Tag Archives: Hotel

Indian Hindu Hotel Owner Provides Competition To The Bible.

by Anura Guruge

When I opened the bedside drawer
— to store my wallet, phone & car keys.

Both ‘Hindu’ books promote ‘Krishna’.

The Manager a very NICE Indian has this small shrine outside the main door.
One morning, around 7am, I saw him doing his ‘rituals’ by it,
wafting the incense all over his body — which is how I noticed.
Very cute & TOUCHING.

It is true that I no longer spend (at least) 3- to 4-nights a week in hotels as I once did — for around 12-years in total. But, I still spend more nights a year in hotels than most. So, I have seen my share of hotel rooms.

Yes, I have seen ‘The Book of Mormon‘ in hotel rooms before — mainly when staying in Utah. I don’t think I ever saw it along with a ‘standard’ Gideon Bible. I have never seen a non-Christian missive in a hotel room drawer, in the U.S., prior to this — & it is true that I have done NO international travel in decades.

Of the three hotels we spent a total of 6-days during this week-long road trip, two were Indian owned; one also 100% run by Indians. Only one of these hotels, & I will not mention which, had these Hindu/Krishna books. I thought it was CUTE.

I actually looked it up. There is NO REQUIREMENT, let alone a law, that says U.S. hotels must provide a Bible. This was just a convention — encouraged by the Gideon Organization (which provides the Bibles).

Hotels can opt for whatever, & I read that close to 20% now provide no books, whatsoever, in their rooms. Now that I think about it, that seems right. One of the hotels we stayed in, had nothing & their drawers had NOT been cleaned in a long time. I actually had to line it with paper towels!

Well, I just wanted to share this with you.

It is all good.

Check Category ‘religion’.

by Anura Guruge

‘Acadia National Park’ 2020 (COVID-19) Update — Mid-July.

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE & Enjoy. SMILE.

Click to ENLARGE & read. This is BAD. BIGGEST IMPACT!

Click to ENLARGE & get the gist here. From: nps.gov/acad/index.htm

The one road that is supposed to be CLOSED per the ‘National Park Service’. No big deal. Dirt road. I don’t think I have explored this road in YEARS. No loss.

Click image to access my post from YESTERDAY — with a LOT of pictures. SMILE.

Acadia National Park‘ is alive & well, as beautiful, enchanting & welcoming as ever.

It was CROWDED. Lots of folks. Look at the number of ‘dots’ on ‘Sand Beach‘.

There was also more car traffic than we were used to. Yes, it is true that we have never been in July. Our trips have been in: last week of June, first week in September & once in early March. And I know that July is said to be the busiest month. But, I worked out another reason for the increased traffic. NO BUSES. That is a shame. I noticed it within 20-minutes of driving the ‘Loop’. No buses. I can understand. I had not planned to use the buses — not on this quick trip. We do use them — it is what we do on rainy days. Take the 3(+)-hour return bus ride from Bar Harbor to Southwest Harbor.

Did NOT notice that the campsites were closed. Not that I ever take much notice of campsites. We met a number of folks who said they had come in RVs. Never asked them where they parked.

Just drove through Bar Harbor, at 8:30pm at night, on the way home. Did not stop. Fair amount of folks. It was busy. Not sure about social distancing. Lot of people congregating on the pavement waiting to go into restaurants! Not good. The stores looked EMPTY. They can’t be happy.

A few restaurants closed. A few motels closed — some for sale.

Well, that is my update.

Glad we visited. The drive was worth it. Fantastic place.

Related posts:
Category ‘Acadia’.

by Anura Guruge


Why I Drove 9.5-Hours (500-miles) For 8.5-Hours At ‘Acadia National Park’, Maine.

by Anura Guruge

Click pictures to ENLARGE.

Attribution WILL be enforced.

What we did during our 8.5-hours there.
I had it worked out in my head —
and, for a change, all went according to plan.

Teischan (14) & I were both having ‘Acadia‘ withdrawal pangs. For the last 6-years we had always spent 3-5 days in Acadia at the end of June. We would typically also go for another stay, 3-4 days in September. Between 2013 & 2019 we had visited (& stayed) 12 — possibly 13 — times.

Not going in June, because of COVID was a blow.

We are still doing some degree of social distancing. We have not gone to a restaurant or got takeout since March 22. I miss that terribly! I like eating out & getting takeout. Well, if restaurants were out, in kind of followed that hotels would be too. Yes, we could have managed something, but it did not seem worth the hassle.

Then Teischan suggested a DAY TRIP!

