About Sharon Feliciano


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Our Anniversary Staycation: The Awesomeness of the Hyatt Regency Bellevue

Our Anniversary Staycation: The Awesomeness of the Hyatt Regency Bellevue

I am not usually a fan of cutesy portmanteaus: frenemy, vaguebooking, they kind of drive me crazy. There is one exception to this rule: Staycation. A staycation can come in several forms. It can simply mean taking some time off and staying home, but my favorite kind of staycation is the kind where you play tourist in your own town. Super-Dad and I recently had a chance to have a very luxurious staycation to celebrate our fifteenth wedding anniversary. 

We headed over to Bellevue, WA, a short 15 minute drive from our Seattle house. Bellevue is where is Super-Dad grew up, and there was a time not that long ago that taking any kind of trip to Bellevue would have been laughable. It was known for it’s giant shopping mall and wealthy suburbanites, but that’s about it. In the past few years, Bellevue has had a geek renaissance. Microsoft has a huge presence there, T-Mobile is there, Valve (and Steam) are headquartered there. Expedia, Clearwire, Bungie, 5th Cell – all have Bellevue offices. It’s the age of the geek, and Bellevue is the place to be. No longer just Seattle’s dorky neighbor, it’s become a destination all on it’s own. We set out to experience it like tourists, and we had our expectations blown away. 
A particular quirk of downtown Bellevue is that many of the buildings are connected. You never have to leave the indoors and you can even cross streets using a series of skybridges. I had been to the Hyatt Regency Bellevue’s lobby before on a couple of occasions. It opens to a retail area on the lower floor where I’ve met clients for a coffee meeting. I also attended a fantastic event all about holiday tech hosted by the people over at Techlicious in one of the hotel’s spacious meeting spaces. During that event, the Hyatt Regency Bellevue showed off some of it’s cool tech (which I will highlight later), food, rooms and service. It was also at that event that I was gifted a night’s stay at the hotel. 

An anniversary card signed by the hotel staff!
I contacted the hotel a few days before we were planning on visiting to let them know that I would be coming, that I wanted to write it up as a part of this staycation piece, and that Super-Dad and I would be using the opportunity to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary. From that point on, we felt like rock stars. The hotel sent us maps,info on local hot spots and information about making our reservation at the hotel’s restaurant, Eques (not only for hotel guests, it’s one of the most popular brunches in Bellevue).
When we arrived, we were delighted to find that we were upgraded to the Kemper Suite, a gorgeous huge suite on the top floor. The room was awesome. Standing in the middle of two seating areas, a dining table that seats 8 and a kitchenette, we decided that when we renew our wedding vows in a few years we will throw a dinner party in the Kemper suite! There was a big TV, and a desktop computer ready to access the internet. Hyatt did a beautiful job of making a room that was both business friendly and luxe. We would have been as comfortable hosting a meeting as we were celebrating a weekend away.
The bedroom had an amazing king poster bed with some of the nicest linens we’ve ever experienced. Seriously, after staying there, Super-Dad suggested that we get new sheets for our king-sized bed, the flannel and t-shirt knit sheets are no longer cutting it. The Kemper Suite has a big soaking tub that is positioned kind of halfway in the bathroom and halfway into the bedroom which was fun because it gave me a view of the TV while I soaked. 
I have a real problem with people who greedily snatch up all the hotel toiletries upon leaving a room. Like, how many tiny bottles of shampoo could you possibly need? It has always seemed so greedy and unnecessary to me – until now. The Hyatt Regency stocks KenetMD bath products, and I’m only a little embarrassed to admit that we pocketed them all. I fell in LOVE with a minty pulse point oil that I swear has given me a little extra pep and patience when I need it. Super-Dad loved a combo linen/facial mist that had a light, spicy (cardamom maybe?) scent. I think we are going to have to go back and stay another night, because we’re both running low.
I could go on and on….we visited the Regency Club for some hors d’oeuvres and a cocktail, lounged some more in our room with a bottle of Hyatt’s exclusive Canvas wine, and enjoyed an early morning room service breakfast (before hitting up the Regency Club again for our mid-morning snack, before hitting up Eques for brunch -we legit ate like Hobbits on this trip). But I know the readers of this blog, and you want to know geeky details. 
What sets the Hyatt Regency Bellevue apart for geeks? It’s at this point that I have to mention the bedroom TV. Super-Dad and I love to settle into bed and watch TV. We have a 42 inch TV in our home bedroom (yes, we know it’s not ideal for sleep hygiene), so we were a bit disappointed that there was no television in the bedroom. As I was about to get into the bath, Super-Dad noticed a remote on the footboard of the bed. It only had buttons for up and down. SD pushed the up button and lo and behold, a TV rose out of the bottom of the bed – turns out it was a motorized TV console positioned to look like a footboard. The TV rotated in all directions, allowing us to watch in the tub, on the sofa facing the bed and in the bed. The TV WAS A TRANSFORMER, you guys! This was probably our favorite part of the room, because we are dorks.
Another favorite feature? Text based concierge. You can text the front desk to ask questions, have toiletries delivered, and arrange transportation or entertainment. The key cards are RFID enabled, so after that bottle of red we didn’t have to worry about sticking key cards in slots the right way, you just touch the key to the door. The lobby has two huge Surface coffee tables. We played a little piano and had a game of chess while hanging out in the lobby.
In case you can’t tell, we love, love, loved staying at the Hyatt Regency Bellevue. It’s right in the middle of everything (look for upcoming stories on the food we ate at John Howie Steak and the games we played at Lucky Strike – both within walking distance). Not only was it great for a relaxing couples’ weekend, but with a pool, the fun coffee tables, and the almost continuous availability of snacks in the Regency club, our kids would be totally at home as well.
I also want to take this opportunity to give a shout out the amazing staff. Every single person we dealt with from check in to check out seemed genuinely excited to work with us. It’s was a real delight to work with such competent, lovely people and it made our stay even more delightful.
If you would like to stay at the Hyatt Regency you can find them online here.

More Wearables! G G Watch R and Martian Notifier

More Wearables!  G G Watch R and Martian Notifier

I LOVE Wearable technology. Love, love, love it. It combines some of my favorite things; the ability to be always connected, metrics and data, and shiny jewelry and tech. Team Feliciano has tried tons of wearables, and we love getting the opportunity to try out more.

Recently AT&T Seattle loaned me some watch style wearables to try. For the past month or so we have been giving the Martian Notifier and LG G Watch R a go. Here’s what we thought:

LG G Watch R
This is a sexy watch. I loved the way it looked, especially it’s circular face with a true circular display (the Moto 360, a watch with a similar look and round face, still had a weirdly rectangular display that showed its bottom edge). It looks, for the most part, like a watch. Unlike every other smart watch we’ve tried, this one has a real leather band, which can be swapped with any appropriately sized watch band of your choosing. This is a neat feature that not only allows you to personalize the watch, but helps extend the life. The drawback here is that the watch face is pretty darn big. This is definitely sized like a men’s watch. I have very petite wrists and It was pretty uncomfortable for me to wear. Nate, at age 14, has wrists a bit bigger than me, found it to be just fine. After I deemed the watch too uncomfortable, he wore it for the most of the month.

The G Watch R is also a “Pure” Android device. it runs Google’s Android Wear, as opposed to a watch like the Samsung Gear, which runs proprietary software over the Android framework. This seemed to make the watch a bit more zippy, with virtually no lag. Coming off the Samsung experience, there was a bit of a learning curve with the interface. Not surprisingly, Nate was the first to really get it, and once he did he found it very easy to navigate.

Nate’s favorite features were the pedometer and the heart rate monitor. He really liked that there are many watch faces to choose from, and his favorite looked like a regular watch that had subtle dials for steps taken and current heart rate. We have offered him wearables that were simply for step tracking, but he has never really been interested. I think that the fact that the G Watch R looks like a cool watch, but has the ability to show steps discreetly makes this a health tracking device that even an image conscious teenager can get behind.

The charging situation with smart watches has been a problem since their introduction, and I don’t think that any of the ones we have tried have really solved that yet, and this is no exception. The charging cradle has the benefit of a magnet, which only slightly mitigates the awkward cradle fit.

It has a nice, crisp OLED display. The battery conserving properties of the OLED allows the G Watch R to have an “always on” mode that always shows the time, just another step towards smart watches actually working like a traditional watch.

Nate got about 3 – 4 days of battery life when the watch wasn’t connected to his phone (to honestly use it as a watch and not a “device” at school, it was better for him to sync it at home). When it was constantly connected via bluetooth, the battery life was about 2 days, which is pretty respectable, and a small improvement over other smart watches we’ve tried.

Nate was upset when I told him our review period was over and he’d have to give the watch back. This is the first piece of tech that I’ve brought home that has really gotten him excited. WIth a $300 price tag, I’m not sure that it’s in the budget as a gift for a teen. This is totally a contender for me to buy for myself once my current smart watch bites the dust, though.

Martian Notifier Smartwatch

We took this one out, and Kitty summarized all of our feelings about it pretty well. “PopPop would like that”. This is a smartwatch that is first and foremost a watch. It, once again, was too big for my tiny wrists (c’mon smartwatch designers, ladies like gadgets, too!). The face was a bit more comfortable for me than the G Watch R, but the rather large rubbery watch band once again made this look more like a man’s watch than a unisex time piece. The face size shouldn’t be too much of an issue on this one, a majority of the face is an actual, analog watch with just a small sliver along the bottom for the screen. Hopefully Martian will be able to offer a Ladies’ Notifier in the future. Currently the Notifier comes in red, white or black. AS with the G Watch R, the straps are interchangeable with any watch band, and the Martian also offers “quick change” watchbands in nine colors ($20) that can be swapped out without using tools.

If subtlety is your game, this is the smart watch for you. I can imagine this being used by anyone who wants to discreetly stay connected without the flash of a OLED, touch screen, and speaker equipped mini-computer. It syncs with both Android and iOS devices, making it one of the few options out there for Apple devotees. It will sync with almost any app that can push notifications to your phone. You can change the watch’s settings to vibrate differently for each app, a helpful feature for knowing which of your notifications need your immediate attention (waiting for an important text or email?) and allowing you to ignore notifications that can be saved for later (SportsCenter, Facebook, and Clash of Clans, all apps that can be set up to send notifications).

I love that you can set up the Notifier as a “leash”, it will tell you when your phone is out of range; and you can have the Notifier make your phone ring if you’ve ever misplaced it. It’s one of the valuable features for me, as I seem to misplace my phone multiple times a day.

There are a few detractors here, even when taking it’s purposely limited scope into consideration.

The Martian Notifier is *this* close to having the charging system I want to see in wearables. It has a port right on the side of the watch, and you just plug it in, which is awesome. The downside? The micro USB port is set really deeply into the side of the watch, meaning it needs a ridiculously long proprietary USB connector that seems really delicate to me. I didn’t have any problems when I used it, but being in an active household with two kids, I was constantly concerned that it would snap off the cord. The charging port on the watch requires a cover to be snapped into place to keep the splash resistant qualities intact. Yes, it’s splash resistant and not water proof, which seems a step in the wrong direction considering all of the other current smart watches are water proof. You could wear the Notifier while washing your hands, but you’ll have to take it off if you’re going to take a shower. It doesn’t have an onboard speaker, which is probably fine as I would imagine anyone opting for this aesthetic would feel pretty silly talking into their wrist anyway.

Two other points in the Martian Notifier’s favor? This is an affordable piece of tech at $130 MSRP. I also loved the five day battery life and the fact that when that battery does die it still works as…a watch.

Both of these devices are available from AT&T retail stores, your carrier or online.

Win a Red Boom Swimmer Speaker – A perfect Geeky Valentine’s Gift

Win a Red Boom Swimmer Speaker – A perfect Geeky Valentine’s Gift

We are media obsessed here, and with our Samsung Galaxy S 5s, we have taken to streaming shows while we shower.  The shower can be pretty loud, and having a waterproof Bluetooth speaker is a necessity.

I suppose you could also play some sweet, sexy tunes and run your Valentine a bath with, like, flowers or whatever, but if you’re a reader of this blog you’re just as likely to want to watch Game of Thrones during that bath.  Either way, AT&T has your back.  Their “Sweet Heart Sale” happening Feb. 6-19: Get 2 Boom Swimmer speakers (any color – though the red is especially Valentines-y) for $99. (save $31).

The Boom Swimmer Speakers are especially cool because they have a little bendable “tail” that allows you to hang it in a bunch of ways, and attach it to multiple things or coil it into a stand.  It also has a suction cup, for sticking to the shower wall.

Check out the Boom Swimmer Speaker and AT&T’s other gift suggestions at http://www.celebrateyoursweetheart.com/

Want to win a red Boom Swimmer Speaker, courtesy of AT&T Seattle?  Enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway