Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Community > Trip Reports
Reload this Page >

Asia Adventure - CX, EK, TG, RJ, PG - F&J + IC Hotels

Asia Adventure - CX, EK, TG, RJ, PG - F&J + IC Hotels

Reply

Old Apr 18, 13, 5:50 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
Asia Adventure - CX, EK, TG, RJ, PG - F&J + IC Hotels

Introduction



AA F LAS-LAX (AA169 – 737-800)
AA F LAX-ORD (AA9259 - 737-800)
Intercontinental Chicago O’Hare
CX J ORD-HKG (CX807 - 777-300ER)
cont....
Intercontinental Grand Stanford & Hong Kong
Hong Kong
EK F HKG-BKK (EK385 - A380)
Intercontinental Bangkok
Bangkok
RJ J BKK-KUL (RJ180 - A330)
Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
PG Y KUL-USM (PG952 - A319)
Intercontinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort
PG J USM-BKK (PG170 - A319)
Hotel Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
TG F BKK-HKG (TG600 - A380)
Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel
CX F HKG-LAX (CX884 - 777-300ER)
AA F LAX-LAS (AA1714 - 737-800)

Introduction

This special trip was booked to celebrate my 40th birthday. Whilst I was not in a dramatic meltdown over reaching the big FOUR O, I did want to do something a bit different. I have been working very hard over the last couple of years and would be unlikely to ever do a dream trip like this again so last November I thought – why not just go for it??!!!

The destinations were obviously a big draw but I also wanted to make sure I got the opportunity to fly airlines and classes that I had dreamed about and read about in other people’s trip reports. So whilst this is a trip report about my Far East adventure, it will feature heavily on the airports, lounges, airlines and hotels. That said I will throw in a few gems from my travels.

I am a Oneworld girl at heart, having achieved Gold with the British Airways Executive Club program, however this trip gave me the opportunity to sample other airlines for a fraction of their normal long haul premium class cost. Flyertalk has helped me learn about the tricks to sampling some F seats, without having to take out a mortgage for each flight.

I am also a Platinum Ambassador with the Priority Club and therefore all my hotel rooms were an upgrade of at least 1 room category – plus I was entitled to water, fruit, 4pm late check out and a few other perks along the way.

So onwards and upwards to the first event!

aks120

Last edited by aks120; Jan 9, 15 at 11:26 am
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 5:51 pm
  #2  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
AA F LAS-LAX

AA169 - 737-800
Planned T/O – 0710
Actual T/O - 0707
Planned Arrival – 0820
Actual Arrival – 0811
Seat – 4A

Transportation

I had a car booked to take me to the airport – Bell Transportation. If you are ever in Vegas and need a limo service – these guys are great and have never let me down. It was an early start and the car arrived at 0500!! I was a bit surprised when the car turned out to be a stretch limo rather than the sedan I had booked but it seems loyalty pays in the limo business too - off I went to the airport feeling like a rock star! In true FT style, instead of flying direct to ORD I had decided to take the extra leg via LAX to get another 60 BAEC Tier Points and 1000 BA Miles. I did wonder if this may bite me as ORD had snow scheduled and I got a call from American Airlines telling me my flight to ORD had been cancelled just as I got to the airport.......more on that later!

Check-in

Due to the early start and no traffic, I quickly arrived at McCarran International Airport (LAS) Term 1 and proceeded to check-in. LAS is an airport I know and love and whilst it is not the easiest to negotiate and the flow is not ideal, it has a great buzz and is still one of my favourites for a US domestic flight. If you are flying international from LAS then feel free to look at my mini Terminal 3 review – http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...ow-photos.html

I had already checked-in on-line but wanted to get a boarding pass – I really don’t like the ones you print at home – they are too big! Plus I needed to find out what was going on with the flight that was supposedly cancelled! Check-in was a scrum today - not sure why it was so bad so early in the morning but the queue for First check in was 15 deep so I decided to risk the normal check-in which looked faster. Of course I picked the wrong queue and got the girl who thought she could check-in 2 lines at once rather than just work one line - no dear it is not faster, you just annoy everyone as you swap from console to console! When I got to the desk I was expecting some discussion about the cancelled flight but nothing was said and my boarding passes and luggage tags were printed with no fuss. I was confused and had a closer look at the flight numbers - sure enough I was on a different flight to ORD than the one I booked but when I questioned the lady, she had no idea what I was talking about and appeared not to realize I was on a completely different flight! Never mind I thought, at least I had a First seat (I had a booked a K-UP fare and could easily have ended up in economy and thereby negating the reason for the dog leg to get Tier Points completely). Once I had my boarding pass I was off through security – Fast Track - and then on to the D gates via the little tram. It is always very easy at LAS in my opinion and apart from the long queue for check-in I was a happy girl!

Lounge

There is only a lounge that you can pay to go in at LAS D Gates so I did not bother. I also noticed a new American Express Centurion lounge which looked very nice but I did not have the right credentials to enter . It seems very nice though according to this post http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/briti...las-vegas.html However, I think the terminal has enough to keep you amused and people watch without paying for the pleasure so I just wandered around. I normally walk up and down each leg at the D Gates to see if there are any new shops however I actually didn't have much time today so I just sat at the gate and used the free wifi to figure out what was going on with the flights.

Flight

Seats were perfectly comfy for a short hop to LAX.



Alcohol – A bit too early for me at this stage of my journey but they have a selection should you wanted to start drinking at 0730!!!

Menu – Only a snack of pretzels on this very short flight to LAX. I actually didn't have anything, as I was not hungry.

Entertainment – My iPad kept me amused for the 45 min trip.

Amenity Kit – N/A

Cabin Crew – They were a slightly mature cabin crew of the skies but they were perfectly pleasant and I had no complaints. On take off there was a bit of a commotion when a tray that had been laid out for the upcoming coffee run fell on the floor - not sure why the flight attendant did not realize that on take off, all that was on the side of the galley would end up on the floor! It did not give me great confidence for any emergencies !

Arrival

All AA domestic flights are flown from the same terminal and the gates are all very close together – this allows for some tight connections – certainly tighter than I would be comfortable anywhere else! I was quickly off the aircraft and off to the AA Flagship Lounge.

Last edited by aks120; Jan 9, 15 at 11:27 am
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 5:52 pm
  #3  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
AA F LAX-ORD

AA9259 - 737-800
Planned T/O – 0905
Actual T/O - 0901
Planned Arrival – 1510
Actual Arrival – 1448
Seat – 6E

Transportation

No requirement as the next departure gate was about 20 ft away from my arrival gate.

Check-in

I had already checked for my onward flight at LAS so nothing to do on my arrival here. The AA terminal at LAX is very compact; there are not many shops or food outlets so it is not a great place to spend many hours in. Due to the aircraft and flight change, I ended up in an aisle seat rather than a window but still at the back - important for this flight number as American Airlines works FEBO - Front Even Back Odd when taking orders for food based on flight number!

Lounge - LAX Admirals Lounge and Flagship First Lounge

On arrival at LAX, I headed to the Admirals Club and Flagship Lounge. My AA First tickets did not give me access to the lounges, as they are only domestic First however because of my BA Gold Card, I could use the Admirals Lounge and the Flagship Lounge.



The Admirals Lounge is big but can get very busy. It provides nibbles and some free alcohol but nothing to write home about. The Flagship Lounge is available to Long-Haul First passengers and Oneworld Emerald cardholders. It is located within the Admirals Club and is accessed by a special swipe card that you are given at the entrance. The range of food and drinks is slightly better and it is a lot quieter, however it still is not a lounge you would be blown away by. They were still serving breakfast when I went in - nothing that stood out but bagels, oatmeal, fruit and some cereal. There was a Sonoma sparkling wine but it was too early for me.......just







However, the one thing I love about both the Admirals Lounge and the Flagship Lounge at LAX is the view – you are sitting right above the Oneworld gates both domestic and International; the Tom Bradley International Terminal is directly opposite. I love watching the flights come and go to their various destinations – I use the FlightBoard and FlightAware apps to see what is happening around an airport.

I did not have much time today so I took a few photos for this report and then had to head back down to the gate for my next flight.

Flight

Seat – The original aircraft was supposed to be a 767-300 which has the new lie flat seats and are the best domestic First Class seats. I will always try and get on one of these flights if I can. However the flight I had been rebooked onto was a 737-800 with the normal domestic First seats - perfectly comfortable for a 3 hour flight but I was disappointed that I had an inferior product to what I had booked but at least I was heading to ORD - looking at the snow forecast and cancellations I fear not everyone will be so lucky today!



Alcohol – Full bar on a trolley started not long after take-off. All First passengers were addressed by name, which I thought was a nice touch. I had a diet coke but there was a Sycamore Chardonnay and a Smoking Loon Petite Sirah plus hard liquor if you wanted it.

Menu – No menu was handed out for breakfast but the flight attendant described the 2 breakfast options well - you could have cereal with bananas or breakfast quesadilla. I went for the quesadilla as I wanted something hot but that was a mistake - the quesadilla was very dry and the egg inside was pretty tasteless. The potatoes it was served with were slightly undercooked and I avoided the chorizo bits as I am not fond of chorizo. I turned down the offer of a biscuit or muffin as I wanted to save the calories for champagne later but they looked OK. My breakfast was served with some fresh fruit so at least I had something to eat - overall it was pretty underwhelming to be honest!



That said, the flight attendant had spotted that I left most of my meal and tried one herself to see what the issue was - she agreed that the quesadilla was tasteless and dry and said she was going to write it up but encouraged me to do so as well as that was the only way to get it changed. Again another example of the flight attendant being proactive and customer focused - something American Airline flight attendants get a bad press for but the lady in First on my flight was awesome and I will be writing her up as so too!

Entertainment – The film that was playing was very recent, Silver Linings Playbook, which was an Oscar winner in fact however the entertainment system was ancient, I could hardly see the TV on the bulkhead as it was so small. I spent my time writing some of this report and listening to my iPod. What did we do prior to these wonderful inventions??

Amenity Kit – N/A however all First passengers get a blanket which was just as well as it seemed American Airlines were saving on the heating bill for this flight!!

Cabin Crew – The flight attendant serving First was slightly mature but very friendly. Addressing us by name was nice touch and she was very efficient.

Arrival

We had an early arrival, which seemed to throw the baggage folks into disarray. I was told 3 different arrivals carousels and walked back and forth like an idiot. That said both bags arrived thankfully and I was off to the hotel in quick order.

Last edited by aks120; Jan 9, 15 at 11:29 am
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 5:54 pm
  #4  
Hyatt Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: CGK
Programs: FlyingBlue | Krisflyer | SPG | HHonors
Posts: 717
Originally Posted by aks120 View Post

PS if anyone can tell me how to add a map to this post I would be grateful!
I am a oneworld flyer too and looking forward to your report since you do have some great cabins (EK F and TG F on the A380) I would like to fly in one day as well!

By the way, use the Great Circle Mapper to map out your routes and copy the image URL it generates.
quirrow is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:00 pm
  #5  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
Intercontinental Chicago O’Hare - Please note this is no longer an Intercontinental Hotel!



Transportation

After quite a long walk, I arrived at the bus and shuttle part of the airport. I got the hotel shuttle to the hotel - the bus was very luxurious compared to other hotel buses and the driver was super friendly. It was a 10 min ride to the hotel and was very painless.

Check-in

Booked – 1 King Bed Deluxe Room.
Actual - Room No 504. 1 King Bed Junior Suite (upgraded online the night before).



Room

Overall Impression - A bit like a posh Ikea hotel......! I had heard great things about this hotel but although the room was very large, it lacked any sort of personality. It is a real airport hotel however I must admit I was just a little disappointed after all the great reviews. Nothing I could say was bad at all just not what I expected from an Intercontinental.



Ambassador Perk - My Ambassador welcome fruit was nothing exciting but it did all look fresh. I was also given 2 bottles of Evian water. My Ambassador welcome gift was a packet of popcorn – tasty but slightly underwhelming!



View – Awful - just a view of the air conditioning ducts and a roof.

Bathroom - the best part of the room. It was outstanding and had the biggest shower I have ever seen. The rain shower was great but I would like to see better hairdryers - the one in the room looked and sounded good but I may as well have just stuck my head out the window as I think it would have been quicker to dry my hair that way!





Toiletries – Aguaria toiletries - I like the smell but they do not seem as luxurious as the Elemis ones I have had at other Intercontinental hotels although it seems that this is the new brand they now use. The soap was very nice and I don't normally like soap.



The turndown service was welcome - curtains closed, dressing gown moved to the bathroom and a chocolate on my pillow, which was very tasty! I could hear a bit of airport noise but nothing too bad. The room temperature was nice and apart from waking up at midnight for no reason, I slept extremely well in the very comfy bed.

Fresco 21

I ate at the new restaurant in the hotel and I sat having a couple of glasses of wine prior to dinning. The atmosphere was fine - typical hotel bar - and they had a good selection of wines. The menu looked tasty - it was a Tapas style menu and one that I welcomed, as I hate to eat a lot on my travels - just bits and pieces. I ordered the house side salad and the Greek meatballs with flatbread and tzatziki. Both were delicious and enough for me, despite the waitress try to encourage me to eat more! However their cutlery left a lot to be desired - the fork was 'top heavy' and looked like something a baby would use. It was so unevenly heavy that it kept falling off my plate and was very irritating! The food is good and the staff are friendly so I would recommend this place if you don't want to leave the hotel!



I was given free breakfast with my rate and this was in the Fresco 21 restaurant and finished at 1030. My chit was for the continental breakfast and it also included the tax and gratuity - sometimes free breakfasts are not totally free so it was nice to see that this one was!! I had some fruit and a yogurt plus a lovely glass of orange juice. If you wanted to pay for hot stuff there was about 6 different items available.

Check out was painless and I caught the hotel bus back to the airport. It goes every half hour.

Last edited by aks120; Jan 24, 15 at 7:21 am Reason: Updated the fact this is not an IC Hotel anymore!
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:08 pm
  #6  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
CX J ORD-HKG

CX807 – 777-300ER
Planned T/O – 1500
Actual T/O - 1542
Planned Arrival – 1955
Actual Arrival – 2043
Seat – 11A

This was to be my first time on Cathay on an international flight and I was very excited. Their business class has had some great reviews and I was keen to compare it to my usual mode of transport (BA Club World). As I had used my hard earned BA miles to book this ticket, I had high hopes it would be better.

Transportation

I used the hotel shuttle to get to the airport, which was painless. In fact I had allowed time for faffing when there was none and arrived a shade too early.

Check-in

I had to wait about 5 mins for the check in desks to open at 1130 and there was 1 person in front of me at the First check-in. I could use First because of my Oneworld Emerald status. The economy line was about 10 deep when they opened the desks. A lady came out to check I was in First or Business and when I showed her my BA Gold card she rushed me off to another desk that was empty - a great first impression! The check-in lady was very pleasant and informed me that the flight would be a little late and told me about the Swiss Lounge that I could use. A great experience and a warm welcome to my first international Cathay flight.



Lounge – SWISS Lounge

For some reason, Cathay use the SWISS lounge (although that may have changed now) but as the BA Lounge does not open until the Cathay flight is due to board I guess that is the reason. This seems an odd arrangement to me – surely the BA lounge could open earlier and be staffed by Cathay folks to ensure Oneworld continuity. Anyhow I entered the Swiss Lounge, which is well signposted to accommodate the Cathay passengers but when I entered I was shocked at how small it really is. I counted 18 seats total - the food smelt nice but a very limited selection and the wine choice was pretty poor.



Two whites and 2 reds, no sparkly/champagne, and the wines themselves were not the most expensive ever seen in a lounge! I guess all the lounge money has gone into the fabulous lounges in Hong Kong!







