April 23, 2015

Four Seasons Resort Hualalai Announces Best Values of the Year

If you're planning a trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, you need to know about the great values being offered at Four Seasons Resort Hualalai.  If you have flexibility in your schedule, you can time your trip to get the lowest rates of the year, a resort credit, and Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities if you book through me.

The absolute lowest rates of the year are for travel in September and October, if you book by June 30 for at least 5 nights.  (Other value dates are June 20 – 30 and November 7 – 20.)
Beautiful views from all the rooms
In fall, Ocean Golf rooms start at $645/night, and this deal can be combined with the Resort Credit Promotion, also requiring a minimum 5 night stay.  Here are all the dates the resort credit is available for the various room categories:

Suites - $1000 credit
Apr 20 – Jun 30, 2015
Aug 22 – Nov 20, 2015
Nov 28 – Dec 18, 2015

Ocean-View Room, Prime Ocean-View, Oceanfront - $500 credit
May 03 – May 31, 2015
Jun 20 – Nov 20, 2015
Nov 28 – Dec 18, 2015

Ocean-View Golf, Poolside, Partial Ocean-View - $250 credit
Aug 22 – Nov 20, 2015
Nov 28 – Dec 18, 2015
Lava rock shower!
Families can get 50% off a second room on these dates:

Apr 20 – Jun 30, 2015
Aug 22 – Nov 20, 2015

Nov 28 – Dec 18, 2015

And don't forget that the Kids for All Season program, for ages 5-12, is complimentary!

Want to golf every day?  Then check out the Unlimited Golf package, which requires a 3 night minimum stay:

Unlimited daily golf for two guests with each night purchased, including access to the driving range and a shared cart, and daily buffet breakfast for two.

Apr 20, 2015 – Dec 18, 2015
Jan 03, 2016 – Apr 30, 2016

Having fun on the Jack Nicklaus
signature golf course
Children are welcome on the course, too!  Juniors 13-17 pay reduced fees, and kids 12 and under play for free, with a paying guest.

No matter what promotion or room type you book, as my client you also receive these exclusive Four Seasons Preferred Partner amenities: 
  • Daily full American breakfast for two people per room
  • $100 food and beverage credit 
  • Upgrade based on availability at time of check-in
If you'd like to know more about the amazing resort, or would like me to find the best rates for your family, just send an email to suzette@family-treks.com.  My contacts will personally oversee your reservation to make sure you have an amazing room and an amazing time!

Wish you were here?

March 28, 2015

Starwood Luxury Collection Update (aka More Perks For You!)

I attended the Starwood Luxury Collection Showcase this month in San Francisco, hosted by one of the member properties, the historic Palace Hotel.  I got to speak with sales representatives from dozens of hotels and resorts around the globe, including Hawaii, Europe, South America, and even Dubai!

Some visitors from Spain

Three great beach getaways

Here are a few interesting facts I learned:

Le Meridien London has family rooms that sleep 4.  There are only a dozen of them so you need to book early!

St. Regis Deer Valley is not only offers quick ski in/out access to the slopes, but has a ski in bar.

Apres-ski in Deer Valley
The Phoenician and The Canyon Suites in Scottsdale has a 2 acre cactus garden on property with nature trails, and every Friday and Saturday at sunset they have a bird of prey show.  They also added Surge, a water spray playground last year.

The Canyon Suites (top left) have a private lobby & pool,
but full access to all Phoenician Resort facilities
St. Regis Istanbul just opened in March, has 3 pools, and is across from the city's largest park, a great location for families.

St. Regis Bora Bora can arrange a very special wedding proposal.  They will fly you and your special someone in a helicopter over a beach where coconuts will spell out Will You Marry Me? 

Was the answer "Yes?"
Then you can conveniently plan your wedding before you leave!
The Greece Destination Program gives travelers reduced rates when they stay 7 or more nights in any combination of participating hotels in Athens, Costa Navarino, Mykonos, Santorini, and Eloundra.

Las Alcobas will open in Napa Valley within the next year.  All rooms will be at least 600 sq ft with balconies and outdoor fireplaces, located in a rural setting in walking distance to downtown St. Helena.

Now let's talk about amenities! (One of my favorite topics to write about!)

