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Sweaty Singapore & A Big Fat Indian Wedding (SQ F, EY F (Jetihad), Park Hyatt HYD)

Sweaty Singapore & A Big Fat Indian Wedding (SQ F, EY F (Jetihad), Park Hyatt HYD)

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Old Nov 5, 15, 9:41 am
  #61  
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Part Hyatt Hyderabad

While I'm primarily a Hilton loyalist, Hyatts are a close second and the Park Hyatt brand in particular is my favorite within that group.

What if I told you that you could stay at a Park Hyatt for just $90 per night? Or how about a 1,200 square ft. suite for $175 per night? Welcome to the Park Hyatt Hyderabad.

We pulled up to the hotel which looked like a large concrete office building from the outside.





The entrance to the hotel took some getting use to, but it's definitely better to be safe than sorry. There was a motorized barricade at the entrance and security guards inspected each vehicle for bombs before they were allowed to enter. If you're entering by foot, there was a similar security checkpoint with a metal turnstile.





Before you enter the hotel, there's yet another another layer of security, and each one of your bags must be screened through an x-ray machine. The first time through, all this security felt a bit excessive, but once it became part of our routine we didn't really think much of it after a while.

Once we finally made it inside, we were able to take a step back and admire how stunning this hotel was. Starting with the artwork at the hotel entrance.



We walked up the the check-in counter and were quickly on our way. The check-in agent also escorted us to our room.



The agent took a moment to give us a tour around the lobby. The centerpiece of the lobby was a huge sculpture that had a spiral staircase wrapped around it which led up to the 2nd floor of the hotel.





At the elevator banks, the agent made note of the artwork here and mentioned that it made for a great backdrop for pictures. We made sure to make use of it later on after we got all dressed up on our way to the wedding a couple days later.



The elevators opened up into an open-air hallway that wrapped around the enter hotel.



Because of the great value here, I had splurged for a Park Suite room which was one of the nicest rooms we've ever had. Upon entering, a small picnic was waiting for us, including a combination of fruits, macarons, and wine from the hotel, along with a welcome basket from my coworker.





Each day the fruit bowl was replenished, and we were also given a cake-of-the day, which were all incredibly delicious.







Our suite provided over 1,200 sq. ft of space which was split into three areas. Starting with the living room, which was very stylishly decorated while thankfully still using furniture that was functional.



There was a work station on the side of the room, with seating for two.



The living room also had an entertainment console set up.



And there was also a powder room off the foyer near the entrance to the suite.



The bedroom was huge and could be completely closed off from the living room by a sliding door.



Next to the bed, there was a day bed that extended the entire length of the room. Between the bedroom and the bathroom were two massive closets, which provided plenty of space to store our luggage.



The bathroom did not disappoint either, and featured dual-sinks, a make-up area, and even a built-in TV screen next to the mirror.



The whole open shower concept at Park Hyatts still feels weird to me, but I guess you don't mind the water splashing around everywhere since it's not your home, and someone else will come to clean up in the morning.



Our room was in the front corner of the hotel facing the street, so we had to make sure to take down the blinds before stripping down just to be safe.



Along with the standard toiletries, a massive loofah was provided.





The next morning we met up with our friends for breakfast in the hotel lobby. Since they were Hyatt Diamonds their breakfast was comped, but as a lowly Platinum, we'd be paying out of pocket. From what I can recall, the cost was about $15 per person, which is pretty reasonable when compared to Western prices, but definitely expensive by Indian-standards.

We had a hard time understanding how the breakfast worked at first, but finally surmised that there was a buffet of cold cuts, cheese, fruit, and pastries.



As well as an omelet station.





In addition to the cold buffet, there was an a la carte menu that you could order off of, and included both Western breakfast items as well as Indian dishes. Even though each time on the menu had a price, since we were having the breakfast buffet, we could order as many things as we liked.



Along with the eggs, I also ordered an Indian breakfast item. In general, we were careful with what we ate in India and primarily stuck to cooked foods, although we tested our luck with some of the fresh fruits and vegetables. One of our friends did get sick from these even at the hotel. The other food item that our Indian friends in the US actually made sure we kept in mind were the dips and sauces. These are often overlooked and can be the ones that will ultimately get you.



After breakfast, we toured around the hotel and checked out the gym. We also took a dip in the pool which had great views over Hyderabad.



While Western hotels often charge US prices for spa treatments even in traditionally cheaper destinations, we found the spa prices at the hotel to be quite good and indulged in a couple massages. The spa facilitates were fantastic, and along with steam showers, there was a sauna and steam room in each locker room.



