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From Mountains to Beaches: Canada - Korea - Japan - Singapore - Indonesia - Maldives

From Mountains to Beaches: Canada - Korea - Japan - Singapore - Indonesia - Maldives

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Old Mar 11, 13, 11:26 pm
  #91  
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From Mountains to Beaches - Keraton at the Plaza

I will not post the Singapore-Jakarta flight on SQ Business this time round, but it will be available on my blog for those who are interested.

Jakarta has got a new luxury hotel operated by Starwood Preferred Guest, and during its initial phase of opening, I was quite disappointed at how the Keraton was priced, since they were asking for rates higher than the Kempinski Hotel Indonesia, which is a landmark and has one of the best location in Jakarta as far as hotels go. The Keraton at the Plaza was located in the Plaza Indonesia Shopping Complex which houses an entertainment section comprising of cinemas, multiple luxury brand boutiques, lots of restaurant options an 2 hotels - one being the strategically located Grand Hyatt and another being the Keraton at the Plaza. The Grand Hyatt Jakarta has one of the best views over the roundabout landmark referred to by locals as Bunderan HI (for Hotel Indonesia). But it has old rooms and is a large business hotel.


Entrance Lobby at the Keraton

The Keraton at the Plaza occupies certain floors in the Residential tower of the Plaza, the newest annexe to this shopping complex. For business travellers, the Plaza office building beside it houses many foreign business offices headquarters, and the discreet side door leads to Plaza Indonesia where one can easily get food and other amenities. Unlike many hotels, it shares its lobby and facilities with residences in the tower, thus the entrance to the hotel is via a side entrance that feels very private and might be construed as safer since it does not attract unwanted attention.


The Bar and Lobby Lounge

Upon entering the lobby, one is greeted by vast ceilings with contemporary Indonesian art and design cues furnishing the lobby. This made it outstanding and beautiful. I was greeted by the receptionist who were all decked in a modern Indonesian-style dress. Very impressive Luxury Collection property indeed. Initially I was upgraded for to a larger suite but as I needed the double rooms, I declined the upgrade and requested for the double rooms, which was adequately large. Check-in was supposed to be done in the room and an escort will accompany guests to the room for the procedures. This leads to a bit of confusion as you need to pass your passport to them and I would rather just be done with it in the lobby. But on entry into the first room, there was a certain smell and we requested for a new room. This leads to some wait but we were able to drop off our luggage at the bell desk and head to the shopping mall for some lunch first. There is an all day restaurant in the same floor as the swimming pool where breakfast is also served. However Platinum guests choose between either breakfast or the 500 welcome points. For my first stay I chose the points as I had an early morning flight the next day. For the second stay, breakfast was included in the stay.


Outdoor Swimming Pool

As a Platinum member, one will also get complimentary drinks in the bar during the evening but I had business to attend to in Jakarta and this meant I was not able to have it on both of my stay. The bar is located beside a small lounge area opposite the hotel's reception. There is also a business centre with meeting rooms on the lobby level. Another perk is the complimentary mini-bar access for non-alcoholic drinks, something like the Andaz property, but I believe the perk only applies to Platinum members.


Grand Deluxe Double Bedroom

The Grand Deluxe Double Bed room was very tastefully done, and is perhaps the most beautiful hotel room in Jakarta. The huge heavy door to the bedroom might be a nuisance for some, and a small foyer leads to a sitting area with an armchair and a 2-seater sofa. The bar counter holds the mini-bar which is at shoulder level, unlike in some properties which is on the feet level. This makes it easier to select your beverages. There is also a Nespresso coffee machine in the room which I like. This might be the first hotel in Jakarta to have one of these machines in a standard room.


Marble Bathroom Console


Bathroom in the Grand Deluxe Room

The other drawback is the heavy sliding door on both sides of the bathroom, one leading to the closet area, and another leading to the foyer. Both cannot be locked. The bathroom is a long narrow space with a marble console with space for 2 sinks and a dressing table in the middle. The bathtub occupies the centre of the space, while the bathtub becomes the main focus in the middle. Two glass-enclosed space houses the toilet and shower area. The toilet, made by American Standard, has the same gadgetry like the toilets commonly found in Japan. Another interesting architectural feature was the sliding wall that forms a mirror for the dressing room in the bathroom. For smaller rooms this might work in creating a sense of space like in the Hyatt Regency TST in Hong Kong. But for such an already spacious room, this made it a hassle as now someone who desire privacy in the toilet needs to ensure the closure of 3 sets of sliding panels.


