bid higher in Galleria zone... oh well. Consider yourself warned! At tripadvisor, you can see my review and pix of the sloppy wiring, tacky note in old shower, broken old toilet handle, and connecting door coming off its hinge. My id is pricelinejunkie.
  9. We won this for $50 on 05/18. No parking or resort fee. Called ahead to request 2 beds, nonsmoking, and they saved it for us. No mistreatment due to PL reservation. The following is my tripadvisor review; I also posted photos there-- search for Palm Springs Holiday Inn Palm Canyon Drive. My id is pricelinejunkie. Our extra-large room was completely renovated from new carpet to furniture and LCD tv. Hubby (who has built 4 houses) was impressed to seee that they replumbed the toilet with CPVC and replaced the old sliding glass doors with new insulated vinyl sliders. Rooms also have a fridge (but no microwave). Hallway smelled slightly musty/perfumey, but our room was odorless. The queen-sized beds were great, too. Pool area is huge with two hot tubs and a bar and firepit with a great mountain view. The first-floor patio rooms allow guests to walk right out to the pool through their sliding doors, so this would be a good place for a family & friends vacation or reunion. I usually don't like old hotels, but this one won me over; it didn't win that renovation award for nothing! BTW, they do allow pets (I presume with a fee) and have a cutesy doggie room-service menu.
  10. We won a bid here for $108 on 5/14-16. Called ahead to request 2 beds and they saved us a room. Not punished for using PL. Quick check-in. Parking and resort fees totaled $29 per night. Spacious, elegant rooms and public spaces; we loved the quiet, non-smoking, non-gaming atmosphere. We had a problem while here, but management was ultra-responsive. Everyone was quite apologetic, and we even got a personal visit from the gm-night manager. The front-desk manager comped all our fees and gave us a $50 credit to use at the gift shop (which had surprisingly reasonable prices), restaurant, etc. Bellhops/valet were excellent (got the minivan and loaded the luggage for us before we even got out of the lobby). You must be careful walking to Trump at night as there are few street lights and the street is dark, curvy, and frequented by speeders. Due to lack of crosswalks and sidewalks, I suggest walking through the mall next door and then jaywalking from Nordstrom's porte cochere to the Trump's porte cochere. I forgot to copy my tripadvisor review, but you will find detailed walking instructions and bus pass/route info on there if you search for "Trump Las Vegas reviews." My id is pricelinejunkie. Happy travels!
  11. We won this hotel on an $80 bid on 5/12-14 (two nights). We were treated fairly and not punished for booking through PL. We called ahead to request a 2-bedded, nonsmoking room, and they saved it for us. High-speed internet, parking, and breakfast are free at this new hotel (opened in 2008, I think). BTW beds here are queens, not tiny doubles/fulls. The following is my review from tripadvisor (sorry I forgot to take photos): Wow! We have stayed at the #1 rated HIE in the U.S., and, although I love it there, this place has the most awesome decor (Western/cowboy theme) of any HIE I've seen. The staff is great, too. Dining options were somewhat limited so we ordered from Pizza Hut and dined in the great room-- inexpensive, comfy, and convenient, esp. after a 3-1/2 hr. mule ride at Bryce. :) Here are the hotel's only problems, imo: 1) there are only two washers and dryers in this hotel and they are busy ALL THE TIME (most people are here because they spend their days doing outdoor sports which means lots of dirty clothes, plus there are a lot of multi-week vacationers here, esp. tour groups, which requires doing laundry), and 2) there is only one elevator (quite slow, too) and it is located in a "closet" with an interior door (maybe this is fire code requirement). On the plus side, since the dryers are new, they work great-- I dried two HUGE loads incl. jeans, and they were done within 45 mins. (4 quarters). If you use them, be sure you don't "cook" your clothes (you may open the door, remove things and restart it-- just make it fast 'cause the timer's still ticking). IMHO this is the one of the finest HIE in the US, and I wouldn't be surprised to see it win a corporate award... wish they were all this good.
