Category Archives: reviews hotels

presidential suite at sheraton hotel toronto airport

it is a layover airport: well located and in front of terminal3.

we normally never get any suites upgrades at this hotel, as 1. they do not have a lot of suites as it is mainly a layover airport, 2. we always check in too late

But for the first time, with some persistence, we finally get the suite upgrades, and not any suites, it is the “diplomatic” or their “presidential” suite.

It always make us smile when we see other VIP or corporate meetings down the hall, while we stay at the most exclusive suite for the cheapest price…

It is a very fancy layover.

the suite have a formal dining room:

20150205_174817

 

 

 

and a formal living room:

20150205_174903

 

 

 

and a kitchen:

20150205_174838 20150205_174832

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2 bedrooms:

20150205_174932 20150205_174750

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6 bottles water free as requested:20150205_174941

 

20150205_175024 20150205_174811 20150205_174756 20150205_175001 20150205_174951

Sheraton on the park sydney lounge review

Sheraton on the park sydney is one of my favorite hotels in sydney (apart from the park hyatt sydney)

  • service: always fast and efficient. no attitude.
  • upgrades: automatic 100 % upgrades to suite without any questions asked for the past few years we stayed there.
  • room: very big, carpet slightly old. Bathroom is big, shower pressure is good.
  • what set this hotel apart from others (like westin) is their penthouse lounge !! very good selection of food and drinks. the BEST sheraton lounge in the world.
  • location: extremely convenient, next the the mall and right in the CBD. Food market and 24 hours macdonald are nearby.

 

20150203_163018 20150203_161454 20150203_161501 20150203_161443 20150203_161451 20150203_161515 20150203_161426 20150203_161906 20150203_161416 20150203_161407 20150203_161853 20150203_161859

westin Sydney 2015: executive one bedroom suite upgrade

Westin Sydney:

We usually do not prefer to stay here, as in the past the staff is quite snobbish. We prefer to stay at the park hyatt Sydney (same price as westin, with hyatt points), or the Sheraton Sydney (as they are a lot nicer to platinum guests and upgrades us every time. Sheraton also have a nicer lounge)

But this time, the price was even cheaper than the Sheraton Sydney.

cost: $110 + 5000 spg points for cheapest room. (compared to $400 cash relatively cheap for westin Sydney for this period)

At check in, we were automatically upgraded to the executive suite, without us even mentioning anything about it…. In the past, even to get just a normal simple better room (not suite), people had to fight for it. Even if they had rooms or suites available, they did not upgrade us in the past.

This hotel had a “reputation” with frequent fliers (FT) that is not as status friendly as the Sheraton. To be fair, westin Sydney have fewer suites, and is usually more busy, so getting a suite upgrade here is extremely rare.

Westin lounge is basic, with full service where they will bring you your drinks.

Sheraton Sydney lounge is MUCH better (see later post)

BED: 8/10 very comfy

bathroom: 9/10. the suite water pressure and view from the bathroom is very good

space: quite big considering westin brand

service: this time is quite good. luggage service was fast, check in fast and efficient.

maybe they got a new management?? !

20150202_171323 20150202_164513 20150202_164450 20150202_164426 20150202_164407 20150202_164342 20150202_164330 20150202_164323 20150202_164457 20150202_170747

 

 

 

 

 

 

Park Hyatt Melbourne, suite cathedral 2015

unlike other hotels (westin, grand hyatt, Sofitel etc) that are located closer to downtown, park hyatt Melbourne does not seem to jack up their prices too much for the Australian open.

Usually, we book the cheapest room, and ask to upgrade to a nice cathedral suite, with view of the cathedral and fireplace, by using the hyatt diamond suite upgrades. The suite upgrades save you around $200 per night compared to a normal room.

This year we did not stay enough at hyatt, and hyatt dropped the status match program, so we did not ask for a suite upgrade, we booked (and paid !) for a suite, which is extremely rare for us to actually pay for suite.

Normally, we do not pay for a suite, just the cheapest room. But when I saw that park hyatt Melbourne offer very good rates for their suites, ($600) with free full breakfast, AND $100 dining PER night, especially when the price is much cheaper than other hotels in town for a normal room (westin and grand hyatt are at $700 per night around that time for the cheapest room), we booked the suite with amex FHR directly.

The best part is the $100 credit for dining: you can use it for in room dining, which we did. We order late late night dinner (1am) after the tennis.

The staff seem to have an extensive notes on you. They are prepared. they know right away we stayed many times there before, and which room we liked.

Last year we saw stan wawrinka in the lobby the night before his big match with nadal.  Instead of sleeping, he was in the lobby drinking at midnight. We took pictures with stan, and wish him good luck.

Conclusion: hyatt diamond status this year is not worth it. You can usually book suites for cheaper than trying to maintain status at hyatt.

