Awaiting the Apple Watch

Like a lot of people I’ve been keeping tabs on the new Apple Watch that was just announced during the “Spring Forward” event.  A lot of the stuff on the Spring Forward event was a rehash of what was already shown when it was first mentioned when the iPhone 6 was released.  I’ll admit that I’m definitely intereted in getting an Apple Watch but I might wait until the 2nd iteration comes out and for there to be a lot more apps.  As a frequent traveler there were 3 things that were totally awesome during the demo.

1) Getting my boarding pass on my watch (I happen to fly American a lot and this was demoed).

I go through airport security twice a week most of the time and I always have to dig out my ID and my phone and present it to TSA so they can scan it to make sure I’m in the right line.  The idea of getting my boarding pass on my wrist and just scanning that instead of fishing for my phone would be a great convenience to me (its not a MUST have that would make me buy the watch though)

2) Unlocking my room at a SPG hotel using Apple Watch

Along with boarding planes I go and stay at hotel quite often.  I’m technically a Hilton loyalist but I have also started to stay at Starwood properties a lot recently.  Unfortunately a lot of the Starwood hotels haven’t been upgraded to include this feature yet but this would also be a nice time saver for me and I wouldn’t need to fish in my wallet for a key card to get into my room.  I’ve forgotten my key card more than once duringa  trip but rarely do I ever forget my watch.

3) Remotely manage my house while traveling

This is more on me than anything else and requires a lot more money to spend doing upgrades but I like the idea of being able to open my garage door using my watch (very helpful for someone that rides a motorcycle and keeps it in their garage).  I would also probably do a few more upgrades like get some remotes for the lights in the front so I can turn them on before I get home so I’m not in total darkness or maybe even unlock and lock my front door using the watch.  Again lots of money will proably be needed to do this one and I’m not willing to spend all that right now.

The real reason I don’t think I need the Apple Watch right now is because I have a very nice watch my wife gave me during my 30th birthday which I asked her for and I still wear every day.  It does what a watch is designed to do which is keep time.  I’ll re-evaluate things after the first year is done, then maybe I’ll get the sport edition.



So close to 1,000,000 HHonors Points!

I’ve been traveling for quite a long time to New Jersey and staying at the DoubleTree there which is a Hilton property. Since I am at Diamond level, I get a lot of points per stay which can translate into a ton of free stays. Just a few weeks ago I was really close to reaching one million points (this is overall reward points and not base points). I think I had something like 973,000 points but I read a travel post that said that Hilton was switching from a 7 tier reward system to a 10 tier system in a couple of days. That would have meant that some of the hotels that I wanted to stay at would be mo expensive in terms of points.

In order to avoid getting the short end of the stick, I decided to book my summer trips to San Francisco and Orlando before they system changed. This resulted in my utilizing over 200,000 points which has set me back a little bit in trying to achieve my 1,000,000 point mark. Nothing special happens when I reach 1,000,000 I just want to see the number in my account just once. I’m down to 738,000 but I think I can get to 1,000,000 by December. It’s almost a little sad how much I do travel but at least I’m getting something out of it.

HHonors Diamond at last!

Finally after suffering through not having any status at hotels or airlines due to my inactivity last year, I have finally been able to reach status at one place, namely Hilton Hotels.  The highest status you can get with Hilton is Diamond unless there is some unspoken status that can be achieved but I’m not shooting for that.  I was just shooting for Diamond since having that was super sweet when I last had it in 2010.  The funny thing is, I don’t even know how I got it.  I was able to get Gold when I did Hilton’s yearly fast track to Gold challenge which isn’t all that challenging when you travel every week.  I was unaware if there was some challenge that would get me to Diamond, if there is I’m grateful that it kicked in.  This means I just get to rack in the bonus points so I can take vacations even sooner than I planned or I can save them for something truly awesome instead of just great.

I’m currently staying at a DoubleTree which is a Hilton property but they don’t give you a lot in the way of freebies besides breakfast and internet (its wired internet too since they don’t have wireless in the building which is strange).  If I can stay at another Hilton type property there will be even better benefits but it all depends on which Hilton branded hotel I stay in.  Whats really awesome is that last year they gave all the freebies to Diamond members where in the past you had to make a choice between points, food, or internet at most properties.  Now you just get all of them once you hit this tier.

Just for kicks I just calculated the number of points I got for my latest stay.  Mind you there is also a double point bonus that I signed up for so the points I’m getting right now are pretty much insane.  My points for last week were 26,958.  Thats pretty damn good if I do say so myself.  Most of my co-workers prefer staying at the Westin which is right next door.  The Westin is a very nice hotel and I’ll admit I love the smell in that place.  The white tea smell is pretty strong in the lobby and I’ll even admit that when I have to stay at a Westin I take the soap home with me just because I like how it smells.  Now that I have Diamond, I’m going to try and maintain it for next year as well since I know that any client that I end up going to there should be a Hilton property close by.  It may not have the rep among frequent travelers like SPG, but I always know that any podunk town that I may be sent there will always be some sort of Hilton in the area, you can’t say that for SPG.  Now to work on that pesky United status, I’ll be excited to just get to Silver with them and hopefully I can achieve it after Monday’s flight.

