How far south are you going on the east coast and what things do you want/like to do? Tons of wineries on Long Island, can catch the ferry over from CT and drink your way through to NYC Tons of great places though so if you are looking for ideas post up some of your likes/wants and we'll see what folks come up with
If you are driving, load an app called Waze on your phone. Traffic on the I95 corridor can drain your will to live, that app is a social based real time traffic/speed one that can reroute you around trouble.
Have a great time, lots of good places along the way. Just south of DC is Mt Vernon, Washington's home. Pretty cool side trip just south of DC if you want to deviate slightly from the normal DC tourism.
If you are in Niagara Falls, stay at the Marriott Gateway to the Falls which has wonderful views, good service, and a nice restaurant. Also suggest the Mayflower in DC which is now an Autograph Collection property. Is New York on the agenda? If so, stay at the Essex House. We also enjoyed the historical sites at Gettysburg, PA, but there is only a Courtyard there if you are staying at Marriotts, and it's ok but not really honeymoon material! Dobbin House is better and has a really neat historical restaurant as well as a bed and breakfast.
If you happen to travel to western Ontario, one of our favorite spots is the Ben Miller Inn, Goderich, ONT - not a Marriott property, but perhaps a weekend outside the reward-night stays? I took this photo during winter (obviously), but the B&B is delightful, charming and offers great food! The inn is located some 3 hours west of Toronto Airport. If you fly into Toronto Airport, I'd recommend the Marriott Courtyard there near the airport.
We're going no further west than Niagara, and as the in-laws live in Oakville we are based there at the beginning and end of the holiday, so don't need an airport stay. I was however in Toronto about 10 years ago and stayed a night at the airport Marriott which I felt was reflective of brand standards but in no way outstanding.
The last time I was in Canada it was for a fortnight (2 weeks) in August and flights cost £500pp. This time they were £800, so I shouldn't have been surprised when my quote for a 7 person SUV also increased, but from £400 for the fortnight in 2009, to £2,000 for a month now was way too rich for my tastes, so I accordingly changed my search to a 7 person people carrier and saw the quote reduce to £950, a wholly more manageable sum, if a wholly less fun car. The wife consoled me that I might still get my all-American SUV as an upgrade offer on arrival, but I didn't think much of my chances, especially when on arrival I saw a fleet of Dodge Caravans waiting at the carhire garage. I was therefore delighted to be offered an upgrade to an all-American 8-seater GMC Yukon XL, an absolute behemoth of a car for only $10CAD extra per day. No-brainier... With 5,000km on the clock, this is going to be a very American Roadtrip... brmmm, brmmmm
Oakville Holiday Inn.
10 room-nights over 4 nights, 1st night me and wife only, second and third nights 2 rooms, the other being for parents-in-law. Final night joined by sister-in-law in another room and 4 teens in 2 double-doubles. Total cost 150,000 IHG points. Cost to buy rooms £1,100...
The hotel itself stands opposite the local train station and within a 30 mins walk of Lake Ontario and is probably as central as you'll get in sprawling Oakville. Built in the 1970's this hotel is a 6 floor building holding all the bedrooms with what can best be described as a very posh Lean-to at the side that houses the reception, bar, pool, conference facilities and restaurant. Since building its undergone at least a couple of refurbs, the most recent about 5 years ago. The hard furniture however looks pretty ancient as does the bathroom but the beds are supremely comfortable with thick mattresses. You'll also find a large modern flat screen TV though as this is Canada, regrettably nothing decent to watch on It! The bar and restaurant area is very nicely done though the presence of the small swimming pool does give it a whiff of chlorine sometimes, and the background acoustics of dining in a leisure centre. Whoever thought it would be a corking idea to put a swimming pool integrally within the public areas of the hotel was frankly deranged, although the hotel has tried to absorb all this noise by building a wooden structure within the public areas to house the restaurant and bar in an attempt to absorb both noise and smells, alas to limited effect. Finally, if you're a top tier member of IHG Rewards, this hotel is very good at recognition with room upgrades and, very unusually, free breakfast coupons. Scrupulously clean throughout we enjoyed our family get-together here!
Sounds like a memorable trip so far!
Keep the reports coming, this is sounding like a "Chevy Chase Vacation"!
Thus the road-trip with 4 teens begins. First call Ottawa Marriott. 3 rooms for 3 nights at 20k per room, total 120,000 MR points. Cost to buy rooms £900...
