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Thailand Honeymoon Help for Nov/Dec 2018

Thailand Honeymoon Help for Nov/Dec 2018

Old Dec 21, 18, 10:43 am
  #76  
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Originally Posted by Beltway2A View Post
Ultimately I think if I stick with the St. Regis I'll switch over to a Virtuoso rate
with dynamic pricing it is silly to wait. Trying to swap something out of FHR and into Virtuoso is a lot of work. Cancelling FHR and booking Virtuoso is a lot less effort for all parties (well, except Amex I guess)
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Old Dec 21, 18, 12:37 pm
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The best idea would obviously be to cancel the FHR now, and rebook under Virtuoso or Luxury Privelegs/STARS. Thereafter, making downward rate adjustments is very easy if rates do drop.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 1:29 pm
  #78  
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Originally Posted by ABG View Post
with dynamic pricing it is silly to wait. Trying to swap something out of FHR and into Virtuoso is a lot of work. Cancelling FHR and booking Virtuoso is a lot less effort for all parties (well, except Amex I guess)
The best idea would obviously be to cancel the FHR now, and rebook under Virtuoso or Luxury Privelegs/STARS. Thereafter, making downward rate adjustments is very easy if rates do drop.
Is there an advisor/agency you'd recommend for that? I've made virtuoso bookings online before, but I've never asked (or thought to ask) for a downward rate adjustment. The FHR rate I currently have is approximately $200 (total) cheaper than the current Virtuoso rate, so I'm hesitant to cancel until I figure that aspect out.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 1:40 pm
  #79  
 
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Originally Posted by Beltway2A View Post
Is there an advisor/agency you'd recommend for that? I've made virtuoso bookings online before, but I've never asked (or thought to ask) for a downward rate adjustment. The FHR rate I currently have is approximately $200 (total) cheaper than the current Virtuoso rate, so I'm hesitant to cancel until I figure that aspect out.
Well, then keep FHR. Honestly, the difference between $100 and a meal at the hotel is trival. Indeed, the meal amenity for two people is likely worth more than $100.
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Old Dec 21, 18, 2:27 pm
  #80  
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Originally Posted by MikeFromTokyo View Post


Well, then keep FHR. Honestly, the difference between $100 and a meal at the hotel is trival. Indeed, the meal amenity for two people is likely worth more than $100.
Thanks, I appreciate the guidance.
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Old Dec 24, 18, 1:16 am
  #81  
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Hi all,

Sorry for the delay! I have been playing catch up at work post-honeymoon. I also wanted to wait a bit to let everything soak in and make sure my initial feelings still resonated weeks later. Please feel free to reach out with any specific questions as I'd love to pay back all of the help that was provided to us for such a memorable trip. Also, I tried to attach pictures, but it wouldn't let since my post count is too low. I will edit once I rectify that problem

Bangkok: St. Regis

What a great way to start off our honeymoon! After a long flight from Florida with a long layover in Dubai (which was fun!), we were ready to get settled if even it was only for two nights. Unfortunately, our room was not ready at check-in as we did get in around 9am. However, they informed us that they had upgraded us to a Caroline Astor Suite and we could use the spa and/or pool until it was ready. For context, we booked a base room with points for one night and paid rate for the other night. My wife is Platinum Premier Elite, which was recognized at check-in and I’m sure helped our chances of getting an upgrade on top of it being our honeymoon.

My wife and I loved the pool and spa facilities. Beautiful setup that provides a very tranquil space in such a busy city. It was a great place to decompress after all the travel. As 3pm approached, we each showered at the spa and changed to go explore Bangkok. We swung by the front desk to see if our room was ready, which it was not. They apologized and upgraded us further to a 2-bedroom Legacy Suite without us saying a word. This suite is only available on the top two floors of the hotel and the views from the room were incredible.

View from Master Bedroom:

Main room in 2 bedroom suite:


The food was very impressive. Lunch at the pool on our first day was delicious. We enjoyed afternoon tea on our second day at the St. Regis Bar overlooking the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. The breakfast buffet was one of the best of our entire trip. Endless amount of options and possibly the highest quality of food imo. We did not notice the breakfast being overcrowded, but that might be a byproduct of timing.

Overall, this was a phenomenal stay for us. The staff was very friendly and made it a point to make our honeymoon feel special. I can see how the word “sterile” was used to describe it as it is a very corporate, business-oriented hotel; however, my wife and I both travel quite a bit for work so perhaps that feels normal to us. Lastly, the location was perfect for our purposes. It was convenient enough for the sightseeing we wanted to do and within walking distance of Gaggan, which proved to be useful when traffic would have made us quite late. Quick side note, Gaggan was amazing and highly recommend it to anyone interested in going.

Chiang Mai: Dhara Dhevi

After a short flight from Bangkok, we were picked up by Dhara Dhevi’s car service. We were met by a hotel representative and experienced a slight delay in the vehicle arriving. We were informed that instead of a Mercedes-Benz sedan as had been described through email that we would be driven back in a large van. It was not a big deal, but perhaps the first red flag that this wouldn’t be a flawless stay.

Check-in was pleasant and we were upgraded again to a Villa with a Pool! It was ready immediately and we were able to enjoy the afternoon there. It was a beautiful setup for us. Very private and spacious. After heading into town to experience the Yi Peng Festival, we came back to our villa to sleep. In the middle of the night, my wife and I woke up to an odd smell. They moved us to a temporary villa as a similar one was not available. The next morning they offered to move us to a Villa with a Plunge Pool, which was our original booking level after the Colonial Suites were not renovated in time. While this was mildly disappointing, we understood the circumstances. However, we became frustrated later that afternoon when we saw bicycles with our old villa number on them. Either they fixed the issue and never offered us our old room or put new people in there hoping they wouldn’t notice. Our new villa was nice, but the layout was awkward and my wife did not enjoy the outdoor shower. Needless to say, we much preferred our first villa.

The pool and spa facilities here were also top notch. Both pools are very nice in their own way. We spent more time at the pool near the villas overlooking the rice fields. The spa is gorgeous and my treatment was amazing. My only complaint was that the spa did not have extra amenities such as sauna/steam rooms for use before or after our treatments unless booked ahead of time.

The food here was more hit or miss. The breakfast buffet had a solid offering of choices, but the quality was not quite as good as many of the other hotels we stayed at during the trip. Lunch at the pool was rather mediocre. On the other hand, lunch at the Italian restaurant was quite good and our last dinner at Le Grand Lanna was excellent. It has a great ambiance and the flying squirrels gliding through the trees was an unexpected sight. We also enjoyed the Cake Shop on property for coffee and sweets.

Overall, this was a stay with mixed emotions for me. The property is beautiful, but it is aging and it shows. The villas are nice and each one unique, but they might not always align to the preferences of the guests they are hosting. The staff is so nice, but they seem limited in their ability based on what they have to work with. I’m sure the Dhara Dhevi was a phenomenal property at one time and could be again with the right investment, but it wasn’t one right now. In hindsight, I wish we had been willing to spend the extra money for 137 Pillars as I think we would have enjoyed being closer to the city. Dhara Dhevi was only a 10-15 minute taxi ride into town, but it would have been nice to be able to walk. I think the best hotel in the Chiang Mai area largely comes down to this preference.

Golden Triangle: Anantara Golden Triangle

We booked Anantara to pick us up from Dhara Dhevi and drive us to the Golden Triangle with stops along the way. Mercedes-Benz booked and Mercedes-Benz delivered. Check. Our driver was very nice and provided an enjoyable drive. We stopped at the White Temple, Blue Temple and long-neck village. No room upgrade upon check-in, but our room couldn’t have been placed better. We were on the highest floor with a great view of the elephants down below and the Golden Triangle in the distance. The rooms are very nice and little details are well considered.

Morning view from our balcony:


We were able to briefly enjoy the spa as part of our complimentary massages with our honeymoon booking. Getting a massage with elephants making sounds in the background was oddly relaxing. The infinity pool is amazing, and we spent most of our afternoons here. The views are beautiful. I suppose I will include our elephant experiences here. They were a highlight of the honeymoon. We wound up switching our excursions around the night before to maximize time with the elephants and the hotel kindly accommodated them. We also added a private sunset walk with the elephants that I can’t recommend enough. The views from the top with the elephants grazing nearby was unforgettable.

Walking with Elephants Excursion:


Sunset Excursion with the Elephants:


The food here was good. Being an all-inclusive, I did not have high hopes for the food quality after being conditioned to subpar dining from all-inclusive resorts in the Caribbean. Nothing wow’ed us, but we enjoyed our dinners at the Italian and Thai restaurants. The breakfast buffet was fine too. The best breakfast though was the one we had on our balcony while watching the elephants in the fields. I guess that did kind of wow us haha.

Breakfast on our balcony:


Overall, this was a magical place that I would highly recommend it to anyone heading to Thailand to include in their trip. It was my wife’s favorite spot of the entire trip. I thought it was a unique experience unlike any that I have ever stayed in as part of a resort and has piqued my interest for similar experiences if anyone has recommendations.