Overall, this was an amazing stay at a beautiful hotel. The hard product was truly great, and in my opinion as nice as you'll be able to find at a city hotel. The Indian style of service certainly took some getting use to, but once we got accustomed to it, found it very personable and efficient.

And best of all, Hyderabad was a low-cost destination for those that are used to Western prices, and presented value that was hard to beat.
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Old Nov 5, 15, 3:26 pm
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Looks like an amazing food journey! We are travelers like you and your wife, and now we are fully convinced to go to Singapore next year to eat. Very interested to see your input on your time in India!!
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Old Nov 6, 15, 1:04 am
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Great report so far. Looking forward to the rest. I've stayed at the Park Hyatt Hyderabad a few times and it's always been a great experience.
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Old Nov 6, 15, 3:26 am
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Great report so far, thanks. When I saw your breakfast of salmon in India I shuddered...thankfully you did not get sick.
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Old Nov 6, 15, 10:37 am
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Food in Hyderabad

Hi. I Travel to Hydarabad frequently (currently visiting and staying in the Taj). The purpose of the post is to state that I love the food in Hyderabad and never have had a bad experience. Often, it is the attitude which results in people not embracing the local delicacies and it is a pleasure to travel to a country where McDonalds and KFC are not the mainstay of one's diet. I have eaten in many restaurants here and can only state, from personal experience, that Hyderabad offers a fantastic array of restaurants covering all tastes and budgets.

Hope you had a fantastic stay in Hyderabad.

Angliham
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Old Nov 6, 15, 5:45 pm
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Originally Posted by Angliham View Post
Hi. I Travel to Hydarabad frequently (currently visiting and staying in the Taj). The purpose of the post is to state that I love the food in Hyderabad and never have had a bad experience. Often, it is the attitude which results in people not embracing the local delicacies and it is a pleasure to travel to a country where McDonalds and KFC are not the mainstay of one's diet. I have eaten in many restaurants here and can only state, from personal experience, that Hyderabad offers a fantastic array of restaurants covering all tastes and budgets.

Hope you had a fantastic stay in Hyderabad.

Angliham
Food in India can be great but it is key to remember that poor food hygiene standard and water contamination are a very real problem so extreme caution is required. To the point, I wouldn't go near street food anywhere in India and I would only eat in restaurants with robust recommendations or upmarket hotels while trying to avoid uncooked vegetables and lukewarm food.

Other than that, great trip report and excellent pics.
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Old Nov 6, 15, 11:09 pm
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Originally Posted by sfoactuary View Post
Thanks for the clarification, have updated accordingly
Thanks for the requested addition to the TR.
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Old Nov 8, 15, 9:38 am
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Thanks for the reviews. i'm not adventorous enough to go to any country which needs a security search at the hotel.
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Old Nov 8, 15, 9:54 am
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Originally Posted by sfoactuary View Post
The best way I can describe my style of travel is "fat". It's related to but not quite the same as culinary or foodie travel, where you'd visit a destination to learn about the history of food in that area and to sample the local cuisine.

Instead, fat travel is where you eat as much as humanly possible on each and every flight, indulge in the hotel's free breakfast, eat 5-10 square meals a day, and return home 10-15 pounds heavier than when you left. It also helps when you're flying First Class and that airplane food includes caviar and lobster.
ROFL. Truly the best way to travel. Great to see another TR from you again. Subscribed!

And you're completely right about finding single Indian friends.
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Old Nov 9, 15, 5:17 am
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Originally Posted by GodAtum View Post
Thanks for the reviews. i'm not adventorous enough to go to any country which needs a security search at the hotel.
I see it a different way, the hotel is very safe therefore a great place to stay.

Terrorism exists everywhere, so I trust you never leave your home.
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Old Nov 9, 15, 9:47 am
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Originally Posted by onlysilver View Post
Looks like an amazing food journey! We are travelers like you and your wife, and now we are fully convinced to go to Singapore next year to eat. Very interested to see your input on your time in India!!
Singapore is definitely worth a visit! Sadly we didn't get to fully experience the food scene in India due to the wedding, so just means that we'll need another trip later

Originally Posted by avneeshj View Post
Great report so far. Looking forward to the rest. I've stayed at the Park Hyatt Hyderabad a few times and it's always been a great experience.
Thanks, avneeshj! Agree that it's a fantastic hotel

Originally Posted by stevie View Post
Great report so far, thanks. When I saw your breakfast of salmon in India I shuddered...thankfully you did not get sick.
Originally Posted by Angliham View Post
Hi. I Travel to Hydarabad frequently (currently visiting and staying in the Taj). The purpose of the post is to state that I love the food in Hyderabad and never have had a bad experience. Often, it is the attitude which results in people not embracing the local delicacies and it is a pleasure to travel to a country where McDonalds and KFC are not the mainstay of one's diet. I have eaten in many restaurants here and can only state, from personal experience, that Hyderabad offers a fantastic array of restaurants covering all tastes and budgets.

Hope you had a fantastic stay in Hyderabad.

Angliham
Originally Posted by palermo View Post
Food in India can be great but it is key to remember that poor food hygiene standard and water contamination are a very real problem so extreme caution is required. To the point, I wouldn't go near street food anywhere in India and I would only eat in restaurants with robust recommendations or upmarket hotels while trying to avoid uncooked vegetables and lukewarm food.

Other than that, great trip report and excellent pics.
I'd agree that you do need to be realistic about the food situation in India. As much as we like to eat our way through a destination, the reality was that we weren't going to touch street food or anything that didn't look 100% safe.

I made the rookie mistake of having some smoked salmon and freshly cut fruit since it was our first meal, and luckily walked away unscathed (although our friend wasn't so lucky). Even though we ate all of our meals at the wedding venue and 1 at McDonald's, every single person in our group faced some form of stomach issues at some point during the trip.

So Angliham, you must have a true iron gut if you've never gotten sick at all.

Originally Posted by eponymous_coward View Post
Thanks for the requested addition to the TR.
Sure thing

Originally Posted by GodAtum View Post
Thanks for the reviews. i'm not adventorous enough to go to any country which needs a security search at the hotel.
Originally Posted by adampenrith View Post
I see it a different way, the hotel is very safe therefore a great place to stay.

Terrorism exists everywhere, so I trust you never leave your home.
India isn't a hotbed for terrorism like some other places in the world, so we didn't feel like our safety was in jeopardy by any means. I'd agree that the security measures actually serve as a deterrant so you can feel safe inside the hotel.

Originally Posted by Parterre View Post
ROFL. Truly the best way to travel. Great to see another TR from you again. Subscribed!

And you're completely right about finding single Indian friends.
Thanks, Parterre!
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Old Nov 9, 15, 12:11 pm
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Exploring Hyderabad

As I mentioned in the introduction, the whole reason for this trip was to attend my coworker's wedding in Hyderabad. While I've attended Indian weddings in the US, this would be my first one in India. And from the itinerary, it appeared that was going to be an action-packed several days.

The wedding events kicked off on Friday afternoon with the Nalangu ceremony, which was a gathering of the family the day before the wedding for some fun and games.

While we were staying at the Park Hyatt, the wedding festivities were all over at the Taj Deccan hotel. Distance-wise they are only about 2 miles apart, but it took anywhere from 10-30 minutes to travel between the hotels depending on traffic. We made good use of Uber to go back and forth, with the average ride costing just $2-$4.

We quickly learned that there was something called "Indian time", and we learned that the hard way. The schedule told us to arrive at the hotel by noon, which we did. From there we waited, and waited...and waited. The ceremony ultimately got started around 2pm, and apparently we were the only ones that were confused over the delay, since this seemed par for the course to everyone else. We quickly adapted by arriving at least an hour after schedule for subsequent events.

The highlight of the Nalangu was getting to cover my coworker from head to toe in turmeric powder. By the end of it, he looked like an orange incredible hulk. I won't embarrass him by posting his orange shirtless pictures on the internet for the world to see.



After the ceremony we went back to the Park Hyatt to freshen up, and returned to the Taj for the engagement party. Along with drinking and dancing, there was there was a henna station, and we chowed down on delicious curries and biryanis.

I must have been in a care-free state of mind, since I didn't manage to snap any pictures of the food, which was really delicious. Since we ate all of our meals at the hotel, for the most part we escaped India without any digestive failures.



Saturday was the big wedding day, and we were out the door by noon for the ceremony that wrapped up in the late afternoon From there, there was another wardrobe change at the Park Hyatt, where we got dressed up in Indian wedding attire that we had brought over from the US. The irony was that of the several hundred attendees at the reception that night, our group were basically the only ones who wore sherwanis and sarees.

Since the sarees were difficult to put on, the ladies all enlisted the help of the Park Hyatt's saree attendant who helped them all get dressed. In fact, that may be one of the best jobs at the entire hotel when you take into account all the tips.





We were scheduled to depart Hyderabad on Sunday night, which left the day available for sightseeing. There was a big group of about 10 of us, and while some had booked the hotel car, we just used Uber to get around town and it ended up costing about 1/4th of what they paid.

The traffic in Hyderabad got crazy at times, and along with the cars, it was common to see camels and tuk tuks carrying large items like the one below.



The first stop was Charminar, but we simply did a lap around and didn't head up to the top.





