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Polynesia Part II: Easter Island & Mexico City via LATAM Business & Alaska First

Polynesia Part II: Easter Island & Mexico City via LATAM Business & Alaska First

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Old Jan 5, 18, 7:18 pm
  #1  
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Location: YVR - Vancouver, with most winter weekends in Whistler.
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Polynesia Part II: Easter Island & Mexico City via LATAM Business & Alaska First

Polynesia Part II: Easter Island and Mexico City via LATAM Business Class and Alaska Airlines First Class

YVR-SEA-SFO-MEX (Alaska Airlines Companion Fare)
MEX-SCL-IPC (paid)
IPC-SCL-MEX (paid)
MEX-SFO-SEA-YVR (Alaska Airlines Companion Fare)





In this report:

Alaska Airlines First Class: Vancouver – Seattle
Alaska Airlines Premium Class: Seattle – San Franciso
Westin San Franciso Airport
Alaska Airlines First Class: San Franciso – Mexico City
W Mexico City
Pujol Restaurant, Mexico City
Mexico City
Quintonil Restaurant, Mexico City
Iberia Business Lounge, Mexico City
LATAM Business Class: Mexico City - Santiago
Latam Business Class: Santiago – Easter Island
Taura’a Hotel
Easter Island
Latam Business Class: Easter Island – Santiago
Latam Business Class Lounge: Santiago International
Latam Business Class: Santiago – Mexico City
Alaska Airlines First Class: Mexico City – San Franciso
Virgin America: San Francisco – Seattle
Alaska Airlines First Class: Seattle – Vancouver.

Background:

I had always wanted to visit Easter Island, Chile. It was a remote corner of the world that had always escaped me, even over several trips to Chile. I had previously checked award programs but always found limited business class availability with LATAM / One World. When I discovered the deeply discounted business class fare on LATAM, it was a no brainer. I called over to MrsWT73 who surprisingly agreed to go without question. This was despite our earlier trip a few months ago to Fiji, French Polynesia and a family trip to Hawaii. She must really enjoy the idea of sitting on a beach on an island in the middle of an ocean. With that, it was booked right away with no issues on the LATAM site in Canadian Dollars (from Vancouver). So off we went on the trip to and island (that was like Hawaii in the 1940's) to see hundreds of beautiful stone heads. Never in my life would I have thought that we'd travel to all 3 corners of the Polynesian Triangle in the space of one year, but here we go on the last chapter of this corner of the world.

Links to my previous reports:

Summer is a state of mind; Kaanapali, Maui, via Alaska Airlines with my 13 yr old son, August 2017
Fiji, New Zealand and French Polynesia via Fiji Airways, Air New Zealand and Air Tahiti Nui Business Class (AS, Y, FJ J, NZ Y, VT Y, TH J, AA J), June 2017
Mileage Running to New York via Delta Airlines First Class for Alaska MVP Status (DL J), Dec 2016
Havana and Varadero Cuba via Westjet Holidays from Canada (WJ Y) Nov 2016
Malta (and the island of Gozo), Venice, Italy and Oktoberfest in Munich, via Air France Business Class (AF J, LH Y) Sept 2016
South Africa, Namibia, Victoria Falls, Mauritius & the UAE via Emirates First, Qatar Business (QR J, EK F, BA J, SA J, SW Y) April 2016
Dodging Volcanic Ash: A family trip to Bali / Singapore with my 11 year old (DL J / OZ J / KL J / JL J) July 2015
RTW#3 (J): Vietnam, Maldives, and Tackling India’s Golden Triangle. (AC/OZ/SQ/AI/TK), May 2015
Experiencing flying as a "Non-Rev", Australia Wine and Beaches, (AC J/Y, QF J) November 2014
Alaska Airlines First Class to Las Vegas, and a stay in the Aria Sky Suites “Penthouse” (AS F), August 2014
Family trip to Kenora Lake of the Woods Ontario via Air Canada Business Class (AC J). August 2014
Cathay Pacific First Class to New York, a sombre visit to the 9/11 Memorial Museum & 4 days of eating in NYC. (CX F) May 2014
RTW #2 (J) The Khors of Oman- via Japan, Poland & the UAE. RTW in Biz (NH 787, OZ, TG, EY, TK, LH). April 2014
South Africa, Safari in Maasai Mara Kenya, & Mauritius (UA J, SA J, XAK, LX J, AC J) Nov 2013
A family trip to Westin Playa Conchal, Liberia Costa Rica, (UA Y) Aug 2013
Buried Treasure: UAE Empty Quarter and Beyond to Huvadhoo Atoll, Maldives (UA Y, EY J/Y, Q2 Y), Nov 2012
RTW #1(F) The Time Share Presentation: Spain / China / Thailand. (AC J, OZ F, TG F, LH J/F, AC Y, May 2012
A visit to Macchu Picchu and Valle Nevado, Peru and Chile. (AC J, LA Y) Sept 2011
Travel after the Revolution of January 25, 2011. Egypt. (MS Y) May 2011
A Step Back in Time: The Twilight of Burma, a visit to Myanmar (MI Y) Sept 2010

Last edited by worldtraveller73; Feb 12, 18 at 5:40 pm
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Old Jan 5, 18, 7:23 pm
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Alaska Airlines
Economy Class (Q)
YVR-SEA (Vancouver International Airport – SeaTac Airport)
AS 2239
Oct 8, 2017
Booked: Bombardier Q400
Flown: Bombardier Q400-Next Gen
Departure: 7:17 PM
Arrival: 8:26 PM


Since the fare was departing Mexico City, we needed to position to take advantage of the discounted fare. We decided on using an Alaska Airlines Companion Fare to position to Mexico City. Unfortunately, as with many other Alaska runs from Vancouver, we had several connections and a forced stop over in either SEA or SFO. We opted for SFO on this ticket.