  12. We won the Santa Fe Hilton on a $65 bid for May 10-12, 2009 (2 nights). We were not punished for being PL users; got our request of a 2-bedded, nonsmoking room and had no problems. The best qualities of the SF Hilton: large, newly remodeled rooms, excellent location, cheap parking ($7.50 for HHonors; $15 for others, but anyone can join HHonors), and NO resort fee despite having the largest pool in Santa Fe. The worst thing about the hotel was the too-large elongated toilet bowl that prevented the bathroom door from swinging completely into the bathroom. You may search Santa Fe Hilton on Tripadvisor to see my photos (pricelinejunkie). The following is my TA review: Our family of 4 stayed at the HIlton Santa Fe on May 10-12. Check-in was smooth, and parking lot was crowded, but plenty of room and convenient to building. The rooms, lobby, and other public spaces are decorated in the rustic Mission style made famous here. Location is within easy walking distance (approx. 4 blocks) of the Governor's Palace, cathedral basilica, and many missions including Loretto. I appreciated the lack of mandatory resort fees. There is a parking charge, but I thought $7.50 for HHonors members was fair since we were in an area where parking is at a premium. The room quality was fine; they did recently remodel with new carpet, furniture, and LCD tvs (NOT plasmas). The room was refreshingly large in size with a standard size closet and plenty of room for suitcases and walking around the entry/bathroom door area. Major problem with room design: bathroom door actually has been cut to fit around part of the toilet (it still hits, but at least you can walk inside and then shut the door); I'm afraid this is because the toilet bowl is elongated rather than standard/round as they probably were prior to remodel. Hotel services incl. at least one restaurant (we didn't eat here) & room service was available. Complimentary punches/lemonades as well as apples were available in the lobby in the evening (maybe all the time). :) Pool is billed as the "largest in Santa Fe," and it was rather big, but we were unable to swim as it was being refurbished. The kiva (firepit) was a neat touch as well. Housekeeper did a splendid job and deserved her tip! :) We highly recommend taking a 8-minute drive to the Chocolate Maven Cafe for their hot cocoas (Italian is the creamiest and best, but Mayan is the most unique as it is quite spicy). It is a lot of fun to watch the pastry chefs work through the glass wall separating the 1st floor dining area and bakery. Breakfast here is wonderful but expensive at $5 for large cocoa and about $8-10 per entree. Besides the local Santa Fe missions, etc., other family attractions include the Bradbury Science Museum (Los Alamos) and Bandolier National Monument (25 mins. from Los Alamos) with its Anasazi cliff dwellings and petroglyphs.
  13. Bid day before stay through bb PRICELINE link above. Will try to add review later! Hilton Houston Southwest 3
  14. Same day bid through bb PRICELINE link above. Older property, but great renovation (won 2007 award for best renovation in IHG)-- very high quality work, much better than "craftsmanship" found in many new hotels. Huge room with fridge (no micro), LCD TV, and comfortable queen size beds. NO EXTRA FEES!! :) Pool-side, first-floor patio rooms would be great for a family vacation. A TA review mentioned bed bugs-- we always check every hotel mattress (and lift headboards off the walls even) to check for evidence; there was absolutely none. Room was very clean and although hallways smelled a little perfumey/musty, our room was perfectly odorless (we're picky that way). This place is an excellent value for $64 all-in. Holiday Inn Palm Springs 3 Star Palm Springs 1800 East Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs, California 92264 760-323-1711 See Hotel Website View Map and Directions Check-In Date: Mon, May 18, 2009 / After 03:00 PM Check-Out Date: Tue, May 19, 2009 / 12:00 PM Amenities: Remote control TV w/ premium channels Radio Alarm Clock Business services Telephone w/ voicemail Iron and ironing board Hairdryer 24 hour front desk On-site Dining Reservation and Billing Information Your Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: $50.00 Subtotal: $50.00 Taxes & Service Fees: $14.15 Total Charges*: $64.15
