Stay at UBC: Okanagan review

The Mr and I went away to Kelowna for our anniversary.  

The Okanagan, which is in BC’s interior, has a mild and humid continental climate. 

More info here
Nals Okanagan 2019

There is something to do for everyone from outdoorsy stuff like hiking and water sports, R&R’ing, winetasting (also beer and ciders), eating locally-grown stonefruits, festivals and simply enjoying the scenery.

So as per usual, the spontaneous Mr doesn’t book ahead, which leads me to do it last minute’.  So the well-priced rooms, funky finds, one-of-a-kinds are probably gone!  However, I ended up finding accommodations at UBC.

Nals Okanagan UBC 2019_1

Whaaaat?!! Accommodations at a university? Yes indeed folks.

It’s the cold hard truth.

G e n e r a l I m p r e s s i o n

We were in the Queen Studio room** in the Monashee Residence*. It is a straight-up clean room with no bells and whistles. No fancy soaps, luggage racks, room safes or artwork. There was a double bed, a desk, table & chairs and full kitchen. The bathroom had a narrow shower stall, with sink outside. They provide towels, kitchenware and very basic toiletries. It felt dorm-y but also home-y. There are tons of pictures available on their website and from other reviewers.

T h e P r o s

  • The building and room require fob entry so it feels secure.
  • Each room has its own inclusive wifi.
  • The room was large and airy with one small screened-window.
  • The setting is gorgeous – very peaceful.
  • Laundry is available. Purchase cards at Guest Accommodations.
  • The awesome staff is available 24/7 at 1290 International Mews.

T h e N o n – P r o s

There is no in-room TV or telephone so bring your own electronics. There isn’t a lot of counterspace.

Sink & toilet were slow to drain (perhaps just in this particular room). Showerhead is not adjustable (problem for short or tall poppies).

The bed was a bit small. (We are used to Queen.) It was also not supportive so whenever the Mr flopped, I felt it. The pillows were flat.

There weren’t extra pillows or blankets. This was major for me because sometimes I’m a bit colder or want more pillows.

P a r k i n g and Transport

Parking is 50% discounted for guests. Parking options are close by. During summer it’s slow. But during the school year – likely a different story.

If you want to sight-see or pick up larger grocery items/clothing, you will need transport: a vehicle or take transit (stops on-campus).

S u r r o u n d i n g s

Surroundings are beautiful and serene. UBC Okanagan sits on top of a hill so you get a great view of the city. There’s a bit of green space for hikes (be mindful of the bear warnings).

On the other side of highway, there’s permanent housing, a little convenience store, liquor store, pub and Chinese restaurant.

R e c o m m e n d a t i o n


The whole point is to sleep well in a hotel room. And we didn’t sleep well on the first night”. But, if we stay overnight in Kelowna again, I will ask them if there are firm-bed options. I love the idea of staying away from the downtown core in a beautiful setting, so I wouldn’t discount this option in the future. Also, UBC is the Mr.’s and my alma mater.

N&K T i p s

  • Double check that linens, kitchenware is included in your room.
  • You don’t need to download HONK app for parking, if you have a credit/debit card. Just make surr yiu choose the 24- or multiple-hour accommodation parking option.
  • Make sure you get the guest coupon code for parking.
  • Take the time to walk around the campus. It really was serenely beautiful.
  • in our room, coffee was provided. I brought my stovetop espresso machine with my own coffee. Bring tea PRN.
  • I’d recommend picking up basic snack, tea and breakfast groceries before checking in. That way, you can get to exploring as soon as you’ve settled in!
  • Research the wineries, cideries and breweries. These are abundant, and in convenient-to-explore clusters.
  • Explore the lake options and watersports. Plus other outdoorsy stuff.
  • Explore funky fruit stands and orchards.

Footnotes:

* This building was assigned to us. There were several other options. Not sure how they make the allotments. Maybe based on room types? Length of stay?
** If we had booked ahead, our options would be greater . I see there are king beds available. Not sure if mattress quality is the same?
‘ He doesn’t like to be tied down because a better deal could be around the corner. Or, maybe something off-the-beaten path. Read about our last-straw Portland adventure here … which we didn’t book ahead but turned out pretty good.
” For the following night, we slept well because we were so zonked.

