Dubai & Mauritius 2014: Grosvenor House Dubai

This was our second trip to the UAE after visiting Abu Dhabi last year (St. Regis and Park Hyatt reviews), and we were much more looking forward to our Dubai trip since we found Abu Dhabi a little boring.

Despite our early arrival, the hotel gladly checked us in to our pre-upgraded room.  The room featured a separate bedroom and living room which is always nice–I really don’t like the word “junior suite” because it’s a contradiction (discussion for another day).

Bedroom

Bedroom

Living Room

Living Room

There was also a small kitchen/bar area and breakfast nook-type space off of the living room:

Breakfast Nook

Breakfast Nook

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Turkey & Greece 2014: Park Hyatt Istanbul

We arrived very late from our delayed flight from Athens into Istanbul.  Despite being lowly coach passengers (we paid for these tickets at about ~$120 each one way), our bags were among the first out of the carousel.  We’d pre-booked our airport transfers (IST-Park Hyatt-SAW) with a van company for 70 EUR round trip, and my name was among the hundreds waiting outside of baggage claim — seriously, I’ve never even seen 10% as many names on placards at any other airport.  We actually had to split up to find the placard.

What’s interesting about IST airport is that the name placard cartel seems to be extremely haphazard.  The guy who had our name placard also had about a dozen other names he was responsible for–as did everyone else.  When we identified ourselves, he looked at our placard for additional info and then called a number to let somebody know we’d arrived.  He then walked us outside to another man (man #1 at this time, goes back inside to deal with his other 10+ placards), who then called our driver, and at that point we waited about 5 more minutes before the van showed up.  At that point, man #2 goes back to the door, presumably to wait on more arrivals.  My guess  after looking at the whole situation is that the guys at the airport are there all day and may be paid some nominal amount per placard but don’t actually work for the van company as they seemed to have tons of different information along with the various names.  In all, it was a very interesting display.

Even at a pretty late hour, there was bad traffic in Istanbul, so the ride took us about 45 minutes to the hotel.  The Park Hyatt is not located in the “Old City” part of Istanbul, but it is located in what seems to be the very high end shopping district.  Basically, the “Champs-Élysées” area in Paris terms.  A new St. Regis is being built right around the corner, as well, so we may check that out next time. [Read more…]