Double Beds with the Sliding Panels

The good part of the hotel room was it is easy to feel comfortable and treat it like a residence with a butler service on your call. Each stay includes complimentary suit pressing for one or two pieces and this will be a perk for those on business. The double beds were really comfortable too and there is also a large desk with all the international plug outlets. Internet is free for all guests, and the speed was also very usable with no issue at all for me using multiple devices. The one feature making it feel like a residence is the large wardrobe space to place your luggage and another cupboard that houses the safe. This means that guests will have no trouble placing their belongings for a long-term stay here. Another feature which I liked was that the curtains are operated electronically, so the wide rooms provides a good view of the city, even if it is not that of the Bunderan HI.

Before this hotel was open, Starwood was lagging behind rivals since its best hotel in the city is the Le Meridien, that was acceptable but otherwise losing out as newer luxury properties are being built. The Keraton at the Plaza places it at the top of my to-go hotels in Jakarta, especially now that it has rates that are on par with the competition.
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Old Mar 12, 13, 9:08 pm
  #92  
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From Mountains to Beaches - SQ Business Class Jakarta to Male

SQ959 Jakarta CGK - Singapore SIN
STD-STA: 14:15 - 16:45
Actual: 14:26 - 16:47
B777-200 9V-SQE
Seat 11A

Check-in was conducted at the SQ counter but premium passengers on SQ does not have access to the new JAS Premier Check-in facility which is a bummer really since the SQ lounge is just beside the exit of that check-in area. In the end, I had to walk back to the immigration in concourse E of the terminal and register my passport for the 'autogate' check. That was real easy and it allowed me to cut the queues in immigration, so kudos to Indonesia for progressing to the use of e-immigration counters!

It was a trek back to the D concourse to access the Esplanade Lounge which SIA uses in Soekarno-Hatta. Probably one of the better lounges in Jakarta, and there was adequate food for a light lunch before boarding. They had a small model of the 747 which I thought was funny since SQ no longer flies that jet as they have replaced it with the A380s.

I had a bit of a snack in the lounge and while the food selections is really not on par with any international airport lounges in Asia, they were the best in Jakarta (Garuda's Executive Lounge beats it by a tiny bit). The Esplanade lounge had a better selection of international newspaper though. I made a review of lounges in Jakarta back in this post.

The lounge is basically good just for waiting and it wasn't long before the boarding announcement was made. It was another short walk to the gates but Jakarta now has common security checks before the concourse gates. No long queues here and I was through security in no time. There was a ticket check before the entrance to the waiting area and boarding has indeed started by the time I arrived, leaving me just some time to note the aircraft I will be flying today.


Welcome Drink and Hot Towel


Kris World, Kris Shop and Silverkris Magazine


Take-off from Jakarta

I headed to the bulkhead seat on the window and was welcomed by the crew who offered me welcome drinks. The flight will not be full but I had seat mate for this short flight. The menu for this flight has not changed since the late in 2011 when I took the earlier flight SQ957. I remembered ordering the Pad Thai which was awful at that time. This time I ordered the Opor Ayam, which is a spicy chicken rice dish commonly found in South-East Asia. Not very good either as the vegetables were soft and the chicken lacks any flavour of any sort. But for a 1 hour plus flight, there was little to complain when the meal is served in proper tableware and served with tasty garlic bread and a dessert. I asked for water and coffee to go along with the meal as well.


Nasi Opor Ayam


East Coast Park from the Air

There was little else besides the meal service to report about and we started our descent into Singapore. One of the best views can be had on the left side of the plane during descent into Singapore especially when descending from the south-eastern side of the island as it is possible to spot the Central Business District, Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer from the air. Passengers on the left side will also be treated to a nice view of East Coast Park and the ships plying the waters off the coast of Singapore.


A Cathay 747 takes-off from Changi

SQ452 Singapore SIN - Male MLE
STD-STA: 20:40 - 22:10
Actual: 21:05 - 22:09
A330-300 9V-STA
Seat 11A

Headed to the KrisFlyer lounge after disembarking but as it was in the late afternoon, no more Chay Tow Kuay (or carrot cake), so I went to get a seat, and made some calls to friends in the city. For snacks, I had some sea coconut with jelly and TWG tea. I do like the Vanilla Bourbon tea by TWG and really liked the wide selection of tea the lounge provides.


Honey Sea Coconut and Fried Nian Gao 炒年糕

With a moderately long transit time, I had a shower first before having dinner. The shower area was inside the toilet, and it was the norm for a lounge shower, though Cathay Pacific does have better shower room in their home lounge at HKG. Dinner selections was not bad too and I noticed there were some changes to the pasta dish from earlier in the day. Due to the Chinese New Year celebrations, the lounge had some new year delicacies such as mixed Chinese rice and fried nian gao (sticky and sweet rice cake).


Shower Room in Silver Kris Lounge


Silver Kris Lounge Dining Table

With no boarding announcement, I checked with the receptionist of the lounge on the flight status and she proceeded to direct me to the gates about 30 minutes before departure. Boarding was just starting when I arrived and after passing the security check at the gates, I proceeded into the plane. Welcome drink offered includes an Apple Bliss concoction that is made from apple juice, 7-up and a dash of lemon bitter. It was fantastic and one of the best drinks I had in a plane in a while! As the same in previous flights, the crew came around with newspaper choices, then once again with magazine selections. Another male crew went around distributing hot towels. The purser was friendly in this flight and made a point to talk to all the passengers in the Business cabin, probably because this is a 'leisure' holiday flight.


Bulkhead Business Class Seats on the Airbus A330

The cabin soon filled up with Chinese tourists headed to the Maldives, and save for another couple and myself, I believe the rest carried a passport from the Greater China region. Pillows and blankets were already on the seats and menus were on the front seat pocket. The business cabin seems full but there was no one beside me, and the bulkhead middle seats remained unoccupied throughout the flight. However, there was a slight delay due to two Japanese passengers who did not make it for the flight and as such their luggage had to be offloaded. This led to a delayed departure at slightly past 9pm.


Inflight Movie Guide and Amenity Kit

As we reached cruising altitude, the crew handed out the business class amenity kit, which consisted of a pair of socks and they do hand out the eyeshades separately now as well. For other amenities like toothbrushes, they can be found in the lavatories. The crew also asked for our first drink orders and I picked the Apple Bliss drink once again. Right after the drinks were served, the crew came out with the trolley serving Singapore Airlines' signature satays, with a choice of chicken or mutton satays. It is one of the most enjoyable dishes onboard SQ!


Pre-dinner Satay

There was a short break between the Satay service before the appetizer was served as the trolley makes one round from serving my aisle before moving to the next aisle. I checked out the inflight entertainment during this time and KrisWorld is one of the best entertainment systems in the skies, with lots of selection. After all SQ was the first airline to offer AVOD to economy class passengers. Till today, their inflight entertainment systems is one of the best in the skies, and it is so good that I had too much choices to select from.


Seat and Inflight Entertainment Controls

Shortly after starting my movie, I was interrupted by the commencement of meal service as the table cloth is set up on my tray. I wondered why they don't set it up before the satay service since the peanut sauce might cause more damage to the table, in my opinion. Though for this appetizer today, table cloth is indeed necessary. Due to the Chinese New Year celebrations, SQ serves up Fa Cai Yu Sheng 發財魚生 which is a mix of shredded vegetables topped with raw salmon, crackers and cinnamon powder, and other assorted condiments. In Singapore, this dish is always served nicely and diners have to mix it by 'throwing' it up using their chopsticks as high in the air as possible for a 'leap in fortune' in the year ahead. I wondered how if some guests insists on 'throwing' it up as high as possible in the plane... Since I am already having it 30,000 ft up above the air, I guess that's as far as it goes. It was pretty good having this dish up in the air and maybe SQ could serve a new signature salad dish based on this! Passengers also get to choose a selection of breads from the basket at this point and I selected the garlic bread again and a flat crispy pastry which was tasty, though I appreciate it if someone can name this pastry.


Yu Sheng, Garlic Bread and unknown Pastry

For the main course, I had pre-ordered from the Book-the-Cook menu and my Lobster Thermidor dish was served shortly after I finished my appetizer. The serving of lobster was served with rice and buttered asparagus. The cream sauce over the lobster was tasty and it was one of the best lobster dish I had on a plane, and definitely better than the one on my Asiana First Suites flight. The asparagus that came with was also crunchy and still tasted fresh. The food I had in this flight shows once again that SQ's catering out of Singapore is extremely good!


