Category Archives: Trip Reports

Hotel Review: Sweet Upgrade to the Presidential Suite at Historic San Diego Courtyard Marriott

Good afternoon everyone.  After our short Alaska Airlines flight from Santa Rosa / Sonoma County to San Diego, we took an Uber to the Courtyard San Diego Downtown Hotel.  I picked this hotel because the “hotel is in the former San Diego Trust and Savings Bank building, and the old vault has been converted into a one-of-a-kind meeting space that your colleagues will be talking about for years to come.”  I love staying in old, historic, charming hotels, like my Amazing Stay at DoubleTree Arctic Club Hotel in Seattle (Historic Building Built in 1917).

This hotel costs 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points per night, so I used my Free Night Certificate from the Chase Marriott Bonvoy Boundless Credit Card to book the first night and then I used 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy Points for the second night.  Somehow, I received 5 free Suite Night Upgrades in my Marriott Bonvoy account (probably from combining my SPG & Marriott Rewards accounts and from having several Marriott credit cards with elite nights stacking).  I decided to use my last 2 Suite Night Upgrades at this hotel because they were going to expire on December 31, 2019, and I don’t have any other Marriott stays booked or planned for the rest of the year.  This turned out to be a great use of my Suite Night Upgrades…

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My New Favorite Alaska Airlines Route: Santa Rosa / Sonoma County (STS) to San Diego (SAN)

Full Disclosure: Alaska Airlines provided 2 round trip tickets for my wife and I to experience and write about their new daily flight from Santa Rosa / Sonoma County to San Diego.  The below thoughts and opinions are my own.


Good morning everyone.  This past weekend, I had the pleasure to fly from the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport (STS) in the heart of Santa Rosa / Sonoma County to San Diego (SAN) on Alaska Airlines’ new route.  I live in Sonoma County and it is only a 20-30 minute drive to the Santa Rosa / Sonoma County Airport (compared to a 75-90 minute drive to the San Francisco International Airport or Oakland International Airport).  Conversely, if you want to visit the many wineries (and breweries) in Sonoma County or neighboring Napa County, flying into Santa Rosa will save you a lot of time.  Plus, with Alaska Airlines’ Wine Flies Free program, Alaska Airlines “Mileage Plan members can bring home a case of wine with no baggage fee from 30 participating West Coast cities.”

Image source: https://www.alaskaair.com/content/deals/special-offers/wine-flies-free

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Say Hi to Me at the Chicago Seminars Travel Conference (October 18-20)

Good afternoon everyone.  We are a few days away from the Chicago Seminars travel conference!  It is held every October near Chicago O’Hare at the Holiday Inn Elk Grove.  Tickets are $125 and still available.  Tickets include access to the conference (runs Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon), lunch Saturday & Sunday, coffee/snack breaks, and a complimentary drink at Saturday’s Happy Hour.  Here is the current schedule and speaker topics.  I won’t be presenting at the conference, but some of my favorite bloggers will be (Frequent Miler, Rapid Travel Chai, One Mile at a Time, Bald Thoughts, etc).  If you see me there, come say hi :)

Hopefully I will see a few Travel with Grant readers at the conference.  Safe travels to Chicago!

Hotel Review: Best Western Chinatown Hotel in Yangon, Myanmar (Great Price & Meals)

Good morning everyone.  After leaving Beijing, I spent 3 nights in Yangon, Myanmar on my 10 Day Asia Trip.  Myanmar does not have many chain hotels, so I checked on TripAdvisor and the Best Western Chinatown was a top pick and was only ~$50 USD / night.  A few weeks before checking in, I status matched from Hilton Diamond Elite Status to Best Western Diamond Select Elite Status.  This hotel is nothing fancy, but the breakfast and dinner were excellent.  The hotel also had a spa that offered 20% off massages in the afternoon and a sauna attached to the gym.  I wasn’t planning on writing a hotel review about this hotel, but after I checked out, I regretted not taking more pictures of the hotel.  Therefore, I am borrowing images from the Best Western website.

Image source: https://www.bestwestern.com/en_US/book/hotels-in-yangon/best-western-chinatown-hotel/propertyCode.99702.html

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Coco’s Private Beijing Tour – Visit Mutianyu Great Wall of China, Tiananmen Square & Temple of Heaven

Good afternoon everyone, I hope you are enjoying my 10 Day Asia Trip so far.  After my relaxing 1 night stay and filling breakfast at the Hilton Beijing Capital Airport, I set off to see as much of Beijing as I could before my evening flight to Yangon, Myanmar.  Luckily, I had arranged a private tour of Beijing with Coco’s Beijing Tours.  Why did I go with Coco’s Beijing Tours?  Because Greg the Frequent Miler used them on a recent trip to Beijing.  If this tour was good enough for Greg, it was good enough for me.  I reached out to Coco, stated that I only had 1 day in Beijing and wanted to see the major sites.

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