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Family of 4 Spring Break ORD-NYC in F on AA, Mandarin Oriental NY, and Conrad NY

Family of 4 Spring Break ORD-NYC in F on AA, Mandarin Oriental NY, and Conrad NY

Old Jul 23, 19, 11:56 am
  #1  
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Family of 4 Spring Break ORD-NYC in F on AA, Mandarin Oriental NY, and Conrad NY

I've written reviews on FT, but this is my first attempt at a comprehensive Trip Report with all the trimmings. Figure to start domestic before venturing international, but I really wanted to get some family travel perspective on FT because it seems few and far between. The planning began shortly after the New Year for spring break vacation with the kiddos. At the time, I had one middle schooler and one not yet in kindergarten, so we scheduled it during the middle schooler's break from March 26 through April 1.

Flight Details:
ORD to LGA on AA 114 in F
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
10:30 AM

With a family of 4, there was no way we'd be able to get upgrades on this elite heavy shuttle flight between Chicago and New York, so we purchased these fares outright. They were actually quite reasonable with advanced planning (purchased in January) and only 1/3 more than the non-basic economy fares for the flight. Check-in was uneventful and we settled into the Admirals Club at ORD before the flight. There was no avocado toast this morning (nor anything substituted in its place) due to the avocado recalls and shortage during this time. Then we boarded the flight. After most of first class boarded, boarding completely stopped. We don't know what happened, but it gave me time to completely wipe down the seats since my one child has a cashew allergy (which is served in first class on AA flights). I also got a chance to tell the FA's that we have a cashew allergy and that we don't need warm nuts in our seats. Boarding recommenced about 20 minutes later. The delay was due to a Sabre outage that cause AA's reservation/boarding system to go down. And now we are finally on our way.

Our flight was on an older 737. While it hasn't been Oasised, it didn't have seat-back IFE. It had the old drop down ceiling tv screens. The kids pre-ordered the cheeseburgers. Myself and Mr. TravelLawyer pre-ordered special meals. I ordered the diabetic meal and he ordered the gluten free meal. The special meals were one in the same, except for a piece of bread. The kids enjoyed the cheeseburger though - with the middle-schooler declaring that this was the best cheeseburger he's ever had.
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Last edited by TravelLawyer; Jul 23, 19 at 1:56 pm Reason: Added Pics
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Old Jul 23, 19, 3:11 pm
  #2  
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Mandarin Oriental New York - WOW - Great Stay!

Mandarin Oriental New York

Map| 1 Review | 100% Recommended

Mandarin Oriental New York

80 Columbus Circle New York City, NY US 10023

Mandarin Oriental New York - WOW - Great Stay! (6 Photos)

Mandarin Oriental New York

Location

We split our trip into 3 nights near Central Park and 3 nights near the World Trade Center. During our Central Park stay, we chose the Mandarin Oriental New York because of the great reviews, views and pool. Yes - it has an indoor pool!! It is one of very select few hotels in the city that does. And the location can not be beat. Walking distance to Central Park, it is also attached to the Shops at Columbus Circle / Time Warner Center including a Whole Foods. Super convenient!

Check In

Service from check in to check out and everything in between has been flawless. Upon arrival, we were greeted by the doormen where they collected our luggage and directed us to the 35th floor for check-in. At check-in, we were given an upgrade to a Premier Central Park view room on the 45th floor by friendly front desk staff because we booked through a travel agent that had access to MO’s “Fan Club” rates. She explained all the perks of the rate at the MO like upgrade at check-in, complimentary breakfast for 2 people, and $100 food or spa credit. 

Room

There is a separate elevator bank that take you to the rooms near the spa. After 7 pm, you have to use your key card. All the rooms at the MO are the same size but with slightly different layouts (except the suites - but they don’t generally comp upgrade to suites, so you gotta shell out money for those). Anyway, since we were there for our kiddo’s birthday week, they gave us a rollaway bed at no extra charge (which was greatly appreciated). There were a couple books in the room for the kids to use during our stay that we were able to bring home too. The king bed room was the perfect size to add a rollaway and we still had space to stretch out a tiny bit. The room is big for NYC standards and had a separate bathtub and shower. Online said they had some bathtub toys for kids, but when we called they didn’t have any - just bath safety items (whale themed nonslip mat, knee pad for the parents, spigot cover, drain cover, and thermometer) which was nice too and appreciated. We hardly heard any hallway or outside noise during our stay.