Lobster Thermidor

However the meal was far from over, and for this four hour flight, Singapore Airlines still serves a wonderful dessert and a choice of fruits and cheese from the tray. The dessert today was a dark chocolate creme brulee which actually tasted a lot like dark chocolate mousse, but as a fan of chocolate, I loved it. A nice selection of grapes, tangerines and pomelo made for a great end to the meal service and allowed me to snack while finishing my movie.


Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee


Selection of Fresh Fruits

After clearing my tables, the crew actually offered pralines with hot tea or coffee choices from the menu and I picked a cup of green tea. The attentive and proactive service from this set of crew truly surprised me. By this time, we still had half of the flight to go and the whole meal service lasted about one and a half hours. I reclined my seat to an angled lie-flat position and headed to the restrooms to freshen myself up before lying down for a short nap. The seat is pretty comfortable for a nap and I ponder about the question of just how good they are today with competition rising up. As they are more consistent when it comes to the seats in their fleet, Singapore Airlines is one of the most reliable airlines when it comes to premium services for travel within Asia and the Pacific. At worst, you get pretty crappy food, but the entertainment and the hardware is still impressive enough to make you forget about the rest. However what they have to constantly make improvements otherwise they can be left behind.


Tea and Pralines

To end, this is perhaps one of the best Singapore Airlines flight I have ever had due to the excellent crew on board, and the fact I was smart enough to order a book-the-cook meal. Maybe it was the excitement of visiting a new country, or maybe it was because I was just relaxed heading into the flight, but I really enjoyed the night flight to the Maldives and makes me rethink my previous grudges about SQ.
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Old Mar 12, 13, 9:21 pm
  #93  
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Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Map| 6 Reviews | 100% Recommended

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

North Huvadhoo, Gaafu Alifu Atoll , Maldives MV

From Beaches to Mountains - Park Hyatt Maldives (0 Photo)

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

For those wishing to read about the flights I had on the Maldivian Air to get to Kooddoo, please read it at myblog post. Prior to heading to the Maldives I always wondered what was the fuss about a bunch of islands in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Maybe it is because I am a mountain kind of person, and I have had much fun around the islands in Indonesia and Malaysia. Yes, the staff at the resort did mention I am heading from one paradise (Indonesia) to another (Maldives). The latter is definitely more luxurious though, and without all the tricks taught by the people at this forum, I might not have been able to fly here so quickly. As I mentioned in the introduction to my trip report, my flights were the result of a routing made possible by the rules of redeeming miles. Thus it costs me maybe a few extra dollars in taxes. Initially I wanted this trip more for the flights and hoped to find a cheap resort to stay in. But it turns out the cheapest resorts are still a few hundred dollars in expenses, enough for a 5-star hotel in many major cities. So with a bunch of Hyatt points that I had accumulated, I booked 2 nights in a Park Villa, not knowing that it will be a bit too short.

Maldives in the Morning

Entrance Sign

Because the Park Hyatt Maldives are located in the Southern part of the Maldives, this meant I needed a domestic flight between Male (MLE) and Kooddoo (GKK) Airport. It was worth it though since I had a very nice view during the short 50 minute flight, and definitely get a window seat on any domestic flight in the Maldives. Then from Kooddoo, it was a 30 minute ride to the resort which occupies a small island that took me all of 30 minutes to walk one round. The domestic flight and ferry transfer had to be arranged by the hotel and thus upon reserving my villa, I forwarded my itinerary and mentioned I would stay the first night in the Traders Hotel Male. They proceeded to book me on the 8am flight to Koodoo which meant I needed to leave Traders Hotel at around 6:30am which was certainly early. They did mention it to me a just one and a half day before check-in date.

Dance of Grey Clouds and Azure Waters

Garden Walkway to the Villas

Check In

It was cloudy the day I arrived with bits of sunshine at scattered times, thus it gave for a bumpy ferry ride. However I knew it was going to be a great stay since I spotted dolphins in the wild during my ferry ride to the hotel. The ferry even stopped for me to observe these nautical beauties leaping in and out of the waters. I guess I got really lucky since that meant I need not bother with the dolphin cruise anymore! Upon reaching the resort, I was personally greeted by the GM himself and his entourage. As I am travelling alone and I was the only one arriving on the resort at that time and take into account that I am not one used to being in the limelight, it was all a bit awkward. My host for the stay, a pleasant lady named Shirin, greeted me and drove me on the buggy towards the villa to complete my check-in process. The whole arrival experience was flawless, even though if it was a bit awkward. I was assigned Villa 22, whose view of the beach was blocked by the vegetation, but I knew it was nearly full since I knew there were no more Park Pool or Water Villas available anymore having checked the website. Since I was on a short stay and it was an award night, I was happy too with the Villa I was assigned. I will elaborate on why I thought this was a pretty good villa even with the blocked view.

