Part One: Introduction
Part Two: TPA-DFW-YYZ on American, and a fun afternoon in Toronto
Part Three: YYZ-HKG on Cathay Pacific and “The Arrival” in HKG
Part Four: Stay at the InterContinental Grand Stanford
Part Five: Visit to “The Wing” and HKG-MNL on Cathay Pacific
Part Six: Stay at the Crowne Plaza Manila
Part Seven: Stay at the InterContinental Manila
Part Eight: MNL-HKG on Cathay Pacific
Part Nine: Stay at the Marriott SkyCity Hong Kong
Part Ten: HKG-NRT on Cathay Pacific and NRT-JFK on JAL
Part Eleven: Stay at Holiday Inn Express JFK and JFK-MIA-TPA on American
Upon arrival we headed to the Marriott transfer desk located within the airport, since the hotel provides a free shuttle to the hotel. As we approached we were asked for our names, and within a couple of minutes we were escorted outside by one of the representatives, where a fancy black minivan was waiting for us. The guy couldn’t have been any nicer, and I have to say, it was a pretty nice minivan too!
Within a few minutes we were at the hotel, which is near the AsiaWorld Expo. The exterior is impressive, and not surprisingly the hotel looked new, given that it only opened a few months ago.
I’ve read good reviews about this hotel so far, especially when it comes to customer service. I couldn’t agree more. From the moment we walked in we were greeted with a smile, and even without asking were escorted to the front desk. There we were greeted by an equally friendly agent who spoke English well and checked us in quickly. He explained to us the hotel’s features and welcomed us no less than a dozen times. He informed us we were upgraded to the executive level as Marriott Gold members.
The lobby was well designed and modern, with huge windows. Unfortunately the view was of the Macau ferry terminal, which isn’t exactly breathtaking.
After a quick elevator ride we were on the 12th floor, where our room was located. We were assigned to room 1243, conveniently enough right across from the executive lounge.
I’m not Samantha Brown so I won’t even attempt to describe the room, other than to say that it was beautifully appointed and still had the new room smell. My favorite thing had to be the beds. They were perfectly cushioned, as opposed to the hard-as-rock beds we had at the Crowne Plaza Manila.
Our view was also of the ferry terminal. Fortunately the rooms were still quiet, despite what are usually the noisy ferries on the hour every hour.
The bathroom had all the amenities one would expect from a Marriott and even had a “rainfall” shower, or whatever it’s called.
On the table was a bowl with three apples and a handwritten card from the front offer manager.
Dear Mr. Lucky,
We are all very pleased to have you staying with us. Should there be anything I can do to make your stay more enjoyable, please let me know and allow me to be of service to you.
Front Office Manager
The fact that it was handwritten impressed me. Well done!
There were also two bottles of complimentary Bonaqua water near the TV.
We made a quick visit to the executive lounge just to check it out. As we entered the agent introduced herself and said we should let her know if there’s anything we need. She explained that evening cocktails were served from 6PM until 8PM and that we could have breakfast either downstairs in the restaurant or in the lounge. Unfortunately there were no daytime snacks (not even minor things like chips, cookies, or nuts) as is the norm at most InterContinental hotels.
Being an airplane geek I loved the views of the airport from the lounge. Every 90 seconds we saw heavies land, so I could have sat there all day just watching.
The lounge has three computers which can be used by club guests for free, which is nice. There are few things things I hate more than paying for internet while traveling.
After checking out the lounge we tried to figure out if there was anything to do in the area. Unfortunately there’s nothing within walking distance other than the AsiaWorld Expo, which had nothing exciting that day. The closest thing other than that is the airport.
Since we had been walking miles a day for the past week we decided to take the afternoon easy and head to the pool, which is located on the ground floor. While we weren’t fans of the fact that it was indoors at first, it made sense on second thought given the proximity to the ferry terminal.
The pool was empty and well designed, with plenty of chairs. There was also a (small) whirlpool and sauna. It was a relaxing afternoon before what we knew would be a long day, flying from Hong Kong to New York via Tokyo.
After showering it was already 6PM, which meant it was time for dinner at the lounge. As I’ve posted several times before (to the disappointment of many), we tend to have dinner in the club lounge.
We sat down at an open table in the lounge, which there were plenty of, and within moments a friendly waitress offered us drinks. We checked out the snack selection, only to see that it was a bit more limited than what we were used to at the InterContinental. More specifically, there were several people in the lounge doing the same thing as us, and the portions that the “chef” brought out were just too small. For example, the chef would bring out only three spinach squares at a time, which would be gone within about eleven seconds. Fair enough, that’s the spirit of “evening cocktails,” but it was still a bit more limited than what we were used to. For the first time during our trip we decided we were going to go out to dinner.
We went to the concierge to ask if there were any decent restaurants in the area (other than the classy 7-11, which has a casual dress code), and we were informed that the closest place was the airport. Everything else was at least 15 minutes away by cab. Not in the mood, we decided on the SkyBistro, the hotel restaurant.
This is probably my biggest complaint about the hotel. The prices at the restaurant are astronomically high. They know there’s no competition in the area and it’s not practical to go out and eat, so they just charge whatever the hell they want. In this case, it was about $20USD for a satay appetizer (what my dad had) and $20 for a personal cheese pizza (what I had). They also had a buffet, which looked excellent, but cost about $50USD/person. Oddly enough it seemed like many of the patrons eating from the buffet were locals as opposed to hotel guests, which kind of surprised me.
We went to bed early given the long day ahead of us, although I hardly got any sleep for some reason, despite the comfortable bed. We got up at around 6AM, had a light breakfast in the lounge (in anticipation of a big meal on Cathay), and checked out. The shuttle was immediately ready to take us to the airport.
Overall I highly recommend this hotel. It has been a long time since I’ve seen a hotel with such uniformly friendly employees. Management deserves a pat on the back for training their employees well, and the employees deserve a pat on the back for being awesome. We noticed that the average age of the employees was young, probably mid-20’s at most. Given that we paid $110USD, this was a steal and I would definitely return the next time I’m in Hong Kong and have an early flight.