Category: Travel

During a recent 8-day filming trip for the new luxury hotel TV show, Great Escapes, I was able to stay and film some of the best hotels in all of San Diego, California. When planning the trip I knew that I wanted to stay at a variety of hotels to make sure I was able to experience all that San Diego had to offer. Thankfully, I was able to find four unique hotels that were a perfect fit for the new TV show and diverse enough to reflect all of San Diego. For anyone who can’t decide on where to take their next vacation, don’t overlook San Diego as a destination. Here is my hotel review of our stay at The Lodge at Torrey Pines! (more…)

During a recent filming trip for the new luxury hotel TV show, Great Escapes, I was lucky enough to stay at one of the windy city’s best hotel, the Thompson Chicago. The hotel offers beautiful views of the Chicago skyline and Lake Michigan, all while being just steps from the famous Magnificent Mile. Keep reading for my in-depth review of the Thompson Chicago hotel and why it should be on the top of anyone’s list who is looking for a downtown hotel while visiting Chicago! (more…)

While filming for the new luxury hotel TV show, Great Escapes, I spent 8 days exploring San Diego, CA visiting some of the best hotels the city has to offer! Anyone looking for a family friendly beach resort close to downtown San Diego, the Kona Kai Resort & Marina should be at the top of your list! (more…)

During a recent filming expedition to Alaska to film for the new travel TV show, Great Escapes, Patagonia was kind enough to provide me and my film crew with some amazing wet weather gear. Even though we were traveling to Alaska in the summer months, it was still very wet and rainy the majority of the time we were there.

I wanted to give a big shout out and thank you to Patagonia for the waterproof jackets they provided that kept both me and my crew dry during the whole trip!

Check out the gear we wore and reviewed! Patagonia provided us waterproof jackets for our trip but did not pay me or my crew any money for this review. I was really impressed with how the gear performed and would recommend any of these three jackets to anyone looking for new wet weather gear.


Patagonia Triolet Jacket_Stocki Exchange

Patagonia Men’s Triolet Jacket

Patagonia Piolet Jacket_Stocki Exchange

Patagonia Men’s Piolet Jacket

Patagonia M10 Jacket_Stocki Exchange

Patagonia Men’s M10 Jacket

Away Travel claims that their luggage is made with unbreakable shells. So, we thought, challenge accepted. In the first trial in a three-part series, we took the Away Travel luggage to my local skate park and used it as a skateboard of sorts to see how it would handle.

Their luggage also features interior compartments, built-in USB chargers, dirty laundry bags, 4 caster wheels and a lifetime warranty!

For more information or to buy some of their luggage, visit: http://bit.ly/2vlVqnN.

With their Refer a Friend program, we’ll both get a $20 credit after your first purchase if you use the above link!

Away Travel Luggage_John Stocki

 

“The Department of Homeland Security plans to ban laptops in the cabins of all flights from Europe to the United States, European security officials told The Daily Beast. The announcement is expected Thursday.” states an article published by The Daily Beast on May 10th. (more…)

Check out this time-lapse video of an American Airlines flight from Santa Ana, CA to Phoenix, AZ made by Stocki Exchange CEO, John Stocki!

Related Article: VIDEO Review of American Airlines Admirals Club in PHX airport.

During a non-typical Monday-night trip in March, I headed off to film a new hotel feature segment for my new TV show, Great Escapes, where I visited a city within a city. A residential and resort community located on the shores of Lake Michigan, Bay Harbor is the epitome of Northern Michigan lakeside-side luxury retreat. The development stretches along five miles of shoreline and includes an equestrian, yacht, and golf club as well as being scattered with retail shops, restaurants, private condos and homes, and my destination, the Inn at Bay Harbor(more…)

Video Review of American Airlines Admirals Club Lounges in Phoenix, AZ

It’s taken me almost 15 years to fly another domestic airline other than Delta. Being from Michigan and flying mainly to east coast destinations, I started flying Northwest Airlines, which was acquired by Delta in 2008. When I moved overseas in 2007, Delta was already was my preferred airline as I had already racked up frequent flyer miles and they were almost a winner in the ticket price battle. With Delta’s announcement in February 2011 that SkyMiles never expire I had already accrued a few hundred thousand miles with most of my travel being long-haul international routes.

I recently booked a last-minute trip to Long Beach, CA and my options flying out my home airport of Traverse City, MI (TVC) were American, Delta, or United. This time American won the price battle and came in around $200 USD less than the competition. My total round-trip flight from TVC – SNA was $571.70 USD. Instead of flying in LAX, I found a much cheaper rate flying into John Wayne Intl. Airport (SNA), which was closer to my hotel too. I didn’t need any other reason to avoid the LAX craziness.

During my return flight, I had a 4-hour layover in Phoenix, AZ (PHX) and I thought that I would see how the American Airlines Admirals Club® (AC) airport lounge compared to the Delta Sky Club®, which I regularly visit during my travels.

Here’s what I experienced while visiting two of the Admirals Club (AC) locations inside PHX airport on Monday, March 20 from 11:30 am – 3:30 pm MST.

POSITIVES

  • Warm and friendly greeting from both lounge entrance staff.
  • Larger meals available for purchase ranging from $8-13 USD. (See menu below)
  • Cleanliness and presentation of snack and drink area.

NEGATIVES

  • AC between A19 – A21
    • Small lounge and was overcrowded when I entered at 11:30am MST.
    • Very slow WiFi speed (~8/mbps ↓ download)
    • Soft drinks must come from the bar.
  • Both AC Lounges
    • No self-service bar. All alcoholic drinks, both complimentary and paid, must come from the staffed bar.
    • Complimentary alcohol includes house spirits ONLY, domestic beers from Anheuser-Busch/Miller Coors, and one Chardonnay/Merlot wine from Flat Rock. Additional options available for purchase. Smirnoff $8/Absolut $10/Grey Goose $12, Premium Domestic/Craft Beer $7 and Imports $8, and Specialty Cocktails range from $10-12. (See menu below)
    • Food lacked seasoning.

Comparison to Delta Sky Lounge

Airline American Delta
Day Pass Cost $59* $59**
Yearly Membership $450-550 $495-745
Global Clubs & Partner Lounges 90 139
  • Delta offers complimentary premium spirits (e.g. Stoli, Bombay, Bacardi, Jack Daniels, Cutty Sark, Bailey’s), local craft beers, and many have self-service bars.
    • Premium Domestic & Import Beers are only $3 and Specialty and Seasonal Cocktails are $8.
  • In my personal opinion, the Delta Sky Club offers a larger variety of hot & cold snacks.
  • * Free and/or discounted ($29) daily lounge access with one of the Delta SkyMiles Credit Cards
  • ** Free lounge access for cardholders and guests with the AAdvantage Executive World Elite Credit Card

While day pass prices for both lounges are the same, their yearly passes range with Delta’s biggest factor increasing the price being the ability to bring additional guests into the lounge and American’s price ranges based on what status you are in their AAdvantage® loyalty program.

According to the American Airlines website, they’re currently renovating many Admirals Club lounges and are launching in the spring of 2017 their new larger Flagship® Lounges for qualifying First and Business Class customers.

CONCLUSION – 

While the experience wasn’t negative or bad, in comparison to the competition, the AC in PHX falls behind in a few areas. Both Delta & American have the same rate for day passes and are very similar in price vs. benefits for yearly memberships. The Admirals Club in PHX between gate A19 and A21 is small and can easily get overcrowded. Their WiFi speed was also much slower than expected for such a small lounge. When compared to Delta Sky Club that offers a self-serve bar with premium alcohol selections and a larger variety of snacks, the AC in PHX can’t compete.

Would I buy another day pass if traveling through PHX on American? No. The airport offers free WiFi through Boingo Wireless and plenty of restaurants to grab a quick meal. If you’re a cocktail enthusiast and have graduated from drinking house booze, you’re going to be paying the same price at the Admirals Club as you would at an airport bar. Just passing through and considering treating yourself to a day pass to the lounge? Skip it and belly up to one of the airport bars to save some money. If you’re already an Admirals Club member traveling through PHX, make sure you head to the lounge above Gate A7 and 9 and skip the smaller one.

Did you have a different experience or something else to share about airport lounges? Leave a comment below and I promise I will respond!


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