Tuscany Trip And Westin Excelsior Florence Review

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Love is in the air. Two different friends recently asked me for advice for their Honeymoons to Italy in 2012. I shared some specific advice on their itineraries and remembered I hadn’t posted my Italy trip report from a few years ago. As a result I’ll share a series of posts from our trip to Florence, Tuscany, Sardinia and Rome for one of our anniversary trips.

This was our first trip to Italy and we were so excited to spend 9 days frolicking across Italy including Tuscany, Sardinia and Rome. Our selection of locations to visit were based on cities with nice Starwood Preferred Guest hotels. For our next trip to Italy, and in particular Tuscany, we will do things a bit differently, more on that later. We planned our trip almost 12 months in advance to make sure we could book the hotel and airline awards. At the time I was a Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum member.

Trip Report

  1. Tuscany And Westin Excelsior Florence, Italy
  2. Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel Pitrizza Sardinia, Italy
  3. Westin Excelsior Rome, Italy

Westin Excelsior Florence Hotel

At the time we visited Florence the Westin Excelsior hotel was a category 5 hotel. This hotel was easy to book using points. Our biggest decision was whether we would stay at the sister SPG hotel next door the Grand Hotel (Now a St Regis). I could have booked 2 nights in Florence, 5 nights in Sardinia (1 night free), and 2 nights in Rome to save one free SPG night. Instead we booked a 3 night award stay in each location we visited. This was a complete rookie mistake and one I have avoided since this trip.

We booked a Delta Business Class award ticket from ATL to FCO for 100,000 SkyMiles per person. The flight was uneventful and we didn’t take pictures. The train ride from Rome to Florence was easy. We caught the train from the FCO airport to town and then from the Rome train station to Florence. In Florence we quickly picked up a taxi for the 10 minute drive to the hotel.

At check in we were upgraded to a Deluxe room, handed our key and escorted to our room. The hotel actually hands out real keys to guests, that is the old metal kind. When you leave the hotel they ask that you leave the key at the front desk. It is actually pretty neat to have a real key, but leaving it at the hotel made us a bit nervous for some reason. I guess we think when we have the little plastic key in pocket no one can enter the room, which is not the case at all.

We were certainly hoping for a nice top floor SPG Platinum suite upgrade. Instead we were given a deluxe room with a view of the side street. One early morning we were woken up to the sound of garbage trucks picking up waste bins. If you stay here make sure to avoid the rooms facing the back street.

A platinum amenity was provided at check in. When we entered the room we were surprised to see a bottle of Champagne welcoming us to the hotel, a very nice touch. Walking into the room you enter an entrance foyer. The bathroom was on the right. There was a small living area with no furniture straight ahead and the bed to the back right. The room was comfy for our 3 night stay. The only compliant was the morning noise and that the living room was lacking proper furniture.

The hotel concierge was very good to us. We used them to book museum tickets, reserve a car driver for a trip to the heart of Tuscany, and make reservations at a few restaurants.

Westin Excelsior Entrance

Hotel Entrance

Lobby

Lobby

Entrance Foyer

Entrance

Living Area

Living Room

Bedroom

Bed

Bathroom

Bath

Florence

The city of Florence was a great place to visit and see the tourist sites. For us, one night in the city would have been enough. We saw a Ponte Vecchio, the Statue of David, and the Duomo. We also visited the Uffizi museum. The line to get in was long but we reserved passes from the Westin that allowed us to save time by going to the front of the line.

Ponte Vecchio

Bridge

View Of River In Front Of Westin

Boat Race

Another View

Bridge 2

The Duomo

Duomo

Tuscany

I mentioned earlier that we would do something different for our next trip to Italy. The one thing we would change is to spend more time in Tuscany. We wish we had spent more time in Tuscany visiting wineries or relaxing by a pool soaking up the views. Next time we go to Italy we’d like to rent a Tuscany Villa to serve as a home base for Tuscan winery tours.

Since we didn’t stay in Tuscany but the next best thing was to visit for a day. We hired a car through the Westin and toured the area around Sienna for the day.

We visited a local winery and had an afternoon stroll through the small town of San Gimignano. We spent about 2 hours at the winery with some tasty wine. It was here we were introduced to the “Super Tuscan” red wine. We ordered a case and shipped it back home through the winery. We are almost out of the case we bought and think it is about time to visit Tuscany to replenish our supplies of some great Chianti, Sangiovese and Super Tuscan wines.

The Car Reserved Through the Westin

Ride

Beautiful Tuscan Landscape

View 2

Wine Tasting Room

Wine Tasting

Town Of San Gimigno

San Giminano

View From Restaurant Overlooking Tuscany

Tuscan View

View Of Vineyard On The Way Back To Florence

Vineyards

Bottom Line

We really enjoyed our time in Tuscany and plan to go back soon. This time we hope to stay in a Tuscany Villa rather than visit for a day. While the Westin Excelsior treated us well, we were not overwhelmed by the hotel or the city.

Sardinia was the next stop on our trip where we stayed at the Pitrizza Luxury Collection hotel. Booking the Pitrizza hotel in Sardinia was one of the most difficult hotel awards I’ve ever booked. But definitely worth the effort.

View From Porto Cervo On Sardinia

Port 2


Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or suggestions expressed on this site are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.

About The Weekly Flyer

The Weekly Flyer writes about travel from a business traveler perspective. He travels the world every week accumulating points and miles along the way. Feel free to reach me at theweeklyflyer@gmail.com

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Comments

  1. We had a wonderful experience with Rome in Limo driving us through Italy. Not sure how the price compares to renting a car, but compared to cruise ship excursions they were a little less and MUCH better!

  2. I love hearing about others experiences when I’m planning a vacation. My husband and I are going to Tuscany in October and I’ve been reading about others trips so that I can see how I should spend my days. I know so far, without a doubt, I want to see some of the infamous vineyards!

  3. Looking forward to a five night stay at the Westin Excelsior. SPG now let’s you book a deluxe room, even without Gold or Platinum status, simply by booking over the phone. Instead of paying 100,000 points for five nights for a standard room (15-20 meters), you pay 107,000 points for the deluxe (25-30 meters). It’s totally with the extra points to know you’re guaranteed a good-size room. (Also. The website doesn’t show them, but the Excelsior has a few rooms with a walk in shower, for those who don’t care for the tub/shower combo.)

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