Starling Travel

April 23, 2008

Hotel SWAG: Comfort Inn West Yellowstone

Filed under: Hotel SWAG,Lodging,Montana,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Our snowy stay in West Yellowstone was made more pleasant by our hotel. We stayed at the Comfort Inn in West Yellowstone.

Here are the photos of the Hotel SWAG as it was presented on 04-19-08:

Hotel SWAG: Comfort Inn West Yellowstone 04-19-08 by LauraMoncur from Flickr

Here is the coffee setup.

Hotel SWAG: Comfort Inn West Yellowstone 04-19-08 by LauraMoncur from Flickr

This Quattro razor was also on the counter. I don’t know if it was included in the SWAG or if we will be charged if we use it. The sign says complimentary, but it’s hard to know.

Hotel SWAG: Comfort Inn West Yellowstone 04-19-08 by LauraMoncur from Flickr

Here is the keycard.

Hotel SWAG: Comfort Inn West Yellowstone 04-19-08 by LauraMoncur from Flickr

The Internet connection wasn’t screaming fast, but it was usable. Additionally, there were several open wi-fi networks nearby that were also available.


Comfort Inn West Yellowstone

638 Madison Ave.
P.O. Box 1050
West Yellowstone, MT 59758
406-646-4212 • Fax 406-646-4212
Reservations 888-264-2466

April 22, 2008

Yellowstone Photographs

Filed under: Montana,Places To Visit,Travel — Laura Moncur @ 7:55 am

Our first foray into Yellowstone this spring was greeted with snow and baby buffalo.

Yellowstone Park 04-20-08 by LauraMoncur from Flickr

Yellowstone Park 04-20-08 by LauraMoncur from Flickr

Yellowstone Park 04-20-08 by LauraMoncur from Flickr

Yellowstone Park 04-20-08 by LauraMoncur from Flickr

With the snow piled higher than our ears, we waited for Old Faithful to erupt.

Yellowstone Park 04-20-08 by LauraMoncur from Flickr

For more photos:

April 14, 2008

Encinitas, CA: Leucadia Sushi Bar

Filed under: California,Food,Photos — Laura Moncur @ 3:55 pm

Leucadia Sushi Bar

Every time we go to San Diego, we make sure we set aside time to visit Leucadia Sushi Bar. The best feature of the place is the conveyor belt and constant stream of sushi. I filmed a little clip of it back in 2007:

Click Here To See The Video

Download this video for your iPod

You pay based on plate prices. There is a price for each plate, you choose a plate from the conveyor belt and stack up the plates you eat. When it comes time to pay, they count up your plates and charge you for each one. Different colored plates indicate different prices.

At the end, I always spend less on sushi here than I do at any other sushi bar, even though I eat so much!

We LOVE Leucadia Sushi Bar and have a pet name for it: Sushi-Go-Round! I can’t wait to go back to California to eat there again!

Where: 996 N.Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024
Phone Number: (760)635-9312

Business Hours:
Closed on Monday Lunch: 11:30a.m.- 2:00p.m. (tue – fri)
Dinner:: 5:00p.m.- 9:00p.m. (tue – thu, sun) 5:00p.m. – 9:30p.m. (fri & sat)

April 11, 2008

Florida: M() Talks About The Disney Food Experience

Filed under: Florida,Food,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Megan Wallent and her family recently went to Disney World in Florida and has come back with recommendations for eating there.

Yes, you can find reasonable food in the Disney parks (Reasonable: not all fried, some greens or at least fruit, not ultra fatty). Our usual “Don’t eat bad food” rule has to get suspended a bit (note, bad doesn’t mean expensive – it just means to make food part of the experience – trying to eat as local, or at least as well as possible given the locale).

One of the places where they were able to get rotisserie chicken and green beans was Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe. Here is a video of the entertainment at that Cafe in Tomorrowland:

Head on over to Megan’s blog to read about which places in Disney World she considered good food and which were bad.

