The Hotelion

Hotel & Casino Specialist. I pride myself on economic perspective and efficient travelling, and most recently - restaurant reviews. My goal is to make your travel money go further and experiences more fulfilling.

The Economics of Choice: Free Drinks

Free Drinks. At some point in your life, you’ll be offered some, at a party, corporate event, social setting, hotel, or otherwise. If you are not paying for them, and different options are available, how do you decide what to get? Set aside for a moment the social pressure (if your friends are drinking beer at a bar, you’re more likely to get one, or a more formal wine/spirit in a business setting, etc.). When you’re staying at a hotel, and are offered a free drink certificate, how do you make a decision on which drink?   Why do...

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Top 3 Takeaways from BACON – the BoardingArea Conference!

#BAcon3 Last weekend I, and many of my TravelUpdate and BoardingArea brethren, descended on our capital city of Washington, D.C. for the third iteration of the BoardingArea Conference. At BAcon, many bloggers, travel industry executives, and experts shared their perspectives and knowledge. As a new blogger, it was an invaluable resource. I took many excellent notes, and left with a renewed vigor for writing and sharing my experiences. I thought about writing a traditional review, but felt comfortable that many of the other attendees would do the same, so here are key things that I learned.   Three Fresh Strips...

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The Folly of Unclear Promotions: Maryland Live! Casino

The Draw The promotion in question was at Maryland Live! Casino, located in Arundel Mills, just south of Baltimore and close to Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI). It made perfect sense, being on the way to and from BAcon in Washington D.C. It was a new member promotion, “Play $100 on Us”. The premise was simple, if you lose $100 on your first visit, you’ll be reimbursed $100 in free slot play or promotional chips. Details are below.     Casino Check! This was a relatively well-off casino, with excellent ambience and electric atmosphere. The floor and gaming area was clean and...

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Free Hotel Review: Planet Hollywood 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 Room Hotel Space / Ambience Food & Drink Fitness Miscellaneous    Highlights: Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino Las Vegas As always with Caesar’s properties, the highlight is getting a complimentary room (thank you, wise younger me) and paying nothing but the resort fee and tax, (~$33-36, with the Planet Hollywood being $35.84). It’s a great deal on the Las Vegas Strip, especially in this world of mandatory resort fees (except the highest level gamblers). Additionally,...

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Hotel Review: The Venetian 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 Room Hotel Space / Ambiance Food & Drink Fitness Miscellaneous   Highlights: The Venetian Las Vegas My third Venetian experience was significantly different from my previous ones. The first and second ones were during the high season – July and August. Back then, I had to pay the male entry tax for TAO ($40, despite being a hotel guest, normally $80, Tao Beach ($35?), and others. However, this off-weekend (mid-October) was so much better. Free...

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Promotion: Marriott Global Travel Day at Rockefeller Center, NYC

Discovery It was like every Friday, perusing my standard Reddit threads (r/churning), where I found this gem (since removed) by u/Nonchurnerburner. The Marriott site further detailed the Global Travel Tracker, celebrating Global Travel Day in Rockefeller Center with a large, 4,000+ sq. ft. map of their properties denoted by 30 huge push pins. additionally, every Marriott and Starwood property in the city had a huge life-size push-pin. You could win a free trip, gift cards, or a variety of other prizes! Marriott wanted to raise awareness of their Starwood acquisition and expansion of their global empire to 30 brands and...

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Wyndham Rewards (Cancelled) Promotion: SPG 4:1 Points and Status Match

You may (or may not) have seen Wyndham’s short-lived promotion on Tuesday, October 11th. It offered a 4:1 points trade and Wyndham status match for Starwood members who donate their entire SPG balance to charity. This was a fascinating and greatly intriguing promotion, and I thought about it from a business perspective. While I proposed the promotion to my lady, I learned it was cancelled before the start time due to fraudulent behavior on the part of users. However, it sparked further analysis from a business and competitive standpoint.   Why would Wyndham offer such a promotion? From a hotel consultant’s...

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One Thousand Dollar Hotel Review: The Plaza New York

My standard hotel reviews include a breakdown by the following topics. Feel free to skip to whichever section you find most interesting. Highlights Lobby Room Hotel Space / Ambiance Food & Drink Fitness Miscellaneous   Highlights: The Plaza New York, a Fairmont Managed Hotel The quality of service was very good, with many people standing around ready to assist or direct guests to their destination. It’s a venerable and historic hotel, so stay here to say that you have. While I prefer the more modern décor of newer hotels, I can appreciate the aesthetics and opulence of the Plaza. Freebies at...

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Hotels: What to Do (and What Not to Do) When your Room is Infested with Mold

I had the displeasure of a terrible and unforgettable experience recently, where our room developed a very strong mildew and mold problem over the course of an evening. This post reflects on that time and makes recommendations for both travelers and hotels on how to address the problem.   Situation: Mold? We needed a cheap hotel near our target destination, where my lady was training for a triathlon. I had credit from Orbitz from previous stays, so found a hotel* that fit our needs. Everything started off normal, with no issues, as we checked in early afternoon, dropped our...

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Hotel Review: Denver Sheraton Downtown

My standard hotel reviews include a breakdown by the following topics. Feel free to skip to whichever section you find most interesting. Highlights Lobby Room Hotel Space / Ambience Food & Drink Fitness Miscellaneous   Highlights: Denver Sheraton Downtown The service in and quality of the Sheraton Club Lounge was the highlight of my stay. There was excellent breakfast of eggs, good sausage, pastries, and muffins, as well as good food service to assist guests and clean quickly. Snacks and beverages were available all throughout the day, and the evening hors d’oeuvres were excellent. Additionally, the lounge had two...

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