There was also a very annoying woman who refused to turn the sound down on her iPod and so we were subjected to a very annoying whistle and whoop every time she got mail. She also started playing a game with the sound on, completely oblivious to the dirty looks she was receiving - some folks really don't know how to play nicely in small spaces with modern technology!!!

After reading a few discussions on FT, I realized I was actually in the Business Class lounge, not the First lounge. As Oneworld Emerald I am normally entitled to use the F lounges, despite only traveling in J however when I questioned the lounge dragon, she was adamant that I could only use the J lounge. When I asked why as I was Emerald I was told the lounges are the same but the F lounge is very small. I am still not convinced but I hope to goodness the F lounge is better than the tiny pathetic J lounge! I actually only wanted to go in there for a glass of bubbly but I guess that will have to wait until I get on the flight.....or I manage to sneak into the welcoming arms of the BA First lounge down the corridor........!!!

I had noticed that BA had a Terraces lounge and a First lounge just down the corridor and as my flight was going to be delayed I decided to try and see what they were like! The sign says it is open at 1400 but that was not the case today. I finally managed to get into the First lounge at 1435 and received a very unfriendly welcome! She told me to go to the Cathay lounge, when I said this was full she just looked at me. Then she said well this will be full too - there was not a soul in it at this stage and I said well I will only be in for 15 mins as we will be boarding shortly - Oh OK well then I guess you can come in! At least this lounge had champagne, even if it is pretty cheap stuff! It had a better view than the Cathay one too! Quite honestly, the Oneworld lounges in Chicago are pretty unfriendly places despite being a BA Gold card holder .







Chicago Term 5 is pretty poor to hang around in - the duty free is small and there were no places to eat. That said, the was a lot of building work going on and signs that indicated that this should improve in the near future with a couple of new restaurants. Why American airports don't want to try and get you to spend money when bored waiting for a flight is beyond me - LAX is the same though the new terminal there will hopefully improve that.

Overall, I won’t be rushing back to ORD in the future - I thought LAX was bad but this place beats it hands down!

Anyway – on to the flight. Boarding was a very strange affair - it seemed like half the aircraft needed wheelchairs - most folks seemed fine walking around until the boarding announcement was made......Also I am pretty sure some folks just grabbed the nearest child too so that they could board early. All a bit of a nightmare really however it was all worth it.........

Flight

It is not often that I am speechless when flying these days but wow - the first impression of the Cathay business class seat was just amazing. I actually thought I had wandered into First Class! I had booked 11A, which is in a mini cabin of 2 rows of business class seats and it was a great choice. The seat was like a little mini suite and I can honestly say that despite my extensive research and reading of trip reports, no pictures could ever do the seat justification. I now see why folks think the BA Club World seat is behind the drag curve! I hope that the soft product lives up to the hard product - the first glass of champagne is very nice although I am not sure what it is yet! I also think I have missed the very friendly Cathay hostess welcome but maybe it is because it is boarding time and they are busy.......we shall see!







I find myself looking forward towards First Class but not with envy as I normally do on BA, more with curiosity!

I was welcomed by the senior cabin manager for being an Emerald card holder - a nice touch and one that I wish BA would follow. I have only ever been welcomed by the crew on the LAS route and have felt distinctly unwelcome on the LAX route!

Alcohol – Not long after take off the cabin crew came round with the first drink and a snack of warm almonds. I had a glass of champagne, which was very nice. I had not heard of the Deutz before but it was very pleasant.



The drink choices were:

Champagne Deutz - Brut Classic
Simi Somona Country Chardonnay 2009
Peter Schweiger Gruner Veltliner Kamptal Terrassen DAC Reserve 2010
Clos Du Bois North Coast Cabernet Sauvingnon 2008
Chateau Hanteillan Haut Medoc Cru Bourgeois 2010
Plenty of hard liquor and beer
Oriental Breeze & Cloud Nine non-alcoholic cocktails.



I stuck with the champagne......

Menu – menus were out very quickly and I felt like I could eat any one of the choices. The menu was:

Starter

Cardamom spiced prawns with curried eggs and roasted peppers
Seasonal mixed salad with portabello mushroom and sesame oriental dressing



The starters were delicious and the salad dressing was one I could have eaten over and over again. The egg and prawns were a strange combination but worked and I finished it all.

Main Courses

Grilled USDA beef tenderloin with cabernet sauce, potato gratin and sautéed baby spinach
Cod with sweet wine sauce, steamed jasmine rice and stir-fried pak choy with carrots
Herb roasted corn fed chicken breast with chive cream sauce, corn bread stuffing and green beans
Artichoke and cheese cannelloni with tomato sauce and cream sauce

The main of cod was well cooked, very tasty and again I cleared the plate.



Cheese and Desert

Camembert, Cheddar, Danish blue
Fresh seasonal fruit
Burnt caramel flan cheese cake with chocolate sauce

I am big fan of cheese and biscuits and very rarely go for pudding but on this flight I had both! The cheese was yummy and the cheesecake was to die for - it really was tasty.



Tea & Coffee

Pralines

Snacks

Grilled saffron marinated prawns skewer with cucumber raita
Wontons in noodle soup
Ice Cream

Refreshments

Starter

Fresh seasonal fruit



Main Course

Cedar plank roasted halibut with gremolata, roasted fingerling potatoes and asparagus
Stir-fried chicken with black pepper sauce, egg fried rice, kailan and carrots
Portobello mushroom ravioli with roasted red pepper sauce, vegetable ribbon, toasted almonds and parmesan cheese



Desert

Cherry linzer cake with raspberry coulis

Tea & Coffee

Quite simply the whole menu sounded delicious and I really did not know what to go for. During the main meal, my champagne was constantly topped up although I noticed I they had swapped from Deutz for Moet & Chandon Imperial. Not sure which is better as they tasted very similar.

Last edited by aks120; Jan 9, 15 at 11:46 am
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:09 pm
  #7  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
CX J ORD-HKG Cont...

I slept/dozed for most of the flight in a very comfortable bed.



The cabin temperature was just right and the duvet was a great addition. Again, I was very impressed with the Cathay hard product, especially when I lay on my side and found the useful side pockets were actually placed so that you could bend your knees in bed - something I do at home but normally find uncomfortable on aircraft.

On waking, and with about an hour and a half to go, I was offered the refreshment menu. I was not really hungry but felt I should eat something, as it would be late by the time I got to the hotel. This second meal would put some airlines primary meal to shame. I had the fruit to start, which was fresh and tasty. The stir-fried chicken was nice but the bits of chicken were a little large for my liking - not a complaint, just a personal preference. I just could not fit in the pudding offered and stuck with diet coke, although champagne and wine was offered.

Entertainment – A great choice of new movies - I watched Skyfall during dinner - I must be one of the few left on the planet that had not seen this movie and who does not love Bond.......I still have dreams about him in his swimming trunks........but that is another story! The TV screen was a great size and I loved the handset that gave you an update as you were going along about both the film and the distance to go.







Amenity Kit – A great Agnes-B kit in a bag I will definitely use again. The kit came with eyeshades, socks, earplugs, toothpaste, toothbrush, a cotton pad, Murad body cream and Murad night cream. A great kit and one that is useful! I actually found out later that it should have come with lip cream too but for some reason my unopened kit did not have it!





Cabin Crew – After a bit of a frosty and busy start, the cabin crew were extremely friendly. I appeared to be served by the senior member and they always said my name so it made it all very personable.

I can’t tell you much about what happened in the cabin as this seat is very isolated (in a good way). I found it difficult to see any folks around me and therefore the people watching opportunities were slim! I loved the seat in that respect and felt I could take photos to my hearts content rather than be embarrassed about it.



There was a massive thunderstorm on the approach to Hong Kong but I was pleased to see there was no rush to get us through it. The pilots skirted around the edge and held for a bit before starting the approach. The pilots also made the flight attendants stop service and buckle up but the turbulence was not bad at all due to their thunderstorm avoidance tactics.

Despite this being a 16-hour flight, I was sad to get off. Cathay had really lived up to their top reputation on this flight with both their soft and hard product. I enjoyed a really pleasurable flight and cannot wait for my First flight, as if this Business class trip is anything to go by, it will be outstanding!

