September 21, 2019

More of My Travel Writings

Travel Trip A Mileage

A friend of mine recently asked for some suggestions about a family vacation in Orlando. Since I’ve been going to Orlando with my family at least once a year for about the last 5 years I figured I had some good ideas to share with her. I also remembered I had written about some of our adventures on a couple of other travel sites. I was trying to find those posts and discovered that they redesigned their site and my posts weren’t quite as easy to find anymore. It’s too bad, in the migration to the new site they broke all the images to the posts I had included.

So, here they are:

Here’s a post about one of our Spring Break adventures:

And another general travel one where I was interviewed by MJ for her travel blog:

 

 

 

Staying at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando

Less than 24 hours ago my family and I left Indianapolis at midnight and headed south for family vacation. I’m sure it will come as a giant surprise to no one that we were heading to Orlando and Walt Disney World. Hoping to have some other travel posts related to this trip published soon, but want to pop this one out about our first night’s hotel stay.

Our First Night of Vacation at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, FL.

Rosen Shingle Creek - Orlando, FL

First things first, we didn’t have any awareness of this hotel prior to making it to Orlando. We ended up leaving sooner than I had expected to get to Florida since we don’t check into Walt Disney World until Saturday. We left thinking we’d drive as long as the two of us could and then just Priceline a hotel wherever we were at and crash for the night and wrap up the drive the following day.

My wife and I (and the kids) have become troopers at this type of thing and we finished the drive in  about 15 hours, and that included a couple of hours of stops for meals, gas, bathroom breaks and driver switches. So during a late lunch while stopped at a Taco Bell with free wi-fi I fired up this laptop and waited to see what we could get.

I won’t tell you what amount I used to “name-my-own-price” with the Priceline.com Negotiator app, but let’s just say it was a fraction of the standard room rate for the property.

Note: I’m not sure why people who travel don’t use Priceline for all of their hotel reservations. Anytime I’m in a location with 4-5 star hotels, I’ll always use Priceline and see what I get. Sometimes you save a few bucks, other times you save a ton (like tonight).

First let me list the positives:

  • gorgeous property, high-end luxury resort feel and atmosphere
  • great customer service
  • beautifully appointed rooms
  • great pools (4 of them with hot tubs and kiddie pools too)
  • comfortable beds
  • inventory available via Priceline

A few negatives:

  • parking cost more for my car than it did per person to sleep for the night – I understand hotels in large cities that have to charge a parking fee for access to a garage, but hotels that charge parking while sitting on 230 acres seems a little much
  • $9.95/day or $24.95/stay for high-speed (wired/wireless) Internet – again, I know there’s costs to providing Internet access, but to visibly charge for it seems counter productive. I would say this especially for a hotel that has a convention center attached that obviously attracts a lot of business customers.
  • shower didn’t get very hot

As you can see, not much to comment about and two of the three come out just because I’m a cheapskate. Here I am complaining about a few additional charges when I got a fantastic deal on the room. But getting a great deal on the room and then paying a significant portion of that same amount for other amenities just rubs me the wrong way. I say add a few bucks to every room rate and offer free wi-fi and parking and promote that amenity.

Having spent a number of years in the travel industry and not recognizing the “Rosen” brand, I started doing a little research. It turns out that Harris Rosen, was recently named Central Floridian of the Year. He appears to be quite the philanthropist. I also found it interesting that he operates the majority of his hotel properties with almost zero debt. He’s personally and privately funded a number of public initiatives for his community as well as a variety of great sounding programs for his employees and associates.

So, here’s the final line. Definitely put this hotel in your sites for your next visit to Orlando. Use Priceline and I think I can safely say that regardless of the price you pay, you’ll be getting your money’s worth.

My Kids and the Droid Charge on Verizon

Recently, my kids had the opportunity to test out two smart-phones from Verizon. They both got a Droid Charge and we were able to take them with us on our trip to Walt Disney World this past October.

My kids don’t have cell phones. As parents, my wife and I are still debating on what age they’ll be when they get one. The question after that is do we pay the large monthly fees for smart phones, or do they just have a simple phone that lets them make/receive calls and text messages?

Droid Charge on Verizon

Regardless, both of my kids got to give these Droid Charges a try. As part of their homework, I asked them to write their own reviews from their experiences.

First up is my 9-yr old daughter:

When my dad told me I was gonna get to try one of Verizonʼs new phones – to be exact the Droid charge- I was super excited words couldnʼt describe. Two of my favorite features were probably texting and the amount of space it had,I had one whole page of games.

For a kid my age (9) to have a phone is a HUGE responsibility I repeat HUGE responsibility. First the parents should talk about what contacts they should have and the ones they shouldnʼt have,also about what they should text and what they shouldnʼt. Again a huge responsibility. They also need to know that if they lose it and they donʼt find it that they may not get it back. The parents should make sure that their kids are responsible.

One night I was so mad because I couldnʼt find the phone. First I thought I had left it at the dinner table because we had eaten at Applebees my mom even called them to see if they had found it and they hadnʼt. I got so mad I cried my self to sleep. The next day when my dad came home my mom went out to talk to him he had found the phone out in his car next thing I know I have the phone again! So losing a phone is a big deal. You should make sure that they know that itʼs their responsibility if they do lose it.

Overall I give Verizon props.

And here’s my 12-yr old son’s review:

Having the Droid Charge was a lot of fun. The game choices in the Droid Market were good. Also the Advanced Task Killer was easy to get to. All you had to do was hold the home button down. The phone does not charge n the car very well but in an outlet on a wall it charges pretty fast. Another thing about the battery is that is does not last very long, but maybe that’s because my sister and I played on it 24/7 on the way to Florida. Compared to the Evo, the phone is great. There are good graphics, the picture quality is better, and it being smaller is better. The only thing is the screen is smaller.

Now one of the things my dad wanted me to write about is kids having phones at my age which is 11 going on to 12. Now I do think that kids should have phones at the ages of 11-12-13 because now is the time responsibility kicks in, for example, staying home by yourself, going to friends party’s, just doing things independently now. Also I am home schooled so communicating with friends is a lot harder. I don’t get to see my old friends every single day like used to. So I mean having a phone would be neat, so I could talk to friends and also call/text my life group leaders for questions and answers.

So over all this was a great phone. Out of 5 stars I definitely would rate it a strong 4.

Both my kids really liked the phones and I’ll admit it was nice for them to have them and not constantly be asking to use mine or my wife’s for their entertainment. I still don’t think they need their own cell phones at their ages permanently. My challenge is that I like all the smart phone features with availability of apps for them to use as an entertainment source. I just don’t think adding the cost of the phone and data plan support for their age is a monthly expense many families want to shell out. I’d like a smart phone that I could have them use for just calls and text messages, but have wi-fi only access for the ability to download and run apps, not on the cellular network.

Now, what neither one of the kids knew at the time is that the Droid Charge allows me to use Verizon’s Family Locator service application to monitor where the kids are at any given time.

Family Locator features Arrival & Departure update capabilities, which work based off of Locations that you define, such as school, home or work. When the Family Member carrying the Family Locator Family Member device arrives at or leaves a Location, you can be notified via Text Message or Email. In addition, you can also elect to receive Scheduled Updates at specific dates and times.

Since my kids are still pretty young, they’re not quite at the age for me to feel comfortable letting them roam around Walt Disney World by themselves with or without a phone. However, once they get older and are more actively involved in extra-curricular activities and driving, I can absolutely see using a service like this to keep tabs on where they’re going. The app would allow me to monitor their activity from my own Verizon cell phone or a Family Portal provided by Verizon. Very cool!

Photos: Multiple images from Verizon website composited into one image