My Favorite Hotels, Resorts and Transportation Tips

Our guest post comes from Howard Hian who was recently awarded a Gold Medal/First Place Award from the North American Travel Journalists Association’s annual international writing contest.  His prize winning story, Houseboating with My Pirate Pals, was in the Intergenerational Travel category.  In 2010 he also received a second place award in the Cancun International writers competition for his feature, Quintessential Quintana Roo.

photos courtesy of Howard Hian/ ARIA at Night

Hotels & Resorts


Santa Barbara – Chic, sleek and cool, the Canary, is centrally located off State Street. Consider a long weekend, since there’s always something going on in town.

Temecula – Classy and elegant, the South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, features private villas and an award-winning vineyard. If you live in Southern California, there’s no need to travel to Napa or Sonoma. This prize winning, wine growing region is in your backyard.


Las Vegas – CityCenter’s crown jewel, Aria, is a must for your Sin City visit. Don’t miss their Spa or Sirio Restorante.

Reno – The Atlantis Casino Resort and Spa, recently spent $100 million on the resort and it’s well worth a visit. The restaurants, poker room and spa are outstanding.

Elsewhere in the USA

Chicago – The Hotel Palomar, is a short walk to Lake Michigan and a two minute walk from the Miracle Mile. Confession: I’m a Kimpton groupie. Look for their hotels anywhere in the US and you won’t be disappointed. They are celebrating their 30th. anniversary this year.

Columbia, Missouri – The Marriott Courtyard is on my list because of the friendly, welcoming staff, LEED certification and our two year old grandson loves their pool and spa. Go Tigers!

New Orleans – Houmas House

New Orleans – Take time for a side trip and overnight stay at Houmas House. It was a working plantation and antebellum estate in a previous life. It’s now a tranquil place with great food. It’s a perfect spot to recover from a visit to the Big Easy.

Santa Fe – The award-winning Inn of the Five Graces is an intimate jewel. The 24-suite hotel is unique in its furnishings and whimsical designs. Their rates include breakfast, parking, in-room refreshments, snacks, wi-fi and other amenities.


Cabo San Lucas – Pueblo Bonita Pacifica Resort & Spa, is Baja’s perfect spot to unwind; world class art, wonderful rooms, gourmet dining and an attentive staff.

Pueblo Bonito’s Pacifica Holistic Resort & Spa’s Outdoor Art Gardens

Puerto Morelos – The Ceiba Del Mar Beach & Spa Resort is an intimate resort that is bliss on the beach in Riviera Maya. They have an excellent meal plan option.



Chicago – Welcome to one of America’s most congested cities, traffic-wise. Going Green Limo uses hybrid SUVs, they’re committed to environmental issues and only a few dollars more than a taxi.

Seattle – Another entrepreneurial operation, Amy’s Limos started with one limo and they are now up to 25 vehicles in their fleet. Their services include transportation for city tours, proms, weddings, casino trips and, of course, airport pick-up and drop-off.

Portland – Ride the Red Line. The light rail system takes you from the airport to downtown.  It’s efficient, inexpensive and the best travel bargain for ground transportation anywhere I’ve visited.

San Diego – My hometown, go-to-guy, Nur at Regency Limo matches taxi rates in his spotless limos; good for around town or airport runs including LAX, Orange County, ONT and LGB. Plus, he’s a really nice person.


Acapulco – Complete travel information can be found at Visit Acapulco including transportation. Request Manuel Barrera as your driver through the website.

Cabo San Lucas – Private Luxury Travel provides everything from airport pick-ups, to tours and daytrips in their fleet of Escalades, Suburbans and spotless vans.  The staff is state certified and

Ceiba Del Mar

all speak English.

Cancun – Taxis tend to be expensive, but public buses to/from/within the Hotel Zone run often and are cheap.  You can wave down a bus anytime and they will pick you up, even if you’re not at a bus stop.  Additionally, the Green Line offers inexpensive transportation between the Cancun International Airport and town.

Manzanillo – Hectours specializes in transportation and tours. They’ve been around since 1986. Email them at for information.

Puerto Vallarta – For all sorts of outdoor activities, go to Vallarta Adventures. I’ve also taken their excursions in Cabo San Lucas and found the staff well trained and helpful in both locations.

Safe travels and enjoy the journey…

Howard Hian