I calculated the driving effort. In my old age I had usually limited myself to about 6-hours of driving a day. Deanna couldn’t go. Such a long drive would not be conducive to her back. So, I would have to do all the driving. I thought about. I insisted that I need to be allowed a 30-minute nap before the drive back.

It worked out. We left at 7:19 am on Wednesday, & arrived back home at 1:20 am Thursday. I did NOT arrange for the time to be so convenient. Just worked out. It was a LOT of driving. About my limit. Took the Jaguar XJ8. That made a difference. That is a TRULY European touring car. It does eat the miles without taxing your body too much.

We had a BALL. Did a fair amount of hiking, climbing (mainly her) & walking. We bought food at a supermarket in Ellsworth before we got there.

All worked out.

It was CROWDED. But, we had fun.

We know the ropes.

Related posts:
Category ‘Acadia’.

by Anura Guruge


‘Canyon de Chelly’ — The Bell At The ‘Thunderbird Lodge’.

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE.

Attribution WILL be enforced.

Canyon de Chelly Thunderbird Lodge bell Anura Guruge

The ‘Thunderbird Lodge‘, right at the entrance to the Canyon, is the historic & iconic hotel at Canyon de Chelly. This bell has been there for ages. It is well known. I have yet to find out what it was used for. It might have been a meal bell given that it is at the back of the cafetaria.

Related posts:
Search ‘Chelly’.

by Anura Guruge

Have You Heard Of ‘Nelson Mandela Bay’ In South Africa?

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE and read here. Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelson_Mandela_Bay_Metropolitan_Municipality

Click to ENLARGE and study. That is where it is.

Watch this video and be entranced and captivated.

As with the “Nelson Mandela Capture Site Museum” that I talked about yesterday, I saw references to “Nelson Mandela Bay” while watching cricket from South Africa, on Willow TV (on my Roku 3). That name appeared as a logo on some of the ‘painted-on-the-grass’ ads that are now part-and-parcel of cricket grounds.

Every Time I saw it, I was reminded of the ‘Mandalay Bay‘ hotel in Las Vegas. So, I thought that it must be a fancy resort and wondered what it took to get his name. I did, however, make a mental note that I was going to look it up — when I had the time.

I did so yesterday.


Established in 2001. Wow. A population of 1.2 million. This SO GREAT. I am so proud and happy.

I wanted to make sure that I shared this with you. Take a look. There are good things happenings all around the World.

Related posts:
Search ‘Mandela‘.

by Anura Guruge

Flowers Of “Atlantic Oceanside Hotel”, Bar Harbor, Maine (Acadia) — March 2, 2018.

by Anura Guruge

NO post-processing whatsoever.

Taken with my new Google Pixel 2 Phone.

Click pictures to ENLARGE.

Attribution WILL be enforced.

Those of you who know this blog will recall that I have a thing about taking pictures of flowers and that there are lots and lots of posts with titles “Flowers of …“. Well, I just went and had a look. My last “Flowers of” post was from October 18, 2017. I guess that is why I got so excited when I saw these great flowers.

Two displays at the “Atlantic Oceanside” hotel we stayed at during our latest visit to Acadia National Park (our 10th in 4 years) last week. They had two gorgeous vases. The flowers were from a florist from Ellsworth.

I wanted to share them with you, if you too are missing fresh flowers.

Related posts:
Search ‘Flowers’.

by Anura Guruge

Top 25 Hotels In The U.S. Per “Tripadvisor” Traveler’s Choice.

by Anura Guruge


Click to access the complete list at “tripadvisor”.

I contribute reviews and photos to “tripadvisor” though I can never rationalize to myself as to why I do so other than for purely egotistical reasons. I have actually done 49 reviews and am just one review away from being classed a ‘Top Contributor‘. But that is all I get. Seems somehow wrong. You would think that they would give you some kind of travel points. But c’est la vie. But, also to be fair, I do use the site, albeit not that often, to check out recommendations, especially in terms of places to eat.

As for this list of hotels, suffice to say that I have not stayed at any of them and probably unlikely to ever do. But you might find it useful.

Related posts:
++++ Search on ‘hotels’ for other related posts >>>>

by Anura Guruge

Novotel Times Square, New York — Good, BUT Poor Room Design Choices.

by Anura Guruge

Click any & all pictures to ENLARGE.

Attribution WILL be enforced.

You can’t beat the location. Just a couple of blocks north of Times Square. [The hotel is to the top left, if you haven’t spotted the vertical sign as yet.]


You can’t beat the view either. This was our views from a “Time Square View” room on the 31st floor.



This is what I could see, from our window, with my Panasonic Lumix FZ1000 at 400mm zoom.


