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Your 2019 Luxury Hotel Year in Review

Your 2019 Luxury Hotel Year in Review

Old Dec 17, 19, 8:27 am
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Your 2019 Luxury Hotel Year in Review

Please list which properties you visited, and grade them. Feel free to add as much or as little detail to flesh out the rating as you would like.

My 2019 Luxury Hotel Stays:

- Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui: A-, wonderful hotel only thing holding it back is lack of a good beach and too many families with small, loud children.
- The Peninsula, Bangkok: B, property is in need of a refresh.
- InterCon, Johannesburg : B, it's an airport hotel.
- Kempinski, Accra: B+, solid if unspectacular rooms. Nice common spaces, as good as it gets in Accra, more business hotel than true luxury.
- Omali, Sao Tome: B, as good as it gets in Sao Tome. Spacious rooms, pool, gym, tennis courts.
- The Strand, Swakopmund: B+, lovely property, nice location.
- Little Kulala, Sossusvlei: A, wonderful, flawless experience.
- Le Mount Stephen, Montreal: A- great common space, excellent bar, modern minimalist yet comfortable rooms. Top location.
- Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans: C, while the Maison d'Orleans is (or was) great, the non-club portion of this hotel is in shabby shape. Terrible service as well.
- Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco: B, this RC is as "blah" as it gets. Room furnishings remind me of a Marriott but at 2x the cost.
- Hotel St. Louis, Saint Louis: B, very solid option in downtown St. Louis.
- Grand Hotel, Stockholm: B+, hotel has been on an upward trend. Wonderful bar, gym and location.
- Ritz-Carlton, Budapest: A-, excellent club, great location and nice rooms. Surprisingly good RC property.
- Palazzo Belmonte, Santa Maria di Castellebate: B+, wonderful old building, charming town.
- Sofitel, Algiers: F. Sofitels are bad, this is perhaps the worst one in the world. No choice in Algiers, but WOW, just atrocious.
- 1 Hotel West Hollywood, Los Angeles: A-, new property, love the location and views. Very comfortable rooms. A bit too much "eco focus" but nice.
- Melia Gran Fenix, Madrid: B+, solid if unspectacular hotel, very good value pick.
- St. Regis, Moscow: B+, points deducted for the location, too close to Metro stop and shopping, very crowded. Rooms are close to needing a refresh.
- Hotel Kamp, Helsinki: A+, multiple stays, wonderful rooms, great staff, nearly 100% upgrade success to my preferred room. Always a joy.
- Ritz-Carlton, Singapore: A, my favorite hotel in Singapore Huge spacious rooms with great views and excellent bathtubs.
- Four Seasons, Mexico City: A, another nearly flawless stay in a wonderful room. Extra points to the concierge staff for getting me a table at Pujol on short notice.
- Grand Hotel National, Lucerne: B+, spacious rooms and wonderful lake views, but tired common area and braindead, lazy staff.
- Dolder Grand, Zurich: B, great hotel but on this recent visit the noise was unacceptable. Service recovery will bring me back, to see if issues fixed.
- Fairmont, Monte Carlo: F, ghastly property. Never again, tough to trust Fairmont as a brand again after this.
- Le Negresco, Nice: B, quirky but nice hotel. Not real luxury, beautiful old historic building, top location.
- Ritz-Carlton, Moscow: A-, great views, comfortable rooms, nice bar, great breakfast. Just lacks that it factor to be a true "A."
- Elounda Bay Palace, Crete: C, very tired rooms from the 80's and overrun with package tourists and crying babies, never again.
- Elounda Gulf Villas, Crete: B+, nice property, but voluntarily downgraded as the spa suites are inferior to lower cat rooms, odd.
- Le Zebra, Tulum: B+, great plunge pool rooms and excellent on site restaurant. Staff keep the beach clear of seaweed, nice bar as well.
- The Pottinger, Hong Kong: B+, no upgrade this time, lack of onsite gym is a minus as is terrible breakfast. Great location though.
- Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong: A, beautiful harbor view suite, excellent RC club, one of the better ones. Only negative is impossible to walk from isolated location.
- Four Seasons, Kuwait City: A, flawless stay, beautiful room.
- Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain: D-, one of the worst RC properties I have ever stayed at. Tired rooms and beyond awful, incompetent staff.
- JW Marriott, Baku: B+, low end for "luxury" but big, comfortable rooms, nice views and overall my pick for best in Baku.
- Four Seasons, Baku: C, one of the shabbier FS I've seen. Dark common spaces, mediocre rooms, nonsensical layout.
- Ritz-Carlton Al-Bustan Palace, Muscat: A, flawless stay, unbelievable staff, best RC in the MENA region by leaps and bounds.
- Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi: D, another disgraceful failure for the RC chain. Terrible hotel on all levels, never again.
- The Savoy, London: B-, nice historical hotel, but a bit tired. Good staff and some beautiful common spaces.
- Ritz-Carlton, Chicago: B+, good but not great hotel, nothing in particular to nitpick.
- InterCon Marine Drive, Mumbai: B, it's an intercon, solid but unspectacular. Enjoyed the location.
- Taj Green Cove, Kovalam: A, flawless stay, great views, sea view plunge pool rooms are the way to go.
- Gritti Palace, Venice: A, was upgraded to a canal view room (#111), perfect location, great views, wonderful staff.
- The Hazelton, Toronto: A, beautiful hotel, wonderful bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. My new go to in Toronto.
- JW Marriot, Phu Quoc: TBD, check-in Dec. 28.