Arrival

I walked for about 10 mins to get to the immigration hall. The queue was relatively small and I was through there in under 10 mins and onto the baggage hall. The great thing about Hong Kong airport is the free wifi, so I logged on to let my family know I had arrived safely and about 10 mins later both of my bags arrived and I was off to the hotel.

Last edited by aks120; Jan 9, 15 at 11:47 am
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:13 pm
  #8  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
Intercontinental Grand Stanford



The last time I was in Hong Kong I had splashed out and treated myself to the Intercontinental Hong Kong and had been treated like a Queen – I was upgraded to a magnificent suite with a great view over the harbour. This time I elected to go for the Grand Stanford, mainly due to the price differential but also because I wanted to try a different hotel – I strongly believe that you need to have different experiences rather than do the same thing over and over.

Transportation

I got to the hotel by using the MTR Airport Express and attached hotel bus service. I was wavering about whether to try this or just get a taxi but as I came out of the customs hall, the MTR booth and entrance were right in front of me so it just seemed the simpler option. I am glad I did as I bought my ticket, headed off to the platform and a train arrived 4 mins later. The train was clean and had a nice luggage rack for my 2 suitcases and we were off to the city in no time.



The Airport Express has only 3 stops, and I was to get off at the second stop - Kowloon.



It is here that you can get on the free buses to a variety of hotels, mine being on the K3 route. At the Kowloon station the transfer from train to bus was very easy and I got on a slightly older bus, which left a couple of minutes later. The bus stopped at a few hotels before getting to the Intercontinental and I think the driver was trying out to be a Formula 1 driver but I arrived at the hotel front door in one piece!





Check-in

Booked – 1 King Premier Side Harbour View.
Actual – Room No 945 – 1 King Premier Full Harbour View (upgraded a few days after booking).



Check in was quick and the front desk handed me a welcome note from the manager as this was my first time at the hotel. I was given a breakdown of my rate and a drinks token. I asked about internet and was told it was free for being an Ambassador; the charge would just be taken off my room charges at the end of my stay.



I had read that the ‘Premier’ rooms were the more recently upgraded rooms, and although there was a cheaper category that did not include a harbour view, I thought I would spend the little extra to experience the view that Hong Kong is famous for. I ended up in a lovely room that had obviously just recently been updated.



It is not the biggest room out there but plenty big enough for me and included a desk, a comfy seat, a great bathroom, a massive bed and a lovely view of the harbour. The view was really good and I was glad I had gone for the harbour view choice - you really have to when in Hong Kong!



The bathroom was compact but had a big shower with 2 showerheads and a seat in it - all done in marble. The sink was nice and big too. The toiletries were Agraria again and they were dotted around the bathroom.





Ambassador Perk - My Ambassador welcome fruit was pretty standard but it did all look fresh. I was also given 1 bottle of Vittel water. My Ambassador welcome gift was a box of chocolates. The chocolates came in an Intercontinental Grand Stanford box and they were good quality – I had a couple a night!





I did not pay for lounge access at this hotel as I had other plans. On the first night I went to Tiffany's bar and had my free drink plus a couple of glasses of wine. The choices were good and there was a band on - good singers but a little loud. When I looked around I noticed it was not that busy and it was really dark inside. The waitress was very friendly and always remembered my drink order. The Tiffany's bar does buy one get one free drinks between 1700-2030 so I would go in there prior to dinner. Given the prices at some bars this is a good deal. The caiprihanis are strong but tasty - not totally authentic but not bad. Plus I could use the wifi in the bar which is a bonus for me traveling alone - it gives me something to do while I people watch!





I also found the hotel restaurants, which are not well signposted at all. There is a Cafe, an Italian and a Michelin starred Chinese restaurant. All seemed busy at lunch. One evening I decided to eat in the hotel due to the thunderstorm and monsoon outside - the hotel has a Michelin starred Cantonese restaurant called Hoi King Heen and whilst it had some very 'unusual' ingredients on the menu, I saw a few things that sounded yummy so thought I would give it a go. The service throughout was phenomenal - I had Hot & Sour soup to start which was delicious and then had prawns in chili and garlic - there was huge prawns but no appearance of either chili or garlic! However the noodles with spring onions was wonderful. I could not fault the welcome or service but I am not sure what got them the star!







Soon enough it was time to check-out of the hotel. This was fast and efficient and I got the airport express bus back to meet the MTR to the airport. Having stayed at both the IC Grand Stanford and the IC Hong Kong, I think I prefer the Grand Stanford. The room was excellent; the location very good and for the price difference, I think the Grand Stanford is by far the better value. My view was very good, maybe not as dramatic as the one in the IC Hong Kong but still fabulous. If I return to Hong Kong it will be the Grand Stanford that I stay at.

Last edited by aks120; Apr 18, 13 at 8:10 pm
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:17 pm
  #9  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
Hong Kong

Day 1-Kowloon


I woke early on my first day, not a surprise considering I had slept for hours on my Cathay flight the previous day! I tried not to get up and managed to stay in bed until 0700 when I was well and truly bored with that! The day looked liked it would be overcast, and maybe even rain so I decided to go out early. The plan was to go up to the top of Nathan Road, visit a lot of the markets as I wandered back down to the hotel.

I walked along the Avenue of Stars towards the Star Ferry and took in the amazing sight of the Hong Kong skyline and harbor. I walked past the other Intercontinental hotel, the more expensive one, and was actually surprised at how close it was to the Intercontinental Grand Stanford - for the price difference it really is not far away at all - 6-7 mins walk. I saw folks doing Tai Chi on the side and marveled at the beautiful scenery.



My airport express ticket also got me 3 free days traveling on the MTR - the Hong Kong equivalent of the tube or subway. I decided to live like a local and hopped on the MTR at Tsim Sha Tsui and headed up to the Prince Edward stop. This did not involve a change of trains but just figuring out which line to get on so that I did not end out in the suburbs of Hong Kong was adventurous enough thank you!





This took me to the top of Nathan Road where I headed off to the Yuen Po Street Bird Garden and the Flower Market. The Bird Garden was a bit bizarre - it was little old men selling tiny birds in tiny cages! Seems the birds are lucky and were very cute but I did feel a bit sorry for some of them as a couple of stalls had them crammed into cages that were far too small for the numbers.



Then I walked to the Flower Market which pretty much does what it days on the tin - sells lots of fresh flowers! The smell was gorgeous and the flowers were beautiful and exotic.





I then wandered down a street where I arrived upon a food market. You could buy every part of the animal and fish species. When you walk past a whole dead pig on the floor, a woman gutting and chopping up a fish with bits flying everywhere and then you walk along the 'butchers' part where the floor is covered in what I hoped was animal blood and bits so it was super slippery, you know you have found the real Hong Kong! I was fascinated - I also think I may now be vegetarian.......!







Dragging myself away from the massacre, I headed back to the very touristy Jade market. I am convinced that no item I saw was actually made of jade, and a lot of signs said items were jade colour....ie green! It was interesting to walk around but I did not buy anything for fear that it would be green glass or the like! However, I was to return!



I then ended up in a fruit and veg market - luckily no blood and guts here! Some very weird looking fruit though and I tried something that I thought was of the same family as an orange - no - think a lemon on sour steroids! I swear I heard the little old Chinese lady laugh at my facial expression as I ate the thing walking away! I don't think my taste buds will ever be the same again!

Eventually I ended up on Nathan Road with the very posh shops and Indian men trying to sell me a handmade custom suit. I started to walk back to the hotel, and I walked along the water front - I don't think I will ever get fed up with that skyline. As I walked past the Intercontinental Hong Kong (the very expensive sister of my hotel), I decided to re-live a memory and have lunch here. I stayed at this hotel (on a very great rate) when I was here in 2009 and thought it was one of the best hotels I have ever stayed in. The view from the lobby bar/restaurant is phenomenal and I had another good meal of a salad and mini burger.

