Bruno’s Hotel Must Haves

Bruno’s Hotel Must Haves

Hi, guys! It’s Bruno here! My mommy is super busy filming a movie or something here in LA so I thought I’d write a guest post about what I like in a hotel!

 

The Room

First of all, we need a really big comfy bed for both my mommy and daddy to sleep in. I like to sleep in between them but sometimes I like to sleep at the end so it needs to be able to fit all 3 of us.

  IMG_2606 There should also be LOTS of pillows. I love to sleep on the pillows in the middle of the day because they smell like my parents and sometimes I’ll even bury myself in the big pillow pile! So a least 4 for sure.

IMG_2869I also need a nice big armchair because I’m a small guy. I need to use a chair to get up on the bed all by myself. Plus, an armchair is nice if I want to sleep on that. I like lots of options.

IMG_2508Floor to ceiling windows are great so that I can look outside when I’m home alone. I also love long curtains that I can hide in.

IMG_3253I prefer a shower in the bathroom so that I can go in and drink water leftover from mommy’s shower. I really don’t like bathtubs because that means mommy is going to give me a bath and water is yucky!

I’d also like a fridge because that’s where my parents put my wet food and sometimes tasty things like CHEESE. OH MY GOD CHEESE! And sometimes they have deli meat in there too which is also really tasty.

 

The Hotel

I really hate slippery floors. They make me really nervous that I’m going to fall. So I prefer carpet. I like to run fast on carpet! If it’s a short hotel, I’m happy being close to the stairwell otherwise I need to be close to the elevator. But it can’t stop on any other floors otherwise I’ll try to run out!

There should be a grassy area right outside the door for me to pee on. And lots of doggy smells. I like to smell the other dogs.

I also really like doormen. They’re nice and open the door for me and sometimes they have treats and water bowls.

I really don’t need that much in a hotel but those things make me really happy! So if all hotels could have that, that would be great!

Bruno's Hotel Must Haves. Tips for pet friendly travel including what to look for in a hotel and chains that accept dogs.

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My Mini Vegas Vacay

My Mini Vegas Vacay

The Hotel

2016-08-22 11.29.48When we first decided to go to Vegas, I thought there was no way a casino would allow dogs. I was wrong! There are actually quite a few options and we went with the Delano, which is attached to the Mandalay Bay.

Delano used to be called THEhotel and we were told that it was originally designed to be condos before the housing market went bust. So what they’ve got are all suite hotel rooms – ours was 2 rooms and 1.5 baths. Everything was comfortable inside the room.

Not having a casino was great in that it was very easy to take Bruno outside. If we stayed in a casino, we would’ve had to walk through the casino floor just to get outside. There was a grassy area with poop bags nearby which worked for Bruno.

We were allowed to walk him through the Mandalay Bay casino and found a loop around the pool area that was a good walk for Bruno. (It’s designed as an exercise track for guests but has lots of grassy areas and seemed dog friendly).

2016-08-22 11.24.58The hotel extends the service to dogs as well – with a “Doggie Butler” menu which includes walks and check-ins, as well as room service for the pup. They also gave us a nice treat bag which Bruno devoured.

 

Day One

Bruno and I arrived on Monday and met Adam who was coming from New York. Bruno got settled in the hotel and then we ventured out, taking a walk along the strip and grabbing lunch at Tom’s Urban at New York New York.

We napped for a bit (both on East Coast time and up early) then went to dinner at Aureole. The restaurant is known for its “Wine Angels” who fly between 4 levels of wine to fetch your selected bottle from the iPad list (wines even go up to $14,000!)

4 floors of wine
4 floors of wine

Dinner was DELICIOUS. I had macadamia nut crusted scallops for an appetizer and lamb for my main. Adam had a cheese plate (which he shared with me) and steak. We shared a bottle of Cabernet from South Australia.

Cheese plate
Cheese plate
Macadamia Nut Crusted Diver Scallops
Macadamia Nut Crusted Diver Scallops
Herb crusted lamb chop
Herb crusted lamb chop

After dinner, we were stuffed! So we headed back to the bug and for an early night.

 

Day Two

We knew we were going to have a busy day so we found a doggie daycare just off the strip called Luxe Pet Hotels. It’s very fancy – with private bedrooms for overnight doggie guests and a large indoor-outdoor play area.

