The Hotelion

With efficient traveling, hotel & deal analysis, and economic perspectives, Daniel makes your travel money go farther.

ALERT: Passport Fee Increase Coming in April!

Premise This article in Conde Nast Traveler alerted me that the passport fee (“execution fee”) will increase on April 2nd, from $25 to $35, a 40% increase. According to the State Department, it is due to the “increased cost of processing applications” and “is in line with cost increases for both the [State] Department and USPS. The last fee change was in 2008, when the cost was lowered from $30 to $25. Perhaps back then it was during a recession in which people were hurting financially.   Details This passport fee increase is only for the processing/execution, and applies to the...

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Food & Hotel Review: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas

My standard hotel reviews include a breakdown by the following topics. Feel free to skip to whichever section you find most interesting. Highlights Lobby & Check-in Room Hotel Space / Ambiance Food & Drink Fitness Miscellaneous   HIGHLIGHTS: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas This was my first stay at the Mandalay ever, and it was a very interesting experience. Highlights include their nice (and free) tram system, connecting the Mandalay Bay with Excalibur and Luxor. Other than that, there wasn’t anything that stood out in a positive or especially negative way.   LOBBY & CHECK-IN Note that...

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Comped Hotel Review: SLS Las Vegas, a Tribute Portfolio Resort

My standard hotel reviews include a breakdown by the following topics. Feel free to skip to whichever section you find most interesting. Highlights Lobby & Check-in Room Hotel Space / Ambiance Food & Drink Fitness Miscellaneous   HIGHLIGHTS: SLS Las Vegas, a Tribute Portfolio Resort My second stay at the SLS Las Vegas, comped through play during my first, was vastly different. Not only was service on par with last time (resulting in plenty of frustration), I did not receive any Platinum benefits as it was a comped room. None the less, the food was again, decent, and I...

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FREE PROMOTION ENTRY: Win Marriott Hotel 3 Night Stay or Complete Marriott Bedding Set – or Both!

Premise In an email today, Marriott announced a free promotion and giveaway for people to enter. You can win either a three night stay at any Marriott Hotel or a Marriott Bedding Set, or if you are a Rewards Member, you can win both! Get up to five additional entries for subscribing to affiliated hotel brand mailing lists. There is no cost to enter, and no cost to signing up for Marriott Rewards. Free promotion and free entry, no reason not to sign up. This is to promote their bedding and physical goods sales, and the various websites. I do...

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SLS Las Vegas Denied My Starwood Benefits?

This is not the standard hotel review, only about the benefits I was denied. The hotel review will be a separate post.   Customer Service Hilarity: SLS Las Vegas Casino, Luxury Boutique Hotel I received a mailer from my last stay at the SLS Las Vegas, for a $10 free bet, $10 dining credit, and one complimentary room night from Sunday to Thursday. Cool, I thought, and I made plans for a quick weekend jaunt, especially as there was no resort fee! However, upon my arrival, I was disappointed to find that Starwood benefits (my damn Platinum status lasts two...

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Tropical Paradise: Atlantis-Themed Bahamian Experience!

This guest post is written and sponsored by Atlantis Bahamas, and is not the work of The Hotelion, who does not validate or endorse this product, service, or writing.   Are the Bahamas the ultimate tropical paradise? Those who visited can’t seem to forget the otherworldly beauty of turquoise waters and golden sand. The islands have always been a favorite American getaway, situated only 55* miles (hat tip to Jim Miles for the correction) to as the crow flies from the southern coast of Florida, offering enchantments of nature and the best kind of entertainment to foster a dream...

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Trump (Hotels) Goes to War with Marriott, Kicks Out Executives

I assume Panama looks something like the above. I was going to use Trump Hotel photos from the website, but this was probably safer.   Premise Trump Hotels, which the President has not divested from, has engaged in a lawsuit battle over management rights of a luxury hotel in Panama. With lawsuits and accusations flying in both directions between Trump Hotels & Marriott International, tensions are high. Also, the President’s low approval ratings in the US, let alone in Central and Latin America, leads to poorer-than-expected business performance. This touches upon a murky, previously uncharted territory of how American...

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Hotel Review: MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino

My standard hotel reviews include a breakdown by the following topics. Feel free to skip to whichever section you find most interesting. Highlights Lobby & Check-in Room Hotel Space / Ambiance Food & Drink Fitness Miscellaneous   HIGHLIGHTS: MGM Grand Las Vegas Hotel & Casino My stay at MGM Grand, through the Crown & Anchor Society, was an interesting experience. Their ridiculous $30+tax per night resort fee was paired with favorable hotel rates and a $150 food & beverage credit. Due to some miscommunication on their end, a small issue in my room, and my negotiation ability, I was...

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Now You Can Book KIMPTON Hotels With IHG Points & Certificates!

Premise From r/churning comes a valuable thread on IHG & Kimpton. You can now book the boutique KIMPTON hotels using IHG points and IHG Free Night Certificates. This is very exciting for me, since IHG has been kind of dull for me lately. I’ve had only mediocre or extremely negative experiences at high-end IHG hotels in the past, but Kimpton’s service for my one experience was quite nice, a breath of fresh air.   Kimpton Karma Benefits The benefits below vary based on IHG level, but Raid The Bar on anything higher than the free Club level is quite...

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Hawaiian Airlines Launches Honolulu to Long Beach Service, Other Routes!

Premise In a release to the press, Hawaiian Airlines said it plans to start nonstop flights between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Long Beach, California, starting end of May, on its new Airbus A321neo aircraft.   Details The plane seats under 200 passengers, and leaves Honolulu 12:30pm and arrives in Long Beach at 9pm. It returns from Long Beach starting beginning of June at 8:30am, and arrives in Honolulu 11:40am.   Comparables  – Hawaiian Airlines A couple random date checks show there to be no current nonstop flights between HNL and LGB, with minimum one stop flights taking ten hours or more per...

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