A throwback to the glory days of heart-shaped bathtubs and gaudy theme decor, the mid-range Cove Haven Resort is a couples-only property stuck in the summer of love in the Poconos. A honeymoon destination since the 1960s, this Poconos getaway has become an American institution whose founder invented the heart-shaped Sweetheart Tub. Nostalgic couples can immerse themselves in a fantasy of giant Champagne glass-shaped whirlpools and choose all-inclusive packages, though many find food mostly uninspired. Most guests will also find cleanliness lacking even if they appreciate the aging decor. There’s plenty to do indoors and outdoors year-round — including boating on Lake Wallenpaupack and snow tubing — but the hotel is definitely pricey for what it is and in need of renovations. Couples seeking something less themed may want to compare rates at the Mohegan Sun Pocono.
Located in Manhattan’s hip Bowery area, the mid-range, 200-room Sister City hotel has a sleek, minimalist design that prioritizes function and affordability. Compact rooms provide travelers with the essentials for a comfortable stay, including flat-screen TVs, rainfall showers with toiletries, and Bang & Olufsen Bluetooth speakers, though some past guests have complained of noise issues. While most guests spend their days exploring the city, there are a quality restaurant serving all meals and free coffee, and a cool rooftop bar with great views and an outdoor space. The hotel’s daily “Destination Fee” covers access to the tiny gym, free Wi-Fi, light snacks at the rooftop bar, and free coffee and wine at Floret restaurant. Those wanting an equally hip but more upscale rooms and amenities should consider PUBLIC, a trendy competitor in the neighborhood.
The mid-range Howard Johnson Anaheim Hotel and Water Playground is a great pick for families, with its own mini water park, large game room, and convenient location under a 10-minute walk from Disneyland. Clean rooms have soundproofed walls that keep freeway noise at bay, and are outfitted with an array of convenient amenities, such as mini-fridges, coffeemakers, microwaves, and free Wi-Fi. Some units have balconies and/or Disneyland Resort views, though non-renovated rooms are a tad plain and dated. A convenience store is well-stocked and prices are reasonable, but the hotel lacks a full restaurant. The on-site Disneyland Resort ticket desk, discounts for Annual Passport holders, and large heated outdoor pool are all great perks that add value. It’s worth comparing rates with the Hyatt Place at Anaheim Resort Convention Center.
The 216-room Holiday Inn Ocean City is a mid-range property whose top selling point is its location right on the beach, a short drive or bus ride from Ocean City’s attractions. Rooms are spacious and comfortable, with fully equipped kitchenettes, free Wi-Fi, and furnished balconies that offer at least side sea views. Unfortunately, bathrooms are small, and some are in need of updates. With indoor and outdoor pools, seasonal children’s entertainment, and a game room, the hotel draws tons of families. Business travelers and couples are also catered to with a solid restaurant, 24-hour fitness center, and meeting facilities. Travelers looking to stay closer to the action may want to compare rates at the Grand Hotel & Spa.
The 117-room Nipa Resort is an affordable, mid-range property with a laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere in the bustling Patong area, a 10-minute walk from the beach. A traditional Thai style pervades throughout, and the activity centers around the main courtyard pool with an adjacent bar. Rooms are simple but attractive, and well-outfitted with air-conditioning, minibars, tea- and coffee-making facilities, and shower/tub combos. All have furnished outdoor spaces, some of which have direct access to the main pool or a jetted pool. The restaurant serves international fare all day, though most guests report food being mediocre and breakfasts limited. Other amenities consist of a small spa for massages and wellness treatments, free Wi-Fi and parking, and tour booking services. Cheap rates make this a good value, but travelers willing to pay more for a stay across from the beach in Phuket should consider the upscale Holiday Inn Resort Phuket, which has tons more features.