After dropping Bruno off for a fun day of play, we went to the Cosmopolitan for breakfast at the Henry. We walked back to the Mandalay Bay and spent some time at the pool. They have an awesome wave pool and lazy river.

After a few hours at the pool, we showered and picked Bruno up from daycare. He had a great day and they were so sweet to send us pictures.

Bruno slept in the room for the rest of the night and we slowly ventured up to the Bellagio. We ate at Lago, outside on the terrace with perfect views of the fountains, which went off every 30 minutes. For dinner, we shared many small plates including a cheese plate, pasta, Caesar salad, steak and ravioli.

After dinner, we saw O – a Cirque du Soleil show I’ve always wanted to see. Even though I’ve been to Vegas before, O has been dark or not worked with my schedule. I’m so glad we got to see it – it was so cool and an enjoyable evening!

After the show, we headed back to the Mandalay Bay for cocktails and dessert at the RX Boiler Room. They have a fun blind ice cream tasting – 8 scoops of mystery ice cream. We also had the smoky cola cake which was super moist and DELICIOUS.

 

Day Three

We left late afternoon, but before we did we took a walk along the strip. Dogs are allowed before 11am. Bruno got a great walk in before our flight and we got some cute pictures.

IMG_3506IMG_3473IMG_3496

What are you favorite things to do in Vegas?

 

My Mini Vegas Vacay. Tips and things to do Las Vegas, including pet friendly hotels, restaurants and attractions including the Las Vegas Strip on a budget.

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5 Ways to Use Those Hotel Toiletries

5 Ways to Use Those Hotel Toiletries

Donate Them

Collect all your toiletries and donate them to a local shelter. It might not mean a lot to you, but a lot of homeless or battered women would love shampoo or soap to use. Some hotels even use luxury brands like MALIN + GOETZ or Le Labo.

Covenant House, YMCA or YWCA shelters are a good place to start or you can try homelesshelterdirectory.org for more shelters near you.

 

Create a Hotel Bathroom for Your House Guests

Keep the hotel toiletries for the next time you have a house guest. Collect the whole set and put it out on a tray (bonus points for a folded washcloth or towel). Your guests visiting on vacation will love the hotel fee.

 

Reuse the Bottles

If you must use your own shampoo, why buy your TSA-approved 3 oz. containers from the store when you can just empty out the freebies and refill with your own toiletries. Not only will this save you money, but you’ll be able to use your same products while on vacation.

 

Throw the lotion in all your bags

I am constantly re-applying lotion and the hotel lotions are the perfect size to throw in every bag I own so no matter where I am, I have lotion with me.

 

Use Them at the Gym

They’re the perfect size to keep in your gym bag. Some hotels even have individual makeup wipes – another great item to throw in your bag for a post-work workout.

 

5 Ways to Use Those Hotel Toiletries. Tips for repurposing soaps and shampoos from hotel bathrooms.

Traveling with Chronic Illness

Traveling with Chronic Illness

Warning: this post is gonna be real. But I want to share so that others traveling with chronic illness can gain confidence.

There may be only a couple dozen or so people in my life who know my secret. It’s hard for me to talk about because it was one of my darkest points in life and continues to be an all day, every day struggle. I don’t want anyone to ever think I can’t do something because of my illness or worse, that it doesn’t exist. So I keep it at a secret because I know what my body can do and when it’s had enough.

15 years ago I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or to be more specific, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS). At 13, I had a horrible week with Bronchitis and never bounced back. After many a doctor visit with a lot of skeptical doctors, I was diagnosed. Read More

My Stay at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham

My Stay at the 21C Museum Hotel in Durham

I first came across the 21C Museum Hotels in Louisville, KY. I was visiting a friend of mine there who suggested we check out the art gallery in the hotel. An art gallery? In a hotel?! 

Outside the 21C Museum Hotel in Louisville
Outside the 21C in Louisville

It. Was. Awesome. The exhibit was modern with a mix of all art mediums including video. My favorite was Peter Sarkisian’s Puddle, which included video and audio.

Since then, I’ve always wanted to stay at a 21C Museum Hotel, located in select cities (Louisville, Cincinnati, Bentonville, Durham, Lexington & Oklahoma City). So when the Durham location was one of my company housing options in Durham, I had to stay there. Read More

Staying Connected While Traveling Internationally

Staying Connected While Traveling Internationally

A year ago, I traveled to Australia and decided to rely solely on Wifi for phone access. I went crazy! I was always checking for public Wifi and as soon as I got home, I had to check in with the world. Needless to stay, this drove my husband nuts!

