Chicago, Illinois

Downtown Chicago at night

Chicago has numerous nicknames, which reflect the impressions and opinions about historical and contemporary Chicago. It has been commonly known as the “Windy City, “Second City”, and the “City of Big Shoulders”. Chicago has also been called “the most American of big cities”.

For many international tourists, Chicago is often overlooked for more well-known cities like New York, or Los Angeles, but if you never give Chicago a second glance, you have no idea what you’re missing. Until now.

Chicago is a very welcoming city, as my brother and I discovered on a quick trip back in 2005.

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San Francisco Streetcar

San Francisco Streetcar

A restored San Francisco street car in front of the Ferry Building at the end of Market St. This streetcar is painted to honor Cincinnati, which ran PCC streetcars from 1939 to 1951. Cincinnati was exceptional in requiring two overhead wires for streetcars, one to supply electrical power, the other to provide a ground and complete the circuit.

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The Grand Hyatt, Kaua’i

Grand Hyatt, Kaua'i

The Grand Hyatt, Kaua’i is an impressive hotel – and at night, it becomes a glowing tiki torch haven with twisting walkways through a tropical oasis.

We got both engaged and married at this hotel, and it treated us well both times. From the moment we arrived, to when we said our goodbyes, the Hyatt staff was friendly and accommodating. They made you feel at home, and as part of their Ohana.

While it’s not cheap, keep an eye out for special rates and promotions that are held from time to time. Don’t forget to register for the Hyatt Gold Passport program as well. It’s a great way to get free access to the gym, earn credit towards free nights, and doesn’t hurt your chances in getting your room upgraded (we were upgraded from a mountain view to a partial ocean view).

While I love my Mai Tai’s, the drinks at the pool aren’t cheap. Try stopping at Costco on your way to the hotel and picking up some of your own alcohol to save a few bucks. $12 drinks add up fast!

Twilight in Kapalua

Twilight at the Ritz Carlton, Kapalua

The night sky at the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua Maui is always pretty impressive, but I happened to catch it just right on this particular night as the colours disappeared from the sky and the stars came out.

Situated on a hill on the northwest side of Maui, the views of the Pacific Ocean and Molaka’i are phenomenal from many of the hotel’s opulent rooms. When the Ritz broke ground for their hotel on Maui, they discovered the evidence of the sacred burial site and thus reconsidered their site plan. Originally intended to be distinctly “oceanfront,” the Ritz now sits back from the sea just a bit. In order to utilize the beach, guests take a short walk or are happily driven in golf carts past the revered site (never through it! that is strictly verboten except to Hawaiian natives during authorized rituals), past the tennis center to the Beach House Restaurant and Ritz Carlton beach kiosk.

The beach is officially called the D.T. Fleming beach which is considered one of the best beaches on Maui. It, like all other beaches in Hawaii, is public, though a section of the beach is attended carefully by Ritz personnel.

If you’re staying in the area, the Ritz has an open policy with Kapalua which allows guests at the villas and homes to use the hotel facilities including the beach service, pools and spa. To truly feel pampered in the best spirit of “Aloha,” poolside service at the Ritz is a must while visiting Kapalua.

Not that it’s hard to find a nice relaxing part of Maui to holiday at, but the Ritz Carlton sure does make it that much easier.

The Grand Hyatt Lobby in Kaua’i

Grand Hyatt Kauai lobby

The lobby of the Grand Hyatt Kaua’i, in Poipu is something to behold. This is really not an exageration of the magnificent view you’ll experience should you choose to visit. With parrots, tropical breezes, and Hawaiian music, it’s easy to see why so many people want to return, myself included.

As mentioned in a previous post, this hotel is a sight to behold, either during the day or at night.