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Some friends and I were heading to Panama City Beach, FL to do the Ironman triathlon. We of course needed a place to stay. My buddy Shannon had already been to this race a couple times, so we relied on his advise. He told us about Laketown Wharf and said they even had a deal on the rate going. I booked a room for 5 nights, and some of my friends also booked rooms there. We had to pay a deposit which I think was around a third of the cost. My wife ended up getting a job and was unable to go. And Shannon’s wife was also unable to go. So I cancelled my reservation and got a refund of what I paid minus $50. Shannon and I shared a room. I think we paid a little over $100/night plus some fees. Shannon and I split the cost. And they even let us add a 6th day to our stay at the same nightly rate.
The rooms was great. There was a master bedroom with a private bathroom. There is also a pair of bunk beds that are right next to another bathroom. The bunk beds were positioned right off a hallway, and don’t have a door for privacy. Shannon got the room, and I took a bunk bed. There was also a full kitchen and living room. We also had a washer and dryer. They gave on tiny box of detergent, but you might want to bring some. There was a free wi-fi in the room. We had a TV and DVD player. The room was clean and comfortable. Oh, and we had a balcony with an awesome ocean view. The hotel had several pools, but we only had a chance to try one of them.
The hotel was located just a short walk from the race expo, and transition area. On the days before the race, we would walk across the road, cutting through Pineapple Willy’s to the beach to do some practice swims. And Pineapple Willy’s also had a pretty good pasta dinner special on the night before the race for $10. There are a bunch of other restaurants within a short walking distance from the hotel. I ate at Waffle House nearly every morning, which was right next door. And across the road is a Walmart store to pick up anything you might need.
One minor annoyance was that check out was at 10am. We were working to get our stuff out of the room, and loaded into the truck, and our room key code stopped working before 10am. Daylight savings time had ended, and apparently they forgot change the time in the system that controlled the expiration of the room key codes. I had to go back down to the desk, get a new temporary key code. So I wasted about 15-20 minutes dealing with this as we were trying to get on the road for the long drive home. But as I said , this was a minor annoyance.
I would definitely stay here again. It was a great place to stay and very well placed for anyone doing the Ironman race. There were lots of other triathletes staying here also.

After I registered for the Boston Marathon, I started looking for a hotel. The first thing I learned was that hotels in Boston are very expensive! Maybe it is just around the time of the marathon, or maybe it is all the time. I don’t know. But I am talking rooms going for $200-$400/night being some of the cheapest I found.
But I have friend who have run the race before, and had some great tips. One of my friends is a local and suggested the Doubletree in Waltham. He said it was just over $100 a night, and was only a few miles from the T. We could take the T into downtown Boston.
I got online, and looked and sure enough, I got a room for $107.10/night for three nights. With the $31 in taxes, it came to about $352 for the weekend. That is about what it was going to cost for one night at some of the other hotels I looked at.
We arrived Saturday afternoon, and check-in was smooth. We even got a voucher for a free cookie. We made our way to our room.
The room was large, with a bedroom and a sitting room. The sitting room had a sofa, coffee table, dining table, chairs, and a TV. The bedroom had a king size bed, a desk and a smaller TV. Everything was clean. Something I noticed quickly was that one of the bedside lamps was missing the little plastic knob to turn it on. The other beside lamp had a CFL bulb that seemed to be going bad as it was very dim. Something else we discovered was that only one of the two room key cards we recieved, worked. I took the cards back to the desk, and they reprogrammed them. I mentioned the problems with the bedside lamps, but these were not fixed during our stay.
I checked out the pool. The pool area was very nice and included a hot tub which I planned to use after the race. The only problem I saw was that the pool was filled with kids. But I figured I would come down later that night after all the kids had hopefully had gone to bed. When I did come down that night about 9:30pm, there were still a few kids. I got in the pool to start swimming some laps. I wasn’t in the pool more than a couple minutes before a bunch more kids showed up and took over the pool. I bonked one on the head while doing backstroke, and freestyled over another one. After about 25 minutes, I gave up and went back to my room. Interestingly, the pool seemed to be salt water, and not the chlorine I am used to.
I checked out the fitness room and they had some very nice Precor equipment in there. The treadmills looked nice, but I was going to be running a marathon in a couple days, and they were not in my plans.
We were underwhelmed by restaurant which we visited on the last night. The food was okay, but not great. And the service was lacking. I had to ask multiple times to get my diet coke refilled. It was mostly ice, and I emptied it quickly, and I had to ask again multiple times to get a refill.
The desk staff were great. They day before the marathon, we asked how much it would cost to take a cab downtown on race morning. We were told they had arranged for shuttles to take people to Hopkinton for $20 a person. This was fantastic and saved us much stress, and allowed us to get more sleep.
There is not a lot of stuff right around the hotel, but there are some restaurants not too far away.
If I qualify for next year’s Boston Marathon, I would plan on staying here again.
The Doubletree Guest Suites Boston/Waltham is located at 550 Winter Street, Waltham, MA. The phone number is (781) 890-6767.

