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 →
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.
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
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.
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.
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 →
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 →
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 →
Little guy and I did a lot of walking the strip over our two day visit! Best time for us was early morning when others are hung over, we were up to walk a fairly empty strip.
Lil guy on the strip
It was nice to stretch the legs and get a bit of morning exercise in. Our son was/is so nosy and fascinated with everything so he liked looking around at the new environment.
Year of the rooster display on the Venetian/Palazzo
We ended up walking inside through part of the strip but mostly outside. There were plenty of elevators so I could go over the pedestrian walkways with him in his stroller or I could manage fine on the escalator too. I made sure too have a bag full of snacks and water and extra diaper or two just in case.
We arrived to the Bellagio via taxi. There was quite a bit of traffic at the resort entrance. We were met by a bellman immediately and offered assistance for our bags. We decided we could handle our bags and waived off any further assistance.
Bellagio entrance signage and mural
Once inside we werent sure we could check in right away as we arrived midday and checkin is 3pm. Having walked through the Bellagio on past Vegas trips I knew what to expect when walking in.
Las Vegas 2017 Introduction: Bringing Baby to Vegas
My wife had another business trip to attend. This time in Las Vegas! She would be gone three days and two nights. I admit that I immediately became nervous about how I was going to be able to handle lil guy on my own!?! I could handle the day but the nighttime, what if he got up at (2AM) as he sometimes does and wanted his momma and I couldn’t console him?! I pictured my self up all night frustrated and going into work looking like a zombie. Well we quickly solved that dilemma by tagging along with mom for her trip!!! Whew!! Crisis averted 🙂
Two free nights at the Bellagio and my wife’s airfare paid by her employer I just had to worry about getting me and baby to Vegas and back. That was easy as she booked her flights on Southwest which has nonstop service to Las Vegas from MKE. I simply booked my plane ticket (on her flights) using my Southwest Rapid Reward points.
25,501 Rapid Rewards points and $11.20 later my ticket was booked
We enjoyed our time in Seattle. One afternoon we visited Kerry Park. Kerry Park has some amazing views of Seattle! I wanted to get a few landscape shots of it and just soak it all in.
We only stayed here 15-30 minutes before we summoned an Uber to give us a ride back to our hotel.
I would say for the first time visitor to Seattle that this is a must do on a nice day!
We also had the opportunity to to check out Seattles famous Public Market and Pikes Peak. I went one morning early with my son as all the vendors were setting up and it was very peaceful and neat.
However we went again with my wife later in the day and it was quite busy and hectic. The line for the original Starbucks store was down the block and the Public Market in general was quite chaotic.
Long line for the first ever Starbucks store (you have to REALLY want a coffee)
They do have tons of seafood options at the market.
I was also impressed how many vendors were selling some very nice floral displays and at very good prices in my opinion.
Near the end of the market there is an area with nice views out to the water. There were a lot of homeless people in this area!
On an early morning walk with my kid we walked toward the Space Needle but we didn’t end up going inside of it.
Seattle’s Space Needle
One of the oddest “attractions” I have ever seen is Seattle’s “gum wall” in which there is small back alley of sorts that is completely covered in peoples chewing gum. Its quite colorful and unique. I suppose its a form of art huh? Anyways be careful and don’t get to close and get gum on your shoe like I did!
We also got to meet up with an old college buddy of mine and his wife while in Seattle which was nice. We did have a chance to dine at a few decent restaurants while in town which we enjoyed.
Lastly we took a boat ride over to Alki Beach. We just kinda walked around for a while down near the beach. Stopped for a drink and enjoyed views of Seattle from across the water. There were lots of runners, people playing volleyball and some people swimming.
I left Seattle with positive feelings about the city. A very nice, livable city. It helps that we only had rain the morning we were leaving so we had 2-3 days of really nice weather. If the chance to visit ever comes up again I will be happy to jump on it!
___________________________________ Introduction Fairmont Olympic Hotel Seattle Around Seattle
Fairmont Olympic Seattle
We arrived to the Fairmont Olympic Hotel to a busy scene. Quite a few people arriving for checkins or waiting for rides to leave the property. We were properly greeted by the bellman after pulling up in our Chevy Tahoe. Our driver and bellman grabbed our bags.
Fairmont Olympic Hotel entrance sign
Fairmont Olympic Hotel entrance
Once inside there is a ground level seating area but the actually lobby and checkin desk are upstairs one level. We took the escalator up (there are elevators too of course) and the lobby was teaming with activity of people meeting up or checking or talking with the concierge’s. After a about a five minute wait we were welcomed to the checkin desk.
Fairmont Olympic Hotel entrance placard
Ground level lobby seating
Second floor checkin desk and floral arrangement in lobby
Farimont Olympic Seattle Grand lobby
The young woman checking us in was courteous and professional. After only a few moments we were on our way to our room, only the front desk agent forgot to put our room number on the key and we forgot what room she told us we were in verbally. I stoped back to the desk where she apologized and wrote down the room number, 356 which is a Signature Executive Suite. Continue reading →