We left the house at 4:00 PM. We self drove to MrsWT73’s company’s parking lot at the airport. MrsWT73’s has changed jobs since the last trip report and now has a parking lot available walking distance from the airport (she’s in aerospace). We self hauled the luggage up to the terminal. More importantly, it was a beautiful afternoon leaving YVR.



We were lacking in food creativity ideas today so we opted for the Jetside Bar Lounge at the Globe at YVR at Fairmont Vancouver Airport hotel (in terminal) for the dinner tonight. We had beautiful seats at the windows tonight with big loungers.











I had a beef burger and fries. Mrs WT73 had a turkey sandwich with salad. It was super satisfying and it certainly filled us up for our trip down to SFO.



We headed down to gate E96 via the Duty Free after a leisurely and empty security check and Global Entry examination. It was much quieter at US TransBorder Pre-Clearance in the late evening compared to the usual morning crush to get through here.



There is nothing down in the E90 – 99 gates other than a sorry news stand and a tired coffee area. The lack of windows here makes this place pretty depressing.







The plane was late coming in so we didn’t board until about 7:40 PM.

There was the usual 2-2 configuration with an odd brown Horizon Air interior tonight. Purely functional with nothing much else.





Then we had a long 15 minute taxi over to runway 26L at Vancouver which is right on the other side of the airport. Four medium full stops on the taxi ride over. I didn’t think we were ever going to get out of here tonight.

No beverage service or any service at all on the short 26 minute flight to SEA-TAC; as per usual. It’s always a pretty quick process getting down to Seattle.

A straight in descent arriving at Gate 16C. We were out on the apron quickly into the nice fall evening.

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Old Jan 5, 18, 7:30 pm
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Alaska Airlines
Premium Class (Q)
SEA – SFO (SeaTac Airport – San Franciso Airport)
AS 300
Oct 8, 2017
Booked: Boeing 737-800
Flown: Boeing 737-800
Departure: 9:45 PM
Arrival: 11:49 PM


We had a shorter than expected connection today with a connecting gate down at Gate D3. We took the train over where we had the ominuous announcement that boarding was going to be “delayed” as there were mechanics on board the aircraft. I took a look out the window and the cowilings weren’t up on the engine so it became a wait and see situation.



The verdict didn’t take too long as they announced a gate change to N12C in the North Sattelite Terminal. If this happened in Canada, the flight would have been cancelled since there are never any spare Alaska aircraft sitting around. Thankfully, Seattle seems to have a lot of extra B737-800’s sitting nearby and we were able to get to the next gate via the train fairly quickly.





After the boarding and gate change mess was sorted out, we had an out door boarding via stairs.



We were upgraded to Premium Class at the 48 hr upgrade window courtesy of Alaska MVP status. We boarded with the second wave on to a plane full of millenials. I felt like I was bringing up the average age of those on the plane by just being there. It seemed like everyone was taking the last flight home for the weekend on Sunday.

The Alaska Premium Class features 6 inches more leg room, priority boarding, power outlet at every seat and free drinks. It was a much more comfortable way to go over regular economy.

We had a full plane on the way out with all the bin space taken within about 50% of the plane being boarded. They were pro-active in gate checking the late arrivals with the rollies as the overheads were stuffed full.





Once on board, a drink service was offered. A small Premium Class snack of almonds, a fig bar and gummy bears was offered for free in a small white box. The box was so sleek, it looked like a small Apple Computer accessory. The Tag Heuer watch is not included in the snack box. There weren’t any premium cabin bottle holders where I was sitting so I had to lay it on the table.

I had a Sun Liquor Gin and Sprite to go with it. I asked for the Sprite can but they weren’t being too generous with it and wouldn’t allow me to have it. LOL. MrsWT73 asked for a white wine and a Sprite and was able to get both but they must not have liked my sparkling personality.





We short checked our bags at the SFO airport since we had an overnight and my TSA lock had been cut off the bag. I took a quick check inside and nothing appeared to be missing. The usual TSA card was also missing; CATSA in Vancouver don’t put cards in your bags so I can’t say for sure where it happened. I've had terrible luck with the bags lately. Every overseas trip has had a theft, loss or delay. Ugh!
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Old Jan 5, 18, 7:37 pm
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Westin San Francisco Airport
Executive Room (Suite)


We were originally booked in at the Aloft next door but we changed over to the Westin to get the full buffet breakfast offered for SPG Platinums. We booked on SPG Hot Escapes (fully prepaid at $135 USD) at the 5 week mark. I had a bunch of expiring Suite Night Awards so I applied one and it cleared at the 5 day mark into an Executive Suite non smoking. It was not the best use of a SNA but better than letting it expire unused outright.

