by -
3 Comments

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…]

by -
2 Comments

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…]

by -
4 Comments

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…]

by -
5 Comments

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…]

by -
8 Comments

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…]

by -
5 Comments

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…]

by -
10 Comments

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…]

by -
10 Comments

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…]

by -
10 Comments

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…]

by -
2 Comments

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

[click to continue…]

by -
4 Comments

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…]

by -
4 Comments

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…]

by -
1 Comments

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.

by -
4 Comments

I had a chance to stay at this property over my birthday weekend back in May and I am glad that I did. My stay at the neighboring Grand Hyatt was disastrous, but the stay at the Conrad couldn’t have been better, although they had just opened.

Location

conrad-macau-map

The hotel is located on the Cotai strip of Macao close to the airport and to the Taipa ferry terminal. The same complex has also Sheraton and Holiday Inn hotels. The Holiday Inn hotel was originally going to be a Shangri-La hotel, but something happened along the way. Probably the most luxurious Holiday Inn if it was built as a Shangri-La.

Conrad Macao
Conrad Macao

Getting in/to From Hong Kong

You can take a ferry from the Hong Kong ferry terminal to either Taipa, which is closer, or to Macao ferry terminal from where they have complimentary buses to Cotai. If you are coming to stay at the Conrad, the Taipa fery terminal is a better choice.

Taipa Ferry Terminal - HKG Airport Ferry
Taipa Ferry Terminal – HKG Airport Ferry

There are also direct ferries from the Taipa to the Hong Kong airport. When I left the hotel, I took one of these ferries as I was flying out. Their schedule from Taipa is rather sparse so you need to figure out if it is a right choice for you. To my surprise, I got some airport taxes back due to arriving to the airport from Macao instead of Hong Kong.

There are number of sailings on number of companies from Hong Kong to Macao on catamarans. You just buy the ticket as you arrive to the terminal and go on the first available catamaran.

You are leaving Hong Kong and entering Macao. Both places, although part of China, have their own immigration control. They check you out of Hong Kong and then you enter Macao.

Check In

Most of my reservations are done at the very last minute. I decided to try the Conrad out when I was staying at the neighboring Grand Hyatt. The reservation was done in the morning for the arrival the same day.

As is often the case with the casinos, I had some trouble finding the entrance to the check in and quite a few of the employees were not able to communicate in English. This is quite understandable because most of the visitors are from the mainland China.

Conrad Macao Club Lounge Sitting Area
Conrad Macao Club Lounge Sitting Area

Once I found the entrance, I was whisked to check in to the club lounge that took the entire floor. They were expecting me and I had the entire lounge staff checking me in. There was nobody else in the lounge at the time.

I had been preupgraded to one of the suites. Perfect!

Suite 2612

Conrad Macao Duck
Conrad Macao Duck

The suite was really spacious and I loved the Conrad Macao duck that had the golden dices inside.

Conrad Macao Suite 2612 Living Room General View
Conrad Macao Suite 2612 Living Room General View

The living room had a table, sitting area, guest toilet, minibar, nespresso machine, and a small jar of hard candies.

Conrad Macao Suite 2612 Bedroom Bed Other View
Conrad Macao Suite 2612 Bedroom Bed Other View

The bedroom had couple of chairs, bed, closet and of course another TV.

Conrad Macao Suite 2612 Bathroom Sink
Conrad Macao Suite 2612 Bathroom Sink

Bathroom had the usual Acca Kappa line of bathroom amenities. Bath tub had a nice TV and shower was standard Conrad flair.

Room 2615

For some reason my internet stopped working at the suite so the hotel gave me another room for work purposes. This was a standard king room.

Conrad Macao Room 2615 Sitting Area
Conrad Macao Room 2615 Sitting Area

Club Lounge

This was the most spacious club lounge that I have ever seen. The space is huge.

Conrad Macao Club Lounge Happy Hour Wine List
Conrad Macao Club Lounge Happy Hour Wine List

I was there during the evening happy hour and the cocktails are top notch. They have a bartender there making drinks to your liking. I also loved the fact that they had couple of champagnes to choose from; Piper-Heidsieck and Moet & Chandon.

Conrad Macao Club Lounge Happy Hour Snacks 2
Conrad Macao Club Lounge Happy Hour Snacks 2

The snack section wasn’t as extensive as the drinks.

Conrad Macao Club Lounge Breakfast Plate
Conrad Macao Club Lounge Breakfast Plate

The lounge breakfast was good. I didn’t realize first that they had one section reserved for the hot and the cold items. The cereals and the juices were on the main are where they had the evening the night before.

Fitness Center

Conrad Macao Fitness Center Equipment More
Conrad Macao Fitness Center Equipment

This was typical new hotel gym with cardio machines and weights etc.

Pool

Conrad Macao Pool Area
Conrad Macao Pool Area

The pool is sandwiched between the hotels so I am not sure how much sun it will get during the day. I had look at it early in the morning.

Check Out

It was a breeze in the club lounge. I just took a regular taxi downstairs to the Taipa ferry terminal.

Conclusion

The stay was very good considering that it is a brand new property. I always like when hotels are paying attention to reservations made on the arrival day. I am not sure if the suite is the standard Diamond upgrade in the future, but I am glad that I got one.

I had been to Macao couple of times before and had seen the sights previously. You need to take one of the free shuttles to the Macao peninsula if you would like to see any of the sights in the city. The Cotai strip is just about casinos and shopping venues.

Personally, I much preferred the treatment that I received as a Hilton HHonors Diamond member at the Conrad vs. being Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond at the Grand Hyatt.