Anaheim, California Enters the Big Time

Steelcraft container park in Garden Grove, California.
JW Marriott in Anaheim, opening in 2019.
JW Marriott in Anaheim, opening in 2019.

Anaheim, California has passed an important milestone in the travel convention business–their convention center is now 1.8 million square feet, so they can attract some of the biggest meetings and conferences in the state.

Next June, the city will host the world with the huge IPW Show presented by USA Travel. More than 6,000 travel and tourism representatives from 75 countries and all of the US states will be there.

Anaheim has been on a hotel-building boom, with more than 23 million visitors year ’round, and 150 hotels in the city that calls Disneyland home.  Here are some of the highlights.

Catal Restaurant, Downtown Disney, Anaheim.
Catal Restaurant, Downtown Disney, Anaheim.

At Disneyland, the company is  building a new 700-room luxury hotel. It’s slated to open in 2021.   Also in the works is the city’s first Element by Westin property that will open this summer at 205 W. Alro Way, just four miles from the Anaheim Convention Center.

The five-story, 174-room hotel will offer a pool deck with barbecue grills and lounge chairs, suites and studio rooms, plus a fitness center.

A luxury hotel by JW Marriott is in the works to open in 2019, adjacent to the GardenWalk in the city’s Resort district.  The 12-story $150 million property will have 466 guest rooms as well as meeting space for groups.

The seven-story Westin Anaheim Resort adjacent to the Anaheim Convention Center will feature 613 guest rooms, including 101 suites, three restaurants, two bars including a rooftop lounge and provide guests a great view of Disneyland’s nightly fireworks.   This major property will also be opening in Anaheim 2019.

Anaheim is definitely a city for beer lovers. Currently there are 15 craft breweries in the city and there are three more on the drawing board for 2019!  And many of the existing breweries are expanding, like Golden Road Brewing that’s across from Angels stadium and offers a new 18,000 square foot indoor and outdoor beer garden and full service restaurant.  Noble Ale Works, near Honda Stadium, is also expanding this year by 10,000 square feet. Drink up!

SteelCraft Garden Grove just added the containers to the site November 2018, so it should be ready to open in 2019.
SteelCraft Garden Grove just added the containers to the site November 2018, so it should be ready to open in 2019.

Anaheim is also getting its own container park, like the one in Las Vegas, built from the homely containers that you can also see now in Long Beach.   This will be Orange County’s first shipping container food hall.  SteelCraft Garden Grove will include 20 artisanal retailers and restaurants, including coffee, wine, beer and dessert offerings, all located in repurposed cargo containers that are 40 feet each.  Opening in 2019.

Find hotels in Anaheim and save money using Bonwi points.

Birmingham Alabama: The Magic City Awaits

Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, AL.
The Sculpture in Birmingham, AL, that says "We ain't Afraid of your Jail!" in Ingram Park.
The Sculpture in Birmingham, AL, that says “We ain’t Afraid of your Jail!” in Ingram Park.

Named after the United Kingdom’s second largest city, Birmingham, Alabama is a hub full of history. Founded in 1871 at the cross sections of the railroad lines, it became a major city for iron and steel production, quickly earning the name “The Magic City.”

During its heyday of iron trade, it was also a melting pot of racial tensions, segregation, and violence against African-Americans. Today, the city now nods to its controversial history by incorporating these issues throughout attractions and accommodations from its past, and the conflicts that still linger today.

Many entrepreneurs and corporations have helped bring life back to the city through subtle makeovers in recent decades. Birmingham is a great place to visit to embrace and learn America’s history in the deep south, and with many family-friendly attractions, the kids can tag along too.

What to See

Railroad Park is a 19-acre green space right in downtown Birmingham. The landscape celebrates the industrial and artistic heritage that the city holds. Known as “Birmingham’s Living Room,” is perfect for locals and travelers to gather from recreational activities, concerts, and special events.

The park’s land features a lake, running trails, skate bowls, an outdoor gym, and playgrounds. Whether you’re looking to take a stroll with the family, get in some exercise or even to just enjoy some great views, railroad park is a popular hub throughout the entire year.

Another nod to its rich heritage is the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. The moving story of the city’s role in the civil right movement is presented through exhibits and permanent and temporary galleries. These exhibits are not solely focused on the past but are used to present the ongoing international struggle for human rights.

These exhibits detail some of the most significant events that occurred in Birmingham, including the loss of the 16th Street Baptist Church after a bombing orchestrated by the Ku Klux Klan.

Barber Motor Sports is a private 4-mile track and incredible collection of motorcycles and racing cars outside of Birmingham, AL. Max Hartshorne photos.
Barber Motor Sports is a private 4-mile track and an incredible collection of motorcycles and racing cars outside of Birmingham, AL. Max Hartshorne photos.

For a fun activity check out the Barber Vintage Sports Museum, a collection of George Barber’s motorcycles. The largest in the world, the facility features over more than 1,400 bikes from 200 different manufacturers.

The museum is also home to an extensive collection of Lotus cars, hundreds of motorcycles and early bikes, and an outdoor track. The outdoor track also hosts the Porsche Sport Driving School.

Where to Stay

Its doors first opened in 1925, but The Redmont Hotel is still a staple accommodating guests in the heart of the city. Its art deco décor creates a timeless feel that’s not overshadowed by elegance. The interior also features art and photography by locals of the present and past, to further showcase Birmingham’s rich history.

With in-house restaurants and the bustling downtown right outside the front doors, guests will not be short of dining options. Visitors have the option of dining at the Redmont’s very own Harvest Restaurant and Bar along with a plethora of lodging options. Not to mention, guests are close to some of the Magic City’s acclaimed attractions.

Opened in the summer of 2017, the Elyton Hotel takes the sophistication of the south to a new level. With modern interior décor and hats-off to rich tradition, the hotel is finished with tall ceiling, restored marble walls and bronze fixtures to illuminate the natural light in a loft-like setting.

Guests may enjoy the hotels restaurant, The Yard, choosing dining options from a southern-style menu and local fresh products. A rooftop terrace offers a whimsical experience for sipping on cocktails while enjoying the weather with a memorable view.

Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, AL.
Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham, AL.

The Inn at Pursell Farms opened in fall 2017, and offer a 40-room escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Inn allows you to savor what Birmingham’s landscape and nature has to offer, just under an hour outside of the city.