Room

Bedroom of the Villa

Park Villa Interior The Park Villa was spacious and even in the cloudy day, it felt still warm with the air-condition on. This was due to the large glass window. There is a large King bed in the centre of the room, and a long console at the end functions as a desk and a TV stand. There was an armchair with a table at the end of the console and a chaise lounge by the window. The second half of the room behind the bed was occupied by the bathroom which is beautiful as it allow lots of natural light in. Upon entering the bathroom, there was the enclosed indoor shower on the left and an enclosed toilet on the right. There seemed to be a line of symmetry across the bathroom in the next section as there was a sink and closest on each side meant for couples. A glass door in the middle leads to a private outdoor shower and bathtub, which was great to have in a tropical resort.

Villa Bathroom A small deck lies outside the villa furnished with 2 chairs and a small side table, and a small path leads to the beach. There was 2 recliners on the beach in front of each villa with an umbrella, though the umbrella was broken. I did not need to use the umbrella for my stay though I did find the beach to be great in this section of the island. There was a wide expanse of sand to just lounge by the beach and also a wide section to swim in before one reaches the coral reef which is not suitable for swimming. Thus for guests that desire privacy and a nice beach, this section of the island is the choice to go for. It is notably quieter being at the end of the amenities, and thus it will take time to either walk or guests can always call for the buggy service.

The Main Dining Room

Blue Reflections

Dining

The island time is also one hour ahead of Male time and it seemed a bit unnecessary for me but as the resort's facilities utilizes the island time, I had to made some changes on the watch. I was still in time for breakfast on the first day as I was guided to the Dining Room by Shirin before 11am. All guests, whether they have premium Hyatt status or not, receive breakfast included in their rate at this resort. Apparently the restaurant is pretty flexible on breakfast hours and many guests usually have it between 9:30 and 11:30 am. I guess it was brunch time for me and I ordered some waffles. In addition the the main course, guests also get a tiered tray consisting of fruits in the top tier, Maldivian crepes with tuna filling on the middle, and assorted pastries on the lowest tier. Guests can also customize or request for multiple portions of the food from the menu as long as the kitchen allows, though they were pretty flexible on this too. I ordered a glass of apple and carrot juice that was freshly made as well for my drinks. The one main course I recommend would be the Maldivian Tuna Curry as it was somewhat local and the taste was wonderful though it can be a bit spicy. The only irritation dining in the morning by the patio is the flies that would sometime hover around yourfood

.

Breakfast Set of Maldivian Tuna Curry and Rice Noodle in Reef Fish Broth

The Dhoni and Guest Lounge

For Hyatt Diamond members, there was a cocktail and canape service between 6 to 8 pm served in the Bar beside the swimming pool, though I was informed of this benefit on the telephone as the host forgot to inform me while checking in. It was nice of her to remind me just when I returned to the villa after brunch though. The canapes was fantastic and they do change the canapes for the 2 days I was there. There was also a list of drinks one can choose from the bar menu, including champagne. I had a nice mocktail on the first day and champagne on the second day.

Sunset in the Island

Canapes and Mocktail Both nights I headed to the Island Grill for dinner as I had a fantastic Wagyu Tenderloin steak that was grilled to perfection. They will also serve steak sauce on the sides if you ask nicely, and don't forget to request for dips used with the bread as they forgot to serve it to me on the second day. But I was seriously too full after the canapes and snacks I had in the Villa. The second day I had a Sirloin which I enjoyed more than the Tenderloin and I was surprised at the food quality in the resort since I half expected average food here, considering there is no other dining choice besides the Island Grill and the Dining Room.

Black Angus Sirloin at the Island Grill

Poolside Dining at Night

Location

After brunch, I explored the island and just started to snap the beauty of the resort and to digest the food a bit. The heat and humidity made it easy to feel lethargic so I returned to the villa to just lie down by the chaise lounge. Once inside I notice there was a jug of ice tea in the room, a bottle of 'champagne' or sparkling wine in a bucket of ice, if one wants to be exact, and there was chocolates, mixed nuts and some snacks on a glass-enclosed plate. There was more than enough food to last me through the night if I really wanted to. There was also several bottles of water in the room and guests can always request for more. One bottle was sparkling and another was still water, both placed in the fridge while a third bottle of still water is placed outside in the room. Every room is also supplied with an iPad and the hotel also has an iPad app that one can download in anticipation of what to expect in terms of dining menu and activities when they arrive.

