Wordless Wednesday #11

Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon, France (May 2014)

Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon, France (May 2014)

Le Sentier des Ocres in Roussillon, France (May 2014)

IWSG #5


At the beginning of every month, as part of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, I take a look at my successes (not just in writing), share the ways I hope to improve in the next month, answer the IWSG question of the month, and provide inspiration (if I have any).


– Finish 50% or more of April A-Z. (13 posts, edit or delete 4,000 images)
Finish planning both April trips: California, Washington D.C.
Rest.

Other Successes:
• Got a new computer!
• Got a new phone! (128 gigs so more room for pictures! Plus the GPS more consistently works.)
• Commented on 40+ blogs for the April A-Z challenge.
• travelled to California, Washington D.C. and Alabama … and didn't collapse from exhaustion.
• More hours, different family means I'm earning more money.
• I learned more about wine through taste-testing and now have a clue about what I like. I can go into a grocery store and buy a (California) wine I like without help from staff or my husband. YAY!

May Goals:
• plan for our July trip (currently looking at Miami and New Orleans)
• and for our trip to Egypt.
• Mother's Day! And two birthdays. And a first communion.
• Change oil on both cars. Rotate tires on the truck.
• Get the truck's transmission looked at.
• Recover files from the dead computer.

IWSG Question: It’s spring! Does this season inspire you to write more than others, or not?

Nope. Of course, not having a laptop and working extra hours (more pay!) also doesn't inspire me to write more. I was on a role in March, though. Hopefully I will manage to finish my April A-Z goal as soon as I finish getting the rest of the computer peripherals in from Amazon. (Though I am also dreading it because I'm no longer ahead, I'm not working against a time table, I'm working extra hours at work, and I have to go through approximately 7,000 images still. Ugh.)

What about you? Does the change in seasons inspire you to get more done? Were you successful at completing April A-Z this year?

Turtle Bay Resort – A Hotel Review


Destination: the North Shore at Kahuku, HI on the island of O'ahu
Date: February 2017
Hotel: Turtle Bay Resort
Address: 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731
Brand: none
Elite Status: none
# of travelers: 2
nights: 2

Making the Decision

There aren't many hotel options available in north O'ahu. And this hotel was blue.

Other benefits?
+ Being able to rent or borrow a GoPro from the hotel.
+ The possibility of having a photographer take our photo on the beach in the North Shore
+ Horseback riding

We didn't really get to explore all that Turtle Bay had to offer, but all that they had available made it seem exciting!

Getting There & Self Parking

Justin and I had spent the day driving around O'ahu from Honolulu starting in the southeast and working our way east all the way to north O'ahu. Obviously, if you have the time, I would consider breaking that trip up over two days. We did not have the time to do that, though.

Another option would be to fly into HNL and drive to Turtle Bay directly. It takes an hour to drive there, but Turtle Bay and the north shore is far more peaceful and enjoyable than what you will find in Honolulu. The hotel has a shuttle service they work with to provide transportation to and from the hotel, Honolulu, and the Polynesian Cultural Center (which offers a luau). The shuttle service costs upwards of $100 and may not be worthwhile unless you intend on spending your entire time at the Turtle Bay Resort without leaving to go anywhere else on the island. (So, while you can get by without a rental car in Honolulu, I would not recommend visiting the north shore without one.)

As for parking? When my husband and I went, self-parking was free. It was a bit of a walk from the main building to the parking lot, but the $20 for valet parking that we saved felt worth it. Starting this month (April 2018), the hotel will begin charging $15 for self-parking so it may not be as worth it for you to self-park. The valet service seemed to be pretty on top of it, getting cars as needed … and quickly.

checking in at the Turtle Bay Resort in O'ahu

Checking In & Customer Service

Check-in was a little slow when we arrived and customer service was mediocre at best. But! They did give us a room upgrade to a partial ocean view which we were thrilled to have!