  15. Bid this two days before our arrival, through the betterbidding PRICELINE link. Wonderful smoke-free, quiet, luxurious hotel which provided a truly restful break from the wild strip. Loved the huge room and kids enjoyed the TV built into the bathroom mirror. I wish "the Donald" would build more hotels like this one! The hotel management was very responsive when we had an issue... comped all our fees and gave us a credit to boot. Tricky walking, though; it's best to jaywalk across the street to Nordstrom's then through Fashion Square Mall to the strip (LV Blvd.). Ticket discounter near Neiman Marcus is useful for discounted show and meal tix. The $2 coupon for a lunch buffet at Harrah's for $8 (incl. bottomless sodas, juices, milk) is a steal imho. I absolutely do not recommend as a family destination... my mistake-- I thought the porn business cards and pole dancers were kept behind closed doors. :) If you must take kids, I wouldn't walk the Strip at night, even to see Bellagio's fountains. Trump Hotel, Las Vegas 5 Star Las Vegas Strip Vicinity North 2000 Fashion Show Drive Las Vegas, Nevada 89109 702-982-0000 View Map and Directions Check-In Date: Thu, May 14, 2009 / After 03:00 PM Check-Out Date: Sat, May 16, 2009 / 11:00 AM Amenities: Telephone w/ voicemail Business services 24 hour front desk Twice Daily Maid Service Upgraded Bath Amenities Upgraded linens Full Service Restaurant Extended hour room service Bellman Concierge Fitness center access Bathrobes more Reservation and Billing Information Your Offer Price Per Room, Per Night: $108.00 Subtotal: $216.00 Taxes & Service Fees: $31.84 Total Charges*: $247.84
  16. Same-day bid through betterbidding PRICELINE link. Busy, brand new HIE w/ excellent staff. Within a 1-2 hour drive of Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. Better option for Bryce multi-day trippers may be a brand new resort being built across from Ruby's Inn-- sorry I forgot the name, maybe it's Bryce Canyon Resort? Big banner across the front said opening in May 2009 and didn't indicate a brand name. We did enjoy our stay at the HI; this one actually has character with cowboy/Western themed wallpaper, copper-edged stone counters and copper washbowl sinks... really cool and classy! Free hot/cold breakfast, too, of course. Holiday Inn Express Hotel And Suites Kanab 2
  17. It is difficult, if not impossible, to get an on-site Disney hotel through PRICELINE or HOTWIRE. You may find discount booking codes for Disney Reservations at www.mousesavers.com; if you have a military connection, you should definitely check out Shades of Green, which has a great location near the Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resorts. The Starwood-run Swan Resort (Westin) and Dolphin Resort (Sheraton) also have nice discounts for different occupations... usu. teachers and nurses; excellent location for these 2 as well-- right on the water between Epcot and the Studios and next door to the Boardwalk. BTW, I agree with your decision to stay on-site, esp. since it is not low-season at the parks. Consider PRICELINE resorts if you have a day or two that you don't need the perks of an on-site hotel (like arrival/departure days) or days without tickets as some resorts' pools are a great way to take a day off from the parks. Please post a follow-up and let us know what you decide to do. Good luck!
  18. Here we are again... Used the PRICELINE link at the top right of the betterbidding page as always. Check-In Date: Thursday, May 7, 2009 Check-Out Date: Friday, May 8, 2009 Hotel Name: Sheraton Orlando North Hotel 600 North Lake Destiny Drive Maitland, Florida 32751 407-660-9000 Summary of Charges Your Offer Price: $55.00 Number of Rooms: 1 Number of Nights: 1 Subtotal: $55.00 Taxes and Service Fees: $14.67
  19. Can a mod fix this title? I think the poster is reporting 2 different wins. One is the Gaylord Palms @ $80 and the other is the Omni Championsgate @ $78. Only the dates are the same. I checked the Priceline and Hotwire Calendar of Wins and the details appear incorrectly there, too. Thanks!