Over-water Villas

Private Beach Access When I had substantially cooled down and got comfortable, I headed to the beach as the afternoon sun was shrouded in clouds and headed for a swim in the beach. Comparing the currents here and the one around the dusk jetty where I arrived, the waves here are much stronger which is why the reefs on this side is not recommended to snorkel in. It felt really good to just escape here and relax by the beach, with the feeling that you are all alone since there was probably one person that walked past the whole time I was out at the beach. Other times it feels like you are on your own private island from this section of the island. The privacy at this resort provides the ultimate as far as a relaxing vacation goes. And when you return to the villa, there is a stone basin refreshed with clean water every day to wash off the sand from your feet. The attention to detail makes for a comfortable stay!

Villa 22 Walkway

Maldivian Beach

The Dhoni in the Day

The Dhoni Interior at Night

Beautiful Day in the Maldives On the last day of my stay, the sky cleared and I woke up early to catch the sunrise as there was little to do in the night. The hotel did prepare a telescope placed by the poolside at night for guests to gaze at the stars and there was the Dhoni which was beautifully lit at night should one want to lounge with books about the Maldives. There was also some DVD for rent from guest services but their DVD collection needs some improvement as they were all old titles that does not interest me. The only movie I was interested in was 'The Ghost Writer'. Even my stay at Kimamaya in Niseko had a much better selection of movies. However the natural beauty of the island was amazing and it marked a beautiful end to my stay. I am not sure if it was the blue skies and the azure waters that made me miss this place or if it was the privacy and freedom of enjoying the ocean that made me yearn to return.

First Rays of the Day

Sunrise over the Island

Snorkeling

As I did not have much time to take up diving lessons, I was satisfied with snorkelling and snorkelling equipments can be rented at no cost, though life vests have to be rented for a nominal fee. There were guests asking if they could use the one supplied in the Villa and while there was no rejection, they did mention those are to be used for emergency purposes only. Since I have snorkelled before, and I preferred the mobility without a life vest, I did not rent one. The house reef around the dusk jetty was just amazing and offers enough diversity without the need to head out for a dive. In fact on the 2 days I did snorkel, I managed to spot sea anemones, angelfish, shoals of fishes, eels, and even a giant sea turtle. It was my first time snorkelling side by side a giant sea turtle and that experience is unforgettable!

Overall

During my stay, I found I enjoyed the resort immensely and hope to be back. Whether it was lounging by the beach, the sundeck on the poolside or just sitting down and reading a book inside the overturned Dhoni lobby lounge, it was a wonderful resort to be in. The hotel also takes very good care of its guests from the amenities on the first day, to the complimentary breakfast and a generally pleasant service from the staff. My host Shirin was so wonderful that she actually passed me some local currency when I mentioned I would like some for mementos of my visit to the Maldives. Everytime I encountered the staff, they would smile and greet me and the service was generally very personal. This made the whole stay experience a memorable one! The next time I stay here it would have to be longer, and maybe try out the Over-water Villas!

Blue Skies and Azure Waters

From Beaches to Mountains - Park Hyatt Maldives

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Old Mar 12, 13, 10:17 pm
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awesome awesome report!
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Old Mar 12, 13, 10:32 pm
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Finally, the part I was looking forward to! Amazing photos!
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Old Mar 15, 13, 9:26 am
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Originally Posted by calvinoeh View Post
awesome awesome report!
Thank you calvinoeh! I did enjoy some of your trip reports as well!

Originally Posted by iceman77_7 View Post
Finally, the part I was looking forward to! Amazing photos!
Thank you iceman77_7! Glad you enjoyed it!
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Old Mar 15, 13, 9:33 am
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From Mountains to Beaches - Singapore Airlines Business Class MLE-SIN

This will be the last installment of this trip report as I will write about the return trip to Canada on a separate report as I felt this one was getting a bit long.

SQ461 Male MLE - Singapore SIN
STD-STA: 14:50-22:45
Actual: 15:18-22:38
Airbus A330-300 9V-STM
Seat 15A

As expected the airport in Male is small but there wasn't much crowds and check in was fast since SQ has 2 counters for business class and only one for economy, in addition to another one being for online check-in. This resulted in some queues at the economy line.


Singapore Airlines Check-in

There was no wait in immigration or security check as well, which was a nice change and relaxing enough for a return trip from the holiday. Past passport check, there is basically a duty-free section before a large atrium selling all kinds of Maldivian souvenirs. There is also a Dome coffee outlet and a money changer where I actually converted some local currency for collection purposes. The lounge is at the end of the departure hall and managed by Plaza Premium. There was a small food counter and a few tables set up as dining areas in the lounge. The food was acceptable and slightly better than what I would normally get in Jakarta. While it was a small lounge, there was adequate space for passengers to have a seat. Complimentary wi-fi is available using a passcode and it worked reliably.


Duty Free Area at Male Ibrahim Nasir Airport

I had some soup, fried noodles and also tried the desserts, all gulped down with a bottle of Bitter Lemon. The soup was the best dish in the lounge, though the dessert was awful. At least they still had Bitter Lemon in the lounge and I guess that was enough to refresh and relax in the lounge.


Buffet Counter at the Lounge


Coffee and Beverages in the Lounge

After about spending half an hour in the lounge, boarding for the flight was called and passengers had to go down one floor to access the gate. I had already spotted the Singapore Airlines' Airbus when I disembarked from my domestic flight and we would again be walking to the plane similar to my arrival into Male. It is one of those rare occurrences for me to board a wide-body jet via the stairs and as a photographer, I kind of enjoyed this since I could then take a shot of the aircraft.


Singapore Airlines A330

Upon boarding, I had pre-selected seat 15A since I wanted to try out a different seat having had so many bulkhead seats onboard the flight. With this being a day flight, I had no intention to sleep either. There was an incident of an unhappy female passenger on this flight who seemed to have her chosen seat assigned to someone else. Apparently she wanted the bulkhead seat but it was assigned to a couple and this made her really unhappy. The ground crew managed somehow fix the problem and she had a choice of sitting beside me or choosing the middle aisle seat. Fortunately for me, she chose the aisle seat and that left me 2 seats to myself once again!


Welcome Aboard Screen

The same procedure by the crew upon boarding, with welcome drinks served first followed by newspaper choices, then a selection of magazines. I picked Apple Bliss again as a welcome drink and chose the Financial Times and Top Gear for my reading material. Shortly after the crew came back with hot towels. So all the process was completed efficiently but there was a slight wait on the gate after the boarding was completed. Our plane had to wait for traffic arriving into Male which turns out to be an Emirates 777 parked next to our flight. What was lacking here though was that no further drinks were given out to passengers since it was a pretty long wait of more than 15 minutes. Somehow I suspect this crew is not going to be as good as my incoming flight.


SQ Business Class onboard the Airbus A330


Emirates Boeing 777 at Male

Being a small airport, there was no wait for the runway and we took off straight away after taxiing to our position. The rapid take-off meant there was not much opportunity to take photos of the Maldivian ocean landscape which is beautiful as I had a window seat on the domestic flight before this. We were up above the clouds and cruising away from the Maldives, so I switched on the KrisWorld entertainment system, relying on it to keep me occupied for the rest of the flight.


Brewed Coffee at the Start of the Flight

Passengers are asked for the post take-off beverages and I asked for a cup of brewed coffee, which was wonderful. They also took meal orders during this time, and I had wanted to order the yu-sheng that they served on the flight from Singapore since I liked the freshness of that salad, though they mentioned for safety reasons, they cannot serve any leftover meals. The meal as always began with the satay and the crew served the satay with the peanut sauce on the side, just the way I like it rather than on the previous flight where the sauce was served over the satay. Wet towels was served alongside the satay.


Satay before the Meal

There was a lull in service as the crew prepared the meal for a relatively packed flight in the Business Class cabin. During this time, I asked the crew for a writing kit and playing cards.


Playing Cards and Writing Kit

Starters were then served as it was common for every passenger. The beef was tasty and not dry and tasteless as I expected it. The appetizer will turn out to be the best part of the meal today, as the dressing, meat and vegetables matched well with each other. Then the bread basket came around and I picked garlic bread as they did not seem to have the pastry that I liked on my way to Male. However the roast lamb loin which I picked was dry, tough and overcooked. The sauce and side vegetables were alright, but the lamb was really bad and made regret my choice. It did reinforce my opinions on ordering lamb dishes onboard as I have had one that is good at all.