Last edited by GetSetJetSet; Dec 17, 19 at 10:32 pm
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Old Dec 17, 19, 10:52 am
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Hyatt Regency Kyoto - barely Luxury Forum worthy even in its suites. Fading fast from top 5 list of Kyoto luxury options.

St. Regis Osaka - a small StR but very comfortable. Superb F&B. Had one of the best showers in my life there.

Hyatt Regency Tashkent - As good as it gets for Tashkent. More a business hotel than true luxury hotel. The best room hardware in town and a staff that tries very hard to please.

St. Regis Astana - the best luxury option in Astana. Loved the hardware and property. Not so sure how all the white will hold up though.

Ritz Carlton Almaty - best luxury option in Almaty. My favorite shower of all-time here. Water conservation eat your heart out.

Park Hyatt Istanbul - stayed when they were in the process of being sold to the Salt Bae restaurant owner and it was terrible. Nickel and diming with no room turndown done. Offered breakfast as option when waiting for room to be made available and then charged for it. Also charged for a coffee that they initially offered before the breakfast. Wouldn't go back.

Rosewood Bangkok - a very luxurious and residential feeling hotel. The upcoming houses will be even better than the Manor suites. Has the city's most authentic Chinese restaurant and great top floor LP bar. Daniele makes the best drinks in town.

Park Hyatt Bangkok - just an embarassment to the brand. Just very sterile feeling.

The Barai, at Hyatt Regency Hua Hin- luxury for Hua Hin but didn't really enjoy it. Great F&B for the area at Mcfarland House.

Belmond Governor's Residence, Yangon- Service and good F&B can't make up for a creaking old 100 year old house. Water pressure and doors seizing up can be a big problem. Everything is pretty much outdoors (mosquitoes and humidity in rainy season) and the pool is a small joke. A short stay might be okay but extended stays become tedious and annoying.

The Strand Yangon - Might have been the finest hotel East of Suez at one time but not anymore. Not even the finest hotel in Yangon now either.

Melia Yangon - A very big convention style hotel but still very enjoyable. They punch above their weight. Best brunch and buffet breakfast in Yangon.
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Last edited by Aventine; Dec 18, 19 at 5:03 am
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Old Dec 17, 19, 11:57 am
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Originally Posted by Aventine View Post
Hyatt Regency Kyoto - barely Luxury Forum worthy even in its suites. Fading fast from top 5 list of Kyoto luxury options.