In 2013, Starwood introduced Luxury Privileges, a preferred partner program, similar to Virtuoso, Four Seasons Preferred Partner, and Ritz Carlton STARS.  Brownell Travel is a member of all of these "by invitation only" programs due to its elite agency status.

So that means my clients will receive amenities when I book their stay at Luxury Collection properties, including: 
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Daily breakfast for two
  • Welcome amenity value at $100
  • Complimentary in-room internet
  • Early check in and late check out, subject to availability
Additionally, there are occasional exclusive Luxury Privilege deals, such as 3rd night free being offered at the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Orange County through May 31.
Beautiful SoCal sunset at the
family-friendly St Regis Monarch Beach
How do you get these amenities?  You don't have to have any special Starwood status, or even a Starwood number (though I highly recommend you get one).  All you need to do is let me book your stay, and then I'll ensure you receive the best amenity from any program applicable to that particular hotel.

Starwood has plans to add many more hotels to Luxury Collection over the next 5 years, so stay tuned here for the latest news.  

To find out how to get the most perks for your next getaway, send an email to suzette@family-treks.com.

February 25, 2015

LA's Best Airport Hotel

When talking about “airport hotels” what usually comes to mind is a budget chain hotel with plain rooms, a shared airport shuttle, and continental breakfast (or if you’re lucky you might get steam table bacon and eggs).

Travelers making quick trips to a city want something close to the airport, and are used to compromising their standards for convenience.  But that isn’t necessary if traveling to Los Angeles, as there’s a hidden gem just 10 min from LAX! 

The Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey is a tranquil seaside hideaway only 6 miles from the airport where travelers can escape the hectic city pace.   And it packs many surprises for first time visitors. 

At first glance it looks like a typical city hotel, but once on property guests discover all the amenities of a full service resort:   the only waterfront swimming pool in Los Angeles, a beautiful lawn used for events and outdoor movies, an outdoor fire pit, 2 lighted tennis courts, a gym, and even bicycle rentals.    

And it’s only 1 mile from Venice Beach and minutes away from Santa Monica and Beverly Hills, so it’s a great option for business travelers who want to bring the family along. 

The proximity to LAX also makes it the perfect gathering spot for family members flying in for family events, holidays, or even a reunion.  I recommend booking a room on the exclusive Club Level for even more value, where complimentary drinks and snacks are offered several times throughout the day. It’s perfect for keeping those always hungry kids satisfied! 

For a quick trip, check out the Lavish Layover package: 
  • Overnight accommodations in a Deluxe guestroom or Club Level guestroom
  • Private roundtrip airport transfer to LAX
  • Early check-in or late check-out
  • $25 hotel credit

My clients will be upgraded on arrival if space is available due to our Ritz Carlton STARS status.

When booking regular rates, my clients will  exclusive Virtuoso amenities: 
  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests
  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
  • Early check-in/late check-out, subject to availability
  • A choice of:
  • a full day bicycle rental for two or 2 hours of tennis court rentals
And you don’t even have to worry about where to go for dinner, as they have a beautiful waterfront restaurant with fire pits right on the tables!

December 12, 2014

24 Hours in a Ritz Carlton Club Lounge

Well, I didn't actually spend the whole 24 hours there, but it was so nice I would have been perfectly comfortable crashing on a couch for the night!

During a recent stay at the Ritz Carlton Marina del Rey near Los Angeles, I decided to visit each of the four food presentations offered daily so I can show you why booking a Club Level room is a great value.

At Marina del Rey, the Club Level is like a “hotel within a hotel” as it is open only to guests on the 11th floor.  This boutique hotel feel offers guests a very exclusive experience that isn’t found in other luxury hotel brands.

Breakfast 6:30 -10:30 am

Clients who book with me receive complimentary breakfast as a Ritz STARS amenity, but it’s nice to have the Club breakfast available if you are in a rush and need “grab & go” food.   If you are traveling with teenagers, you can send them into the lounge for a second breakfast when they inevitably become hungry a short time later.

Lunch Noon – 2:30 pm

It's advertised as a "light lunch" but you can certainly fill up on all that is offered.  This was a convenient way to grab a quick meal right before we checked out.

Hors d’oeuvres  5 – 7:30 pm

Who can resist happy hour with free flowing wine, champagne and gourmet finger foods? And soft drinks for the kids, of course.  This is a great place to gather if you are traveling with business associates or family members.