bedroom at the  at the Turtle Bay Resort in O'ahu

partial ocean view room at the Turtle Bay Resort in O'ahu
view from our room

Room, View, & Bathroom

Our last night in Hawai'i was done right with turquoise walls contrasted with brown linens and crisp white sheets. We had plenty of room to spread out, and we did! And the view from our room was spectacular! We loved opening the sliding glass door to our lanai and hearing the waves crash against the shore as we fell asleep our last night in Hawai'i!

bathroom at the Turtle Bay Resort in O'ahu

The bathroom was also not short on space. I thought it was particularly nice that there was a sink both in the bedroom (separated by a wall from the bed) and in the actual bathroom. How easy would it be for multiple people to get ready at once with easy access to the sink and lots of privacy?! Toiletries in the room consisted of regular soap, body wash, shampoo, and conditioner. There was also an iron and ironing board, hangers in a small closet for clothing, a safe, mini fridge, AC, a blow dryer, a telephone that allowed you to make local calls for free, Keurig coffee maker, and free wifi.

fitness center at the Turtle Bay Resort in O'ahu

Other Amenities

Beyond what could be found in the room, the hotel also offered a pool and hot tub, an ATM, gift shops (including one that sold surf gear and GoPro accessories), a GoPro that can be borrowed (signed out through the front desk), a fitness center, a spa, elevators, laundry room, a concierge, and so much more!

They had endless activities you could book through them:
- helicopter tours
- surf lessons
- disc golf
- horseback riding
- segway tours
- kayaking tours
- pilates classes
- yoga classes
- golf
- barre classes
- live music at the pool bar
- a non-denominational church on the property with services every Sunday

and that's only the tip of the iceberg. Definitely, check the hotel's website if there is something, in particular, you are interested in doing. Whatever it is, they probably have it!

art at the Turtle Bay Resort on O'ahu in Hawai'i

Food Options

My husband and I took advantage of two of the hotel's dining options: The Point (the pool bar) and Kula Grille.

drinks from The Point at the Turtle Bay Resort in O'ahu, Hawai'i
a beer and a Lava Flow

The Point
Hours:
cocktails 10am-10pm
food 11am-7pm

breakfast at the Turtle Bay Resort in O'ahu, Hawai'i
corned beef hash, sunny side up egg, and hash browns

Kula Grille
Hours: 6:30-11am, 5:30-9:30pm

Other dining options available to guests include Pa'aki, Roy's Beach House. Surfer (a bar), Lei Leis, and the lobby lounge.

view from the Turtle Bay Resort in O'ahu, Hawai'i

Overall Review
★★★★ (3.75, above average)

While our stay at Turtle Bay was far from perfect, we enjoyed the area enough to want to return in the future. I have a love and hate relationship with the hotel being so far away from everything; it makes it hard to do anything unless you have a car. It is nice that there aren't so many people around to crowd up the beach, though. Of course, this also makes things like food more expensive because there are few local competitors.

Being upgraded to a room with a view helped to make our stay at this hotel a more enjoyable experience. I don't think back on our stay at Turtle Bay remembering views of the parking lot and hearing cars coming and going; instead, I remember cozying up in my room on my last night in Hawai'i drinking a Lava Flow from The Point and listening to the sound of the ocean. Who wouldn't want that?

Would I stay again? Probably not. There are so many cute Airbnb in the area that I would love to try out! And given that parking has gone up in price, plus the extra $40 in resort fee you pay, I feel like a better deal could be found elsewhere.

I won't say that I recommend staying here if you are planning to visit the North Shore, but I wouldn't shy away from it either. It's a decent hotel option if you don't have time to research or any airbnbs with which you want to choose. And let's be real: there is no "hotel bar" at an Airbnb. So the drink I enjoyed in my room while listening to the ocean? It's not possible unless you have all of the ingredients and someone in your party who knows how to make it. #lessrelaxing


Your Turn

Even knowing all of the downfalls, have you ever stayed at a hotel just to see what it was like? Would you consider a hotel like Turtle Bay where prices are high but other hotel options are few and far between?