I was a little tired from the early start and mini marathon so had a couple of hours sleep - fatal! I felt like death warmed up when my alarm went off at 6pm but I was determined to go out. My to do list had the Ozone Bar in the Ritz Carlton on it - it is on the 118 floor and is the highest bar in the world - well a girl has to go and visit that! The place is very pretentious - and lacked any sort of atmosphere. Although the weather hampered the view a little today, I really don't think it would be worth the trip even on a good day. I was seated at a window table, after much huffing as they wanted me to sit at the bar as a single person but I refused. I ordered a glass of champagne that took an age to arrive and despite an abundance of staff they seemed only interested in pampering to a manager who appeared to be hosting a very young important person. The view was OK but the screens were dirty. I could not get out of the atmosphere vacuum fast enough! I think this place was the biggest disappointment of my holiday.



Day 2 - Hong Kong Island

I managed to sleep in to a normal time today so that by the time I was up and about, so was Hong Kong! I walked the 10 mins to the MTR station so that I could get across to Hong Kong Island like a local. This time I knew how to navigate myself onto the correct line and waited for a train. It is then at I realized that all the folks on the platform would fill a train never mind accounting for anyone who was already on it - I felt it may be a tight squeeze! I normally feel like a giant walking around Hong Kong but I see that my height would now give me an advantage - intimidation - or so I thought! The sweet little old Chinese ladies are, in fact, undercover dragons who only come to light when boarding a full train. Nope that is OK, I will take the next one........ Eventually I arrived at the Central station where I was to get off - if it were not for my sharp elbows and UK Tube training, I may still have been on the blasted thing! After negotiating my way out of the largest station I have ever seen - just keep going up seemed to be the way ahead, I arrived in the hustle and bustle of the financial and shopping district of Hong Kong Island.

This was again a mesmerizing experience - sights and sounds of massive Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Prada stores mixed in with tiny homemade stalls selling everything you could imagine and some stuff you couldn't! I decided to put the map away and just wander to see where I ended up. Going through the back streets, I found myself at the world’s longest moving walkway. Well a girl has got to try that ....so I did.....or at least I tried. It seems that the walkway goes the way of the predominant traffic depending on the time of day - I happened to be going the wrong way so had to walk up the mountain of steps rather than getting the moving walkway to help. In fact, the predominant direction at this time of the day was down - who on earth needs a moving walkway to take them down hill when there are hundreds of steps to negotiate the other way - no, the Chinese did not seem so clever on this occasion!



I carried on going up the steps just so that I could say I had ridden on the walkway - halfway up in the humid conditions I was beginning to regret that decision but I was not to be defeated - ironically 20 mins previous I had no idea this bloomin walkway existed and now I was determined I had to ride on it!!! What this stubbornness did achieve was to place me in an area I probably would never have gone to - the artistic and market area, which was a highlight of my visit to the Island.



I haggled poorly for some nik naks - I am sure the stall owner is now better off with the proceeds, however I was happy that I got an Ox (for my birth year) and a jade/green glass snake (it is the year of the snake). I also went into the Man Mo Temple, which was built in 1847. The smell of incense is very strong and inside I found it quite basic but enchanting.



I then wandered my way back down towards the busy part of town. I had read a review of a place called 10 Feet Tall that was a spa that did great foot massages. I found the place and went in and treated myself to something called a 'why not' which was 50 mins of a foot massage and shoulders and neck massage. It was great and I would recommend anyone that finds themselves with a spare hour or so on Hong Kong Island to go there.

I left the place and entered the hustle and bustle again and after walking around I ended up at the International Financial Centre Mall - I can describe this place in 1 word - massive! I just kept walking and walking past some great shops. I left the IFC Mall and decided to take the Star Ferry back to Kowloon - this is always a great experience and I love the simplicity of the whole operation.



Day 3 - Kowloon

I decided to stay on the Kowloon side today as I just wanted to wander around for a few hours prior to departing for my flight. I managed to sleep in again until a reasonable time and headed out just after 10 when things were starting to liven up. I found myself walking back up towards the markets, specifically the Jade market. I had not made a purchase last time I was here and although I doubted many of the items were real jade, I wanted to say I had bought something here from my travels. The market was very lively and the stall holders were trying hard to catch my attention. Some were downright pushy and I avoided them but there were a couple that had some lovely items on them and a sign that said 'real jade' - well if they have a sign it must be real......!! Other signs I noticed said real jade colour which I avoided as that basically means green items! I found a lovely old Chinese man and had fun bartering for a couple of bits.

As I meandered back to the hotel, I realized my time in Hong Kong was coming to an end and was sad. Although I was excited to get to my next port of call (Bangkok) on my next flight (Emirates A380 First), I found myself thinking about how I could get out here again as I really love this City and its people.

Back to the hotel for a shower and pack before heading off to the Airport Express bus and train.

Last edited by aks120; May 20, 14 at 9:29 am
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:21 pm
  #10  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
EK F HKG-BKK

EK385 – A380
Planned T/O – 2115
Actual T/O - 2124
Planned Arrival – 2315
Actual Arrival – 2320
Seat – 2K



One of the perks of Flyertalk is that you get to see other people’s trip reports. I had only ever dreamed of flying in a First Suite on an Emirates A380 – I really was not as rich as I wanted to be. So when I read a few reports by people experiencing most of the F Suite hospitality but for a few hundred dollars instead of a few thousand I thought I would investigate more. It seems that the Emirates A380 flight from HKG-BKK and reverse is not as expensive as you would imagine and they sell their F tickets for a couple of hundred dollars more than a Y ticket. Whilst it is only a flight of a couple of hours, I really wanted to say that a) I had flown an A380 and b) I had flown in what is recognized as the best First Class suite in the business. So off I went to the Emirates website to book my trip. In fact the F ticket was only $150 more than the economy one on the date I wanted!

Transportation

I chose to do the reverse of my inbound route on the Airport Express, as it was so easy and more importantly I had paid for a return journey! The bus picked me up at the hotel and took me to Kowloon station where I caught the Airport Express back to the airport. I cannot recommend this enough as a very simple and hassle free experience.

Check-in

I did not check in at the Kowloon Airport Express terminal, as I wanted to experience the proper Emirates F check in experience at the airport. Not sure what I was expecting but there was no harps or doves or singing nuns, just a gaggle of agents gossiping. I stood patiently waiting to be acknowledged and I was, but no apology just some sheepish looks.



Anyway check in was fast and I headed off to the security line - I could not see one for F passengers, I am not sure there is one but the line went very quickly. In fact I don't think I have ever been through security quicker and with less hassle - T5 take note! I then queued to leave the country - again very quick and then suddenly I was in the vast expanse, which is known as Hong Kong Duty Free. It really is a bit overwhelming to see all the different shops.

Lounge – Emirates Lounge



It took me a little while to find the lounge, it is not that well signposted in my opinion, and when I got there at 1730, I was told they were shut and to come back at 1815. It seems the lounge shuts for about an hour at this time of the evening although I am not sure why. Maybe it was just as well as I could have had a lot of champagne in that time and wanted to enjoy the good stuff they served on board! The lounge is very nice and I loved the distance between the chairs - made it seem very roomy and you had your personal space. The lounge is a joint J and F lounge, but I did not feel I was missing out with not having a separate F lounge. They served a selection of wines and Veuve Clicquot champagne - and a small food selection. I had some noodles, which were pretty tasteless, and some cheese and biscuits - the blue cheese served was delicious although it was so strong I doubt I will taste anything else tonight!



Service was VERY efficient - a little too efficient in my mind - I am quite capable of serving myself at a buffet and the presence of a person right next to me every time I made a move toward the food or drink was a little unnerving. It also meant I didn't take as many photos as I wanted as I felt a bit daft doing so. The lounge was a mix of what I would say was business and leisure travelers - no loud talkers or DYKWIA and the atmosphere was one of quiet activity and consideration for others. The view was great as I could see the comings and goings of the airlines outside - although the visibility was appalling today so I could not see as much as I wanted.

