Hotel

Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

There were about 35 of us from the Viking Emerald who were taking the extension to Tokyo and you’d think that Viking could have found all of us seats on the same plane but nope, we were on a number of different flights leaving Shanghai at various times of the day. Originally two of us from our small group of 12 were on one flight and the 3rd person was on a different flight but we were able to get that changed so at least the three of us were all together. However that meant missing out on a noon-ish JAL flight and taking an earlier Delta flight instead so there was definitely a trade-off. We did manage to purchase bulkhead seats so at least we had legroom.

We arrived at Tokyo Narita airport and began to search for the Viking representative. Besides the three of us there were probably 6-8 other Viking Emerald passengers all looking for the rep with no success. She was a little late but every last one of us passengers had been looking for someone in a red coat or jacket and this rep was not wearing red. We had been so trained by Viking with all their tour guides and crew members wearing red that we never even considered that the guide might be wearing some other color! But eventually we were loaded on to our motorcoach and we were dropped off at the large complex that houses not only the New Otani Hotel but also an office tower and a shopping tower.

Check in was efficient, as we expected by now, and we set off for the elevator bank. We were amused that during busy times of day there typically was a hotel staff member waiting to push the elevator call button for us – always with a polite bow.

Our rooms were fairly high up and, conveniently, were connected. However, we had to ask management to unlock the connecting doors. The rooms were perfectly servicable though compared to our rooms during the first part of the tour, these were a bit of a let down. Like many hotel rooms upon entering the bathroom was to one side and beyond that was the area with the beds.

This room was not large enough for two double beds so we once again had twins with a single nightstand in between.

New Otani Hotel Twin Beds

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Categories: Asia, Hotel, Japan, Lodging Review | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

We had chosen this Top of the World tour in the Beijing to Shanghai direction because you get to do the rickshaw tour of the hutong and you don’t if you take the tour in the Shanghai to Beijing direction. But we came to realize we were fortunate to have done the tour that way for a couple of other reasons. First, after being on tours or traveling every day for a week, by the time we got on the boat we really enjoyed having a few afternoons with nothing to do but nap and watch the scenery. The other reason was that had we stayed at the Fairmont Peace Hotel first, we might have been disappointed with the other hotels on our tour.

The Peace Hotel was orignally called Sassoon House and was built by Sir Victor Sassoon in the late 1920s. It’s a beautiful art deco building that was closed for three years for renovations and reopened in 2010 when Fairmont took over running it. Continue reading

Categories: Asia, China, Cruises, Fairmont, Hotel, River Cruise, Viking | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

After visiting the local home, we were all ready to get to the hotel that would be our home for the next three nights, the Shangri-La Lhasa. Nothing in the city of Lhasa is very far away from anything else so it didn’t take us long to reach the hotel’s drive. The hotel is on a fairly major street but has a high wall between the sidewalk and the hotel. The end of the hotel that’s closest to the street is actually part of the conference center so there’s no need to worry about any traffic noise – not that I think it would truly be an issue.

The hotel’s drive continues down beside the building all the way past the conference wing to the lobby. The lobby itself was quite large with numerous seating spaces available. To the left was the buffet restaurant, Altitude. A jag left from there and then straight ahead and you were in the conference wing.

Shangri-La Lhasa Lobby

Shangri-La Lhasa Lobby Seating

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Categories: Asia, China, Hotel, Lodging Review, River Cruise, Shangri-La, Tibet, Viking | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

Our plane landed in Xi’an (see-in) after dark and after making sure the porters had our luggage we boarded a motorcoach to our home for the next two nights, the Hotel Shangi-La Xi’an. I had signed up for the Shangri-La Golden Circle club on the off-chance that we might be able to earn points for the stay but, as I suspected, our stay was not eligible for points-earning. Still, I provided my membership number and after we left I received a survey via email asking for feedback about our stay.

The lobby was quite large and very striking, with the faux marble finishes everywhere. One of the first things you notice upon entering is this exhibit celebrating the hotel’s 10th anniversary with a miniature set of warriors based on the life-sized terra cotta ones that we’d come to see.

10th Anniversary of the Shangri-La Xi’an

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Categories: Asia, China, Hotel, River Cruise, Shangri-La, Viking | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Earn 1000 AA Miles for Hyatt House or Hyatt Place stays

American Airlines and Hyatt are teaming up to allow you to earn 1000 miles for each stay at a Hyatt Place or Hyatt House property between February 20 and June 30, 2018. You must register by this Monday, April 30th. The date of your stay is determined by your checkout date.

When you check into a Hyatt Place or Hyatt House, you must choose one of these options:

  • Earn 1000 AAdvantage® bonus miles plus the standard 500 AAdvantage® miles for your stay OR
  • Earn 1000 AAdvantage® bonus miles + World of Hyatt Base Points for your eligible spend

The terms and conditions further state:

Back-to-back stays within one 24-hour period at a single participating hotel are considered one stay. Only one (1) check-in/check-out permitted per stay. Please allow four to six weeks after your qualifying stay for bonus miles to be posted to your American Advantage account.

If you didn’t get the email about this promotion you can register on the World of Hyatt website.

Categories: American Airlines, Hotel, Hotel Promos, Hyatt, OneWorld | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

We took a car service from the airport to the hotel. We used the folks at Tour Beijing and paid extra for an English-speaking guide. We also paid for a vehicle that could seat six and that turned out to be a very good thing because each of the three of us had a very large bag and a carry-on and I also had a backpack. We ended up with a mini-van and the back was full. I had thought we were paying for an extra person to give us a tour as we made our way to the hotel but that was not the case. As a side note, our friends who arrived later that evening were told no English-speaking guides were available after 9 PM.