At 800mm zoom it was just like being down there with ‘them’.

We spent 3 days in New York City, prior to 2016 New Year’s Eve, staying (2 nights) at the Novotel Times Square Hotel. I booked and paid for a ‘Times Square View‘ room with 2 Queens. When we visit New York City the kids and I like a room with a ‘Times Square View’ (notwithstanding the higher cost). Deanna always says that it is a waste of money but then again always agrees that the view is ‘wonderful’ once we get to the room. In previous visits we had stayed at the Marriott and DoubleTree, both in Times Square. Having lived in Paris and with my adoptive parents having lived there from 1978 to 1992, I was no stranger to Novotel. I first stayed in a Novotel, as it happened in Paris, in 1983 when I was over there to do a seminar and my adoptive parents were in Sri Lanka.

Overall the Novotel Times Square is a great experience, modern, bright, very-hip and airy — with exceptionally friendly and helpful staff.

We could not complain about our Times Square VIEW from the room they gave us on the 31st floor (two floors from the top, in that it has 33 floors). Moreover, they gave us this room at 11:30 am when we turned up (with our baggage) though the nominal check-in is slated at 3pm. We fully expected to check-in our baggage and come back later for a room. Not so. VERY FRIENDLY. Very nice. They saw the kids. They chatted with the kids. They gave us a room on the 31st floor. Cool.

So overall NOT bad at all. We would stay there again.

1. Great location. 3 blocks max. from Times Square and easy access to Radio City and Rockefeller Center. There is, furthermore, a McDonald’s and (discount) convenience store on the same block — which is great when you are travelling with kids.

2. The view from our “Times Square View” room definitely was of Times Square, and from the 31st floor it was quite spectacular. The view of the Hudson from the windows by the elevator was also cool.

3. Friendly, helpful and ever cheerful staff, some of them French and others that could speak French, which meant that there was a French flavor that permeated the lobby area because you would invariably hear French being spoken or that unmistakable French accent.

4. Very compelling, very modern lobby/bar/restaurant area.

5. Very fine breakfast buffet, with hot American fare and a delectable selection of European cold cuts and cheese. (Also see below.)

1. No coffee maker (let alone a microwave) in the room. [Luckily the girls agreed that they could go and get us coffee from McDonald’s. That worked out well.]

2. The room, with two queens, was small, not cramped BUT with four of us you felt that you had to hunch your shoulders to make yourself small.

3. The lighting bathroom — from BUT one ‘low energy’ light frame around the bathroom mirror — was woeful and TOTALLY inadequate. See picture in gallery below. You can’t miss it. This was beyond a joke. It was DARK in the bathroom. You were constantly reaching out to see if there was another light switch. This was stupid.

4. The Wi-Fi was adequate BUT each time you signed-in (which was quite often) they tried, hard, to sell you an upgrade for $15/day. When I am paying $500/night for a room it kind of feels insulting to be asked to pay more to get better Wi-Fi.

5. Lobby is NOT on street level and one cannot get from room to street WITHOUT changing elevators. The Lobby is effectively 7 floors up from the street. 2 slow elevators Lobby <-> street. There were lines for these 2 elevators. To get to the stairs, you had to go OUTSIDE (in the rain) — and they were service/emergency stairs, badly maintained. That was a hassle (though I took the stairs, for the exercise, a few times).

6. Paucity of drawers, especially by the beds! Yes, very modern shelves BUT no drawers and what was infuriating was that there was clearly plenty of space, below the shelves, to fit in some nice, useful drawers. I like to have a drawer by my bed to put my wallet, glasses etc. That was again stupid. See the gallery below to see what I mean.

7. The breakfast buffet as mentioned above was very good, but at nearly $29 per adult (before tip) is expensive THOUGH the kids (under 16) eat FREE made it worthwhile for us (with our 2).

8. $1 an item check-in fee for baggage. Not unreasonable and I normally give this as a tip anyway, BUT seems ‘cheap’ to ask guests to pay this just after they have paid $1,300+ for a 2 night stay.

Click to ENLARGE.

Inside the room.

The Hotel.

More views from the room.

Related Posts:
++++ Check Category ‘Sri Lankafor other related posts >>>>

by Anura Guruge

“Shake Shack”, Theater District, New York Was Mobbed Over Christmas — I Am Thrilled.

by Anura Guruge

Click to ENLARGE.