We took the bus over to the hotel. It was a quick 15 minute ride on a bus that was akso shared with the aLoft next door. The exterior photos were taken the next morning, but the room photos were taken the night of arrival.





It was a pleasant lobby in terms of an airport hotel. Not too busy and still had a sense of ambiance.









There was no line at check in and we were assigned to room #641 . The room was tastfully furnished with two separate living and sleeping areas. The sleeping area was in nice and neutral browns.









Someone (in the mirror) still has a sense of humor after two flights and it being past midnight with an early wake up the next day.



We had a bit of a bad draw with the room assignment; probably thanks to our midnight arrival. We are the green dot in the middle with half the room facing another room without windows. As we discovered, the living space area contained no windows and was a dark enclosed room attired in greys.









Room with a view? Not so much. We didn’t complain thanks to the tight turnaround. We’d save the effort for stays that really matter. At least there were bright light into this bedroom space.



The shower was the typical Westin Rain Shower variety. The bathroom was nicely equipped.







We opted for the included SPG Platinum breakfast benefit. At the Westin SFO, it meant a full buffet breakfast at the Grill and Vine restaurant. It was reasonable and included the usual shooter style Westin fruit smoothies. There was a reasonable selection of full buffet items on grill valued at $29. There was no egg station but scambled eggs were available, which were more than satisfactory.





There was a hotel pool in a reasonably nice atrium which we did not get the chance to use.



It also seemed like there was a running trial outside of the property (across the roadway) that fronted the water.



We hopped the free shuttle back to the airport after breakfast.



All in all, a reasonable night’s stay for a short layover. It was reasonably priced and at the rate we paid, we couldn’t really go wrong. I don’t think I would stay here as an alternative to staying in San Franciso proper for a longer leisure or business stay, but it was handy and convenient to the airport which was all we needed for the night. The free shuttle helped as well.
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Old Jan 5, 18, 7:55 pm
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Alaska Airlines
First Class (U)
SFO-MEX (San Franciso Airport – Mexico City)
AS 240
Oct 9, 2017
Booked: Boeing 737-800
Flown: Boeing 737-800
Departure: 9:55 AM
Arrival: 4:20 PM


We were upgraded to First Class at the 48 hr upgrade window courtesy of Alaska MVP status.

After we had set the alarm for 6:15 AM and had gotten up and showered, I got a flight tracker notification that the flight had been delayed to 11:20 AM. Damn. Having finally gotten to bed at 1:30 AM, there’s nothing worse than a quick turn around and then a delay on a morning flight. We could have spent the additional time sleeping. =/

We took the shuttle bus back to the SFO International Terminal. We hummed and haa’ed about staying a little longer at the hotel to use the room but decided we would respect the initial check in baggage cut off time and get to the airport for 8:55 AM check in cut off. It’s a good thing we did as the check in at the airport was mostly dead after the cut off. There was a large Mexican family checking in at the First Class line up which seemed to take a bit of time. Still, the San Francisco International Terminal is one of my favourite air terminals in the USA. It's bright and beautiful and a nice place to be.











Unfortunately, Alaska’s “on time performance” on this trip continued to let us down. Fight delay after flight delay was posted; first at 12:20, then at 12:48 PM for a total delay time of 2 hrs and 53 minutes. Worried about cancellations, when I checked at the kiosk to find out what was happening, I was told it was “ATC” delays here in SFO. So far, a total of 19 minutes (YVR flight) + 21 minutes (SEA flight) + 2hrs 53 minutes on our outbound legs alone. There isn’t much to do in this part of the International Terminal “A” Gates. There were lots of lounges, but none of them we had access to. We are not Priority Pass members and Alaska doesn’t typically include lounge access with a First Class fare.







After we had been delayed about 3 hours, Alaska handed out food vouchers for everyone. We received $24 pp person. So, we went for a lunch at one of the grill restaurants at the end of the terminal. There wasn’t much to do other than plane spot while we waited. . .







We finally got on board at 12:30 PM. It was a quick loading and everyone was on board really quickly.

The seats were the usual Alaska First Class leather seats. It's not the most comfortable seat out there but far better than being in the back. The Mexico route appears to have very few Alaska elites.







There was a small bottle of Dasani Water on the seat. As with other times, Alaska does not do a pre-departure beverage like Delta, AA etc…



We taxied out toward takeoff. There was an Air France A380 that was re-positioning to the A gates. Huge!!





We had a climb with a quick view of the California coast before we got underway on our SE heading.





Once airborne, a round of drinks was served. I opted for a chardonnay white wine.





