Hyatt Place Waikiki

25 10 2012

At 426 rooms, the Hyatt place is a boutique hotel at the quiet end of Waikiki, down by the zoo and two short blocks from the beach. Compared to the neighboring Marriott with 1175 rooms and the 1239 room Hyatt Regency down the street, Hyatt place is a quiet sanctuary from the bustle of Waikiki. The hotel is a recent purchase by Hyatt, and was remodeled and updated.  Hyatt retained many of the former staff, meaning the staff is helpful, professional and happy to be working under the Hyatt brand.

The standard model for the larger hotels on Waikiki is to have shops on the first floors and common areas. The interiors of the Marriott and Hyatt Regency look more like shopping malls than hotels. While the Hyatt Place does not have restaurants, they are within easy walking distance. Instead of shops, the Hyatt Place has a modern contemporary common area with a 24-hour bar.

Hyatt Place WaikikiHyatt Place has two different Towers, The Pali Tower is considered the deluxe tower due to the size of the rooms at 500 to 550 sq feet. The Diamond tower has standard room accommodations room size 220 to 250 sq ft. The penthouse floor is identical to all the other rooms in the Pali Tower, only difference is that the PH floor is the top floor.

 

Insiders Tip: On your next visit, you can request to be on a higher floor. If you prefer ocean views, on the website you will need to confirm Deluxe King or Queen Ocean View, and request the penthouse floor.

Our room had a sitting area and more plugs than I have ever seen in a hotel room. A skillet breakfast is included with the room. Fried egg is combined daily rotation of breads for an open-faced egg sandwich. Yogurts, fruit, granolas, cereal, miso soup and bagels with cream cheese are additional choices. Breakfast is from 6:30 to 9:30.

Hyatt Place bar and snacksThe lobby area has a 24-hour bar and snack bar. In the back corner of the area is a gift shop with remarkably competitive prices. The water and juices there were less the neighboring ABC store! Would you rather pay $3.25 for a bottle of water in the room or $.85 in the gift shop?

Insiders Tip: Park at the Aston Banyan diagonally across the street. You get in and out privileges and it is half the price of valet parking at the Hyatt Place.

We had a deluxe city view room, which actually faced Diamond Head and had a partial ocean view. Our room had a small lanai (balcony), which we enjoyed in our down time. We were on Oahu for just a few days so we did not intend Hyatt Place to be a place of relaxation. If you want relaxation, head to Maui or Kauai. If you want mixing with lots of people, nightlife and high energy, Waikiki is the place for you!

 





Port of Call-Skagway

24 10 2012

Port of Call-Skagway

Stroll the preserved wooden boardwalks and restored historic buildings in Skagway and imagine yourself a part of the 20,000 prospectors who made the city the base for their quest for gold. Skagway was one of the starting points for miners seeking their fortune in the Klondike. Since the Canadian government required each prospector to bring 1 ton of provisions to survive winter, imagine the logistics hub Skagway once was.  One of the most popular attractions for Skagway is the narrow gauge White Pass and Yukon Railroad which was completed just as gold production fell. The city  has attractions to fit interests from historic to active.

White Pass and Yukon Railroad

Photo via Dreamstime.com, Cecvoffman

The terrain from Skagway to Carcross is so challenging, the construction of the White Pass and Yukon route required 450 tons of explosives and earned a place as an International Civil Engineering Landmark, along with the Eiffel Tower, Panama Canal and the Statue of Liberty. Ride in fully restored cars (the oldest four were built in 1881) pulled by vintage diesel engines over 20 miles of steep grades, and cliff hanging curves to climb the 3000 feet to the White Pass summit. The route retraces the original White Pass summit trek, offering a magnificent vista of mountains, glaciers, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels, trestles and  gold rush sites. The train agent is your historic guide, entertaining you with captivating tales of Gold Rush history. Various combinations of train ride are possible, round trip train ride, train up and bus back, bus up and train back. Variations of the train ride also include gold panning, dog sledding, and riding a bike back down the summit.

