Category Archives: Hotel Reviews

Review: Secrets Capri

I recently spent 4 nights at the original Secrets Resort, Secrets Capri in Riviera Maya, Mexico. Secrets is part of the AMResorts family. Secrets is one of their adult-only products. This compact resort is a perfect choice for a first time all-inclusive visit or a short visit. It’s about 30 minutes from Cancun Airport and nice and small with everything within a few minutes walk. This is an all preferred club resort. Since it’s all preferred, there is no lounge.

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This was an anniversary trip with my husband and his first all-inclusive vacation and I chose it because I felt it fit our style.

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We had a jr suite ocean view and we had a partial view of the ocean to the side and were right in front of the pool.


Secrets Resorts are in the AmResorts family as well as AMStar, their tour and transfer division. They and many other companies are owned by VIP Unlimited. It’s a vacation club of sorts so they are constantly trying to get you to go to a presentation. It started at the airport while waiting for our transfer and then at check-in. We decided to go to one to check it out. They gave us $250 for going which we were able to use towards our room charges so…but I would not do it again and don’t recommend it. It’s a hard sell and wasted 3 hours of our day. They sold us on being able to see neighboring Secrets Maroma Beach, but in reality, we only saw 1 room there and the walk from the breakfast to the room. Not much of the resort. The easy way to get them to leave you alone is to simply tell them you are a travel agent. They won’t bother you again.

They love to upsell wine here. The house wine is included of course. Our second night was my husband’s birthday and Thanksgiving day so we bought 2 bottles to have a front-row table for the Thanksgiving show by the pool. We were able to keep one bottle for another night. At the Thanksgiving show, we won a raffle for a romantic dinner on the beach so we had that the next night.  The 2 bottles of wine were worth it in the end with winning the beach dinner.

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Romantic Dinner on the Beach!

The service here is incredible. The manager of the seaside restaurant, Rodrigo, we ate at the first night came to find us every day, even in the pool to check on us and make sure everything was okay and we were happy. Every staff member we encountered was wonderful, they get to know you and are always checking up.

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Blue Hawaian

We tipped well and were taken care of well. Occupancy was high, but it never felt crowded. The buffet and any other restaurants really never were full, we never waited to be seated anywhere. The food was good. The grilled shrimp on the beach was incredible. The Italian restaurant, everything was superb there. The shrimp fajita at the Seaside for lunch was really good too. Drinks were weak, which is typical at an all-inclusive. Stick to wine and beer. I never really felt the alcohol even drinking all day except when I was drinking the wine.

We didn’t participate, but they had a great entertainment team out by the pool every afternoon doing things. It was fun to watch. Thanksgiving Day they had a giant screen showing football out by the pool above a stage where they had a live rock band all afternoon. That night was a special dinner show by the pool.

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The beach is not as big as you’ll find further along in Playacar or even Cancun’s hotel zone beach. It’s not huge, but it was big enough and you could walk for quite a bit in one direction. There was almost no seaweed until the last day, this was at the end of November.

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They give you coupons when you arrive, but we didn’t even really need to use them. The spa had better deals at the counter. There was a spa concierge out by the pool to book spa treatments and also rent the Bali beds on the beach or by the pool. The beds are about $30 a day. The coupons are broken up by category so you get discounts on spa, Bali bed rental, specialty dining, excursions. You cannot use the full amount on one thing though, there is a limit on each category. The spa concierge gave us the coupon price without the coupon. The spa had better deals without the coupons.

We indulged in a couples massage, my husband’s first. He was terrified and really unsure we wanted to do it, but I insisted. He still talks about Isabelle every time he asks for a back rub. The spa started with the hydrotherapy, saunas, pools, some chlorofil water. Then onto our massage by Isabelle and Wendy. Very relaxing and enjoyable.

We enjoyed the swim up bar at the pool and the lobby bar for an after-dinner drink.

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The service, location, and compact size of this resort make it a great choice for a first time or short trip. I’m torn between wanting to try new resorts or going back here because we really loved it.

 

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Review: Hotel Modigliani Rome

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This was our second time staying at Hotel Modigliani in Rome, we stayed 16 years ago and I didn’t even look at anything else when planning this trip. Modigliani is in a great location, a quiet street just off Piazza Barberini and just a few minutes walk to the top of the Spanish Steps and the Borghese Gardens with incredible views of the eternal city.

City buses and the Metro are nearby, but the whole city is walkable. We walked back from the Vatican after our tour stopping for lunch, walking through Piazza Navona and a few other spots along the way.

The Modigliani is a small boutique hotel with just over 20 rooms. Each a little different. The hotel is owned by artists and you will see the artwork displayed throughout the hotel.

We had booked a small room in the hotel and a garden apartment, literally called the apartment, for my parents and the kids. The apartment was basically 2 rooms next to each other across a small courtyard. One room with a double sized bed and the other had a double and a single.

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Courtyard with the Garden Apartment

They offer a lovely breakfast buffet each morning which can be included in your stay if you choose. The breakfast room is pictured below, set up for breakfast and how it looks for the rest of the day.

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The staff was phenomenal. Always with a smile at all hours. They were able to arrange cabs for us to get to our tour meeting points each day and recommend restaurants in the area. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this lovely little hotel and will certainly stay here again if I find myself in Rome again.

Hotel Review Hotel Ca Pisani Venice

Hotel Ca Pisani is a little gem of a hotel in a great location in the Dorsoduro region of Venice. Between the Accademia and Zattere water bus stops on the 2 main water bus lines and right next to the Accademia Museum and not far from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. The hotel is only a 10-minute stroll to St. Mark’s Square, but off the beaten path in a quiet location. You simply cross the Accademia bridge and follow the signs. The way to Piazza San Marco is clearly marked and easy to follow.

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The hotel is housed in a typical 14th-century Venetian palazzo, but has been completely remodeled on the inside to a beautiful Art Deco style. The attention to detail is incredible, from the fish shaped ebony keys, the doors, and handles, the marble bathrooms to the logo on the wardrobe.

There is always someone at the front desk where you leave your key and if rain is threatening, they will offer you an umbrella. Service was also great in the restaurant and housekeeping with turndown service in the evenings.

All the rooms are equipped with direct-dial telephone, Tv, minibar, hair dryer, safe, air conditioning with climate control, and all the amenities of a modern four-star hotel including WiFi. There is an internet point in the mezzanine for guest use and guests may use a nearby fitness center although not located in the hotel. La Rivista is their restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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Terrace in front of the hotel, part of La Rivista

The rooms are beautifully decorated in the Art Deco style and are all unique, nothing cookie cutter here. We stayed in a duplex room which was 2 floors with a seating area and bathroom on the main level and a loft bedroom and closet up a glass staircase. All the rooms are unique which is a fun feature of the hotel.

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Glass staircase leading up to the bedroom