29 April 2013

Review - America's Best Value Inn, Niagara Falls, NY

America's Best Value Inn (ABVI) in Niagara Falls in New York is a budget accommodation with 88 rooms for travelers. It caters to families, groups of travelers, couples and even single travelers. We booked our Double Room with double beds in ABVI in 6505 Niagara Falls Boulevard, Niagara Falls (New York), NY 14304 via Booking.com and got a good deal.  We stayed there from April 3 to 5, 2013.

The price: 
The room was pegged at $47.99/double bedroom per night without taxes. So our total bill for 2 nights was $95.98 (without taxes) with breakfast. I have no high expectations for the property since it is a budget accommodation. However, the place is quite lovely compared to the other property (Red Carpet Inn) where we stayed for the first 2 nights.

The amenities/services: 

  • 24-hour front desk
  • Garden area
  • Ice cooler
  • CCTV/security cams in all the premises including all the exit/entrance and staircases
  • Non-smoking rooms
  • Mini-refrigerator
  • Microwave oven in the room
  • Safety deposit box
  • Pressing table and iron
  • Toiletries
  • Hair dryer
  • Heating/Air conditioning
  • Fitness centre
  • Games room
  • Outdoor pool (seasonal)
  • Business center, fax/photocopying/use of computer
  • Laundry
  • Tour desk
  • Breakfast area/pantry
  • Vending machines for drinks and snacks
  • WiFi is available in all areas and is free of charge
  • Ample/spacious and free parking
  • Pets are allowed on request

Some of our photos: 
 photo 8c5d4c00-8c99-4b17-a146-7a63d8411203.jpg
Very comfortable beds! I wish the comforters were a lot thicker because it was so cold in Niagara Falls.

 photo bac24c98-e2c5-4411-a756-a3b94a252afb.jpg
The pregnant TV! The management must consider to catch up with the hi-tech times.

 photo 251b6201-4ce7-47fd-a54f-56566776d478.jpg
No cabinet, ergo, more space for our luggage and loots.

 photo 070b0b5f-b4aa-44c9-9117-8d6c1501cf9f.jpg
The safe box and percolator.

 photo 2002e1e2-f14c-4ce8-a9f1-7af81d9202a1.jpg
Breakfast area with bagels, donuts, cupcakes, sliced breads

 photo f328dfc4-676c-4831-9ebd-7c9422f505f4.jpg
The other side of the breakfast area where the coffee, cereals, milk, juices and other condiments were.

 photo IMG_2059-1.jpg
The tissue box without any tissue.

 photo IMG_2058-1.jpg
See that grayish area on the tub's floor? It needs serious scrubbing and steaming!

 photo IMG_2057-1.jpg
Amazingly clean faucet area and toilet bowl.

 photo IMG_2056.jpg
Another antiquated fixture in the room - the old box phone. 

What I like:
The location is perfect! It was next to Bob Evans Restaurant and behind it is Dunkin' Donuts. It is also just a few minutes drive to the Fashion Outlet Mall and other nearby shops and groceries like One Dollar Store, Walgreens, K-Mart, and more.

All children or adults stay free when using existing beds

They allow pets!

It is also approximately 3 miles from Niagara Falls and Seneca Niagara Casino and the Old Falls area and 4 miles from the Aquarium of Niagara Falls and Castellani Art Museum.

The room is very spacious with a big sliding door overlooking the outdoor pool and nearby roads. I find the lack of cabinet a plus factor because it made the room very spacious with enough area to place your luggage and loots from the malls. The overhead hanging rack with hangers made up for the lack of built-in cabinets.

The wifi is free in all the areas of the motel. However, our room was almost at the end of the hallway so I felt the reception was not as strong as it should but hey, I wasn't complaining because at least, we were connected all the time.

The beds are huge and comfortable.

The toilet is spacious.

The price is superb!

The front desk is manned 24/7. However, if there is no one in the front desk if you check in, you can always buzz them.

The elderly man in the front desk was gracious and quick to check us out at 3:30 a.m.! Unfortunately, I was rushing and had no time to get his name to personally commend him in this review.

There are vending machines for snacks and sodas if you feel hungry and too lazy to buy out.

The pantry/breakfast nook is roomy and can probably seat 20-40 at a time.

The motel has ample parking space and it is free.

It is incredibly quiet even if it was just right along the main thoroughfare. We didn't hear the outside traffic at all from our room.

What I don't like:
The "Asian" descent lady who never smiled no matter how courteous we were. She even reprimanded me when we came back around 10:30 a.m. for our check in. We initially came around 8 a.m. to ask if we can check in early just in case the room was available. She advised us to come back around 11 a.m. Come on, it was just half an hour from the time she mentioned and she told us it wasn't even 11 a.m. yet as she had instructed us. We just didn't mind her. She might have been having her "menopausal moment." Just kidding! Nevertheless, she gave us the key to our room around 11:05 a.m. So what was the fuss all about for being punctual?