Now it is time to board - Wow wow wow wow and wow! I thought the Cathay seat was impressive but this Emirates First class suite is better than my apartment.





First impressions did make me wonder what all the hype was about but then I settled in and saw the suite for all its glory. The seat is super comfortable, the storage spaces are well thought out and the gadgets are to die for!





The seat is wonderfully comfortable. Now it took me a while to figure out the remote control thingy that controls the entire seat but I could control the lights, seat, privacy door and massage function, all with the touch of a button on an ipad looking machine. I felt like I was in charge of the starship enterprise!

I smiled at the electronic window blinds - how cool are they?? I went exploring and found the shower - Emirates are the only ones with a shower on board their A380 - it may be a gimmick but it was a great one at that.







The TV screen is also bigger than my home one - absolutely fabulous. Now to address that 'bling' accusation - true, it is a little bright for my liking but it is impressive - vanity mirrors, touch screen controls and drinks cabinet - what is not to like! I also do not like gold - I am a platinum or white gold girl, so the gold bling was a little too bright however it is done in a way that seems to fit both the Emirates brand and the magnificent A380!



Pre flight drinks were a glass of Moet & Chandon. I tried to say no to a second glass but that was ignored - oh well, if you insist! I really put my foot down when she tried to refill my glass for a third time. On BA you get 1 small glass and that is your lot! 




Entertainment – A great choice of entertainment - I did not watch anything, as I wanted to enjoy the flight and food. I am sure a flight to Dubai would go super fast though. I did watch the nose camera when on the ground and for approach - the picture was far better than the Cathay one as it was clear and in focus and when put on such a big TV screen, it was a great way to watch the approach and landing.

After a period of sitting in the seat, I thought I actually prefered the Cathay business class seat for comfort. For a start the Cathay one seemed wider, and it did not have an annoying light at head height that I kept banging my head on. To add insult to injury the head light did not work so it was just something for me to bang my head on!

Take off was actually pretty undramatic - for an aircraft this big it seems very unassuming. Where is the dramatic feeling of being thrown into your seat a la 747 take off? It seemed to be going so slowly that I doubted it would ever leap into the air.

The menu came round – and a glass of vintage Dom Perignon 2003 was offered. Very nice it was too!



The menu for the short flight is huge - very impressive. Choices are:

Starters

Loch Fyne Salmon served with caviar, quail's eggs and fresh sour cream
Oven roasted lamb loin accompanied with orange segments and Mango chutney



Salad

I had the salmon and caviar to start - the salmon was delicious however the caviar required my contacts lenses and glasses to see - I think they just say it to impress rather than for any substance! The salad and garlic bread was tasty though and the balsamic salad dressing had a great punch.

Mains

Steamed fillet of ling fish served with preserved vegetable soya sauce, carrot flowers, pak choy greens and steamed rice
Chinese style roast chicken with a rich oriental plum sauce, fresh assorted seasonal vegetables and stir fried soya egg noodles
Grilled lamb rack topped with sun-dried tomatoes, black olives and rich lamb jus, served with vegetable ratatouille and creamy mashed potatoes
Stir fried tofu with vegetables in a light soya sauce, garnished with vegetables and served with egg fried rice

Variety of vegetables
Bread basket with crusty, garlic or arabic bread



I had the chicken with plum sauce for my main - not that great to be honest. The noodles were nice but the veg was pretty boring. One up to Cathay in the food department so far!

Desert

Orange chocolate mousse cake
Cheese board
Fruits
Chocolates



Amenity Kit – no real kit given out on this flight but a mini one provided in the desk with Templespa products. Trying to get it out of its packaging was a little difficult - if only I had a knife or some scissors........



The girl serving my seat was very friendly - not quite to Cathay's standards but certainly above the BA ladies and gents. However I did not get a seat explanation - which was required as it is like a space station, and I could hear other girls chatting a bit more to their customers. It seems that the HKG-BKK is a bit of a tourist route as I was not the only one taking photos and walking around in awe - maybe the charm comes out when the people who have paid top dollar to fly F to Dubai are the only ones in the cabin!

Arrival was very painless although there was a long walk from the aircraft to the immigration and baggage area. Luckily there was a lot of moving walkways going in the right direction. Passport control was quick and my bags were the first 2 off the aircraft so I was through customs and out into the throngs of the airport in quick time.

Last edited by aks120; Apr 19, 13 at 5:42 pm
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:26 pm
  #11  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
Intercontinental Bangkok



Transportation

Due to my late arrival into BKK (and being a single female traveller), I decided to pay the extra and book the hotel car to pick me up. However, there was no man holding an Intercontinental sign with any of the other hotel cars. Luckily one of the other hotel drivers saw me looking for my driver and asked what hotel I was staying at - he then phoned the Intercontinental representative who came running down the concourse towards me. It was very nice of the other driver to do that for me. The Intercontinental man said there was no record of my booking, yet when I showed him the email that I received with all the arrival and pick up details he suddenly realized that an error had been made. It was clear there was no option but to get a taxi and the chap walked me to the taxi queue and made sure the driver knew where I was going. I was very annoyed but knew there was nothing I could do until I reached the hotel. Not a great start!

Check-in

Booked – 1 King Bed Executive Deluxe Room
Actual – Room No 3306 – 1 King Bed Club Intercontinental (upgraded a few days after booking)



I was pretty annoyed by the time I got to the hotel, however the check-in girl straight away acknowledged the mistake, said they had been expecting me and straight away apologized profusely. She asked if I could send her the confirmation emails I received and she would do some investigation as to where the problem lay. At no time did I ever feel that the hotel were blaming me and I thought that the whole situation was very well handled by all I came into contact with and on the plus side, I saved myself some money by not using the car! I was ushered straight to my room and my bags followed up a second later.

The room was tastefully decorated and quite large.





The bathroom was really big, and had a separate shower and bathtub and it had Thaan amenities, not a brand I have seen in my many Intercontinental travels.







I could not see much at night, but this morning when I opened the curtains I was met with a gorgeous view of the Bangkok skyline and a very red sun rising over the horizon.



My Ambassador welcome gift was a loincloth – not sure what a Vegas girl is going to do with that as it is a bit unusual!!!!! I also got a great selection of fruit and plenty of water, replenished daily.





My Ambassador membership gets me a one room upgrade wherever I stay and if you are savvy that upgrade will get you onto a club floor - as I have managed both in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Here, the Club rooms give you quite a bit of free stuff including breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails and canapés at the Club InterContinental Lounge. It also includes non-alcoholic beverages throughout the day and 3 complimentary items of laundry. All this can save you quite a bit of money over a 3-day stay in a hotel so it pays to be a bit clever with your initial room choice.

I was awake early as I was excited to explore so I decided to try out the breakfast and look at the pool as I hope I would be using that later! The Club Lounge breakfast would put many restaurants to shame. I had the choice of about 6 hot courses, I chose an omelet, which was perfectly cooked, plus there was a full continental spread available and a selection of very exotic fruit juices. I tried them all, including dragon fruit, guava and pineapple. The view from the lounge is wonderful, a full panoramic scene of Bangkok from the 37th floor. Afternoon tea is a lovely selection of mini cakes, sandwiches and chocolates, all served with a choice of teas and coffees. The Cocktail 2 1/2 hours is impressive, with a very good choice of wines including a cava plus a fabulous food spread.







The hotel pool is compact, with about 20 lounge chairs around it and there is a bar and an ability to get food too.



Underneath the hotel is a fabulous shop that sells all local products and is run by the Thailand Government to support local enterprises. The hotel is also connected to a very posh shopping mall.

Check out was painless and very efficient. As the lady was looking at my bill, she said an alert had come up about the inbound car booking and at she was pleased to offer me complimentary hotel car service to the airport as compensation. I did not have to ask for anything nor was I looking for anything, as I believe it had been a genuine mistake made by the hotel. All in all a great ending to what is possibly the best hotel stay I have had in a long time.