April 10, 2008

Upside Down Coat Hook at the MGM Grand Hotel

Filed under: Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Fail by Nicole Lee from Flickr

Fail by Nicole Lee from Flickr

She commented, “Upside down door hook, in the MGM Grand restroom.”

Actually, the downward sloping part is a device meant to prevent theft of your purse or coat. You’re supposed to hang your items on the metal hook below below it.

April 9, 2008

Buffalo Bill’s Hotel and Casino “Apologizes”

Filed under: Lodging,Nevada,Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Take a little something from FlickrYou may remember my unpleasant stay at Buffalo Bill’s Hotel and Casino back in November of last year. If not, you can read about it here:

A few months after posting that entry, I received a call. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered the call anyway.


“Hello, is this Laura Moncur?” He mispronounced my name, but then again, everyone does.


“I’m calling from Buffalo Bill’s Casino and I notice that you stayed here last November. We were wondering how your stay was.”

“You can find out about my stay on Starling Travel.”

“Ah… yes… I have that review here. We were wondering if there is any chance you’d be willing to stay with us again.”

The first response that came to my mind wasn’t very polite, so I asked Mike. “Is there any chance that we’d be willing to stay at Buffalo Bill’s again?”

Mike said, “Yeah, I guess…”

I replied to the man on the other end of the phone, “Yeah, I guess…”

“Well, we’d like to give you a couple nights’ stay to try us again.”

I gave him my address and he made promises of free meals and hotel suites before he hung up. Mike and I discussed the offer and decided that we would take them up on it, but at the same time, bring Stacey and Dan and see how they treat normal customers. We’d test them again.

We talked to Stacey and Dan about it. “Isn’t that the hotel on the California/Nevada border?”


“That’s like a half hour away from Vegas. Didn’t you say that their Internet was slow?”

“Like molasses.”

“Um… no… As inviting as that sounds… no.”

“Fine. We’ll test ’em on our own.”

Over a month later, the letter finally arrived.

Apology letter from Primm Valley by LauraMoncur from Flickr

Dear Ms. Moncur,

Thank you for contacting us during your recent visit. One of most important tasks is to learn directly from our guests how they enjoyed their Primm Valley Casino Resorts experience.

Please accept my sincere apologies for the disappointments and inconveniences you experienced during your stay at Buffalo Bill’s. I regret that your stay with us did not meet all of your expectations.

As a gesture of goodwill, I would like to offer you a complimentary room for one night at Whiskey Pete’s, Primm Valley or Buffalo Bill’s. Please contact my assistant, XXXXX, directly at (XXX)XXX-XXXX extension XXXX, and she will make the necessary arrangements. She may be reached Monday through Friday between the hours of 9am-5pm. This offer is based on availability, valid through February 2009 and excludes holidays, special events and major conventions.

You are truly a valued guest of ours and we look forward to welcoming you back to Primm Valley Resorts in the near future.

It took a month for the form letter to come and when it finally did, they offered us ONE night’s stay with restrictions and based on availability. They didn’t address any of the deferred maintenance problems or the Internet connectivity issues. One night’s stay at their hotels ranges from $31-$50. After all the issues that Mike and I had that night, all they offered was a one-night stay. It teetered on the edge of insulting.

They say that customer complaints are the perfect opportunity to create a loyal customer for life. Unfortunately, Primm Valley didn’t achieve that. As “gracious” as their offer seems, I won’t be taking them up on it.

April 8, 2008

Luxor Hotel Remodel 1996

Filed under: Lodging,Nevada,Places To Visit,Tourist Attractions — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

We made reservations to stay at the Luxor Hotel, but when we arrived, I was heartbroken. They were tearing out everything I loved in the hotel and it was all blocked off by big walls. It was 1996.

Luxor Hotel Remodel 1996 from Flickr

They had already removed the Nile River Ride on the lower level and were constructing a huge registration desk right at the front of the pyramid (where it should have been in the first place). I had been looking forward to riding the Nile River Ride again, but it wasn’t going to be. If I had known, I would have taken a bunch of pictures the previous time.