The bathroom was clean but I feel the management could do better than that. You can see from the photos above that the tub needs some serious scrubbing and they need to fill that tissue box near the vanity as well with what else - TISSUE.

The room's lack of sufficient lighting. I am not comfortable with just night stand lamps and pin lights near the door. I hope the management will add more lighting fixtures in the future.

The carpet looked like it wasn't cleaned for some time. It didn't smell and neither it was clean.

The phone and TV were quite outdated. The last time I saw and used that kind of phone receiver was when I was still in elementary. I think they should catch up with the times and start installing state of the art phone and flat screen TVs.

The other vending machine did not have anything inside.

My recommendations:
I can overlook the little inconveniences we experienced if I will compare it to the overall plus factor of the motel.

It just needs a little updating that's all but I will definitely recommend this to everyone whether you are a fussy or practical traveler like us. The motel is also great for those with small kids and teens as they have gaming area and outdoor pool (seasonal).

My family and I will consider this accommodate again if ever we visit Niagara Falls, NY in the future.

(This is not a paid post for the above mentioned property. All opinions and photos are 100% mine and personal.)

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

26 April 2013

A Honeymoon in Heaven: The Magic of the Maldives

Photo credit: honeymoonguide.com.au
The Maldives is one of the most popular destinations in the world for love-struck honeymooners, and it’s not exactly hard to see why. Beautiful deserted islands surrounded by the warm, clear waters of the Indian Ocean, stunning scenery, world-class luxury resorts, golden sands and perfect weather combine to make it a dream destination for honeymoons. Here are some of the highlights of this island paradise to keep in mind should you be looking for a romantic destination for your honeymoon.

Photo credit: guidetomaldives.co.uk

Enjoy Your Own Private Island

Wherever you stay in the Maldives, you will never be far away from a deserted island. You should not have trouble arranging an excursion to one of the nearby islands, where you will be able to enjoy a meal for two while watching the sun set and knowing that the island is yours alone to enjoy. You can’t get much more romantic than that.

Read more »

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Might Not Go To China

The recent news of the avian flu in China is something I cannot take lightly. We have a fully-paid package trip to Beijing, China this September but news of bird's flu around the cities of Shanghai, Beijing and Henan.

I don't want to take chances on that. I'd rather not go and it's okay if the whole trip is non-refundable. Our health and safety are my primary concern.

Labels: , , , , , ,

12 April 2013

Melbourne Heatwave Ends in Thunderstorm

Melbourne's February spell of dry weather and high temperatures unceremoniously ended with the return of rain to the city towards the end of the month. City residents and visitors had been enjoying the warm weather and therefore were shocked to awake to the sounds and sights of stormy rainfall and all-day flooding. The sudden change in weather conditions caused particular problems  during the city's busy peak traffic periods too.

Read more »

Labels: , , , , , ,

09 April 2013

Next Family Trip - China!

This is the life of an airline staff. My husband and I enjoy the perks of traveling. The recent trip to New York is still hot from the oven and here we are, talking about and planning the next one in September.

The destination - China! We have been to Hong Kong but it is different when you are in the mainland. We will be securing our visas a month before we leave. We won't be touring much of China, just Beijing to be specific.

Our travel package has been paid and all set. We will have to secure my daughter's vacation leave from school too. That will be a bit tricky as she's new in her school next school term so we're not sure how easy it is to get the school's permission on this. Anyway, it's still months from now but we're excited.

We have a fixed itinerary as outlined by the travel agency. We'll be touring the Forbidden City, Great Wall of China and some other places I cannot remember. I just hope, the weather will be okay.

Let us learn all things from everybody

Labels: , , ,

08 April 2013

Niagara Falls

Our visit to Niagara Falls, US is not without any hiccups. Actually, the whole vacation was full of hassles from my husband and mom-in-law's flight from Manila back to Dubai, from our split party trip from Dubai to New York and to the weather condition that welcomed us in what was supposed to be spring in New York. This is not the first time we traveled to New York during cold season. However, we didn't expect the extended winter.

We didn't let the weather dampen our spirits. We didn't fly all the way to Buffalo to miss out on the chance to see the wonderful Niagara Falls up close. We did visit the place twice.  The first time was an epic fail. We visited Niagara Falls last April 2 around 09:00 in the morning. We checked the weather and we knew there would be flurries but we had no choice. Like I mentioned earlier, we didn't fly all the way to Buffalo to coop ourselves in the motel. We braced the harsh weather and went. The temperature was around 2 degrees Celsius but it felt more like -9. We were excited and shivering but a bit disappointed when we reached the Niagara Falls area. We could only see mist and plenty of ice chunks floating on the river. The pathways were slippery too so we could not approach the railings. I still managed to take pictures from afar but we all could not stand the bitter cold. It only took us less than 10 minutes outside the wintery like weather and we headed home.

 photo NF5.jpg
The first time we went last April 2. Epic fail! Weather was too cold. We couldn't stand it.

 photo 3e50d495-0602-41a0-bce5-42113718ea63.jpg
Mist and more mist from the falls

 photo ba4a1a28-8532-45f8-a6f1-7e466e58ff9b.jpg
Slippery pathways. We were scared to go near the railings.

 photo NF6.jpg
This is what we saw on April 2- floating chunks of ice, lots of mist, and not to mention, an extremely cold morning to visit Niagara Falls.

