It has been an interesting 6 months so far in 2012. My original plan was to stay somewhat still, but something went wrong along the way to say the least. First though, I was totally grounded for the entire month of January. The traveling didn’t start before the beginning of February, but somehow I managed to rack up close to 116K flown miles so far this year.
Countries Visited 20
The counties visited, not just transferred, so far this year are United Kingdom, Japan, China, Thailand, New Zealand, Fiji, Western Samoa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Cambodia, UAE, Hong Kong, Macau, Sri Lanka, Italy, Vietnam, Philippines, Qatar, and Australia. I had been to all of these before except Fiji and Western Samoa. The number of counties that I have been so far is around 70.
Both Fiji and Western Samoa were interesting. I didn’t care too much about the tourist ghetto that the Denarau in Fiji is, but once you go further out to Natadola Bay and to the capitol of Suva, the situation completely changed. Suva was a bustling and interesting city. Obviously Apia, the capital of Western Samoa, was nowhere near as busy as Suva, but it was equally interesting place. The smaller the island the more hospitable the people tend to be.
Flights Taken 54
The mix of airlines that I flew on the first half is quite interesting: Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic, ANA, Thai, Air New Zealand, Air Pacific, Emirates, China Eastern, Blue1, Ethiopian, Gulf Air, Qatar, Asiana, Bangkok Airways, Firefly, KLM, & Malaysian.
The number of segments flown was 54. The shortest one was from Helsinki to Stockholm on Blue1 in economy (award) 249 miles and the longest one from Dubai to Melbourne in first class (paid) on Emirates 7231 miles. This goes to against what I normally preach; redeem for business/first and pay for economy. But there are always exceptions to the rule.
Hotels Stayed At
This year I have somewhat unusual mix of hotels. Last year I had qualified for the Hyatt Diamond by the end of February, but in 2012 I have had only one paid Hyatt stay so for. For the first time ever, I requalified for the Hilton HHonors Diamond status first. This was partly due to free night certificates from a last year’s promo that I have used this past spring.
The number of Starwood stays is down significantly as well, although I have almost requalified for the Platinum status. I won’t, however, have nowhere near as many stays this year than I had in 2011 (around 110) or 2010 (around 130).
InterContinental Hotels Group Stays
I had quite a few nice InterContinental stays in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila, Koh Samui, Fiji, Phnom Penh and Abu Dhabi. The former Nikko hotel in Kuala Lumpur that was rebranded as InterContinental Kuala Lumpur was the only InterContinental that doesn’t treat Royal Ambassador members well. I stayed also at the Holiday Inn Suva that was to my surprise a nice hotel, and at the Crowne Plaza in Abu Dhabi that had Molton Brown bathroom amenities on the suite that I received there. The Holiday Inn Sharjah was like a flashback from the 80’s or 90’s as was the Crowne Plaza Kuala Lumpur.
The first half was full of nice Hilton chain stays; Conrad Bangkok (not my favorite), Conrad Hong Kong (so so), Conrad Macau (fabulous), Conrad Singapore (very nice), Conrad Bali (always take good care of me), Conrad Koh Samui (good but not perfect), Waldorf Astoria Shanghai on the Bund (perfect), Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria Collection hotel (great), Hilton Auckland (good), Hilton Fiji (nice as well), Hilton On The Park Melbourne (good), Hilton Colombo Residence (good), Hilton Colombo (good), Hilton Shanghai (ok), Hilton Narita (bad), Hilton Singapore (good), Hilton Baynunah (ok), Hilton Al Ain (ok), Hilton Doha (good) & DoubleTree Kuala Lumpur (fabulous).
Hyatt hasn’t done too much for me lately, but the new Park Hyatt Ningbo was very nice as well as was the Grand Hyatt Jakarta. I also stayed few days at the Hyatt Bali in Sanur and Hyatt Casino hotel in Manila. In Melbourne I revisited both the Park Hyatt and the Grand Hyatt hotels. The Park one is still my favorite of the two. I got a food poisoning during my stay at the Grand Hyatt Erewan in Bangkok. The stay at the Grand Hyatt Macau on my birthday was a complete disaster check in taking over an hour. Unfortunately, the newly renovated Park Hyatt Sydney didn’t impress me and the situation with the Park Hyatt Shanghai was the same.
Had quite a few Starwood stays as well in the first six months of 2012. The worst one by far was the Sheraton Heathrow hotel. What a piece of crap. Le Meridien Jakarta was quite nice and the Le Meridien Bangkok has never failed to take good care of me. Sheraton Saigon Hotel & Towers (good), Four Points Bangkok (ok), Royal Orchid Sheraton (good), the brand new Westin Ningbo was great, Westin Kuala Lumpur (ok), Le Royal Meridien Abu Dhabi (good), Westin Sydney (good), Sheraton Imperial Kuala Lumpur (good), Sheraton Shanghai Hongqiao (good), Le Royal Meridien Shanghai (very nice), Sheraton Shanghai Pudong (good), The Hongta Hotel Shanghai former St Regis (good), Sheraton Shanghai Hongkou (very good) & Sheraton Fiji (ok) were other Starwood hotels that I spent a night or two in the first six months of 2012.
I have never quite understood Accor’s brand and decided to familiarize myself with them. Stayed at the Muse MGallery collection hotel in Bangkok (very good), Mercure Nadi (terrible), Novotel Suva Lami Bay (good) & Pullman Legian in Bali (good). I have to say that I am continuing to be confused. Not quite sure what to expect. Maybe I need to have few more Accorhotel stays later in the year as well.
Marriott got some of my business on the first half as well. JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur (very nice), Renaissance Kuala Lumpur (nice), Renaissance Bangkok (very nice), JW Marriott Bangkok (very nice), Courtyard Bangkok (nice), Renaissance Doha (good), Putrajaya Marriott (ok) & Marriott Executive Apartments Sathorn Vista Bangkok (good).
I also had few stays at unaffiliated hotels; Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore that doesn’t participate to Marriott or Ritz-Carlton Rewards (very nice), Ramada Katunayake Colombo International Airport (bad), Hotel Millenia Apia (bad), Aggie Grey’s Hotel Apia (great) & Tanoa International hotel Nadi (good),
The first six months of 2012 was quite a ride after all. The 3rd quarter of 2012 looks equally busy, and I am very excited to visit both the Easter Islands and French Polynesia for the very first time.