Monthly Archive: June 2016

Hyatt Regency Orange County Review

(Note: This review was from 2012 and taken from my old blog. Portions of this review have been modified and updated to reflect changes at the hotel.)

My wife and I are big fans of Disneyland and all things Disney. We love going to the park and collecting souvenirs, and we’re raising our daughter, Cara, with those same “values.” We’ve taken her to Disneyland two years in a row, and she’s always asking us to go back. This particular trip to Disneyland in 2012 B.C. (Before Cara) was memorable because this was when we found out we were going to be parents! Our home for this trip was the Hyatt Regency Orange County.

Arrival and Check-in

We arrived at the hotel a little after 9pm. I pulled up to the valet area and I was instantly greeted by one of the valet drivers. I explained that I was checking-in and asked if I could leave the car for a few minutes. It wasn’t a problem and I headed inside.

It was really dark and dim in the lobby at this hour, but there was music playing so it kind of created a lounge atmosphere. I hadn’t really expected that but it was different and I liked it. What makes this lobby unique is the all-glass wall that lets in tons of natural light throughout the day.


A Friendly Hotel Safety Tip

When you’re on vacation, it can be easy to let your guard down. You’re excited. You’re ready to relax or go out and explore. I’ve read a lot of stories about people who have left out their personal items when they went on an excursion, only to return to their room to find things have been stolen. Another story that seems to pop up every now and then, is when the hotel accidentally assigns one room to two different guests. Stories include being woken up in the middle of the night or even coming out of the shower to find a stranger in the room.


Hilton Vancouver Airport Review

I’ve only been to Canada twice in the few years that I’ve lived in the Pacific Northwest. Both times I’ve stayed at the Hilton Vancouver Airport and it’s going to be tough to want to try another property on future trips. The service has been great, food is good, and the overall hotel is clean and inviting. If you’re a Hilton Hhonors member, this hotel is a great property for an award redemption.

The Hilton Vancouver Airport is actually located in Richmond, which is just a short drive to Vancouver and the airport. The hotel is about a block away from the Richmond Centre shopping mall, and there is no shortage of Asian dining options in the immediate vicinity. It’s located on a block that is adjacent to a major road so depending on the time of day you’re traveling, there could be a lot of traffic trying to get through that main artery.

Hotel Arrival

When you enter the hotel from Minoru Blvd., you’ll make a right turn into the garage. On your right side, there will be a few spaces for you to pull over and load/unload your bags. The hotel entrance is also located here. I would recommend driving just a few more feet into the garage and you’ll see some dedicated parking stalls for guests who are checking-in.


Three Simple Steps that Helped Me Lose Weight

Back in college when I was apartment hunting with friends, one amenity we got excited about was an on-site fitness center. We pledged to work out all the time and get ripped. Then we proceeded to visit said on-site fitness center about 10-15 times throughout our year-long lease. After college when I had a job, I looked into gym memberships with the thought that if I’m actually forking over money for a membership, then that would motivate me to go work out and get my money’s worth. In the end, the cost of a membership was too high for me to want to find out. Then I had a kid. What better motivation? If you’re not going to do it for yourself, do it for your children. Well, Cara was born and I found myself with a whole new set of responsibilities and once again, no time for working out.

As we all know, these are just excuses. With each annual checkup or random visit to the scale, I found myself creeping towards 200 pounds. I didn’t want to hit that number. It was time to do something. Anything! I turned to my friends, who all actually work out, for advice. After consulting with them, I finally found an exercise program that works for me. I’m sure you’ve heard it before. Just walk.


Why I Like Paying Credit Card Annual Fees

Annual fees are the devil! Is something you might have heard when you first started applying for credit cards. I kept up with that for a few years until I started getting into the hotel points and airline miles game. Now 80% of my cards are made up of travel credit cards with annual fees. What changed my mind? One word: value.

After a lot of research, I started weighing the overall value I would receive relative to the cost of the annual fees. This includes the rewards/earning program and the perks of the card. The card that opened my eyes to annual fees was the Hyatt VISA card by Chase, which is now my favorite card that I never use. That’s a story for a different blog post though. It worked out great before I had a kid, and as a parent, it works out even better.

Who Doesn’t Love Free Hotel Nights?

After you’re approved for the card, you can get two free nights to use at any Hyatt property around the world. The only catch is that you have to spend $1,000 in the first three months of having the card. This kind of diminishes the value of the free nights but Hyatt has some really nice properties that can allow you to come close to matching, or even exceeding, the $1,000 you had to fork over.


Google Play Music – A Better Time Out

Google Play Music is a monthly music subscription service that offers some interesting benefits for parents. With your paid subscription, you get access to Google’s music library of over 35 million songs, ad-free listening, offline listening capability, YouTube Red, and the ability to upload up to 50,000 songs from your own library.

With such a large online library of songs, there are plenty of options for your little ones, like Baby Genius, nursery rhymes (Rockabye Baby FTW!), and even Disney collections. My daughter has her own playlist and I’m constantly adding new songs to it. She has songs from Frozen, LEGO Friends, Pitch Perfect, Snow White, Gummi Bears, Dora, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and of course her favorite, Taylor Swift.

The biggest Google Play Music benefit is YouTube integration. This really sets it apart from its competitors, Apple Music and Spotify. YouTube has such a huge library of children’s content, both old and new. Being a child of the 80s, I appreciate being able to find and watch clips and full episodes from that magical era of cartoons.


How to Save Money With the Target Cartwheel App

Forty dollars. That’s the amount of money I helped someone save on her recent trip to Target. I just happened to be near the self-checkout lanes with a woman who had a large purchase of women’s apparel. The Target Cartwheel app was offering a 30% discount on purchases in that category so I offered to use my account to help her save a few bucks. She finished scanning her items and her total came out to $163. After applying the Cartwheel discount, the total dropped to $123. She was pretty surprised and happy with the savings. She may not have had the app when I met her, but I bet she does now. Her friend even admitted to seeing the offer plastered all over the store but just ignored it. I bet they’re not ignoring it now!

What is the Target Cartwheel App?

Cartwheel by Target is a mobile app dedicated to helping Target shoppers save more money each time they make a purchase. It’s available for Android and iOS, and is completely separate from the normal Target app. Each week Cartwheel offers discounts on hundreds of items. Sometimes the offers last for a week and sometimes they can last for over a month. You’ll tend to see a big refresh each Sunday, which is common as retailers release new weekly specials, but you’ll also find a few new offers being added throughout the week.


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