Il Falconiere Review

Italy 2017: Introduction
Alitalia Business Class Chicago to Rome
Hotel Lungarno (Florence)
Around Florence
Dining in Florence
Il Falconerie (Cortona)
Around Cortona
Dining in Cortona
Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Around Rome
Dining in Rome
Alitalia Lounge Rome (FCO)
Lufthansa Business Class Rome to Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich
Lufthansa First Class Munich to Chicago
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Il Falconerie


Il Faloniere entrance sign

After an amazing time in Florence we were excited to arrive in our Tuscan resort, Il Falconiere.   We arrived via train and met our driver eventually who after a 15 minute drive arrived down the long driveway of Il Falconiere.


Relais & Chateaux placard at Il Falconiere entrance

We were dropped off right in front of the reception and our driver said he would take care of our bags.  The first thing I said when we got out of our black Mercedes van was “wow, it smells great out here”! You could smell the lovely flower and lilac permeating the property! Continue reading

Dining in Florence

Italy 2017: Introduction
Alitalia Business Class Chicago to Rome
Hotel Lungarno (Florence)
Around Florence
Dining in Florence
Il Falconerie (Cortona)
Around Cortona
Dining in Cortona
Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Around Rome
Dining in Rome
Alitalia Lounge Rome (FCO)
Lufthansa Business Class Rome to Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich
Lufthansa First Class Munich to Chicago
______________________________________

Dining in Florence

Osteria Il Gatto e la Volpe (The Cat and the Fox)

On our first evening my wife and I walked to The Cat and the Fox for dinner. A colleague at work gave her two spots for us to visit.  This was low-key and easy to get to and get in.  We went early as we typically do with our son in tow.


Entrance

There were only a few other tables taken and we got a nice window seat to catch the street scene.


Partial menu

After checking out the menu we both went with a really nice Chianti.  Probably our best Chianti wine of the trip.


Interior

Our son wasn’t able to eat much of the food here due to his mouth sores from the hand foot and mouth virus. He did have some bread and some crackers that we brought along.


Our son wants some of “mama’s juice”  🙂

The reason to eat here is the very delicious and flavorful, homemade balsamic.  We had some very generous dips with our bread and really enjoyed it.  We regretted not trying to buy a bottle to take home.


Bread with some awesome balsamic

I had a very nice spaghetti with mozzarella and tomatoes and bacon bits. Continue reading

Around Florence

Italy 2017: Introduction
Alitalia Business Class Chicago to Rome (Airbus A330-200)
Hotel Lungarno (Florence)
Around Florence
Dining in Florence
Il Falconerie (Cortona)
Around Cortona
Dining in Cortona
Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Around Rome
Dining in Rome
Alitalia Lounge Rome (FCO)
Lufthansa Business Class Rome to Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich
Lufthansa First Class Munich to Chicago
______________________________________

Around Florence

This installment is going to be just a photo tour of the things that we did. We had a ball in Florence and explored so much!  If anyone has any questions on any activities that we did you can let me know and I will reply in the comments section.  Thanks!

Abbazia di San Mainato al Monte

 

Piazzale Michelangelo Continue reading

Hotel Lungarno Review

Italy 2017: Introduction
Alitalia Business Class Chicago to Rome (Airbus A330-200)
Hotel Lungarno (Florence)
Around Florence
Dining in Florence
Il Falconerie (Cortona)
Around Cortona
Dining in Cortona
Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Around Rome
Dining in Rome
Alitalia Lounge Rome (FCO)
Lufthansa Business Class Rome to Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich
Lufthansa First Class Munich to Chicago
______________________________________

Hotel Lungarno
 

My family was dropped off by our driver right in front of our Florence accommodation, Hotel Lungarno.  We were greeted by the friendly doorman opening the door for us.  He help grab our luggage and escorted us inside. On the walk in he briefly told us about the property and went over some of the high points.  He advised our bags would arrive to our room shortly and left us in the arrivals lounge area to check in with a nice check in agent.


Hotel Lungarno entrance at night


Hotel Lungarno entrance

Our first impressions were very positive as you walk in you get some nice glimpses of the Arno river, the lifeblood of Florence.   Along the entrance way are some nice bikes for guests to use at their leisure. Continue reading

Alitalia Business Class Review Chicago to Rome

Italy 2017: Introduction
Alitalia Business Class Chicago to Rome (Airbus A330-200)
Hotel Lungarno (Florence)
Around Florence
Dining in Florence
Il Falconerie (Cortona)
Around Cortona
Dining in Cortona
Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Around Rome
Dining in Rome
Alitalia Lounge Rome (FCO)
Lufthansa Business Class Rome to Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich
Lufthansa First Class Munich to Chicago
______________________________________

Alitalia Business Class Chicago to Rome (airbus A330-200)

After making our way through the mess of a check-in line in O’Hare and getting through TSA we made our way to the KLM Lounge.  We did not last a minute in there due to the massive over crowding.  Seriously there is no point of a lounge when it’s just like the gate area with free drinks.   Pretty turned off we grabbed some pizza at a restaurant in the terminal and bided our time until boarding.