Evening Sweets  8-10 pm

Dinner at the Cast & Plow restaurant was phenomenal, but we were too full to order dessert. We weren't to be denied, though, so after letting our food rest a bit, we headed to the Club Lounge to find a election of yummy treats including cupcakes and chocolate truffles, an espresso machine, and a table full of after dinner liqueurs.

If you need a snack at other times of day, the Lounge is always stocked with coffee, sodas, bottled water, and cookies.  Our favorite:  Double Chocolate & Sea Salt!  (I have the recipe, you can email me for it.)

Other perks of having Club Lounge access included free WiFi, a dedicated concierge, a private business center, and free pressing of two items each day.

And here’s a great offer exclusive to clients of Ritz Carlton STARS agencies, valid through the end of the year:  Spend two consecutive nights in a One Bedroom Executive Suite and receive complimentary Club Lounge access!

Even if you don't stay in a Club Level room, when you let me book you at any Ritz Carlton, you still get a great value including complimentary breakfast, an automatic upgrade (based on availability), and a special welcome gift, due to our agency's Ritz STARS status.

Ritz Carlton New Orleans Club Lounge

Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe Club Lounge

November 14, 2014

Why You Should Take Your Family to The Ritz Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation

Just 75 miles from Atlanta, this destination resort offers 30 picturesque acres on Lake Oconee, and plenty of activities for all ages.  

A great place to discover Lake Oconee
Here are my top 5 reasons why you should consider the Ritz Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation for your next family getaway: 

Fun on the water - The swimming pools, which are heated year round, include a beautiful lakefront infinity pool and separate wading pool for toddlers.  The pool is being enlarged to add even more water play area next year.  A pretty white sand beach offers calm water for little ones, and plenty of splash room for older kids.
The current pool, expansion in progress!
A safe white sand beach
Other fun activities on Lake Oconee include fishing, canoeing, kayaking, YOLO boards (like SUP but easier), and paddle boats. ( Email me if you'd like a copy of the Activity Guide and Recreation Fact Sheet.)   

Fun on land -  Wide open lawns provide plenty of space to kick a soccer ball (available from the concierge along with other sports equipment) or play outdoor games like frisbee golf, horseshoes, bocce ball and croquet.  Guests also have access to tennis, bicycles, and 99 holes of golf!

Run wild & free!
Or take a stroll on a meandering path

Great value – The optional Kids’ Meal program includes 3 meals a day for one price for kids under 13, including dessert, drinks, tax, and gratuities.   Another great value is the activity package which includes complimentary use of non-motorized watersports, plus extras like tennis, bike rentals, and use of the fitness center and driving range. 

My clients also receive exclusive Ritz STARS and Virtuoso amenities:

•        Early Check-In upon Request
•        Late Check-Out upon Request
•        Daily American Breakfast for 2
•        Welcome Amenity
•        Room Upgrade at time of booking
•        $100 Resort Credit
•        Complimentary Valet Parking
Lakefront cottage with a golf course view
Room for everyone - There is a large variety of accommodations, including many connecting rooms which can often be guaranteed at time of booking.  And all 22 one bedroom suites connect to rooms with 2 queen beds.  If you want more space, there are 5 two bedroom cottages, a three bedroom cottage, and a Presidential house with four bedrooms, all of which have kitchens, fireplaces, and wrap around porches with views of the golf course and the lake.

A standard guestroom has plenty of space

And beautiful lake views!
Fun fact:  This is the only Ritz-Carlton property to offer a BBQ Butler, who will prepare a  made-to-order cookout featuring quintessential southern cuisine.  You’ll also get tips in the fine art of grilling, from roasting sauce-smothered ribs in the bold flavors of mesquite wood to smoking chicken in the pungent aromas of hickory.

Executive Suite
 Private time for Mom and Dad - Ritz Kids Camp for ages 5-12 offers activities incorporating outdoor adventures such as scavenger hunts, nature hikes, science experiments, and fun games designed to teach environmental responsibility.  On Friday and Saturday nights, parents can enjoy a romantic dinner while their children play games and enjoy arts and crafts during Kids Night Out.

What kid doesn't love fishing?
 And of course no outdoor adventure is complete without s’mores, s’mores, s’mores!