 

20150131_14571920150131_14571320150131_14492720150131_14490620150131_14484220150131_14483320150131_14482820150131_14474920150131_14473620150131_14472720150131_14471420150131_01261020150131_012555

 

park hyatt lounge: one of the ONLY park hyatt that have a lounge. And what a lounge ! they serve good canapé and drinks selection before tennis at around 6:30pm

20150131_151231 20150131_151059 20150131_150746 20150131_150741 20150131_150735 20150131_151238 20150131_150756 20150131_150804

 

W hotel Bangkok, wow one bedroom suite upgrades

We booked a one night stay at w Bangkok, for around $70 usd. jan 2015

location: near the silom area, party area. VERY close to the health land Bangkok sathorn spa. That was the main reason why we booked W this time: to be able to go for thai massage at night time, AND a full body 4 hand massage the morning (we usually stay at st regis bkk: as it is closer to the NARA thai restaurants and the shopping centre)

It is amazing to see how many pretty people this W hotel attract as clientele. The sexy ladies kept on taking selfies pictures in the lobby and bar of W hotel. It must be a hot spot that we were not aware off?

we were upgraded to the Wow suite, as we were both spg platinum

BED: 9/10 very comfy

ROOM: 9/10 while nice, the air inside was stuffy

mini bar: 10/10 as it is NOT on a scale. I hate fridges that are on an automatic scale: useless, we cannot put anything of ours in there.

20150127_125632

bathroom: 10/10. convenient, big, well designed, water pressure very strong, (which is always important after a flight).

The amenities of W hotel is actually usable and good enough to bring home (expensive full size bliss).

20150126_171841 20150126_171828

Other hotels, like Fairmont, Conrad, park hyatt etc, used weird soap and shampoo that dehydrate your skin, even if they used big names: bulgari,, hermes etc… all brands names but really useless (worst is Fairmont hotels: whenever we stay at a Fairmont hotel, we have to make sure to bring our own cheap ivory and pantene soap)

20150126_171938 20150126_171806 20150126_171810 20150126_171816 20150126_171823 20150126_171901 20150126_171912 20150126_171926

 

w hotel breakfast: well presentation: lot of food, good selection and taste:

20150127_093801 20150127_093844 20150127_093852 20150127_093857 20150127_093901 20150127_094327 20150127_094915 20150127_094917 20150127_093743 20150127_093745 20150127_093747

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raffles makati hotel, manila, Philippine, one bedroom executive suite upgrade

Because we had to stay one night in manila before heading out to palawan resort, we choose raffles makati.

We needed to have 5 nights in a calendar year in a fairmont hotel in order to keep FPC fairmont platinum status for one person. Raffles stay count as a valid night, even if it is not fairmont hotel.

Raffles makati is a new all suite hotel.

We arrrived at the hotel by normal taxi. They had 4 security personal inspecting the taxi, wearing assault military type weapons! They even had a dog sniffing the taxi, and our luggage before letting us in the lobby.

cost: $500. benefits: FPC platinum status is sometimes informally recognized. We had  an executive suite one bedroom upgrades (we booked the cheapest, junior suites). The price includes breakfasts, AND 2 x 90 minutes full body massage for 2 at the fairmont spa. ( the massages alone costs$400 normally at any fairmont spa)

The one bedroom executive suite is huge, with formal dining room, formal living room, an entrance foyer, butler, bathroom for guest, and bedroom and full bathroom in the back.

living room and dining room:

20150121_141942 20150121_142059 20150121_142509 20150121_142529 20150121_142547

20150121_141911 20150121_141922 20150121_141942

20150121_142540

FREE fruits: philippine mangoes are the BEST in the world:

20150121_141959

Nice selection of teas and coffee:

20150121_142006

 

more free wine, cheese and nuts:

20150121_165630

a dedicated ipad and cell phone chargers: able to charge old ipads, new lightning ipads, mini usb etc:

20150121_143513

 

entrance foyer:

20150121_141850

 

 

pangulasian resort, palawan philippine

part of the el nido resorts in palawan.

pangulasian resort is the only resort in el nido that have a long stretch of white sand beach.

For around $600 usd per night, you get the closest front beach villa that i have ever stayed in. You actually felt like if you are on an overwater bungalow when you look outside from your room! The view from inside makes you feel as if the whole villa is floating on water, the beach is hidden from that view.

it is quite well designed, with all the power plugs, windows, and blinds etc where it is supposed to be: extremely functional. The side frosty windows in the bathroom are so well designed: it allow some lights from outside to come in during the night, but you do not see any lights in the bedroom!

value : good considering prices elsewhere (hawaii beach front hotel room only, not a villa, is min $500, maldives $1000, fiji $500 etc.. none as close to the beach as this one), especially considering the view, and the mountain in the back of the villas, very luxurious yet isolated and remote.