Luxor Hotel Remodel 1996 from Flickr

Large portions of the attractions level were quartered off. The Manhattan Buffet was gone and a transformation was overtaking the big city skyline. I’m so glad I took this photo with my beloved 110 camera. It was the last time I was going to see that little King Kong on the top of the Empire State Building in the Luxor. Sure, the “building” is still there, but it is painted to look like a building from Egypt instead of New York.

Luxor Hotel Remodel 1996 from Flickr

The Millennium Cafe was intact. Little did I know that it was going to become a La Salsa. I like the foot long margaritas and the Mexican food, but I still miss the “Cafe Eighties” feel of the Millennium Cafe.

Luxor Hotel Remodel 1996 from Flickr

They didn’t ruin everything. The view from my hotel room on the twentieth floor was still spectacular. The pool looked inviting as ever. It is the one facet of the Luxor Hotel that has changed little over the years.

You can see more photos from my 1996 stay at the Luxor Hotel here:

The Luxor Hotel has gone through yet ANOTHER renovation this year and I talk about it here:

What used to be my favorite hotel in Las Vegas has dwindled down to just another casino. It makes me sad and I wish for its glory days of the Nineties.

April 7, 2008

Zen Habits Packs Light

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

I have never been one to pack light. I’m always the one who has aspirin and band-aids in her purse just in case, so you can imagine what I’m like when I pack for a week. Zen Habits, on the other hand is packing light for his trip to Thailand.

Here is his list for his backpack:

  • Travel docs (passport, credit card, ID)
  • deodorant
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 2 T-shirts
  • 2 pairs underwear
  • swim trunks
  • 1 book
  • journal and pen
  • camera, charger

He says anything else he needs, he’ll buy in Thailand. I really don’t want to have to worry about washing clothes every night after I wear them, so I can’t imagine packing this light.

If all you could bring to your next trip was a small backpack, what would you put in it?

April 4, 2008

A Note From A Previous Guest

Filed under: Hotel SWAG — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Miss Rogue went to BarCampNYC and stayed at the Hyatt Bellevue. Imagine her surprise when she found this note from a previous guest at the hotel:

Awesome note a previous guest left for me to find at the Hyatt Bellevue by miss_rogue from Flickr

Awesome note a previous guest left for me to find at the Hyatt Bellevue by miss_rogue from Flickr

She also took a picture of it with her hotel key card, so you can see it here:

Awesome note a previous guest left for me to find at the Hyatt Bellevue by miss_rogue from Flickr

Awesome note a previous guest left for me to find at the Hyatt Bellevue by miss_rogue from Flickr

I have never stayed at a hotel that treated me like a “king.” I usually choose my hotel based on proximity to the conference or price, neither which are good conductors for being treated like a king. For me, I don’t need to be treated like a king. I just need a place to sleep and good Internet access. Everything else is just icing.

April 3, 2008

Get ye arse to Scotland!

Filed under: Places To Visit — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Edinburgh city center by Jer_GlobeTrotter from Flickr

Edinburgh city center by Jer_GlobeTrotter from Flickr

NakedJen’s sister, HalfNakedRobin, sent her an email from her latest wanderings with the imperative, “Get ye arse to Scotland!” I love this description of Scotland:

I am one that favors warm climates and white beaches so this is a huge for me to say! Scotland has friendly folks, great whisky, grand castles, loads of history and crazy weather. It’s dog friendly! So much so, there is a dog cemetery at Edinburgh Castle…but it’s the natural beauty that won me over.

Click on over to NakedJen’s blog to read the entire email about Scotland:

Here is a photo of the dog cemetery in Edinburgh that she was talking about. The photo is from delfuego on Flicker.

Dog Cemetery at the Edinburgh Castle by delfuego from Flickr

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