Breakfast was also served. Since it was a morning flight the was supposed to depart at 10 AM, it was morning breakfast catering despite it being about 1 PM now. The choices were egg fritatta (with pork sausages) or cereal. This was served with a side of fruit. The FA admitted that they forgot to send the plates with the catering and it was going to be another 30 minute wait for the plates so they just left for Mexico without them. A bit of an embarrassing picnic presentation but after a 4 hour wait, who’s splitting hairs?



Slept for a little while and tried to spot the border with Mexico. I was not super successful.



We had a twisty and bumpy desent into Mexico City. There was lots of urban sprawl to look at out the window on our descent.









Once on the ground, we taxied to a very rough and out of date airport that felt like Latin America. I spotted the defunct Mexicana hangars and Interjet, the new Mexican upstart carrier that’s now flying non stop Mexico City to Vancouver.





As with other travellers, it was long and bureaucratic process to get the tourist cards signed. We waited about 20 minutes to get through the immigration check point. We had a quick walk through Duty Free on Arrival but didn’t get anything.

We met our driver for the W, which was arranged via the hotel. He transferred us over to the hotel in a Nissan Altima and an old one at that; at least 10 years old!! I think this was a downgrade from the promised Towncar but what can you about it now?? It sort of punctuated the day in that funny way when nothing went exactly right . .

We later got an automated apologetic email from Alaska with a $100 discount code per person for the major four hour flight delay. It was a nice gesture on their part. It was not too generous but a lot more generous than the useless 5% discount codes that Air Canada has been providing over the years. In summary, we were happy that our Alaska leg had come to an end. And that's not something that I usually find myself saying. . .
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Old Jan 6, 18, 1:46 am
  #6  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: YVR
Posts: 389
Originally Posted by worldtraveller73 View Post
We short checked our bags at the SFO airport since we had an overnight and my TSA lock had been cut off the bag. I took a quick check inside and nothing appeared to be missing. The usual TSA card was also missing; CATSA in Vancouver don’t put cards in your bags so I can’t say for sure where it happened. I've had terrible luck with the bags lately. Every overseas trip has had a theft, loss or delay. Ugh!
Looking forward to rest of your report.

FYI, CATSA is SUPPOSED to put inspection cards in your bag if they opened them.
I don't believe TSA would've inspected your bag in SEA either.

Either way, since nothing was missing, it probably doesn't matter
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Old Jan 6, 18, 9:28 am
  #7  
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: St. Paul, MN
Programs: Delta GM, IHG Gold, HH Silver
Posts: 212
Great to see another report from you and looking forward to the rest! Sorry to hear about your delays so far - how annoying especially on the outbound part of your trip where you just want to get there! AS seems to offer a decent service, but I think they can improve their catering a bit ... their food never looks very substantial.
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Old Jan 9, 18, 9:00 pm
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Originally Posted by pentiumvi View Post
Looking forward to rest of your report.

FYI, CATSA is SUPPOSED to put inspection cards in your bag if they opened them.
I don't believe TSA would've inspected your bag in SEA either.

Either way, since nothing was missing, it probably doesn't matter
Thanks pentiumvi. That's new information (to me) about the CATSA cards. I've either been lucky over the years or they haven't been doing their job. LOL. My blue recycling bin at home has collected more than it's fare share of TSA cards over the years.

Originally Posted by 757 View Post
Great to see another report from you and looking forward to the rest! Sorry to hear about your delays so far - how annoying especially on the outbound part of your trip where you just want to get there! AS seems to offer a decent service, but I think they can improve their catering a bit ... their food never looks very substantial.
I appreciate the sentiments 757 and your continued readership!

I agree that the catering on Alaska needs some improvement. It's okay for a 2 hr shuttle flight, but since they are branching more and more into medium haul territory, their first class meals could use an upgrade.
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Old Jan 9, 18, 9:06 pm
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W Mexico City
Fantastic Suite
Non Smoking King


I ended up picking the W Hotel for Mexico City as my B-School colleague (who was consulting with SAP at the time) recommended that I stay at the JW Marriott hotel in Polanco neighbourhood. The W was right next to the JW so I figured that the hotel area had to be reasonably safe if SAP was going to send it’s staff to the city. The hotel also happened to be close to the Hop On Hop Off bus station at the Auditorio Nacionale about 2 blocks away so it was pretty convenient to our needs. I had also considered staying at the Luxury Collection Los Alcobas but opted for the W in favor of a greater chance of suite upgrades. Most of the Los Alcobas hotel rooms base to mid level rooms also seemed to look towards the back of the hotel.

The W hotel was in a great neighbourhood which felt really safe. We had no problems walking around; even after dark. I would subjectively rate the area as safer than the compound living at night style of Johannesburg / Cape Town, South Africa. I did leave the fancy watches and wallets at home like any safe traveller but we never had any troubles.

I had originally booked us into a Wonderful Room. I applied a Suite Night Award to clear into an Fanastic Suite at the 5 day mark. At the 3 day mark, I then applied a Your 24 request for a 5PM checkin and a 5 PM check out which was accepted. Like the Westin SFO, the room photos are on the date of our arrival in the evening, but the other shots are throughout our stay.

Arriving to the W, the first impressions are of a sleek and contemporary lobby. It usually had vibe music running through the place.