The mid-range Residence Inn by Marriott Maui Wailea is a family-friendly property with 200 kitchen-equipped studios and suites a short drive from the beach, shops, and restaurants of Wailea. Contemporary studios have sitting areas, furnished terraces, and kitchens with stovetops and microwaves, while suites add separate living spaces and ovens. Unfortunately, some patios aren’t private or have unattractive views. Leisure facilities include a well-sized outdoor pool and adjacent hot tub, plus a basketball court, putting green, and 24-hour fitness center. A free buffet breakfast with items such as waffles, cereal, eggs, and bacon is served each day, and a pool bar operates all day, but there’s no full restaurant here. Overall, the kid-friendly atmosphere and home-like suites make this a better pick for families than couples. Travelers without kids should consider the Fairmont Kea Lani, Maui, which has a stellar beachfront setting.
The mid-range Mauian Hotel on Napili Beach is a peaceful oceanfront property with six standard guest rooms and 38 kitchen-equipped studios on the island’s northwestern coast. Features are limited here, as there are no restaurant, gym, or spa, but it’s a good pick for travelers wanting to cook themselves. A small outdoor pool, free-to-borrow beach chairs and towels, and free morning fruit and pastries are provided, as is free Wi-Fi, though it’s spotty. Standard rooms have microwaves, mini-fridges, coffeemakers, and air-conditioning, while studios provide full kitchens, dining tables, and sofas. In order to retain a quiet, nature-centric environment, there are no in-room TVs, though one is available in a common room with movies and games. Note that some past guests have complained of thin walls creating noise issues. There are some restaurants in the area, plus the two Kapalua Golf courses. Travelers wanting a true resort should consider the Royal Lahaina Resort, which offers a good bang for your buck with its array of facilities and room types.
At the southern end of the Las Vegas Strip, the 3,981-room, mid-range Excalibur Hotel and Casino is a gigantic casino-hotel with a strong focus on family-friendly features and budget-friendly rates. It was the largest hotel in the world when it opened back in 1990, and has a huge number of features to match, including four pools, a spa, multiple restaurants such as a buffet and steakhouse, live entertainment and — of course — a large casino. While much of the hotel’s common-area decor has a vaguely medieval theme (in a theme-parkish kind of way), the rooms are generic and typical of what one might find in a chain hotel, with flat-screen TVs and dated, but not unattractive, bathrooms with basic toiletries. Like most Vegas hotels, there are no in-room fridges or coffeemakers, and a daily resort fee is charged to cover Wi-Fi and fitness center access. The Excalibur is typically a more affordable alternative to the New York-New York Hotel and Casino across the street, which has a roller coaster, and the Egypt-themed Luxor Las Vegas.
The 388-room Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton is a modern mid-range property with a pretty oceanfront location a six-minute drive from Hilo International Airport. Although there’s no real beach here, there are an outdoor pool with loungers, water-sports center with snorkeling gear and kayaks, and a decently equipped fitness center. An on-site locally sourced restaurant and bar is popular with both locals and guests, plus there are a lobby bar and shave ice spot. Rooms and suites are contemporary and attractive, if a bit uninspired, featuring neutral decor, flat-screen TVs, coffeemakers, and microwaves, plus many have furnished lanais – some with gorgeous ocean vistas. A daily resort fee (common for Hawaii) covers Wi-Fi, a round of golf at the adjacent nine-hole course, and parking. This is a good option for those wanting to be near the airport, but travelers wanting a true beachfront resort should head west to the Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel.
The four-room Big Island Bed and Breakfast is a peaceful property on the Island of Hawaii’s less-developed southern coast, close to its famous green-sand beach. There’s not a ton on-site or in the immediate vicinity, so travelers should be prepared to drive. Low-frills rooms are spacious and have flat-screen TVs, bathrooms with toiletries, and fans, plus some add fridges and outdoor spaces. The 8,000-acre grounds contain a macadamia nut farm, and numerous fruit trees that guests can enjoy. A saltwater pool, ping-pong table, fully equipped kitchen, a few exercise machines, and free Wi-Fi are provided. Free continental breakfasts consist of yogurt, pastries, granola, and coffee. Unique additions include a friendly St. Bernard named Annabelle, parrots, and daily “Lava Shows” which are home video footage of the island’s 2018 volcano eruption. This is a good pick for adventurous travelers looking to take advantage of all the nearby outdoor activities, while travelers wanting more of a resort should head north to the 452-room Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel, which has a central beachfront location in Kona.