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Charlyn Keating

Charlyn\'s Hotels Blog


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Getting Appy with Your Favorite Hotel Chains

Tuesday May 27, 2014

In more news that promises to make hotel reservation operators obsolete any day now, your phone is more useful than ever thanks to mobile apps for nearly every major hotel chain. Offered by chains as diverse as Ritz-Carlton and Best Western, these apps make everything from booking your room to finding hotels within range (using your phone's GPS capabilities) as easy as the slide of a finger.  Read our mini guide to hotel apps to see what you can expect when you get onboard with your favorite hotel chains app.

Image courtesy The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort

Hotels with the Best Bathroom Views

Thursday May 22, 2014

Bathroom at Punta Tragara

Is there anything more decadent than soaking in a bath tub scrolling through the day's travel tales in your mind with a view, say, of the Eiffel Tower or towering mountains reflecting back at you? We say no. If you ask us, the view from a hotel room's bathroom can often be just as rewarding as the views you enjoy from the bedroom itself - and all the more so when an extra-large soaking tub is involved in the equation.

For some of the best hotel bathroom views in the world, follow our lead to these fine properties that seriously value bathroom bling: Hotels with the Best Bathroom Views.

Summer Vacation: Where to Go in 2014

Wednesday May 14, 2014

Garden Pool Villa at Banyan Tree Mayakoba

Haven't planned your summer vacation yet? If you're too busy to do it, it's a sign you really need a break. You've worked really hard lately. Don't you deserve it? Take at least a week (more if you can) and step away from the everyday pressures and routines. You'll come back refreshed and, chances are, with plenty of good ideas to work on when you come back.

If you're on a budget, you can still make it happen. Pick a place closer to home. Better yet, find an all-inclusive deal so your credit card won't take any unexpected hits. Now all that's left is to pick a place. I've got you covered. Here's where to go on summer vacation in 2014.

Big Changes at Disney World

Wednesday May 7, 2014

I live pretty much next door to Disney World, and am lucky enough to go there as often as I like. Yet I am always amazed at how often the little things change -- a new great snack here, a fabulous tequila bar there -- even as the classic experience remains the same.

But this year, Disney World is introducing major changes. Technology is poised to give your vacation experience a big boost. Yet in classic Disney style, nods to the nostalgic are in there too. Here's a peek at what's new in the World:

A MagicBand at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida

Disney has replaced locks on 25,000+ hotel rooms with RFID readers that open with the tap of your Mickey Mouse wristband, called a MagicBand. It's part of MyMagic+, a brand-new system of managing your trip with fewer lines and more fun. Think of it as Fastpass 2.0.  You tap the Mickey Mouse symbol to RFID readers that have been installed at every park entry, souvenir shop, restaurant and attraction. Use your MagicBand to gain access to the theme parks, pay for every Mickey ice cream bar and stuffed animal, and skip the lines at the attractions.

You can set up Fastpass+ times for your family and friends in advance of your visit using the dedicated web site or Disney's app. Once in the parks, a tap of the MagicBand at the Fastpass+ entrance to an attraction lets you skip the lines. When you've used your times, you can reserve more spots at kiosks in the parks or (soon) within the app.
Read up on our best MyMagic+ tips.

Disney's Polynesian Village Resort

Polynesian Village
Disney's Polynesian Resort has always been a nostalgic favorite at Disney World. I remember staying there with my family when it was one of only three hotels, and it's name was the Polynesian Village Resort. As part of a renovation, it's returning to it's original name. Guest rooms and the lobby will be renovated. The best part? Orlando will be getting a Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, modeled after the Trader Sam's at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. Hopefully they'll incorporate a lot of the fun touches the original has, like bar stools that slowly sink to the ground (confusing when you're been drinking a few of their specialty cocktails) and scenes on the wall that come to life when certain drinks are ordered. I'm thrilled to see this fun experience come to Orlando.

Grumpy Cat at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in New Fantasyland

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
I'll admit, I was a bit sad when they closed down Snow White's Scary Adventures to put up a princess meet-and-greet. The ride was one of the few I could always get my kids on--never a line, and despite the name, not a bit scary (at least, for my little guys). Snow White has a new ride, and I'm happy to say, it's amazing. It's a fun, smooth roller coaster that rocks you from side to side and slows down in the mines so you can savor an absolutely adorable scene of the seven dwarfs singing their signature songs amidst colorful, shining gemstones. Snow White makes a cameo appearance at the end.

