I’ll be traveling to Atlanta this week. I’m cutting my holiday a little short and flying down Monday afternoon. I need as much of a full week in Atlanta as I can get this week, and this was the only way. I’ll be flying Delta Air Lines and staying at the W Atlanta Midtown again. We’ll see if there are any differences in this stay and my last at this hotel a few weeks ago. You can read my review of the W Atlanta Midtown here.

Edited 9/24/09:  Apparently my review wasn’t enough.  Rumberos closed this week.  But you can still visit its sister restaurant, Rumba Cafe, in Adams Morgan.
Rumberos is located in the up-and-coming Columbia Heights neighborhood in northwest D.C. The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating, and is open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday (closed for lunch on Monday). On Sundays, Rumberos offers a fantastic brunch menu followed by dinner.

Rumberos features fantastic Latin and South American inspired cuisine with a little bit of Caribbean thrown in for good measure, all at reasonable prices. I recently enjoyed the Bife de chorizo for dinner. Translation: a 14 ounce ribeye, which is prepared Argentinean style over a wood fired grill. The steak was perfectly prepared and the “wood fired” flavor really came through. Frankly, it was one of the better steaks I’ve had in D.C. Service was polite but not fast. That was fine by me. I spend enough time in a hurry and it was nice to slow down, enjoy wonderful food and soak in the great atmosphere the restaurant offers.

If you’re in the market for lighter-fare, Rumberos has a decent happy hour special featuring $4 dollar beer and wine and $6 dollar Mojitos. They also offer a menu of Tappas specials for $4 dollars each. Bar service has always been top-notch with a good drink list and nice array of wines. On many weekends, you’ll find live music at Rumberos in the evenings. It gets crowded so get there early for dinner and then enjoy the music.

If you’re looking for a new place to dine, give Rumberos a try. You won’t be disappointed. And for you miles junkies out there, Rumberos is a participant in the idine program, so you’ll get miles for dining too.

If so, head to this link: http://www.aapromotion.com/ and register to win.

Back to Platinum status in American Airlines AAdvantage Program that is! Join me in the celebration!!

So sorry for not having much to post this week. That pesky other job of mine is getting in the way, but I’ll have more to say soon. Back to Atlanta next week. I’m going to check out what else the
W Atlanta Midtown has to offer. Yes, I’ve chosen to stay at the W Atlanta Midtown twice in a row. Is that a sign of something? Could be. Will let you know after five more days there.

Book now through December 31, and use promotion code MUAA014. Three-day minimum rental required. As always, restrictions apply. Book accordingly.

I recently completed a three-day business trip aboard American Airlines from Washington Reagan (DCA) to Miami International (MIA) and returning. I booked the flight one-week prior to travel and requested AAdvantage Elite upgrades on both the outbound and return.

AA 1653 DCA-MIA

As an AAdvantage Gold member, I can confirm an elite upgrade 24 hours in advance of departure. They rarely clear at the 24 hour window, but I have had good luck overall with upgrades. Most tend to clear 4 or 5 hours prior to the flight. This time, however, my upgrade cleared at exactly 24 hours, and I checked in for my flight on AA.com right after waking up the day prior to departure.

Mondays at any airport can be tricky, but I was not checking luggage and proceeded through the crowds straight to security at DCA. The American checkpoint has an elite line, and I was done with the shoe dance, and cavity search (I rang the alarm) in well under 10 minutes.

The Admirals Club at DCA does not open until 5:30AM which makes visiting when you have a 6AM flight darn near impossible. However, should you have occasion to stop by, the DCA Admirals Club is among the best there are, with an extraordinarily capable staff that seem to enjoy helping you travel better. Better yet, one of the bartenders is known throughout the Admirals Club network for his Bloody Mary’s.

We blasted off right on time even with the gentleman in 7C insisting that he had to go to the bathroom as soon as they pulled the jetbridge. In-flight service was fine but not extraordinary. I wonder if it says anything if I’ve come to think of a fine first class flight as one where I’m not smirked at by an airline employee on my way to the plane or during the flight?

Landing was slightly delayed due to the weather in Miami. There was a Tropical Storm approaching, afterall. Then we parked at the far end of the D Concourse where you can’t taxi in to the gate under your own power. The pilot has to shutdown the engines and then you get towed to the gate. That took a few minutes, but in the end we were only 10 minutes or so behind schedule.

AA 1136, MIA-DCA

Returning on Wednesday, I arrived at the airport earlier than planned. My elite upgrade had again cleared at the 24 hour mark, and I was already checked in. I navigated my way through the masses to find the First Class security line at the D Concourse. Getting there was fine, getting to the ID check took seconds, and then, we were released into the sea of masses attempting to funnel itself into exactly two walk-through metal detectors. To say that TSA needed another lane or two running would be an understatement. People were getting antsy. I had plenty of time, but I don’t care for standing in a security line in my socks any more than the next guy. Finally, I get to the plastic trays, unload the laptop, shoes, jacket and contraband liquid items and think I’m all set. I was…until the x-ray machine went down.

TSA moved us to the adjacent line, but didn’t manage the switch for us, so I wound up with about ten more people in front of me. Thanks TSA. Granted, if that’s the worse thing that ever happens to me, I’ll be ok. But the TSA operation in Miami could use some extra people or something. At least there were no ships in town. Ugh!

In any event, I finally made it through and faced the decision of attempting to get on an earlier flight, or camping out. I had a lot of work to do, and a confirmed First Class seat in two hours. You guessed it, I went to the Admirals Club. The D Concourse Admirals Club in Miami happens to be one of my favorites. It’s fairly new, pretty well designed, and on Wednesday at 2PM, not all that crowded. I poured through some work, the bartender poured some red wine, and I had a great time waiting for my flight.

I arrived at the gate about 35 minutes prior to scheduled departure. There was no airplane, but the board still said “on time.” I knew that wouldn’t happen. But within minutes the aircraft arrived and the people poured off. We were boarding soon enough. I’m not sure how they did it, but American turned that airplane pretty quick, and we pushed back only 5 minutes behind schedule.

For the first time in a LONG time, I had an empty seat beside me. That’s an especially unusual feat in First Class. But sure enough. I had room galore. And we were blessed with one of the best Flight Attendants I’ve seen on American. She was so good that I wrote American a letter about her. Always in the cabin, always smiling and always checking to see if any of her Customers needed anything. Dinner was standard airline fare, but certainly edible. And even with our late departure and a tropical storm to pass over, we were home 5 minutes early. And that capped off an almost perfect flight by today’s standards.

All in all, American did good. We’ll see if they can do the same thing twice in a row because I’m headed back to Miami in three weeks for a personal trip.

I completed a two night stay at the Embassy Suites Boca Raton on August 20, 2008. I was in the area on business and the ES was close to the job site. As I’ve noted in previous posts, this stay coincided with the arrival of Tropical Storm Fay. Fortunately, the worst of that was on the west side of the state, but we did get plenty of rain and wind.

Check-in

Check-in was pleasant enough, however my Hilton HHonors Gold status was not recognized in any manner.

The Room

The room appeared to have had a recent coat of paint and reasonably up-to-date furnishings. As with all Embassy Suites hotels, the room is a two-room suite with separate living area and bedroom. The living area was functional and well-lit with couch, chair, work table and an in-room refrigerator. The hotel offers wireless internet for a fee of $9.95 per night (free if you are a Hilton HHonors Gold or Diamond member and select wireless internet as your Hilton HHonors VIP benefit). Note: if you work for a not so hip employer who does not allow you to use wireless connectivity, your only option is one ethernet hardwire connection in the business center. This hotel does not have wireless “bridges” like many hotels that can trick your non-wireless PC into connecting to a wi-fi network.

The bedroom was equipped with a king-size bed, adequate closet space and offered a balcony that I didn’t make any use of. The bed was not the latest version of any Hilton bed, but was comfortable enough.

Complimentary Breakfast

The comp breakfast was the standard offering but was very tasty. Nothing else I can say.

Manager’s Reception

The best part of any Embassy Suites stay is the free booze. This was no exception. The evening cocktail hour was actually two-hours, and delivered by an extremely pleasant lady who seemed to be well-known by some of the regular guests. I tipped her a buck per glass, and never wanted for service. Be sure and stop by if you’re staying at the hotel.

Things to Do

Unfortunately, the weather prohibited much in the way of extensive adventure after-hours. I did try one terrific restaurant and recommend you do the same if you’re in the area. I dined at Seasons 52 on Tuesday evening. Dinner was fantastic! If you’re not familiar, Seasons 52 menus rotate on a seasonal basis, and food offerings focus on healthy eating. As the waiter put it, you won’t find any butter in the restaurant. But I was not disappointed. My salmon was fresh, flavorful, and satisfying. Give it a try if you’re in Boca or any of their other locations in Florida and Atlanta.

The Bottom Line

I’d stay again if in the area. The front desk service was ok, if not outgoing, and I wish all the Hilton family hotels would be more consistent in recognizing their HHonors VIP guests.

So…you might remember my post about the extraordinary Delta SkyMiles offer from those Bosley hair transplant people. I went so far as to book an appointment for a consultation. Well, the time has come for the consultation. And faced with getting 20,000 SkyMiles in exchange for letting Bosley tell me I’m a good candidate for hair transplantation or enjoying an uniterrupted day off, I went for the day off. So tomorrow, I will enjoy the first opportunity I’ve had to kick back in a while. But I’m still bugged about missing those miles.

Well, I have survived Tropical Storm Fay. In fact, I am typing this at 38,000 feet over northern Florida on my way home.

I am flying American Airlines, my upgrade cleared, and for the first time in at least a few years, I have an empty seat beside me. In fact, this flight borders on pleasant. It’s downright joyous compared to the TSA checkpoint on the D Concourse in Miami. But I will save that for another post.

Shortly, I will post my review of the Embassy Suites – Boca Raton (ok, but not great).

In the meantime, we have a fantastic flight attendant, dinner is about to be served, and my wine glass has yet to make it below half full.

American has posted a storm policy in response to Tropical Storm Fay. If you’re traveling in the general area of Florida and the Caribbean, check out the policy by clicking here. Check with your airline if you are heading to Florida and points south in the next couple of days. Right now the storm appears to be more likely to affect the Keys and Western Florida than other parts of the state.

And now Delta is in on the action.

JetBlue storm policy.

United storm policy.

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