Element by Westin – North Chelmsford, MA @ElementNChelms

It’s no secret that I am an unapologetic Marriott fanboy. When you are on the road three or four weeks, having a consistently great experience at your home-away-from home goes a long way.

While visiting Massachusetts in December, I had the opportunity to stay at the Element which recently opened there. This is actually also the first opportunity I’ve had to stay at an Element hotel, so I was excited for the new experience.

The Room

As an extended-stay property, the rooms come equipped with a kitchenette (including a cook-top as well as dishwasher!), dedicated living area, and smart-TVs in both the bedroom and living area. Icing on the cake: both rooms have double-layered blackout curtains! The bed was reminiscent of those at Westin properties which was a very nice surprise (I love those beds so much I actually purchased a mattress from the Westin store).

The smart-TVs are personalized for your stay and allow you to access your streaming services while on the road (with a handy “clear all credentials” option when you’re ready to check out).

Common Areas

As you enter the hotel, there is a spacious public area as well as market-place and bar. Breakfast is served here daily (hours varying depending on weekday vs. weekend), and when you opt for the make-a-green-choice program you are able to use the $5 credit towards marketplace purchases.

The Gym

Now for the part that really blew me away… the gym. A handful of cardio equipment, as is standard with hotel fitness centers, but this time it is augmented by a full set of free-weights as well as leg-press and pull-down machines! Better still… two benches.

Overall I had an excellent stay. Though there were a couple of hiccups, the staff was extremely responsive and worked to get everything resolved quickly. I’m certainly looking forward to future opportunities to stay at Element properties!

New @WestJet Premium Hard Product

On one of my recent jaunts from Toronto to New York, I was able to experience one of WestJet’s freshly refitted 737 cabins. These cabins have a much cleaner look compared to the traditional premium cabin (3 seats with the middle blocked off).

Not only are the seats more comfortable, but they are wider since there are only two seats. No more worrying about tipping over the spacer that turns the middle-seat into a shared table! Add to that a universal plug as well as a USB charger and ample leg-room (without entertainment boxes taking up space), you don’t have to worry about your carry-on fitting.

A Holiday Surprise from @MarriottBonvoy ‘s Ambassador Team

Just in time for (American) Thanksgiving, the Bonvoy Ambassador Team sent an incredibly thoughtful and practical gift! An extremely well-constructed cheese-board, with a little nook to hold the various utensils.

Thanks, folks! Fear not, this will see a great deal of use!

 

 

Dear Whiskey

I can’t believe that you have only been in my life for such a short time… you have been such a big part of it.  When you picked us that day, there was no way for me to know just how important you would become.

Whiskey and Momma

From the first day you were with us, it was very clear that your Momma was your person. You were so anxious that you wouldn’t sleep anywhere but on top of her. The rest of us grew on you, though, just like you grew on us. Even Mina, who taught you how to tell us when the bunnies needed something.

You are by far the most patient dog I have ever met, tolerating all the things we put on you… from bandanas to ties. And goddamn you looked majestic. More importantly, you were patient with me as I learned how to be a furparent.

Over time it became clear that even though Momma was your person, I was your best friend. And you were mine. The way you would look at me when I came back after a week on the road… Jumping to your feet even though your joints hurt… Running over to see me with boundless excitement and affection… Spending time with me while I was working from home… You have, without a doubt, spoiled me.

Even with all the ups and downs, I can say without reservation that I would do it all over again. You were one of the best decisions of my life, and you will always be with me. I love you.

Forever,

Your Papa

@WestJet: Stepping Up the Snack Game

On one of my recent flights out of Toronto I was presented with the opportunity to pay a nominal fee ($40 CAD) to upgrade to their Premium cabin. Having flown in that cabin in the past, I had a rough idea of what to expect… or so I thought.

Wine List

Shortly after being seated, we were presented with a list of wines available on today’s flight: something completely new for such a short flight (YYZ-LGA). From what I gathered from those seated around me, all the wines offered were excellent for flying (for those not aware, the pressurized cabin does affect the way things taste). It is clear that WestJet put quite a lot of thought into selecting them.

After making selections, we were surprised with not only the traditional “MadeGood” bars (they are to WestJet as Biscoff cookies are to Delta, and Stroopwafel are to United… …well, were.) but also a fairly large snack box.

While the caramel butter popcorn wasn’t really my thing, the cashews and dark chocolate were excellent. Overall, this was quite a nice surprise as I went into the flight expecting just a granola bar and glass of wine.

If you have the chance to buy an upgrade while flying WestJet, it’s definitely worth considering!

A Delightful Surprise from @MarriottBonvoy

Over the last few years I’ve been staying predominantly at Starwood and Marriott properties, so my feelings with their merger was in line with that of many business travelers: a great deal of concern. Though many of my concerns were addressed with various PR releases both before and after the merger, I was a bit perplexed when the rewards program changed from “Marriott Rewards” to “Marriott Bonvoy”. At any rate – this post isn’t about the rewards program (which really hasn’t changed other than in name), but a fun package that I received over the weekend!

Thanks, Marriott! That was a really nice surprise to receive, and the pens are really nice!