  20. Hi, ya'all, I think I got a good one here. I already guessed it couldn't be the one in Wesley Chapel as that is in a different zone-- Zephyrhills I think. This is the HIE in New Tampa (rated 3 out of 164 Tampa hotels on tripadvisor) that supposedly gives out free beer/water/ice cream and has an excellent cold and hot breakfast bar (complimentary-- and it may include omelettes according to some). :) (Where's the drooling smiley?) We're celebrating DD #1's 13th birthday at Busch Gardens, so I am thrilled we ended up with this one! I went through the PRICELINE link at the top of the page; thanks, Thereuare, for making it so easy! Oh yeah, webprice was $109.xx per night... and this was my first bid as I was attempting to duplicate the other bid I found (I know it was risky, but I figured there could be a lot of 2.5 and 3* in this area and I wanted the best chance at this one). Here's the rundown: Holiday Inn Express And Suites Tampa 2
  21. Don't be upset just yet. We are fairly picky, and I still feel this place is a good value, esp. if you have kids. I would ask for a room near the rear of the property (close to Universal Blvd., not I-Drive). Those rooms (at least the ones on ground level) have sliding doors you can open for air. The reasons why we liked this property in the past: large, parklike setting with lagoons and resident mallard ducks and large pool/hottub area with reasonable drink prices; in fact, the grounds remind me a lot of Disney's Polynesian Resort. They also had a nice workout area; good location (right in the middle of I-Drive and about a block from I-4; Sand Lake Rd. also borders the property and is a major artery); fairly secure at night-- they gate the back entrances. Keep in mind that many of the other highly-rated Priceline hotels in this area also have issues, mostly due to age. That's why they're half the price of the others. I don't mind an older hotel that is well kept up, and I feel that Wyndham is on top of things. Don't worry... just go and don't be afraid to politely request another room if that one doesn't suit you. Hope everything works out for you!
  22. Last minute bid (3 days out); needed a nice place for a business trip with hubby/ pleasure trip for me & kids. We really like this hotel, so I am happy to get it for $10 less per night than last time (mid-December, I think it was). Sometimes I forget to mention it, but I always bid through the PRICELINE link at the top right of each page (makes the permutation bidding method so much simpler since I do a lot of closing and new tabs). Oh, yeah, last rejected bid was $53, so I left less than $5 on the table, if that... :) Edit: Forgot to mention that lowest web price was $125 per night. I'm hoping that priceline charges count toward the Discover 5% bonus cashback at hotels through March... Has anyone had any success with this? Sheraton Orlando North Hotel 3
  23. I don't think it's possible to add another room to your original reservation. I have faced this problem before (made a duplicate bid with all parameters the same) and gotten the same hotel, but it definitely was a gamble, and we were lucky! (Considering the huge savings afforded by PL, I take more risks than I normally might, figuring I can easily cover gas or taxi fare to get to the other hotel with the amount I'm saving on the room.) Now, if I positively HAD to have the same hotel, but refused to pay full price and couldn't find a good deal via travelzoo, Expedia, Orbitz, or the usual suspects, I would try to isolate the hotel in question on HOTWIRE using the amenities list on the HW-Florida thread. Understand, it's still a gamble as the amenities list can change without warning, but it would be much less of a gamble than using PL. It will probably also be at a higher rate than your PRICELINE reservation, but only you can decide how much you're willing to pay to lower your risk of a different hotel. Another tactic might be to look into the "add-a-night" feature to PL bidding. For example, if you bid 4 nights with identical parameters, you'd get to "peek behind the curtain" to see if it's the Hyatt, then you could possibly add your 4 remaining nights (you should check this first, but I think the rule is you can only add up to the original number of nights). If it's not the Hyatt, you'd be able to back out with the loss of just those 4 nights, or you could use them and then try a different method to get the Hyatt for the second set of 4 nights. Does that make sense to you? (You might also use the "peek behind the curtain" routine with hotwire above... making sure the amenity match for the Hyatt is available for the date range you want, then only commit to one of those nights that has the same amenities to see if it is truly the Hyatt.) IF you plan to try the PL duplicate bid, I would do it asap, because I think the longer you wait to do it, the more likely it is that it will not produce the same result (the Hyatt). Finally, remember this is all gambling... so no whining if it doesn't turn out as you hoped!!
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