Skagway, AK

The famous Red Onion, former upscale brothel, now Bar/Restaurant

History lovers can envision what Skagway was like when it was the gateway to the Yukon. Historical tours of Skagway can be done self-guided, guided by one of the Madams from the Red Onion Saloon, or by tour car. Once an exclusive bordello, the Red Onion Saloon is now a bar/restaurant and a member of the Historic Registry.

Many wildlife excursions leave from Skagway. If seeing a bear is on your list of things to do, your best odds for a sighting is in Haines, a 40 minute fast ferry ride from Skagway. The Chilkoot Lake area teems with bears and bald eagles beginning in mid July as salmon begin their spawning runs.  Kayak on the Chilkoot Lake or raft in the Chilkat Mountains. Nearby Haines is the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, so eagle lovers will want it on their list.

Photography fans can choose excursions specifically designed to provide photo opportunities and advice. Adventure lovers have many opportunities to enjoy their favorite pursuits. Since the ports in the Inner Passage offer similar adventures, it is possible to raft in one port, hike in another, and bike, horseback ride or fish in the next. Skagway offers scenery, history, active days, train rides, bus tours, and wildlife. Your choices range from walking off the ship and self touring the town to flight seeing by float plane. Enjoy your day!





Port of Call: Juneau

21 10 2012

Mendenhall GlacierPort of Call: Juneau

Juneau is the gateway to Glacier Bay National Park. The city nestles in a valley, between the Gastineau Channel and the towering Coast Mountains. It is completely land locked by the Juneau Icefield to the east. No roads lead to Juneau, you can only get there by air or sea. Juneau’s proximity to mountains, glaciers, and the ocean offer some unique opportunities for activities. If you have every wanted to stand on a glacier, Juneau is the place to make that dream come true.

The Mendenhall Glacier and Juneau Icefield, the Tongass National Forest, and the Gastineau Channel delight scenery lovers. Adventure lovers can choose from a bounty of choices: kayak in the Channel or on a glacier lake, hike, dogsled, raft, flightsee or fish. History lovers can enjoy the downtown Victorian houses and St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church.

The easy accessibility of the Mendenhall Glacier makes it one of the top attractions for Juneau. There is a range of options for experiencing the glacier. The basic experience is to ride a bus to the visitor’s center and view the glacier from the overlook. Adventure lovers have many more options on the glacier; you can hike up to the glacier; you can hike or even ice climb on the glacier; you can kayak in the glacial lake; you can ride a helicopter to land on Mendenhall or one of the other glaciers in the area. The ultimate experiences are a helicopter tour and dog sled ride or flight seeing glaciers in an Alaskan bush plane. If the more exotic adventures call to you, book early or you will be disappointed! They are popular and do fill up.

Orca whales feed in the inside passage from April to November, so you are almost guaranteed seeing a whale on your cruise. Whale watching tours from Juneau range from kayak tours to zodiacs to tour boats. It is possible to combine a tour of the Mendenhall Glacier with a whale watch tour to capture two of the quintessential Juneau experiences.

Gastineau ChannelIf fishing is your passion, your choices include fishing for salmon while enjoying views of the incredible scenery. Commonly seen on boat trips are views of Humpback whales, orcas, sea lions, harbor seals, porcupines, eagles, salmon, or even black bears. (Keep your binoculars handy as the ship cruises into and out of Juneau) For the more adventurous, fly a floatplane to your fishing destination and be rewarded with a lifetime of unforgettable landscapes.

If you find yourself with some extra time before the ship sails, the Mt. Roberts Tramway is an easy walk from the cruise pier. The Tramway will take you to the top of Mt. Roberts, where you can enjoy the extraordinary views of the Chilkat Mountains, Stephens Passage and downtown Juneau. Trams run about every 10 minutes and the ride to the top takes about 6 minutes.

Outdoor adventure choices are almost too many to list, ride the tram to the top of Mt. Roberts and ride a bike down, hike a glacier, raft, kayak, or fish. Since there is so much to see and do in Juneau, you will probably want a combination tour. The problem is deciding what to leave behind!








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