Archive for the ‘ New York ’ Category


Basking in Comfort Inn Plattsburgh

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Last summer I participated in the Rand McNally and USA Today’s, “Best of the Road,” rally in which Choice Hotels was a sponsor.  During the 4700 mile trek across the country I had an opportunity to stay in many Comfort Inn hotels. Comfort Inn is a pretty standard hotel chain with a vast array of them in convenient locations throughout the country.

The Comfort Inn Plattsburgh location is anything but “standard.” As soon as I walked in, I turned and walked back out to make sure I was in the right hotel. The lobby is quite large with a lounge area in the center displaying a decorative fireplace with seating area and large flat screen T.V. The vaulted ceilings, beautiful tile work, granite accents and quality furnishings are unlike any Comfort Inn I’ve seen before—so when I checked in, I asked about the upscale look.  I was informed that a few years back there was a devastating fire that gutted nearly the entire hotel.  During the reconstruction phase, the owner decided to take decorative cues from hotels he’d visited around the country. The result is a lovely and upgraded hotel conveniently located in the heart of Plattsburgh.

The enhanced surface details are not the only thing that make this Comfort Inn different…it’s also quite large. And, when I say large, I don’t mean by room count, but rather sheer size of the property. In addition to having very generous sized rooms, this Comfort Inn has some amenities that no other Comfort Inn has.  For example, there is an on-site fitness center that would be the envy of any workout facility in the country. At 16,000 square feet, Eclipse offers guests (as well as the general public) a state-of-the-art workout experience with all the latest equipment. They also offer massages from a licensed therapist in the spa.

In addition to the massive workout facility, parents will be a huge hit with their kids because this Comfort Inn has plenty for them to do.  For starters…the indoor Splash Park with two-flume waterslide will thrill them! I so wanted to go down one of these slides, but didn’t see any other adults partaking. On the dryer side of things, kids can head over to the FunZone…an indoor family entertainment center. There are over 30 arcade games, a 9-hole glow-in-the-dark miniature golf course, and, a two lane mini bowling alley. I’m sure the parents in the area love this venue for birthday parties and such.

For the adults, there is Legends brew pub and wine bar. At Legends they handcraft their own beer for a fresh and flavorful drinking experience. They also have a large selection of quality wines. During my stay I encountered entertainment as well…from live music to a trivia night. There is also a 7′ projection screen and twelve flat-screen T.V.’s throughout. There is also a Perkins restaurant on-site serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

If you’re looking for a nice, affordable hotel near scenic Lake Champlain, the famed Ausable Chasm, historic downtown Plattsburgh, and, walking distance to shopping and restaurants…be sure to check out the Plattsburgh Comfort Inn. If you’ve stayed at this Comfort Inn before, post a comment below and share your experience.

Plattsburgh Comfort Inn Contact Info:

Address: 411 Route 3, Plattsburgh, New York 12901
Phone: 518.562.2730

Glen Iris Inn bestows grandeur, historic charm

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Located in one of the most remarkable settings you’re likely to come across, the historic Glen Iris Inn has been greeting guests since 1914.  The Glen Iris is nestled in a canyon right in the heart and splendor of Letchworth State Park—from its perch, the Inn provides visitors with an awe-inspiring view of Middle Falls along the Genesee River.  Letchworth State Park is located in western New York, mostly in Wyoming County, where the rolling hills and four-season activities attract visitors from around the country.

Prior to the Glen Iris becoming an inn and open to the public, this stately structure was the country estate to businessman and philanthropist, William Pryor Letchworth. Prior to his death in 1910, Mr. Letchworth donated the Glen Iris estate, including its 1000 acres to the state of New York, which established the park that bears his name.  The park now encompasses nearly 15,000 acres and plays host to a number of activities, from hot air ballooning, river rafting, fishing, biking, hiking, camping and a whole lot more.

The Glen Iris is full of historic charm, from the period paintings, pictures and intricate wood banister, to the library, un-even floors and old-world accommodations. Some people will enjoy the historic significance of the Inn, while others might be disappointed that the rooms have not been updated with many of the modern amenities. For example, there is no T.V. in the rooms, no internet access or cell service available. To some (like me, I’ll admit), who are used to being always connected, this inconvenience can take some adjusting.  However, for those willing to embrace it, the lack of connectivity enables (even forces) you to connect with the one you’re with…or with the enveloping nature around you.  This can be a very good thing for mind, body and spirit…even relationships.

There are quite a few rooms and suites to choose from, including a set of lodge rooms with a bit more space just up the hill from the Inn.  The most coveted room at the Glen Iris however has to be the Cherry Suite, which was Mr. Letchworth’s private quarters.  The unique hardwood floor pattern draws you into the space, while the large soaking tub in the bathroom will relax you after a long day of exploring.  The reason this room is so sought-after is because of a unique feature—it has its own private terrace that overlooks the Middle Falls.  This room books up for the entire season very quickly, so if you want this suite, be sure to plan ahead.

The setting of the Glen Iris is perfect for family reunions and is quite popular for weddings…during my visit there were two that took place. There is a full-service formal restaurant on site serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  And, you’ll often see guests sipping libations on the veranda from the extensive cocktail menu while enjoying the sound of the falls.

If you’ve ever stayed or visited the Glen Iris Inn, please leave a comment below and share your experience with my readers and me.

Glen Iris Inn contact info:

Address: Letchworth State Park, Castile, NY 14427
Phone: 585-493-2622
Note: Do not use Apple Maps; it will take you to a road that does not exist.  If you’re an iPhone user, download the Google Maps app and it will guide you right to the Glen Iris.

Iconic hotel looses its luster

Monday, June 17th, 2013

I was in New York City recently for a travel industry conference and was very excited by the fact that I’d be staying at the Waldorf Astoria, one of the world’s most iconic and beloved hotels.  The Waldorf has an exemplary image of luxury and excellence.  Located right on Park Avenue and Third Street, the Waldorf stands as tall as she is grand.

Built in 1893 by millionaire William Waldorf, the hotel was the embodiment of the owner’s vision of a grand hotel, which was complete with electricity throughout and even included private bathrooms in most of the rooms, an opulent feature at the time. The Waldorf was also the first hotel to offer room service, which forever changed the lodging industry. Four years later, The Waldorf was joined by the 17-story Astoria Hotel, which was erected on an adjacent site by Waldorf’s cousin.

After decades of hosting distinguished visitors from around the world, the original Waldorf Astoria closed in 1929 to pave way for a reincarnation 15 blocks north, to its current location on Park Avenue. The existing hotel opened in 1931 as the world’s largest and tallest hotel, and while the Waldorf continues to be one of the world’s most revered hotels, it has certainly lost a bit of its luster.

During its 100-year reign as the queen of hospitality, the Waldorf Astoria maintained a status of legendary proportions.  However today, while the lobby and conference rooms still maintain a level of opulence and grandeur, the accommodations are a tired and worn.

I took a red-eye flight to NYC and arrived at 5am.  I had an early check-in request and was able to get a room around 9am.  As I entered my room, I was not surprised by its meager size given that this was New York City.  I was however surprised by the fact that I was not overly impressed, especially given the cost of the room—with taxes, the nightly rate was near $600 per night.

I was exhausted since I had not yet been to sleep, as I flew in on a red-eye flight. I needed to be at the conference at 4pm, so I thought I’d sleep for a few hours, shower and head down.  My room was a bit warm, so I turned on the air conditioning, but soon found that no cool air was coming through vents.  I called the front desk to tell them of the situation and they sent up an “engineer” to have a look.  I had just fallen asleep when there was a knock at the door.  The engineer came in, looked at my air conditioning unit and then he opened the window and said, “how’s that?” I was befuddled and said, “it’s loud!” He then informed me that the hotel runs on a central system and therefore only produces heat in the winter, or cool air in the summer—there are no individual air comfort systems in any of the rooms. I was amazed, especially given the cost of the room. They brought a fan to my room, and thank goodness for that or I would never had been able to sleep with how warm my room was.

After closer inspection of the room, I noticed that the desk chair had a tear in it, the rug near the bathroom was peeling up and the bed must have been 20 years old as I could feel the springs poking through. This is a 5-star hotel, mind you.

The lobby, conference and ballrooms still have an air of panache about them, but I dare say that the Waldorf-Astoria has without question lost its luster and is one of the worst values in lodging that I’ve come across. By the way, I’m not the only one who thinks this about the iconic New York City landmark.  I mentioned my opinion to several fellow travel writers and bloggers and all of them agreed with me.

Have you ever stayed at the Waldorf…recently?  If so, please leave your thoughts below as I’m curious if you too have had a similar experience.