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The Good Life Part I : The Westin Sydney, ARIA Restaurant, SYD-SFO QF J (pics, long)

The Good Life Part I : The Westin Sydney, ARIA Restaurant, SYD-SFO QF J (pics, long)

Old Mar 7, 10, 6:14 am
  #1  
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: SZG/MUC
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The Good Life Part I : The Westin Sydney, ARIA Restaurant, SYD-SFO QF J (pics, long)



Introduction
After four months, it was finally time to fly back home to Austria. Having always done this route via Asia I thought I’d mix things up a bit this time and fly via The States. SFO to be exact.

As an indulgent treat to conclude my trip I decided to book a nice hotel and a table at one of the top restaurants in Australia I had been wanting to go to. The hotel of choice? The Westin Sydney (I had always wanted to stay here!) The restaurant? Matt Moran’s Aria in Sydney. My friend and I reserved a table two weeks in advance just to be safe and I got an amazing rate at The Westin.

28 February 2010
The Westin Sydney
1 Martin Place




I checked in to the hotel at around 4pm and was allocated a room on the 6th floor which looked in to the main interior of the building. The Westin was built inside the old General Post Office.

Well my expectations were surpassed as I entered the room and it was everything I had hoped for. Elegant, clean, spacious, awesome bathroom with separate bathtub and rain shower with lots of milk glass. And not to mention the Heavenly Bed! If I hadn’t had so much luggage already I would have packed it in my suitcase! Needless to say I slept like a baby and found it hard to get up in the morning, although that could have also been due to consuming copious amounts of wine at Aria. We’ll get to that soon...

The room:




Beautiful over-sized bathtub




Can someone buy me this bed please! It only costs $3,545USD ☺


Bose Sound System

Last edited by QFBoy; Mar 11, 14 at 5:11 pm
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Old Mar 7, 10, 6:14 am
  #2  
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Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: SZG/MUC
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28 February 2010
ARIA Sydney




Matt Moran’s ARIA Restaurant has prime location at the Quays and enjoys sweeping views of Sydney Harbour and the Opera House. A table for two was booked for 7:45pm. As soon as we walked through the doors, the hostess gave us a strange and confused look. Probably because my friend has bright pink hair and facial piercings :-P I told her we had a reservation and she apprehensively confirmed. As she directed us to our table I could see the hostess’ mind running around in circles thinking of where to seat us as not to „disturb“ the other patrons. My hopes of a window table with views of the Opera House quickly vanished and we were sat at the back next to the kitchen door. This was the only negative aspect of what was to be an amazing dining experience.

We had already decided to select the Seasonal Tasting Menu which consisted of eight courses. The most arduous task of the night was choosing the wine from Aria’s 22-page wine list. Luckily, the very friendly and informative Dutch Sommelier was only too happy to help us. To start off the evening we chose a bottle of 2004 Peter Lehmann Semillon, Barossa Valley. At about course four we switched to what can only be described as a phenomenal, pallete-orgasmic 2007 Yannick Amirault Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley. And to finish off, a personal favourite of mine, a 2007 Pirie Clark Botrytis Riesling, Tamar Valley, Tasmania.

Appetite growing, expectations high, anticipation climbing, excitement pulsating. It was time to eat. The next four hours were to become a highlight of my dining adventures. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words, so I’ll let the photos do the talking....


New Zealand King Salmon with Cucumber and Green Miso Foam


King Fish Sashimi and Tartare of Yellow Fin Tuna and Octopus with a Citrus Reduction


Salad of Marinated Eggplant, Jamón, Roasted Croutons, Peppers, Queso Iberico Cheese and Sherry Vinegar


Roasted Scallops served with Green Asparagus and Fennel, Basil Purée, Tomato and Black Olives


Peking Duck Consomme with Dumplings, Shaved Abalone and Enoki Mushrooms


Kurobuta Sweet Pork Belly with Pork Croquette, Poached Pear and a White Cabbage and Apple Salad


Basil Scented Lamb Fillet with Red Capsicum and Eggplant Remoulade and the amazing Cabernet Franc from the Loire Valley


Raspberry Granita with Champagne Foam and Pomegranate Jelly


Pineapple with Piña Colada Sorbet, Coconut Tapioca, Sweetened Breadcrumbs and Micro Herbs


With the Botrytis Riesling from Tasmania


Assortment of Petit Fours


A not so cheap bottle of Dessert Wine.....$2,442!


The View

The food was absolutely fantastic and the Pork Belly is to die for! A must for any foodie in Sydney. The wine was just as excellent, if not better than the food, and the service was great. Overpriced? Probably. The bill was not for the faint-hearted but one doesn’t have a dinner like this everyday so it was definitely worth every cent.

Last edited by QFBoy; Mar 11, 14 at 5:11 pm
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Old Mar 7, 10, 6:15 am
  #3  
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Join Date: Oct 2004
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1 March 2010
QF 73
SYD-SFO
747-400
Seat: 3E (originally 2E)
Time: 13hr 30min (12hr 45min actual)


I arrived at SYD at 1pm and made my way to the deserted Business Class check-in area. As many of you already know, Qantas have reduced their First Class service on many routes, SYD-SFO being one of them (temporarily I believe). Well for us J passengers it’s great news! A First class seat for the price of J. ☺ When I originally booked this flight I was allocated 4A, but then got bumped to 25A. Expertflyer was showing no available seats in the forward cabin for the week prior to departure date but I was hoping to score one of these highly-prized seats at check-in. In my best polite/friendly/kiss-... tone, I asked the agent if there was any chance of getting a seat. After fifteen excruciating seconds of waiting she told me she was able to get 2E. Woop!!

