The Westin Austin at The Domain

Lobby of The Westin Austin at The Domain

I stay at many hotels, but it isn’t often that one merits a great review and mention. However, The Westin Austin at The Domain is one to recommend and remember.

Although the location of the Westin isn’t in downtown Austin, it’s well worth staying here and driving into Austin, or just enjoying The Domain, the retail and dining complex across the street. I can’t rave enough about the property itself, the restaurant, urban an american grill, and the room.

The service was outstanding. Everyone I encountered at check-in, the restaurant, and around the property were friendly and accommodating.

Brunch at urban an american grill

I loved both the food and the service I received at urban an american grill. I ate three meals there, two dinners at the bar and the Sunday brunch. The food was outstanding, the local beers cold and plentiful, and the wine list comprensive. I was also impressed with one of the bartender’s wine knowledge as she helped me select a wine with one of my meals, a pairing of NY Strip on spinach with Gloria Ferrer Carneros Merlot.

NY Strip on spinach with Gloria Ferrer Merlot

I was fortunate enough to be upgraded to the executive suite, which was luxurious and well-appointed, with a large living area, one and a half baths, and a large bedroom. My favorite part of the room was Westin’s famous Heavenly Bed. I didn’t want to get out of it either morning I was there. The full bathroom had both a bath/shower and a standalone shower, both with Westin’s branded shower heads. How often do you wish to stay in the shower forever?

The Westin Heavenly Bed

When I return to Austin, I definitely plan to return to the Westin. You should plan your next stay there as well, or I can plan it for you!


Wyndham’s non-rewards, expiration without notification

Wyndham’s non-rewards, expiration without notification

During the holidays, I attempted to log into my Wyndham Rewards account to book a hotel stay and discovered my account had been closed and I had lost 5,500 points, 500 points short of a one-night stay. I contacted Wyndham Rewards and was told that my account had been closed because there had been no activity for 18 months. I was surprised, not at the policy, but because I had never received written or electronic statements or notification of my expiration date.

Click above to continue.

A review of the Hotel Indigo in Houston, TX, by Gregg Sales

The Hotel Indigo in Houston, Texas, is a breath of fresh air starting with the colors chosen to paint the exterior. As soon as you walk in the lobby you are confronted with a light, fresh, and fun space with unique furniture. I never thought about the effect that wall colors could have until I stayed at the Indigo. This carries through the lobby, elevator, hallways, and into your room.

The designers of the Hotel Indigo think about the client experience. When you walk in the room you hear music playing (they have a collection of their own music in the CD player). The rooms have hardwood floors, fun colors, and full wall murals behind the bed. They have a tray sitting on the bed with a water pitcher, glasses, the remote, and other useful information. There are many floor and table lamps. All the furniture is free standing as opposed to built-in. There is an armoire for the TV and for hanging clothes. The beds have modern covers with many lavish pillows. The soaps and shampoos in the bathroom are all Aveda products. They only have large showers with partial glass walls and freestanding wooden benches.

All in all it just feels good/comfortable to stay here. I would recommend you give it a try if you have an opportunity.

12 Days of Travel: Days 9-12

Day 9:

I spent day 9 driving I-81 North to I-64 East, a three-hour drive between Roanoke, VA and Richmond, VA.  It was a beautiful day for travel, very little traffic, and it was the first time I used my Garmin nüvi 265WT.  What a great little GPS device!  I especially liked that I could link it with my BlackBerry for hands-free calling using Bluetooth.

I arrived at the Omni Richmond an hour before my meeting and my key was waiting on me as I had checked in online and requested an 11:00 am check in!   If you ever travel to Richmond, I highly recommend the Omni.  It’s a beautiful, full-service hotel located in the Historic Shockoe Slip area of Richmond.  If you are a Guest Select member, you receive complimentary Internet and two free morning beverages delivered to your room at the time you specify.

I spent the next six hours in a meeting.  Afterwards, a few of us went to dinner at Peking on E. Cary St.  It’s a nice, inexpensive, and quick bite of Chinese.