I was going to be travelling to Toronto to run a half marathon with a Canadian friend of mine. I asked her where she would staying, and she said she didn’t know. Her brother worked for some company where he could get discount rates at hotels. He was going to get her a cheap room. I asked if he could get me a cheap room too. It turned out could. We ended up getting a great deal on rooms right next to each other at the Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel.
My wife and I arrived on Friday evening, and pulled up to the entrance. They had valet parking. I asked if they had a parking garage, and the guy said no, but that there was one across the street.
He also mentioned the valet parking was like $40, and the garage was like $20. Um…that was a no brainer. I parked in the garage. The garage is connected to the hotel by an under-street tunnel which makes it easy to go back and forth.
Our room was on the 11th floor. It was nice and clean and had a great view of the marathon start and finish area.
The hotel has a great 25 yard indoor/outdoor pool. I enjoyed swimming my laps in this pool. It started raining a little bit while I was swimming, and every time I went into the outside part, I would feel rain drops hitting my back. This was an interesting effect. There is also a fitness room with really nice gym quality equipment. But they charged for it’s use.
There is a small shopping area under the hotel which includes a food court.
The hotel doesn’t have WiFi, but does have wired internet connections in the rooms. But they charge for the internet access. I wasn’t able to locate any free WiFi connections in the area, at least not from our 11th floor room, and with my laptop. Maybe a lower room, or with a laptop that has a stronger antenna.
We very much enjoyed our stay at this hotel. I would love to stay here again next time we are in Toronto if we could get the same rate.
Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel is located at 123 Queen Street West • Toronto, Ontario M5H 2M9. thier phone is (416) 361-1000.