We arrived at the Regent Beijing in the early afternoon. While I had seen the photos on their website I was still impressed with how elegant the hotel seemed. Lots of marble-like finishes, very understated and classy. The lobby was quite large with a water feature in the center and the reception desks to the left. To the right was an elevator that led up to a Morton’s of Chicago steakhouse.

Regent Beijing Lobby

Regent Beijing Lobby Chandelier

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Categories: Asia, China, Hotel, Lodging Review, Regent, River Cruise, Viking | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Register for Marriott’s Newest MegaBonus

Marriott has a new targeted MegaBonus promotion for stays between April 16 (Monday) and July 20, 2018. Beginning with your third paid night’s stay during this timeframe you’ll earn 750 bonus Marriott Rewards points per night, up to a maximum of 36,000 points. You must book via the Marriott website or the Marriott app to earn the bonus points.  You must register by June 30 to be eligible.  The T&C do not state that you must register before staying to earn your bonus points but don’t take a chance – go ahead and register today even if you have no plans for a Marriott stay.  It’s free and it can’t hurt!

Only one room per hotel will be counted toward the member’s nights or stay and if you’re choosing to receive airline miles instead of hotel points on your stay then there’s no bonus. Ritz-Carlton stays DO country for this promotion.

If you were targeted for this offer you should have received an email about it but you can always check the MegaBonus site to be sure.

Categories: Hotel, Hotel Promos, Marriott | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Some Hyatt Places/Houses Testing the Elimination of Free Breakfast

On Friday Gary of View From The Wing had a blog post stating that at a few select locations Hyatt is eliminating the free breakfast at some Hyatt Place/Hyatt House properties.

If you made your reservation for one of these locations before February 1st you’ll still get the breakfast regardless of your Hyatt status but if not, only those with Globalist status (Hyatt’s top tier) will get free breakfast. The rest of us will be charged $10 if we want to partake.

When I’m using points to stay at a Hyatt property I’m usually at a full-service hotel. But when I’m paying cash – or using the free night voucher I get with my Chase Hyatt credit card – I’m often at a Hyatt Place or Hyatt House and one of the reasons is that these hotels have pretty good breakfast spreads. It’s not just cereal and pastries but there are several kinds of hot entrees and sometimes you can even have omlettes cooked to order.

I’ve not yet seen a full list of properties where the breakfast is not included but I really hope the feedback on this change is overwhelmingly negative. I love the larger rooms in Hyatt Places/Houses and how there’s a separate area with a sofa for lounging. I actively look for these properties when traveling but if this change becomes permanent I will question whether I need to stay at Hyatts in the future or not.

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Lodging Review: Westin Snowmass (and part 1 of the luggage saga)

You know that saying “Man Plans, God Laughs”? Yeah, that kinda described the first couple of days of my recent ski trip, the first night of which was at the Westin Snowmass.

I had a Saturday-Saturday ski trip planned with my ski club at Snowmass, one of the four Aspen-area resorts that can all be skied using a single lift ticket. It was time to replace my skis so I wanted to demo a few different pair while finding the ones that worked best for me. As I planned this trip I decided I didn’t want to miss a day skiing with my friends, so I’d go a day early and demo several pair before they arrived.

So it was on a Friday in February I left Memphis, enjoyed my leisurely 3-hour connection in Houston and landed on-time at the Vail/Eagle County Airport (EGE). [I had decided against flying in to the more convenient Aspen Airport (ASE) based on my experience last year.] And I had no bags. Neither one of them. The helpful baggage agent found that the bags had made it to Houston and were in the process of being rerouted (and I could see the same info on the app). Since mine was the only Houston-Vail flight of the day, we both assumed they were going to Denver, which had a couple more flights into Vail later that day. She said they’d deliver them to me that evening. So I hopped in my rental car and headed to Snowmass.

As a side note, I had planned to use the Colorado Mountain Express shuttle to/from the airport but my flight out of EGE was around 7:30 AM and CME didn’t have a shuttle leaving the Aspen area that early. An Uber or taxi would have been around $200 so when I found a rental car for $280 that price was as cheap or only a little more expensive than the CME shuttle + Uber combined and I’d have the Independence of having a car if I needed it so it seemed the better option.

It was sunny on my drive to Aspen and it was late afternoon by the time I arrived at the Westin Snowmass. The valet greeted me promptly and I decided to just let him handle the car since I’d only be there one night. Of course since I had no luggage, all he had to deal with was the car.

Westin Snowmass Main Entrance (on the day I checked out)

The front desk is just inside the door and to the right. The lobby is fairly large as there’s a lounging area with après-ski hot beverages available to guests and the bar is off to the right beyond the front desk.

Westin Snowmass Front Desk

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The associate who checked me in was efficient and friendly. She recognized my SPG Gold status and asked if I’d prefer 500 points or a coupon for an adult beverage. Naturally, I took the points. I said I only needed one key but she said she’d give me two as the room had a slot where the card needed to be entered for the power to work. I appreciated that since it meant I wouldn’t have to use a card of my own for that purpose. I was given the keys to room 598 and pointed to the elevator which were not far away.

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Categories: Hotel, Lodging Review, Starwood | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Marriott Extra Points Sundays is Back!

During the NFL regular season we saw Marriott offer 1000 bonus points each week if you could answer an NFL trivia question.  That promotion ended with the regular season but they’ve brought it back for one day only for the Super Bowl.

If you haven’t already, now is the perfect time to link your Marriott and Twitter accounts so that once the questions start you’ll be able to earn the bonus points.  To learn how to connect your accounts, see this post.

Good luck to both teams!  Those of us here in Memphis win either way as both kickers are U of M alums!

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