Carpaccio of airdried beef with grilled eggplant, green bean and roasted pinenut


Roasted lamb loin with rosemary jus, ratatouille, pesto and fondant potatoes

I had a glass of red wine with my lamb and it was alright. Since I am no wine connoisseur, I thought the wine tasted fine, but I did have a better glass of Bordeaux from the welcome amenity provided by the Grand Hyatt Macau. For the dessert, it was cheesecake with sour cherries which I finished. I asked for a cup of Iced Milo to accompany my dessert and I highly suggest passengers on SQ Business Class to order this beverage which is a type of popular iced chocolate drink that many students who grew up in Singapore are familiar with.


Cheesecake with sour cherries

At the end, the fruits selection is passed around and I picked some grapes, oranges and the packet of pomelo again. I found this meal service to be not as polished, as there was some time before water is refilled, and the trays are cleared. The service seemed slower somehow. Perhaps I was seated in the bulkhead on my previous flight and hence was served the food first. But I just felt the crew in this flight fell a bit short such that the flight was just like any other Business Class flight.


Selection of Fresh Fruit

I finished watching the movie 'Magic Mike' which was interesting for its theme and managed to catch a couple more TV shows during the flight. As I finished my cup of Iced Milo, the steward who served me coffee enquired if I would like another cup of coffee. This time he asks the type of gourmet coffee that I might like, and I picked the Brazilian Santos Bourbon which is supposed to have a 'smooth, nutty texture with a balanced body and clean aftertaste', but I thought the brewed coffee at the start of the flight was much better, and I am particular about coffee since I prefer lower acidity coffee. And don't get me started on the terrible coffee that Starbucks serve.


Inflight Entertainment and Bottle of Water

As I finished my coffee, the crew came back with bottles of water for passengers and probably half an hour later, the flight started its descent. What was different was that the cabin crew gave out candies during the descent, as I do not remember getting them on the way out. It was late night when we landed though there was thankfully no queue at the immigration. It just feels so relaxing landing into an airport and not having to wait for passport control. Hear that Americans? Within 30 minutes from leaving the plane, I was out with my luggage and ready to head out to the hotel.
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Old Mar 15, 13, 10:02 am
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Once again truly excellent professional level yet candid photography of my favorite resort in the whole world.
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Old Mar 15, 13, 4:17 pm
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Thanks for the latest update.

Amazing photos showing great composition and shot with technical excellence!
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Old Mar 15, 13, 7:41 pm
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Wonderful report. I really, really enjoyed the photos! Fantastic.
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Old Mar 16, 13, 11:30 pm
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Originally Posted by ma91pmh View Post
Once again truly excellent professional level yet candid photography of my favorite resort in the whole world.
Thank you ma91mph! I actually read your report and it gave me the idea of using the Hyatt Points for my stay! I really enjoyed this place and hope to return!

Originally Posted by UA_Flyer View Post
Thanks for the latest update.

Amazing photos showing great composition and shot with technical excellence!
Thank you UA_Flyer! They are just amateur shots, really! I am still learning along the way

Originally Posted by suenam View Post
Wonderful report. I really, really enjoyed the photos! Fantastic.
Thank you suenam! And welcome to Flyertalk with your first post

By the way, I will write up my next trip report for the return trip on a separate thread, as this one is getting way too long...
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Old Mar 17, 13, 12:24 am
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Did you find yourself bored during any of your time traveling in the Maldives alone? I've always wanted to go, but the idea of being alone on such a remote island isn't too appealing. But looks like you had a great time!
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Old Mar 17, 13, 8:57 am
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Originally Posted by LTH View Post
Did you find yourself bored during any of your time traveling in the Maldives alone? I've always wanted to go, but the idea of being alone on such a remote island isn't too appealing. But looks like you had a great time!
I got three words for you - learn to dive
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Old Mar 17, 13, 3:16 pm
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What an absolutely brilliant report. There are no accolades worthy of the effort you have been in and the quality that has come out.
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Old Mar 18, 13, 2:02 am
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Nice TR, and very good pictures. Definitely too little time spent in the Maldives - though i have only ever seen them from a liveaboard dive boat, i always wonder what the 'other half' does on the islands!

I'm flabbergasted that airlines still have these amenities such as playing cards and writing kit - wonder if its just to please the FT group??

Trying to get a pen from an EK FA in J, to fill out the disembarkation card has always been a mission for me.
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