Last edited by aks120; Jan 9, 15 at 11:50 am
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:30 pm
  #12  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
Bangkok

Day 1 - Hot and Humid on the River


After my success on the MTR in Hong Kong, I decided to take the BTS (tube) to the river and see the sights. I had not slept too well after the excitement on the Emirates flight, the annoyance of the car thing and the anticipation of a new adventure in a city I had not visited before. So with only 3 hours of sleep under my belt and a nice breakfast, I lathered up with sun tan lotion and headed out into Bangkok.



The BTS station of Chitlom is 2 min walk from the hotel but there is also an undercover walkway up at height that takes you to the Siam station, which is a big interchange. As I would need to change here anyway, I decided to walk to the station and enjoyed the view from the walkway. The Erawan Shrine is right outside the hotel and the waft of incense as I walked past was intoxicating. There was also a laying of yellow flowers which made the sight very beautiful.



After a 10 min walk, I arrived at the Siam station and proceeded to try and not look like a tourist - epic fail! I managed to buy an all day pass for the princely sum of $3.78 but could not for the life of me figure out which way the trains were going. In the end I decided to just hop on one and see where I ended up. As luck would have it, I had managed to get on the correct train, and 4 stops later I was at the river.

I had decided to splash out on an all day ticket on the Chao Phraya River Tourist Boat - a whopping $5.21 was spent on that ticket. This was a good buy as the boat went up and down the river past most of the famous sights. I decided not to follow the crowd and get off at the first 'sight' but travel the length of the tour and get off on the return leg. That was a sound decision as the whole boat got off at the first Temple and by the time we had reached the end it was just me. The river sights were amazing - I can honestly say it was not what I expected at all but now that I have seen the boats dashing up and down and the Temples dotted about I understand the excitement of Bangkok.









I got off the boat, which in itself is a feat as they dock for about 4 seconds prior to heading off again so you have to be nimble - so I swiftly leaped like a gazelle off the boat......or something like that and found myself in Chinatown.



Day 2 - Shop, Shop Shopping!

Today was a day to explore the shops. I did the culture part yesterday and today I wanted to spend some money. I woke early and decided that, after another scrumptious breakfast in the Lounge, to head to Chatuchack Weekend market. I used the BTR like a pro and headed off to Mo Chit station to experience one of the biggest markets in the world. I am not sure what I was looking for but the advice was if you see something you like then buy it as you will never find your way back to that stall again if you don't.

I arrived at the market just as the stalls were setting up and had a plan of action to just follow my instinct and let my feet take me to where they wanted to go. The market was what I can only describe as a human rabbit warren! Each stall had its own identity - some were really ramshackle and others had glass windows and doors and air conditioning, side by side. Now to the goods the stalls were selling. I am pretty sure you could buy anything and everything that you may need in your lifetime - China, clothes, fans, very expensive crystal chandeliers, pets, the list goes on and on!

In the end, I actually didn't buy anything - it seems I was in a looking not buying mood and after a few hours I was also in a hot and bothered mood! So off I went to the mall - well I say a mall.... I walked through the walkway joining the hotel lobby and the mall and found myself staring up at 9 floors of shopping paradise/hell depending on your persuasion.


Last edited by aks120; Apr 19, 13 at 5:49 pm
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:33 pm
  #13  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
RJ J BKK-KUL

RJ180 – A330
Planned T/O – 1615
Actual T/O - 1610
Planned Arrival – 1925
Actual Arrival – 1901
Seat – 2K



Another J flight that was bought for a very cheap fare was my BKK-KUL on Royal Jordanian. I chose them primarily to get a couple of Tier Points and BA miles as they are part of Oneworld, but I also wanted to experience a carrier I had not used before.

Transportation

I had chosen to get a taxi to Makkasan Train station where I could get the airport link and not have to deal with a taxi driver however, when I checked out of my hotel, the lady said that she was pleased to off me a complimentary hotel car to the airport. This was in compensation for the mistake with the booking of the car on arrival to Bangkok. I believed it to be a genuine mistake by the hotel and was not expecting anything in the way of compensation, however this offer was very generous and I took it graciously. As expected, the ride to the airport was very luxurious and we were there quickly.

Check-in



I had tried to check in online and got halfway through the process before it told me I could not do it and that there was an error. During the part of the process that I got through, I noticed that my seat had been moved from 1A to 2A so I hoped that by the time I got to the airport, I still had a window seat!! I had ummmed and ahhed about checking my second bag into left luggage for a week - the website seemed to say that the Royal Jordanian flight would only allow 1x30kg for business and the Bangkok Airways economy ticket I had later on certainly was not generous in the luggage department. On arrival at the airport I did a bit of research with the Bangkok Airways desk to find out how much my extra 15 Kg would cost me in a few days time and it seemed that it would cost me about $30 for my excess luggage on the trip to Koh Samuai.

I had arrived a bit too early so had to wait around before check-in open - little did I know this was going to be a theme for the day! Check-in opened and I was third in the queue - all queues were economy for some reason, no business class check-in. Now this is when the fun started - the agents sat for 30 mins at their desks without anyone moving - they didn't think to tell anyone what the delay was for so the masses were getting restless. Then, of course, I picked the wrong queue as the 2 chaps in front of me appeared to be mass murders that had escaped or at least that was what it seemed from all the questions and running back and forward to management with their documentation. If it had been me, I think I would have been a little miffed with the goings on. I was up next and anticipated a fight however the girl was very pleasant - it seems all the shenanigans this morning were due to it being the first of the month and the computer had deleted some names from the system so they had to input all the stuff manually and check things over.



There was not even a blink at my scandalous extra bag that I was trying to sneak past the agent - seems the limits are negotiable with the right smile! Eventually I got my boarding pass, lounge invitation and fast track for security.

Lounge

There was a plethora of lounges for a BAEC Gold card member to enjoy at BKK. There was the Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge at Concourse G, the Cathay Pacific First and Business Class Lounge at Concourse D and the RJ lounge, which is actually the Thai Royal Orchid Lounge. I started at the Royal Orchid lounge which was pretty poor and did not serve any wine at all - you could get hard liquor but not wine - weird! So not to be outsmarted, I headed off to find the closest Cathay lounge, which I entered with no issues but again the lounge was pretty poor. The food was non-existent but the final straw was awful wine - 1 bottle of 1 white wine! Not only did it taste cheap, but it also tasted corked. Thinking that the poor lounges could not be all that Bangkok had to offer, I found a Thai Royal Silk lounge opposite to my original Thai Royal Orchid. Chancing my luck as I thought this was Thai's first lounge, I showed my BA Gold card and a big smile - walk with confidence, as that is half the battle I told myself! As Royal Jordanian use the Thai lounges rather than any Oneworld lounges, I thought I was in with a shot. Bingo - welcome in said the delightful lady and whilst this lounge was not on any sort of comparison with most Top Tier lounges, it was better than the 2 I had just been to. However, there was still no wine on offer, just hard liquor so I helped myself to a G&T and settled down.



The flight was late into Bangkok so I expected a delay to boarding - wrong! This was the first flight I have ever been on that was flashing Final Call while I was still in the lounge! I rushed down to the gate, and as this was 30 mins prior to the original take off, I was expecting to wait at the gate but nope - I was one of the last to board! Fast turnaround indeed for this flight crew!

There was no-one to greet me at the door - another first in my flying experiences but I took my seat without fuss.







The seat was perfectly comfortable for the short flight I was on but I would put it on a par with the American Airlines Business Class seat rather than Cathay's and there was not much personal space around. I don't think I would have had as much fun on it transatlantic or transpacific!

The cabin crew were busy running around - not sure doing what as the flight was almost empty - Business class was 30% full and I spotted the Air Marshall a mile off! The was a pre take-off drink served of orange juice, apple juice or water - I took the apple juice and hoped this was not a dry flight or else I had made a major mistake choosing RJ over Malaysian Airways! We started taxiing early and another first happened for me - the safety video was still playing, in fact had just started the English version as we roared down the runway! Luckily I am happy with how to get out of an aircraft in an emergency however if we had crashed, and survived, on take-off, I am not sure first time flyers would had fared well! A bit scary to be honest!


