Category Archives: Hotel Reviews

Reviews of hotels and resorts in beach cities around the world.

5 Reasons Beach Motels Are Better For Vacations Than High-Rise Hotels

Budget Accommodations Have Big Bonuses

Beach motel Sea Sprite Hermosa Beach CA
Beach motels are not as fancy as high-rises but ofter a lot of benefits.


When we were kids, dad would always book us into the more budget-friendly accommodations while vacationing in Clearwater Beach, CA.

The location was not on the beach but on the back bay, although it was only about a minute walk to the beach.

Of course, we initially wanted to stay ON the beach, in one of those high-rises but as it turned out, the ‘ol Islander motel was much better.  I still feel this way today and here’s 5 reasons why those little beach motels are better to stay on vacation than the high-rise hotels:

1.) Motels Are More Intimate Than Hotels

The biggest advantage (besides price) that motels offer over high-rises is the fact that they are smaller and therefore more intimate. You can more easily get to know other vacationers, more quickly get things you need from the maid or the front desk (like extra towels) and more swiftly deal with any issues or inconveniences.

2.) You Get To Know – And Can Become Friends With – Your Fellow Vacationers

We made friends for life from people we met at the Islander. We also formed a great bond with others, so much so that several of us actually made plans to annually meet at the same time of the year. At the same place, too

3.) Parking, the Internet, Pool Towels Are Free & No Resort Fees

The biggest rip-off in the hotel industry right now are the “resort fees” which charge you for things you don’t want or need (a spa, even freakin’ towels at the pool!). Motels don’t have these charges.

In a motel, you can take a towel from your room down to the pool and also you generally get free parking, free Internet and other “perks” that cost a fortune at a high-rise.

4.). You Can Be On The Go Faster In A Motel

In a motel, it’s gather the things and you can be out the door, at the pool, in the car or headed to the beach much more quickly than a big hotel. That’s because you don’t have to walk down a long walkway, wait forever on an elevator and go through a big lobby, past restaurants, etc.

This means that you can often be on the beach faster from a motel across the street than you can from a high-rise that is actually on the beach.

5.) Motels Are A Lot Like Being At Home

The casualness of motels means they are kind of like being at your home. With a maid to pick up everything! Things are more relaxed than at a high rise and and your fellow “motel mates” are like friends in your neighborhood.

There are all things our family got out of staying at the Islander, and probably why I still have a fondness for motels.

Monterey’s Portola Hotel Offering $199 Rates With Aquarium Passes

Winter Package Include Discount To Jack’s Restaurant

Portola Hotel & Spa Monterey, CA
The Portola Hotel & Spa features winter specials in Monterey, CA


The beautiful and friendly – they give you a cookie upon check-in – Portola Hotel in downtown Monterey, CA, is offering a special winter aquarium package that includes a room and a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for $199/night.

The package includes:
• Two adult Monterey Bay Aquarium tickets, good for two consecutive days

• 25% off on food & beverage for dinner in Jacks Restaurant

• Complimentary fitness center

• Outdoor heated pool, relaxing cabanas & Jacuzzi

The offer is good thru Jan. 31.

The Portola Hotel is a classy hotel with a casual attitude located at the end of downtown’s main Alvarado Street. Several rooms face out to Monterey Bay and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Jack’s is a very good restaurant that has a weekend brunch buffett with, if you so desire, bottomless mimosas. It’s adjacent lounge is perfect for having a glass (or two) of Monterey County wine and it has an excellent selection (plus Happy Hour!).

And if you want more Monterey County wine, you don’t have venture far from the Portola; there are two tasting rooms just out the doors (one out the side door in the plaza and another directly across the street).

If you prefer craft beer (and don’t worry, they also serve excellent wines from wine taps), Peter B’s Brewpub is attached to the back of the Portola. It has probably the best bargain dinner in all of Monterey, too; click here to learn about it!