From there, we walked over to Chowmahalla Palace and in amazing race style, even beat out the group that drove over.



The palace was probably the highlight of our sightseeing tour, and we spent a couple hours walking around.











Our last stop was Golkanda Fort which was the busiest of all the places we visited, since there was no entrance fee for locals. This is also where our group got stopped the most by locals with requests to take pictures with them.







We headed back to the hotel and with about an hour to kill before our pick-up, and walked across the street for our one and only meal outside the hotel. Good ol' McDonald's for a Chicken Maharaja sandwich and chili paneer pockets.

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Old Nov 10, 15, 2:08 am
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Hi SFOActuary

I must be blessed!! Sitting in Dubai airport on the way back home and thankfully no stomach issues this time either!! I must admit that I am psycho over water when in India. If I don't crack the seal, then I don't drink it! Apart from that, as long as the food is cooked, I am willing to try it.

One of my favourite restaurants is Chutneys, a South Indian restaurant serving mostly vegetarian food. The restaurant gets its name from the numerous types of chutneys which it serves with the meal.

Next time in Hyderabad, make sure you visit Taj Falaknuma, a spectacular palace converted into a hotel close to the airport. Well worth a visit.

Great report.

Regards

Angliham - the Irish guy with an iron stomach!!
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Old Nov 10, 15, 10:08 am
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Originally Posted by Angliham View Post
Hi SFOActuary

I must be blessed!! Sitting in Dubai airport on the way back home and thankfully no stomach issues this time either!! I must admit that I am psycho over water when in India. If I don't crack the seal, then I don't drink it! Apart from that, as long as the food is cooked, I am willing to try it.

One of my favourite restaurants is Chutneys, a South Indian restaurant serving mostly vegetarian food. The restaurant gets its name from the numerous types of chutneys which it serves with the meal.

Next time in Hyderabad, make sure you visit Taj Falaknuma, a spectacular palace converted into a hotel close to the airport. Well worth a visit.

Great report.

Regards

Angliham - the Irish guy with an iron stomach!!
Thank you for the recommendations!
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Old Nov 10, 15, 10:16 am
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Etihad Airways Business Class Hyderabad to Abu Dhabi

Even on partner mileage redemptions, Etihad provides chauffeur service for premium cabin passengers and this made for a relaxing start to our 24-hour journey home. Pick-up from our hotel was scheduled in advance, and I was very impressed with the logistics. Not only did we receive an email and phone call the day before to confirm, we also received about 2-3 text messages the day-of with updates on when the driver was expected to arrive.

We jumped into the sleek Mercedes S-Class, which definitely stood out like a sore thumb as we drove through the streets of Hyderabad on the way to the airport. We arrived at the airport only to find a complete zoo, and it took us over 15 minutes just to get from the curbside drop-off to the check-in counter.

Security was also a pain since they had separate lines for men and women, in completely different areas. So my wife and I had to coordinate a post-security meetup before braving the thorough individual security checks.

Once we were through, we headed over to the lounge, but not before making a stop at Karachi Bakery to pick up some Osmania Biscuits that one of our friends highly recommended.





The lounge was actually quite nice, and we grabbed a seat and hung out here for about an hour. The internet situation was a bit of a pain, since it required flagging down the attendant and getting an individual code via SMS.





Even though I wasn't that hungry, I took a look at the food options which included some sandwiches and salads, along with a few hot food items.







It's always exciting to try a new airline, and this would be our only chance to sample the "real" Etihad, since our flight home would be on the Jet Airways-configured version, which has earned the nicknamed "Jetihad" and carries with it a largely negative connotation.

We were among the first to board, and initial impression was that this was quite impressive for a regional Business Class product.



Already waiting for us at the seat were a blanket and pillow, along with an eyeshade.





The blanket was actually quite memorable and I'm not sure what it was made of but it appeared to be very high-quality and had an incredibly soft, almost velvety, feel to it.



There wasn't any space for bags underneath the seat in front of me, so I had to place my backpack in the overhead compartments. Once I did that, there was plenty of legroom to stretch out.



Shortly after take-off, menus were distributed. At this point of the trip it was really unnecessary to eat anything on this flight, but I'm not exactly the type to skip a meal.









The meal service got kicked off with drinks and I ended up ordering the fish sayadiya which was really good.



I fired up a movie to watch with my dinner.



The E-box system had some decent selections, but again nothing compares to the Emirates ICE system.

And the Arabic coffee cheesecake to finish which was delicious, along with a cappuccino.





Before I knew it, we were landing in AUH.



Overall, this was a great first experience with Etihad, and I'd like to fly them further in the future. Along with the food, the highlight of this flight was the service and the international crew on-board this flight took great care of us.
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