Day 10:

Day 10 was another four hours of meetings, then my return drive to Roanoke.  Again it was a nice drive, but the traffic was heavier because it was later in the day and it was Good Friday.

I arrived at the Hotel Roanoke in the late afternoon and relaxed in the room until venturing down to the Pine Room Pub for a crab cake sandwich and a Blue Moon White Belgian Ale with a slice of orange.  My fiancé arrived on a late flight from New York and we turned in shortly thereafter.

Day 11:

We spent Day 11 running errands of all things!  We also went to the Pine Room Pub for their homemade dill potato chips with scallions and blue cheese and a few glasses of Flying Dog Doggie Style Pale Ale on draft.  I highly recommend both!

For dinner we ate at Tong’s Thai Too.  I had the same dish as my visit 10 days ago, the Panang Curry Beef, but Tom Yum soup this time.  Both were very delicious.  I think Thai has become my favorite cuisine!

Day 12:

All I can say about day 12 is that I finally got to go home and pick up my cat from the kennel!  The drive down I-18 South was very pleasant and traffic-free as it was Easter morning.

12 Days of Travel: Day 3

Day 3 began very uneventfully, with breakfast and the final concurrent sessions of my conference at The Hotel Roanoke.  I did win a one-night stay with breakfast for two at the closing session, which was cool. I had lunch at the hotel before departing for the airport, peanut soup and a salmon Caesar salad. Yum!

3 Apr 2009
US 4158 ROA-LGA 4:48-6:45 PM Seat 4C Exit Dash 8-100

The wind in Roanoke had become quite blustery, with wind gusts up to 60 mph, and the weather in New York quite stormy, so I was anticipating some trouble.  And I was right, unfortunately.  The flight was originally delayed until midnight, then gradually easied back to 10:30 pm, 9:10 pm, then finally 8:50 pm.  I completely understood the weather and Air Traffic Control issues before me, but what bothered me was that the original gate agent in Roanoke was very uninformative.  For about three hours, she never made a general announcement in the boarding area, and people kept having to get up and ask her what was going on.  I personally got my updates from,, and friends and family who checked other sources of information for me.  Finally another agent arrived and announced that he would update us every 30 minutes and/or if there was a change in the departure time.  Finally!

During my lengthly gate wait, I was thankful I had purchased food and had my computer, because it was a long sit. The Roanoke airport does not have anything past security except restrooms, gates, and a very small café, which closed around 7:30 pm.  The guy working in the café was nice enough to shout out a last call to us before he closed!

We finally boarded around 8:25 pm and after all was said and done, the plane was about half full.  I think some had left to try again tomorrow and some had managed to find other options.  However, US Airways did not transfer any tickets to other carriers when I was there.  All I heard the agent offer were flight options on US Airways the following day.

The wind was so strong when we boarded that the little Dash 8 was rocking at the gate.  We pushed back and were airborne by 6:44 pm, and was the climb out ever rocky!  That was probably one of the most turbulent takeoffs I’ve ever experienced.  Finally we got above the weather where it smoothed out considerably.

The in flight service was surprisingly good for an Express flight.  The flight attendant served us a full, complimentary beverage service, and gave us each three packages of Biscoffs.  I thought US Airways/US Airways Express discontinued free snacks, but apparently there was a stash of Biscoffs on board.  She also gave us each the entire can of our beverage of choice.

Our approach and landing into LaGuardia was also very turbulent and it seemed like the wind was still carrying us as we landed.  But we landed at 10:27 pm, making the total flight time one hour 43 minutes.  All-in-all, not a bad experience.  A nearly four-hour delay was certainly better than what could have been.

Airport Experience/Information Provided to Customers = D
In Flight Experience = A

12 Days of Travel: Day 2

On Thursday, the day was full of sessions at the beautiful Hotel Roanoke.  The most interesting session I attended was using Camtasia screen-recording software to create tutorials about how to access and use online library databases for scholarly research.  There was also an awards luncheon, where I unexpectedly received a service award!  During the evening, we had a reception, dinner, and excellent keynote speaker, Mr. Scott Christopher, co-author of The Levity Effect, and I received a complimentary copy of the book.