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It has been my second time staying at an Element Hotel of the Starwood brand yesterday and I was truly shocked by the uncomfortable and unpractical room design at that property.

Element YVR

A month ago I looked over my accounts and figured that I will require one Element stay to complete the Starwood Eleven Brands Promotion so I booked the Element Vancouver Metrotown. [click to continue…]

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This week, the China Daily (access online article here) wrote in it’s weekly ASEAN Edition about the rapid growth of salaries in Asia and the associated effects this has on the ability of companies to attract and retain employees.

China Daily JUL 10I have been to China during the last week and John was there a week earlier. We have already discussed the deteriorated staff performance at length and it seems like the author of the article comes to the same conclusion as we did. [click to continue…]

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Park Hyatt Zanzibar (the only Park Hyatt in Africa) had its grand opening on March 8th and allowed bookings on Hyatt.com starting March 12, 2015.

Hotel Check Park Hyatt Zanzibar

As I was going to be in the Zanzibar island on its opening week, I decided to squeeze in a stay on the opening night on March 12. The hotel had brought up the opening date from March 30th to March 12th. The hotel was not originally accepting reservation for the dates that I was going to be in Zanzibar. [click to continue…]

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Marriott has a newly affiliated Autograph Collection hotel in Edinburgh called the Glasshouse hotel. This hotel has been open for more than 10 years, but went through refurbishment this past spring and joined Marriott in mid-June.

the-glasshouse-edinburgh-autograph-collection

The reception are of this hotel is located in an old building that used to be a church. The rooms/suites are on the top floor of the adjacent building that houses restaurants and a cinema. This is a relatively small hotel, as it only has total of 65 rooms/suites. [click to continue…]

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Aloft Kuala Lumpur Sentral opened in early March and I stayed there for a night in May during an overnight transit.

aloft-kuala-lumpur-sentral

Aloft is Starwood’s limited service brand targeted towards the W crowd. The slogan of the hotel is “A Vision of W Hotels”. There are quite a few Aloft hotels in North America and they seem to be slowly spreading to other parts of the world as well. [click to continue…]

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This was my first ever stay at Marriott Autograph Collection hotel. I am not 100% sure what this hotel brand stands for, but I would imagine it to be  something too different and bold to be branded as Marriott or Renaissance.

the-stones-hotel-legian-bali

There is another Marriott chain hotel in Bali – Courtyard that is located in the most southern part of the island called Nusa Dua. [click to continue…]

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Starwood certainly is well represented in Bali. There are two new properties (Sheraton and Le Meridien) and four older ones (St. Regis, W, Westin and Laguna). I have now stayed at all of them. There are two more properties opening in the next 12 months.

sheratonn-kuta-car-entrance

I had eagerly waited for the opening of this hotel that has been under construction on my previous couple of visist. I finally had a chance to stay there in March. [click to continue…]

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There are currently six Starwood properties in Bali (St. Regis, Westin, Luxury Collection Laguna, W and Sheraton) including the new Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran. There is a new Westin hotel coming in Ubud and Sarasvati in the Seminyak area in the next 12 months.

le-meridien-bali-jimbaran

There used to be a Le Meridien Resort in Bali previously, but it has been reflagged as a Pan Pacific property. This brand new property, although it has been open for around 4 months, won’t have its grand opening before May 9, 2013. [click to continue…]

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Back in March, I wrote about this Tune hotel concept that is closely related to AirAsia. Basically everything is unbundled starting from the air conditioning of the room. I was intrigued by this and decided to check out the concept by staying at one of their properties when I would have an opportunity to do so.

tune-hotel-bangkok-asoke-reception

I had a noon flight yesterday (Tuesday) out from Bangkok and hada very late check out on Monday evening from the full service hotel I was staying at. I was contemplating checking out this Tune-concept or Accor’s Ibis and chose the former. [click to continue…]

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For the past couple of weeks I have been in Bangkok and I had the opportunity to stay at the newest Marriott branded hotel on its opening day, March 18th, 2013. The opening day of this property was moved up couple of times and I was able to book it for an opening day arrival just a couple of days before.

marriott-bangkok-sukhumvit-view-of-the-building

I like to check out new properties when they open while, at the same time, being fully aware that it usually takes a few months to get everything going smoothly. This Marriott was still a work in progress, mainly building wise, but the service was very good however. [click to continue…]

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Last month I spent half day at this property. I had a very early morning flight out on Emirates and decided to check out this brand new Marriott property that hadn’t had its grand opening at the time.

The hotel will have two towers once it is completely ready. Only one tower is operational right now. The second tower is expected to open sometime in 2014.

jw-marriott-marquis-dubai-tower-1

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W Bangkok has now been open for less than a month. The grand opening is currently scheduled for March, 2013. The hotel only has part of the final room inventory available right now i.e. suites are scheduled to be available starting from February 1, 2013. You can read more about my booking dilemma of this hotel here.