Hyatt Regency Tashkent - As good as it gets for Tashkent. More a business hotel than true luxury hotel. The best room hardware in town and a staff that tries very hard to please.

St. Regis Astana - the best luxury option in Astana. Loved the hardware and property. Not so sure how all the white will hold up though.

Ritz Carlton Almaty - best luxury option in Almaty. My favorite shower of all-time here. Water conservation eat your heart out.

The Strand Yangon - Might have been the finest hotel East of Suez at one time but not anymore. Not even the finest hotel in Yangon now either.
1. What are you top-5 in Kyoto?
2. Hyatt Tashkent sounds great, "best" last time I was there was that awful Lotte hotel.
3. There's a StR AND a RC in Astana (Nur Sultan? ) now? When I was there, just a Marriott. Nice.
4. RC Almaty is one of the better RC properties I think, underrated.
5. Shame to hear re The Strand, my parents will be there in Jan., hope it isn't awful.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 12:36 pm
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2019 wasn’t my best travel year. Nevertheless, outstanding stay at La Casa que Canta in Zihuatanejo, even after I broke an ankle.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 3:53 pm
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Amanpulo- Amazing time and the team really worked to hard to secure us our private excursion to Palawan
JW Marriott Hanoi- A bit farther out that other options, and food/amenities are nothing special, but room was spacious and price point was too good to pass up
Four Seasons Hoi An- Villa and property were beautiful but service was mixed
Amanoi- Wonderful property, room was incredible, and Joy was fantastic. Only issue is we weren't told about a large wedding in advance, which resulted in some initial service issues. Very unique and special over all.
Park Hyatt Siam Reap- very centrally located, rooms might have been too large, but all around good hotel for exploring the city.
The Connaught- Incredible property, amazing room, and wonderful service. My wife and I are still debating whether this beats our Aman Tokyo as our favorite city hotel. For now I think Aman wins, but we definitely want to return.

Still finishing up some travel in 2019, but will be in
Prince Gallery Tokyo- We've done the RC , Aman, and Capitol so will be interesting to compare
The Suiren Kyoto- Aman Kyoto is tempting with it just didn't seem that special (for the price) with the amount of options in Kyoto. May tour it just to see.
Wanosato Ryokan
Fufu Kawaguchiko- Relatively new property in Fuji Five lakes area. Should be interesting.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 4:02 pm
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Originally Posted by Anlun View Post
Amanpulo- Amazing time and the team really worked to hard to secure us our private excursion to Palawan
JW Marriott Hanoi- A bit farther out that other options, and food/amenities are nothing special, but room was spacious and price point was too good to pass up
Four Seasons Hoi An- Villa and property were beautiful but service was mixed
Amanoi- Wonderful property, room was incredible, and Joy was fantastic. Only issue is we weren't told about a large wedding in advance, which resulted in some initial service issues. Very unique and special over all.
Park Hyatt Siam Reap- very centrally located, rooms might have been too large, but all around good hotel for exploring the city.
The Connaught- Incredible property, amazing room, and wonderful service. My wife and I are still debating whether this beats our Aman Tokyo as our favorite city hotel. For now I think Aman wins, but we definitely want to return.
A few Q:
1. How many days for Pulo? Worry about getting bored as it seems there's not much to do.
2. Where in Palawan and how did you get there from Pulo? I went to El Nido in '18 but required flight to Puerto Princessa and a long overland.
3. How was Amanoi, heard some issue (I think) about excessive winds maybe?
4. Have upcoming stays at RC Kyoto and Tokyo, sounds like you've been. Thoughts? Also any thoughts on Hoshinoya Kyoto? Tawaraya booked up before we could get in, so it was our 2nd choice.

Thx!
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Old Dec 17, 19, 4:18 pm
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Originally Posted by GetSetJetSet View Post
Please list which properties you visited, and grade them. Feel free to add as much or as little details to flesh out the rating as you would like.

