Hotel Review: Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center

I recently had a quick business trip out to Provo, Utah and stayed at the Provo Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. A quick review is in order!

  1. The front desk staff was lovely. They were extremely kind. The bellhop was eager to help us with our bags and check in was extremely quick.
  2. The restaurant had great food choices. The group of us split some appetizers and they did not disappoint. BBQ chicken flatbread, hummus, and chicken quesadillas are all solid choices if you’re looking for a mix of food. An onsite restaurant is always convenient, too. It’s even better when the food is delicious.
  3. The view is spectacular. This was my first time out to Utah and the mountains are beautiful. When I looked out my window in the morning, I saw hot air balloons lining the sky with the mountains as the backdrop. Sigh, I miss the views already back in the flat lands of Ohio.
  4. The room was spacious and the bed was extremely comfortable. And, let’s be honest, that’s hard to come by in a hotel.

I may be biased because I truly enjoy staying at Marriott’s, but I recommend staying at this hotel if you’re looking for a place in Provo. The price was about $200 with taxes, so not terribly expensive. You pay a little more for the onsite amenities and it being a higher scale Marriott. But you’ll be comfortable and treated well!

Recipe: Copy Cat Zupas Nuts About Berries Salad

I attended a business meeting in Utah last week and had a delicious salad from a place called Zupas. First I’ll mention that I’m a picky eater and don’t really like salads, but am trying to force myself into eating them. The Nuts About Berries salad is right up my alley. One of the best aspects, besides the berries, is the cinnamon toasted almonds and poppy seed dressing.

Desperate to recreate the salad here in Ohio, I found a copy cat recipe online (check out iheartnaptime!) that I wanted to share with you all.

Ingredients:

  • Fresh spinach or mixed greens
  • Fresh strawberries (cut)
  • Fresh blackberries – I opted for blueberries
  • Fresh raspberries

Poppy seed dressing:

  • 1 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3/4 tsp dry mustard
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp poppy seed

Cinnamon sugared almonds:

  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • 2 TB sugar
  • 2 TB brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Wash your salad mix and berries, set aside.
  2. Dressing – Combine all the ingredients in a blender or mason jar and mix until combined. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  3. Almonds – In a small frying pan, combine your almonds and sugar. Cook on medium/low heat and water closely. Keep stirring as the sugar begins to melt, to keep it  from burning. Once sugar has coasted the nuts, sprinkle with cinnamon and remove from heat. Place on foil to cool.

Enjoy the salad! It’s perfect for summer. :)

Tips for Visiting Alcatraz

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The first thing I thought of when I decided to travel to San Francisco was Alcatraz. Why, you ask?

  1. I love history.
  2. I love shows like Ghost Hunters.
  3. I’ve always had a fascination with The Rock.

I booked my ticket for Alcatraz weeks prior to my visit, and I advise you do the same. Tours fill up fast. If you want to do a night tour, book your ticket months in advance so you can secure your time. I chose to do the day tour at 9:30 a.m. Here’s my advice for the process.

  • Arrive at Pier 39 at least 30 minutes prior to your boarding time. That’s when they’ll start lining you up. The sooner you’re in line, the sooner you can board the boat.
  • Take a seat that is in the open area of the boat. You’ll get some great views of Alcatraz and the city.
  • If you can, choose an early time. You decide when you head back to the city. If you go early, you can stay as long as you want. I explored for three hours and got back to San Francisco in time for lunch, leaving the rest of my day free. I’ve heard that during the night tours, they rush you to make sure they close on time.
  • Take the time to do the audio tour! This was my favorite part of the tour. You’ll hear from guards and inmates first hand on their experience at the prison. While the stories are being told you’ll be standing near where everything took place. It’s amazing to hear about what occurred in those walls while standing inside.
  • If park ranges are giving live presentations, join them. I listened to a park range share the story of the Escape of 1962. I won’t spoil the story for you if you haven’t heard it, but it’ll blow your mind!
  • Take your time. Explore. Enjoy the history that’s there. It’s truly an amazing place. If you’re lucky, an actual inmate will be there. William Baker was a prisoner on Alcatraz and now has a book about his experience – and was promoting it on the island. Former prisoner or not, he seemed like a cool dude.

Have you visited Alcatraz before? I want to hear all about it in the comments! It was one of my favorite experiences while out in San Fran.

Photo of the Week: Halfway to Hell

IMG_0951The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most iconic bridges in America, maybe the world. When I went to San Francisco, all I was talking about was seeing Alcatraz and the Golden Gate. During construction, several men fell from the Golden Gate bridge and were caught by the safety net. These guys called themselves the Halfway to Hell Club. They were one of the most exclusive clubs with there only being around 20 members. You learn something new every day!

Hotel Review: Harbor Court

On the first leg of my trip to San Francisco I stayed at Harbor Court, a Kimpton Hotel. This was my first stay at a Kimpton Hotel and it most definitely will not be my last. Here’s my quick review.

The location

Harbor Court’s location is in the Financial District but also on the waterfront. The back door of the hotel lobby drops you off on the Embarcadero. From here you can walk to the Ferry Building and Pier 14 to enjoy the sunset. You can easily grab transportation from the hotel, as it seems like you can in most of the city. There are plenty of restaurants in walking distance, too, if you’re looking to eat near by.

The staff

I love the staff at Harbor Court. They were the most friendly staff at a hotel that I’ve encountered in a long time. I must say, it was extremely nice to see. They are always greeting you with a smile, doors are being opened for you as you arrive and leave, and the front desk is eager to help you with any and all your needs. However this chain is training their staff, keep it up. You’ve created a lifetime customer with the service alone.

The experience

Talk about a GREAT experience at this place. I joined their free rewards program before coming out to San Francisco and it’s the best. Being part of the program gets you free WiFi throughout your stay, a free wine/beer hour from 5 – 6 p.m. each night, a $10 credit to the mini bar, and fresh baked cookies at the front desk at 9 p..m. Like I said, the best.

The room

I had a standard room and it was on the smaller side. Realistically, you’re just getting ready and sleeping in your hotel. The small sized room didn’t bother me at all, but it may be a deterrent to some. I’m sure there are larger room options as well if you desire more space. However, the room had everything I needed. I was satisfied!

The final say

Stay here. Period. The end.