image5 (1).jpegimage4 (1).jpegimage3 (1).jpegimage2 (1).jpeg1_image1 (2).jpeg

Dining

We chose to eat at in-room dining for our breakfast and one of the dinners. The food is always excellent, but they sometimes forgot to bring certain items though they were quick to send them up when we called back. As for coffee - no, there are no coffee makers in the room. You can either buy coffee through room service OR if you call guest services, they will bring you an old school coffee maker and coffee grinds (the maker and coffee arrive separate) so you can make your own coffee. These are not pods, so you kind of had to experiment a little with water and amount of grinds. For us, 2 bottles of drinking water and the entire bowl of coffee brewed the perfect cup of Joe.

Amenities

Another perk of the hotel is its complimentary house car available to all guests on a first come first served basis within about a 10 block radius. We had the same driver when we went to Times Square for the M&M store and then again a different day to Nobu Fifty Seven. It was such a great service to have a friendly and professional driver available for these trips. He was awesome! Nice small talk conversation and even gave us some helpful tips for our visit. There are also water bottles and wet wipes in the car. Don’t forget to tip - these guys deserve it! Really refreshing, especially after experiencing some not so friendly or professional uber drivers. FYI - the MO car service doesn’t pick back up though, only drop-off service.

And last but not least, the pool and fitness center on the 36th floor. It is open to all guests. It’s not huge, but quite adequate. Attendants check you in on your first visit and then remember you the rest of your stay. There is a fruit tray right outside the pool and an infused water dispenser in the fitness center. The pool is a long narrow lap pool that starts at 3.5’ and ends at 4’. The attendants are also lifeguards so they watch you while you swim or play. They even had a couple kick boards, pool noodles, and toddler life vest you can borrow during your swim. They also check to see if you need any water bottles when you leave. We were super impressed with the amenities and the staff.

image6 (1).jpeg

Overall

Overall, we could not have asked for a better introduction to NYC. The Mandarin Oriental New York was the perfect 5-star hotel for our stay. We are now continuing our stay near the World Trade Center and wish we were back at the MO. The staff, service and amenities just cannot be beat! Thank you for a great stay!

Mandarin Oriental New York - WOW - Great Stay!

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Old Jul 23, 19, 3:49 pm
  #3  
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Stayed at the MO a few years ago and really liked it.
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Old Jul 28, 19, 9:24 pm
  #4  
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Disappointed

Conrad New York Downtown

Map| 1 Review | 0% Recommended

Conrad New York Downtown

102 North End Avenue New York City, NY US 10282

Disappointed (8 Photos)

Conrad New York Downtown

We booked a 3-night stay at the Conrad for my son's spring break birthday trip to NYC. I had emailed the Conrad New York ahead of time to make sure that our stay would be kid-friendly, fun and perfect for the purpose we had planned.

Check In

Things started going wrong at online check-in. We had been upgraded to a river view suite as a Hilton Diamond and we were checking in for a room on the 15th floor in the app. As I was attempting to check-in, it timed out and crashed. I had restarted the app and the room was gone. Instead it was putting me in a room on the 7th floor. I had contacted the front desk and the were able to assign me a room on the 11th floor, but my originally selected room was gone within a matter of minutes (not sure what happened unless someone booked the same room?). We lost a few floors in view, but not the end of the world. But then as I emailed to confirm that I had my requested preferences, I was told that the room does not have a bathtub and was shower only. With young kids, a bathtub is a must-have! Clearly the people in charge of assigning rooms here have no clue. (They suggested putting an infant tub in the shower for my 4-year old - which absolutely would not work.) Or I can downgrade back to my originally booked room with no view to get a bathtub (Sigh). As I was already en route to the hotel, I decided to just deal with it in person. When I arrived, the front desk staff explained the same thing, or I can pay to upgrade the 2nd and 3rd nights to an executive room during my stay (as it was sold out the 1st night) for an extra $190/night which does have a bathtub. Note to all Hilton Diamonds - even though this is an all-suite hotel, I asked and was told that they do NOT offer complimentary multi-category upgrades to luxury suites or executive suites or beyond. Anyway, my app was showing a nor1 upgrade to the Conrad suite for an additional $200/night so that wasn't much of an accommodation at all! She proceeded to tell me to just book the app upgrade because she can't offer anything better. So we took the app upgrade and paid extra to take the Conrad suite. (It had to be manually processed, because the front desk had "checked" us in so nor1 couldn't get applied.)

