On our mini family vacation, we stayed at the Kaua’i Beach Villas. My mom owns a Wyndham timeshare that doesn’t get nearly as much use as it should and when I went home last March, I really wanted to visit another island and purely based on availability, we decided on Kaua’i Beach Villas. Before we get into the deets, the TLDR;
Great size with good amenities – full kitchen, dining and living areas, and washer/dryer.
Central-ish on the island. Close to the airport, ~30 minutes to Poipu and ~40 minutes to Princeville.
Decor is a little dated and it’s not the prettiest.
There’s no beach on site.
There were 6 of us on the trip and we booked a 2 bedroom suite. It was a great size for the 6 of us. There’s a full sized kitchen, dining room, and washer/dryer in suite. Overall, it’s an okay place to say. I honestly wouldn’t prefer to stay there again – there wasn’t anything bad about it, but there wasn’t anything amazing either. The best thing was how much space we had, but the decor wasn’t the prettiest or most updated. But then again, in my experience, unless you’re staying at a more expensive chain hotel, most Hawai’i hotels have a little outdated decor (think cheesy Hawai’i print styles).
The view from our patio was pretty decent. I mostly just love being in Hawai’i where everything is so green and blue. Another downside was there was no beach on site or pool. If I remember correctly, they gave us access to the neighboring hotels pool but even then there was no walkable beach nearby. The staff is pretty pleasant and the concierge did help us get a discount on our Na Pali Coast tour. Parking is gated and I generally felt safe there.
Overall, it was a good experience. If you’re traveling with a big family, it’s definitely great having all that space and the ability to cook or do laundry if you want to. However, if you’re looking for a luxurious place to stay, this wouldn’t be my first choice.
The first 2 days of my Mexico trip, we spent in Tulum and the last 2 1/2 I spent in Cancun with my girl, AE. She booked the Sunset Marina Resort for the two of us and it’s an all inclusive resort! I’ve never stayed at an all inclusive before and as much as I loved the casita at Papaya Playa Project, I was so happy to be in a legitimate hotel and having unlimited food and alcohol was amazing!
The resort is located on the peninsula in Cancun with a strip of beach area. There are a ton of activities to do everyday like water sports, activities for kids and nightly shows. They have a concierge who can tell you about any tourist activities – like visiting Chichen Itza or Xplor Adventure Park (which I’ll talk about in my next post!) or getting bus rides and cover into one of the infamous Cancun clubs. There is an option to just book a room and not do an all inclusive package, but like I said,
we definitely did all inclusive.
I don’t know what type of vacationer you are, but I’m very go with the flow and “let’s just see what happens and how I feel to decide.” We had absolutely no specific plans in Cancun and the two days we had there were definitely for rest and relaxation. The first room at Papaya Playa was such a let down, when we walked into the studio apartment style room at Sunset Marina we were amazed! There was a little kitchenette (no stove) with a mini fridge with a few beers, a tall dining table, sitting area, and outside jacuzzi!
I loved the blue tufted headboard and you know we definitely made use of that jacuzzi!
There are three different restaurants on site – La Vela a more formal, sit down, a la carte restaurant, La Pergola a more casual, buffet style restaurant, and Il Forno a casual open pizzeria posted right on the beach. We ate mostly at La Pergola, but had a pizza the first night at Il Forno. We didn’t eat at all at La Vela, but there was just so much to choose from in the buffet.
My favorite thing about the whole experience was definitely having the open bar. You basically have a running tab billed to your room, but since its all inclusive, you don’t have to worry about it! You’d think I was sitting poolside with margaritas, but my favorite drink was their micheladas! Every other michelada I’ve had has had clamato juice in it, but these were different because they didn’t have clamato in them at all!
We watched them make it and it looks like lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, tabasco, salt, and of course, beer! The soy sauce surprised me and the combination sounds so weird together but oh my gosh. I loved them!
Right outside of La Pergola is the pool area. There’s a lower pool with a slide and an upper pool complete with pool side bar.
This deck is also outside of La Pergola. I don’t know where it leads to, honestly.
Overall, I loved staying here, the all inclusive route was definitely the way to go and the service was great – just look at the cute little bird housekeeping left on the bed when they cleaned the room!
Papaya Playa Project (aka PPP) is a 100 room boutique hotel located right on the beach in Tulum, Mexico. Owned by Design Hotels, the hotel was constructed with the intention that its guests experience being a part of nature – and they definitely did that. Walking to the cabanas felt like walking through the jungle and on the first night, we could hear the waves of the ocean crashing from our bedroom. There were 4 of us on the trip and we arrived on different days, so the first night we had separate Maya Ocean View Cabana and the second night, we all stayed in a Casita with Private Pool.
On the website, the pictures are amazing and don’t get me wrong, because I got some good shots, too. But the hotel itself wasn’t really what I was expecting. Everything is outdoors, like the check-in desk, restaurant, and juice bar – even the public bathrooms were semi-open. I absolutely, LOVED the casita, but I don’t think that I would stay in the cabana again. When we checked-in they gave all of us these brown bead bracelets, which were literally the bane of our existence. I kept thinking it fell off my wrist and I lost it when we were out and about, but these bracelets were kind of a big deal at the hotel. There was even one point when we were trying to go back to our room and the workers said to themselves, “Oh, they have the bracelets they can go.”
As far as dining options, they had a restaurant/bar and juice bar near the lobby. We ate at the hotel restaurant one night and I had the bone marrow tacos. They were really good, but really fatty. Their michealdas were good and spicy, though! Overall, their menu seemed kind of overpriced to me but I guess that’s to be expected when you’re staying at a hotel.