The aquarium is a mile away just past Cannery Row. You can drive but Surfside Sam recommends walking. There’s a path that goes along the bay and it’s beautiful. Or, you can rent a bike or even a surry and ride along the trail.

Be sure and pack a jacket and sweatshirt; it will likely be pleasant in the daytime but Monterey does get chilly at night.

To book and to see other specials, including a new brunch menu at Jack’s and New Year’s Eve, go to the Portola website at:


Central California Fall Events Hotel Rooms Available At Cambria Inns

Paso Robles Wine Harvest Weekend, Hearst Castle Night Tours & Scarecrows On October Calendar

Wine Festivals
The Paso Robles Harvest Weekend features wines from the area's 130 wineries.

The fall events have started along California’s Central Coast – one of the most spendid places in the Golden State – and the Cambria Inns have rooms available.

October has three happenings in the Cambria/Paso Robles area up scenic Highway 101 and at Hearst Castle along gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway.

All month, it’s the Cambria Scarecrow Festival, which has hundreds of scarecrows around town, in front of shops and restaurants and along the Moonstone Beach boardwalk.

And now thru the end of the year, there are evening tours at Hearst Castle. This features the gudes dressed in character and recreating scenes from the grand estate’s 1930s heyday. In addition to a tour at twilight, there are regal “guests” of the bygone era lounging by the Neptune Pool and playing cards in the Assembly Room.

And, because this is one of California’s many wine growing areas – it’s internationally recognized for its pinot noirs – there is the Paso Robles Harvest Weekend, Oct. 18-20. This involves vineyard tours, grape stomps, winemaker dinners, special tastings and more, among the 130 wineries along Highway 46.

Cambria Inns consists of three properties in the area, the Blue Dolphin Inn, the Sand Pebbles Inn and the private Moonstone Cottages. I checked the Blue Dolphin Inn for Saturday the 19th during the wine festival and found a rate of $239 for a standard king. But book fast because there are few rooms available on that popular weekend.


Cambria Inns hotels

Scarecrow Festival

Heart Castle Night Tours

Paso Robles Harvest Weekend


Monterey’s Portola Hotel & Spa Has Fall Wine Harvest Package

California Region Boats 85 Wineries And Vineyards

Monterey Hotels Portola Hotel & Spa
The Portola Hotel & Spa is located by the wharf and downtown Monterey.

Fall into fall – just don’t fall down! – with this great idea from the Portola Hotel & Spa in beautiful Monterey, CA.

To take advantage of the abundance of wines and wineries– there are 85 wineries and vineyards – in Monterey County, the Portola has a Wine Harbest Package.

It includes a one-night stay, a bottle of Monterey County wine, a tote and corkscrew and breakfast for two at Jack’s Restaurant. The Portola can set you up with a tour through the wineries (at an extra cost) and for those who don’t want to worry about driving – like me – there’s a wine trolly that has a stop right at the Portola’s entrance.

Right out the Portola’s door are two wine tasting rooms, there are four more in Cannery Row a mile away and just a few minutes away there are more than a dozen wine tasting rooms in neighboring Carmel. The Portola is located at Portola Plaza, at the end of Alvarado Street, which has man of Monterey’s restaurant and bars. It also sits above Fisherman’s Wharf and many rooms have great views looking out onto Monterey Bay.

Fall rates at the Portola range from $270 for a double room to $400 for a studio suite.

I did a reservations check and all Saturdays in September are full. So get on it quick!

Package includes:

  • Nautically inspired guest room
  • A warm, homemade chocolate chip cookie upon
  • Complimentary bottle of Monterey County wine
  • Complimentary logoed Portola wine bag & corkscrew
  • Guide to Monterey Wine County
  • Breakfast for two in Jacks Restaurant & Lounge
  • Complimentary 24 hour fitness center
  • Heated pool, Jacuzzi & poolside cabanas

Here’s the link to book this package:


For a review of the Portola Hotel & Spa, click here!