We were assigned Suite #1909 which was a compact executive suite on a high floor. Floors go up to 25 and the top floors are the lofts. The lots appear to be under construction at the moment. The Executive Suite was an interestingly decorated room with windows on both sides and the bathroom in the middle.















The room had a small seating area with a couch overlooking a view of the city. There was a small mini bar available with almost everything you could ask for available in room.







Internet was of the "buy in and remove the charge from the front desk" variety. The platinum breakfast had the same thing where a bill was presented but it was zero balanced at the front desk. There was a convenient desk which we used during our stay.



The bathroom also had a great view over the city. It featured the usual Bliss Toiletries.





In a stranger set up, I could not find Green Choice cards but had “opted in” on line during the reservation process. I never found them after all and never asked about it. I suspect that it was discontinued a short time ago.

One of the best features of the room was the beautiful view. I really enjoyed waking up and seeing a view like this at the start and end of every day. Being a corner room, we were able to get opposing views on opposite sides of the room.





We had again opted for the SPG Platinum Breakfast which was served in the hotel restaurant. The restaurant was small format, with a small breakfast buffet on offer. A la carte options were available and we did not have an upcharge for it.





Overall, I really enjoyed our experience at the W Mexico City. The hotel was great. The service was reasonably good. The only let down was the tired W hotel car when we arrived to Mexico City airport that was likely contracted out to a third party. The Polanco neighborhood was also a major bonus, in that most destinations were easily walkable from the hotel and as safe as one could hope for in Mexico City. I would easily return.
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Old Jan 9, 18, 9:18 pm
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Pujol Restaurant
Polanco, Mexico City


As many foodies are discovering, Mexico City has an up and coming food scene. The city has embraced the opportunity and many restaurants are springing up all over the place. I got onto Pujol as it was named by The Wall Street Journal as Mexico City’s best restaurant. It also was listed on the San Pelligrino Top 50 Restaurants in the World for 2016 as the 25th best restaurant and going up to number 22 for the year 2017. Pujol offers both a seated concept and a onemakase taco tasting concept. At the time of writing, it was very clear on Open Table, but not so clear on the restaurant website.

I booked in a Pujol via Open Table at about the 60 day mark. I didn’t have a lot luck finding availability with our choice of times, and we ended with a 9:30 PM reservation for the day of our arrival. You need to select the type of reservation that you want at the time of the reservation (seated or onemakase concept). We almost didn’t make it thanks to the flight delays on Alaska. We took a $5 USD Uber from the W Mexico City to Pujol.







On arrival, once we were confirmed at the front desk, we were led into the bar tasting concept. Instead of being a usual Japanese tasting bar where items were prepared on view, it was low counter seating surrounding the mixology bar area where alcoholic drinks were made.





Our lead host described the eating concept as a “trust exercise” and obtained our dietery information. She asked us if there was anything that we wouldn’t eat. MrsWT73 opted out of the uni sea food. Lamb – ok. Pork – ok. Scallop – ok . After an introduction of the other serving staff members (a friendly approach) we were underway.

The first drink was a starter tamarind margerita on the rocks. It was a tasty and unique start to what would be a great meal.

The meal started with bonitas- a charred carrot with avocado and grasshoppers. MrsWT73 actually really enjoyed this until after she realized what she was eating at the end of the meal. The avocado was probably the freshest and cleanest cut avocado I’ve ever had the pleasure to taste.



The next portion was served with a beer; a Cerveza Juan Cordero Insurgente from Tijuana Baja California. It was very light and crisp. It was served with a scallop avocado and cilatro and red onion served on a tostada.







We had an empanada filled with uni. This was probably my least favorite dish as, although tasty, it didn’t have any memorable part to it. An empanada is also quite filling; I would have rather saved the appetite for other menu items that were presented.



The next course was a taco with confit of eggplant, watercress and green leaf, paired with the first French white wine. It was balanced enough not to burn out the heat from the spice.





We had pork head with onions, peppers, and a super hot sauce with heat all the way through the front and back of the palette.





It was followed by a shredded Lamb taco with pea shoots and avocado oil sauce, with a brown medium spicy sauce. The second glass of wine was a Tour de Gendres Bergerac; Merlot / Malbec blend.







Then another beef, avocado with red onion and spice with mescal. Mescal seems to be all the rage in CDMX these days and it was a great opportunity to try it.



As our last main course, this was followed by the flagship five year aged mole with a newer sweeter mole. The mole was allegedly cooked (and added to) over a five year period. The contrasts between the two moles were quite pronounced. I savored every bit of it.



We had a sorbet with a blood orange ice as palatte cleanser.



The dessert item was a jack fruit and corn sorbet over a corn flan. It was paired with Mescal.





It was followed by a freshly cooked churro in a coil. It was absolutely the best and lightest churro I will likely ever have in my entire life. It was super light and flaky. I was still thinking about it days later it was that good.

The menu wasn’t presented until after the meal was over. Even then, we were only able to get a Spanish copy.