I always advise my friends to stay away from newly opened hotels for at least 6 months. Typically, it takes a while for the employees to get up to the SPG program standards and also get to know the property. I was actually surprised how smoothly everything went during my brief stay. Quite frankly, I was expecting the absolute worst. [click to continue…]

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Right now Yangon and Myanmar are going through very fast growth period once few countries such as United States eased or completely withdraw the trade embargo after successful open election earlier this year. Foreign companies are trying to establish themselves to the country and the hotel availability haven’t kept up. And this shows on the prices.

There are only two or three Western quality hotels in Yangon; Governor’s Residence (where I stayed earlier this year), Traders and Strand. All these three were very expensive for the date in early December I was looking at. The Governor’s Residence had their daily rate exceeding $600. [click to continue…]

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Back in April, I was in Shanghai for couple of week and decided that it probably would make sense to spend one weekend somewhere else. The brand new Park Hyatt Ningbo had just opened and was only three hour ride away from Shanghai.

Location

The hotel is outside of the Ningbo city by Don Qian lake. There is an airport in Ningbo, but I would imagine that most of the guests are arriving from Shanghai.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Lake
Park Hyatt Ningbo Lake

There is really nothing in the immediate proximity of the hotel. You need a car to get around as there are no taxis close to the Park Hyatt. If you want one, they need to order one from the city center and you have to pay an inflated rate of 100 CNY.

From Shanghai you have several options getting to Ningbo:

park-hyatt-ningbo-shanghai-map

1. You can take a train but it will go via Hangzhou. I wasn’t going to spend any time there so I decided against this option.

2. You can take a bus that drops you off at the Ningbo bus station from where you have to take a cab to the hotel.

3. You can rent a car and drive to the hotel.

park-hyatt-ningbo-shanghai-to-ningbo

I chose the bus option and took a taxi to one of the bus stations in Shanghai. My hotel concierge printed out the bus schedule and instructed the cab driver where to take me. I did manage to buy the bus ticket without too much of a hassle. The price of the bus fare was about 100 CNY ($16). I was bit lost about where the bus was actually leaving. Luckily, there were Chinese whose English was rather good and they were able to help me out.

The bus trip to the Ningbo took almost three hours. We had a stop for 20 to 30 minutes just before crossing the long bridge.

The bus terminal in Ningbo is in the city center. There is a taxi rank after exciting the terminal. I had to wait no more than 10 minutes for a taxi, although the line looked long at first. There were some taxi touts offering services at the fixed fare. The fare from the center of Ningbo to the Park Hyatt using a meter was 60 CNY.

Check In

Park Hyatt Ningbo
Park Hyatt Ningbo

The check in area was totally deserted when I arrived. We went through back and worth few times regarding a Diamond upgrade. We decided to use one of the suite upgrades that I had to get me a suite. The hotel was completely deserted during my stay. Of course the hotel doesn’t have to upgrade you beyond what is the absolute minimum required by the Gold Passport, but if you have suites available, why not.

Suite 213

This was a proper suite with a separate living room and a bed room. The bedroom and bathroom weren’t really divided.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Living Room
Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Living Room

It had a full size refrigerator that is bit weird for a hotel if it designed as a hotel from the getco. I liked the Nespresso that you can find at most modern hotels in Asia and Middle East.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Living Room Kitchen Set Up
Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Living Room Kitchen Set Up

It had a full wet bar with a Chinese tea set.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Living Room Tea Set
Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Living Room Tea Set

The bathroom’s shower area was enclosed and you could turn it to a steam room.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Bathroom Tub
Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Bathroom Tub

Diamond amenity was a bottle of red wine and a note.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Diamond Amenity
Park Hyatt Ningbo Suite 213 Diamond Amenity

Fitness Center

Was exactly what one would expect from a brand new hotel. I loved the fact that they had wireless headphones for the cardio machines.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Fitness Center Machines
Park Hyatt Ningbo Fitness Center Machines

There was an indoor pool that was lighted during the evening.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Pool Night View
Park Hyatt Ningbo Pool Night View

You also had a ping pong and pool tables.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Pool Table
Park Hyatt Ningbo Pool Table

Hotel Grounds

When I was there back in April, the weather wasn’t really perfect. It was rather chilly and windy at times. The hotel grounds are very tastefully done.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Villas
Park Hyatt Ningbo Villas

There are two separate villa sections that weren’t ready back in April. I am not sure if these are going to be part of hotel or if they are sold separately.

Clientele

This hotel probably mainly caters to Chinese clientele from the nearby cities. I was the only Caucasian guest that I saw on the property. The food and beverage options and the design reflect this fact.

Breakfast

The full breakfast is obviously complimentary for the Diamond guests. They had some bakery items out but for cold cuts you had to request.

Park Hyatt Ningbo Breakfast Selection
Park Hyatt Ningbo Breakfast Selection

They also had a menu for hot items that you could order from. I decided to have a salad and pan cakes.

Check Out

No problems with the check out.

Conclusion

I think that this is a fine Park Hyatt that is catered to the Chinese clientele. The suite as well as the common areas were done very tastefully.

The location of the hotel requires you to have a car unless you are planning to spend the entire time at the property.

Would I travel to Ningbo just to stay at the Park Hyatt? Probably no. I don’t think that there was anything special to do in the area. It is perfect weekend getaway for those living in Shanghai, but I don’t see it being a destination to where you would travel from abroad.