This last weekend I was running an ultramarathon that started near Piseco, NY. My wife and I needed a place to stay. Last year we stayed in a room above a general store. It was okay. This year I was hoping to stay someplace a little nicer, and closer to the race start.
I went online and searched for hotels in Piseco, NY and found the Irondequoit Inn. I was thinking this was the place where we had eaten dinner last year. I was wrong on that. We had eaten dinner at the Oxbow Inn. But the Irondequoit Inn was in a great location as it was only maybe half a mile from the start line. So I booked a room. According to their site, they have 12 guest rooms. Most of them have shared baths. But a couple rooms have private bathrooms. I opted to pay a little more and get one of the rooms with a private bath. Since I planned to be getting up ugly early in the morning, I didn’t want to be having to walk down a hall to a shared bath to take a shower, or possibly have to wait if some other racer was using it.
I booked the room, and paid a deposit. Later they set me a letter wanting the full payment. Hey no, problem.
Check in went okay. The office window was closed. I rang a buzzer, and in a minute or two someone came out and showed us our room. We met up with a friend, and went out to dinner at the Oxbow Inn.
The Inn is old, but clean and in good repair. My commented that the room have used a fresh coat of paint, but I didn’t notice anything wrong with it. We had clean sheets, clean towels, etc. Everything was clean. The room didn’t have a TV though. Another thing about the room was the outlets were all an older kind without the ground plug. I had to plug my laptop into the bathroom outlet to charge it.
After dinner I wanted to just rest up for the race the next day. I booted up my laptop to search for wifi. I found a secured connection label Irondequoit Inn Wifi. I didn’t have a password. I also had questions about the timing of a triathlon that was starting near the Inn the next morning. I went to the office and rang the buzzer. It was only about 8pm, and they said not to ring the buzzer after 9pm. No one came. I rang again, and still no one. I guess they weren’t coming to help me. Oh well. They were probably working to get ready for the next day’s triathlon.
I sat in the guest room talking to another guest. He was using a laptop. I managed to get the password for the wifi from him. He also got online and looked up the starting time of the tri for me. So I knew it shouldn’t interfere with my early morning start.
The guest room had chairs, tables, books, and pamphlets for local things to do. No TV though. There was a fireplace with a double-barrel shotgun hanging over it. That would probably be nice in the winter time.
The bathroom in our room wasn’t anything fancy. Toilet, sink, shower. No bath though. I never checked out the shared bathroom.
Oh, and there wasn’t air-conditioning in the rooms. Our room had a fan in the window which was nice. My buddy’s single room didn’t even have a fan, and he complained that it was warm.
Overall, I liked the place. If I do the race next year, I will likely try to stay here again. It was comfortable, clean, conveniently close to the race start, and not too expensive.
Irondequoit Inn is located on Old Piseco Road (route 24), Piseco, NY 12139. It’s near where Haskells Road intersects Old Piseco Road. Phone: 518-548-5500. Since the address is kind of vague, the GPS coordinates are N43 26.838, W74 31.560.

My wife and I stayed at the Antiochian Village Conference and Retreat Center in Bolivar, PA this last weekend. It’s actually located on the outskirts of Ligonier, PA. We were invited to a wedding that was to take place there, as well as the reception. It was nice to be able to stay at the same place where the wedding and reception was held. We were able to walk to wedding, and walk back to the room after the reception.
The rooms were very clean. Cleaner than most hotels I think. One of the first thinks we noticed was there was not a TV in the room. There were two double beds, another single bed, a desk, a table, night stand, etc. My complained that the beds were too hard, but I found them comfortable.
The bathroom was basic with a sink, bathtub/shower. Again, it was clean. Small soaps were provided, but no shampoos, lotions, etc that are often found in hotels. There were plenty of towels and wash clothes though.
We explored the site to see what else was there. I think the site is used largly for religeous type meetings and things. The walls are covered with religeous pictures. The rooms all seem to be dedicated to the memory of someone or other.
There were no TVs in the rooms, but there were two TV rooms with couches, games, and coffee makers. The TV’s were un cable, but the reception was fuzzy. Like that had a loose wire or something.
There was also a fitness room, though it was locked when we found it on Friday night. When I walked by on Saturday afternoon it was unlocked, and contained some nice workout equipment. There were a couple treadmills, an exercise bike, etc. But by this time I didn’t have time to workout. Too bad I hadn’t found it unlocked in the morning.
There was also a recreation room with a pool table and ping pong table. My wife and I played ping pong for a couple minutes but gave up when it became apparent that my wife could barely hit the ball, much less get back over the net.
The grounds were nice, with a small pond and fountain out back. There is also a small garden with a bench to sit and look out over the water.
The facility also has various meeting rooms. The reception was held in one of them.
There was a grassy area across the road that has a pavillion. There was a group having a BBQ over there when we got in Friday evening. We found out later that it was people from our group. If we had only known.
They list WiFi on their website as being located in the Library and Lobby Lounge. I didn’t know this at the the time though. I was able to connect to the wifi intermittently from our room. It was a very weak signal. I was able to logon, and check my email and stuff.
All in all, it seemed like a nice place, and I wouldn’t mind staying there again. I do wish they had TV’s in the rooms though.
The Antiochian Village Conference and Retreat Center is located at 140 Church Camp Trail, Bolivar, PA 15923. Their telephone is 724-238-3677.

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