Lots of places to toast those marshmallows!
Reynolds Plantation is offering a 4th night free exclusively to clients of Ritz-Carlton STARS agents  through December 30.  With so much to do at the Lodge, you can really use that extra night! 
Sunrise view from my room

October 23, 2014

Boston Blends the Best of the Old and New

Boston is a wonderful city, and I had the pleasure of visiting recently for the first time in many years.  In every neighborhood you see a mix of the old and the new, and that is also exemplified by the hotels.
Boston's North End
For example, just a few blocks from one another are the Fairmont Copley Plaza and the Mandarin Oriental Boston.  Both are luxury hotels and members of Virtuoso, and I would be confident sending discerning clients to either one.  However they are dramatically different in d├ęcor and ambiance, so they would suit different travelers depending on their taste.
Fairmont Copley Plaza
The Fairmont Copley Plaza is a historic, grand dame hotel which opened in 1912.  There’s a real “wow” factor on arrival as guests pass through a majestic hall clad in marble and highlighted with a gilded ceiling and chandeliers.  The seven story tall building (with a health club on the roof) faces Copley Plaza, with views of Trinity Church and the Boston Public Library.  (Insider tip: The library offers daily complimentary art and architecture tours.)
Fairmont entrance hall

Fairmont lobby

Rooms were recently renovated in honor of the centennial anniversary, so they retain a traditional and elegant (but not “fussy”) style, and have modern amenities such as Keurig coffeemakers, iPod docking stations and laptop-size safes. The Fairmont Gold level is home to a private lounge offering complimentary breakfast and evening appetizers.

Fairmont Signature room
Fairmont Gold Lounge

Virtuoso amenities are:
  • Upgrade at time of booking (on arrival in 2015, based on availability)
  • Daily full breakfast for two
  • $50 hotel credit
  • Seasonal amenity from the Executive Chef
  • Early check-in/late checkout, based on availability

Copley Square & Trinity Church (Fairmont to the right)
If you enroll in Fairmont President’s Club, you’ll immediately receive these benefits:
  • Complimentary high-speed internet and local calls
  • Complimentary health club access
  • Complimentary shoe shine
  • Daily newspaper delivery
  • Discounts in the spa and gift shop
  • Complimentary use of TaylorMade golf clubs & BMW bikes at select hotels

(After achieving Premier or Platinum status, additional benefits apply.)

Back Bay neighborhood
If old world style is not what you’re looking for, then you can head just around the corner to the Mandarin Oriental Boston, less than 2 blocks away from Copley Plaza. Situated in the heart of the Back Bay, it’s surrounded by trendy restaurants and Victorian brownstones, and is a short stroll to the upscale Newbury shopping district.  
Mandarin Oriental lobby
The Mandarin Oriental Boston has a modern yet elegant style, with blond-wood paneling in rich tones, original artwork, and cozy seating areas around a gas fireplace.  Clean lines, earth tones, and understated but elegant touches carry through into the rooms, which are some of the largest in the city

Mandarin Back Bay Room
They feature custom inlaid maple and sycamore furnishings, silk fabrics, more original art, large bathrooms, and, my favorite, a walk in closet.  It’s not huge, but you can walk in and even sit down!
That's a bench in the closet!

Spacious bathroom
The hotel does not have a club level, but fine food and cocktails are offered in a French-inspired bistro and wine bar.  And many consider the spa to be the best in Boston. (Insider tip: Lifestyle rooms are closest to the spa and feature Japanese-style soaking tubs and a daybed next to the window.)  This is the ideal hotel for a traveler who wants traditional luxury with more modern styling, a cozy home away from home.

Since our agency is both Virtuoso and a member of the Mandarin Oriental FAN Club, my clients receive: 
  • Upgrade at check-in, based on availability
  • Daily continental breakfast
  • $100 spa or food and beverage credit
  • Complimentary wi-fi
  • 4 pm late check-out, subject to availability

 These two equally fantastic hotels represent what makes Boston such a fun and special destination.  The mix of old and new means offers something to suit every taste.  And both are kid and pet friendly!

Once you’ve found the perfect hotel, then you can have fun exploring all Boston has to offer!
Paul Revere House

Fenway Park

Boston Regatta