New York City: Hudson Yards Brings It–Big Time!

Hudson Yards Manhattan New York City
Hudson Yards is going to change the skyline of Manhattan with five Empire State Building sized structures plus a massive arts center, retail stores, parkland and condos.

When you think of New York City, what are the first images that come to your mind? You may be thinking of the Empire State Building, The Statue of Liberty or maybe Rockefeller Center. But a huge new attraction is coming to lower Manhattan in the coming years that is sure to whisk you off your feet.

Constructed on 28 acres over a working rail yard, the Hudson Yards project is set to become the largest private real estate development in United States history, and there is truly a staggering amount of effort being put in to make this compelling vision an absolutely incredible sight to behold.

The Hudson Yards features one million square feet of retail and mixed-use space, eighteen million square feet of commercial and residential space, five Empire State Building sized buildings, one hundred shops, fourteen acres of gardens, plazas, playgrounds and public space, four thousand state-of-the-art residences, and three dynamic parks.

Several extremely high profile restaurateurs and boutiques will be opening for business in the area, including world renowned chef Thomas Keller. And if all that is not enough to get your attention, then some of its unique, never-before-seen architectural innovations may just do the trick.

Interior view of the Vessel, at Hudson Yards.
Interior view of the Vessel, at Hudson Yards.

The Vessel at the Hudson Yards is the centerpiece of the entire project. Engaging and interactive, the Vessel is comprised of one hundred and fifty four interconnecting flights of stairs and about a mile’s worth of pathway rising over the Hudson Yard’s gardens. Its design, a geometric gridwork of stairways, is fashioned out of painted steel and a coating of polished copper-coloring, which almost gives New York City’s new public landmark a futuristic honeycomb feel.

Another fantastic addition that the Hudson Yards will be bringing to New York City is its “Haven for Creative Expression”, The Shed. The Shed will be New York’s first multi-arts center designed to be a flexible and manipulatable venue for all kinds of events, ranging from concerts to sporting events. An extremely notable feature of The Shed is its telescoping outer shell that can expand and contract with the flip of a switch.

The outer shell gives an unparalleled amount of freedom to its users, allowing the temporary construction of a one hundred and twenty-foot-high temperature controlled hall, which can be retracted at any point to clear the neighboring seventeen thousand foot plaza for public use.

The Hudson Yards will also come equipped with a small public school for its residents and children in the surrounding areas, it’s literally a brand new neighborhood. With all of these exciting new improvements on their way I’m sure you’re wondering when you can check it all out, and I have some good news.

Many of the Hudson Yard’s features will be available to the public by 2019, with a few areas scheduled to be completed as late as 2022. However, with the magnitude of this project in mind, this completion date is coming up fast. So next time you’re in New York, make sure to check on the status of the Hudson Yards, because it is set to become one of America’s most popular destinations!

Find NYC Hotels and use Bonwi points to save on your next Big Apple adventure!

The Hotel Zones of Miami Beach, Florida

Miami Beach and Sunny Isles

Miami Beach hotel zones Florida

These days, South Beach in Miami is a glamor hub, a playground for the fit and sexy. It’s one of the USA’s most popular destinations for gay couples, Latin Americans, and celebrities, giving it an energy that’s hard to find elsewhere.

That’s just one side of Miami, however. The city is also a major art center, a banking and investment hub, and home to the U.S. operations of many international companies. The traditional crowd that came here in droves–retirees from up north–are still a big part of the real estate market as well.

If you’re planning a Miami vacation or a business trip, you’re going to need to pick the right Miami hotel neighborhood. Otherwise you could be spending needless time in traffic.

South Beach Waterfront

When people here “Miami Beach Resorts,” they’re picturing the swanky places you find on South Beach. This sand and fun area is party central for the city and has the largest concentration of hot clubs and restaurants. Sometimes it feels like you have to be extra young and sexy to fit into the South Beach scene, but there are plenty of older people and families enjoying their time here as well.

