Nightmare: Crowne Plaza Charleston Airport Conv. Ctr. Hotel

During Hurricane Irma my family and I voluntarily evacuated from Florida when we saw that Irma could arrive as a Category 3 or 4 hurricane in our hometown and be devastating. We decided to head to South Carolina, thinking it would be far away enough from the storm since Irma was turning northwest and was about 800 miles from our home.

Searching online we found Crowne Plaza Charleston Airport Convention Center hotel. Holding a 4.5 rating online on major websites – we decided why not and booked a stay at $135 a night for 3 days. The hotel was inland from Charleston – far enough not to seriously flood from any serious storm surges.

We experienced a nightmare stay there.

Everything started off alright when we arrived. Our first hiccup was when we sat at the bar after arriving and the bartender there was clearly ready to go home and waiting for someone to cover his shift.

He was irritable and unfriendly. He claimed his home was in a flood zone and he wanted to get some things done there. I definitely understand that, but why is that the customers problem? Some other customers showed up at the hotel and he was completely friendly to them, which was surprising.

The next day was a mostly normal day until we came home to our hotel room and found a ROACH inside our room.


Clearly the room had been sprayed with some kind of poison for bugs because the roach was upside down, but it was still moving and it moved when we entered the room.

I have NEVER seen a roach in a hotel room before. It was disgusting. I reached out to the hotel’s management and they told me something would be done the next day within 24 hours, but we never heard from the manager and nothing was done.

The next day at the hotel we found notices put up that the service staff was going to be limited because of Hurricane Irma’s outer bands. Some staff had left to flee the tropical storm winds and rain because they live in flood zones. Fair enough –  some prior notice would have been nice though.

There was no room service during our entire stay at the hotel even when the staff was actually there.

Due to the storm, changes were made to the restaurant. The hotel said they would offer buffet service at prices ranging from $10-$18 per person to make up for the staff shortages.


Then we lost power.

This was when we found out the hotel had no real generator. Only the lobby and hotel room keycards were on the generator. There was no Wi-Fi and no electricity to any of the rooms.

Most of the restaurants closed around us because of the storm and because of the electricity. People in South Carolina seemed spooked by Irma’s tropical storm winds and rain because they were hit by Hurricane Matthew.

However, in reality only flood zones were impacted and the winds were not beyond 25mph with some occasional gusts.

The bartender assured us not to worry because they would have sandwiches for the guests now that the restaurant had no power. Then we found out they wanted to charge $10 per person to make a sandwich with 2 sides and you had to make it yourself.


To circle back: the hotel had no electricity, no Wi-Fi, no room service, no restaurant service, and STILL wanted to charge guests for cold cuts and bread $10 per person?! It’s price gouging in my book and I made sure to alert the Attorney General of how a hotel treats people during a storm.

We literally had to shower and pee in the dark.

Most of the guests at the Crowne Plaza were from Florida, all seeking shelter from Hurricane Irma. It would been a kind gesture to maybe give guests a discount or some kind of food to get through the storm, but the hotel did not do that.

As soon as the hotel electricity received power over 9 hours after the power failed, my family and I prepared to shower, pack our bags, and get out of there as quickly as possible.

When we were checking out from the hotel, they didn’t give us a receipt and apparently they had no printer. We paid almost $500 and were frankly treated like trash.

Hotels are about hospitality. The hospitality industry is all about making experiences. No doubt the hotel was short staffed because of the storm, but they could have been more hospitable to their guests. They treated people with contempt and tried to profit off people’s misery.

What happened to Southern Hospitality?

I will never stay at a Crowne Plaza hotel ever again and I don’t suggest that you do either.

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I’a Poke serves delicious eats (San Francisco)

Poke (poh-keh) has taken America by storm over the last few years. Poke by definition is a raw-fish salad.

The Food of Paradise: Exploring Hawaii’s Culinary Heritage states that poke first became popular in the 1970s in Hawaii. The trend spread to the U.S.A. in 2012 and at some point began appearing everywhere. Many places just started chopping up fish and selling “poke” to increase sales with no real focus on the history.

Much like “Kobe beef”, “poke” has become a strong sales buzzword without much meaning at many restaurants. Some restaurants actually stay true to the origins of the dish though and use attention to how the fish is prepared and served. Once you taste real poke, the knock-offs just aren’t good enough.

The sushi burrito seems to have come about in 2011 when Sushiritto was founded in San Francisco by Peter Yen. Sushi burritos are essentially a closed sushi handroll packed with tons of rice and ingredients. I tried Sushiritto last December in San Francisco and found the dishes to be rather dry and not quite what I expected and was quite disappointing.

I ended up at I’a Poke by accident this past July when I was looking for a sushi restaurant for lunch and found that most restaurants in SF close at 2PM. After trekking on the BART to the Castro to try Eiji, I ended up going to I’a Poke instead and was glad I did!

The restaurant takes Hawaiian-inspired poke and combines it to offer both sushi burritos and poke bowls. Large bowls and Burritos are allowed to have unlimited toppings, which rocks.

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I’a Poke allows you to build your own poke bowls or sushi burritos and also sells pre-arranged meals as well. The freedom to choose toppings was expansive and a great deal. I wasn’t ready for how delicious the food was going to taste.

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I’a Poke opened my taste buds to how amazing poke and sushi burritos can taste. There wasn’t any topping that did not pack full flavors. The fish was insanely good. I had a salmon burrito with spicy mayo, surimi crab meat, tamago (Japanese egg), sun dried tomato guacamole, masago, furikake, and it was incredible!

It absolutely blew Sushiritto away.

Never have I tasted better ingredients for a sushi burrito and the serving portion was fair.

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In addition, the attendants who made the sushi burrito were incredibly hospitable and the overall place brought me very good vibes.

Cheers to all the poke lovers 🍻

A post shared by I'a Pokè (@iapokesf) on

Watching the people around me eat their poke bowls stuffed with ingredients, it was clear I need to return one day for a bowl. Still, the sushi burrito itself impressed me enough to also recommend the poke bowl (the ingredients are the same after all).

I would recommend I’a Poke to anyone in San Francisco looking for an amazing sushi burrito or poke bowl. Here’s hoping that I quickly am able to return to San Francisco and enjoy I’a Poke again.

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Restaurant name: I’a Poke

Neighborhood: Castro

Cuisine: Poke, Sushi Burrito

Address: 314 Church Street San Francisco, California

Menu: http://www.iapoke.com/menu

Website: http://www.iapoke.com/

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/iapokesf/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/iapoke

7th Annual Food & Wine Weekends Launch Party

Last week I visited The Waldorf Astoria Orlando for a private media launch party to the 7th Annual Food & Wine Weekends.

Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek offer a special menu every year for 9 weekends during the Epcot® International Food and Wine Festival. This year runs from September 8th to November 12th.  The prix fixe menus are priced from around $40-$60 and include 4 courses of eats.

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Things we tried include braised short ribs, risotto, carved beef tenderloins, chocolates, macarons, cocktail creations, sushi rolls, poke bowls, and more.

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It would be impossible to highlight all the food in a blog post, but let me say that my favorite thing was Chimay Braised Beef Short Rib with Risotto, Porcinis, Melted Leeks, Butter Squash, and Horseradish Gremolata.

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The short ribs came off the bone in a way that made my mouth drop and each bite was insane. This will be part of The Taste of La Luce at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek.

The sushi rolls from Zeta Asia at Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek were also delicious and hard not to keep eating. Guests were able to meet hotel staff and chefs who make it all happen. The staff is diverse and clearly a melting pot that is helping to land their restaurants on the top of some local lists in Orlando.

We also tried their private label Pinot Noir – Leatitia which is a Bonnet Creek Reserve from Arroyo Grande, California. It was incredible and I found myself going back for seconds, thirds, and more. You must try it if you visit these hotels.

The hotels are also in the process of making their own craft beer and have already created their own whiskey and tequila in collaboration with major national brands like Patron and Knob Creek. This attention to detail definitely shows an sharp focus on the customer experience that exemplifies the goals of hospitality.

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They showed us a signature Bulls & Bear’s Spicy Margarita during our visit made with Patrón Barrel Select Añejo Tequila, Green Chartreuse, St. Germaine, Organic Agave, Lime Juice, Gracias A Dios Mezcal, Avocado, and Egg White.

For a full list of the planned events for Food & Wine Weekends and to see full menus visit them online at: http://www.waldorfastoriaorlando.com/food-wine/

Wyndham Clearwater Beach Grand Opening – 1/21

Wyndham Clearwater Beach will have their Grand Opening event this Saturday, January 21st, 2017 from 4PM to 11PM with plenty of entertainment for the public to enjoy. The new hotel resort is located at 100 Coronado Drive, Clearwater Beach 33767.

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Book a room at wyndhamgrandclearwater.com.

Schedule:

4PM – Food trucks open and entertainment begins
6PM – Live entertainment on both stages
8:30PM – Laser Show
9PM – Fireworks Show
9:30PM – Headliner on American Stage

Entertainment: