Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach HOTEL REVIEW – Surf, Sun and Scrambled Eggs

Oh the weather outside is frightful.
But the beach is so delightful.
And since ChiTown’s covered in snow.
Let me go, let me go, let me go

… to the Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach

I usually spend part of the Holidays with my family in San Diego’s sunny North County. I’ve experimented with a few places to stay in the area. However, for the past two years I’ve made the Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach my West Coast base of operations for Christmas.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Exterior Sign

The hotel’s California Mission style architecture distinguishes it from the non-descript design one usually associates with mid-priced chains.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Exterior View 1

The covered entry drive, flanked by palm trees, provides a warm and welcoming first impression as you pull up to the building.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Exterior View 2

The hotel’s rooms surround a central courtyard that contains the hotel’s pool  …

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Courtyard View 1

… as well as attractive outdoor public spaces planted with abundant greenery that gives the grounds a resort-like feel.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Courtyard View 2

One of my favorite amenities at the hotel was this seating area, which was the perfect place to enjoy an evening glass of wine in front of a roaring fire.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Outdoor Fireplace

The staff manning the front desk was cheerful and eager to be of assistance when I checked in.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Lobby Registration Desk

I encountered this positive and welcoming attitude consistently throughout my various stays at the hotel. In fact, I have yet to encounter an Associate at the hotel who seemed like they were having a “bad day.”

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Lobby

The Lobby area in the Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach is open and inviting.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Lobby Fireplace

Seating areas featuring comfortable couches, grouped together in a cozy living-room style arrangement, surround a double-sided fireplace.

Rooms are decorated with contemporary furnishings in a color palette of rich chestnut browns, warm goldenrod and royal blue.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach King Room

My king size bed was complemented by a cherry wood headboard which matched the spacious work desk, ample chest of drawers supporting a flat screen television and credenza containing the room refrigerator and coffee maker.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach King Room 2

The room’s bathroom provides ample counter space along with a shower / tub combination.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach 2

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Bathroom 1

The hotel’s amenities and services include complimentary Wi-Fi, a Business Center with computers and printers and a fitness center with a nice variety of cardio equipment and free weights.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Fitness Center

Gold-level members of Hilton’s HHonors loyalty program receive a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast in the hotel’s full service restaurant.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Breakfast Buffet

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Cook-to-Order Breakfast

The cheery and engaging servers in the restaurant matched the high customer service levels provided by their colleagues throughout the rest of the hotel.

However, one of the best features of the hotel is just outside its doors. The Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach, as its name implies, is located right across the street from the ocean.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Lifeguard Tower

A stoplight and crosswalk provide easy access to the beach ….

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Walk

… where you can wrap up your day by enjoying a classic Pacific Ocean sunset.

Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach Sunset

The Hilton Garden Inn Carlsbad Beach offers the combination of a gorgeous location, friendly service and comfortable rooms that keep me coming back for more.

How about you? Do you have a favorite place to stay in the San Diego area?

Sharing Starwood Starpoints

I love it when a plan comes together. As the mercury plummets in my hometown of Chicago, I’m eagerly looking forward to fleeing the Midwestern Winter and enjoying a vacation with my Partner F on the beaches of Thailand. I started plotting our escape earlier in the year.

Our Escape Plan So Far

The first step was to secure our airline flights. Using a combination of frequent flyer programs I booked two tickets to Thailand. I was even able to improve the award itinerary I originally reserved and ensure that we travelled in First Class for our entire journey. With our transportation taken care of, I next set my sights on putting a (luxurious) roof over our heads. It was at this point that I raided the Household Points Kitty to book our hotels.

The Starwood Starpoints Strategy

I’ve previously written about the virtues of the Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) loyalty program.

Starwood Preferred Guest LogoAs one of the Big Three Points Currencies, Starpoints are a hedge against future potential points devaluations since they can be transferred to a wide variety of airline frequent flyer programs in addition to being redeemed for hotel awards. However, another useful feature of the Starwood Preferred Guest program is the ability to transfer Starpoints from one member to another.

Transferring Starwood Starpoints Overview

SPG members of who have shared the same residential mailing address for at least 30 days prior to requesting the transfer are eligible to participate. The detailed Terms & Conditions follow:

Transferring Starpoints Terms & Conditions

Once you’re ready to transfer your points, you fill out this simple form:

Starwood Starpoints Member-to-Member Transfer Form

SPG states that it will take approximately five working days for the transferred points to credit. In my case, I initiated the transfer request from my Partner F’s account around 10:00 pm on a Thursday night. When I checked around the same time on Friday of the following week, the transferred points were credited to my SPG account as promised.

Redeeming our Starpoints

With my SPG account flush with Starpoints, I was now ready to book our hotels.