We eventually heard an announcement in regards to an Alitalia flight stating a gate change.  We paid our bill and headed out for the new gate.  Once there, it was mass chaos and they were starting to board business class already.  We were just about the last ones to board in business class thus I apologize for the hectic cabin shots.


Alitalia business class cabin

We boarded through 2L and turned left into the business class cabin which consisted of 20 seats in Alitalia’s Airbus A330. When selecting seats several months ago the very front row love seats and the very back row love seats were taken (of course) so I took the only ones left in row 3, seats E and G. Continue reading

Italy 2017: Best Trip Ever

Italy 2017: Introduction
Alitalia Business Class Chicago to Rome
Hotel Lungarno (Florence)
Around Florence
Dining in Florence
Il Falconerie (Cortona)
Around Cortona
Dining in Cortona
Rome Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria
Around Rome
Dining in Rome
Alitalia Lounge Rome (FCO)
Lufthansa Business Class Rome to Munich
Lufthansa First Class Lounge Munich
Lufthansa First Class Munich to Chicago
______________________________________

Italy 2017: Introduction

Wow! My wife, baby and I just returned from an amazing vacation to Italy. I am excited to share the details of the trip and explain how everything played out!

The day before we were scheduled to leave we realized something wasn’t right with our toddler son (we still call him “the baby”). I realized he had developed some spots on his hands and he was drooling quite a bit.  Quickly I was able to make a same-day appointment to see his pediatrician who confirmed our fears of Continue reading

Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown Review

 

Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown 

Wife, baby and I enjoyed a weekend getaway in Mid May for a good friends birthday celebration.  After a quick 45 minute flight from Milwaukee and a 20 minute train ride from MSP airport we were just a quick walk away from the hotel.

We entered the hotel lobby through the elevators that connect Minneapolis downtown walkways to the hotel.  The lobby is bright and full of energy. It has a modern and edgy feel to it.  The front desk was fairly small. Just enough for two front desk agents.


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown Lobby

Our lovely front desk agent was courteous and nice.  She advised we were “upgraded”, asked how many room keys were needed and gave our son a very cute, white, Radisson Blu branded teddy bear which we appreciated. We were assigned to a Superior Guest Room on the the 11th floor-room 1111 to be exact.


Radisson Blu Downtown Minneapolis Lobby

The set of elevators is just off to the side of the reception desk.  Guests need to have their room keys in order to get up to their assigned floor. While I appreciated the security that this provides it did make it a bit inconvenient to visit friends staying on another floor of the property as I couldn’t reach their floor nor could they reach ours with our room keys.  A helpful front desk agent did assist when I did need to visit another floor by swiping his “master key”.


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown Elevator lobby on 11th floor

Our room was nice.  Not very large but average size that met the basic requirements for a comfortable stay generally.  I always prefer a room with a separate bathtub in case our baby needs a bath  (we don’t bath him in tub/shower combos) so while our room didn’t meet that preference the bathroom was otherwise perfectly fine. The shower had an adjustable hand-held showered with decent water pressure and responsive water temperature. The room was very clean and in very good shape.


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown shower


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown tub


Radisson Blue Minneapolis Downtown sink


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown toilet 

We ordered two dental kits and they were brought up to our room promptly.  The rest of the bath amenities were fine.


Radisson Blu Downtown Bathroom Amenities


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown Bathroom


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown Floor plan


Radisson Blu Minneapolis bathroom


Radisson Blue Minneapolis Downtown Bathroom

The room had a comfy king size bed along with a desk area and green chair and small end table next to it. We also had a crib delivered up to our room shortly after arriving in the room.


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown

The TV was wall mounted directly across from the bed. There were plenty of channels and the hotel provided free wi-fi.  We did not use the wifi during our visit so I cannot speak of the speeds.


Radisson Blue Minneapolis Downtown TV/Desk area


Radisson Blue Minneapolis Downtown bed


Radisson Blue Minneapolis Downtown teddy bear


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown room entry

We did have a babysitter come stay in the room with our child on Saturday night so it might have been nice to have an executive suite with a bit more room or a separate living area but alas our Club Carlson Gold status didnt have that much pull.  The hotel was fairly crowded during our stay and we did see a wedding party on Saturday.


Radisson Blue Minneapolis Downtown

The view was just across the street looking directly at the Minneapolis Marriott hotel. Sadly we had a very rainy weekend in Minneapolis so we didn’t open the curtains much.


Radisson Blu Minneapolis Downtown roomkey 

ROOM WALKTHROUGH BELOW:

 

Food and Beverage

Due to the weather we decided to stay in a order room service on our first night at the hotel.  The in house restaurant at the Radisson Blu Minneapolis is FireLake Grill House.  My wife ordered the veggie skillet, our baby had the oatmeal brûlée, and I had the pannekoeken.


Veggie Skillet


Oatmeal Brulee


Pannekoeken


Pannekoeken

The food was good and was delivered fast.  Also the prices were not extraordinary high as they are in many hotels.