Legoland California Hotel Package At Carlsbad’s Hilton Garden Inn

Five Nights Accommodations And Tickets To See Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter Display

Carlsbad Hilton Garden Inn
The Carlsbad Hilton Garden Inn has a pool and is across the street from the beach.

In time to take advantage of a new in celebration of the LEGO Star Wars X-wing starfighter display, the Hilton Garden Inn in nearby Carlsbad is offering a family package to LEGOLAND California Resort.

The hotel package offers deluxe accommodations and four LEGOLAND Resort Hopper tickets valid for five days of unlimited admission, from the day of first visit, to LEGOLAND California, LEGOLAND Water Park and SEA LIFE Aquarium.

The package also provides complimentary transportation between Hilton Garden Inn and LEGOLAND California Resort, his is just five minutes from the park.

It’s called the LEGOLAND Resort Hopper package and includes:
• Five-nights’ accommodations for up to four people (per room)
ª Four (4) five-day Resort Hopper Tickets to LEGOLAND California Resort, SEA LIFE Aquarium, and LEGOLAND Water Park. All visits must occur within five days of first visit.
• Rates are rom $234 per night

The package is good all summer thru Sept. 15.

The Hilton Garden Inn is located across from Carlsbad State Beach and has free parking, in-room Internet access and even complimentary local transportation. So if you want a break from Legoland, you can always spend the day at the beach.

To book the package, cal (760) 476-0800.



Myrtle Beach Hotels Summer Discounts Cheap Rates And Free Nights

Stay For Less Than $100 A Night Right At The Ocean

Myrtle Beach Hotels Pool Drinks Hotel Blue
Drinks poolside at Hotel Blue look tempting in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

If you’re looking for a long weekend or week getaway at the beach and don’t want to spend a fortune, I suggest you consider Myrtle Beach, S.C.

It’s a day drive from just about anywhere in the South – and by car is how Southerners travel to vacations on the beach –and has amusement parks, a water park and the WWII battleship USS North Carolina (yes, in South Carolina of all things) among its activities.

And the beach cities hotels are offering lots of summer specials. Several have rooms for less than $100/night and others are offering free nights for multiple-day stays.

For example, the Forest Dunes Resort is giving away two free nights with a five-day stay (and peak July rates start at $187 and drop to $103 in August) and the slightly more expensive Palms Resort has the same deal ($220/night room rates in July but dropping to $116 in August).

The Tropical Seas Resort is giving away a free night for a three-night stay with rates starting at just $79 for an oceanview room.

Were I to go, I would probably stay at Hotel Blue. It has a pool bar, a “trendy” bar in the hotel and an arcade complete with a bowling alley. Its rates start at just $79.

Where else in America can you stay on the beach, in the summertime, for $79 a night!?

I’ve just listed a few examples. For a complete look at all the hotel deals, here’s the Myrtle Beach website:


Miami Hotels Summertime Specials Conrad Hotel ‘Stay Cool’ Package

If The Temperature Is 95 Degrees, Your Room Rate Is $95

Miami Conrad Hotel
The summertme heat price is just one way to cool down at the Miami Conrad.

Miami gets pretty hot but this can keep you cool.

The Conrad Miami is setting setting deluxe room rates according to the highest temperature for the day of booking. So if  the day’s high is 95 degrees  when you book your room rate is $95.

The Conrad calls this it’s “Stay Cool” package and it’s good for July and August.

Rooms must be booked between June 30-August 31 for stays during those days. The rates are determined by the highest temperature as shown on the Conrad Miami website under the weather section of the hotel’s homepage.

To book, call the hotel’s “cool” specialists at (305) 503-6557 and request the “Stay Cool” package.

The Conrad Miami ls located on fashionable Brickell Avenue in downtown Miami. It’s address is: 1395 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL.

You can learn more about the hotel – and be sure and browse its vast photo gallery – at its website: