Review: Hotel Arts Barcelona

Introduction
Iberia Business Class Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) A340-600
Westin Palace Madrid
Around Madrid
Dining in Madrid
Hotel Arts Barcelona (A Ritz-Carlton hotel)
Enoteca Paco Perez (Two- Michelin Star Restaurant)
Around Barcelona
Park Hyatt Mallorca
Around Mallorca
Rafa Nadal Academy and museum
Dining in Mallorca
Iberia Business Class Lounge Madrid (International terminal satellite lounge)
Iberia Business Class Madrid (MAD) to Chicago (ORD) A340-600


 

Hotel Arts Barcelona

My family and I stayed three nights at the Hotel Arts Barcelona during our stay in Barcelona.  The hotel offers elegant luxury right near the beach. We booked a lead-in room through our Virtuoso advisor.


Hotel Arts Barcelona lobby

Upon arriving to the lobby we were welcomed by a greeter right in front of the elevators who escorted us to the reception desk and handed us off to another handler who welcomed us and offered us some welcome champagne which we gladly accepted.


Hotel Arts Barcelona reception desk

The hotel was just about full and I asked for any upgrade potential.  She said can’t upgrade us tonight but could for the last two nights which we accepted.  I assumed this was to some sort of suite but it was just to a “better view” room which we honestly didn’t care about and could have just stayed in our original room all three nights. Continue reading

Dining in Madrid

Introduction
Iberia Business Class Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) A340-600
Westin Palace Madrid
Around Madrid
Dining in Madrid
Hotel Arts Barcelona (A Ritz-Carlton hotel)
Enoteca Paco Perez (Two- Michelin Star Restaurant)
Around Barcelona
Park Hyatt Mallorca
Around Mallorca
Rafa Nadal Academy and museum
Dining in Mallorca
Iberia Business Class Lounge Madrid (International terminal satellite lounge)
Iberia Business Class Madrid (MAD) to Chicago (ORD) A340-600


 

Dining in Madrid

Botin

Dinner at Botin aka the oldest restaurant in the world.  Botin was established in 1725 and the Guiness Book of World Records officially recognizes it as the oldest running restaurant in the world. So for the novelty factor we had to try it one evening for dinner.

Earlier in the day on our walking tour of Madrid we got to go inside earlier in the day before they opened up. Ernest Hemingway had a favorite table in the back, upstairs corner of Botin.

We had our concierge at the Westin Palace call about 2-3 hours before and we were able to score a table for the early seating. They have two seatings:  7:30pm and 9:30pm if I recall correctly. Continue reading

Around Madrid

Introduction
Iberia Business Class Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) A340-600
Westin Palace Madrid
Around Madrid
Dining in Madrid
Hotel Arts Barcelona (A Ritz-Carlton hotel)
Enoteca Paco Perez (Two- Michelin Star Restaurant)
Around Barcelona
Park Hyatt Mallorca
Around Mallorca
Rafa Nadal Academy and museum
Dining in Mallorca
Iberia Business Class Lounge Madrid (International terminal satellite lounge)
Iberia Business Class Madrid (MAD) to Chicago (ORD) A340-600


 

Around Madrid

During our time in Madrid we did quite a bit of exploring.  We did a “free” tour through Leaf Madrid one day which gave us a great lay of the land. The tour was about 2.5 hours around Madrid. Our guide was very nice and informative. Telling us about the different areas of Madrid and the stories behind them. At the end of the tour you decide how much you want to pay- we decided 30€ was fair.

Another great way to take in the city was through the double-decker bus tours.  We do this in many cities as its relaxing and it shows you some of the cities highlights. It was roughly 50€ to have a bus pass for about 1.5 days in our case.

I also woke up early and it was amazing to walk through the city before it got hot and busy. It was very comfortable to take a 6:30am walk and see the city “wake up”. Continue reading

Review: Westin Palace Madrid

Introduction
Iberia Business Class Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) A340-600
Westin Palace Madrid
Around Madrid
Dining in Madrid
Hotel Arts Barcelona (A Ritz-Carlton hotel)
Enoteca Paco Perez (Two- Michelin Star Restaurant)
Around Barcelona
Park Hyatt Mallorca
Around Mallorca
Rafa Nadal Academy and museum
Dining in Mallorca
Iberia Business Class Lounge Madrid (International terminal satellite lounge)
Iberia Business Class Madrid (MAD) to Chicago (ORD) A340-600


 

Westin Palace Madrid

Westin Palace Madrid
Westin Palace Madrid exterior

The Westin Palace Madrid was our accommodation of choice for our three nights in Madrid. We were greeted by a bellman and doorman upon arrival in our Blacklane Mercedes-Benz van. The ride from the Madrid airport is only about eight miles or about 20 minutes depending on traffic.  Our bags were gathered and we were welcomed in to the reception desk.


The Westin Palace Madrid entrance

Upon first appearances the hotel felt elegant, grand, and a bit antique (in a good way). The hotel is over 100 years old and has 470 rooms and 51 suites. Continue reading

Review: Iberia Business Class Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) A340-600

Introduction
Iberia Business Class Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) A340-600
Westin Palace Madrid
Around Madrid
Dining in Madrid
Hotel Arts Barcelona (A Ritz-Carlton hotel)
Enoteca Paco Perez (Two- Michelin Star Restaurant)
Around Barcelona
Park Hyatt Mallorca
Around Mallorca
Rafa Nadal Academy and museum
Dining in Mallorca
Iberia Business Class Lounge Madrid (International terminal satellite lounge)
Iberia Business Class Madrid (MAD) to Chicago (ORD) A340-600


 

Iberia Business Class Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) A340-600


Our Iberia plane parked at the gate

We arrived to Chicago O’hare airport much later than anticipated due to our bus running late.  By the time we arrived at the checkin counter there was absolutely nobody in line at all!  That was amazing. We walked right up and were checked in. I asked is everybody else already checked in, where is everyone?  She said yup most everyone is checked in. So we were one of the last people checked in for this flight.

We were allowed access to an American Airlines lounge but honestly I am not sure which one and frankly we didn’t have time to access it as we needed to head right to our gate.
Once at our gate the first groups were all lined up and ready to board. I wanted to be one of the first to board but there were already 10+ business class passengers lined up ahead of me however I saw the line for family with small children and hopped in there, so we were the first business class passengers to board. We were boarding Iberia’s June 17th flight IB6274 departing at 4:25pm.


Iberia A340-600 business class

I had been having some slight anxiety to board this flight for the first time in a while due to Continue reading

Introduction: Spain 2018- A Taste of Spain

Introduction
Iberia Business Class Chicago (ORD) to Madrid (MAD) A340-600
Westin Palace Madrid
Around Madrid
Dining in Madrid
Hotel Arts Barcelona (A Ritz-Carlton hotel)
Enoteca Paco Perez (Two- Michelin Star Restaurant)
Around Barcelona
Park Hyatt Mallorca
Around Mallorca
Rafa Nadal Academy and museum
Dining in Mallorca
Iberia Business Class Lounge Madrid (International terminal satellite lounge)
Iberia Business Class Madrid (MAD) to Chicago (ORD) A340-600


 

Introduction

As has been our summer tradition it seems, my wife, youngest son and I were off to Europe for vacation.  This year Spain was the selection.  We always try to choose a new country every year, 2013 was Ireland, 2014 was Paris, 2015 our baby was born this summer so we skipped, 2016 was London, 2017 was Italy.

We were excited for the adventure!  We planned for 11 nights and wanted to have a mixture of city and beach time for this vacation and Spain is perfect for that itinerary. We booked three business class flights from Chicago about 11 months prior to our trip on Iberia.


Iberia Business Class cabin


Smiles all around on Iberia Business Class

First stop on our trip was three nights in Madrid. Continue reading

Review: Andaz Mayakoba

Introduction: New Years Trip to Riviera Maya
Review:  Andaz Mayakoba


 

Andaz Mayakoba

My family had a lovely seven night stay at the Andaz Mayakoba over New Year’s Eve 2018!  Our driver dropped us off after a 40 minute drive from Cancun’s airport. We were greeted at the entrance by two Andaz representatives. One assigned to grab our bags and one to welcome us inside.

The entrance inside the main lobby of the Andaz Mayakoba is named The Sanctuary.  The Sanctuary is designed to mimic a Mexican cenote’ with its large opening up top and the water feature below.

We were welcomed inside and invited to have a seat in The Sanctuary.  Our Andaz Mayakoba checkin representative informed us we will do the check in seated and he would bring over a few mezcal welcome beverages for us to enjoy. Continue reading

New Year’s Trip to Riviera Maya

Introduction: New Years Trip to Riviera Maya
Review:  Andaz Mayakoba

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Happy New Year everyone!

For the first time in several years I decided to take off the week of Christmas and thought “why not take a vacation after Christmas to end the year?”

So in Mid July I started looking for locations for our vacation.  This is the highest demand time of year to travel and prices are sky high! After looking around I decided to just take a “simple” trip to to Riviera Maya as we enjoy Mexico and have not been to the Yucatan Peninsula in several years.  This would be our son’s first time to Mexico and I cannot believe Mexico would be his FIFTH country visited at only two years old. Continue reading

Around New Orleans

Introduction
Ritz Carlton New Orleans
Around New Orleans

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Around New Orleans

Since we were staying right on the edge of the French Quarter I was able to spend plenty of time exploring the area as my wife had morning meetings.

Burbon Street was under some MAJOR construction during our visit.  The entire street was shut down and blocked off.  Only the sidewalks were available and they were kind of tight when the people traffic picked up.

Im mad at myself for not trying a hand grenade while in New Orleans…. I stuck with the hurricanes.

One afternoon we decided to stop and grab some oysters at Acme Oyster House.  There was a line of about 2-3 people ahead of us.  I had no idea this was a popular place we just decided to pop in.  After less than 5 minute wait we were able to grab a seat a the bar.  We were able to watch them shuck the oysters while we waited for our food.

For the first time in my life I had raw oysers…..meh.  The chargrilled ones however were great!  Nice and buttery and garlicky.   Comedian D.L. Hughes also came in and got a corner table while we were there.

 

We stopped in Leah’s and got some tasty pralines to take home.

One morning I walked down to Stanley for breakfast while my wife was in a morning meeting.

Amazingly good breakfast!

The best grits I have ever tasted!!! WOW!

A bit pricey at $30 for one person for breakfast however.

One evening we partook in a Marid Gras themed parade through Canal Street.

There was a full on band and we marched all the way too……

Pat O’Briens for dinner and drinks.

One day we had the chance to participate in a bayou airboat tour.

My wife and I got to sit next to the boat driver.  We saw one or two smallish croc’s by throwing in a marshmallow to coax them out.

Our boat captain had a baby croc with him in the boat in a cooler.  He let us pass it around and hold if we wanted. Our boat captain was very informative and shared a lot of information about the wildlife habitat and the area.

Overall we had a great time in NOLA.  It was nice to visit for a few days and get a small taste but we may not be back for a while.

-PointsPinnacle

Ritz-Carlton New Orleans Review

Introduction
Ritz Carlton New Orleans
Around New Orleans

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I was able to accompany my wife on a work/pleasure trip to New Orleans.  This was our first trip without or toddler son so we were excited to have an “adult” trip but knew we would miss our little guy too.

We were booked for three nights at the lovely Ritz-Carlton New Orleans.  The hotel is conveniently located right on Canal Street in the French Quarter neighborhood of New Orleans.

Ritz-Carlton New Orleans
Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

We arrived on a shuttle bus with numerous others and we only had one carryon bag each so we were not in need of a doorman or further assistance.  Our group entered in to the ground level lobby of the hotel.


Ground floor entry

From there we took and elevator up to the third floor where the more traditional reception desk and lobby are found.


Ritz-Carlton New Orleans reception desk

The hotel was fairly elegant and aseptically pleasing like many others in the Ritz-Carlton brand.  The fall themed floral arrangement in the lobby was a nice touch.


Ritz-Carlton New Orleans floral arrangement


Ritz-Carlton New OrleansRitz-Carlton New Orleans lobby

We were checked in right away as they were fully staffed at the reception desk.  Check in was friendly and professional. We confirmed our Marriott rewards number was indeed on the reservation and we were given two room keys. Continue reading