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It's day twenty-four in the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my five year anniversary in Hawai'i – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and O'ahu Island!




ABCD • E (pt 1, 2, 3) FGHIJ • K (pt 1, pt 2)L • M • N • O • P • Q • R • S • T • U • V • W

A-Z Laptop Update


This is just a short update to say

1. I have bought a new laptop. It's not taking all of my previous settings, but it's bought. I'll be back in "blogging business" in … time. :)

2. I've been invited to a wedding in Egypt. 😳I haven't been able to find many blog posts on the topic. If you've been to Egypt or know someone that has, any insight would be helpful!

3. I'm tired. Every weekend since April has begun my husband and I have been busy. Weekends 1 and 2 we were in California, weekend 3 in DC, weekend 4 in Alabama and celebrating my mother-in-law's birthday… Where is a bed when you need one? 😴(And today is my extra long work day – 5am until 8pm!)

Friends, how's life going for you? Are you already ready for the weekend too?

The Royal Hawai'ian Hotel – A Review of the Pink Palace

The Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu, Hawai'i

Destination: Kahuku, HI on the island of O'ahu
Date: February 2017
Hotel: The Royal Hawai'ian
Address: 2259 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Brand: Starwood
Elite Status: preferred (the absolute lowest)
# of travelers: 2
nights: 2

Making the Decision

I like to hotel hop but my husband does not. Ultimately, my decision was based on the pink-ness of the hotel and location rather than any superficial reason (like the size of the room or any particular benefits I would get from having status).

Getting There & Valet Parking

We flew into O'ahu from the island of Moloka'i on Hawai'ian Airlines arriving at the HNL airport. We then took a shuttle over to Alamo where we picked up the rental car we would be driving to our hotel and using during our time on O'ahu.

One thing of note: finding The Royal Hawai'ian can be a bit of a hassle, especially if you've never been to Honolulu before. The area The Royal Hawai'ian is in a big tourist district with shopping centers, hotels all over and tourists galore. Seriously I have never seen as many tourists in one place as I did my first day in Honolulu.

Royal Hawai'ian Shopping Center

So, you will drive into an area with a sign for "The Royal Hawai'ian Center" but that is a shopping center, not the hotel. The first hotel after you pass the sign is not the hotel you are looking for! That is the Sheraton. Don't make my mistake of valet parking your car at the Sheraton! Instead, drive a little bit further. The Royal Hawai'ian is found at the very end of the road. Plus, it's a pink hotel, so how can you mistake it for another? If you get out and aren't immediately "lei'd", you are at the wrong hotel!

Sheraton Waikiki

After confusing the Sheraton for The Royal Hawai'ian, my husband and I opted for valet parking at a cost of $40 per day (price at the time of this post). If you are more comfortable driving in Honolulu than myself and my husband, you could opt to self-park at a parking garage nearby. (We, obviously, did not use that option, so I'm not sure of the price.)

For Royal Hawai'ian diners, there is an option to valet park with the hotel for free for up to 4 hours if you purchase $35 or more at one of the hotel's restaurants. Otherwise, the price for valet parking for up to 12 hours is $15.

Checking-In & Customer Service

Did I mention how finding the hotel was stressful for us?

As we were checking in, the front desk noted that we were celebrating our five year wedding anniversary and offered us a coupon for a free banana bread (which we promptly lost), some Royal Hawai'ian sparkling pink rosé and chocolate macadamia nuts. We were doing this anniversary right!

A bit dazed and confused, we made it to our room leaving my husband's phone at the front desk. Luckily, they called us to let us know and everything was made right.

As we waited for our luggage, a young man came by to drop off our rosé and chocolate macadamia nuts. We asked him where he would go for delicious Hawai'ian food and he recommended Roy's. YUM!

