sojourneys


The Holiday Inn Los Angeles International Airport

This was my first stay at the Holiday Inn Los Angeles International Airport, and it was everything I imagined an airport hotel situated near LAX would be — a relatively aged property, high on functionality, low on aesthetics.

The hotel is designed to facilitate a short stay for those who need little more than a convenient place to turnaround before the next flight.  This is especially crucial for LAX, because what is ordinarily an hour’s drive to the frenetic airport could easily turn into a two-hour nightmare on the infamous choke-a-bloc Los Angeles freeways.

There is a constellation of all the major hotels around LAX, and airline crew retiring from their flights for the day before reporting for the following day’s routes are a constant feature in the lobby of the Holiday Inn.  There is a small pool and a meager fitness room comprising a couple of treadmills and eplliptical machines that are not worth the walk out from the lobby into an adjacent compound.



The Holiday Inn Ontario Airport
December 31, 2010, 6:30 am
Filed under: Holiday Inn, hotels | Tags: , , ,

The Holiday Inn Ontario Airport is a fairly new property, and it shows.  But the best feature of the hotel is not its mint condition, but the friendly staff that seemed full of genuine enthusiasm for their job.  From the front desk staff who handled the late night check-in with cheer to the restaurant server who explained the breakfast offerings, to the employee who handled the check-out with aplomb (“What could we have done to make your stay better, other than making it free?”), their attitude exemplified friendly hospitality and professionalism.

The rooms are clean and comfortable.  There is complimentary WiFi, and best of all, there is a rate that comes with a US$20 breakfast voucher that offers a wide variety of morning nourishments that should please diverse palates from the decadent bacon-and-eggs traditionalists to those who prefer the healthier fruit-plate-and-yogurt.

I am not sure that I am a fan of the line of toiletries from Bath & BodyWorks that features a Coconut Lime fragrance that lingers on the body as if one has just returned from an extended Copacabana vacation.  On the other hand, the rooms look out to the majestic San Bernadino mountains, and the hotel is but a mile away from the Ontario Airport.



The Hyatt Place Ontario Mills
December 30, 2010, 6:23 pm
Filed under: hotels, Hyatt | Tags: , , ,

After staying in more than five hotels over a span of 11 days on swing through the western and midwestern U.S., I have to say that the Hyatt Place Ontario Mills was one of the most difficult to review.  This is because each Hyatt Place is literally a replica of of another, down to the vases that they place in the lobby.  How do you review blocks of Lego placed next to each other?

Still, Hyatt’s attempt to reach mid-level business and leisure travellers without fat expense accounts must be commended.  Each Hyatt Place property features spacious rooms with sleeping and living areas, a microwave oven in each room, 42″ flat panel HDTV, complimentary WiFi, and complimentary continental breakfast.  But at the Hyatt Place Ontario Mills, it was the breakfast that could use some improvement.  In LAX where many need to be on the road in the early dawn to avoid its notorious massive traffic gridlock, the property chooses to start breakfast service at a tardy 6:30 a.m.  Even starting it 30 minutes earlier would have been more customer friendly.  The other feature that could use some enhancement is the fitness room, which has nothing more than a couple of treadmills.

All-in-all, the Hyatt Place Ontario Mills is located near some great amenities, such as the gargantuan Ontario Mills outlet mall and the Ontario International Airport, one of the few airports where flyers can treat themselves to some visual candy as the waiting areas look out to the dramatic ascent of the San Bernadino Mountains.



The Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel

Even though Marriott has been trying to reposition its Renaissance group of hotels as an upmarket boutique brand, wayfarers thinking about making the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel their abode should be aware that at this property, housekeeping means precious little beyond tucking up the bedsheets and changing used towels.

This was the state of the room I returned to after a day trekking about town.  The toiletries, which had been nearly depleted, were not replenished.  Used disposable cups were not replaced.  The ironing board and iron remain oodly placed next to the bed where they were left in the morning.  Even the stray TV remote control, which was thrown on the edge of the bed, remained in its precarious position after so-called housekeeping service.  In short, practically nothing seemed to have been tidied beyond literally tucking up the bedsheets and changing the towels.

This is such a shame because the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel, set in the foothills of the majestic San Jacinto Mountains, enjoys a prime location in downtown Palm Springs, has a great pool and lively pool scene, a gym with an array of machines that cover the core, and is well-connected to the charming and eclectic city with a glamorous history as a retreat of choice for the Hollywood jetset.



The Renaissance Agoura Hills
December 29, 2010, 7:01 am
Filed under: California, hotels, Renaissance | Tags: , ,

The Renaissance Agoura Hills Hotel is described by Marriott on its website as “lavishly appointed.”  While I think the adjective is a bit of a hyperbole, the hotel is indeed comfortable, with all the amenities one would expect of a four-star property.  The location is excellent, near large multinationals and colossal malls (The Oaks and Camarillo Premium Outlets) alike.

The lobby is spacious, and leads to an outdoor swimming pool (the weather was too wet and frigid to permit a dip) as well as an adequately-equipped fitness center that was divided into two rooms (one for cardio equipments such as treadmills and ellipticals, and the other for weight resistance machines).  The rooms view out into the hills that form the base of the Santa Monica mountains, drawing in peaceful serenity.

The sheets were clean and comfortable, and front desk staff friendly and efficient.  All-in-all, the Renaissance Agoura Hills would make a great springboard to Los Angeles’ constellation of attractions.



Hyatt Regency Wichita Revisited
December 27, 2010, 5:07 am
Filed under: hotels, Hyatt | Tags: , , ,

Exactly six months ago to the day, I reviewed the Hyatt Regency Wichita.  At that time, the lobby was undergoing a major makeover.  That revamp has since been completed, as evidenced in my return one day after Christmas.  In place of an ornate reception reminiscent of a bygone era two decades ago is an airy, contemporary lobby featuring clean lines, fuss-free furniture, and plenty of corners for that tête à tête.

Stay Fit@Hyatt facilities at the Hyatt Regency Wichita include a heated indoor pool and a serviceable fitness room, which while not comprehensive, is sufficient for the purpose of trimming the pounds gained over the Christmas holidays (or business lunches).

The rooms, featuring a classic American decor, are certainly comfortable and inviting.  That being said, bed linens with higher threadcounts in line with those found in international Hyatt properties wsuch as the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok would certainly be welcome.  On the other hand, the Portico Spa toiletries featuring the White Ginger range is a step above the generic amenities used in Grand Hyatt porperties in Asia such as Bangkok and Jakarta, and cannot be faulted.

Despite its strengths, room service could be improved.  The newspaper was not delivered to the room in the morning as promised, and when given the feedback at checkout, there was no apology.