Update: I just decided to check my United account and I’m finally at Premier Silver!  Woohoo!  That means instead of being with boarding zone 7 or 8 I’ll be bumped up to 5!  Ahh its the little things in life that just make things all better when you’re down.  LOL!

Almost Time for Hawaii

Only four more days to go until my first family vacation with the Mrs and the baby. I’m looking forward to getting a week off from work to relax and unwind. True to form I’m not going to take my work phone with me so if there is some sort of work emergency, it will have to work itself out without me. I’ve laid out all the clothes that I’m going to take with me but since I’m traveling for work I can’t pack all of it away in my suitcase until I get home on Wednesday. The great part about going to Hawaii is that my father is there so I can do my laundry so I don’t have to pack as much stuff as I would normally pack with me.

We got some neat new toys for E to play with on the plane. We’ve been hiding them from her for the most part so that she is distracted with her new toys while on the 10 hour plane ride to Hawaii. Yesterday we picked up some simple toys like painters tape and some sticky notes since she seemed to enjoy playing with those things and they will keep her hands busy. We’re flying Delta for this trip which is nice since we were able to use a lot of points for the tickets. We are doing the infant in arms thing until E turns 2 and as an added bonus we decided to fly First class so we have the extra room to play with her. I’m hoping she won’t be too fussy on the plane but she’s a little baby so a little fussiness is to be expected on a really long trip like this one.

An added bonus for this trip is that it happens to be my 7th wedding anniversary and the wife’s first mothers day. This will probably be one of the more special trips that we’ve taken to Hawaii even though we go to Hawaii often enough over the last few years. I think my father will also enjoy the fact that he will be able to spend quite a bit of time with his grand daughter since she was baptized in October. In years past I would bring a whole truck load of tech and cameras with me but I’m trying as much as possible to keep it low key by only dragging along my iPads, iPhones, and my water proof camera so I can take pictures of E in the pool.

The real challenge will be trying to keep E on her schedule since we are going to be six hours behind Eastern time. We might have to make some adjustments and hopefully she won’t be too cranky during the day and will be able to sleep through the afternoons or evenings. I made sure that we can stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village during this trip since there is so much there right at the resort so we don’t have to leave the property if we don’t want to. The Hilton is supposed to have a ton of pools that we can take advantage of and it will be good for us to make E practice her swimming that she has been learning over the last week. It also has its own lagoon and beach area so that will be very useful as well if we don’t want to venture too far. I have a feeling we’ll be going out quite a bit just to eat since thats just what we do when we’re on vacation. I personally am looking forward to the penguin habitat at Hilton Hawaiian Village and walking around Waikiki every day to just take in the time I have off while in paradise.

All I have to do is survive the next 4 days at work and then I’ll be checking out for a week! I’ll be missing a large meeting for work but I can deal with that, I think I’ll be having more fun in Hawaii than my co-workers will be having in Chicago.

Heading back to the Garden State

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Late last year I predicted that I wouldn’t be traveling to New Jersey for the rest of 2011and on that prediction I was pretty spot on. Oh how the travel and consulting gods love to tease me, it would appear that I will be spending a significant amount of time in New Jersey starting next week. Doing work for my client is fine but I really don’t like the location. I’ve spent a great deal of effort trying to avoid Jersey due to the numerous flight delays I’ve experienced in the past, the crazy traffic that always seems to meet my taxi when I need to get to the airport, or the general unpleasantness of the air quality because there seems to be a cloud of pestilence in the air near the airport at all times.

My travel schedule for the next month is going to be quite crazy due to the availability and cost of flights into Newark. In this month alone I have to fly United, American, and Delta. In addition to flying to Newark, for one week I have to fly out of LGA because there were no flights available into Newark. Due to my lack of travel last year, I’ve lost all status on all the airlines so you can bet that I’m going to be traveling in crappy seats and will most likely have to gate check something which will add even more travel time than I want. I have managed to find a Hilton property fairly close to my coworkers who all like to stay at Starwood and I registered for a challenge with Hilton so I can at least get back my Gold status with them in only 4 stays or 9 nights. Until I make Gold, no free Internet or breakfast for me.

I’m hoping it’s not all bad. I am fairly close to the path train that leads into Manhattan so I figure every once in a while I should be able to make it into the city for a meal or something. There are a few places that I want to go back to where I’ve eaten before just to try some new dish. I’ll also cruise food network to see if there is any place that I really need to try out. Maybe I can bring some food home for the family on the weekend. After all, my hotel room has a fridge and a microwave and it’s only a 3 hour ride back to lovely South Florida.

I don’t know how long I’ll be in Jersey, right now it’s slated for about 3 months which isn’t bad but it could go as far as 12. I’ll have to be careful not to pick up a weird accent, a spray on tan, or some gelled up hair during my time there. I know my wife’s friend is going to enjoy making fun of me because of all those times I teased her about constantly working in Jersey and she’s a proud New Yorker. I should probably try and invest in a rebreather mask to filter out the airborne pestilence that will consume me the moment I step foot off my plane in Newark……