Krabi: Phulay Bay, Ritz-Carlton Reserve

The hotel had a representative waiting for us at the airport and we were an easy 30-40 minute drive to the hotel. They had a nice, luxury van with captain chairs that made the drive go by quickly. Check-in at night is beautiful. The GM greeted us and graciously upgraded us to their largest Ocean Pavilion room. It was twice the size of a standard Ocean Pavilion room with a beautiful view of the bay. We were very grateful for the upgrade.

View from our room:


The spa and pool setup here were the nicest of any of the resorts we stayed at during our honeymoon. The spa treatments were top notch and we loved that it offered other amenities to us before and after. They even closed off one of the tranquility pools for me and my wife to use since they were not busy. The infinity pool is incredible, and we loved the swim up bar. The pool area wasn’t crowded, and we were able to secure a cabana every day without issue. It was the perfect place to relax. One area that is consistently pointed out is that there is no beach. We went over to Hong Island and it was enjoyable for a couple hours, but it is not something you would want to rely on every day if having a beach is a priority. Another activity we took part in was a hike up Naga Mountain. It took about two hours in each direction, but the views were worth it. This is located about 5-10 minutes from the hotel and their guide was helpful to have, but by no means necessary.

Hotel pool:

Boat ride to Hong Island:



The food was really great imo. The breakfast buffet was my favorite of the trip, which perhaps had to do with the complementary champagne/mimosas. We did dinner at the seafood and thai restaurants. Both were very good. We also splurged on a private dinner under the Sala Srichan. The food quality wasn’t great, but the experience overall was.

Overall, this was my favorite place of the trip. It is an incredibly scenic location, which I highly value. The staff went above and beyond during our stay. Our butler, Pin, was phenomenal. She took a picture of me and my wife our last night during the sunset. When we returned to our room, it was laying on our couch with our dog superimposed into the picture. They had put flowers throughout the room leading to the bath tub. The GM was always around and making sure our stay was amazing, which it was. I was hesitant to book this property based on some of the reviews I had read and advice given in this thread, but it was truly was an unforgettable stay. If there are better places nearby, then we can’t wait to get back and give them a try too!

Koh Samui: Four Seasons

Similar to the other properties, Four Seasons picked us up from the airport. This was a very nice Mercedes-Benz S class sedan. It was definitely the nicest vehicle of any of them. Check-in at the arrival pavilion is beautiful. The GM came running up as we were departing to our room to introduce himself. Very nice gentleman who has previously managed FS Langkawi and most recently FS Sayan. They upgraded us to a larger villa with a larger pool from our base room booking. They also included a bottle of champagne in the room with a tub filled with flowers. A nice touch to be sure. The view from our villa was very nice, but I would recommend requesting a higher vantage point if possible. I would imagine the views are better and most of the time you will be taking a buggy around anyways since it is as steep as most people have warned lol.

Room View:


The spa and pool are of very high quality. The added benefit here was the beach by the pool. It actually surprised me how nice it was. Maybe I had set the bar low coming from Florida and the Caribbean, but the layout, sand, and service were great. I could have spent weeks here. Unfortunately, the weather was a bit too rough to take advantage of the snorkeling in the nearby reef.
Main Pool:


Beach looking back at the main hotel area:


The food here was very good. It was probably the most consistent of the bunch. Contrary to other reports, my wife and I enjoyed the Beach BBQ. My steak came out rare plus every time and the lobster was great. The ceviche was so good. Maybe we just got lucky with our servings. It is expensive for what it is especially considering what can be found off property, but I would still do it again.

Fire Show at the Beach BBQ:


Overall, the Four Seasons was a very good stay, but it was never able to capture the magic of our previous two stays. I can see why it has such a stellar reputation here and elsewhere. It is a beautiful property with all of the bells and whistles. The service is very refined and the staff well trained. This was a noticeable difference compared to Phulay Bay and perhaps a byproduct of the different labor markets each property is located in. However, there was also a noticeable premium to this property versus the others and I’m not sure if it was warranted for our tastes. Lastly, the FS had a decent number of children running around as there are no split facilities. None of them were loud or problematic, but the previous two properties did not have any and that was kind of enjoyable during our honeymoon.

I hope this is helpful for those of you planning your honeymoons or trips. I am excited for you as that is part of the journey and no matter what you decided I can't imagine making a bad choice since Thailand is such an amazing and beautiful country.

Last edited by szacksanders; Jan 9, 19 at 10:40 pm Reason: Updating with pictures
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Old Jan 9, 19, 8:51 am
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Originally Posted by szacksanders View Post
Hi all,

(removing quote of very long post just above -- RichardInSF, moderator, luxury hotels and travel)
Thanks for the very helpful post! Had a couple of questions:

1) How did you get to the St Regis in Bangkok from airport and from hotel to airport?
2) Did you stay in Bangkok during the week or the weekend? Just trying to figure out why you found the breakfast to be less crowded than others have reported
3) Do you think being walking distance to everything in Chiang Mai would have made a material difference on your stay there? I am debating between the FS and 137 Pillars right now.
4) Any must do's or dont's in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and / or Koh Samui? Did you spend most of your time in Koh Samui at the hotel?
5) How long was your meal at Gaggan? I have a reservation but not sure I want to spend 3 hours inside a restaurant while Im in Bangkok.

Glad you had a great trip!

Last edited by RichardInSF; Jan 9, 19 at 11:47 am Reason: post shortening
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Old Jan 9, 19, 9:33 am
  #83  
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Originally Posted by SantiC View Post
Thanks for the very helpful post! Had a couple of questions:

1) How did you get to the St Regis in Bangkok from airport and from hotel to airport?
2) Did you stay in Bangkok during the week or the weekend? Just trying to figure out why you found the breakfast to be less crowded than others have reported
3) Do you think being walking distance to everything in Chiang Mai would have made a material difference on your stay there? I am debating between the FS and 137 Pillars right now.
4) Any must do's or dont's in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and / or Koh Samui? Did you spend most of your time in Koh Samui at the hotel?
5) How long was your meal at Gaggan? I have a reservation but not sure I want to spend 3 hours inside a restaurant while Im in Bangkok.

Glad you had a great trip!
1) I would recommend hotel car coming in for an early check-in. Unclear, if OP did this since his room wasn't available but this usually ensures you'll get into your room upon arrival.

5) Gaggan is TOTALLY worth your evening time. A transcendent dining experience and one that will not exist much longer in its current form.
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Old Jan 9, 19, 11:44 am
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Gaggan is about 2.5 hours during the first seating and close to 3 for the second seating of the night. The staff and their pacing is perfect and you won't feel as you suggest. Sit at counter if possible.

I hate hype-y places, but Gaggan is worth the price and more. It's a genuinely fun evening.
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Old Jan 9, 19, 8:13 pm
  #85  
 
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There are some pretty great rates at the Phulay Bay during the tail end of the dry season -- I'm very close to cancelling my stay at the Anantara Layan (our go-to Phuket property) and try out the RC Reserve...
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Old Jan 9, 19, 8:48 pm
  #86  
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Congratulations & thanks for sharing szacksanders

The new Chinese owners of Dhara Dhevi seem to be taking their time to improve the property . Pity . It was quite beautiful & enjoyable during the earlier MO management days during our stays .

Will likely stay FS again for future visits to Chiangmai . Fewer padi fields now , sadly , with more developments around though .
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Old Jan 9, 19, 9:11 pm
  #87  
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Originally Posted by SantiC View Post
Thanks for the very helpful post! Had a couple of questions:

1) How did you get to the St Regis in Bangkok from airport and from hotel to airport?
2) Did you stay in Bangkok during the week or the weekend? Just trying to figure out why you found the breakfast to be less crowded than others have reported
3) Do you think being walking distance to everything in Chiang Mai would have made a material difference on your stay there? I am debating between the FS and 137 Pillars right now.
4) Any must do's or dont's in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and / or Koh Samui? Did you spend most of your time in Koh Samui at the hotel?
5) How long was your meal at Gaggan? I have a reservation but not sure I want to spend 3 hours inside a restaurant while Im in Bangkok.

Glad you had a great trip!
1) We flew business class with Emirates and they offer car service. This worked out well with the exception of the room not being ready, but we did arrive fairly early. No fault of the hotel imo.

2) Wednesday through Friday morning stay. This definitely could play into it.

3) I think this is largely personal preference so hard for me to say. From my research, it sounds like either hotel would provide a fabulous stay. For us, I would have preferred 137 Pillars cause I would have loved to get up, walk to one of the awesome cafes, and experience the city the rest of the day. We did this one day coming from Dhara Dhevi and thoroughly enjoyed it. Plus we had plenty of relaxing hotels booked the rest of our trip to contrast that with.