The meal came to a reasonable 3,915 Mexican Pesos ($200 USD) including gratituty, ten (not including a churro!) courses and 5 wine / beer / alcohol pairings. I thought it was a reasonable price for the amount of food and the quality of the offerings for a unique or special occasion. It was certainly cheaper than the wine dinners we go to back home (laughing).



I was totally stuffed at the end of this one. The portions could have even been about 30% smaller and it would have been just as good. I was nearing a food coma by the time I left the restaurant. On our way out the door, I collected a souvenir menu which was mostly accurate. It was a pretty awesome and intense meal; one that I will remember for quite a while.

A visit to Pujol is highly recommended and a great experience worthy of it’s spot on the San Pelligrino Top 50 Restaurants list.
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Old Jan 9, 18, 9:29 pm
  #11  
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Mexico City
Sightseeing.


We woke up the next morning and had an included SPG Platinum Breakfast. Breakfast was available until 11:30 AM which was totally awesome for late sleepers like us.

The breakfast room was a nice space and offered eggs, omlettes and meat items, in addition ot the breakfast bar items. The breakfast bar items contained lots of fruit and salamis and hams, and meats and cheeses. It was pretty good quality for a hotel breakfast. The menu items looked awesome, although we didn’t make an effort to try any of them.



Keeping things easy and safe for us, we took the “Hop on Hop Off” bus which stopped almost immediately behind the hotel at the Auditorio Nacionale. It was a 5 minute walk from the hotel across a major street. It’s a major concert stadium. Interestingly enough, it had stars of all the concerts performed on the ground out front in gold plaques along with the year that they performed.







Once on the bus, we had a lengthy tour through the streets of Mexico City. I forgot to question the logic of a bus driving tour in one of the cities known for the worst traffic in the world. It took us about 1 hour and 1 minutes to get over to the Centro Historico on the other side of town which was only about 7 km away.







Unfortunately, it wasn’t long before we came across some earthquake damage that was caused by the major earthquake on Sept 19, 2017. The surrounding area was marked by search team and sniffer dogs; even some 3 weeks later.









We passed through the hipster district on our way over to the Centro Historico.





We eventually passed through the major shopping and commercial throughfare.











We passed by the Palacio Bello Artes. It looked as good from the bus as it did on the ground.









We got off at the Centro Historico, which is one of the main tourist centers of old Mexico. It was quite a “touristed” area with lots of gringos like myself taking in the area. There were shoe shine areas, street entertainers and various tour stands throughout the square.











We took in some of the sights and went over to the Zolaco ruins. This was where the center of the Aztec Universe was supposed to be. Therewas a walkway that went over top the ruins and not being an archeologiest, we didn’t spend the peso’s for the admission fee. Most of the aerial view could be seen from the outside anyway.











We took a closer look at the church, which was the center focal point of the square. We were able to get a peek inside. It had more worshippers than tourists so we didn’t stick around too long. Like many other Latin American churches, the décor inside was quite plain and simple.







We then took a walk around the Palacio Nacionale. There was a large tent benefit in the middle of the square so we were not able to go into the middle.









We then walked through downtown over to the Palacio Des Belles Artes. The walkways towards the Palacio Des Belles Artes was a nice but forgettable pedestrian area with a few streets here and there. There were the usual international brands for shopping, along with a few restaurants throughout.









There was some finds however… You just had to look closely for them.













We arrived to the Palacio Des Belles Artes. It was a totally beautiful and impressive building. We were able to see some of the closer detail amongst the roof and the surrounding sides as the sun came out for a rare light. The building itself has designs on all sides of the structure, making it truly beautiful no matter which angle you happen to be standing.











After a few photos, we wandered back for a little snack at a wine restaurant and a slice of pizza, eventually making it back to the Hop On Hop Off bus stop and took the drive back towards Polcano.











It took about an hour to get back as it was rush hour. We passed by several monuments in the central part of town.















We arrived back to the Auditorio, where there must have been an event on. The place was packed and looked totally different than the morning.



In summary, it was a pretty nice day. Thanks to the traffic, we didn’t “hop on / hop off” all that much but it was an otherwise enjoyable day spent not worrying about appointments or places to be. For those attempting a day visit, make sure you set out early enough to get in all the stops.
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Old Jan 12, 18, 6:18 pm
  #12  
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Quintonil Restaurant
Polanco, Mexico City.


The dinner plans tonight were at Quintonil. Quintonil also manages a spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list at Number 22 for 2017. It is advertised as “clarity of flavor, alongside contemporary Mexican technique”. I managed to get a 7 PM seating via Open Table at about 60 days out. Even then, there was not a lot of open availability.



We took an Uber over to the restaurant from the hotel. On arrival, we were given a choice of dinging in the restaurant or in the outdoors (covered) area. We opted for the outdoors. This was supposedly the outdoor area, although it was completely sealed and warm.



Since we had just had the massive tasting menu at Pujol the night before, we opted for a lighter la carte menu tonight. There was a good selection available and the food that was coming out looked very interesting and appealing.





They also offered a set tasting menu, but we went with the a la carte options.