So, service at this hotel was pretty amazing. They didn't provide us with an upgrade to an ocean view or suite, but we appreciated the little things, the sparkling rosé, calling to let us know about my husband's phone, offering suggestions on where to eat…

The Royal Hawai'ian bathroom

The Royal Hawai'ian bedroom

Our Room & Bathroom

The room was pretty standard. It was very pink. We did love the iPad they had in the room for ordering room service, though.

The Royal Hawai'ian soaps

The bathroom offered a hair dryer, shampoo, conditioner, lotion, shower cap, and a vanity set. If you really like their lotion/shampoo, you can buy it at a nearby gift shop for a lot of money. I believe the prices we were looking at were in the $90 range. (So stock up if you are staying more than one night at the hotel!)

The Royal Hawai'ian letter

Other Amenities

As a customer of the Royal Hawai'ian, you can enjoy room service, a pool, air conditioning, a fridge in the room (no minibar), laundry service, dry cleaning, and beach towels and chairs (for a fee).

On Friday mornings, you can participate in a ritual chant as the sun is rising to welcome the day. Other options include a yoga class, a tour of the historic Royal Palace, an intro to surfing class, lei making, a luau, shell bracelet making, Hawai'ian quilting, and live music at the Mai Tai Bar. They offer a shuttle bus from the airport (for a fee) and an in-house physician for whatever you need.

The Royal Hawai'ian has a pool and jacuzzi, salon and spa, and plenty of on-site stores to keep you busy and your wallet empty.

Food Options

As far as food goes?

Take your pick!

My husband and I only indulged in some banana bread and a pink snowball that we bought from the Royal Hawai'ian Bakery, but there are many, many options both on the property and off. The on property options include a beachside bar (Mai Tai Bar), an upscale restaurant overlooking the ocean (Azure, serving just dinner), an upscale beachside restaurant (Surf Lanai, serving breakfast and lunch), a luau (because what visit to Hawai'i would be complete without one?) and, of course, in-room dining.

Check Out

We checked out early in the morning and headed out for a view of sunrise at a blowhole on the south-east side of the island. You would think that few people would have been up at that hour, but it seems we weren't the only ones with that plan. It took a bit for the valet to get our car, but when do valets get vehicles quickly? … And, just like that, we were checked out and on the road! Super simple and quick, just like it's supposed to be.

Overall Review
★★★ (average)

The Royal Hawai'ian is located in a great part of Honolulu. It's really easy to get around without a car should you want to and your travel plans allow for it. Of course, The Royal Hawai'ian is a pretty expensive hotel to stay at if you are on a budget. Not only should you be considering the price of your hotel room but also the $37 resort fee (at the time of this posting) and, if you rent a vehicle, the cost of parking that vehicle. The food that I tried on the property was mediocre at best, bad at worst. We had much better food off the property. And we were a little disappointed to not get upgraded and that the room itself was on the small side. However, we loved having our fifth anniversary recognized by hotel staff. The service at The Pink Palace was superb! I would definitely stay again for that! As well as for the pretty pink-ness of the hotel and all of the hotel's history.

So, should you go?

Maybe.

What are you looking for in a hotel? History? Pinkness? Great service? Great location? YES, absolutely! (Though there are, from what I can tell, other fantastic hotels in the area!)

If you are looking for upgrades, a secluded resort (like those that Hawai'i is known for), a good price? Maybe go somewhere else. (Honolulu should probably be out if you are looking for calm and quiet, though, to be fair.)


Your Turn

Has the color of a hotel ever appealed to you in such a way that you decided to book? … Have you ever stayed at a hotel with a lot of history?

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It's day eighteen in the A-Z blog challenge! This month I'll be sharing all about my five year anniversary in Hawai'i – providing insight into the places I went, reviewing the hotels I stayed at, and telling my story. Today's letter was R for the Royal Hawai'ian Hotel in Honolulu, Hawai'i on O'ahu Island!


ABCD • E (pt 1, 2, 3) FGHIJ • K (pt 1, pt 2) • LM • N • O • P • Q