Room

The Conrad suite itself is huge and having all the space is so nice with kiddos, but there were a few things wrong when we checked in. The whirlpool tub was showing an error (which we had to call down to fix), the TV in the bathtub is missing a remote so cannot turn on (which we had to call down - but they didn't have the remote, so it remained off the entire 3 nights), the blinds in the office are broken and cannot be pulled up to open, the powder room toilet clogged (which we had to call down to fix), there are only 2 thermostats for multiple rooms so we could never get the temperature right in all of the rooms, the lights randomly turned off (we assume there is a motion sensor somewhere, but we never figured out where).

This is the floorplan of the Conrad Suite. The door next to the double-sinks behind the bed actually leads to a separate shower room.Conrad_Suite_TopDown_full_1024x768.png

View of another building with a glimpse of the water from the Conrad Suite.image12.jpeg

Some Room Pics:

image11 (1).jpegimage8 (1).jpegimage6 (2).jpegimage5 (2).jpegimage2 (2).jpegimage1 (3).jpeg

Service

As the welcome amenity, we received one still water, one sparling water, and a small box of chocolates as a Diamond. (I've seen photos of fruit trays, but we never received one.) They also did send a birthday cake, but for some reason told me they couldn't send it due to our nut allergy because the mix is made offsite. I informed them of the nut allergy a week ahead of our arrival, but they waited until the last night of our stay to let us know. We did work it out so they could send it up to us (birthday boy doesn't have the allergy - another child does), but they sent a carrot cake. For a kid turning 5. I've seen photos of red velvet birthday cakes and chocolate birthday cakes - not sure why they thought carrot cake would go over well with a 4 year old turning 5. It didn't. Oh well, guess it's the thought that counts. (It seems like there sure are a lot more misses than hits here.)

Dining

Also, as a Diamond, breakfast is included as part of the package. They had buffet on the weekends and a la carte on the weekdays. Our Saturday buffet was uneventful, all the food was fine. Nothing really stood out. However, there are no made-to-order eggs (i.e. no omelettes) as part of the package - you'd have to pay additional at the a la carte prices. However the Sunday buffet - omg, was a nightmare. The guy at check in was not friendly at all and were quoted a 20 minute wait for a table. We asked if we can wait back in our hotel room (since we had small kids with us) and was told no. Once we finally got seated way past the 20 minutes, they were running out of food and did NOT restock. Our waiter took pity on us and gave us a fruit plate when there was literally no fruit left in the buffet (thank you for the gesture - it was greatly appreciated). I understand they were busy. There is no exec lounge at this Conrad, so all the Hilton gold and diamond people end up at the restaurant. However, this is still supposed to be a high end restaurant at a high end hotel. This exact scenario I would expect at an Embassy Suites or maybe a Hilton (although I've had much better experiences at both ES and Hilton properties before), but not a Conrad.

Disappointed

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Old Jul 29, 19, 11:00 am
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I am assuming the sofa pulled out to form some sort of bed for the kids?

Nothing worse than a restaurant not re-stocking at breakfast time.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 5:59 pm
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Thanks the report. The room looks huge for NYC but a 30 minute wait for breakfast is not acceptable. The Pick-A-Bagel around the corner is pretty good though.

Did you book with points then upgraded by paying $190 per night?
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Old Jul 29, 19, 6:59 pm
  #7  
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Originally Posted by nequine View Post
I am assuming the sofa pulled out to form some sort of bed for the kids?
No, the sofa didnít pull out. We had to get a rollaway.
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Old Jul 29, 19, 7:01 pm
  #8  
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Originally Posted by RoxyMountain View Post
Did you book with points then upgraded by paying $190 per night?
No, I paid with money. And then upgraded by paying $200/night which was a nor-1 upgrade offer (the pre-check-in offers from the app).
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Old Aug 6, 19, 1:32 pm
  #9  
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Sightseeing in the Big Apple

Day 1: Times Square: M&M's World, Hershey's Chocolate World, The View Restaurant & Lounge
The kiddos wanted to hit the best sights in Times Square, which consisted of the M&M Store and the Hershey's Chocolate World. Some of the panels of the big LCD screen billboards were also down - which was a bummer.