My 2019 Luxury Hotel Stays:

- Ritz-Carlton, Koh Samui: A-, wonderful hotel only thing holding it back is lack of a good beach and too many families with small, loud children.
- The Peninsula, Bangkok: B, property is in need of a refresh.
- InterCon, Johannesburg : B, it's an airport hotel.
- Kempinski, Accra: B+, solid if unspectacular rooms. Nice common spaces, as good as it gets in Accra, more business hotel than true luxury.
- Omali, Sao Tome: B, as good as it gets in Sao Tome. Spacious rooms, pool, gym, tennis courts.
- The Strand, Swakopmund: B+, lovely property, nice location.
- Little Kulala, Sossusvlei: A, wonderful, flawless experience.
- Le Mount Stephen, Montreal: A- great common space, excellent bar, modern minimalist yet comfortable rooms. Top location.
- Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans: C, while the Maison d'Orleans is (or was) great, the non-club portion of this hotel is in shabby shape. Terrible service as well.
- Ritz-Carlton, San Francisco: B, this RC is as "blah" as it gets. Room furnishings remind me of a Marriott but at 2x the cost.
- Hotel St. Louis, Saint Louis: B, very solid option in downtown St. Louis.
- Grand Hotel, Stockholm: B+, hotel has been on an upward trend. Wonderful bar, gym and location.
- Ritz-Carlton, Budapest: A-, excellent club, great location and nice rooms. Surprisingly good RC property.
- Palazzo Belmonte, Santa Maria di Castellebate: B+, wonderful old building, charming town.
- Sofitel, Algiers: F. Sofitels are bad, this is perhaps the worst one in the world. No choice in Algiers, but WOW, just atrocious.
- 1 Hotel West Hollywood, Los Angeles: A-, new property, love the location and views. Very comfortable rooms. A bit too much "eco focus" but nice.
- Melia Gran Fenix, Madrid: B+, solid if unspectacular hotel, very good value pick.
- St. Regis, Moscow: B+, points deducted for the location, too close to Metro stop and shopping, very crowded. Rooms are close to needing a refresh.
- Hotel Kamp, Helsinki: A+, multiple stays, wonderful rooms, great staff, nearly 100% upgrade success to my preferred room. Always a joy.
- Ritz-Carlton, Singapore: A, my favorite hotel in Singapore Huge spacious rooms with great views and excellent bathtubs.
- Four Seasons, Mexico City: A, another nearly flawless stay in a wonderful room. Extra points to the concierge staff for getting me a table at Pujol on short notice.
- Grand Hotel National, Lucerne: B+, spacious rooms and wonderful lake views, but tired common area and braindead, lazy staff.
- Dolder Grand, Zurich: B, great hotel but on this recent visit the noise was unacceptable. Service recovery will bring me back, to see if issues fixed.
- Fairmont, Monte Carlo: F, ghastly property. Never again, tough to trust Fairmont as a brand again after this.
- Le Negresco, Nice: B, quirky but nice hotel. Not real luxury, beautiful old historic building, top location.
- Ritz-Carlton, Moscow: A-, great views, comfortable rooms, nice bar, great breakfast. Just lacks that it factor to be a true "A."
- Elounda Bay Palace, Crete: C, very tired rooms from the 80's and overrun with package tourists and crying babies, never again.
- Elounda Gulf Villas, Crete: B+, nice property, but voluntarily downgraded as the spa suites are inferior to lower cat rooms, odd.
- Le Zebra, Tulum: B+, great plunge pool rooms and excellent on site restaurant. Staff keep the beach clear of seaweed, nice bar as well.
- The Pottinger, Hong Kong: B+, no upgrade this time, lack of onsite gym is a minus as is terrible breakfast. Great location though.
- Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong: A, beautiful harbor view suite, excellent RC club, one of the better ones. Only negative is impossible to walk from isolated location.
- Four Seasons, Kuwait City: A, flawless stay, beautiful room.
- Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain: D-, one of the worst RC properties I have ever stayed at. Tired rooms and beyond awful, incompetent staff.
- JW Marriott, Baku: B+, low end for "luxury" but big, comfortable rooms, nice views and overall my pick for best in Baku.
- Four Seasons, Baku: C, one of the shabbier FS I've seen. Dark common spaces, mediocre rooms, nonsensical layout.
- Ritz-Carlton Al-Bustan Palace, Muscat: A, flawless stay, unbelievable staff, best RC in the MENA region by leaps and bounds.
- Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi: D, another disgraceful failure for the RC chain. Terrible hotel on all levels, never again.
- The Savoy, London: B-, nice historical hotel, but a bit tired. Good staff and some beautiful common spaces.
- Ritz-Carlton, Chicago: B+, good but not great hotel, nothing in particular to nitpick.
- InterCon Marine Drive, Mumbai: B, it's an intercon, solid but unspectacular. Enjoyed the location.
- Taj Green Cove, Kovalam: A, flawless stay, great views, sea view plunge pool rooms are the way to go.
- Gritti Palace, Venice: A, was upgraded to a canal view room (#111), perfect location, great views, wonderful staff.
- The Hazelton, Toronto: A, beautiful hotel, wonderful bathrooms with deep soaking tubs. My new go to in Toronto.
- JW Marriot, Phu Quoc: TBD, check-in Dec. 28.
How would you compare the 1 Hotel to the Beverly Hills Hotel?
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Old Dec 17, 19, 4:28 pm
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Originally Posted by sophialite View Post
How would you compare the 1 Hotel to the Beverly Hills Hotel?
Haven't stayed at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I ended up at the 1 Hotel by chance, since I didn't even know it had opened. I booked the disgraceful W "West Hollywood" then after complications told them to cancel my stay and refund the prepaid amount. I pulled up kayak in the lobby, so a decent rate at 1 Hotel and as I've stayed in that area at the Andaz before, decided to go with it. Nice view, comfortable rooms, they aren't huge but they're not small. The pool was a bit small, gym left a lot to be desired in a fitness conscious city like LA. I like the location. Bar seemed to be popular as were the restaurants.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 4:51 pm
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Originally Posted by GetSetJetSet View Post
3. How was Amanoi, heard some issue (I think) about excessive winds maybe?
We left Amanoi three days ago. It was our second visit. My husband has decided it is his favorite hotel in the world.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 5:02 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K View Post
We left Amanoi three days ago. It was our second visit. My husband has decided it is his favorite hotel in the world.
Wow, high praise. Enough activities/stuff to see in the surrounding area to keep busy?
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Old Dec 17, 19, 7:26 pm
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Originally Posted by GetSetJetSet View Post
1. What are you top-5 in Kyoto?
2. Hyatt Tashkent sounds great, "best" last time I was there was that awful Lotte hotel.
3. There's a StR AND a RC in Astana (Nur Sultan? ) now? When I was there, just a Marriott. Nice.
4. RC Almaty is one of the better RC properties I think, underrated.
5. Shame to hear re The Strand, my parents will be there in Jan., hope it isn't awful.
1. I would have to think about RC, FS, PH, Suiran and Aman ahead of HR Kyoto. I need good hardware and HR Kyoto is just losing in that regard. It used to be a decent points redemption but not anymore since they moved back to Cat. 5.

