Sunday, May 22, 2016

Headed to a Sporting Event

I love summer!  LOVE!  The only thing that is missing from the season is college football.  But since this will be our first summer living in Denver, we are trying to embrace other sports.  After all, Denver has a soccer team, hockey team, basketball team, baseball team, two lacrosse teams, and football team.  We've already embraced the football and baseball team.  If you want tips on how to upgrade your MLB tickets, click {HERE}.  The soccer park is mere blocks from our home.  In fact, we enjoy the fireworks from the park out our back window often.

As you are traveling this summer, many families like to add tickets to a game as part of their adventure.  Will you be ready when you pack for the event?

1. The Bag - What bag are you going to carry?  I recommend logging onto the stadium's website to see what is allowed.  Most places will allow a clear bag such as {THIS}.

2. Camera - You'll want to document your visit.  Often the camera on your phone will suffice.  (Almost all stadiums/parks allow cell phones.)  However, if you want some action shots, you'll want to make sure you have the right camera and lens.

3. Food & Drink - Are outside food & drink allowed in the stadium/park you are visiting?  Checking their website is usually a good place to find this information.  Check specifically about their water bottle policy.

4. Tickets - Don't forget your tickets.  Will you have an electronic ticket that you can pull up on your phone?  Or will you need paper/hard copy tickets?  If paper, do you need a lanyard like {THIS}?

5. Cash - Do you need cash or does the stadium/park accept credit cards?  Will you need cash for parking?  Does the stadium have an ATM?  What about "special" cash?  You might not have a need for "special" cash but those of us that are Clemson Tigers have the need for two dollar bills.  A little history on this - what fun!
In 1977, Georgia Tech decided to stop playing football against Clemson. In a show of protest, students and alumni stamped $2 bills with Tiger Paws and used them in Atlanta to illustrate the money Tiger fans spent at athletic events. Today, fans still use $2 bills when attending away games.

What are some of your travel tips when attending a sporting event?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Major League Baseball - Seat Upgrade

Headed to a Major League Baseball game with your family this spring or summer or fall (baseball season lasts forever, doesn't it)??? Well, before you purchase high priced tickets, consider this. Download's at the Ballpark app onto your SmartPhone.

Within the app itself are things such as a ballpark map to find the closest bathroom or concession and a directory – all to make your visit more enjoyable. It seems to have a music section as well as a check-in area where you can get offers from your team. However, the most remarkable part of the app to our family is the ability to upgrade our seats. We tried it out at a Rockies game this past weekend.

We originally purchased some tickets at $16/each in a section between 3rd base and the outfield. A few hours before game time, we tried the UPGRADE section of the app. (This upgrade option also seems to be available through TicketMaster.)  For $10/each, we were able to upgrade our seats to club level seats behind 1st base. This means we paid $26 a ticket for club seats ($16 for the original ticket plus $10 for the upgraded ticket). The upgraded ticket will appear only to your mobile device; there is no new paper ticket. We didn't experience the dreaded “convenience fee” for using this feature.
You will notice that we received a section and a row, but no seat numbers.  We knew we purchased 4 tickets at $10/each, so the $40 made sense to us, but we were afraid it wouldn't to an usher.  This was a small glitch in the system (so it seemed).  Yet, the ushers used their radio/walkie talkies and worked it out.  Whomever the usher called on his walkie talkie was able to see where our seats were.

Then we were given these instructions:

We've read that this feature “kicks in” an hour before the game. However, we were able to do it approximately 3 hours before the game started. It seems the pricing for upgrades can range for as little as $5 up to quite a bit of money, but for us a $10 upgrade was well worth it. Of course, the price of the upgrade will really depend on the game.

And to top it off, I got a foul ball at the game!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Las Vegas' Monte Carlo

I've been to Vegas numerous times and Monte Carlo would not be my first choice of hotels. In fact, TravelMan stayed there for his bachelor party 16 years ago, so unless there had been a major reno, I wouldn't have given it the time of day. However, I was invited on a trip. And the lodging had already been arranged, so Monte Carlo it was.

The line for check-in was quite long and didn't seem to move quickly. The rooms are what I refer to as basic king bed, a desk, and a bathroom area. The bathroom what was most aging about the room; although, the carpet in the room needed to be replaced. The bathroom needed a major update. Plus, the water pressure was not good for oh, “me of thick hair.” Parts of the bathroom felt very dirty, which I'm assuming were mold. Things like the light fixture being cracked and not repaired shouts to me, "We don't give TLC to our hotel rooms."  
Sink area in bathroom
Broken light in bathroom

However, the bed was comfortable and the room was reasonably quiet.

The pool was always very crowded. It was difficult to find a chair but we managed. It was difficult to get food and beverage service at the pool.  Additionally, you had to move your location a lot if you were hoping for sun.  This pool gets a lot of shade throughout the day.
View from my room -- it was considered a pool view.  As you can see a ton of shade at the pool.  This was around the sun will move, but then the tall buildings on the other side quickly cause shade as the sun moves.
The hotel is certainly not a luxurious experience; yet, the location is somewhat good for the strip. If you can get a room for an affordable rate, then don't turn it away just based on it needed a renovation. Yet, be aware you are booking an average room that needs updating. As a little travel tip when booking, Monte Carlo is associated with the Hyatt. So if you have free rooms on your Hyatt account or points you want to spend, this is another reason to consider Monte Carlo.

The company I had with me on the trip made up for any deficiencies of the hotel.  We had a great trip.

TravelLady Rating: The Monte Carlo would not be my first choice of hotels in Las Vegas.  Yet, if the room were free or extremely discounted, I wouldn't say no.  Yet, I would know what to expect.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Embassy Suites - Deerfield Beach

Our family of four stayed at the Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach for New Year's Eve 2015. We had an ocean front room with a wrap around balcony (suite 404).
View from our room
This room could use some updating for sure. However, for us, it was nice to have a suite set up with two bathrooms, a king size bed in one room, and a pull out queen bed in the other. The view of the water was just beautiful.

For the facilities, I used the fitness center one morning. It is small; the equipment could be updated. Yet, the equipment I used was all in working condition. We enjoyed the pool. The bar had good service, and the towel supply was always in stock. If you follow my blog, then you know I believe that hotels should offer free internet. Embassy Suites Deerfield Beach does not. However, if you are a Hilton rewards member, then internet is included. We are not Hilton Reward members but had an easy fix. We went to the front desk, signed up, and had free internet within minutes for the duration of our stay.

The hotel was busy while we were there between it being New Year's Eve as well as the Orange Bowl for the college play-offs.  The staff didn't seem rattled by the crowd; they were pleasant and ready to help when needed. The breakfast buffet was crazy busy both days we were there, and the food was blah. We never attended the evening receptions that Embassy hosts. 

The beach is just outside the gate of the pool. It was easy to access. As someone who grew up in Florida, I am not a fan of “manmade/man-placed rocks” on the beach. I didn't ask, but they are probably there to help stop erosion. Beach chairs could be rented for $12/each per day. This is overpriced; bring your own chairs if possible. Something else that was overpriced was the parking. Consider this when booking.

TravelLady Rating: The location is great. If you are traveling with your family and want space in the hotel room, book a balcony, ocean-front room. Also, I used when booking this room two days prior to arrival and got decent pricing.