With a big smile on my face I made a beeline for the Qantas Business Lounge, getting through Immigration in no-time thanks to the Express Path for Business and First passengers. The lounge was quite busy at this time due to a bunch of long-haul QF flights departing within a couple of hours of each other. I finally found a couch, dropped my stuff and did the first thing anyone should do in a lounge before a flight. Pour myself a glass of Champagne ☺


Yummy!


Busy, busy, busy at the Qantas Business Lounge




Self-service Wine and Champagne Bar


Glass of Champagne No. 3

Three glasses of Champagne and a plate of fruit later, it was time to board. Business Class passenegers were invited to board first.




The latest addition to the Qantas fleet parked next to us off to LAX



Isn’t it such a great feeling turning left when you board? ☺ Being amongst the first to board and settle into your spacious seat. Glasses of champagne before take-off. Menus with a long list of delicious choices. Big soft pillows. A smartly-presented amenity kit. More champagne...

For no apparent reason (probably stupidity) I decided to settle into seat 3E instead of 2E, only to be asked soon after by an eldery gentleman if I was sitting in his seat. It turned out that his travel partner was sitting in 2F so I stayed in 3E and he took my original seat. ☺


Seat 3A reading his Kindle


Seat 1K using the cabin as his lounge room

The cabin of our 747 was showing signs of aging, tattered carpet, lots of marks on the panneling etc. But the personal space and legroom make up for it.

Champagne, OJ and water was served before take-off. Naturally, not being able to refuse I opted for the Champagne. Noise-cancelling headsets, pyjamas, amenity kits, immigration cards and menus were also handed out and breakfast orders were taken.


More Champagne and oodles of legroom

Michelle and Jo would be serving the front cabin for our long flight to San Fran. Service was top-notch. Friendly, quick, efficient, attentive are just some adjectives that come to mind. My glass was always full, trays were removed promptly and requests were attended to quickly.

Last edited by QFBoy; Mar 11, 14 at 5:12 pm
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Old Mar 7, 10, 6:16 am
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A pre-dinner drink was offered with nuts and then it was time for the dinner service.


Campari OJ and nuts


Michelle working the service trolley


Salad of Prosciutto and Parmesan with Balsamic Dressing and a glass of Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc




Seat 2A dining


Roast Lamb Fillet with Rosemary Jus and Pumpkin Puree and a glass of Grenache


Just a tiny bit overcooked, otherwise very tasty


Nice Cream Espresso and Vanilla Ice Cream with Pistachio Praline and a glass of Botrytis Riesling (yummy!!)


Michelle offering tea and coffee

Lie-flat sleeper seats are really the only way to fly. You can always find a comfortable position and sleeping is easy! I slept for about three hours and then spent the rest of the time watching movies and TV series.


Seat 3K relaxing


Seat 3A snoozing


More alcohol at the self-service bar

About 2.5 hours before landing the cabin started smelling of croissants and fried bacon. Time for breakfast!


Omlette on toast with Spinach and Potato Cake. Fresh Fruit. Croissant and Jam. Banana and Berry Smoothie.



We landed on time in SFO and were the first passengers to leave which meant a quick trip through U.S. Immigration. At SFO baggage reclaim, any suitcase that has a Business or Priority sticker on gets taken off and put in a special area for collection. This „service“ seems to be more chaotic than helpful and results in a crowd gathering and waiting for their luggage. Not to sure whose idea this was.

Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable and pleasant flight with one of my favourite airlines.

QFBoy

Coming up: The Westin Market St, Gary Danko’s, SFO-MUC LH J

Last edited by QFBoy; Mar 11, 14 at 5:13 pm
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Old Mar 7, 10, 6:29 am
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Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sydney, Australia
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It's nice to see one's home city (and carrier) featured on FT.

Outstanding photos!
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Old Mar 7, 10, 7:14 am
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Nice report QFBoy
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Old Mar 7, 10, 7:16 am
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Awesome report! Thanks for sharing.
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Old Mar 7, 10, 8:00 am
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: Agoura Hills, CA USA
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These are some of the best pics in a trip report I have seen for a long while.. .. and I agree... the lie flat seats are great for a flight from SYD....
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Old Mar 7, 10, 9:07 am
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Join Date: Jul 2003
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Thumbs up Great pictures!

Always wanted to visit Australia! You made me jealous!

Also interesting to see that your homebase is located somewhere near "my" corner of the world (Austria/Southern Germany)!

Looking forward to part 2,

-Tom
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Old Mar 7, 10, 9:30 am
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Excellent report. I am particularly impressed with the photos from Aria.
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Old Mar 7, 10, 8:05 pm
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I have a Heavenly bed at my residence if you want to know about getting one for less than retail email me privately
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Old Mar 7, 10, 8:57 pm
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Great report and great photos!

Now I look forward to the SFO-MUC report.

SYD and MUC are two of my favorite escapes and I visit them ever year.
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Old Mar 7, 10, 9:49 pm
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Fantastic trip report QFboy! Agree to the posters above that the pictures are absolutely brilliant!
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Old Mar 9, 10, 9:21 pm
  #14  
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Thanks for all the kind comments everyone!

I am currently sitting in the Red Carpet Club at SFO and let me tell you.....not impressed!

My expectations were already low but not this low! An airline that doesn't have a fully-stocked self-service bar with Champagne is not an airline! :-P The gourmet delights featured include cubes of cheese and crackers, carrot and celery sticks with Ranch dressing, and yoghurt covered raisins......which leaves much to be desired. Anyway, I know that cost-cutting is rampant in the US right now so it's to be expected...shame....

QFBoy
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Old Mar 9, 10, 11:52 pm
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Join Date: Oct 2008
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Very nice!

Very enjoyable TR! Thank you for posting this!
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