Situated as it is on the edge of lively Sparks Street this hotel is very conveniently placed for the Supreme Court and Parliament. It's also really trying to make its Spin kitchen and Bar into a lively place to meet, eat and drink and is certainly succeeding, it was pleasantly busy both evenings we were there. Staff are particularly friendly with a special shout to Bob the bartender, great sense of humour and very attentive. The rooms are a good size featuring the wonderful Marriott bed and everything is scrupulously clean throughout. This is a high rise hotel extending to 29 floors (rooms to 26th) but has 5 very speedy elevators that ensure easy access to your room. Upgrade-wise, apart from a view of Parliament from the 19th floor, no upgrade was offered, but I did have 3 rooms, and I suspect the hotel concentrated more on keeping our rooms together, which was appreciated. The Exec lounge on the 26th floor was pretty underwhelming, one hot option which by the time we arrived half hour before the end of service had gone, and was not replenished and an uninspiring picked over cold which was similarly left to falter. Expensive, though pretty wide-ranging honesty bar. Exec lounge breakfast is served 7 days a week, and is similarly the minimum, only hot is scrambled eggs, then there's some cold meats, limited cereals and breads. This is poor, especially considering the lounges impressive size and views, which must be some of the best in Ottawa. A better food offering, with a happy hour could see this lounge scale right to the top, as it is, the lounge should be utterly forgettable, but is saved from that fate by those great views! Finally, this hotel really does welcome families with its 4th floor pool and kids/Tweens/Teens game rooms featuring a basketball net, table tennis, table hockey and pool table, all free to use. There were also video games. Our teens really enjoyed that feature! I will certainly stay again.
We've been at the Adirondacks with only the spottiest Internet coverage, but returned to civilisation yesterday. If you want to know whether you've spoiled your kids with all your hotel stays, get a cabin (shed) in the Adiriondacks and measure their complaints on a "whinge-o-meter". Ours scored eardrum-busting... Great fun!
AUsable Chasm and Campground, Adirondacks
This was the "back to nature" part of a road-trip otherwise dominated by man-made cities or tourist Meccas. Mainly a camping/RV setup, it does welcome road-trippers with its cabins, all set up in a forest with clearings to house the cabins/campers. The cabins are pinewood large shed type structures housing a small desk and chair, a double bed and a bunkbed. There are 4 sockets, a ceiling fan & light. This really is simple living so bring your sleeping bag as no linens are provided. Running water is a shared tap out front of the cabin and the communal toilets and plentiful and hot showers are housed in the wooden reception building. Likewise the reasonably priced laundry machines. It's very popular during the summer and is filled with the delighted shouts and calls of kids playing hide and seek between the trees, tents, RVs and cabins, and adults having a go at throwing the horseshoe.
There's also a swimming pool that was a closed down during all 3 days of our stay.
The campground is owned by the same company that owns Ausable Chasm and is a simple half-mile walk to the chasm with all of its myriad of daytime activities. My wife and I did the classic tour, allowing access to the walks around and through the chasm, our 4 teens did the Adventure walk. What this meant in practice was we all walked the inner sanctum, which took us down into the chasm along wooden walkways clinging to the cliff edge and then onto an inflatable raft floating through the narrowest part of the chasm and the Rapids. This took us till lunch and the teens went off for their adventure walk which was a different course and included challenging activities. We did the rim walk and then made our way back to the campsite. The teens thoroughly enjoyed their experience although did remark that there was an hour wait on the tightrope walk across the chasm, extending the 2 hour experience to 3 hours. Back at the campsite we got on with the laundry at the camp laundrette $1.25 per 45min wash, same for 30 min dryer. As evening turned to night we made our campfire in the firepit provided for each cabin and fought off the hungry mozzies with citronella candles and copious amounts of mozzie repellant. The result was only a couple of bites between us all, so even at the height of mozzie season here you can beat the critters.
Finally, cost. Not cheap, the cabins are $70/nt and sleep 4, $280 for the 2 cabins staying 2 nights/3 days we were there, credit cards accepted. Over at the chasm after campground reductions our tickets cost $250, but we were able to use our CAD at par to pay for all activities, souvenirs and the cafe, which was convenient for us as we'd only crossed the border that day, had plenty of CAD but only small amounts of USD.
