I was recently packing when I discovered a number of hotel keys floating about in various pieces of luggage. I typically rotate between my duffle bag, roller bag or backpack/weekender, depending upon the length of each trip. To my surprise, I counted 18 stays, reflecting 18 keys for this year alone. In case you’re wondering, I do usually turn in at least one key, considering the hotel or resort generally provides you with two. In some rare cases, I have even received three keys, when there were room, door issues. In any case, upon making this discovery, I thought to myself – “This is a lot of hotel keys for 2016, Candace.” While most are from the Hilton family (I’m a HH member ) i.e. DoubleTree, Hilton Garden Inn or Hampton (work related,) there are some others that hold extra special memories this year. I must confess that I don’t always post on social media where I am each day, and that is partially because, sometimes…. I’d rather not be found. Forgive me. I mix and mingle when needed, but the introvert in me has to have time to work in peace alone, and other times, I simply need to refuel- and that is best accomplished solo for me.

While strolling back down memory lane, I was instantly drawn to three keys in particular out of the bunch. They naturally stood out because they looked so different from the scores of replicas from the brands noted above. Immediately, I cracked a smile. I closed my eyes and thought back to when I used each of them this year, and the fun times that I had during my stays. From boating on the Caribbean Sea in Bonaire, to snapping photos of the low-flying aircraft on Maho Beach in St. Maarten, I had a blast! Then there was the day I ventured across to the French side- of St. Martin, to nosh out at Cynthia’s with a buddy, and the day I set out to view the thousands of gorgeous cherry blossoms along the Tidal Basin in Washington D. C.  While all 18 experiences were not nearly as refreshing as these, I must say that each of them still left a lasting impression upon me. I’ve met so many cool people, engaged in countless deep conversations with individuals from all across the globe, joked with hotel staff….and complained in some cases, dined alongside some really interesting individuals, and overall just had a really good time. Life is meant to be lived, so I try my best to do just that. Although, it’s actually a pretty grueling job, despite what most people may think. Everyone sees the glitz and the glam online, but forgets about the backside of it. The flip side… is the challenging part. There are issues with business clients, unclean hotel rooms, hotel keys that don’t work after you’ve lugged tons of bags up to your door and have to go back to the front desk, those days where less than obedient children splash water on everyone outside of the pool while their parents sunbathe quietly, the nights of broken bathroom shower heads, lack of towels in the room, broken microwaves when it’s late and you want to warm up that delicious soup at 10:30pm, hard beds, hallway construction noise, loud neighbors and the telephones that don’t get a dial tone in the rooms, too. Yep, it’s not always an Instagram dream, but it’s part of the journey! Considering I’m a bit of a road warrior, a.k.a consultant, content writer, business coach and of course…travel and inspirational blogger, I’ve come up with a few things to consider before you book your next hotel/resort stay.

Hotel/Resort Tips from My Personal Experience

Remember: Not all hotel rooms are created equal. Thus, it’s important to look for certain amenities: Here is my go-to list, regardless of business or pleasure.

Driving vs. walking– If I have a rental car, which I often do, then proximity to the airport is not a major factor. However, in those instances when I don’t get a car, then accommodations near the airport and client are a real plus, since most have free shuttle service to and fro the airport, as well as within a 3 mile radius. I also consider if the property offers (free or not) breakfast, has on site restaurants, or if there are a plethora of food choices in both walking and driving distance. If I’ve had a long day, the last thing I want to do on my way back in, is to have to drive far to pick up dinner. Onsite restaurants are a winner, especially if the food is yummy. Free parking is also a plus when choosing.

Must- Haves–  I look for hotels with a business center in case I have to fax or scan items and a pleasant lounge area. If they don’t have a business center, then I need to confirm that they will fax or scan items if I need them to. I enjoy working in different atmospheres so when I’m not in the room, at a coffee shop, or in an office, I like to work from the lobby or lounge area. Change of scenery for me- is good. I also appreciate onsite laundry rooms and/or service and if it is a resort, then access to tours, beaches and other outdoor activities. Additionally, I look for onsite spa services, indoor or outdoor whirlpools, swimming pools, ocean room views (if it’s a water location) or city or garden scape views.

Also, be sure to select a property in the area of your activities. Map out to-do’s; restaurants, museums, train stations (if needed,) beaches, etc. If you have a strict diet (look for eateries that can accommodate,) walking restrictions and enjoy things like-morning jogs or strolls, your hotel location is important.

Travel Memberships & Apps

My preference for vacation is luxe! For business I’m generally in a moderately priced location. Thus, it really just depends on the trip, the client, whether it’s a vacation or business and the time of travel. I am a rewards member with Hilton and Wyndham (though not a huge fan of their brand, but I have stayed in a couple newly remodeled Wingates and Wyndhams that I liked.) Some of my favorite go-to apps for hotels include: Hotels.com, AgodaHotel Tonight, Travelpirates – primarily for flights and Hipmunk. The benefit of being a member or having an account with these companies is that you earn valuable points. Many travel-related credit cards (i.e. airline or hotel brands) work the same way. Each stay and even some purchases (credit cards,) allow you to amass points that can be applied toward “free” stays. Sign-up to take advantage of these benefits today! 

Well, 18 hotel keys later, and all I can say is that it’s been a wild ride already this year. Prayerfully, several more incredible travel experiences are on the way. In the meantime, happy and safe travels to you, and stay tuned to learn about more adventures, tips, products and services.

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