AirBnB: How tos

Lately I have been here there and everywhere (unfortunately without my side kick, Nals). We both love love love to travel and quite honestly, I’m pretty darn sick of staying in hotels.

So a few years ago I started using AirBnB/VRBO.

Here’s what I love:
  • You can find a home away from home. It’s not a stuffy hotel room, with no kitchen. And yes I realize that you can find hotels with kitchenettes, but they just aren’t the same.
  • The experience of being one of the locals. You are in a home, a neighbourhood, part of the scene, instead of just visiting it.
So how does one successfully navigate finding the perfect location? Great question! Here are some of my tips!
  1. Know your price range. Use the filters tool to screen out all the places that you can’t afford. No point on wasting your time on the luxury properties that are out of reach.
  2. If you are like me, I want my own place and I don’t want to share a space with others. Not that I don’t like people, I just like having quiet moments to myself. I also like walking around in my unders and I don’t like people watching me do that. So I change the filter to only show me spaces that are my own and private.
  3. Because there are sooooo many places on AirBnB it’s a good idea to add the filters that you need. I prefer to have a kitchen and wifi,I automatically start with these filters. However, if there are certain things I want, for example, my hubs and I will be going away in a few weeks for our anniversary, and it’s hot, so I wanted a pool! (and boom, we are spending time at private home with a pool, kitchen and wifi!).
  4. Don’t get carried away with filters. Pick only a few that are important to you. Yes, there are lots of options to choose from, but having more than 3 or 4 filters will limit you. For example, I just searched for properties in Kelowna, BC. I put in random dates of Feb 12th to 16th 2019. The search came back with 300+ homes on 18 pages. When I added the filter “entire place”, and dropped my price range t0 the max of $250/night. I still had over 300 homes on 17 pages. BUT dropping the price to a max of $200/night, it brings it just under 300 homes. That’s still way to many to search through. Adding kitchen; 255 homes, and wifi; 244. Now if I add pool; 30! OR suitable for pets; 22! (we like to travel with our pups, but this limits us big time!)
  5. Location, location, location! Shuffling through 300+ homes is impossible! So don’t even try! (Please don’t!) Use the map option and zoom into the locations that you want. Close to the city, out by the lake, or up in the mountain. Use this tool, it is probably the most helpful and will bring down your search to the area best suited for you (and any travelers you are bringing with you.
  6. If you see a place you like, ♥ it, and add it to a list. You can have lots of lists and get to name them yourself. Don’t over add to your list. You will use this list to narrow down your search. I have 3 things I use to add to my list.
  • Pictures, if I like what I see
  • Cleanliness rating (I look for 5*)
  • I read 2 or 3 reviews and if they are good, I heart it.

7. Finally, once you have a few keepers in your list, start comparing them. Read the descriptions well. I often find things hidden, like if there is no TV, or if there is a cat that lives on the property. Things that you may or may not want. You may also discover that the place is a carriage home just off the main area of the owners house, and that they will be sharing space with you.  This is also when I read through the reviews. Try to read some that don’t give the property all 5*. Other guests are good at pointing out things that you may have missed. If there is something that you don’t like about the property, delete it off your list. I try to narrow it down to 2 properties. Then I will message the hosts about any questions I have, like what’s the parking  like? or are there any condiments in the fridge?

So far, all the hosts that I have had, have been amazing. They answer all my questions, communicate well and have been super helpful with anything that I have needed. I’m sure most people have used AirBnB at this point. But if you haven’t, it’s important to remember that the hosts will also rate you. Their comments are seen by other property owners. Things happen, sometimes glasses break and accidents happen. It’s good to let the host know these things. Don’t forget, to follow the instructions for when you leave. Every host has a different set of rules. These help the cleaning staff, as well as others following you to enjoy the property after you leave. My rule, is to treat the property as it is my own and if I were the host.

Finally, if you are staying at a property for a week or more, try asking the host for a deal. They are often willing to discount if you need to stay a while!

Have you AirBnB’d? What are your tips to finding the perfect place? Please share your tips with us, we would love to hear them!