All-in-all an excellent facility and a great back-to-nature adventure experience in one of the Adirondacks natural wonders.
Courtyard Albany Airport
We booked 3 rooms on points at $250 per room for this one night stay. At 20,000 points per night I redeemed 60,000 points saving £500.
We stayed here on a single night stop-off between the Adirondacks and were very pleasantly surprised as this was only my second Courtyard stay ever, the last one being at Prague Airport about a decade ago. Whatever the opinions on US Courtyards, I found this one to be excellent, large rooms, ready on arrival with a comfortable bed and efficient quiet aircon, and with several eating options in walking distance this is a strong stop-off choice.
MARRIOTT MARQUIS TIMES SQ, NYC.
This part of the trip was the one most anticipated by the teens. Because NYC is so expensive both in cash and points I'd resolved to go for a 3-way sharer, with the teen daughter sharing our King room on the sofabed and the three teen boys sharing a double-double with the youngest on the sofabed in there. Total cost for the 3 nights was 270,000 MR points but I kept an eye on the prices and though the first 2 nights (Friday and Daturday) vacillated around $400-$600 per night, the Sunday night continually reduced until 2 months ago it touched $199, so I bit. Hence these 3 nights for 2 rooms per night cost:
Friday & Saturday 180,000 points (saving £1,600)
Sunday £300 (inc tax)
Now, the Marriott Marquis is the seminal hotel smack-bang on Times Square, and rooms here are spacious, clean and comfortable. Not great luxury though, but as I've said very clean with superbly comfortable beds. Mind you it charges according to its position, $600 is a lot of money for a night! Luckily using points meant no out-of-pocket cost but even so 45,000 Marriott points is a lot too! Alas, the hotel is unfortunately smack bang in the bit of Times Square currently being reconstructed, making an already crazy-busy area just a sea of wall-to-wall humanity. Added to that, the first 2 floors of the hotels frontispiece are also being reconstructed narrowing the already constricted sidewalk space even further and meaning there's no direct pedestrian access from the hotel onto Times Sq, at the moment pedestrians share access to the hotel with NYC's very frustrated drivers, something only guaranteed to add to their woes, and hence yours. Once you've successfully navigated your way past the cabs and Suburbans into the hotel it's time to wrestle with the elevators, a system cursed by a common modern design fault, form over function... Yes, they look really impressive, speeding pods flying up and down the centre of the hotel in a "Jetsons becomes reality" kind of way but plagued by the fact that a computer chooses which elevator you will use leaving you at peak times with incredibly long waits, 10 mins was not uncommon during our first 2 sold-out nights. I suspect we lost over an hour of our NYC weekend to this geeks wet dream creation!
Insofar as Plat treatment was concerned, Plat acknowledged and PAG offered. Room was upgraded to Concierge floor, nice... Except that the lounge was also being reconstructed, so was replaced with a temporary lounge accessed by having to go down to the 8th floor and then change elevators... Meaning that the concierge floor is now one of the most inconvenient places to place any Gold/Plat member as I now have to spend even more time wrestling with the aforesaid elevator-geeks-wet-dream-creation as I now have to use the almost unusable elevator system 4 times just to visit the lounge. Hohum! Then there's the Internet. So called "Streaming High Speed" is free to Gold and Plat, just as well, as you wouldn't pay for it here, although OK to email and update TripAdvisor/MRI it's useless for streaming, unless the streaming referred to is the amazing stream of invective and expletives emanating from our teenagers for whom Internet is an integral part of body and brain. Even so, it managed to get worse when at 10pm the wifi went down across the entire hotel for the rest of the evening. How do I know? I'm writing this up on my iPads notepad at midnight as I can't do so online due to the aforesaid failure, now over 2 hours down... Oh and yes, I did turn my device off and on, much good it did me, or my iPad!
The next morning was a Sunday, and this was very much "all change". From the fully booked chaos of the Friday and Saturday night at $600 per night, upon which I therefore redeemed points, I was able to get the Sunday night for only $199, so saved my points. The low price was because the hotel is woefully underoccupied and so on Sunday night and Monday morning found speedy lifts and concierge lounge access. Now as stated above the lounge is being redone till end August however this means that the usual "1 Elite plus 1" rule so normally strictly enforced is slackened as both replacement venues are a good size ensuring no overcrowding problems. Ourselves and our 4 teens were very happy to sample the good spread that set us up well for our final NYC day. Normally however green keys are given to elites and access to the lounge is strictly limited to "1&1" as above. Expect this rule to be vigorously reinstated once the refurbed lounge opens. Food options on the evening were however a fair variety and replenished and breakfast offered scrambled eggs, sausages, toast, fruit, breads, muffins, pastries and continental pastries.
As for activities, well it surprised us how quickly the teens exhausted themselves and wanted to return to the hotel. As a consequence over 3 days we managed only The Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Garment District, Central Park, Ground Zero and Wall St. Plus a full tour of the Times Sq district which staying at the Marquis we were of course right in the middle of!
Now it has to be remembered this hotel is right on Times Sq, and the room was big, clean and comfortable so whilst all in all it was the most disappointing Marriott I have ever sampled, I was still in NYC, and still in Times Square, hence the hotel escapes these irritants. To the 4 teens it was a veritable Disneyland of views and lights... They absoloutely LOVED it. But, would I stay again..? With teens, unquestionably yes. For work, or just me and the missus, No, I won't. There has to be better choices in this price and points bracket, and on my next NYC stay I will be trying to find it!
brightlybob I agree with your assessment of the Marriott Marquis Times Square. I will only stay there again if I absolutely have to or maybe if the kids are along, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Those elevators are bizarre, to be sure. If you can find a reasonable rate (which is hit and miss), try the Essex House. It's my favorite. The CL lounge is excellent. Or Westin Times Square is great if you want to be near Times Square. Or Grand Hyatt New York at Grand Central is in a good location and not as hectic as Times Square. Sounds like you are having a great trip! Enjoy!
Holiday Inn Central White House, DC
This was our last "destination call" in the USA portion on our road-trip. 3 rooms for 2 nights costing 35,000 IHG points per night, total 210,000 points worth £950.
Firstly, if you think due to its name that this hotel is the nearest to the White House, you'd be wrong. In fact it wouldn't surprise me if there's 100 hotels in DC closer to the White House than this one. But then there's a lot of hotels in DC, so maybe it means you can see the White House from the hotel, except you can't. Not even from a top floor room. Not even from the rooftop swimming pool. Not even from the rooftop pool standing on your tippy-toes. If you do walk out of the hotel, turn right and walk to the road junction, cross to the middle of the junction and look down the road in front of you, then there is a glimpse of White right at the bottom, the very bottom of that street... That's the White House. About a 15 minute walk from the hotel.
Now when I booked this hotel I was crying into my beer, you see it was part of a redemption holiday and cost 35,000 points per room per night. I booked 3 rooms for 2 nights costing 270,000 points. That's a lot of IHG points, especially when the closer-to-the-White-House Crowne Plaza Hamilton was the same number of points for a superior hotel. But we were holidaying with teens and the Holiday Inn had one feature so few DC hotels have... An outdoor pool, and a rooftop one at that! So this hotel it was, teen choice!
Parking here is convenient as the hotel has its own $30/nt carpark. If you've a large car however it'll be too tight for you but the hotel does have a small yard at the rear with space for 3 or 4 oversize SUV type motors. Pull up at the front on arrival and nip in to reception and they'll guide you and open up the gates to the yard if you need it.
Checkin was very efficient and I was greeted as one of the new Spire members with the words, "we see you're a new Spire member and are pleased to confirm we have upgraded you to a suite". And very spacious it was too! The kids double-doubles were both a good size and close (but not too close) to us. All good so far. The bar is lively and runs a 3-hour happy hour with worthwhile reductions on a variety of drinks. My choice, a wheat beer, was $4 per glass during this time, $6.50 after.
Although the rooms are a good size and the suite very spacious, this hotel is well overdue a refurb, furniture is battered, carpets completely flat and soft furniture is dated. Having said that its all clean and everything works. Be aware that although the aircon is via one of those noisy wall units, the controls are via a thermostat on the wall, though in one of our rooms the thermostat was dead and the aircon was controlled on the unit, a bit confusing that! Beds however are superbly comfortable and we all slept very well, even though the soundproofing via the dated aluminium windows is poor, it doesn't matter as DC is a quiet city and the hotel in a quiet (ish) area.
In short this is nothing magnificent, but does its job and is well positioned to walk to the central attractions, and with an outdoor swimming pool to cool off in when the going gets too sticky, which in July it does!