So when I went to Canada for work, I had a game plan on how to stay connected. Here are my tips:

 

Research International Plans

CN Tower in Toronto
CN Tower in Toronto

Check out what your phone plan offers first – you might be surprised. I have Verizon and chose the one month Canada & Mexico 100 Talk, Text & Data which gives me exactly that – 100 minutes, 100 texts, 100 MB data for $15.

If I wanted to use my phone like usual in the US, I could pay $2/day. Since I knew I could jump on Wifi at home and at work, I decided the 100 plan could work for me.

If you’re going international, I definitely recommend looking at what your options are. 100 MB isn’t much, but was helpful if I was out and about and really needed data.

 

Public Wifi

If you’re in a public place, check to see if there’s an open Wifi network. If you’re in a restaurant and there’s a password, ask your waiter. Starbucks and McDonald’s always have free Wifi, and any coffee shop can be a good bet.

Some hotel lobbies will have a free Wifi network and seating areas so you can sneak in and use the Wifi for a bit, even if you aren’t a guest.

I’ve heard that checking out the comments on Foursquare often will give you the Wifi password but I don’t use Foursquare and checking in in the first place will require data usage.

Don’t forget that a lot of government or city buildings will have free Wifi, especially the library. Some cities even have city wide internet. In Calgary, I was able to use their ShawOpen network for 30 minute guest sessions.

 

Download offline maps

Offline Google Maps are a great hack when traveling internationallyDownloading Google Maps so I can access them offline saved my life. Before I went to each city, I downloaded the map. I was amazed that even without data or Wifi, the blue dot knew where I was and I could get navigational directions.

I had a rental car in Edmonton, and the offline maps saved my life. I was able to get directions to wherever I needed to go, search for the nearest Starbucks, and never be lost.

 

Use Messaging apps like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger

If you don’t have a lot of text messages in your plan, you can supplement with a messaging app that uses Wifi. I personally used Facebook Messenger, which I already occasionally use in the States. It works very much like text messages without using any of my data/texts.

 

Skype for phone calls

In additional to video chatting, Skype allows you to call cell phones and land lines as well, even if the recipient doesn’t have Skype. There are multiple plan options and you can call using your own phone or computer.

 

How do you stay connected while traveling?

3 Top Hotel Rewards Programs Explained

3 Top Hotel Rewards Programs Explained

Over the last 2 years, I have stayed at every major hotel chain and am a member of all rewards programs. I’ve counted my nights and points and have worked my way up to the top tier of a few. Here is my rundown and how to get ahead!

 

HHonors (Hilton)

Includes: Waldorf Astoria, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hampton Inn, Homewood Suites & Home2 (aside from the obvious Hilton properties)

Where I’m At: Diamond (top level)

 

Run Down: 4 levels – Blue, Silver, Gold & Diamond

 

Blue – Automatic when you sign up

Silver – after 4 stays or 10 nights

Gold – after 20 stays, 40 nights or 75k base points

Diamond – after 30 stays, 60 nights or 120k base points.

 

Since I live in hotels, I reached diamond status by staying 60 nights. If you have a Hilton credit card, you’ll probably gain this status pretty easily too.

 

The biggest perk to going up tiers is really just the bonus points. For example, at the diamond status you get a 50% bonus on all base points you receive. So for 150% for each stay, you’ll quickly rack up the points for your free nights.

photo taken from hotel website
Photo taken from hotel website

How Do You Get Free Nights? We’re going to stay at the Home2 Suites in Orlando which is just 6 miles from Disney World and includes a free shuttle. It’s only 30,000 points a night, and my points will get me 3 free nights.

 

Marriott Rewards

Includes: Renaissance, Residence Inn, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn, Springhill Suites, Autograph Collection (Grand Bohemian Hotels, Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, etc.), TownePlace Suites, Ritz-Carlton

Where I’m At: Silver (bottom of 3 levels)

 

Run Down: 3 levels – Silver, Gold & Platinum

 

Silver – after 10 nights

Gold – after 50 nights

Platinum – after 75 nights

 

The rewards program is so-so. It’s benefits are similar to Hilton but it’s kind of a bummer that the only way to move up is by number of nights. So for example, with Hilton you could stay at a Hilton property for 1 night only 4 different times and get Silver status (so only 4 nights), you HAVE to stay the specific number of nights to move up. So in order to reach platinum, you have to stay at a Marriot property for two and a half months in the whole year to reach Platinum. Unless you live in hotels like me (and I STILL have never reached platinum), this can be pretty tricky.