We trusted their better judgement and I had the sommelier recommend a wine. The sommelier recommended a Mexican Chardonnay Chenin Blanc blend called Afrodita. We have previously had some pretty bad locals wines over our trips. I rmember The Great Wall of China Wine in China; awful. The Tahitian Coral Wine; take it or leave it. However, we were blown away by the quality of the Mexican wines we had the opportunity to try. This one actually had a flavour profile that had some complexity. Most of the wines we tried came from Gualupe in Baja California.



MrsWT73 had the charred avocado tartare with mexican herbed chips. It was sensational. It loooked like a bomb had just gone off on the plate.



I had the crab tostada taco with lime radish and chile habanero mayonnaise. It was quite acidic but really flavorful when it was all mixed together.



For the main course, MrsWT73 had the turkey in recado negro sauce, scented in caco husk with vegetables and burnt onions.



I had the braised pork jowl with blue corn segueza with lettuces and picked “rajas”, which was good mixed together.



MrsWT73 liked the servers and the atmosphere was casual. Food was super yummy and more complex than the usual Mexican tasting notes that I was used to.

After dinner, we ended up walking over to Cinuanta wine bar and shared a half bottle of Mexican Nebbiolo on the patio before heading back to the W Mexico City. Despite the safety reputation of Mexico, we found it to be no problem walking around the neighborhood.

Between these two wonderful dining experiences, I think I enjoyed the excitement and food of Pujol more than Quintonil. The new space at Pujol seemed to have a slight edge on Quintonil, with a contemporary vibe and a super deluxe crowd. Admittedly, you can't go wrong with either of them since they both offer an excellent product.
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Old Jan 12, 18, 6:28 pm
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Polanco Sightseeing.
Mexico City


On the day of our departure, our flight was set to leave at 7 PM. We had a sleep in and did an afternoon of sightseeing around the wealthy neighbourhood of Polanco. We walked from the hotel through neighborhood, which had lots of high end shopping mixed with cafes and restaurants.













Around 1 PM, the lure of the patios and the white shirted waiters ready to serve got a bit too much for us and we opted for a patio snack. They were all deserted with tables free for the taking. However, most of the other restaurants had other ideas, saving the tables for imaginary, yet to arrive people.





No you can’t sit here, unless you’re prepared to order a full meal. LOL.



We ended up down the road at Brassi, for a drink at the back bar. We were denied the patio again here - this must be a local thing that the patios are saved for eating as opposed to having people seated there to attract customers into the restaurant.





As the day drew onwards, it came time to depart. We took an UberSUV from Polanco to the airport. There were heaps of Uber Black and Uber SUV’s available at all times during our stay in the Polanco neighbourhood. It was only a 17 km but the ride took about 70 minutes during the afternoon rush hour. We had allowed ourservles plenty of time. With traffic like this, it's easy to understand why.









We had pleasant service from our driver. But after we were dropped off, the driver didn’t turn off the trip and when we were in the airport. The app had us driving away from the airport; running up trip charges. I ended up “cancelling” the trip and checking in with Uber Support who had adjusted the fare downwards within 20 minutes. Unfortunately, the “cancellation” request made the trip inelligble to earn Starpoints since it showed as a cancellation (and not a trip).

After several back and forths between Uber and Starwood, I was never really able to get the issues resolved with Uber. Starwood did manually adjust my account in the end. So a big thanks to Starwood in this case !
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Old Jan 12, 18, 6:39 pm
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Iberia Lounge
Mexico Benito Juarez Terminal 1
Mexico City


The old Mexico City Airport Terminal One is a bit of a dump. It has a lack of natual light and had a very institutional feel to it. Despite this, it was much cleaner and in a better state of repair than some areas of SEA-TAC in Seattle, USA.

We checked in at the LATAM desks at T-160. For some reason, the desks were totally deserted and we were helped at the Preferente line right away. There were no questions or raised eyebrows at our deeply discounted tickets (only $1,110 USD round trip!) and our check in was processed prompty. I had checked in online earlier without any issues; hoping to stave off any last minute questions or awkward “denied boarding” conversations (ie: a mistake fare). We were given instructions to collect our bags in Santiago, despite the bags being tagged through to Easter Island.





There didn’t seem to be many interesting things on the public side, so we immediately went through to the secure side. There was no exit stamp for Mexico and we were through security really quickly. We located the elevator to the lounges. We were given instructions at check in to go to the Iberia Lounge. There was an AAdmirals Club available as well, along with a United Club on the second floor. I think the Admirals Club probably had half the space that we had downstairs in the Iberia Lounge.





After getting off the elevator, we were given access and wifi codes on the way in. The initial impresions were quite favorable. It appeared that the lounge had been recently refurbished as everything looked fresh and new. Today's soothing colours were light wood hues.







There was a medium sized seating area, although there weren’t too many loungers.









There were some tables throughout the back of the lounge. The bar was a fully manned bar with drinks on request.









The lounge, along with the theme of the airport, didn’t have much natural light. There were some windows that overlooked a glass atrium in towards the airport but it didn’t look all too inviting to sit here.



We went to find a place to sit. There were a few loungers but most of them were taken. We ended up in the back corner against the wall with some nearby power outlets.

