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Friday, March 31, 2006

Hotel Review – Marriott New York Financial Center

This is a review of the Marriott New York Financial Center, where we are staying during our family vacation.  Review starts after the jump.


posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 5:56 pm  

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Funny Commercial

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 9:55 pm  

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

New York, New York

Here’s our itenerary for this week’s family trip to New York.  I’ll post pictures when we return.

Friday: Fly out in AM, arrive early afternoon.  Go to Gray Line Tours, pick up our tour tickets.  Check into hotel and relax, meet up with Lisa and Rory.

Saturday: Ellis Island and Statue of Liberty in AM.  City touring in afternoon and evening.  Times Square at night.   

Sunday: Empire State Building in AM.  Probably swimming and relaxing in the afternoon.  Lisa and Rory head to Long Island, we pack up.

Monday: Fly home 

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 8:22 pm  

Monday, March 20, 2006

Hotel Review – Hotel Intercontinental Zurich

I checked in after a full day of work at the office.  Check in was generally pretty strait-forward, I gave them my CC and got my keys. 

I had been warned about the "Club Room" accomodations.  These are rooms intended for business travelers, and they make no attempt to make it seem bigger than it is.  It’s really small.  There is a bed approximately equal to an American twin bed.   For business travel, I rarely complain about accomodation size since I don’t spend much time in the rooms. 

In general it is my understanding that the Hotel IC sets itself apart with its service.  I will say that while the service wasn’t outright bad, it was a bit inconsistent.  When I returned to my room after a full day’s work, it was always interesting to see what shape the room was in.  It was always clean, mind you, but sometimes the bed would be turned down, and sometimes it wouldn’t.  Sometimes they had (mercifullly) left the window open, keeping the room near a liveable temperature.  Other times the heat was cranked up and the windows closed, resulting in a sauna-like homecoming.  

In fact, to keep the room comfortable at night, I had to keep the A/C on and the window open all the time.  Mind you, this was in February.  I don’t know where the heat radiates from, but the rooms are really hot.  And the "A/C" is little more than an air blower.  And the one window that opens exposes you to a sum total of about two inches of exposure to the raw winter evenings in Zurich.  

One weekend day, I decided to take one of those "Gray Line" city tours.  It never ceases to amaze me how many cities in various countries around the world have these.  And, it’s always Gray Line.  We’re taking a Gray Line tour when our family goes to NYC this month, and in February I took a Gray Line tour of Zurich.  I’ve taken Gray Line tours of Hong Kong, Tokyo, London, Seattle, and probably others I can’t remember.  

Anyway, the hotel wants you to buy the tour ticket from them.  They probably get a commission or something, although the ticket price at the concierge was the same as the Gray Line ticket window.  Anyway, I went to the concierge, asked to get a ticket, and was handed the Gray Line tour ticket log to fill in myself.  Then, I asked if I could put the ticket price on my (personal) MasterCard – big mistake.  I try to avoid charging personal expenses to my room or corporate Amex because the cross-payments to get everything strait later are a pain in the butt.  

So there was general hrumphing as people behind the desk tried to figure out how to charge it to my MC.  At one point they asked me to sign both an M/C charge slip and a room charge.  I politely declined and tried to reiterate my position.  I learned later why they asked me for this.  It turns out, when I presented my personal MasterCard, they took it as "put all charges to my room on this card, retroactive to when I checked in."  I leaned this on check-out, when they asked if I wanted to keep all my charges on my MasterCard.  That took some clearing up, and I still had pre-charge authorizations  from IC stuck to my card after I returned.  

I’m sure if I were staying in Zurich for a holiday, I would choose a different hotel, like the Savoy at Paradeplatz or the Marriott or Hilton.  For sightseeing, the IC is fairly centrally located (on one main tram route to downtown and walking distance from one to the central train station) but as far as view and holiday comforts, you should go to one of the bigger hotels.  Otherwise, the IC is perfect for the business traveller who spends little time in their hotel room. 

After the jump, links to pictures of the hotel room.     


posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 7:00 pm  

Monday, March 20, 2006

Zurich Notes

I don’t really have a story about Zurich per-se, as a bunch of notes.  Here are some various thoughts about Zurich itself.

  •  They have one of the best transit systems I’ve seen.  Which is pretty amazing given that the entire system works on the honor system.  You buy tickets in advance of your ride, and then wait at an open street-level platform to board.  There are no turnstyles to get onto the platforms, and no conductors walk throughout the train to collect the tickets.   There is a hefty fine for riding the system  without a ticket, but little enforcement that I saw. 
  • Shop Bahnhoffstrasse for high-end; and downtown for cheaper gifts.
  • Shop at the main train station for souviners

(Probably) More To Come…  Meanwhile, here’s some pictures to look at.

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 2:17 pm  

Thursday, March 16, 2006

What happened to Zurich?

I have been absolutely buried since returning.  And, I’m trying to get caught up just in time to fly out to New York in two weeks.  And then India after that.  Busy year.  And soccer starts soon.  So anyway, enough cryin’, I’ll be finishing up the Zurich travel blogs soon, stay tuned.

posted by Michael Humphries-Dolnick at 8:19 pm  

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