We’ll be starting our trip at the Royal Orchid Sheraton in Bangkok.

Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort Infinity Pool

This will be followed by some serious pool and beach time at the Sheraton Krabi Beach Resort.

I’ll be writing full trip reports on our upcoming hotel stays and airline experiences. Be sure to stay tuned and subscribe to my blog to receive notifications of new posts by email.

How about you? Have you ever used the Starwood Preferred Guest Member-to-Member Starpoints transfer feature? What was your experience?



Hyatt at Olive 8 Hotel Review – Sleek in Seattle

We were going to be in the Emerald City for a long weekend. Since there was a lot we wanted to see and do, I wanted to make sure that we stayed in a centrally located hotel. Furthermore, for an urban getaway I gravitate towards lodgings with a clean, modern esthetic (such as the Andaz London) or a boutique sensibility (like I experienced at The Boxer Boston). Finally, I wanted to make sure we were comfortable since the last thing I wanted was to be Sleepless in … well, you know where that was going …

Hyatt at Olive 8 Exterior View

The Hyatt at Olive 8 is centrally located in downtown Seattle’s theater district. Major tourist attractions such as Pike Place Market are within walking distance. The hotel is also well served by public transportation and is only a block away from the Westlake Light Rail station, which offers a direct link to Seattle’s SEA-TAC Airport. Seattle is also a great Uber town which means that many destinations across the city are affordably in reach from the hotel by using this on demand car service.

The hotel projects a modern feel softened with the look of natural stone and warm wood finishes.

Hyatt at Olive 8 Lobby View

This tip-of-the-hat to the environment is further exemplified by the fact that the Hyatt at Olive 8 is the first LEED certified hotel in Seattle. Various energy and water saving features allow guests to remain green while enjoying the hotel’s modern amenities. This commitment to sustainability is something that I’m seeing more and more in the hotel world.

Hyatt at Olive 8 Lobby Registration Desk

Our check-in was handled smoothly and professionally. The Front Desk Associate assisting us was genuinely friendly and possessed an earnest, wholesome and squeaky-clean demeanor that can also be conveniently found on any page of a J.Crew catalog.

The Deluxe King Room we were assigned continued the hotel’s Modern Pacific Northwest theme.

Hyatt at Olive 8 Deluxe King Room Bed

The room featured airy, loft-height ceilings, simple clean lines, soothing spa-like color tones and dark wood finishes that warmed up the space.

Hyatt at Olive 8 Deluxe King Room

Next to the bed was a small padded bench that could double as either a suitcase rack or as a spot to slip on your shoes. Nearby, a credenza contained a small refrigerator, glassware and coffeemaker.

Hyatt at Olive 8 Open Closet & Storage

Flanking the room’s entrance hall was an open storage unit that contained ample drawer space, generous open shelving, a place to hang your clothes and a safe.

Our room also had a number of convenience features. These included a combination alarm clock and iPod dock …

Hyatt at Olive 8 iPod Dock

… and ample electrical outlets and plugs for electronic devices on the work desk.

Hyatt at Olive 8 Electrical Plugs

However, a few more plugs located on the bed’s nightstands would have been a much appreciated and practical enhancement.

The hotel also participates in the “Hyatt has it” program that allows you to call down for complimentary toiletries, personal grooming items or even coffee or tea.

Hyatt at Olive 8 Hyatt Has It Program

Within 15 minutes of placing my call, an Associate was knocking on the door with my requested items.

The bathroom was bright and modern …

Hyatt at Olive 8 Deluxe King Room Bathroom

… and featured a walk-in shower stall (but no bathtub).

Hyatt at Olive 8 Deluxe King Room Shower

The Hyatt at Olive 8’s warm modernity extended to Urbane, the hotel’s restaurant where we enjoyed breakfast.

Hyatt at Olive 8 Urbane Restaurant Entrance

Hyatt at Olive 8 Urbane Restaurant Dining Area

Service in Urbane was cordial and efficient. We enjoyed the high quality, attractive presentation and generous portions of our breakfast.

Hyatt at Olive 8 Urbane Restaurant Continental Breakfast

Urbane Continental – Yogurt with House Granola & Honey, Fruit & Croissant

Hyatt at Olive 8 Urbane Restaurant My Favorite Scramble

My Favorite Scramble – Goat Cheese, Red Peppers, Scallion, Home Fries, Toast

Hyatt at Olive 8 Urbane Restaurant Bloody Mary

Urbane Bloody Mary – House Infused Rosemary & Pepper Vodka

The Hyatt at Olive 8 served as a comfortable, well-located and stylish base of operations for our first visit to Seattle. The hotel combines a relaxed, modern elegance with the full range of amenities that one would expect from a large urban hotel. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay here again on a future visit to the city.

How about you? Do you have a favorite place to stay when you visit Seattle?