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Handlery Hotel and Resort - San Diego (USA)

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      04.12.2007 08:17
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      Great place to stay with fantastic staff.

      ***Background***

      When we were looking for hotels before going to Thomas Cook, The Handlery in San Francisco was on our shortlist. Of course we decided on the much more luxurious Westin St Francis to start off our honeymoon trip but when we were informed in Thomas Cook that there was one in San Diego, we were more than happy to give it a go.

      We wanted a king size room for two nights and noticed that there was actually a space on the booking form our travel agent used to write in any special requirements. She told us that they were very good at looking after honeymoon guests and always gave you a few extras so we were happy to go along with this.

      ***Arriving***

      We found the drive from Palm Springs quite quick along the major freeways and this was one section of our trip that we wanted to get out of the way, as we had plans to spend part of the day at Sea World. We found the hotel easily, as the Hotel Circle section of San Diego is well signposted and we had been given exit directions in our package from Thomas Cook. We soon realised that we were around 3 hours too early for checking in but this didn't worry us and we hopped back in the car and made our way along the 10-minute drive to Sea World.

      We ended up staying at Sea World until around ten o'clock to see all the evening shows there and we soon found ourselves in the wrong lane and missing our turnoff back to the Hotel Circle section. Instead we ended up driving aimlessly around downtown San Diego for around half an hour, as we discovered that signs had simply vanished. Eventually we noticed a sign taking us back to the freeway and found our way back easily after that.

      It was around 11pm when we arrived and we were extremely tired but the welcome we received was excellent. We were informed that we had been upgraded to the Fairway Suite, which was situated adjacent to the pool. We were also told that although there is usually a parking charge, this would be complimentary and that internet access was also free for us. I believe there is normally a charge for that at this hotel.

      We were given a map of the hotel and directed through the lobby to our room by a host of friendly staff. We got a little bit lost at one point but a kind gentleman soon came to our rescue and put us on the right track, holding the doors for us too.

      ***The Suite***

      When we opened the door with the electronic card key, we were immediately hit with the wow factor. Although not as luxurious as the room at the Westin in San Francisco, it was certainly a lot bigger and had so much space that we really felt good about being able to stretch out properly. The one thing that did disappoint us slightly was that the bed was only a queen size and I have to admit it did feel tiny after the huge king size beds we had been sleeping on recently. It seemed a little bit strange to us that they would have this room kept for people on honeymoon and not have a king size bed in it. We weren't complaining though as it was comfortable enough and had 2 huge pillows for extra comfort.

      The room was decorated with dark wood furniture set against cream coloured walls and it looked very bright and airy. The pictures on the walls and the artificial plants gave it a bit of a homey feel to it though and there was nothing clinical or cold about it. There was lots of cupboard space in various units and plenty of room for us to hang up any clothes we needed to. An iron and ironing board were provided, as was a trouser press and a shoe-buffing machine, which worked extremely well.

      As well as the mini-bar, there was a fridge for us to keep our own drinks in and a coffee maker with a good selection of complimentary teas and coffees for our use and more useful too was a proper kitchen style sink so that we didn't have to go through to the bathroom area to fill up the coffee maker. The work surfaces were sparkling clean, so much so that you could see reflections in the marble.

      The bathroom area was lovely with contrasting cream and black wall tiles to match the surrounds. Although it wasn't the biggest of bathrooms it was well laid out and there was plenty of room for us. The shower was extremely powerful and just what we needed after a day out in the California sunshine. There was a good selection of towels beautifully set out in the bathroom, as well as an airing cupboard just outside it that had extra ones if we required them. There was also a hairdryer in the vanity area of the bathroom and a socket for a razor.