 

Will the Marriott Rewards credit card help you? I’m not sure. You get 15 credits towards your Elite membership each year which puts you into the Silver category and then you get 1 credit for every $3000 in purchases. In order to get to Gold, you still need 35 nights so it will still take you some time or a stupid amount of money.

 

How Do you Get Free Nights? For a stay in New Orleans, one night is also 30,000 points but I only have enough points for one night out of our stay.

Photo taken from hotel website
Photo taken from hotel website

SPG

Includes: Sheraton, Westin, St. Regis, W Hotels, Aloft, Four Points

Where I’m At: Preferred

 

Run Down: 3 levels – Preferred, Gold, & Platinum

 

Preferred – when you sign up

Gold – 10 stays or 25 nights

Platinum – 25 stays or 50 nights

 

Platinum requires less stays or nights than the other brands which makes it much easier to get ahead PLUS with all the Sheraton hotels as well as the other luxury brands in its collection, you should be OK.

 

How Do You Get Free Nights? With rooms 10,000-20,000 points per night, this program seems to be your best bet.

 

Please note that in November 2015 Marriott announced that it would buy the Starwood hotel chain so the rewards program is expected to combine – but bonus to you, it will be the largest hotel chain so lots of opportunities to move ahead!

4 Favorite Weekend Getaways from NYC

4 Favorite Weekend Getaways from NYC

Newport, RI – if I could live here, I would

The stunning cliff walk
The stunning cliff walk

How to Get There: Drive (3 hours)

Where to Stay: Gilded – a boutique B&B within walking distance to the town. Fun décor and delicious breakfast!

What to Do: Cliff Walk, Newport Mansion tours, relax, walk around the adorable town

The Breakers
The Breakers

Where to Eat: 22 Bowen’s (romantic dinner)

View of the marina from the town
View of the marina from the town

Roxbury, NY – town where I got married!

GORGEOUS views in Roxbury, NY
GORGEOUS views in Roxbury, NY

How to Get There: Drive (3 hours)

Where to Stay: The Roxbury Motel – THE coolest hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Themed rooms and stunning mountain views

Amadeus' Bride - a fitting room for an actual bride
Amadeus’ Bride – a fitting room for an actual bride
The Wizard's Emeralds
The Wizard’s Emeralds

What to Do: Summer – hiking, kayaking, all the outdoor activities. Winter – skiing or staying in

Where to Eat: Peekamoose (for dinner), Phoenicia Diner (for breakfast)

2014-06-23 12.30.35

East Hampton, NY – go in the winter!

IMG_1671How to Get There: Hampton Jitney

Where to Stay: Mill House Inn – possibly the most expensive B&B I’ve ever stayed at (and that’s in the OFF season) but the rooms (& baths) are oh so relaxing, the cookie & snack bar is amazing and the breakfast is INCREDIBLE. Get the lobster frittata!

French Toast at the Mill House Inn
French Toast at the Mill House Inn

What to Do: The Beach, explore East Hampton or neighboring Hampton towns, shopping, relax in the incredible rooms, take a bath in the gigantic bathtubs

Where to Eat: Honestly, one breakfast + the complimentary snacks can last you the whole day (did I mention how amazing the breakfast is?)

 

Atlantic City, NJ – bear with me, totally trashy but so close

IMG_1809How to Get There: Bus from Penn Station (2.5 hours)

Where to Stay: Since the Revel closed (which housed my favorite spa – still to this day), stay at the Borgata. It’s off the boardwalk and has the Las Vegas feel without having to get on a plane.

What to Do: If all of the amenities of the Borgata aren’t enough, it’s an easy cab ride to the boardwalk for some great people watching or you can head to the outlets

Drinks at the Borgota
Drinks at the Borgota

Where to Eat: If you want to venture outside of the resort, check out the Irish Pub (off the Boardwalk) or Scales Grill & Deck Bar for outdoor drinking (bonus points for pet friendly!)

Drinks on the AC Boardwalk
Drinks on the AC Boardwalk