There are NO, alas and alack, ‘Shake Shacks‘ in poor ‘you guys spend all your money on heating’ New Hampshire. The nearest ‘Shake Shack’ is in Massachusetts, Harvard Square. I had never been to a ‘Shake Shack’ and really wanted to try them out since I had heard so often, albeit in the financial media, that they had the BEST burgers in the known universe. Plus, based on the hype prior to their IPO last year, I did buy some SHAK over the Summer.

On our way to Philadelphia last May, to pick up our Jaguar XJ8, we did partake in a great lunch at the Times SquareWhite Castle“. We all agreed that their sliders were as good, if not better, than what folks had raved about. Now we needed to check out ‘Shake Shack’.

Even prior to arriving in New York City, on Monday, December 28, 2015, I had already announced, having checked the locations online, that we would be having dinner at the SHAK our first night in NYC. Well that proved NOT to be the case. Oh, YES, we did walk down to the one in the Theater District, 8th Avenue & 44th Street, from the Novotel Times Square hotel (7th & 51st) where we were staying, around 7:30pm in the cold drizzle that had just started.

We could NOT believe it. It was MOBBED. The line was out of the door and halfway up the block — and there was a fair amount of cold, near freezing precipitation (i.e., freezing rain). The inside was packed. So we gave it a miss that night.

The next day, Tuesday, we went to the 2pm matinee of the “Phantom of the Opera“. SHAK is just around the corner from the Majestic. So at 5pm we walked across. There was still a line and it was PACKED inside. But I insisted. They are slick. As a SHAREHOLDER I was thrilled. They hand out menus while you are still in line so that you can formulate your order before you get to the counter. That helps.

I had the “Shake Stack” and a glass of their house red wine. Deanna and the kids had shakes, burgers and fries. The ‘Stack’, a cheeseburger with a cheese-stuffed portobello mushroom, was delectable. The wine wasn’t bad. The girls liked the shakes. It was PACKED, elbow-to-elbow. But as a SHAREHOLDER I was delighted.

SHAK will go far. I am LONG. I am holding onto that puppy.

In Philadelphia, New Year’s Eve, because it was handy, we ended up going to a ‘BurgerFi‘ — kind of opposite ‘Reading Market‘. They are, of course, in direct competition with SHAK with a similar menu. The Philly location was not packed — BUT Philly was remarkably empty given the crush in NY. The food was good. I was impressed. They did not have any wine or beer. I still liked SHAK better — but I am biased.

Related posts:
++++ Check Categories ‘Restaurants’, ‘Recommendations’ & ‘Investments’ >>>>

by Anura Guruge

Free Holiday Parking In Portsmouth, NH: December 14, 2012 to January 2, 2012.

Anura Guruge, laughing, picture November 16, 2011.

by Anura Guruge

Related post:
>> We Did 2012 Thanksgiving Brunch At The Sheraton, Portsmouth, NH.
>>Nov. 16, 2012.

Deanna had seen this on Facebook and happened to mention it when we were in Portsmouth for Thanksgiving.

Given that parking, understandably, is a big revenue source, I was curious and decided to check. I am glad I did.

It appears that providing free holiday parking is now becoming a holiday tradition in Portsmouth. Bravo. But, it is carefully controlled.
If you just do a quick Google the entry you most likely get is for the ‘2011’, and the dates are slightly different. I nearly fell for that.

I ended up finding the actual meeting minutes, from Nov. 15, 2012, when it was approved. Contrary to what some had imagined it is not from Thanksgiving onwards. That would have been ultra generous and a huge drain on funds.

Extract from the actual town meeting that approved the free parking. Click if you want to access the original, as a PDF.

Extract from the actual town meeting that approved the free parking. Click if you want to access the original, as a PDF.

One of the many fine colonial houses in Portsmouth. This was opposite the Sheraton. Deanna took a picture. Click to ENLARGE. You can see the moon.

One of the many fine colonial houses in Portsmouth. This was opposite the Sheraton. Deanna took a picture. Click to ENLARGE. You can see the moon.

Christmas window basket in Portsmouth that tickled Deanna. On the road to the side of the Sheraton. Click to ENLARGE.

Christmas window basket in Portsmouth that tickled Deanna. On the road to the side of the Sheraton. Click to ENLARGE.

It is indeed a welcoming city, my 2nd favorite in NH. I used to live a similar distance away from the REAL Portsmouth, once a famed naval port. The real Portsmouth is bigger, the newer one is cuter. Click to ENLARGE. The real one has a big cricket ground too.

It is indeed a welcoming city, my 2nd favorite in NH. I used to live a similar distance away from the REAL Portsmouth, once a famed naval port. The real Portsmouth is bigger, the newer one is cuter. Click to ENLARGE. The real one has a big cricket ground too.