4) Must Do:
- Gaggan: Yes, itís long. Yes, itís expensive. Yes, itís worth it.
- Elephant camp: if you canít make it to GT, there are plenty in or around Chiang Mai that seem to be ele conscious
- Cooking class: we did Bennyís Home Cooking in Chiang Mai, which was great. There are dozens and Iím sure most are great too.
- Naga Mountain: for those near the Krabi area, RC provides transportation and guide for an incredible hike. Iíll update with a pic once I get to my computer (along with the ones promised above).


Donít:
- Bangkok: Iím semi-joking cause my wife hated it outside of Gaggan and our sanctuary of a hotel. It was her first time in a city like Bangkok so think it was a bit much for her. I much enjoyed it but figured Iíd provide a differing opinion. Just set your expectations appropriately.

5) Yes, it was about 2.5-3 hours, but totally worth it.

Last edited by szacksanders; Jan 9, 19 at 10:48 pm
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Old Jan 10, 19, 10:13 am
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Originally Posted by szacksanders View Post

Don’t:
- Bangkok: I’m semi-joking cause my wife hated it outside of Gaggan and our sanctuary of a hotel. It was her first time in a city like Bangkok so think it was a bit much for her. I much enjoyed it but figured I’d provide a differing opinion. Just set your expectations appropriately.

5) Yes, it was about 2.5-3 hours, but totally worth it.
Again, thanks a ton! This is helpful.

We wont be making it to GT unfortunately. That was a bit outside of our budget, but from your pictures and description it looks amazing. I am sort of glad on your "Dont" suggestion for Bangkok since we are actually only spending one night there and that was one of the reasons I was asking about Gaggan (one night and three hours of it at the restaurant). Still debating it. You are also not the first person who has said Bangkok wasnt their favorite place (or your wife in this case).

On Chiang Mai, we are doing the Conrad in Koh Samui which is a bit out of the way, so maybe the 137 Pillars is the better option for us to be in the middle of the city. We are also finishing our honeymoon in the Maldives, which will be relaxing with nothing to do.

On your arrival in BKK did you go through Fast Track lane in the airport since you were business? We are flying first class on Korean Air and hoping we get the complementary Fast Track. They dont offer a car service unfortunately. I am debating paying the ~$90 for the St Regis car service which provides Fast Track, but might not if first class gives it to us.
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Old Jan 10, 19, 11:30 am
  #89  
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Originally Posted by SantiC View Post
On Chiang Mai, we are doing the Conrad in Koh Samui which is a bit out of the way, so maybe the 137 Pillars is the better option for us to be in the middle of the city. We are also finishing our honeymoon in the Maldives, which will be relaxing with nothing to do.
.
I was just at 137 Pillars House in Chiang Mai. Wonderful hotel.

First thing you need to consider is whether you want to be in the city (vs outside of it, at Four Seasons).
137 is fantastic though - I do think staff needs to be a wee bit more alert, but our butler was great, and once Anne was back on site things were running far more smoothly. She's also one of the most hospitable GMs i've met.
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Old Jan 10, 19, 9:45 pm
  #90  
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Originally Posted by SantiC View Post
Again, thanks a ton! This is helpful.

We wont be making it to GT unfortunately. That was a bit outside of our budget, but from your pictures and description it looks amazing. I am sort of glad on your "Dont" suggestion for Bangkok since we are actually only spending one night there and that was one of the reasons I was asking about Gaggan (one night and three hours of it at the restaurant). Still debating it. You are also not the first person who has said Bangkok wasnt their favorite place (or your wife in this case).

On Chiang Mai, we are doing the Conrad in Koh Samui which is a bit out of the way, so maybe the 137 Pillars is the better option for us to be in the middle of the city. We are also finishing our honeymoon in the Maldives, which will be relaxing with nothing to do.

On your arrival in BKK did you go through Fast Track lane in the airport since you were business? We are flying first class on Korean Air and hoping we get the complementary Fast Track. They dont offer a car service unfortunately. I am debating paying the ~$90 for the St Regis car service which provides Fast Track, but might not if first class gives it to us.
We had two nights in Bangkok and if I had to pick one over the other, I would pick the night at Gaggan. We saw the Grand Palace, plenty of temples, buddhas, etc. While they are interesting, there are plenty others across the country unless you have a specific site in mind in Bangkok that you deem as must see. We did not so for us Gaggan was a high priority.

I think you are correct in leaning towards 137 Pillars. With the Conrad Koh Samui and the Maldives, you will have plenty of time to decompress. Chiang Mai is by no means hectic so even being closer to the city won't feel overwhelming after long travel.

We did receive Fast Track with Emirates. I would assume you should get it too, but I do not know for sure.
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