Hotel Review: Izmir Marriott Hotel

Dan and I stayed at the Izmir, Turkey Marriott hotel for four nights in July 2023. We choose the Izmir Marriott over some other properties because the hotel looked nice online, was reasonably priced, and offered a rooftop pool and lounge, plus our trip was concentrated more on sightseeing than beach/pooling so the beaches surrounding Izmir did not appeal to us on this trip. This post reviews our stay in the Izmir Marriott, which we really enjoyed!

View from the Izmir Marriott’s Executive Lounge patio, which is just above the hotel’s main entrance.


Opened in 2021, the Izmir Marriott is a modern property located on the waterfront in central Izmir. Hotel guests can walk to numerous restaurants, shops and sites of interest, including the Kemeraltı Bazaar (that we toured) and Konak pier, from the hotel. The Marriott in Izmir is comprised of 8 floors, in addition to a usable rooftop and basement Turkish bath and spa.  During our stay, the clientele was mostly foreigners, including many Americans. The majority of the staff spoke good English, and we received a very warm welcome on arrival.

View of the surrounding area from the Marriott entrance.

The first floor and entrance of the Izmir Marriott is smartly decorated and holds the checkin area, as well as a coffee bar and the waterfront Lima restaurant, where a large breakfast is served daily, in addition to lunch and dinner. Guest rooms largely comprise the remaining seven floors. The Marriott’s fabulous spa is located in the basement level, and the main hotel pool and a late night bar and restaurant occupy the rooftop.


We booked a standard King room with a City View with cash at the Izmir Marriott, which only cost about $145 USD in July 2023. We also requested a  Suite Night Award (“SNA”) upgrade for all four nights that we had available due to our Marriott Platinum status, which we actually received (yay!).  In light of the SNA upgrade, we stayed in a Corner King City View suite, which offered both city and (partial) sea views.  As you can see in the below pictures, our the room is located on front left corner of the hotel and opened into a small hallway, with the bathroom on the left and a closet area on the right. At the end of the small hallway, the room expanded to include a very comfortable, and American style, King size bed, a  work desk, a small kitchenette area, including a fully stocked mini bar (for pay) and a coffee and tea maker, safe, hairdryer, a very chic chair overlooking the partial sea view, and a couch and small table on the opposite side of the room. The main selling point of this suite were the curved floor to ceiling windows on each corner, which was really very cool. We loved opening the curtains and watching the city go about its day, especially in the early morning and at sunset.

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Hotel Review: Poda Boutique Hotel, Ksamil, Albania

On trip to Albania and Greece last summer, Dan and I spent a few nights in Ksamil, Albania, a small beach town on the Albanian Riveria, just south of Sarandë, next to Butrint. We stayed at what may be Ksamil’s nicest hotel: the Poda Boutique Hotel. As I could not find much good information on this hotel online, here is my review of our four-night stay stay.


The Poda Boutique Hotel is located right in the middle of beachfront Ksamil, just behind the insanely busy and Instagrammable Poda Beach. Seriously, its a 1 minute walk from the beach and Adriatic. There are numerous restaurants and bars within a five minute walk (although some an uphill walk), as well as the tacky Ksamil vendors hawking trinkets and carnival rides at all hours. Despite the crowded beach and busy area, we found Poda to be pretty quiet at night and the hotel itself never felt too busy. Ksamil proper, including grocery stores, gas stations, banks, etc., are located an uphill walk from Poda. We made the walk pretty easily, but it would be annoying for anyone with any mobility issues, especially in the summer heat.

Poda Boutique Hotel.

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A Tour Of Cape Point – A Must Do In Cape Town!

On Dan and my trip to South Africa last year, we ended our grand vacation with a day of activities on the Cape Peninsula. This was the second time that Dan and I have done a tour of this area and, in my opinion, its one of the very best things to do in greater Cape Town. The natural beauty is outstanding, and I feel like one would miss out if this area was not visited. A lot of people do this type of tour on their own with a car, which is certainly doable, but we liked having a guide and the biking portion. In any case, this is a review of what we did on our most recent trip.


Our morning started with a pick up at our hotel around 8:00 AM.  Our guide showed up on time in a white van with several heavy duty road bikes pulled behind. Very intense. Luckily, we had eaten breakfast at the hotel, as we would not have lunch for a looooong while (although this was the tour, not lack of food or restaurants en route).

Our trusty van for the day, along with our bicycles.


After pick up, we began the gorgeous drive down the Cape Peninsula, which runs along the coast and is absolutely stunning.  We did not stop for photographs due to time constraints, but I took some shots from the van. If you are doing this drive, Muizenberg is a good place to stop, very popular with surfers. Its also home to those adorable multi colored beach huts that you see in pictures! You can see surfers in the back ground of the second picture below if you look closely.

A gorgeous drive down to Cape Point.

Muizenberg Beach in the background. If you look closely, you can see SO MANY SURFERS (the little black dots).


After about 40 minutes on the road, we reached Simon’s Town, South Africa. Simon’s Town is small town south of Cape Town proper on False Bay. Simon’s town is practically known as a prominent South African Naval base, but for tourists, its home to Boulders Beach! Boulders Beach is part of Table Mountain National Park, and its home to so many adorable African penguins. We parked our car in Simons Town and walked about 5 minutes (straight walk) to Boulders Beach. We paid the fee to enter (around $8.50 USD) and walked out to the beach to see the African Penguins! And we saw so many, including baby penguins that had not yet lost their brown fur! We also saw a few Dassies, or little brown mammals (similar size to a rabbit) that are close related to the elephant. Who knew?! We spent about 30 minutes at Boulders Beach watching the penguins. I would note that guests must stay on raised platforms and cannot touch, interact with or feed the penguins (they bite, and there is a fine involved if caught).

Simon’s Town – its very pretty. I would love to spend a weekend here.

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Restaurant Review: Beirut Sur Mer, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Beirut Sur Mer is a fun, local restaurant set right off Abu Dhabi’s famous Saadiyat Beach. Dan and I dined here on our last night in Abu Dhabi before flying to the Seychelles.  We choose Beirut Sur Mer because (1) we looove Lebanese food(!) and (2) I saw it on a IG influencer’s page and it looked delicious! The pictures ended up holding true – this was a great dinner.

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Takamaka Rum Distillery – A Must Do In Mahé, Seychelles!

One of the funnest things that Dan and I did in the Seychelles last November was visit the Seychelles’ very own Takamaka Rum Distillery (which Dan almost skipped!).  If you drink rum and are in the Seychelles, Takamaka is not to be missed!

A Takamaka banana Daiquiri.

Takamaka Distillery was started by a Seychellois family back in 2002 (under a different name). Takamaka is still owned by the same family and has a presence all of Mahé – a great success story.  While initial distilling began in the family swimming pool, Takamaka’s current location is at La Plaine St. André, which is a grand property dating back to 1792. Takamaka has already done a lot of work on La Plaine St. André, but is continuing to restore it and open more of the property to the public. I’m here for it!

The historic La Plaine St. André property.

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