Thursday, March 29, 2012

Using Social Media - Lessons to Learn

Thursday Thoughts, a lighter side ~ Engage and Have Fun with Social Media

(Harry, lounging in his easy chair with his feet propped up, is deep in thought and dreaming of going to lands far,  far away as he is browsing page after page of the internet travel blogs, travel magazines, and online travel ads)

"Maude, I just found a excellent trip for a really great value for us to take this summer; cruising down the Danube through Germany. Shall we reserve?" 

(Maude, active absorbed in her own Facebook strategy she just learned)

Image - DW

"Hey Harry, I think I have this Facebook thing finally figured out!"  

"Okay Maude, when do you want to teach me how to set up my page?"

"Well, I am not sure when I will have time to teach you or take a vacation because this is keeping me pretty busy right now."

"It is full time work! Every time one of my 500 friends I have found has a birthday, I go to our local store, buy a birthday card for them; and then go to the post office to get stamps and mail the card to them!   Whew! Happy Birthday"

Image by
Adriano Gasparri – Creative Commons
 Finding Ways of Keeping it Social, 
     and good for the economy too......... The Fun Tour Guru 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Familiar Hotel in Sunnyvale, CA - Silicon Valley - is now Dust

Today's travel tip ... are online hotel guides as up-to-date with reviews as we may think?

Silicon Valley – History is Going, Going, Gone to Dust

I love tradition.  Unfortunately, we must clear the paths of tradition and get ready for the next stage coming through.  At least that is what it is like in Silicon Valley.

As I was driving on Highway 101 last week, I saw this new change. I took the time to turn off the highway and investigate. Yes, it is true. The once familiar hotel landmark in Sunnyvale, Four Points Sheraton Hotel, some people may even remember it as the Sunnyvale Hilton has disappeared to dust. 

1250 Lakeside Drive, Sunnyvale - Hotel to Dust

Located on 5 acres near Lawrence Expressway and Highway 101, people will remember this property surrounded by a small lake as a popular corporate meeting and event place – and with a nice restaurant, bar lounge, and meeting room space.  I remember attending quite a few monthly association meetings and events at this hotel.

Is this your hotel room tonight?
Online Information on Hotel Buildings

It is interesting when I do a quick Google research about the current status of this hotel, I wasn’t able to find out too much about the change and disappearance of this hotel in articles. And seriously, how many of us take the time to research something like this? Please know the actual hotel website or corporate site (Sheraton) has been updated.   

It can be confusing to find many active postings from familiar online hotel guides which have not been updated.  I saw reviews posted as recent as 2010.  I did take the time to update Yelp and Trip Advisor myself through this research. (I noticed my Trip Advisor review is still pending).  How many people update real information like this?  The reviews I read were about service and how clean the hotel is. 

I know it is easy for local people to get information about this - what if you are on business from out of town - even international visitors, and looking for a place to stay from these hotel guides?   How current are hotel guides and travel articles ratings? Who returns back to articles and ensures they are updated after one or two years?
Do you know of any hotels that have disappeared? And, if you live in Silicon Valley, south bay area, do you know what is the new plans are for this property?

Please post your comments below.

Insider tip: 

Nearby, the Faultline Brewery is still very active (as seen from the number of cars in the parking lot at happy hour this same day) and is located on the opposite side of the small lake adjacent to this former hotel property, still with the lake view.  

Out and About ~ The Fun Tour Guru

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Kiss the Blarney Stone on St. Patrick's Day in Santa Cruz CA

Are we going to Ireland? 

Today’s travel tip, we will drive over the mountain back roads to see our local redwood forest rise up before us in search of our pot of gold. This is what Silicon Valley and San Francisco residents call going “over the hill” to escape into our leisure fantasies. Prepare to stop before you get even get to the ocean. 

Kiss the Blarney Stone, March 17, Skov Winery
Now let’s start planning for our trip. Please remember a few things with pre-planning of this trip ... and watch for part 2 of my story on or shortly after March 17. 