Inn at Purcell Farms
Inn at Purcell Farms

The inn offers an array of cabins and cottages, each with four guest rooms opening to a spacious living room. To top it off, each cabin or cottage includes a personal golf cart to zip around the resort’s scenic property.

Pursell Farms also includes amenities such as the FarmLinks Golf Club, which was named Golfweek’s #1 all-access golf course in Alabama, 2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.

The property also offers over 3,000 acres of hunting, fishing and shooting and a farm-to-form dining experience. For a genuine southern experience, the Inn at Pursell Farms has so much to offer to guests and their families.

Find Birmingham Hotels and use your Bonwi points to save on your next trip!

Austin Texas: Still Hip, and Now, Booming with New Hotels

Austin's newest hotel is the Line Hotel on Cesar Chavez Blvd.
Austin's newest hotel is the Line Hotel on Cesar Chavez Blvd.
Austin’s newest hotel is the Line Hotel on Cesar Chavez Blvd.

Austin’s always been a bit of a spoiled brat of a city. I mean, it’s impossibly hip, it’s got Google Fiber, the fastest internet on the planet, and everyone who’s cool and hip is seen every March at the famous South by Southwest Conference.

But what we want to know is, what’s NEW?  Austin for the past few years has been on a hotel-building frenzy, with nine hotels coming online. The city added 2000 rooms in 2015 alone!

The Line Hotel was built in a 1965-era building that was once the home of a jazz club where live jazz was performed and played on local radio.  The new hotel is now open right on the lake, which is also a river.

The Line Hotel is a classic old style hotel, with new amenities that bring it into the 21st century. The designers have incorporated local artwork into many parts of the building, and they host many music and cultural events.

The Line’s lakeside infinity pool will tempt guests who will want to linger before taking on the city’s exciting music scene.

In 2018, the elegant Fairmont Hotel, from Canada, opened up a 37-floor, five- restaurant behemoth in Austin on Red River Street, with 1048 rooms and suites.

The rooftop pool at the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin Texas.
The rooftop pool at the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin Texas.

The Hotel Van Zandt opened a year earlier, a Kimpton property, it features a swanky rooftop pool and that oh-so-hip atmosphere the K brand is famous for.   You can bring any sized pet, and they even have a dog sitting and walking service available!

And you can even watch the amazing site when the world’s largest urban bat colony emerges in summer when you’re sitting on their outdoor deck.

Geraldine’s, the Van Zandt’s restaurant and bar, is a hot spot for local music lovers, and for those who love shareable plates of New American cuisine.

The new luxe boutique hotel, the Archer Austin.
The new luxe boutique hotel, the Archer Austin.

The Archer Hotel is another new stand-out in Austin, this one is a boutique hotel with eight stories and 171 rooms, and the Second Bar and Kitchen, where chef David Bull’s gourmet cuisine is presented in an airy setting with floor to ceiling windows.

You’re right where the action is at the Archer,  where the Rock Rose, Domain NORTHSIDE’s entertainment district, is a best-of compilation of Austin’s homegrown restaurants, bars, and shopping.

The smaller Hotel Ella is a boutique property in Austin.
The smaller Hotel Ella is a boutique property in Austin.

For something a bit different, and more historic, try the Hotel Ella, that’s walking distance from the University of Texas at Austin. Constructed in 1900, the Greek Revival-style mansion underwent an extensive renovation in 2013, and now offers a perfect balance between modernity and a rich history.

With 47 guest rooms, a cabana-lined pool, and a wrap-around veranda, Hotel Ella features beautifully designed outdoor and indoor spaces you’ll find the perfect spot for a business gathering or a romantic getaway.

If you’re thinking of Austin for SXSW, or just for the fun of it, find Austin Hotels on Bonwi.com and use your points for a future stay.

Cincinnati: The Paris of America Awaits!

Newport Aquarium, Cincinnati.
Art exhibit in the 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Art exhibit in the 21c Museum Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio.

A 19th-century boomtown has escalated to a popular travel destination in the United States. Cincinnati Ohio was commonly referred to as the “Paris of America”, due to such ambitious architectural projects it endured during its most progressive development period.

The large city has many fun and family-friendly attractions which have been additions in recent years, creating the ultimate vacation spot for just about anyone.

Cincinnati Museum Center

Under renovation since late 2016, November 2018 was the grand reopening of Union Terminal’s grand Rotunda. As the holiday season approaches the center shows off an impressive 9,000 square foot exhibit of trains, displaying realistic toy-trains in a whimsical setting, and the opportunity to visit with Santa. 

Cincinnati Union Terminal at Cincinnati Museum Center, principal façade.
Cincinnati Union Terminal at Cincinnati Museum Center, principal façade.

Additionally, there are the first phases of the new permanent galleries, the Museum of Natural History and Science’s Dinosaur Hall, and Cincinnati History Museum’s Public Landing. Dinosaur Hall is an entirely new feature, displaying six giant, prehistoric beasts. The premium interactive elements will allow visitors to experience the Jurassic period like never before. The hall will utilize the center’s fossil collection to explore the evolution and biology of dinosaurs.

Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden

Opened in the year of 1875, Cincinnati Zoo is the second-oldest zoo in the nation. Gorilla World, in the Cincinnati Zoo, allow visitors to get up-close-and-personal with 11 real-life gorillas in the new indoor habitat. Floor-to-ceiling viewing glass allows for an enhanced experience, close to one might see in the wild, to watch the gorillas play.

Gorilla at the Cincinnati zoo.
Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Visitors can hand feed a giraffe, take a safari ride, or enjoy a cinematic experience in the 4-D Theater. With over 75 acres of land, the zoo hosts more than 580 animal species and 3,000 flora and fauna species, also making it one of the largest zoos in the U.S. The zoo is the optimal location for a unique family day.

Newport Aquarium

The state-of-the-art facility allows guests to enjoy the banks of the Ohio River in the world’s most advanced, creative technology, to create an enhanced trip around the globe featuring amazing animal species. Newport Aquarium’s million gallons host an unbelievable array of sea creatures, allowing guests to get hands-on.

Newport Aquarium, Cincinnati.
Newport Aquarium, Cincinnati.

Guests can touch a shark, play in the interactive frog bog and even pet a penguin during the Penguin Encounter exhibit. Most daringly, take a stroll across the Shark Bridge. It is the only suspension bridge in North America where guests can walk inches above two dozen sharks. The rope bridge is 75-feet long and is suspended over the open water at the Surrounded by Sharks exhibit.

Winterfest at Kings Island

After a 12-year hiatus, Kings Island has finally re-introduced its favorite wintertime family expedition. Kings Island is a popular family location with more than 100 rides, thrills, and family-friendly attractions. In the winter months, the amusement park hosts a festive winter wonderland features an ice skating rink, a 315-foot-tree, carolers, train rides, a Santa’s workshop, under bright Christmas lights.

Brewing Heritage Trail

Once the booming brewing center of the U.S. with a per capita consumption of beer beyond any other U.S. city, The Brewing Heritage Trail celebrates this astonishing heritage. The urban walking trail winds through Cincinnati neighborhoods to the dozens of historic breweries. Walkers will enjoy public art and digital experiences as they follow the trail during a day full of beer. 

21c Museum Hotel

The intricate circuit of hotels in downtown, is easily outpaced by the contemporary 21c Museum Hotel. The historic Metropole Hotel features an 8,000 square-foot art museum, hosting collections of contemporary art in the most unexpected places of the boutique hotel. With 156 rooms, multiple venues, and unique displays of art, 21c is an exciting space full of change and unique experiences and décor.  

Find Cincinnati hotels and use your Bonwi points to stretch your business and leisure traveling expenses!

Which Are the Top Meetings and Conventions Cities in the USA?

Orlando hotel

Las Vegas hotels at night

If you go to a lot of conferences for your job, you’ve probably noticed that you spend a lot of time walking the exhibition halls of specific cities. While every metropolitan area in the USA would love to have your meetings and conventions business, there are a few behemoths that win by pure capacity.

It costs a lot of money to build convention centers and they require an equal amount of infrastructure in hotel beds, flight capacity, parking, and transportation. All these factors have to work in tandem for a conference destination to make it to the top. Here’s who has won the arms race in modern times:

Las Vegas

Vegas knows how to shock and awe in every category and just by the numbers, they come out on top in both space capacity and room capacity. There’s a staggering 10.8 million square feet of conference space here, partly in 3 of the 10 largest convention centers in the country. You’ll have plenty of choices on where to bed down: about 157,000 rooms across nearly 200 hotels. And Las Vegas hotels are often not very small affairs either: MGM Grand alone has more than 6,800 rooms. When you combine The Pallazo and The Venetian, they have more than 7,100 rooms.

Search hotel prices and point redemptions at Bonwi.com, where your conference stay could earn you enough points for a weekend vacation somewhere else.

Orlando

Orlando’s hotels and resorts aren’t as massive as the biggest in Las Vegas, but the sprawling city has more places to stay overall, with 265 of them. There’s something here for all budgets and parents who want to extend a business trip clearly have lots of things to spend the family budget on with Disney, Universal Studios, Sea World, and other attractions.

Orlando hotel

Orlando has 4.64 million square feet of meeting space for conventions, but be advised some of that space is in self-contained resorts that can only be reached by car. Fortunately, rental cars are abundant and reasonably priced. You can earn Bonwi points for those and your Orlando hotel stay.

Chicago

One of the USA’s largest cities attracts plenty of convention business to fill up its 50,000 rooms across 177 hotels. This is a tough city to walk around in during the winter, but many conference goers don’t spend a lot of time outside. The largest exhibition space here is massive: 2.1 million square feet. The largest ballroom is nearly 104,000 square feet–nearly two full football fields in size.

Cvent says, “More people travel to Chicago for overnight business than any other U.S. destination. Its accessibility certainly plays a role in its popularity, as about 46 million people are within one day’s drive of Chicago.” See hotel rates and get the highest points payback at Bonwi.com.

Bonwi rewards points Chicago

Atlanta

Fast-growing Atlanta has the world’s busiest airport, so getting to the city is easy from nearly anywhere. The city has 43,000 rooms across 195 hotels in all price ranges, with most major chains represented. A quarter of those are in the convention district.

The easy access and mild year-round temperatures bring in 51 million visitors a year to a walkable convention district in a city with a metro from the airport. The largest exhibit space is 2.6 million square feet and there is a total 3.9 million square feet of meeting space. Get the best rate on an Atlanta hotel here.

San Diego

With some of the USA’s best year-round weather and easy access to the Pacific Ocean, San Diego is a popular sun-and-fun destination all year. The city boasts 70 miles of beaches and 92 golf courses. It has 2.6 million square feet of meeting space and 210 hotels to choose from.

See rates and point earnings on San Diego Hotels.

Washington DC

Washington D.C.

I once attended a convention lunch so large in D.C. that I couldn’t even see the person on stage speaking unless I looked at the big video monitor. The nation’s capital has a massive conference center in a convenient location not far from the government buildings and the Smithsonian. That ballroom I had lunch in is the size of 7 football fields and it’s part of 2.2 million square feet of meeting and exhibition space.

Be advised that D.C. hotel rates are the priciest of any city on this list, though they can drop when congress is in recess. Make sure you get something back from all that money spent by earning Bonwi points from your Washington DC hotel.

(Related post: Explore the Distilleries and Breweries of Washington, DC)

Cities Punching Above Their Weight Class

Downtown Nashville is just a few blocks from the city convention centerThese top six cities aren’t all that surprising: they’re all large metro areas that have plenty to see and do, with easy air access. Some of the other top convention cities are much smaller, however.

Nashville, Tennessee ranks just below D.C. as a convention destination thanks to a downtown conference center near the honky-tonks plus the long-established Gaylord Opryland complex closer to the airport.

New Orleans, LA is America’s favorite party town, with to-go cups of alcohol, a casino near the bars, and a street car system to get you around town. It is also a major conference city, with a massive ballroom and a wide variety of interesting hotels that are clustered close together.

Streetcar in New Orleans

Austin, Texas is experiencing explosive growth and its long-running music scene (with 250+ live venues) has been joined by a thriving tech industry. Some 24 million people a year visit Austin and its highly ranked airport.

San Antonio, Texas may be the wildest wildcard on this list, but it outranks Los Angeles and Boston in attracting conferences. This city doesn’t attract the mega-conventions with its 742,000 square feet of meeting space, but that space is some of the most modern available after a $325 million expansion of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in 2006.

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

Cleveland: The Forest City Rocks

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
A scenic bridge in Cleveland, Ohio.
A scenic bridge in Cleveland, Ohio.

 Named “The Forest City” in 1834, Cleveland, Ohio has a deep pipeline of history. Located on the southern shore of Lake Erie, Cleveland is dynamic, sophisticated and vibrant.

Cleveland rapidly became one of the largest manufacturing hubs in the United States in its early days. The city’s location on the river and lake shores, as well as being connected to many canals and railroad lines, made this the perfect manufacturing center.

Over the years, Cleveland has been a home to many crime stories and crime-lords. Crime is particularly present in only certain districts of the city, and other neighborhoods are very inviting for visitors.

Located on the shores of Lake Erie, Cleveland is an ideal location to sit back and enjoy a cold craft beer or locally distilled spirit among the history. Clevelanders have created a city known for award-winning food and historic buildings. The vibrant, culturally diverse city is filled with world-class museums, attractions, and parks.

Cleveland Museum of Art.
Cleveland Museum of Art.

Home to the second largest performing arts center in the United States, Cleveland hosts many Broadway musicals, concerts, speakers and other large events throughout the year. Playhouse Square Center, in the Cleveland Theater District, was originally constructed in the 1920s. After closing down, through grassroots efforts the building was revived and is recognized as “one of the top ten successes in Cleveland history”, for an entrance to the new era of downtown revitalization.

Cleveland Museum of Art is a globally recognized attraction and with a $755 million endowment, it is the fourth-wealthiest art museum in the nation. The establishment houses over 45,000 works of art from around the world over 5,000 years of time and is internationally renowned for its holdings of Asian and Egyptian art. The museum is now one of the most visited art museums in the entire world.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is one of the most recognized faces of Cleveland. In 2017 alone, more than half a million visitors traveled to see the famous establishment. Credited to holding the country’s first rock ‘n’ roll concert, the city has hosted some of the most famous faces of rock; from the Beatles, Paul Simon, Elvis, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna and many more.

In April of 2018, Cleveland hosted the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, with Bon Jovi, the Cars and other rockers flooding the city.  Visitors can expect to see impressive collections of memorabilia— from John Lennon’s guitar to hip-hop pioneer Jam Master Jay’s gold chains. The Hall showcases many installations throughout the year, a recently popular exhibit being a history of women in rock.

Bon Jovi at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018.
Bon Jovi at their Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 2018.

Cleveland is not short of places to stay either.  Downtown is lined with new and old hotels, exhibiting the city’s vibrancy, diversity, and history. The DoubleTree by Hilton is warm, welcoming and is the closest hotel to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The building overlooks the shore of Lake Erie and is close any attractions you and your family may want to visit during your stay.

Metropolitan Hotel, Cleveland.
Metropolitan Hotel at the 9, Cleveland, Ohio.

The Metropolitan Hotel at the 9, is a luxury property to pamper you.  Located in the center of downtown Cleveland, the art and history of the city blend seamlessly at the iconic location. The design of the hotel displays bold designs, distinctive amenities to create a unique travel experience full of character.

Whether you’re going to Cleveland on business or pleasure, be sure to look into Bonwi and after you book, you’ll get points to use the next time.

Chattanooga: The Scenic City Is Ready for New Visitors

Choo Choo Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Choo Choo Hotel lobby in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Tucked between mountains and the Tennessee River, Chattanooga is one of America’s most breathtaking cities and has garnered the nickname “Scenic City”.  Beginning about two decades ago, private and governmental resources have invested an incredible amount of time and money to transform the city’s tarnished image.

In fact, the New York Times named the city one of the “Top 45 Places to go” in the World. The renovated city has also taken home many national awards for outstanding livability and largest metro areas where to get the best “Bang For Your Buck”.

The “21st Century Waterfront Plan” was put in place in the early 2000’s to revitalize the downtown area and making use of the Riverfront’s natural resources. Since then, visitor numbers have drastically increased and the city is opening new attractions and accommodations each year to support the influx of crowds.

The Scenic City has become a world of outdoor adventure, amazing restaurants, boutique hotels, live events, and world-class attractions.

One of the best and safe ways to explore the city is on the water. New attractions line the Tennessee River offering endless activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, surfing, and electric unicycle rides.

Chattanooga is home to one of the nation’s top children’s museums, the Creative Discovery Museum, perfect for a day for family fun. The museum inspires children’s passion for learning through play; clay sculptures, message zooming through pneumatic tubes, digging for dinosaur bones and cast assuming in the Back Alley Theatre. A great way for the family to enjoy the hands-on activity while inspiring imagination in the younger generations.

Ruby Falls Village, Chattanooga, TN
Ruby Falls Village, Chattanooga, TN

As Ruby Falls celebrates their 88th birthday in 2018, they are proud to open the first phase of the $20 million expansion. A destination that inspires exploration, Ruby Falls is home to the tallest and deepest underground waterfall, located 1,120 feet beneath the surface of Lookout Mountain.

Highlights of the expansion include a new entrance, accessible Blue Heron Overlook, shaded open-air dining, the Village Gift Shop, and the Village Plaza that serves as a gathering place with live music and food carts. Guided tours are offered to explore the cavern trails and ancient geological formation, supported by abundant views of Chattanooga.

Chattanooga offers some of the very best accommodations in the country. For an authentic experience of the city’s history, the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel is the place to stay. Opened in 1909 as a terminal station during the golden age of railroads, today the station stands as a grand hotel in downtown Chattanooga.

The Edwin Hotel, Chattanooga, TN
The Edwin Hotel, Chattanooga.

The building boasts dining, retail shops, rose gardens and a unique twist to spending a night in town. Guests can overnight in beautifully restored sleeper cars, which were once reserved for the wealthiest of passengers in the railroad era.

Many new accommodations are being welcomed to the city in the fall of 2018. Two of the most highly anticipated additions include the Edwin Hotel and Moxy Hotel, both boutique hotels.

Whether you’re off to Chattanooga on business or for fun, why not use Bonwi points and get free hotel nights?

Bleisure Travel in Detroit: Mix Business and Pleasure

The Parlor, a room at the Siren Hotel in Detroit.
The Parlor, a room at the Siren Hotel in Detroit.
The Parlor, a room at the Siren Hotel in Detroit.

Bleisure travel is quickly becoming the newest popular trend among young professionals. The idea is simple – you have to go on a work-mandated excursion to meet a client or attend a conference in a city you’ve never been to before? Why not use up a couple of those well-earned vacation days and take some time for yourself to see it from a tourist’s perspective?

And with Bonwi points, you can buy the hotel for work and use the points to extend your trip for fun!

By spreading out their vacation days into a multitude of smaller, less exotic mini-vacations, millennials are effectively finding the ability to check out unexplored parts of the country and take advantage of some of the new attractions these always-growing cities have to offer.

One of the most popular locations for these wanderlusting young people is America’s Motor City, Detroit, Michigan. Detroit is facing a revitalization effort of epic proportions, with engaging new attractions being built all the time.

Coupled with these new developments is a greater emphasis placed on luxurious and trendy spaces for visitors to stay and explore the city. Recently, three exciting new hotels are opening up within a two-block section of downtown Detroit that are sure to garner the interest of bleisure-minded folks.

The Siren Hotel

The new Siren Hotel by ASH NYC is finding its home inside of the historic yet seriously dilapidated 1926 Wurlitzer Building. The restoration process was completed in November of last year and its massive transformation left even locals to the area stunned.

The hotel consists of 106 guestrooms, a rooftop deck, 2 retail spaces, and several food and beverage options. The aesthetic of the building’s new design draws from the history of the once bustling organ manufacturer’s main office building and incorporates some new ideas from the mind of chief designer Will Cooper.

The location is perfect for those looking to find a downtown headquarters for their explorations of the most happening part of the city and offers a great variety of room options for any prospective guest.

A Parlor Suite at The Siren Hotel (from their website)

The Element Detroit Hotel

Opening in December 2018, Marriott’s new installation in their extended-stay Element Hotel series is sure to take Detroit by storm.

Finding its place in the once-great Metropolitan Building, the first Element Hotel to open in Michigan will be a 14-story, 110 room sanctum for those looking to stay in the city for a longer period.

The hotel will have 2,000 square feet of meeting space on its second floor, making it the ideal location for in-town business operations and will also have a great deal of retail and restaurant space.

This redevelopment will certainly mark a fantastic improvement for the run-down building, originally set for demolition.

The Shinola Hotel

Last, but certainly not least on our list is the set redevelopment of the building at 1400 Woodward Avenue into the chic new Shinola Hotel. This project will see the disheveled shell of a building turn into one of the most happening places to stay in the city.

The transformation of this building is the brainchild of two famous Detroit-based companies, Shinola and Bedrock. Their creative collaboration promises to produce one of the most happening spots in downtown.

Along with this renovation, the project will also open up a back-alley that connects the hotel with the previous two listed, the Siren and the Element,

The hotel will provide 130 rooms for its guests and 16,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space. It is slated to open late this year and will be an excellent place to relax after spending a night out on the town.

So if you find yourself in Detroit later this year on business, think about the opportunity to extend your stay in one of these elaborate new renovations to some of Detroit’s most famous buildings.

Use your Bonwi Points and enjoy a stay at fine hotels like these–and get points back to spend as you wish!

Memphis Has Hotels of All Stripes for Travelers

The Guest House at Graceland, Memphis Tennessee.
The Hotel Napoleon, a great place to stay in Memphis.
The Hotel Napoleon, a great place to stay in Memphis.

Memphis is the home of Elvis Presley, the blues, and the best barbeque around, and the city is building new hotels to accommodate the tourists visiting “Grind City.”

The nickname comes from Memphis’ famous professional basketball team, the Grizzlies, and their slogan ‘grit ‘n grind.’

Many people are eager to visit the South’s most soulful city to see Graceland, sample the mouthwatering eats, and immerse themselves in the music scene.

With so many people coming to visit, Memphis has now become home to several different new and updated hotels that are catering to the crowds.

From charming bed and breakfast to glamorous resorts, there’s a spot for everyone to come and be a part of the Home of the Blues.

Hotel Napoleon has hit the Memphis scene as being a modern accommodation for the sophisticated and selective traveler.

With 58-units, this luxury boutique hotel is located in the heart of Memphis’s downtown area inside the historic Winchester Building.

The Guest House at Graceland, Memphis Tennessee.
The Guest House at Graceland, Memphis Tennessee.

“A boutique hotel unlike any other” is the phrase coined by Hotel Napoleon. Sitting just four blocks away from the mighty Mississippi River and historic Beale Street, this hotel is sure to get you in the Memphis spirit.

If you’re looking for something even more immersive, Memphis now offers an everything Elvis hotel experience.

The Guest House at Graceland offers Southern charm and glam at the newest luxury resort in the city. The resort is located just steps from Elvis Presley’s home, the Graceland Mansion.

The resort includes 450 rooms and suites, two restaurants, a movie theater, a large outdoor pool, spa-like rain showers in each room, and much more to make for a swanky hotel stay.

The Guest House also offers special packages for guests. Packages include a Graceland Getaway for 4, Graceland VIP Tour + Planes, the Elvis Experience + Planes Package Elvis Presley’s Memphis Celebration Package, the Taking Care of Business Package, the Breakfast Package, and an Elvis Week Package.

Elvis Week is an event that happens each year at Graceland, and the Guest House is accommodating guests, and taking part in this event.

This event package with the Guest House at Graceland offers $339.00 per night for a stay at the resort and a week of celebrating the music, movies, and legacy of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

The schedule of events includes the annual Candlelight Vigil, the Ultimate Elvis tribute, concerts, and much more.

If you’re neither a resort, or boutique hotel, type of guest, then it would be time to take a look at the bed and breakfast options.

The James Lee House in Memphis. Historic charm.
The James Lee House in Memphis. Historic charm.

The James Lee House one of the city’s most important residences and vibrant example of Memphis’ early grandeur and opulence. This location has been redone as a premier bed and breakfast.

The families who have called the James Lee house home were deeply engaged in the development of every aspect of community life-from commerce and banking to benevolence and the arts.

Due to its past inhabitants, this location has become a beacon of good in the community, and it now offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in a bygone era while enjoying luxury and comfort.

If you’re thinking of combining work with pleasure in Memphis, find the best hotel deals on Bonwi that will give you points to use later.  It’s Win-Win!

Discounted Excursions from Metro North Railroad

Not only is taking the train romantic, it's scenic and you can get discounts to places where you can kayak, hike or even ski!
Not only is taking the train romantic, it’s scenic and you can get discounts to places where you can kayak, hike or even ski!

If you’re looking for an exciting trip to take for less, Metro-North Railroad is offering a discounted getaway to see the sights in New York City, Connecticut, and Hudson Valley.

Metro-North Railroad is now featuring trips to various different locations that are major areas of interest for tourists, travelers, and locals alike.

The railroad has created several different day-trip and vacation package deals that make a day of traveling a breeze for any tourist.

Metro-North has organized several different trips to attractions in various areas that include a discounted price for admission and a corresponding railroad route that delivers travelers to each destination.

The most recent additions for 2018 have been to their New York City getaway options. Metro-North Railroad has one of the least expensive options to travel to Manhattan, and there is frequent service.

You can get discounts to the most popular attractions in the Big Apple from Metro North railroad.
You can get discounts to the most popular attractions in the Big Apple from Metro North railroad.

Frequent service allows travelers to come and go as they please with lots of room in the rail car; lots of seats for you, your family, and friends.

Several different attractions and museums are featured by Metro-North Railroad, such as the American Museum of Natural History, Grand Central Terminal ‘Official’ Audio Tour, Guggenheim Museum, Gulliver Gate, Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, Madame Tussauds New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, New York Historical Society, National Geographic Encounter, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, the New York Pass, the Sightseeing Pass, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Metro-North also has getaways to the Hudson Valley, Connecticut, the Bronx, various outdoor adventures, farms with apple picking, bike tours, walking tours, and shopping destinations. They even have an excursion to Thunder Ridge Ski area in Patterson, New York!

In order to receive discounted rates on attractions and railroad tickets, you must hold on to your itinerary for rail times. Package prices come into play when you arrive at a certain railroad station and then go to the nearby associated attraction.

An example of this is the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum, an attraction on the Metro-North’s Getaways to the Hudson Valley, Connecticut, and Beyond.

The deal that you receive through Metro-North applies to your ticket to the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum if you arrive at the GCT/Harlem-125th Street. There are also other package prices available from other stations.

Take a Metro North train to go skiing, kayaking, or hiking in nearby Connecticut!
Take a Metro North train to go skiing, kayaking, or hiking in nearby Connecticut!

You can purchase your rail/admission ticket from any Metro-North ticket office, full-service ticket vending machine.  Visit website for more information.

You’ll need a place to stay, so find cheap New York City hotels by using Bonwi, and get points for your next business trip in the Big Apple too!

Boston’s Harbor Islands: Not the Vineyard But Worth a Visit

Little Brewster Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands.
Little Brewster Island, one of the Boston Harbor Islands.

While you’ve probably heard of the immensely popular Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket islands in Massachusetts, there are some other wonderful Eastern Mass island getaways that are sure to provide you with that same beautiful and relaxing journey off the mainland.

The Boston Harbor Islands are reachable by an hour-long ferry ride from either Boston or Hingham, and for a modest charge, you can book your trip to one of the eight publicly accessible islands. While only the Georges, Spectacle, Peddocks, Lovells, Little Brewster, Grape, Bumpkin and Thompson Islands are available by ferry, 19 others are visitable by private vessel and three are unfortunately closed to the public due to extenuating circumstances.

The Hyatt Regency hotel in Boston, with a view of some of the harbor islands.
The Hyatt Regency hotel in Boston, with a view of some of the harbor islands.

There is a wide array of activities to keep you busy when visiting the Boston Harbor Islands. From lounging or swimming at the plentiful picturesque beaches to trekking or trail running along the miles of woodland and beach trails spanning the islands, people of all interests are sure to love their time in Eastern Massachusetts’ largest recreational open space.

The nature and wildlife of these islands are rich and telling of years of human alteration. The flora of the islands consists of countless exotic and invasive species that have taken up residence through natural and human-assisted means, once looking completely different than they appear now. You can expect to see a variety of animals and birds on the islands, from creatures as large as deer to some as small as voles, there is no shortage of animal coverage. Bird watching is largely popular among visitors, as birds of all types are attracted to these gorgeous ecosystems.

Young travelers enjoying Boston's Harbor Islands. NPS photos.
Young travelers enjoying Boston’s Harbor Islands. NPS photos.

The islands offer several tent and yurt campgrounds with prior reservation, giving you a decently inexpensive option for staying overnight on any of  Grape, Bumpkin, Lovells or Peddocks islands. Or if you fancy yourself more of a conventional traveler, there are a plethora of excellent hotel options in the Boston Harbor area.

The luxurious Boston Harbor Hotel offers an amazing view of the harbor itself, while also providing an upscale lodging experience for the more affluent visitors. With extensive food and bar options and a world-class fitness and spa area, this hotel will serve as a phenomenal base of operations for your seaward journey.

For a bit more affordable accommodations, the Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor hotel is a better option. This 270-room boutique style hotel offers guests a great selection of room styles, including several suite style and king-sized rooms as well as a great number of harbor-view rooms. The Hyatt Regency Boston Harbor contains several options for food and drink, as well as golf, laundry, a business center and a fitness area.

The Boston Harbor Islands are among the greatest island hopping opportunities in the Eastern United States and they are sure to show you a side of Boston that you’ve never imagined!

Book a hotel in Boston on Bonwi—and then use the points for your next trip, maybe to Martha’s Vineyard this time!

Pythian Market in New Orleans: A New Foodie Mecca

Pythian Market is a European-style food market, with 14 different eateries and tables people can sit at and share, in downtown New Orleans, Lousiana. Pythian Market photos.
Pythian Market is a European-style food market, with 14 different eateries and tables people can sit at and share, in downtown New Orleans, Lousiana. Pythian Market photos.

A new foodie endeavor has opened its doors in New Orleans’ Pythian Building. The Pythian Market Food Collective has become a gathering space for anyone and everyone that features local food purveyors, a fast craft bar, and retail vendors.

Since its opening in May 2018, Pythian Market has made itself a one-stop destination with an impressive variety of cuisines and drinks to try that accurately represent the diverse culinary landscape of New Orleans.

The market is located in the historic Pythian Temple in New Orleans’ Central Business District at 234 Loyola Avenue.

The temple was originally commissioned by the Colored Knights of Pythias in 1908, and it has been an “integral role in New Orleans’ early civil rights movement and was a place where the African American community congregated and celebrated,” according to Lisa Brefere, founder of award-winning F&B consulting firm Gigachef and curator of Pythian Market.

Brefere’s, and staff’s goals were to recreate this early notion of a gathering place. They wanted to reuse the Pythian Temple for its original purpose, and they have done this by creating a centralized hub of food, culture, spirit, and community.

Food halls like this have been delighting people in Europe for decades, now you can visit Pythian Market in New Orleans for the same experience.
Food halls like this have been delighting people in Europe for decades, now you can visit Pythian Market in New Orleans for the same experience.

The food collective has a  wide assortment of different eating places that feature locally-sourced purveyors who strive to consistently incorporate fresher and lighter ingredients and flavors.

The 14 independent vendors range from local brands that have a following, to up-and-coming new food concepts that seek to push the envelope of comfort food.

The unique offerings at Pythian Market include crawfish poutine from a Southern-meets-Louisiana comfort food spot Fete au Fete, the Hanover – oxtails stewed in a rich brown gravy with carrots and potatoes – from 14 Parishes Jamaican Restaurant, Eat Well’s Vietnamese banh mi and phoritos (pho burritos), and cachapas – Venezuelan stuffed corn pancakes from La Cocinita.

La Cocinita has also been featured on CNBC’s Restaurant Start-Up, Food Network’s Eat Street, and the Cooking Channel’s Taco Trip.

One chef is taking center stage at the new Pythian Market. Chef Marlon Alexander has brought two fresh ideas to the food collective: Cru – raw and cooked specialty seafood dishes including tempura fried Gulf oysters – paired with craft cocktails and wines, and Poulet – fresh sustainable cuisine with an emphasis on locally-sourced rotisserie chicken.

Even those who are a little more conservative with their food choices will find something at the Pythian Market. Gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches from Frencheeze, wood-fired pizzas from Meribo Pizza, and traditional Southern barbecue from Central City BBQ are sure to cover the bases for anyone who’s not looking to stray too far into the unusual.

Craft drinks can be found at various locales throughout the market. Bar 1908 is the perfect stop for fast craft cocktails, local beers, and seasonal frozen beverages.

The Pythian Market is 11,000 square feet with 140 seats and combines contemporary and rustic themes that are reminiscent of the history of the building.

Find the perfect New Orleans Hotel at Bonwi, and get points you can use for your next vacation or business trip!

Georgia Hotels: Sweet Spots To Stay in the Peach State

Cooling off in style at the new Great Wolf Waterpark in Atlanta.
Cooling off in style at the new Great Wolf Lodge Resort Waterpark in Atlanta.

In recent years, the hotel industry in the state of Georgia has dramatically upped the ante, with developers continuously working on producing even more fantastic lodgings for visitors to enjoy.

The state is currently home to more than 1,845 hotels, comprised of an excess of 168,000 rooms across the board. As these new developments reach the end of their construction and open their doors for business, there are a few stand-out facilities that definitely deserve some special attention.

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is getting a brand new face with the new 4-star Intercontinental Hotel set to be built on the airport’s campus. This Intercontinental will be the first hotel to be built within walking distance of the domestic terminal and will include 80,000 feet of conference/meeting space and 60,000 square feet of office space. A restaurant and skybar are planned to be built within sight of the runway, and this beautiful hotel is sure to provide out-of-state visitors with a glowing first look at Georgia.

If you fancy yourself a fan of massive water slides, relaxing tubing opportunities, and high-speed thrills, you should definitely check out Georgia’s new Great Wolf Lodge Resort. The resort offers a 93,000 square foot facility complete with an entire water park, mini golf, an adventure park, and a wide range of other great family-friendly activities that are sure to keep everyone entertained.

The resort offers a wide array of deluxe suite-style rooms that provide an option for all prospective visitors, no matter their group size. Kids and adults alike will love all that this magnificent resort has to offer, and it’s a great place to go to escape from reality for just a few nights!

The new Hard Rock Casino and hotel in Atlanta will feature live music venues, an outdoor pool and a skybar.
The new Hard Rock Hotel Atlanta will feature live music venues, outdoor pool, and a skybar.

For fans of Atlanta sports and exciting live music, Hard Rock International is developing a huge new hotel in Atlanta right next to Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Centennial Olympic Drive. The Hard Rock Hotel Atlanta will contain 220 rooms and over 10,000 square feet of meeting space.

In addition, the hotel will offer an outdoor swimming pool, a rooftop bar, several live music venues, and a great deal of retail space for visitors to explore throughout their stay. The hotel will be open soon and give guests a taste of the luxurious accommodations there brand is famous for.

Set to take up an entire block’s space on Savannah’s historic River Street, The new Alida Hotel will provide guests with a safer and more easily accessible way of visiting the beautiful neighboring riverfront through their grand entryway. The hotel will be a seven-story, 173-room accommodation with 4,000 square feet of meeting space, a signature restaurant, rooftop event space and bar, pool, bar, and a large fitness area.

Any of these brand new Georgia hotels are sure to give your stay a fantastic base of operations to relax the night away after a long day of exploration. Book your reservations on Bonwi and use points for a future trip!

Bonwi Getting Noticed for Its High Points Returns

Best online hotel booking site Bonwi

Naturally we think you should you Bonwi for your hotel bookings so you can get a higher payback on points than with any other service.

free beach resort stay with Bonwi

We’ve laid out how Bonwi Rewards points are worth more than what you can get from an online travel agent like Hotels.com, a direct hotel chain loyalty program like Hilton Honors, or a competing points service like PointsHound. You don’t have to believe us though: the word is getting out that the returns here are clearly the best.

First, Bonwi got nominated in the Travelution Awards Shortlist in the “Best Travel Deals Publisher” category. As the celebs always say with a pained smile, it’s an honor just to be nominated, but we’ve got our fingers crossed for the ceremony handouts on November 19.  We’re up against some well-known brands like TravelZoo, but also some upstarts trying to disrupt the industry like we are to offer travelers a better deal.

Best online hotel booking site Bonwi

Next, the popular loyalty points and travel blog Upon Arriving put Bonwi in the #1 spot in its recent post on “The 15 Best Hotel Booking Sites of 2018.” They backed up our claim that nobody else is going to give you a higher return on investment in what you spend on a hotel.

It offers ridiculously high returns on some hotel bookings. With Bonwi, the amount of rewards that you earn when booking a stay fluctuates depending on all sorts of factors. So you never know exactly what kind of return you’re going to get.

But if you happen to be interested in one of the top earning properties, you might be able to get as much as 40% back on your booking, which is just incredible.

You’re not going to beat the best deals on Bonwi even if you have top-tier Platinum status with another hotel loyalty program.

It’s always good to get some outside validation for the claims we put out there. We regularly give you examples of how you can easily earn 20, 30, sometimes 40% back on our hotel booking by going through Bonwi.com. If you can’t bear the thought of another night in a hotel room, unlike most of the other services we give you options. And they’re not options presented at a lower cash-in value either. Your points are worth 1 cent per mile when you spend them on airline bookings, an Amazon gift card, a rental car booking, or a card for $100 at your favorite restaurant.

rent a car with points

If you do want to use your points for a hotel stay, you’ll quickly see they go a lot further than the ones from IHG, Marriott, or Hyatt. After just a few nights at hotel on business, you’ll have enough for a weekend getaway with that loved one you’ve had to leave behind. Isn’t that the best reward of all—turning business obligations into personal connection times?

Book your next hotel stay here and reap the rewards faster than with any other program.

 

TWA Hotel: Bringing Back the Glory Days of Aviation to JFK

The iconic TWA Terminal at JFK is being transformed into a mid-century modern inspired hotel.
The iconic TWA Terminal at JFK is being transformed into a mid-century modern inspired hotel.
The iconic TWA Terminal at JFK is being transformed into a mid-century modern inspired hotel.

The John F. Kennedy Airport in New York is receiving a new addition to its landmark former TWA Terminal. The TWA Flight Center at Kennedy International Airport is now being remade into a retro hotel that is planned to open in 2019.

Hotelier Tyler Morse is pioneering the project of having the first hotel within walking distance of the various terminals at Kennedy International Airport. Morse is said to be attempting to embrace the style and glamour that surrounded aviation in the past.

Plans for World’s Largest Lobby

The hotel will feature the world's largest lobby!
The hotel will feature the world’s largest lobby!

The hotel is set to live up to glorious standards with the plans for the lobby. The plans for the hotel lobby are to create the largest hotel lobby in the world.

The lobby is set to be 200,000 square feet with a museum inside that is celebrating mid-century design, the dawn of the jet age, and the terminal itself.

The Flagship Terminal

The TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport opened in 1962 when the Trans World Airlines opened its flagship terminal at the JFK location. Morse hopes to capture the atmosphere and glory of this time in his upcoming hotel.

The original structure of the terminal, the gull-wing-shaped structure, is made of steel and concrete and reminiscent of flight. It was built by the famous Finnish architect Eero Saarinen, and his original intention for the structure was that the airport guests would catch sight of it and this would initiate the beginning of their journey.

For a long period of time, Trans World Airlines was the United States’ sole airline with both domestic and international routes that could be taken.

Past Failed Renovations

Renovations of the terminal had been planned over the years, but these were never carried out. It became increasingly difficult for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to find someone who could salvage the space.

The terminal had been considered for a hotel and conference center in 2013, but this fell through, as well. It continued to sit as a beloved landmark.

Bringing Back the Glory Days

After Morse took on the daunting project, plans for the hotel started to come together. The hotel is now planned to embody the time period that planes were flying out of the TWA Terminal.

Mid-century modern is the look for the new TWA hotel at JFK.
Mid-century modern is the look for the new TWA hotel at JFK. 

The 512 rooms are set to be both evocative and nostalgic with rotary dial phones, iconic mid-century modern architecture, and TaB sodas in the mini-bars.

The TWA Hotel will also include six different restaurants and eight bars. One of the bars, a cocktail bar, will be located within a redone Lockheed “Constellation” aircraft. This particular aircraft was a staple of the TWA fleet in the 50s and 60s.

Aviation and architectural enthusiasts are anxiously awaiting all of the emerging details about the construction and completion of this historic location’s new hotel.

Find NYC hotels almost as cool as this one on Bonwi!  And use Bonwi points to get another hotel stay after paying for just one.

Southern California’s Newest Hotels for Visitors

The new AC Hotel Laguna Beach, southern California.
The new AC Hotel Laguna Beach, southern California.
The new AC Hotel Laguna Beach, southern California.

Southern California has been one of the most popular and exciting vacation destinations in the United States for decades. With all of the luxury arts and entertainment opportunities, one can quite easily forget about the importance of planning the logistical side of their trip entirely.

However, if you don’t plan your stay ahead of time, you may find yourself out of luck when searching for reasonable deals on lodging in the Golden State. Luckily, 4 exciting new hotels have recently opened their doors throughout the state’s Southern regions that are sure to capture your attention.

Burbank

If you find yourself planning a trip to Burbank in the next couple of years, consider staying at the AC Hotel. Officially opening in 2020, the AC Hotel in Burbank will boast a classically European designed 196-room, six-story building directly across from the newly renovated Burbank Town Center.

The hotel will feature a beautiful rooftop observation deck, a large public courtyard, a luxurious pool and a 3,800 square foot restaurant space. Geared toward the traveling young professional, the AC Hotel will exude a totally new lifestyle concept for Burbank. AC focuses on the millennial travelers–not a lot of emphasis on the lobby, but fast Wi-fi, a great hotel bar, and a fun experience.

Laguna Beach

This August, the same people that brought you Palm Springs’ Korakia Pensione, “One of the Sexiest Hotels in America” according to Forbes and the New York Times, are rolling out a new boutique hotel in Laguna Beach, Hotel Joaquin.

Taking the place of what used to be an old Motor Inn, the Hotel Joaquin will provide a fiery new atmosphere to the area by embracing the land’s Spanish heritage in accompaniment with the beauty of the breathtaking California coastline. This petite resort promises to provide guests with a relaxing and gorgeous stay and wants to help you create memories to last a lifetime.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to many exciting new opportunities in the realm of lodging. This past January, The Sydell Group opened an LA branch of its famous NoMad Hotel in New York. Located Downtown, the hotel consists of 241 rooms over 12 stories, complete with a rooftop pool.

Also Downtown, the anticipated opening of the first Proper Hospitality location in LA, the Downtown L.A. Proper Hotel is sure to impress. This 13-story hotel was built in 1924 and will have 148 rooms for guests to occupy starting later this year. And last, but certainly not least, the Godfrey brand, famous for their fabulous locations in New York and Boston, is opening a brand new high-end boutique in Hollywood.

The 60,000 square foot hotel will be geared toward the fast-paced lifestyle of the traveling professional, providing amenities that allow guests to conduct both local and remote business operations in a comfortable and aesthetic atmosphere.

Find your Los Angeles area hotel on Bonwi, and use the points for another stay!

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 Hotels.com. 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.