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If you know me you know I travel for a living.  By the end of December 2015 I had traveled nearly 100,000 air miles and visited 26 states and multiple cities.  I’ve been to San Diego and San Francisco, Las Vegas and Salt Lake City, Washington D.C. and Norfolk, Charleston and Richmond, St. Louis and Kansas City, and many other cities.  During my travels I’ve made a mental list of favorites:  Hotels, airports, restaurants, rental cars, and cities.  I’ve been asked by some friends to share my experiences so here we go.  You may agree or disagree with my choices and that’s okay.  I’ll try to quantify how I make these decisions and will include “best” and “worst” in every category.  So strap on, put on your traveling shoes, and let’s get started.

Best airline-United.  Winner by default since I fly UAL every chance I get.  I have most of my air miles on UAL and only fly another airline when United doesn’t go where I need to go.  They are on time most of the time and most of the aircraft are reasonably comfortable.

Worst airline-It’s a tie.  American/U.S. Airways and Frontier.  I have had too many bad experiences with these companies to detail and will never fly one of these airlines unless they are the last plane on earth going where I need to go.  If you want details shoot me an e-mail.

Best airport-This is a tough one.  Seattle has the best food hands down.  Long Beach is the most attractive.  Salt Lake City is the easiest to get in and out of.  Toledo is the most convenient.  If I had to choose an overall winner I would say Orange County/John Wayne is my favorite overall.  It has the rental cars on site, it’s easy to access, and most important of all, it has tons of outlets for charging devices. Dishonorable mention-It pains me to say this but….Denver International Airport…for one reason:  The paucity of outlets to charge your devices.  Though it’s getting better, most of the United Airline gates have only 1 or 2 outlets.  Other than that it’s a pretty darn nice airport.

Worst airport-A 3 way tie.  Chicago O’Hare because it’s so difficult to get from concourse to concourse when making connections.  Kansas City is just laid out in a stupid manner and they don’t participate in TSA Pre Check at the United gates.  LAX is old and dirty.  It’s a hole.  Pick any one of the 3 for my least favorite.  Dishonorable mention:  Ontario, CA.  It’s a nice airport but the shuttles to the rental car facility are very small and they pack people in like sardines.

Best food-Seattle is the winner hands down.  I love seafood and can get good food at the airport and just about anywhere around the Puget Sound area.  My favorites are Anthony’s Home Port(various locations), Duke’s Chowder House on Lake Union, and Ivar’s Acres of Clams. For non-seafood in Seattle any of the Tom Douglas restaurants are excellent and lately when I get my friends together we have zeroed in on Emery’s on Silver Lake south of Everett.  On a recent trip to San Francisco I had a terrific Cioppino at The Dead Fish in Crockett, CA.  Honorable Mention: Houlihan’s in Hershey, PA.  The Angus Beef Pot Roast is the best I’ve ever had.  I’ve also had great meals in New Orleans, San Francisco, Portland, and great BBQ in Houston.  Eating well on an expense account is one of the greatest pleasures of business travel.

Worst food-Black Angus Steak house in Bakersfield.  Not only do they no longer have the photographs if David Stoecklein on the wall, the steak I had was hideous.  I asked for medium rare and it came out well done.  When I sent it back it came out raw.

Favorite hotel-At the moment the favorite, hands down, is the Embassy Suites in West Valley City, UT. (For that matter, I have enjoyed every Embassy Suites I’ve ever stayed in) Any time I’m visiting clients in the Salt Lake City area, unless it’s north in Ogden or south in Provo, I’ll stay at this hotel.  It’s new, it’s clean, and the rooms are fantastic.  Manager’s reception every day for free beer, wine, and drinks.  Free cook to order breakfast, Shula’s 347 restaurant in the lobby.  Coming in a close second is the Courtyard by Marriott in Tacoma, WA.  Excellent rooms and close to the Pacific Grill which is a favorite.

Worst hotel-The Hampton Inn of Tremonton, UT.  The walls are paper thin and if you’re not on the top floor it sounds like elephants doing burpees above you.  Sadly, when I have meetings in Tremonton it’s the ONLY hotel.

Best rental car-I occasionally get upgraded to a Mustang or Camaro and a couple of times I have found a Mercedes in my rental slot but I’ll limit this category to the “Standard” cars my company will approve renting.  For rentals where I have to do a lot of driving I’ve found that the Chevy Impala is the most comfortable standard rental vehicle on the highway.  Comfortable, roomy, and powerful.  Lately I’ve been getting Hyundai Sonatas and Chrysler 200’s both of which are nice.

Worst rental car-Chevy Cruz.  Besides being gutless wonders, these things are configured so that I almost always whack my knee on the corner of the dash when I’m getting in the car.  Once I was in a hurry and whacked it so hard my leg went numb for 5 minutes.  If I see a Cruz in my spot I immediately start looking for Hertz Gold Choice for anything else.

So there you have a small sampling of what my travel preferences happen to be at the moment.  Tomorrow I’m off to another city and who knows?  Maybe a new favorite hotel or restaurant.  Keep checking back for more info and contact me if you need restaurant or hotel recommendations.

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