There was AC in both rooms, but for some reason, the cabana just wasn’t as comfortable. In the cabana, there’s a mosquito net around the bed and the bathroom didn’t really feel that clean to me. There were a few steps that led up to the bathroom, an open shower, and concrete floors. The shower head in the cabana leaked a lot, so the shower was always wet. The view from the front door was so pretty, although I am a bit biased because I am all about the ocean.
The casita was to die for – it was huge and roomy and had a rooftop pool with a 180 degree view of the ocean! There was a waterfall shower head with a huge open shower area. The 4 of us fit in the room comfortably – there was a giant king sized bed with what I think was a full sized mattress at the bottom – but be warned, the person limit is 3 and we had an extra $84 charge for having that 4th person! We were pretty upset about that because the front desk guy knew there were 4 of us and didn’t mention anything about the charge when we checked in.
The best part of the cabana – the rooftop views!
We paid $282.02 for one night in the Cabana room and $402.15 ($317.71 + $84.44 for the extra person) for the casita – my cut was roughly $240 for the weekend. I thought the rooms were pretty pricey but I have no clue if it was peak season when we went or not (it was Thanksgiving weekend). The cost of the casita made sense to me, but I personally felt like the cabana was a little overpriced. Looking around, it was kind of average priced for the area but I think we could’ve stayed at a nicer place on the first night. The accommodations are so much nicer in the casita, which was to be expected, but the stark contrast was kind of surprising to all of us. There was a mini fridge and snacks in the casita, whereas there were only a couple of bottles of water and some matches in the cabana.
Apparently it’s the party spot to be on Saturday nights – they have a big open dining area right outside the lobby in front of the beach where they hold monthly full moon parties and there’s a DJ in house every weekend. We stopped by to check out the party the Saturday night we were there, but it definitely wasn’t our cup of tea. The DJ played trance all night (I’m an EDM fan, but it literally sounded like the same song all night) and we could hear it bumping from the casita all through the night.
We spent our last morning lounging around the rooftop pool and in true girl fashion, we got a ton of shots for the ‘gram. I think we all kind of regret not spending more time up there.
Overall, it was an amazing experience, but if we had to do it all again at PPP, I’d chose to book the casita the whole time.
I did my first solo trip and had my first visit to Boston for the first time last September and before going, I really had no idea where to stay. A few friends have told me that I’d be fine almost anywhere since the city is so walkable. Before settling on two hotels, I checked Airbnb but didn’t see anything in my budget that I liked or felt like I would be safe in. My first night there, I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve points to stay at the Club Quarters Hotel in the Financial District but while googling for the cheapest, nicest hotel I liked, I found the YOTEL Boston and loved the pictures! It definitely helped that it just opened this past Summer and if you know me, I love new and shiny things.
Before I get into the nitty gritty, I know there’s some of you who are too lazy to read so here’s the TL;DR verison:
Nice amenities – full sized shampoo & conditioner, heated towel rack, bluetooth connection to TV
Rooftop bar with a view
Friendly and helpful staff
Regular rooms are smaller than average
Can be pricey, but average priced for Boston Seaport
Located in the Seaport District, YOTEL Boston is a “micro hotel” and the second U.S. location of the London based chain – the first is in New York. The YOTEL logo is kind of cartoon-y to me and there’s definitely a purple color scheme throughout, but I loved the modern / futuristic look. When you first walk in, there’s a concierge desk, but you check-in using the kiosk to the left of the desk. Check-in is similar to check-in kiosks they have at airports – you just pull up the reservation, follow the screens and get your room key programmed.
Programming my key.
Even the elevators were an experience – I was legitimately amused that the elevators were playing elevator music! The room was relatively easy to find and I was really satisfied with the floor plan I picked. When I said it was a “micro hotel”, I meant the rooms are smaller compared to the average hotel. When I travel, I enjoy being comfortable but I also know I’m probably not going to spend most of my time there. I didn’t completely mind staying in a smaller room, but I was worried about it a little so I ended up booking the Premium Queen Accessible Room. Not gonna lie, it was kind of nice having all that room!
I loved the design and amenities in the room – there’s a rain shower, full sized shampoo, conditioner, and body wash in the shower, a heated towel rack, bluetooth connection to the TV, an aux connection, a bottle opener built into the TV frame, plugs everywhere, and even a reclining bed! I think it had a reclining bed because it was the accessible room, but I can’t be completely sure. There isn’t a closet and the door to the bathroom has a clear sliding door – though there is a curtain, it doesn’t feel as private.
The backlit TV
This bed reclines!
Instead of a closet, there’s a little rack area equipped with an iron, ironing board, and a hair dryer.
The plugs are over the nightstand next to the bed, but they all connect to the TV.
The heated towel rack is to the left of me and you can see the full sized hand lotion and soap to the right.
The accessible shower.
Full sized everything!
There’s a bar with a kitchen in the lobby and on the roof. The rooftop bar is super cute because it has a view of the city – although I completely forgot to take a picture of it. 🙁 I did, however, get this picture of the entrance to the rooftop area:
I did a lot of price comparisons before finally settling on YOTEL. Boston is pretty expensive in general, but for a brand new hotel in that location, it was pretty reasonable. I ended up booking the hotel through Orbitz and the weekend I stayed it averaged out to $187 a night, but I found a coupon that gave me 15% off so my total after taxes and fees came out to $349. Seriously, I google coupons before pulling the trigger on anything online! I don’t think I would’ve booked it if I didn’t have the coupon, but I’m so glad that I did.
Overall, I loved staying here and I would definitely stay here again and consider staying at another YOTEL. The amenities are great, it’s clean, walking distance from a lot of things, and all the staff I encountered were super nice and helpful.