Review of: Leavenworth Village Inn

As we approach this extra long Easter weekend, we wanted to suggest visiting Leavenworth, Washington for a quick trip away. This place is great for everyone: friends, couples, families and all ages.

General Impression

Leavenworth Village Inn is nestled in Leavenworth town, with the same quaint Bavarian as all other buildings. Suite was clean, spacious and luxurious. Note that there is no elevator.

The story goes… Kells & I jetted off with Cutie T for a Girls Weekend in February. We decided to say at Leavenworth Village Inn.

We’ve now stayed in the King Spa Suite twice. We went about 3 years ago with our buds DJ Cocoa*.

Doghaus Brewery, Leavenworth

In-Room Amenities

Sofa bed wasn’t comfy for lil Cutie T. So, we all 3 spent a lot of time watching TV on the king bed. King bed was super roomy & comfy AF! Kells is tall & I’m a big gal but we had lots of room… enough for Cutie T & then some!

Bathroom was huge with a wardrobe, and no tub. That’s cuz the bedroom had a huge jacuzzi.

Kitchenette had microwave, cupboards, sink, mini fridge, dishware°.

Main area also contained a little dining table with chairs, Cutie T’s sofa bed**, TV & mmm toasty fireplace.

There was lots of lighting and windows. There’s free wifi.

Drawbacks

TV doesn’t connect to bluetooth so you won’t be able to listen to your music or watch your Netflix. Counterspace & tabletop space is sparse.

Bookings & Cancellation

LVI is easy to book online. They have a reasonable cancellation policy. We would recommend looking into bookings early… in case there is an event going on.

Recommendation

N&K would most certainly recommend Leavenworth Village Inn. It’s centrally located with lots of parking.

Footnotes
*We can’t forget this trip! DJ was glued to CNN during the Trump v. Clinton thing.
° You’ll need to contact the front desk for cutlery.
**DJ Cocoa took the sofa bed last time. And this time, Cutie took the sofa bed. Unfortunately it had a part that dug into her tiny back. Though they advertised that the sofa bed was use-able, they seemed surprised when we told them it was being used. So, we would suggest you ask them to check the sofa bed BEFORE you arrive. As it was a busy time of year, we had no option to change rooms or hotels.

Sky’s the Limit at SkyCity Hotel in Auckland, NZ!

Nals visited New Zealand this Christmas. She mainly stayed with family. But lucky for SkyCity Hotel… she was able to sneak away one night.

General feel

SkyCity Hotel has a lofty, brightly lit, sparkly feel with huge chandeliers and a marbly lobby. Our floor was carpeted for reduced noise, but felt expansive. There were a few places to sit, in hallway outside of elevators.

Our room

was Kingsize. It too was lofty, with warm colours. Windows are huge almost floor-to-ceiling. We were on 4th floor & got dizzying views. (Views of construction, but still dizzying.) They had blackout drapes and it was quiet due to the double-glaze. There was plenty of lighting options.

The bed

Soooo big and firm. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel Mr. Nals rolling around in middle of the night. (He’s littler than me, but is like a heavy log when fast asleep.) This bed looked perfect for jumpy pillow fights. There was also a glorious multitude of pillows.

The rest of the room

There was a nice little seating area with a loveseat that could fit 2-3 folks.

The desk was a good size with stationary and hotel info.

In-room entertainment

There is a large TV with variety of channels, wifi, lots of places to plug chargers. There might’ve even been a docking station.

Comforts

The hair dryer was proper. It wasn’t that useless hunk of plastic secured to the wall. There was an iron with the board. They had a Keurig-type machine with coffee/tea/hot choco. Mugs, wine glasses and tumblers were provided. There was also a bar fridge and microwave. And inside the closet was a delightful little safe.

Bathroom was spacious with toiletries. We didn’t have a tub but shower was spacious. And there was a fabulous rainshower head!

Hotel Entertainment

Skycity Hotel has tons to do like the Skytower, a casino, conference rooms, a cafe and a couple of restaurants. They also have a fitness room.

Parking

There is self or valet parking for ~50NZD/day. But as it is downtown, it’s easy enough to catch the train (or bus) or use your legs for transport. We also saw motorized scooters zipping about town.

