Tag Archives: Westin

Part #1: How I Quietly Fell in Love with Japan

I didn’t expect to fall in love with Japan. I didn’t really expect anything at all. I chose Japan for the tail end of my China trip for non-sentimental reasons. 1) It was close to China. 2) I didn’t need a visa. 3) It was safe. 4) It was easy enough to navigate for an English speaking individual. I chose Kyoto for similar reasons. Kyoto was closer to Shanghai than Tokyo, smaller, and allegedly warmer.

All of the above reasons were spot on. But there was so much more to Kyoto than that. I had heard that Tokyo resembles a cleaner version of New York City – a city built into the sky with few trees. Kyoto is nothing like that. Kyoto is large enough to offer all the advantages of city life and small enough not to be overwhelming. It sits in a valley, surrounded by mountains and nature galore.

The people are extraordinarily friendly and helpful, and they spoke enough English for me to get by. Public transportation is plentiful and easy enough to understand (after a few stupid questions). I even took a local bus without getting lost – a feat that filled my heart with pride.

Kyoto is rich with culture and natural beauty, serving as Japan’s imperial capital for 1,000 years. While Tokyo was burnt to a crisp during World War II, Kyoto and its bountiful history was spared. Kyoto was initially placed on the United States’ list of targets for the atomic bomb, but was vetoed by Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Sixty years later, all of Kyoto’s marvelous castles and shrines – including 17 UNESCO World Heritage Sites – remain intact. I had thought I might venture on a couple of day trips to nearby towns, but I had no difficulty filling five days in Kyoto alone.


I used 40,000 Starwood points (which I commandeered from my ex-boyfriend – getting your heart trampled on has a couple of perks) to secure five nights at Kyoto’s Westin thanks to Starwood’s five nights for the price of four deal. The room was perfectly comfortable, but the best thing about the Westin – besides for its proximity to the subway – was the view when I woke up in the morning. Located on the eastern edge of Kyoto, the mountains feel close enough to touch.


Kyoto – and Japan – surprised me. And I’m so glad it did.

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Review: Westin Kierland Resort, Scottsdale, AZ

When the plane touched down in Phoenix last week, the pilot announced that it was a balmy 106 degrees outside and I gasped. The couple sitting next to me chuckled and said, “Oh that’s nothing.”

The advantage of going to Phoenix in the heat of summer is that hotels are reduced cheap. I mean fancy shmancy hotels that normally go for $300 – $400 a night are dirt cheap. So I took advantage of this fun fact.

I booked two nights in the Westin Kierland Resort in Scottsdale which is a category 5 SPG hotel located on a sprawling property with a golf course, pool, lazy river and spa center.

Although I didn’t take advantage of most of the resort’s amenities (I don’t golf, did not have time for the lazy river or yoga classes) I thought the hotel was great, and all for $129 a night (though the second night was free thanks to a free night promotion I had saved).

The room was nice sized – but nothing special, but very elegantly outfitted with small southwestern touches, and this lovely view of the golf course at sunrise.

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Thanks The Boyfriend’s platinum status we got free internet and access to the club lounge, which offered free breakfast and free snacks throughout the day. I wouldn’t call it a lavish spread, but there was a refrigerator stacked with free water bottles and diet coke, and that is really the most important thing. A girl’s gotta have her priorities.

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The lobby area


Snacks in the club lounge


The club lounge


The room

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The grounds



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The hotel from a distance

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