I was really sad and upset that I didn't enjoy the view of one of the wonders of the world. I told my family that my bucket list check was just partial as I didn't see the whole area. But you know what, God is really good. He knows how much we all wanted to see Niagara Falls. So, a window of opportunity came last April 4 when the weather let up for a while. It was 10 degrees Celsius! We drove back to Niagara Falls State Park around 2:00 p.m. Well, the cold was still bitter but we could care less. It was perfect the second time around. My hubby dropped us off and headed to Seneca Niagara Casino while my daughter, mom-in-law and I enjoyed Niagara Falls this time.

We took plenty of pictures. We went up the observatory deck. The Maid of the Mist and other attractions were closed for very obvious reasons; there were plenty of ice chunks floating and the operation is only seasonal.

I marveled at the beauty before my eyes. I have to pinch myself several times to make sure I am standing next to the famous Niagara Falls where I once dreamed of seeing when I was five. I was there, taking it all in - the bitter cold and the beauty of the falls.

 photo 6aa80fb2-2b34-4403-9324-57822ca1e68c.jpg
Better weather this time. Taken on April 4. My princess enjoyed the place so much. She braved the cold weather  to get a closer view of the beautiful Niagara Falls.

 photo NF1.jpg
Breath taking! One of God's wonderful creation. By the way, those white big stuff are chunks of ice.

 photo NF2.jpg
Hello there Canada!!! View from the observation tower.

 photo NF3.jpg
Frosted grass near the falls

 photo NF4.jpg
Mom-in-law's new hand accessory, a very hot cup of coffee to warm her hands. :)

 photo NF8.jpg
Goofing inside the Visitor Center. It was warm inside. We stayed for a while to keep ourselves warm.

 This is another check on my bucket list. It has been a dream for me to see the famous falls. To be standing there, marveling at the beauty of God's creation is truly an opportunity I and my family are very thankful for.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

06 April 2013

Vacation Is Over

Breakfast at Bryant Park, Manhattan
Our 10-days vacation is over so soon. It seems like yesterday when I was freaking out because I wasn't sure whether we would push through with the trip or not. There were so many hiccups but in the end, we all found ourselves in wintery New York last March 27.

Hubby and my mom-in-law flew from Manila and were able to catch the second flight from Dubai to New York. My daughter and I, on the other hand were already in the first flight which arrived around 08:30 in the morning, NY time.  I was really worried because I was not sure whether my hubby and mom-in-law got in the second flight and thank goodness for inflight technology, my hubby texted me while he was cruising at a high altitude via the aircraft's mobile technology. After getting hold of him on the phone, I took a sigh of relief. So, we just waited for them in the arrivals area of JFK International Airport for 6 hours. I was comfortable waiting than exposing myself and my daughter by taking the subway. My cousin had told me so many untoward incidents lately and it wouldn't be safe for my daughter and I to travel the subway just by ourselves with a big luggage to lug around. No sir!

We enjoyed our stay despite of the extreme cold. My sinusitis was very active the whole time. My face flushed and cold. My lips cracked and my fingers turned violet for some time. I didn't realize that the weather could be that harsh when we thought it was already spring. So, I was expecting a spring kind of temperature. Now I know.

Niagara Falls, US
Niagara Falls is another story. The neighborhood is a sleepy and yet industrialized town. We went to Niagara Falls (US side) twice because the first time was an epic fail. We went there on April 2 around 9 in the morning. All we saw were chunks of ice floating and mist coming from the falls. The pavement was slippery too and we didn't get a close look of the falls. I was a bit disheartened because we flew all the way from Dubai just to see the marvelous falls. However, God is really good. Last April 4, the weather improved a little. It was still very, very cold but at least, it wasn't tundra-like in terms of temperature. So, we headed back to the Niagara Falls State Park and enjoyed the falls at a closer proximity. It was breath-taking!

I'll be posting pics soon. I just have to clean up the mess, unpack, and collate the pics from the camera. I will be posting reviews of the 2 motels/inns where we stayed at. They're not very fancy and my expectations were totally nil. However, I will give a very detailed review about them so if you decide to visit Niagara Falls, you will consider whether to stay or not.

Well, it's good to be home again. I still want the vacation to be longer but the funds are getting very, very low.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,