Tips

– Don’t put e-keycard near your phone so you can avoid de-magnetizing the keycode.
– lots of construction going on in Auckland so ask for a room with a nice view.
– within walking distance of restaurants, cafes, liquor stores. I will be posting on local cafes & restaurants soon.

Does Nals recommend Skycity Hotel?

It’s in Auckland’s Central Business District (aka CBD but not to be confused with this other thing) so it’s a central location. Reasonable rates, easy to book and check out. Quiet and luxuriously comfortable.

So hells yeah!
we’d stay here again
in a heartbeat.

Review of: Skagit Valley Casino Resort

A few years ago, our friend DJ Cocoa Smoov decided to celebrate his 50th in Vegas.

 

K invited me and… history was made as we realized that we travelled well together².

So, the following year, K&I decided to start a tradition of celebrating our October birthdays away from home. We Started with Leavenworth (Oktoberfest).

Last year, we went to Vegas where The Weeknd performed for Kells on her birthday.

 


Our Vegas reviews of:  Yellowtail    Olives     Ballys


T h i s   y e a r …

due to our work schedules and my limited vacation hours¹, we decided on a mini Run for the Border birthday getaway. Our sole goal was shopping. (So much shopping that we needed to spend a night.) We decided to grace Skagit Valley Casino Resort with our presence.

Kells has stayed here several times before, including a Suite. This time, we were in the Ridge Double Queen.

The hotel was large, spacious, clean, airy.

 

Rooms were decorated in muted tones.  Beds were super comfy: firm but soft (ie: not lumpy). Pillows were snuggly soft. There was a lot of tabletop room.  And a little sitting area. Bathroom was large and well-lit. Hot water took a bit to come in but when it did, it stayed. Rooms were quiet.

In-room amenities: Lots of toiletries including facial-cleanser wipes, TV, hair dryer, coffee & machine, little fridge and microwave. In fact, we would call this a kitchenette area because there was also a cute little sink.

 

Hotel amenities: pool & fitness room. The lobby has a lovely fireplace for the cold days. Staff are lovely. And they have a continental breakfast room. Plenty of free guest parking. Of course there’s a casino. And as per their website, dining rooms and actual shows like the upcoming Clairvoyant Christmas². The surroundings are green & woody. So a lot of rooms lookout on this. We took pictures out there, and ended up seeing deer!

We would defo stay here again!

 

Footnights
1 Oh dear limited vaca days? Poor Nals! Well don’t feel sorry for me. I’m going to NZ next month!

2 Important things to consider when travelling with others: are you a neat freak, does the other person snore, is someone a blanket hog, who’s crabby in the morning til they get their coffee, what do you like watching on the old boob toob?

Pret a porter in Portland

Mr. Nals and I took a jaunt to Oregon in August.

I’m a planner. He’s more of a spontaneous duckling. Who says planning is all the rage¹?  So we didn’t book a hotel. We winged it.

We ended up taking the turn-off into Beaverton and found a place called Shiloh Inn. Looked chalet-ish, with a pool. But wouldn’t you know it – it was ALL booked up!¹

The front desk chicka suggested Peppertree Motel. This was casual, motel-style, low key. There was a little water feature in front & lots of guest parking.

Peppertree Hotel, Beaverton, Oregon

Peppertree Hotel, Beaverton, Oregon

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It’s All Natural!

A few months ago, Nals told me that a coworker of hers has these amazing

lashes because she uses some new serum called EyEnvy. Nals assured me that this sweet coworker of her swears by it. So when I saw it in the store, I bought it. I was a wee bit shocked by the sticker price, but I thought Nals would never lie to me. Plus, I could try it, then review it for you all!

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PS I love you

So as you may or may not know…but Nals and I love to travel. Unfortunately, we don’t get to do as much as we would like with work and life and all. But there are a couple of spots that have a few things we like; sun and fun. Oh and good shopping.

We already talked about our live for Sin City. But I recently got to fly out to another little sweet spot…Palm Springs. And if you have been following us on IG you’ve probably noticed I’ve posted some Palm pics already.
Here’s the thing, I have been hearing great things about PS for years. But it wasn’t until 2 years ago that I finally got to see what all the buzz was about. And let me tell you, I fell in love.

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