Then we went to The View Restaurant & Lounge in the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel. We have a soft spot for revolving restaurants. One of the kiddos fell in LOVE with the CN Tower, so we now try to find revolving and tower restaurants wherever we go. The views were just so-so because the restaurant isn't all that high. And the restaurant is circular inside a square building, so the closest views were of neighboring (taller) buildings and the corner views were farther away of the skyline. Food was good, albeit expensive and service was slow.

Day 2: Midtown: Rockefeller Center, Empire State Building, Nobu Fifty Seven
Another kiddo driven sight - our main impetus to visiting the Rockefeller Center was to go to Nintendo New York. While there were some cute things at Nintendo, it was not nearly as big as I thought it was from videos and photos online. It could have used more interactive displays. While we were there, we also visited the Lego Store. We did not actually go inside the Rockefeller Center. (We had wanted to do the NBC Studio tour, but the age restrictions would have prohibited us from bringing one of our kiddos.)

Then we headed over to the Empire State Building. The elevator ride to the top was a trip in and of itself. They had a video playing the entire ride and made it a lot less claustrophobic. I loved that the observation deck was outside.

So much like our affinity towards revolving restaurants, we also really like Nobu restaurants. We made reservations at Nobu Fifty Seven and had a great time. Food was good as always. I had the tasting menu, and the others ordered off the menu. The only annoying part was there was no meat dish. I've had the tasting menu at many different Nobu's and this is the only one that didn't offer a beef course.

Day 3: Central Park
We had been waiting for the weather to warm up a little before going to Central Park, but that never really happened. It was a lot cooler than we would have liked and drizzling. The park was fine. I think it was good just to see it.

Day 4: One World Observatory, 9/11 Memorial, World Trade Center
I was skeptical when they built this over the original WTC, but I think they did a great job with it. The observatory is a great homage to all the people in NYC and the memorial is just stunning. It's a very sombering experience, but sends you off with hope and inspiration.

Day 5: Statute of Liberty, Morimoto
So we had every intention of going to the Statute of Liberty. However, for whatever reason, our oldest kiddo thought that we were walking up to the crown. This was not possible since (1) we had not reserved tickets in advance, (2) youngest kiddo would not meet height restrictions, and (3) I was not climbing up 393 steps. So we decided that we'll return when we have tickets to the crown and everyone in our party can partake in it (after maybe getting in shape for the next year). Instead, we took photos from the vista point.

Later that evening, we had dinner at Morimoto. He's our favorite Iron Chef of all time (Japanese or US versions). We loved Japonais Morimoto in Chicago before it closed and we've had a spectacular experience at the location in Las Vegas, so we decided to give the NY version a go. The food was great. I had the tasting menu again and everyone else ordered off the menu. The food wasn't as kid-friendly as Nobu, but we were able to make due. We had a great time, except when my oldest choked on rice and we didn't know if he was choking or if he was having an allergic reaction. Either way, our dinner was cut short, but the manager was very helpful and gracious in making sure he was doing okay.
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Old Aug 6, 19, 2:59 pm
  #10  
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Flight Details:
LGA to ORD on AA 2479 in F
Monday, April 1, 2019
4:30 PM

Today was my kiddo's 5th birthday. We did a celebratory breakfast and headed to the airport. Traffic was a bit of a pain and we didn't end up with enough time to go to the Admirals Club (which was not located near our gate). Check-in was again uneventful. Not much of delay on this flight, but we did tell the FA's that we have a cashew allergy and that we don't need warm nuts in our seats. They asked if we needed them to refrain from nuts for the entire cabin, but we said that wouldn't be necessary. Again, our flight was on an older 737 without seat-back IFE. We did not order special meals because prior LGA-based special meals looked horrendous. Instead, we had preordered Zoes Charcuterie Plate, Grilled Chicken with Shitake Mushroom Sauce, and the Fruit and Cheese Plate. The food was all decent, but the Zoes Charcuterie Plate was the best out of the bunch.

[Photos are not uploading. Will try again later.]
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