The names here practically ooze “cool factor” when you see the rundown: SLS South Beach, Eden Roc, Mondrian, Metropolitan by Como, Setai, Delano, Sagamore,  Dorchester… If you’ve got the funds, you can get right onto the beach from the pool at these spots and have a stylish cocktail club to hit at night.

South Beach Inland

South Beach Miami hotel zonesThe beach is public in Miami, so nothing is roped off for the waterfront resorts. If you don’t mind walking a few blocks to the water, you can stay elsewhere in South Beach and be closer to the restaurant and nightlife action.

This city is chock full of Art Deco buildings, so many of the smaller inland hotels are real works of art on the outside, decorated with mid-century modern whimsy on the inside. Most of them are independently owned and operated, though there are a few chains like Wyndham and Hyatt dotted around.

Miami Beach

Miami Beach proper starts where South Beach ends, but really it’s just a line on a map. The glamor address these days is the Faena Hotel Miami Beach, the sister property of a hip hotel in Buenos Aires. It’s near The Edition and The Palms, plus a lot of lower-priced properties on the water stretching north along the ocean.

Miami beach earn the most points with Bonwi

Brickell and Downtown

The prestige factor doesn’t stop if you stay away from the beach for business. Lots of company offices are in the Brickell area and you can find hotels from chains like Kimpton, Four Seasons, JW Marriott, W Hotels, and Mandarin Oriental. There are also some hotels moving into the downtown area, bringing some life into a zone a commuter foot traffic heaven that used to be a dead zone.

downtown Miami hotel Langford

Wynwood Arts District

Until the Art Basel Festival came along, this was kind of a no-man’s-land from a hotel standpoint, mostly filled with cheap motels. Times have changed as this has become the epicenter of the art scene in Miami.

Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles

In between Miami and Hollywood Beach/Fort Lauderdale is a strip of high-end condos and a few pricey resorts. These self-contained villages include Acqualina, St. Regis Bal Harbour, and Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour. There are a few mid-range options like the Newport and Solé on the Ocean. The beach here is quite nice and seldom crowded. (These properties tend to offer a high payoff on Bonwi points too. Check your dates here.)

Miami Beach and Sunny Isles

Other Miami Options

Of course there are plenty of hotels out by the airport, if you’re just looking for a place to crash during a long layover or before an early flight. The airport is not all that far out of the center here and you can even take a train from there to the business district. Or connect with Tri-Rail and head all the way up to Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, and Palm Beach.

Search Miami Hotels and Miami Beach Hotels on Bonwi to earn a big points payback for every stay, no matter which neighborhood you choose.

Heading further north? See the hotel zones of Fort Lauderdale here.

Article and photos by Tim Leffel, editor of Hotel Scoop.


New Orleans Gets a New Children’s Museum and a Four Seasons Too

The dramatic Four Seasons Hotel and Residences on Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans.
The dramatic Four Seasons Hotel and Residences on Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans.
The dramatic Four Seasons Hotel and Residences on Lake Pontchartrain, New Orleans.

Exciting developments are coming to New Orleans, Louisiana in the next few years.

New Orleans is officially becoming home to a new Four Seasons Hotel and Residences. This renovation will be located in the former World Trade Center located in downtown New Orleans. The revived World Trade Center building at the foot of Canal street will include 335 hotel rooms and 92 residences, as well as a grand and junior ballroom, restaurant, fitness room, and rooftop pool.

The Four Seasons will also house a proposed museum and attraction that will highlight New Orleans culture with wings looking out onto the famed Spanish Plaza and the Mississippi River. Plans for construction are pointing towards the building of an observation deck that will be a major attraction for hotel guests and city goers who will be able to purchase a ticket for an elevator ride to the viewing deck.

The elegance of the Four Seasons is expected; however, an added touch of stylishness can be seen during the evening when the entire exterior of the building is lit up.

The new Louisiana Children's Museum in New Orleans is opening in 2019.
The new Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans is opening in 2019.

This soulful city will also be receiving a new Children’s Museum that is working to change the New Orleans landscape by creating a major educational and visitor attraction that will be placed in a natural park setting. The Louisiana Children’s Museum is planned to be child-centered, family-friendly, and it will become a part of New Orleans’ topography in 2019 with its location in City Park.

The museum will be spanning eight and one-half acres with indoor and outdoor environmental elements, which will include decks, bridges, sensory and edible gardens, a floating class, and a restored interpretive wetlands area overlooking one of the well-known Louisiana lagoons.

The construction of the new children’s museum kept families in mind with its 56,000 square foot facility that will house five indoor exhibit galleries, a literacy center, and a parent and teacher resource center.

The Louisiana Children’s Museum design for the new site in City Park “will offer families a wonderful way to play, learn, and build essential life skills through hands-on, everyday experiences,” according to Ellen Galinsky, chief science officer and executive director, Mind in the Making, Bezos Family Foundation and author of ‘Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs.’

Find your own favorite New Orleans Hotel and use Bonwi points for an even better deal.

See what else is happening in New Orleans here.

The Small Carrot and Big Stick of Branded Hotel Loyalty Programs

Hyatt Place no breakfast for you

Hyatt Place no breakfast for you

What if when you checked into the Doubletree Hotel they said you could only take a cookie if you filled out a detailed loyalty program survey with personal information?

What if the bartender at Embassy Suites said there would be no cocktail hour for you unless you tell him the last 10 times you stayed at a Hilton branded hotel and how much you paid?

What if you were told you could only fill up your plate at the breakfast buffet at a roadside Hyatt Place hotel if you joined the World of Hyatt loyalty program so they could get at all your data?

The High Stakes of Big Data

Two of those scenarios above are fictional, but the third one is not. Hyatt recently announced there’s no breakfast for you if you don’t bend to their demands and join their loyalty program. They want your personal information so badly they’re willing to extort you via coffee and muffins to make you submit.

We’ve seen them head down this slippery slope before. After a continual torrent of outcry about having to pay for Wi-Fi, the big international chains figured out a loophole: you could get that Wi-Fi for “free” if you simply signed up for their frequent guest program. The aim wasn’t really to gain more loyal customers—an estimated 80% of those customers don’t stay at the same chain more than once per year. Only the sales rep road warriors are loyal enough to get big benefits. The real goal is to get what Facebook and Google have: more information about you and your habits.

You’re no longer just a customer with these companies: you’re the product too. When you sign up for these programs—and I do—you’re part of an ongoing research experiment. Apparently that’s worth the wrath of customers who come down to breakfast and are told they can’t eat unless they turn over their data. You need to pay to play, but with your personal information, not your money.

Hyatt loyalty or else no breakfast
Now with free breakfast! (That used to be free anyway.)

The only way to opt out is to stay somewhere else or complain loudly on the review sites.

The latter can work: when Marriott revamped its award program after acquiring Starwood, one change made everyone happy. Regular non-loyal customers get free Wi-Fi at most properties, but loyalty members get the faster “enhanced” service. Loyalty earns something extra, but the regular paying customers aren’t extorted into it for a service now as expected as hot water.

You Do Have a Choice

You can always choose to stay somewhere else, of course, and that’s what we strongly advise. Just as customers are starting to shun resorts that charge a gotcha “resort fee” just for using the gym and pool you can also avoid this latest ploy.  Just as you can fly Southwest to avoid baggage fees and having to pay for a decent seat.

There’s no sign yet that other chains are following Hyatt’s lead and you can bet that the actual hotel owners are going to rebel after feeling the heat on this one. They want all customers, not just the ones giving the managing corporation customer data. They’re not going to be happy when the angry TripAdvisor reviews start pouring in.  As the blog One Mile at a Time pointed out, what’s the point of staying at a hotel brand like this without the breakfast?

Hyatt Place is one of Hyatt’s limited service brands. When I think of limited service hotels, the first thing that typically comes to mind is free breakfast.