Okay, I admit, there are quite a few wineries in the Santa Cruz Mountains for people to choose for tasting and wine clubs.  How do you pick one?

As an insider, I recommend after you visit most wineries using the Santa Cruz Mountain Wine Association Passport, get on their mailing list, and start looking at the different fun events that happen throughout the year.

On the way to the Santa Cruz Mountain Wineries

As you already know from my stories, I am eager and ready to explore these local wineries. And, I still have not been to all of these wineries yet. Be careful and do your homework before heading out the door the day of the event.
  • Don't just look at a map, ask a local about directions
  • Are you prone to car sickness?
  • No other restaurants or convenience stores nearby
Many of the winery locations are on very windy, mountain roads. I am not surprised to hear frequent comments from other people not familiar with this region, “We got lost on our way last weekend” or “We enjoyed, however someone got car sick”.

Yes, the wineries are actually ‘tucked’ away up and down roads you may be hesitant to drive on. I have had to describe what these roads are like quite a few times as people forget about mountain driving.  These roads are great for horse back riding, a larger vehicle like a motor coach may not always be able to navigate them. It actually feels like you are driving for miles and miles around the curves, and without any convenience stops.

On the way to Santa Cruz CA
I remind people there are two routes you may choose, and sometimes what appears on the map the straightest way, may not be the best route. An example, if you are driving to Skov Winery, even though looking at a map it appears that you may take Bean Creek Road from Highway 17; I tell people it is faster to drive to Scotts Valley first and follow the directions to their winery.

The second tip if anyone is prone to car sickness, take advance precautions for them. Be sure to communicate about the mountain roads and let your friends choose their best remedy for the day.

Remember there are not many other stores and restaurants readily available near some of the wineries. Eat your favorite breakfast, coffee or whatever your morning treat is before your day trip. Bring along your picnic supplies and/or include a plan to drive into Scotts Valley or Santa Cruz later after the event. And, choose someone to be a designated driver.

Get Acquainted with our Newest Winery, Skov Winery

Next, start reading up about the variety of wines and history of where you are going to visit. 

I have known Annette Hunt, owner of Skov Winery, for several years.  I became acquainted with the Hunts when they bought the well known Roudon Smith Winery before this recent venture which they have embarked on last year, with Skov Winery. 

(I loved the history of two Silicon Valley engineers packing up their desks and starting a winery and even got to meet June Smith, former owner and Travel Writer)

They named this newest winery Skov (pronounced "sk├┤") which means "forest" in Danish, and combines their Danish background with the Santa Cruz mountain redwood forest.

Cheese and Wine Tasting at Skov Winery
Transitioning to their own one-year old winery now, I already know Annette’s events are well designed, fun, simply-elaborate to attend. Annette really does know how to seek out other vendors to pair up with their wines and events she is organizing. Annette and David Hunt are serious with their wines and always ready to share information with people.

I am anxious to find out all I can and see all of the new changes as I explore myself.

Irish Cheese & Wine Tasting at Skov Winery on St. Patrick’s Day

Yummy, I can't wait to sample the assortment of spring cheeses from the British Isles and paired with Skov wines this year.

And of course there will be many of their favorite scrumptious local honey, chocolate, baked goods and salmon-jerky makers out to introduce their products to you for sampling. This is great place to try out some of the best and local Santa Cruz products! As I mentioned above, Annette has a curious eye for picking out just the right match for these events. 

Leprechauns at Skov Winery
Let's kiss the Blarney Stone, and play with the leprechauns at Skov Winery on Saturday, March 17 from 12-4:30 p.m.

Where: Skov Winery, 2364 Bean Creek Rd, Scotts Valley

Contact:  Annette Hunt 831.438.4374
Ticket Price: $15pp or $10pp for Skov Wine Club members. No advance ticket purchase needed

Let’s have fun wine tasting while searching for our pot of gold!  
To be continued after March 17 ...The Fun Tour Guru  

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