There was some basic food offerings. These included pannini’s, soup, pasta and some other unidentifiable hot item.







The bar was the most impressive part of the lounge. Shortly after I took a photo of it, I was approached by the manager and the interrogation started. Were these pictures for personal use? Was I a representative from another airline? "Because you know, these people come in here. . ." After the shame test, she left but wasn’t at all apologetic. I didn’t want to spell out that there were probably dozens of travel bloggers coming through thanks to the deeply discounted LATAM fare. In order to deal with this stress, I had some snacks here along with 3 gin and tonics.
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Old Jan 12, 18, 6:50 pm
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Latam Airlines
Business Class (Z)
MEX – SCL (Mexico Juarez International Terminal One – Santiago Arturo Merino Benitez Airport)
LA 621
Oct 11, 2017
Booked: Boeing 787-800
Flown: Boeing 787-800
Departure: 7:55 PM
Arrival: 6:15 AM + 1


The flights’ availability for boarding was announced from the lounge. We packed up our stuff and headed over through a bleak and dated airport over to Gate 23.

It was pretty busy at the gate. Signs were up with the boarding zones and it was about as organized as it could be given the space that was available. The airport didn’t seem to offer a lot of real estate for the boarding area and we were all squished into the hallway. There were about 15 people in the Priority Line when we arrived.







We boarded via 2L with single jet bridge boarding. Once on board, we found our seats. The business class cabin is in a 2-2-2 configuration and the seat are similar to those on Turkish Airways The welcome and greeting was wholly in Spanish, which was a first for me. It was neat to watch eeeryone else come on getting greeted in Spanish.

Unlike the seat map, the cabin is split into two cabins. Rows 1-3 are the first cabin, and the second cabin are rows 4-6. There is a small storage compartment between the two cabins and a crew seat on the outsides but otherwise there is no curtain separating the two cabins; making it a very spacious cabin. I usually don’t like the bulkheads but this was perfectly fine.













A pre-departure beverage order was taken of water, orange juice, sparkling wine or pisco sours were offered. We went with the pisco sours. It was served with nuts, and an additional glass of water which was a nice touch. It is probably worth noting that these are instant pisco sours and since they are Chilean, they don’t come with that wonderful Peruvian froth on top of it.



While we were enjoying the PDB, the purser came around and thanked us for flying with them. She asked us to enjoy the flights and made some small talk about where we were headed. She was excited to hear that we were headed to Easter Island- having been there herself with work.

The menus were distributed while on the ground.













There was also a wine list provided. I have to say that the wines were quite good and were among the highlight of our time with LATAM. As expected, the wines featured a South American focus. The list was also very extensive and offered something for everyone; similar to our flights with Qatar.











This was followed by a newspaper / magazine trolley and presentation of the amentity kits. The kits are Salvatore Ferragamo branded and contained quite a bit of stuff. There were 3 Salvatore Ferragamo creams, socks, combs, mirrors, pens, disposable tote bags, ear plugs, eye masks. It was one of the fuller kits that I remembered ever getting and the case itself was quite nice.





We got underway and the lights were dimmed almost immediately. I browsed through the in flight entertainment which was “on demand”. It featured a moving map and a selection of quality movies.







I noticed that most of the travellers in business went to sleep right away. Dinner service started at about 9:30 PM and was quite a leisurely affair. Typically this wouldn't matter but the flight was quite short at 7 hours so it didn’t leave a lot of time for sleeping.

I had the soup to start with the wine wine chardonnay.



Followed by the braised ribs. I didn’t get the red glass of wine to go with it until after the the meal was well done and over as the crew had disappeared.



For the first round of desserts, I took the cheese and cracker plates.



I then finished with Haagen Daaz ice cream as well for desert. Sumptuous!



It was 10:30 PM by the time that the dinner service was completed and only about 3.5 hours left in the flight with the time zone changes.

The crew handed out very thick white duvets which were quite comfortable to have on a plane. The pillow was the usual skinny fabric and it made for a bit of an odd combination having such a great blanket and a flimsy pillow. I attempted to sleep but it didn’t go so well. I was too excited or something and I just lay wake the whole time. Seven hours is not a great length for flights since by the time you have finished the meal, there isn’t much relaxing time.

I opted for the complete breakfast. This was completed by filling out a card after the main meal service. We were among the only few that did have a complete breakfast. Most seemed to be from Chile on the business circuit and stayed asleep the whole time. The breakfast was served slightly outside of Santiago.





The breakfast was nothing special. The coffee, “Juan Valdez instant” was particularly dreadful. LOL.



We had a dark landing into Santiago International airport. The crews were especially interested and keen to hear that we were traveling to Easter Island. It seems that many of the crews have previously traveled there being on LATAM’s route network so many had pisco sour bar recommendations.



Overall, we had a great crew flying down from Mexico City which was complimented by a terrific and substantial wine list. The amenity kits were terrific as was the B787 plane. Unfortunately, the overnight flight itself is too short to allow for any relaxation or enjoyment if you plan on getting the meal service. I would really like the opportunity to be able to try LATAM out on a daytime long haul flight that doesn't involve a sleep.
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