So for now, we advise avoiding participating Hyatt Place hotels if you’re not a member of their loyalty program and don’t like the idea of being forced into it against your will. Every city in the USA is saturated with chain hotels, so there are always plenty of others to choose from. As we mentioned in this article about overwhelming brand choices, the combined Starwood and Marriott have more than 30 just in that company.

30+ hotel brands to keep track of with Marriott

How to Win the Hotel Game No Matter What

There’s one sure way to come out ahead no matter which hotel chain you choose: book through Bonwi. You’ll earn points that can be redeemed two or three times as quickly as ones from Hilton, IHG, or even If you don’t need a hotel stay, you can book a flight with those points instead. Or get a gift card from Amazon or Best Buy for gadgets or gifts.

You don’t have to let the corporations push you around and treat you like a collection of marketing stats to be bartered and sold. Book with Bonwi and keep your travel habits to yourself.

Las Vegas Boasts a New Hockey Team

Neon Museum in Las Vegas
T-Mobile Arena is the new home of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL hockey team.
T-Mobile Arena is the new home of the Vegas Golden Knights NHL hockey team.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas– except for Vegas’ new hockey team which just entered the National Hockey League for the 2017-2018 season.

After much push from Vegas’ citizens, the city finally has their own hockey team to root for, the Vegas Golden Knights. The team is the first major professional sports franchise to be based in Las Vegas. See them play at home in the T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip.

And incredibly, this expansion team has done something no other expansion team has ever done–they made it to the final round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, losing to the Washington Capitals!

After the game, head down to the bright lights of the famous Las Vegas Strip.

The stunning fountains at Bellagio are a sight you don’t want to miss. With over 1,000 fountains rocketing hundreds of feet into the sky, prepare for the waterworks. Don’t worry about missing out on the show, the fountains go off every thirty minutes from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. and every fifteen minutes between 8 p.m. and midnight during the weekdays. On weekends, they happen even more often, giving your eyes a nice break from all the flashes of neon.

Neon Museum in Las Vegas
Neon Museum in Las Vegas. Max Hartshorne photo.

Speaking of neon, modern art connoisseurs should stop by the Neon Museum, especially at night, for a tour of some of the discarded neon signs that tell the history of the gambling city.

If you don’t get enough colorful signage on the streets, head down to the museum’s “Boneyard” to see the history of Vegas unfold with over 200 neon signs.

If the fountains at the Bellagio intrigued you, book a room at the extraordinary Bellagio Hotel And Casino through Bonwi for $179 a night.  Before hitting the casino at night, enjoy the outdoor atmosphere by hanging poolside. When you’re in need of some rest and relaxation, head over to the spa for a massage, body treatment, or facial.

You have plenty of mealtime options, with 13 restaurants, five bars, and a cafe on the resort. If you’re in town to cheer on the Vegas Golden Knights, the Bellagio is the perfect candidate, being close proximity to the T-Mobile Arena. Booking today can get you 2,770 points per night to spend toward your flight home.

The Bellagio is also walking distance to The Park, an entertainment and dining district created in 2016 by MGM Resorts. Put yourself in the center of great eateries, creative displays, and the exhilarating energy of Sin City. If you’re looking for a less expensive hotel, try the Monte Carlo Resort or the New York-New York Hotel & Casino, both minutes from The Park.

The Monte Carlo is $92 per night, complete with a 24-hour fitness center, three pools, and even personal cabanas you can rent out. Earn a total of 1,792 per night when you book today. The New York-New York Hotel & Casino is $89 per night with a 1,808-point reward. Get a break from the Vegas heat in your air-conditioned getaway, or embrace Sin City culture by dancing the night away at their nightclub. They even have their very own Coyote Ugly, inspired by the hit movie.

Don’t forget to snap a picture with the legendary “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” sign too!  Don’t wait–find hotels in Las Vegas now, on Bonwi!

Honolulu’s Best State Park

Hanauma Bay State Park, near Honolulu, Hawaii.
Hanauma Bay State Park, near Honolulu, Hawaii.

When you think of the perfect beach getaway, you think tropical weather, white sand, and turquoise waters. Throw in some leis, luaus, and Hulu dancing, and you’ve got all the best perks of a tropical island along with a rich culture to explore in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Being in Hawaii, every place you go will be a fun, carefree, escape from the grip of your typical 9-to-5, but of all the great places in Honolulu, which spots are the best of the best?

Hanauma Bay State Park is a must-go destination for adventure lovers. The bay was formed within a volcanic cone, giving it a cool curved shape with an intriguing display of marine life. Whether you’re just there to lay out on the beach and take in the stunning surroundings, or to snorkel and scuba dive within the crystal clear waters.

There is also a marine education center in the area, which allows visitors to learn about the ecosystem they are exploring. You learn about the conservation of the area, marine life, and safety rules of the park. Hanauma Bay, roughly translating to ‘a curved bay’ in Hawaiian, sees about one million visitors per year, making a top destination for tourists.

If you want to stay around the area of Hanauma Bay, book a room at The Kahala Hotel & Resort through to get a great deal and be an 18-minute drive away. The Kahala Hotel & Resort is a beautiful five-star resort home to 338 air-conditioned rooms. After a long day outdoors, treat yourself to the full-service spa, to get a massage, body treatment, or facial. For more fun, head to the pool, spa tub, and sauna.

Kahala Hotel and Resort, on Hawaii.

The Kahala Hotel & Resort boasts five wonderful restaurants, but if you’re too tired to have a fancy sit-down, head to the poolside bar or take advantage of 24-hour room service.

The resort is also close to another popular tourist spot, Diamond Head State Monument, a state park that hikers need to venture to. Like Hanauma, it’s circular shape was also caused by nature– around 300,000 years ago the crater that is now Diamond Head was formed by an explosive eruption.

At Diamond Head, take in views of the coast, city, and Pacific ocean during your hike. There are also guided tour options, from half-day walks to segway rides. The trail to the summit of Diamond Head, or “Lē’ahi” was originally used for O‘ahu’s coastal defense system. Once you reach the top, check out the bunkers and lighthouse from the early 1900’s.

Head back to The Kahala Hotel & Resort for some much-needed rest and relaxation, earning 9,131 points for a scenic $316 mountainside room, or a whopping 36,887 points for a $1,276 ocean front suite.

Use those points towards a flight home, because getting to Hawaii from the mainland isn’t cheap!

In Scottsdale, the Andaz Resort Will Erase Your Winter Blues

The Andaz Resort in Scottsdale, outside of Phoenix, Arizona: The ideal getaway for winter.
The Andaz Resort in Scottsdale, outside of Phoenix, Arizona: The ideal getaway for winter.
There comes a time each winter, sometimes even all the way into early spring, that the Northeast or Midwestern winter months have everyone beat.
After months of brutal cold and loads of snow, many ask themselves, “Gee, why do I live here when places like Arizona exist?” Celebrating their one-year-anniversary just a few months ago, the Andaz resort, an affiliate of the Hyatt company, has offered visitors a range of great reasons to stay in nearby Scottsdale, Arizona, near Phoenix.
Situated on their hotel row, the Scottsdale resort is tucked away, feeling secluded but not far from the city’s bustling center of boutique shopping and fine-dining options. 

The contemporary design of the high-end accommodation compliments the open layout of the property. Designer furniture, architectural features, and local flair of the boutique hotel leave guests feeling regal.

The Andaz’s unconventional check-in process, paired with their eclectic décor, local artwork, inspired dining, and indoor & outdoor event space, this luxury Scottsdale hotel’s pod-style layout makes guests feel independent, but never alone. Surrounded by incredible gardens and citrus trees.

The elaborate pool area with copious chaise lounges and cabana-style beds compliment the beautiful blue waters of the impressive pool. Camelback Mountain is completely visible from this outdoor oasis, with unobstructed views of the impressive landscape.

Their local kitchen takes on local cuisine with their sophisticated menu of creative cocktails and desert dining.  Apply named Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen utilizes their access to incredible locally-sourced ingredients, refined cooking techniques and desert-inspired craft cocktails from their living room feeling bar and “glass box” plancha kitchen.

Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen at Andaz Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.
Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen at Andaz Resort in Scottsdale, AZ.

Or, guests can take in the views and the warmth at Andaz’s outdoor Turquoise Pool Bar for poolside snacks and cocktails under the sun. If guests are still hungry, these kitchens also offer full 24-hour room service menu options.

The Andaz is just another reason for guests to choose Phoenix as their next domestic getaway. With southwestern inspiration in their incredible decor, creative cuisine, and unique culture, guests will feel far from home right in Arizona.  And if you book a few nights in Phoenix at the Andaz using Bonwi, you’ll get points that will add up to make your next stay close to free!

What You Can Get for 10,000 Points on Bonwi

cash in Bonwi points for flights

cash in Bonwi points for flights

When you sign up for Bonwi for the first time, you get 1,500 points automatically. Right there that’s worth $15 because for 10,000 you can get a $100 gift card to one of your favorite merchants, like Amazon, Best Buy, or Target. What’s on your list right now?

If you start with 1,500 and just make one or two hotel bookings, you’ll probably get to 10,000 points by maximizing the options on Bonwi.

After that, we mentioned that one thing you can do with 10,000 points: cash it in for a gift card. Besides retailers, there are also some food outlets. Need to fund a kid’s birthday party? You can cash in for a hundred bucks from Papa John’s or Dunkin Donuts. Need to take your mom out to dinner? Cash in points for Olive Garden or Cheesecake factory.

You can also use your 10,000 points to rent a car. When I pulled up summer days in Orlando, I found rental cars for as little as 2,150  a day. If you need some room for a family though, you could splurge and get two days of a sport utility vehicle or a minivan for less that 10,000 points over two days.

rent a car with points

Or you can use those points to get a hotel instead. Maybe you want to take your honey on a weekend getaway to the big city, to the beach, or to a town a couple hours away. Or maybe you need a night at an airport hotel in the hub city so you can catch an early flight in the morning. Maybe you need one night at a hotel before a cruise.

What can you get with 10,000 points? I searched weekend nights in the high season for vacations in late June and found plenty: the Atlanta Hilton, a downtown hotel in Nashville, a few motels near the cruise port in Ft. Lauderdale, a few chain hotels in Denver, Hawthorne Suites and Home2Suites in Salt Lake City.

You can also cash Bonwi Rewards in for an airline ticket, with 10,000 points being equal to $100. Maybe $100 won’t go very far in the airline world, but it’s enough for a one-way ticket on some routes. You could fly on Southwest or Delta, for example, one way from Atlanta to New Orleans, and still have some  left over.

Bonwi Rewards points cash in for flights

It’s true that 10,000 points won’t get you very far with the loyalty programs of Hilton or IHG and with you would need to book hotels 10 times to get one free night in return. With Bonwi it’s a different story though and you can do a lot with 10K.

Book your next hotel here and really get something back.

Chicago’s Lollapalooza Is a Summer Highlight

Lollapolooza in Chicago in 2016.
Lollapolooza in Chicago in 2016.
Lollapalooza in Chicago in 2016.

After surviving at least six months of brutally chilling winds, Chicagoans are gifted with euphoric blue skies and steamy temperatures during their Midwestern summers. From beach days at the lakefront to endless street festivals at the end of every block, there is no shortage of activities throughout the blazing hot summer in Chicago.

If you’re in the mood to go all out in the Windy City this summer, check out Lollapalooza Chicago. Each year, the music festival sets sail to six global cities, including Lolla Paris, Berlin, São Paulo, Santiago, Buenos Aires, and of course, Chicago, Lolla’s flagship festival spot.

Going strong since 1997, Lolla Chicago is proud to be one of the largest music and arts festivals in North America. With over 130 performances at Grant Park in the heart of Chi, the energy and atmosphere of the party that is Lolla is perfectly complemented by the city scene.

With four straight days of insane performances, headlined this year by The Weeknd, Bruno Mars, Jack White, Arctic Monkeys, Travis Scott, Vampire Weekend, and dozens of more artists, Lollapalooza will not disappoint the hundreds of thousands of festival-goers that will attend this summer

Located in the center of the city, the festival is easily accessible by public transportation from all around Chicago. If you want to stay locally, though, there are plenty of hotel options for festival-goers at every budget.

For more high-end attendees, The Ritz-Carlton, Chicago, Langham Hotel, and Peninsula, Chicago, offer guests a luxury experience just over a mile from Grant Park, where the festival takes place.

More mid-range attendees have plenty of options to choose from as well, like the Dewitt Hotel and Suites, Residence Inn by Marriott Chicago Downtown Magnificent Mile, and Chicago South Loop Hotel, all just up the road from Lollapalooza.

For the most budget-minded of guests, the Freehand Chicago, ACME Hotel, and Crowne Plaza are just as conveniently located to the festival, at a much lower price.   Use Bonwi and find just the right Chicago hotel for you and get points you can use later in the summer!

Regardless of their budget, every festival guest has the opportunity to stay locally during their time attending the music festival. After all, a good night’s sleep before the craziest music festival in the States is completely necessary in order to have the best time possible. See you soon, and rock on, Chicago.

McMenamin’s Has Cornered the Weird and Wonderful Hotel Category

McMenamin's Grand Lodge, Forest Grove, Oregon
McMenamin’s Grand Lodge, Forest Grove, Oregon

Ask anyone who lives in Portland, or Seattle, and they’ll probably know what the name McMenamin stands for.  It’s two brothers, Mike and Brian McMenamin, who have cultivated a big following for their eclectic one-of-a-kind hotels and breweries which are all in Washington and Oregon, with 54 in all.

We recently stayed at McMenamin’s Grand Lodge, in Forest Grove, Oregon, where the building was once a home for aged Masons.  The brothers are big fans of the Grateful Dead so you could call the theme of many of the hotels “a hippy-influenced free spirit.”  Dark colored walls and ceilings, lots of customized art, glitter, and posters from the dozens of years that concerts have been played in their venues or in nearby theaters.


The hotel's kitchen garden provides a whole lot of the restaurant's needs.
The hotel’s kitchen garden provides a whole lot of the restaurant’s needs.


They name the rooms at the Grand Lodge after famous books, and inside, each room is painted by hand, lots of darks and not many overhead lights. More the dim mood type.

The Grand Lodge has a feature that’s popular in these hotels, a Japanese soaking pool. It’s a very hot tub, about the size of a regular swimming pool, outdoors.  It is better than 90 percent of the hotel pools I’ve ever dipped into.

It’s a different experience than just a pool, it has a rustic feel.

The McMenamin brothers also really like movies. That’s why so many of the converted schools, homes for the aged, and former municipal buildings they convert into hotels include a movie theater.  So you can often catch a first-run movie at many of their hotels, which are considered resorts that many people enjoy for a long weekend.

As Grateful Dead Fans, the McMenamin Brothers adopt that theme in many of their hotels.
As Grateful Dead Fans, the McMenamin Brothers adopt that theme in many of their hotels.

The Japanese soaking pool is just a little hotter than most hot tubs and plenty spacious.

The Japanese soaking pool is just a little hotter than most hot tubs, and plenty spacious.
The Japanese soaking pool is just a little hotter than most hot tubs and plenty spacious


If you’re traveling to Oregon or Washington, find a McMenamin property on Bonwi, and when you book you’ll earn points to use…on rental cars or perhaps even a stay in a different McMenamin hotel another time.