On the Road Eats: San Diego

Hotel: Marriott Gaslamp
Would I stay again? Yes.  It is conveniently located in the gaslamp district and close to the conference I attended at the Hilton. It has a lounge and a rooftop bar.

Restaurants:

Lunch: Tin Fish Gaslamp
Would I dine again?
Maybe.  There are so many restaurants in San Diego and I wanted dish tacos and a short walk.

Dinner: Juniper and Ivy
Would I dine again? Most definitely.  I was dining with colleagues and so we each picked a “bite” to start, then a small plate and then entreés.  I loved my yellowtail bite, the heirloom tomatoes and the black cod.  My colleagues each had the steak which they shared a bite and that too was amazing.  I look forward to returning on my annual trip to San Diego!

Breakfast:  Lucky’s Lunch Counter
Would I dine again? Yes.  It’s around the. Order from the Marriott, you can build your own breakfast burrito and it’s per diem friendly!

Dinner: Ironside Fish & Oyster
Would I dine again? Yes.  But I admit I liked dinner at Juniper and Ivy a little better.  I liked the menu options with lots of fresh fish and it was easy to share with others.  I tried a bunch of items including two desserts.

Dinner: Davonti Enoteca
Would I dine again? Yes.  The menu seemed familiar and it was because I dined at a location in Chicago and had the same polenta and ragu.  Group dining is great because we tried a bunch of dishes!

On the Road Eats: Washington DC

Hotel: Washington Marriott Wardman Park
Would I stay again? Yes but would not be my first choice.  It is a huge hotel with tons of event space.  I prefer something smaller.

Restaurants:

Dinner: La Tomate Bistro
Would I dine again? Probably not.  The food was good but the service was absolutely terrible.

Dinner Day 2:  China Chilcano
Would I dine again? Yes, Yes, Yes.  All the plates we had were awesome.  Surprisingly, my favorite was the cauliflower.

Dinner Day 3: Bistro du Coin
Would I dine again? Yes, Almost every year I attend a conference at the Washington Hilton right up the street and the food is consistently good. Plus, who can turn down a great bowl of mussels?

Mussels

On the Road Eats: Chicago

Hotel: The Gwen
Would I stay again? Yes!  Very modern, fantastic service, River North location.

Restaurants:

Lunch: Beacon Tavern
Would I dine again? Yes.  Easy to walk to and my sandwich was awesome.

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1/2 Sandwich Combo – clam chowder and reuben

 

Dinner: Quartino
Would I dine again? Been here before.  Ate in the bar area, the beet salad was not great – recommend the one at River Roast. The eggplant – would order again!

 

Breakfast: Beatrix
Would I dine again? Yes.  I have been here before and always have a great meal.  And I feel healthy when I leave!

Cauliflower Grits

The Perfect Staycation

I have something to share with you.

I have checked into hotels over 30 times this year. I do a lot of overnight trips and am constantly in different cities. I have my routine- I always deadbolt the door, check the bed, the bathroom and hang my suit for the next day. As long as I know what city I am in when I wake up, I’m doing good. But this check-in was different. VERY different.

It was  Friday, the last day of school before Thanksgiving break.  My 9-year-old was in the back seat. I had already spent the night in another city that week but I could not arrive fast enough to this hotel to check-in. She said why are we at a Renaissance hotel? Then the valet opened the door and asked for my last name and if we were checking in. I said yes and a loud cheer came from the back as she LOVES staying in hotels.  We grabbed our bags, walked into the lobby and our experience began.

I have to give the biggest THANK YOU to Ainsley who welcomed us at the registration desk.  My daughter was so excited to check in for this surprise night and he made us feel like we were their most valued guests.  I admit, as an Elite member, I had called after making the reservation to let them know I was doing a special surprise mom-daughter staycation and to ask if they could leave something special for her in the room when we arrived (chocolate chip cookies?).  But what Ainsley did instead was to make sure that both of us would have the most wonderful experience at his property.  He told us about the pool on the third floor, and the concierge lounge we could access, and how she could get room service or walk across the street to Sprinkles for cupcakes!  After she told him how stressful fourth grade can be, he told her the room he was giving us was a NO STRESS room.  And he wanted her to just relax and enjoy her time with mom.

We headed up to the 15th floor, the top floor of the Renaissance Dallas at Plano Legacy West.  I had booked a king room and hoped they would upgrade us to the king room with the huge Asian baths I read about so she could have a fun spa night.  Nothing prepared me for what Ainsley had arranged for us.

You know the rooms with double entrance doors that you see as you walk down the hall to your room wondering how much they cost per night or how many nights as a frequent traveler you need to stay in order to get upgraded to that room when you do a family vacation?  That was our room.  And I was so surprised and appreciative that I videotaped my daughter entering the suite and exploring the entire “apartment”.

I continued to hear the words WOW and THIS IS AWESOME.  And that created a permanent smile on my face for the rest of the night.  Three sitting areas, a full dining room, a huge bathroom AND when she saw the pool table in our room – well, this hotel became her favorite place in the Dallas area.

 

We had the whole evening to enjoy.  And Legacy West had tons of shops and restaurants.  First we “unpacked” for the night and played a few games of pool in our suite.  We went to the rooftop pool and made boomerang videos.  We explored the lobby of the hotel.  Then we changed our clothes and headed out for our “date”.  We saw the fountains at Legacy West, decided on Italian for dinner at North Italia(her other favorite food besides sushi), explored the new books at Barnes & Noble, stopped by Sephora to try on fun lipstick colors and finally ended up at Sprinkles to end our night out.  We took fun pictures with the holiday lights in the background and headed back to the hotel bar to order a lemonade for her and an adult drink for me before heading up to our room.  But the evening wasn’t over.  Certain rooms have these huge tubs and Japanese bath salts for an in-room spa experience so of course we had to try it.  But the surprises from the hotel continued.  After the bath, we enjoyed cookies, milk and other treats that Rudy arranged to send up to us at bedtime.  Rudy – thank you.  Those oatmeal cookies were AWESOME and we sat on the couch (one of the three sitting areas), watched HGTV and talked about our day.  It was the perfect way to end the night before heading off to the bedroom for bed.

The next morning we made a quick run to the concierge lounge for coffee and chocolate milk and decided to order a big breakfast from room service.  I had the Asian breakfast and she had a classic American breakfast.  The service was friendly (and quick) and we got to eat at the huge dining room table in our pajamas!  A few more games of pool before we got dressed and headed out for a quick walk around the hotel and Legacy West to find a heart stone for our collection.

We finally headed back to the hotel with a stone in her hand to pack our bag and find Ainsley to say a big thank you.  A few high five’s later, we were in the car headed home, only a 15-minute drive.

A huge thank you to the Renaissance for the wonderful experience.  Time with my daughter is precious and this experience surpassed my expectations.


Now it is my turn…

Why a staycation? Because it is my time to have all of my mom’s attention. When we got to the hotel,  I was just like,  I love it, it is so modern.  Then we checked in with someone named Ainsley, and he told me it was going to be a stress-free night. We went to our room TRIPLE, NO QUADRUPLE WOW it was awesome. We unpacked and played pool. We went to the deck and went to the pool and did some boomerangs and then we went inside. After being in the room we went to go get dinner and candy. We went back and watched TV. Then we went and took a bath. Then we went to bed. The next morning we went to the lounge and got milk. Then we ordered food. We watched TV and then we had to check out, we said thanks to Ainsley and checked out. So that was the end of our staycation. That was the first but definitely not the last.