Room service bill

I took some photos of the menu, see the selection below:


Fire Lake menu


Fire Lake menu


Fire Lake menu


Fire Lake menu


Fire Lake menu


Fire Lake menu

On Sunday morning after a nice steak dinner and several drinks at Burch Restaurant and a night out on the town we decided to get a late breakfast downstairs in FireLake’s dinning room. We ordered a bowl of oatmeal with fruit for our son, I had the breakfast pizza and my wife a had an egg white frittata (not pictured).


Oatmeal at Fire Lake


Breakfast Pizza

I thought the decor of the restaurant was nice and the bar was really eye catching. I am not sure when this property opened but I was really impressed with the how new or fresh everything seemed.  They are doing a good job of keeping the hotel in immaculate shape or perhaps the property is only a few years old?


Fire Lake interior


Fire Lake bar


Fire Lake bar

Overall we had a good stay.  Our prior go to hotel in Minneapolis was the W Foshay but I prefer this hotel and would have no problems returning on our next visit.  The location is good right in the heart of downtown just a short walk to Target Center or Target Field.


PointsPinnacle Breakdown

One of the primary reasons for booking this hotel is that we had some Club Carlson points to burn.  In fact my wife and I combined our points into my account in order to have just enough for our two night stay.  This property required 70,000 points a night which is really absurd in my view but we really don’t use Club Carlson points frequently and when a chance to burn them at a decent property presented itself we jumped on it.

We also continue to hold on to our Club Carlson Visa credit cards which annually awards us 40,000 points a yr in exchange for the annual fee ($60/yr for the business card and $75/yr for the personal card). We feel its a fair deal even though Club Carlson has devalued their award chart substantially in the past few years.


Nightly rate of $198/night for our nights per Radisson.com

The cheapest cash rate for our two night stay was $198/night or $400+taxes for the weekend!


Our room confirmation email

So using our points in this scenario saved us a decent amount of money and we were happy to burn the points!

Any comments or questions are welcome! Thanks for reading.

 


 

 

Miami Open 2017

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Miami 2017 Introduction: Spring Break in the MIA
Turnberry Isle Miami Review
Miami Open
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Miami Open

On one evening I attended the Miami Open with a friend and his colleague. We bought tickets for a Tuesday night session hoping to see the Federer/Del Potro match but alas they made that match a daytime match instead.

Parking is at a premium in Key Biscayne thus we actually had to park a few islands back and take s shuttle bus over to the event. All in all it wasn’t too bad but there is quite a bit of traffic as you closer to the event.

We arrived just in time for the first match on the main stadium starting at 7pm.  The number 1 seed in the tournament was Stan Wawrinka and so we got to see him play Tunisian Malek Jaziri in a 3rd round match.

We had decent seats on the 300 level that cost about $100/per person. We were in the second row of that level. Continue reading

Turnberry Isle Miami Review

_______________________________________
Miami 2017 Introduction: Spring Break in the MIA
Turnberry Isle Miami Review
Miami Open
_______________________________________

Turnberry Isle Miami Review

 

My family had a great five night stay at Turnberry Isle Miami.  We arrived on a Sunday night and were greeted by a member of the valet staff with a “welcome back”. Whoops! The only problem was this was our first time ever being at the property.   The bell staff came over and got everything situated. They grabbed our bags and got our name and escorted us over to the checkin area.


Turnberry Isle driveway entrance


Turnberry Isle front entrance

The entrance way was impressive and falls in line with a high end resort.  Directly across from the front desk was a water feature with plenty of koi fish.  Every morning at 8am they feed the koi and guests are invited for that event however we never made it over during our stay.


Turnberrry Isle pond


Koi fish at Turnberry Isle pond

Once we arrived at the checkin desk we were helped right away by a courteous female front desk agent.  She mentioned we received an “upgrade” but Continue reading

Miami 2017 Introduction: Spring Break in the MIA

_______________________________________
Miami 2017 Introduction: Spring Break in the MIA
Turnberry Isle Miami Review
Miami Open
_______________________________________

Miami 2017 Introduction: Spring Break in the MIA

I had a Category 8 Marriott Travel Package voucher good for a five night stay that we didn’t use in 2016. I called at the end of last year to extend it and Marriott was willing to extend the certificate for another year (Thanks Marriott! To see how we obtained this certificate read this post).  I told my wife to look at some of the Category 8 Marriott properties and we narrowed it down to 2-3 properties.  In the end it was between Phoenix and Miami (we ruled out Hawaii due to lap child flight time) due to the shorter flight times but the under three hour flight to Miami won out. And so, we decided a week at Turnberry Isle in Miami would be a perfect fit for us to escape the never ending Wisconsin winter.


In-flight air show displaying our routing to Fort Lauderdale’s airport

I designated my wife as my companion for my Southwest Companion Pass and booked our airfare.  My Milwaukee to Fort Lauderdale flight cost me 32,364 Rapid Rewards points and $11.20.  My wife’s ticket cost an additional $11.20 and our 1yr old baby is free to sit on our lap.

I decided to book Sunday night flight outbound and Friday night flight inbound so that we could enjoy our weekends at home and get some stuff done before having to go right back to work.  Our flights were 100% full both ways and they were actually Continue reading