I put this to the back of my mind and turned my attention to the flight itself. Menus were handed promptly and I was impressed with the choice for a flight lasting 1hr 30 mins! The choices were:

Starter

Chicken and Pomelo with Coconut Salad
Smoked Trout
Mixed Salad



Mains

Sliced Beef with Cantonese sauce served with vegetable fried rice and oriental vegetables
Chicken Thigh in Red Curry sauce served with steamed Jasmine rice and oriental vegetables
Pan-fried Norwegian Salmon with Red Capsicum Sauce served with pan-fried potato gnocchi and buttered vegetables
Elbow Macaroni with lemongrass and asparagus Sauce



I wanted the salmon but they were out of that by the time they got to me so went for the beef in Cantonese sauce. It was nice not great but not bad.

Dessert

Rhubarb and Strawberry Frangipani Crumble

The wine list was equally impressive:

Moet & Chandon Champagne
St George Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Lamberti Pinot Grigio
Laroche Chablis 2011
Pascal Jolivet Pouilly Fume
St George Shiraz 2009
Reserve Mouton Cadet St Emillion 2009
Golden Kaan Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Casillero del Diablo Shiraz
Plus a load of beers and spirits!

They served the champagne from the smallest bottles I have seen on a flight - do they not know that buying quarter bottles of champagne is not cost effective - especially when I am on the flight!?

I can’t comment on the entertainment, as all I did on this flight was write this and read some of my book. There was no amenities handed out on this flight, but that was to be expected on such a short hop.

The cabin crew were efficient but not overly friendly. I also realized that I was always served last - I was the only female in Business and despite sitting in row 2 with most of the seats occupied behind me, I was always the last to be served. This would account for my lack of first meal choice - on other Oneworld flights I would have the pick of meals as an Emerald cardholder so this was unusual. Maybe I was just being paranoid but I certainly did not receive the same attention as some of the other cabin and I could not see what was so special about the guy that had my pre-reserved 1A seat that I had been moved out of with no explanation.

Arrival

Arrival was quick and painless, I was through security and immigration quickly and the bags came off in the first third.

Overall, the flight was perfectly nice but I did not get a warm and fuzzy after the safety video incident or the difference in treatment between me and the males on board. Whilst this flight's aim was to try another Oneworld airline and collect a few more BA Tier Points and miles, I am not sure I will be rushing back to Royal Jordanian anytime soon.

Last edited by aks120; Jan 9, 15 at 11:51 am
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:36 pm
  #14  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur



Transportation

I decided to try the KLIA Ekspress train to Kuala Lumpur Central and get a taxi from there to the hotel. Again I could recommend this mode of transport to the center of town. It was easy and clean and not too bad value when compared to a taxi.



When I arrived at KL Central, I went to the budget taxi line and paid for a taxi to the Intercontinental, which cost me 14 MRY. I had read up on this prior and although there was a premium taxi line as well as the budget line, as it was just me, I was happy that the budget taxi would be good enough! The taxi had the smallest boot/trunk in the world and only just fitted in 1 suitcase, the other was in beside me in the back seat. Fifteen minutes later I was pulling up outside the hotel.



Check-in

Booked – 1 King Bed Grand Premier.
Actual – Room No 2718 1 King Bed Executive Club (upgraded at check-in).



Check in was very efficient; when the chap at the main desk saw my reservation was in the Club rooms, he directed me to the lift and up to the Club Floor to check in there. Whilst I understand that this creates a premium experience, especially if it is busy, I think that it is sometimes OK to just get the check-in done if you are at the desk and being dealt with! Anyway, my luggage was dispatched and I made my way up to the 26th floor to check in and then the 27th floor for my room. My bags arrived about 20 mins later.

Room

Overall Impression - The room had a very similar layout to the room in Bangkok, although just a shade older but not anything to be worried about. The bed was huge and had very heavy pillows!!



View – The view was of the shopping center opposite but perfectly acceptable as it was a nice skyline view.

Bathroom - a nice big bathroom awaited me, with a huge bath. The unique thing about this bathroom was it had a window over the bath into the bedroom. This meant that the view you had could be seen from the bath and it made the bathroom seem even bigger than it was. The window could be shuttered closed for privacy if required! The toilet was like something from outer space - dials and knobs just so that you can wash your bum - if you have been to Japan it was very similar to their space age toilets!







Toiletries – Back to the Agriaria toiletries again.



The Ambassador welcome gift was a travel wallet and the fruit and water was also presented. On the other side of the wallet there is a small notepad – it is a useful gift but I am not sure I will use it myself.





Lounge

The lounge was on the 26th floor and had views of the surrounding high rises. It was smaller than the Bangkok one but was also a lot less busy and seemed more intimate. The guys in there were super friendly and welcomed me like a long lost friend despite only having been there for a short period of time. Breakfast was plentiful, with the requisite 5 different fruit juices these lounges seem to pride themselves on - I had pineapple and orange and both were delicious! It also had a hot station, which at breakfast did great omelets. Afternoon tea was a nice selection of small cakes and sandwiches with a tea and coffee choice. Cocktails were a nice affair - there was lots of nibbles and a very nice Chenin Blanc wine, although there was a choice of 2 wines, a sparkly, some reds and a load of hard liquor. The hot station did different things on different evenings – a gnocchi and a chicken dish were the 2 I sampled on my visit. There was also a small salad bar with all the condiments required to have a good feast.





Checkout was very simple and I was in a taxi en route to the airport in no time!

Last edited by aks120; Jan 9, 15 at 11:52 am
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Apr 18, 13, 6:38 pm
  #15  
Original Poster
Hilton Contributor BadgeMarriott Contributor Badge
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Perth/London
Programs: BA GGL/CCR, Spire Elite Ambassador, Hilton Diamond, Marriot Plat, Mucci des Salons Ouvrants
Posts: 1,985
Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur was not a city I knew much about but a couple of my friends went there a few years ago and had piqued my interest. My first impression was that I had really found a country with a mix of heritages.

I headed to the KL Hop on Hop Off Bus - I have used this type of tourist transport all over the world and have found them very good at seeing the sights in a short amount of time. So I headed up to the uncovered top deck and watched the sights. The first place we got off was the KL Tower - this looks very similar to the Stratosphere in Las Vegas but does not have individuals throwing themselves off the top in the name of ‘excitement’!!!



I bought my ticket and took the lift to the 250m, 63 floor. At the top the view was incredible and I could literally see for miles. I took a load of snaps and headed back down - super quick tourist that I am!

Back on the bus and the next stop was Central Market - not, as I though a market for food but more Malayan items. It was also close to Chinatown and I was surrounded by fake designer handbags.







I went back to the hotel to prepare for what I hoped would be the highlight of my day – the Petronas Towers. I had emailed the Intercontinental prior to arriving in the city and they could secure me a ticket with a slight charge. This proved to be invaluable as I did not have to queue at some ungodly hour – and when I arrived there was a lot of people trying to get tickets but they had sold out for a few days. I have to say it was the best money spent this holiday. In small groups, we started at the bridge, which was very impressive. Then we were allowed up to the 86th floor - and wow the views were amazing.









The hotel is only a 10 min walk from the Petronas Towers and so is in a great location.

Day 2

Rain, Rain, Thunderstorm, Rain!


I awoke to an almighty thunderstorm and rain shower! Thank goodness I had done the open top bus and towers sightseeing the day before! The only option for me today was to do something inside and really that was a shopping mall. The hotel does a free shuttle run to some of the sights and I decided to take that to the Pavilion Mall. Again, this place was massive and had 7 floors to browse!



On the 7th floor there was a place called 7th Heaven where a load of spas and massage places were all situated. I treated myself to a traditional reflexology sessions and a back and neck massage - 90 mins for $38 - bargain! Bliss! I walked out of the place 10 feet taller and all for such a low price!

Next stop is Bangkok Airways and Koh Samuai.
aks120 is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
  • Ask a Question
    Get answers from community experts
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: