Monthly Archives: November 2017

Staying at a Hotel during a Special Occasion?

We recently took a trip to Maui and had made reservations to stay at the Hyatt Regency in Maui using points and miles.  This stay was for the four days leading up to a big birthday for me.  Although I wasn’t at the hotel the exact day of my birthday I still wanted to celebrate while there.  Not being home I knew that I wouldn’t have any cards or cake which was fine but I still wanted to celebrate it.

It was suggested to me that I let the hotel know.  To do it, I first googled the name of the general manager and knew that for Hyatt employees their email address is first name.last name@hyatt.com.  I wrote and told them it was my birthday trip, that it was a difficult birthday for me and wondered if they could do something to make it memorable for me. I gave them my dates, my booking number and my Globalist number.  I didn’t ask for an upgrade or anything special other than perhaps a note welcoming us to the hotel.

A few days later I had a response from the assistant to the general manager that they would take care of us.  I was anxious to see what this would mean.

When we arrived we were upgraded to a ocean view corner suite with two balconies.  There was a bottle of champagne in the mini refrigerator, and a gift basket on the console as well as a birthday card signed by about twelve employees.  In the basket was a jar of macadamia nuts, a large box of chocolate covered macadamia, 2 boxes of popcorn with macadamia nuts, 2 cans of tropical juice, a box of cookies, a bag of Maui potato chips.  There was also a platter with four delicious and flavorful cupcakes on a platter that had Happy Birthday written in chocolate with a raspberry jam filled heart.  What a wonderful welcome to Maui. I promptly wrote a thank you to to the woman whose card was in my basket.  I also went to the front desk to see if I could personally thank her and although she was not able to come to the lobby, I did speak with her by telephone to express my surprise and thanks.

While we were making plans for our trip to  Maui our oldest son and his wife were doing the same thing during the same time period only they were going to Kauai.  They too were staying at the Grand Hyatt there.  This is the first time they have been away without their two children.  To mark this special occasion I wrote to the general manager of the Grand Hyatt Kauai.  I explained how it was special for them and could he do something memorable for them.  My son has no status at all yet the general manager reached out to  them with a platter of cheese, crackers, fruit and a bottle of  wine.

From Maui we flew to San Diego and stayed at the Manchester – Grand Hyatt in San Diego.  I had also written the General Manager there as well since I would be arriving on my birthday.  They outdid themselves.  We were upgraded to an extremely large suite with a small kitchenette, a dining room, living room and our bedroom.  The room had floor to ceiling windows and we were overlooking the bay and the Coronado Bridge.  About an hour after we checked in the doorbell rang (yes, we had a doorbell) and there was room service holding a large tray with a bottle of champagne, and the most beautiful cake I had seen in a very long time.  The cakes was three layers covered in whipped cream with fresh fruits and fresh flowers on top.  A white chocolate “plaque” was in front and it said Happy Birthday.  On the tray was candles, matches and a cake cutter.  It was truly amazing.

 

Hotels want to please their guests particularly when they are celebrating something special.  Let them know about your special day, just not the day before, and I’m sure they will do something special for you.

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Car Rentals in Hawaii – a Great Discount Site

Most everyone who flies to Hawaii rents a car.  With it being a popular destination, I have found that prices for car rentals can be very expensive.

With our recent trip to Maui, we needed a car to drive from the airport to our hotel and around the island, particularly the Road to Hana.  I had checked prices with Auto Slash and had booked a car with them.  I did get updates if they found a less expensive price.  Then I remember what we did a few years ago when we were last there.  We went through Discount Hawaii Car Rental.  We had a mid size car for 4 days for $123.  I thought that was a great price and we made our reservation.  Like Expedia, Orbitz they are third party intermediaries and our car rental actually was with Thrifty.  When I checked a few weeks before our trip at Costco, the same car was about $450 which reinforced the idea that I got a good rate.  I did book it about two months prior to our arrival.

Where do you rent a car from when in Hawaii?  Do you have a special strategy?

 

Global Entry – An Easier Way to Schedule Your Interview

Many of our friends were surprised that we did not have global entry and to be honest, so am I.  Not living in close proximity to an airport where you could schedule an interview seemed to be my main obstacle.  Yes, we do go to the metro DC area and could schedule one at either Washington Dulles or National Airport but I just never did.  Everything that I had heard about these airports was that they had long waits for interviews – months and months long.

I was speaking with my stepson earlier this month and he was flying to another location to get his Global Entry rather than his home airport.  That gave me an idea and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it before.  Why not just go to another airport.  As we go to northern Michigan once a year  I knew I would be driving past Detroit Metropolitan Airport on my drive.  I called the contact telephone number at Detroit and they told me that I had to first fill out the application online, a background check would be conducted and that would take about 3 weeks.  Once that was completed, I could call them and set up an interview which could take place about a week later.

Feeling gleeful with this news, I quickly filled out the Global Entry application and my husband did his as well.  Imagine my complete surprise when we were notified four days later that we could go ahead and make the appointment for our 15 minute interview.

We sat down at the kitchen table today to look at our calendar and see when a good date would be to set up our interview.  As I went back online to find the photo number of the office at the airport, I happened to scroll a little further down the screen.  I found that they had a NEXUS office in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan which was a lot closer to us.  I called them up and they gave us an appointment for the next day!  This isn’t even an airport but is by an international bridge into Canada.  From filling out the application to scheduling the appointment, it was been nine days.

I know that most of you are not going to be near an international bridge but if you live near one, see if they can give you an interview faster than at the airport.

We did drive up to Sault Ste. Marie, went into the office and had our “interview”.  It was extremely easy and I am kicking myself that I didn’t do it earlier.

At the Chicago Seminars that I attended  in October, I was sitting at breakfast with Greg, known as the Frequent Miler who writes a great blog on our hobby.  I was telling him about our experience at the bridge at the Soo.  He wondered if they had one in the Buffalo area as he was going to help his niece get her Global Entry.  I looked it up and quickly found that there were two – one in Buffalo and one in Niagara.  To be honest, these locations are not where you would expect them to be.  Most people go here to find locations but I found the other locations by going here.

If you decide to get Global Entry, which also gives you TSA Pre check, look beyond airports particularly if you can get to a state that is bordering another country – it just might be faster.