      The free toiletries we got at this hotel were lovely and plentiful. Not only were there some sitting in the bathroom but also lots more in the airing cupboard too. These were a pretty standard collection of soap, shampoo, conditioning rinse and hand or body lotion. There was also a selection of small boxes, which caught our eye and we discovered that these contained shower caps. This wasn't something we used but I suppose it could be handy for some people. A big box of tissues was also on hand, which was just as well as my hay fever had started to play up a little bit after being alongside so many beautiful plants and flowers at Sea World.

      The one bad thing about the room being adjacent to the pool was that we felt to get any privacy we had to shut the blinds of the huge full-length windows and had to use the lighting in the room. It was a shame as the room looked lovely when it was filled with the natural sunlight.

      ***The Amenities***

      The hotel has many ballrooms and gardens for various functions and conferences. There was a conference occurring at the time of our stay although it was well away from our room so it didn't affect us at all.

      The pool was beautiful with a whirlpool area too. There were a reasonable amount of loungers and towels were provided in this area so you didn't have to take any from your room.

      Just along from our suite was the entrance to a fitness room. This looked lovely and clean with a good selection of equipment although we didn't try it out as we were feeling fit enough from all the walking we had done during the past ten days.

      The hotel has a restaurant called Postcards and this is where we chose to have breakfast on our first morning staying at The Handlery. There was a choice of a hot buffet or a specialised menu. We decided to eat from the buffet and enjoyed a good selection of bacon, sausage, egg, toast and croissants although there was also fresh fruit and yoghurt for those healthier breakfast people out there. We needed something to set us up for the morning though, as we had planned to go back to Sea World for a few hours more to take in the things we had missed the previous day and with our special tickets it wasn't going to cost any more. We were then planning to have a drive along the bay area and explore more of the city.

      We also returned to Postcards for our evening meal that night and we both thoroughly enjoyed our meals. I had a pork chop with lots of trimmings and my hubby had the steak. These were unlike anything we had seen before, as they were served in huge chunks rather than a slice. It took us quite some time to get through the huge platefuls and then we were a bit unsure as to whether to have dessert or not but we gave in and had some remarkably sticky chocolate pudding, which tasted amazing. The service we received was incredible and even with a tip it was extremely reasonable for what we got.

      ***Our Experiences***

      I have to say that we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this hotel. The suite was beautiful and the staff were amazingly helpful and friendly. We were treated like royalty throughout our stay and we even got a lovely surprise when we returned around 5pm from our second day out in San Diego. When we opened the room to the suite we could see that it had all been cleaned and there was a bottle of champagne sitting on ice along with a wrapped plate of six huge strawberries covered in a cream and chocolate coating. This just made our stay even more special and it was lovely to be able to sit and enjoy a glass of champagne after our evening meal that night. The strawberries were delicious and we were really pleased with the way we were spoiled.

      The room was amazing here and it's nice that they actually seem to keep this room for guests who are celebrating something special. It was clean and tidy throughout and the extras we received like the free internet and the parking helped save a little bit so we were able to treat ourselves on other things.

      The reception area and the restaurant were beautifully decorated and very spacious with good seating areas and modern fixtures and fittings. The cream walls and dark wood effect was again a feature here and this worked very well with more tasteful pictures and warm lighting.

      I would definitely recommend this hotel to anyone who is planning a visit to San Diego. It is excellently placed for getting to many of the attractions and the welcome we received was fantastic. The service really was second to none.

      ***Prices***

      We had this pre-booked through Thomas Cook on our package so I'm not too sure of the separate cost, however, I have had a look online and in August you are looking at paying around £70 per night for either a king room or a room with two queen bed in it. There doesn't seem to be any additional costs for the Suite that we were upgraded to and I imagine that they keep this for those couples on honeymoon or having an anniversary.

      The parking charges are meant to be $12 per 24 hours and you get a card that is then charged to your room. We were lucky enough to get this as complimentary to go with the suite.

      Our breakfast buffet cost about £15 for the two of us and our 2-course dinner cost just over £30 so we thought considering the portion sizes and delicious food that this was very reasonable.

      This review also appears on Ciao with photos.

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