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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Dubai & Mauritius 2014: St. Regis New York City

We flew to New York the day before our departure to Duabi for a few reasons, but mostly because with a morning departure out of New York, we didn’t want to mis-connect on a separate ticket.  US Airways has excellent award availability on the DCA-LGA route with more daily frequencies than you can count, and at 4500 British Airways Avios per person, it’s a great deal.

NYC

NYC

I tried to book an Uber when we landed at LGA, but he wanted us to walk about 2 miles to him, and with 2 weeks of luggage that wasn’t happening, so we hopped into a cab and quickly (for New York, anyways) arrived in Manhattan at the St.Regis.

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Turkey & Greece 2014: Return Trip from Istanbul

In this post I’m going to cover:

Istanbul to Brussels (SAW-BRU) in Turkish Business Class

Brussels to Washington Dulles in Brussels Business Class

The same car service that picked us up from IST dropped us off at SAW.  The cabs in Istanbul drive like bats out of hell (and made both of us very car sick every time), so a nice big van and driver with fewer dreams of becoming Jeff Gordon was an even bigger blessing than we realized–we mostly booked the service for simplicity.

SAW airport is located on the Asian side of Istanbul which we didn’t have an opportunity to visit on our trip.  Accounting for less time spent in traffic, it was actually only about 5-10 minutes longer of a drive than IST to the Park Hyatt.  SAW is also a regional airport with fewer flights, so we probably gained that 5-10 minutes back just dealing with a smaller airport.  Getting to see a little bit of the Asian side too–even just driving through on the highway–definitely made it worth it.

Unfortunately, while Turkish Airlines does have a large presence at SAW, they don’t operate their own lounge–which is a major downside given that their lounge at IST is considered among the best business class lounges in the world.  At SAW, all airlines use a contract/CIP lounge beyond security.  That said, for a contract lounge (which generally stink), it’s not actually terrible. [Read more…]

Maldives Trip 2014: Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island

Chauffeur + Washington Dulles Airport
Dulles to Abu Dhabi Etihad Diamond First
St. Regis Abu Dhabi Nation Towers
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island
Abu Dhabi to Male Etihad Pearl Business
Conrad Lounge & Seaplane
Conrad Maldives
Male to Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Business Class
W Hong Kong
Hong Kong Airport
Hong Kong to New York Cathay Pacific First Class
JFK Airport and AA Flagship Lounge
New York to DC American First Class
Hong Kong to Munich Lufthansa First Class
Munich Airport and Lufthansa First Class Lounge
Frankfurt Airport and Lufthansa First Class Terminal
Frankfurt to Washington Dulles Lufthansa First Class

[2 Quick Notes: 1) Not an illusion… I changed the year from 2013 to 2014 in the title because from now on events occurred in 2014.  2) Obviously our return trip changed from HKG-JFK-DCA to HKG-MUC-FRA-IAD since Cara has an unhealthy love affair with Lufthansa]

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi

We took a fairly early cab over from the St. Regis to the Park Hyatt.  We had our fill of Abu Dhabi proper and were looking forward to kicking back a little bit and getting “on vacation” after a corniche jog and breakfast.

We arrived around 12 or so, and not surprisingly our room wasn’t ready–I have absolutely no elite status with Hyatt, so I’m sure I was on the bottom of the list for early rooms.  They were willing to take a local phone # only (I bought a local SIM) and said they’d call me as soon as the room was available.

So having come prepared (dressed in bathing suits), we made our way to the pool for some R&R and lunch.  The pool area is down one level from the main reception and has a large pool deck with a “family” pool and an adults only pool.  Unfortunately, while the adults only pool was for adults only, the surrounding pool deck still had plenty of kids around.

Pool area entrance

Pool area entrance

The temperatures in January were just perfect — low 80’s during the day and mid 60’s at night with typically very low (at least compared to DC) humidity for the Middle East.
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Croatia Trip 2013: Le Meridien Lav Split

Dulles Airport
IAD-MUC
MUC Airport
MUC-SPU
Le Meridien Split

The water taxi ride to the hotel featured some amazing views of the Dalmatian coastline:
Dalmatian Coast

Dalmatian Coast

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

The hotel

The hotel

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Bali Trip 2013: Fairmont Singapore

Bali & Singapore 2013:
Preview & Cost
Dulles Airport
Lufthansa First Class IAD-FRA
Frankfurt Airport
Thai Airways First Class FRA-BKK
Bangkok Airport
St. Regis Bali
Qatar Business Class DPS-SIN

Fairmont Singapore Hotel

We're here!

We’re here!

OK… so I actually had a full report/review of this hotel done  a month ago, but I thought it might not have quite been fair.  Having just come from the St. Regis Bali where everything was absolutely perfect, I thought that I might’ve overanalyzed the stay and/or maybe noticed service imperfections that I would’ve otherwise ignored.  So I decided to wait a bit before publishing anything…

Having said that, looking back, I’m still really disappointed in the stay and still think we made the right decision to move to the St. Regis for our last night.  The Fairmont positions themselves as a luxury chain and the Singapore hotel in particular has really good Tripadvisor ratings.  But there was just too much that bothered me about this property–particularly given the normal price point.

We arrived pretty late–around 2AM after a ~20 minute ride from the airport, and a bellman greeted our taxi with reasonable speed given the late hour.  He was not there in time to open the door for us, but a bellman did do so every other time we returned to a hotel in a taxi, so it was most likely due to the time.  Our luggage was loaded onto a cart and we were shown into the lobby where 1 out of 2 staffed desks were occupied, so we stepped up to the open desk where the agent checked us in  expeditiously and assigned us a room on the 12th floor.

During the day (obviously)

During the day (obviously)

One more

One more

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