Holiday Inn Express, Selinsgrove
This hotel was a stopoff between DC and Niagara Falls, so was a pure points play. I was looking at Dubois, Clearfield or Selinsgrove. Dubois was the Fairfield Inn at 10,000 MR points per night, and the other 2 were Holiday Inn Expresses at 20,000 IHG points per night. So it was Dubois, but in June IHG released its Pointsbreak list for July which reduced the Selinsgrove HIX to 5,000 points, so I cancelled the Dubois FFI and booked 3 rooms for the Selinsgrove HIX. Total cost 15,000 points for the 3 rooms worth £250.
Now HIX hotels in the UK are fair enough, smallish rooms with a shower, efficient but dull. This was nothing like that, these rooms were very large, fully equipped and well up to Courtyard standards but with a darn good free breakfast as well.
The hotel itself was right next to a mall which had a Garfields pub. Whilst propping the bar up there I got talking to several regulars including a girl waiting for her boyfriend to turn up, a guy getting his growler filled and taking the opportunity to grab a quick couple of pints too, and Larry, a retired Vet enjoying retirement with his second wife and running a small-time gardening business. All were so friendly, it was one of the best evenings of the roadtrip!
All-in-all, a great experience of small-town Americana for our final night in the USA before our Niagara Falls stay.
Niagara Fallsview Marriott
The last of our family roadtrip visits, and eagerly awaited by the teens, this was my only non-points stay of the entire roadtrip. I did consider redeeming here but at 40,000 points for a non-view room where rates were $200/nt made no sense, even less so when a Fallsview family suite for 6 could be had for only $300/nt. Family suite it was. Now with the taxes and service charges the total went up to $700, but there was also an "extra adult charge" of $20 per person per night, adding a further $160. As it turns out this extra charge is waived for Plats, so the total cost was to me was £350. I could of course have redeemed 160,000 points for 2 non-view rooms (only 2 rooms as its way too expensive points-wise for 3) but the value just wasn't there. So I paid the cash.
Now the family suites are only quoted as being on floors 5-9 and reviews were clear that the view from floors 5 & 6 were largely obscured by trees, so I requested a high floor and was very happy on arrival to be given a 14th floor room... And oh, boy, what a view. Then it was simply a matter of settling in, a bit of organisation and teen argy-bargy led to a final arrangement which pleased us all and we all enjoyed the wonderful view time and again over our 2-night stay. The family suite itself was in effect a Queen-Queen room with a pair of French doors at the end opening to a much smaller room with a sofabed and TV, and that magnificent view from full width nearly floor-to-ceiling windows. It was large enough to accommodate our party of 6 adults at a squeeze and scrupulously clean. As far as the attractions are concerned, like the Marquis in NYC, Marriott again has the seminal hotel here in Niagara too. Not cheap to stay at, not cheap to eat at, but no question, I'll stay again, next time just me and the wife in a jacuzzi Fallsview room!
Breakfast is in the Terrapin Restaurant with views of the Falls. Not really the best views though as the restaurant is on a low floor so trees get in the way. On the right tables you get pretty good views of the falls. On the wrong ones, largely obscured by trees or other diners.
No question here, if you're making the journey from Europe to Niagara for a once-in a-lifetime experience this Marriott is the ONLY and BEST Fallsview choice. Accept no imitations, but be prepared to pay. Really impressed.
Oakville Fairfield Inn
This was a one night stay, depositing the kids with the in-laws and getting ourselves in order for our 3 night trip away to Montreal. Here I redeemed 10,000 MR points for the £80 night.
This is my first ever stay at a Fairfield Inn and the hotel was quite impressive. The reception area was bright with a small seating and breakfast area in bright colours. The room was very large by European standards with a big and comfy king bed. The bathroom was not cramped and the shower was very good.
Alas we left in the morning having canceled a planned weekend stay there for the next week and vowing never to return.
The problem was the night we stayed, Saturday, or perhaps better quoted as "StagHenDay". The limos were parked on our checkin and the lads and girls were readying themselves with plenty of door-slamming by the un-buffered doors onto the open latches. Irritating, but ok at 3pm. At 1am however, with the party in full swing, Cowboys-and-Indians being played out in the corridors and repeated non-stop slamming of doors onto latches, having been going on for several hours, with staff requests to quieten down ritually ignored (and to be fair the staff really did try, but to little effect), it took a meet up with staff to FORCE the issue.
So, if you're a stag or hen and are looking to find likeminded drunken souls for unlimited LOUD SHOUTY Cowboys-and-Indian fun up and down hotel corridors at 2am, with repeated chasing between bedrooms and plenty of cursing, this place is for you! No, really. You'll LOVE it.
And all for only $100 per night. And don't forget, 4 can occupy a double-double room, that's $25pp. But I bet a couple more could be squeezed in with sufficient room for a 24-can slab of beer per person piled up in the corner!!!
Marriott Eaton Centre, Toronto.
This was another 1-nighter and the last Marriott stay for the vacation. Here we needed to be close to the Union railway station and the missus felt like a look around the Eaton centre. Just the 2 of us in one room costing 35,000 points, worth £220.
This is a big hotel in an outdoor part of the Eaton Centre and very convenient it is too. Those with a particularly heavy shopping habit will enjoy the convenience of simply returning to the hotel to drop off the full bags of shopping enabling a return to the retail therapy with empty arms to refill! On deserted streets it's a 10 minute walk to Union Station, more like 20 mins with bags and crowds.
The hotel public areas are well set out with local Inuit artwork built in.
Checkin was straightforward and we were upgraded to a corner room from where we watched the most wonderful storm. All is scrupulously clean, plenty of space and friendly staff. We ate in the Eaton centre but did have a beer in the hotel bar and shared one of their desserts, which was lovely.
The executive lounge is one of the biggest I've seen, but in common with all other North American lounges, booze is only available when paid at the full hotel price. Here it's an honesty bar with a pretty wide range of options. The Exec lounge breakfast arrangement is an odd one, enter the lounge which is to the left of the bar, at breakfast becoming the serving area. Grab a tray in the lounge and go back out, get your breakfast and return back into the Exec lounge to eat it. Although odd, and a little inconvenient, it does mean the exec lounge breakfast is unbeatable, because it's really the restaurant breakfast!
Montreal Holiday Inn.
This was 3 nights in Montreal visiting my wife's city of childhood. Not much of a tourist visit here, more a trip down memory lane to a place she hasn't visited since the 1980's. Here the redemption field was pretty open with Marriotts options being the nearly new CY at 90,000 points, the SHS at 105,000 and the somewhat old FS Marriott also at 105,000. IHG offered the below-par Intercontinental at 135,000 points and the newly refurbished Holiday Inn at 75,000. All were offering very similar cash rates, about £100-£130 per night. Time to whittle down. The SHS and Intercontinental were the first to go, the SHS seemed expensive for the points as did the Intercontinental. Advice from here and FT indicated that the nearly-new CY was a better place than the older, more worn Marriott. So that left the CY at 90kMR and the HI at 75k. They seemed a dead heat to me. Both were walking distance to the station and Old Town, both were pretty new, so I decided it on point cost. As an HI point redeems for around 20% less value than a MR point, I valued the 75,000 IHG points as equivalent to 60,000 MR, so the comparative cost was CY 90k, HI 60k. Holiday Inn it is!
So 3 nights at the Montreal Holiday Inn for 75,000 IHG points, saving £330.
Now, in the 1980s Holiday Inn, a 3-star hotel brand decided to set up a 4-star brand, christening it "Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza" and built several but spun it off in the 1990's deciding in favour of a 3-tier Holiday Inn structure, 2-star Holiday Inn Express, 3-star Holiday Inn and 4-star Holiday Inn Select. A few "Select" franchises were opened but Holiday Inns proprietor then reacquired "Crowne Plaza" and the decision was made to abandon the Holiday Inn Select brand, instead branding their future 4-star offerings as Crowne Plazas. This left the remnants of the Select brand, who with their franchise contracts soldiered on, subject it seems to little by way of brand standards. As a result the "Select" hotels simply decayed whilst retaining the brand but without it seemed any obligation to maintain standards. However, as each franchise contract reached its end each hotel had to decide whether to change to Holiday Inn or Crowne Plaza, or leave the chain altogether. This one decayed spectacularly but upon franchise end decided to remain in the IHG group, rebranding to the new Holiday Inn. And believe me, they've rebranded in style! This is Holiday Inn on steroids, indeed much of its decor and furnishings I recognise from the Kings Cross (London, UK) Holiday Inn which is undergoing a full refurb to convert to a Crowne Plaza. This has been a top standard refurb for the Montreal Holiday Inn.
Yes, really, this is the bedroom at the Holiday Inn, Montreal!
Now I'm a very regular hotel stayer, my work takes me away from home a lot, and my friends when looking for guidance ask amongst other things, which is better, on old 4-star or a new 3-star? I always reply the same way, new beats old, even in different classes, so a new 2 star beats an old 3 star, and a new 3 star beats an old 4 star. This hotel is an excellent example of the mantra! The room was wonderfully clean and everything worked perfectly. The new decor is modern and the new bed really, really comfortable. The bathroom too has been renewed, including throwing out the old moulded plastic bath-shower combo and installing anew, alas not taking the opportunity to fit a more modern bath arrangement, instead sticking to the old-fashioned shallow-tub-with-shower-over format. The only relic left of the pre-renovation hotel is now the air conditioning units, albeit operated via a new thermostat control on the wall, the old aircon units by the window do the heavy lifting. I can see these being a cause for complaint as they really are relics and are likely to misbehave keeping maintenance staff busy well into the future.
This hotel is a well above average HI, and actually well above many Crowne Plazas, however note there's no busboys or concierge. The restaurant is good, as is the bar, and it's very close to both Old Montreal and Chinatown, so there are plenty of great options beyond the hotel walls as well as within them. This hotel is a great place for either a busy, or relaxing, stay in Montreal and will not disappoint!
And so we reach the final leg of our month vacation, the last 5 nights again with the in-laws. This time we are here for 5 nights with the mother and Father-in-Law joining us for the last 2 nights. A total of 7 room nights for 105,000 IHG points saving £600
The kids are with the sister-in-law staying at her neighbours house, and we are again at the Holiday Inn Oakville. This time upgraded to an exec floor room, which in reality is simply a regular sized room on the top floor.
Again, unusually for a Holiday Inn this hotel offers free breakfast to Platinum and the new Spire level.
This his remains a very solid 3-star hotel in easy reach of Oakvilles many attractions.
Now that your reaching the end of your vacation, brightlybob, what stop did you enjoy the most?
FINAL SUMMARY OF REDEMPTIONS
And so we now reach the end, our very last day, almost 1-million combined points and 4 weeks of travels, checking in and out of 10 different hotels (plus the Ausable Chasm cabins) whilst never staying in the same place more than 5 consecutive nights, I can only now finally work out the cost as we fly back to dear Blighty. Over the 6 months of planning I have repeatedly changed and altered out itinerary and dates. Indeed, a few of these stays changed even as the holiday progressed! These however are the final confirmed cost and points totals...
HI Oakville 17 nights, 255kIHG £1,700
HI Washington Central 6 nights 210kIHG £950
HIX Selinsgrove 3 nights 15kIHG £250
HI Montreal 3 nights 75kIHG £330
Total 29 IHG room-nights costing 555k points worth £3,230 which is $5,050, a value of 0.9UScents/$
Marriott Ottawa 6 nights 120kMR £900
Courtyard Albany 3 nights 60kMR £500
Marriott Marquis NYC 4 nights 180kMR £1,600
Fairfield Inn Oakville 1 night 10kMR £80
Marriott Toronto Eaton 1 night 35kMR £220
(and Marriott Niagara Fallsview, but that was a paid stay)
Total 15 Marriott room-nights costing 405k points worth £3,300, that's $5,150, a value of 1.3UScents/$
So I spent a total of 960,000 combined points for 44 room nights worth £6,530/$10,150...
In booking this I made decisions to pay cash for 2 very poor value redemptions, £300 for the 2 rooms in NYC on Sunday night saving 90,000MR points and £400 for the family suite at the Marriott Niagara Fallsview saving a further 160,000 thereby retaining a total of 250,000 points for a better opportunity, which I have now decided as a Cat 6 TP with 120,000 Virgin Atlantic miles for a 1st class return Virgin Atlantic flight to Vegas and a week at the JW there next year. I'll also redeem some IHG points for a few nights at The Venetian on the strip well. The Marriott Travel package costs 300,000 points will clean me out of my MR balance but redeems for ~£7,000 value, making those 250,000 points saved at a cost of £700 redeem for £5,600, or $8,700, a value of 3.5UScents per point. So now I have another holiday to plan, this time just for me and the wife, mind!