2. I've heard a Hilton might be coming to Tashkent but the Hyatt is one of the nicer Regencies in the world.

3. Central Asia and CIS just loves Marriott! The StR is the best hotel in the entire region.

4. Their breakfast is just quite limited. No a la carte items and a small spread.

5. It's just the bathroom that is appalling for the price they charge. Even non 5* have nicer bathrooms.

Last edited by Aventine; Dec 17, 19 at 7:42 pm
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Old Dec 17, 19, 7:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Anlun View Post
Amanpulo- Amazing time and the team really worked to hard to secure us our private excursion to Palawan
JW Marriott Hanoi- A bit farther out that other options, and food/amenities are nothing special, but room was spacious and price point was too good to pass up
Four Seasons Hoi An- Villa and property were beautiful but service was mixed
Amanoi- Wonderful property, room was incredible, and Joy was fantastic. Only issue is we weren't told about a large wedding in advance, which resulted in some initial service issues. Very unique and special over all.
Park Hyatt Siam Reap- very centrally located, rooms might have been too large, but all around good hotel for exploring the city.
The Connaught- Incredible property, amazing room, and wonderful service. My wife and I are still debating whether this beats our Aman Tokyo as our favorite city hotel. For now I think Aman wins, but we definitely want to return.

Still finishing up some travel in 2019, but will be in
Prince Gallery Tokyo- We've done the RC , Aman, and Capitol so will be interesting to compare
The Suiren Kyoto- Aman Kyoto is tempting with it just didn't seem that special (for the price) with the amount of options in Kyoto. May tour it just to see.
Wanosato Ryokan
Fufu Kawaguchiko- Relatively new property in Fuji Five lakes area. Should be interesting.
Prince Gallery is a shadow of its former self now under Bonvoy.
You might want to consider Park Hyatt Kyoto too. They have some teething issues but the hardware and pagoda views are stunning.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 9:27 pm
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In my subjective view (views rarely objective in any case), Best LA/Beverly Hills hotels: Beverly Hills Hotel and Peninsula Beverly Hills. In a pinch Hotel Bel-Air, not a fan of the internal minimalist furnishings.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 10:19 pm
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1. COMO The Treasury, Perth - still my favourite city hotel in Australia for the hard product. We had two enormous rooms connected by a wide passageway, providing more space than most suites. Excellent breakfast as usual.
2. Intercon Double Bay, Sydney - I’m including this because there are so few decent options in Sydney. Not dissimilar to the Langham in decor and size. It’s a good option if you intend to spend time in Sydney’s eastern suburbs
3. Four Seasons Hong Kong - decor is not exciting but I was really struck by the excellent, personal service we received on this visit (a few months before the protests began). It went up in my estimation
4. The Lowell, NYC - LOVED this. Rooms need a refresh but the service was just excellent. I stayed here for a special event and the concierge team were unbelievable - hands down the best concierge service I’ve had in New York
5. The Bel-Air, LA - this hotel stands out for its consistency for me. Always great service
6. Belmond El Encanto, Santa Barbara - charming, very spacious and comfortable rooms. The highlight is the dining terrace. I liked the quiet, elevated location. We’d happily return
7. Bernardus Lodge and Spa, Carmel Valley - we had a 2 bedroom villa here, which was very well done. The highlight was the outdoor bathroom courtyards. Full height windows looking out to the outdoor bathroom from the spacious indoor bathroom - most memorable bathroom I’ve had since Laucala
8. RC Half-Moon Bay - this place has a spectacular location. We booked ocean view rooms with fire pits. The hotel is very busy (it felt like a lot of conferences and groups on golf retreats), and we were glad not to be in the main building. It’s always a treat to be able to watch spectacular sunsets over the Pacific for an Australian
9. RC San Francisco - this was better than I expected. The service is what stood out - everybody was charming and friendly. Rooms are “standard” and not luxury to my mind, bathrooms are dated. I didn’t like the decor of the club level so preferred to relax in the bar downstairs.
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Old Dec 17, 19, 10:29 pm
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Originally Posted by Baghoarder View Post
9. RC San Francisco - this was better than I expected. The service is what stood out - everybody was charming and friendly. Rooms are “standard” and not luxury to my mind, bathrooms are dated. I didn’t like the decor of the club level so preferred to relax in the bar downstairs.
I'll agree that the service at the RC SF is great, but the rooms are more "Marriott Standard" and really don't look like they belong in a RC. IIRC, they don't even have proper deep tubs in the bathrooms.
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