It's not for the tiniest of children (the height requirement is 38 inches, about the size of a 3 or 4 year old), but it's not as loud as Big Thunder Mountain or as high-up as Goofy's Barnstormer. It's a great starter roller coaster, and an excellent centerpiece for New Fantasyland. It officially opens May 28.
Read our detailed review of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.



Is It Worth the Risk? How to Get a Smart Deal on Hotwire

Thursday May 1, 2014

Our newest guest author Alex Schwartz checks in today with 5 Things You Must Know Before Booking Hotels on Hotwire. "What you may not know about the Hotwire booking process," he says, "can make all the difference between getting a great hotel, or checking into a disappointment." Tip #3 alone might save you from a big disappointment down the road.

Image courtesy Z NYC Hotel

Have You Met Hotel Tonight?

Thursday April 24, 2014

Flamingo Las Vegas Swimming Pool

Perfect for finding last minute hotel deals during a road trip, a surprise evening away or even in a pinch with a cancelled flight when the airline won't cover putting you up for the night, HotelTonight is one of those travel apps that savvy travelers swear by. And if you haven't heard of it then there's an even better reason to take notice: the app's new "Look Ahead" feature that forecasts upcoming prices to give you a heads-up on deals down the road. Get to know HotelTonight.

Image courtesy Harrah's License Company, LLC

Five Fabulous Hotels Near or in the National Parks

Thursday April 24, 2014

Summertime means family road trips. And what greater American pilgrimage than a journey that takes you cross-country and up and down the glorious coasts on a tour of America's spectacular national parks?  If you love the idea of getting close to nature but want to bed down in civilization, choose one of the country's iconic- or just plain inviting - hotels in America's backyard.  Five Fabulous Hotels Near or in the National Parks

Image copyright Charlyn Keating, licensed to About.com

Sip, Shop and Savor: The Langham Place Hong Kong

Wednesday April 16, 2014

The Langham Place Hong Kong stands right in the heart of busy, busy Mongkok, attached to a multi-story high-end shopping mall filled with designer and high-end shops. When the hotel opened in Mongkok nearly a decade ago, it was described as an "art gallery masquerading as a hotel." The shopping districts surrounding the hotel, with everything from antique reproductions to high-end designer goods, have to be seen to be believed. There's even a multi-story, 200-store mall attached to the hotel. Afterwards, indulge in some balancing of your elements via the techniques from Traditional Chinese Medicine practiced in the Chaun Spa, and dine in the two-Michelin-star Ming Court. Sip, shop and savor at Langham Place Mongkok, Hong Kong.

Image copyright Charlyn Keating, licensed to About.com

5 things to love about 88 Xintiandi

Tuesday April 15, 2014

In the midst of European-style tree-lined boulevards dotted with designer stores stands a boutique hotel with a truly personal touch. 88 Xintiandi captures the feel of a residence right from the lobby; in the center of the wood floor is inlaid a tile mosaic salvaged from an old Chinese home. That's just the start of the charm within this old-style hotel within new and flashy Xintiandi. Here are just a few things I love about 88 Xintiandi.

Image copyright Charlyn Keating, licensed to About.com

Heaven on Earth: The Langham Xintiandi Shanghai

Monday April 14, 2014

View from the Bund in Shanghai

I was able to cross two destinations off my travel wish list that had been added ages ago: Shanghai and Hong Kong. Exploring them for just a brief time, I realized something. No sooner had I checked them off my wish list, I added them to another list: places I hope to return to, and soon.

Shanghai is one of those places in the world that captures the imagination of travelers. Exploring Shanghai, you'll find a city that embraces modern aesthetics and can even look futuristic in places, alongside enduring ancient traditions and vestiges of the recent past that have yet to be erased by progress. In the heart of Xintiandi stands theLangham Shanghai, a beacon of Western hospitality. I can think of no better place to start your exploration of Shanghai.

Image copyright Charlyn Keating, licensed to About.com


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