20150123_143548 20150123_143624

20150123_144007 20150123_142602 20150123_142547 20150123_142642 20150123_142210 20150123_142421

 

food here is fluctuating, not good, not bad

20150126_072121 20150126_072057 20150126_072044 20150126_072035 20150126_072033 20150126_072027 20150126_072014 20150126_071959 20150126_071954 20150126_071947 20150126_071941 20150126_071932 20150122_204857 20150122_203433

 

20150123_210944 20150123_205256 20150123_205313

however, the massages here are surprisingly Excellent. not cheap like bangkok big city of course, but still very good.

verdict: we really like the staff (even if they mistakenly added someone’s else bills from the shop on our account), the design of the room, the location. This hotel is featured as the main hotel of the american express FHR website (fine resorts and hotels) pacific. Try to book the pool villa (we were not able to book the pool villa, as we booked too late: we were waiting for the typhoon to clear, and the pope to finish his tour), the price difference is minimal, but you get a much better view and bigger villa

Remember to never visit the philippine when the pope plan a visit. They shut down the whole manila international airport for …5 days, before and after for security precautions. You will be stuck if you did not plan well.

Also, the flight to palawan is always late or cancelled. You need to plan to have at least one day buffer before and after in manila hotel. If not you risk the risk of not being able to connect. We have been to a lot of remote destinations, but palawan is REALLY not reliable regarding the flights schedule.

 

hotel & restaurant meridien noumea, new caledonia

the hotel meridien noumea is the only 5 star hotel right on the beach in noumea. There is a big hilton 3-5 blocks away, but it is not on the beach.

meridien noumea hotel:

  • the hotel staff was friendly, efficient. they are not on island time like bora bora meridien
  • rooms are outdated, still comfy and very good prices for ocean front
  • hotel is going under renovation on the whole left wing. we stayed on the right wing so there were no noises
  • right on the beach
  • internet wifi worked well
  • food of the hotel restaurant and breakfast was very good! we mostly exclusively ate there. even the locals have special occasions celebrated there

NOU airport: picture taken with sony tx30

DSC00541

DSC00536

DSC00538

DSC00576

 

meridien noumea:

DSC00607

DSC00606

 

our junior upgraded suite (for free as we are spg platinum), once again, booked the cheapest rate, got the 2nd most expensive room at that property

DSC00592

DSC00582

our big suite terrace: and view ocean front:

DSC00585

the suite have 2 FULL washroom !! one on the living room and another one on the bedroom

DSC00580

DSC00593

DSC00594

DSC00595

DSC00608

DSC00610

 

one of the restaurant: beach front restaurant: serves very good tuna

DSC00612

meridien beach: very popular with locals and windsurfers:

DSC00622

 

THE IN HOUSE FORMAL RESTAURANT of meridien noumea:

  • serve very good food,
  • excellent service, especially for an island and compared to “french” standard in south pacific (bora bora)
  • good prices, we ate well for less than 40usd pp at a fancy french restaurant
  • locals come here to celebrate special occasions.

 

DSC00809

DSC00812

DSC00811

DSC00810

DSC00916

DSC00917

DSC00918

 

 

melbourne restaurants and dessert !!

in melbourne, since we are always at the tennis, with no time for a real fine dining, we always ate at our favorite spots: for 2013:

near the hotel:

 

DSC00270

DSC00269

DSC00266

DSC00267

 

and of course, in melbourne they have these amazing taiwan dessert: you have to try. It cools you down. costs around 5-8 dollars

DSC00322

mango with ice cream on top of ice

DSC00324

 

park hyatt melbourne from outside, front view

DSC00353

DSC00373

DSC00369

 

park hyatt lounge food and drinks:

DSC00419

DSC00421

DSC00422

 

 

another good dessert place:

DSC00438

 

DSC00435

DSC00434

DSC00432

DSC00431

 

next to the malaysian restaurant killiney:

DSC00404

 

DSC00463

DSC00467

 

 

oh yes, history and odds:

DSC00469

 

 

park hyatt sydney and SAKE restaurant sydney

here are some pictures of park hyatt sydney: (taken with sony tx30 small camera)

as usual, nothing to say here. stay was perfect. we checked in early at 9 am, and half an hour later, we got the room even if the normal check in time is 3pm.

while waiting for our room, and since sydney airport does not have an arrival lounge, we had to shower and exercise in the fitness room of the park hyatt.

DSC00154

DSC00160

cost: 22000 hyatt points, bought for around $300, compared to rates of $850 normally. We did not use our suite upgrades certificate (points stay cannot use upgrades certificate at hyatt hotels, unlike SPG hotels where you can get suites even staying on points, as long as you are SPG platinum)

DSC00176

DSC00179

DSC00160

 

this time we found SAKE restaurant in sydney: a few blocks from the hotel, in area called the ROCKS

it was really good, highly recommended. very busy. Their sushi style is more fusion, a little like hawaiian sushi. There are some other dishes that were quite good: tuna cerviche: tuna with lime, leaves in a bowl (very like ahi ahi tuna in hawaii)

DSC00188

like the taco sushi, with lime and leaves

DSC00225

rolls:

DSC00226

DSC00227

DSC00228

DSC00229