Hotel Reviews

Review: Prince De Galles Hotel Paris

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I’m keeping this trip report series relatively brief. After being in the Maldives we flew Etihad to Abu Dhabi and then Doha, and then Qatar Airways first class to Paris. We had three nights in Paris, and stayed at Prince De Galles, which is a Starwood Luxury Collection property. This is generally regarded as the best Starwood property in Paris, and it’s also a Category 7 hotel, meaning that a free night redemption costs 30,000-35,000 Starpoints per night.

Paid rates at the hotel were ~600EUR per night, though through Starwood Luxury Privileges there was a third night free promotion. So with a rate like that, paying 400EUR per night seemed like a better value than redeeming points.

The hotel is located immediately next to the iconic Four Seasons George V. I’m far from a Paris expert, though I know some people love staying in that area, while others don’t. Personally I found the immediate area to be pretty boring, though from the hotel you have easy access to the metro, etc.

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Review: St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort

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In the last installment I talked about the overwater suite I had at the St. Regis Maldives, while in this installment I’ll be talking about the rest of the resort. I’m going to keep it relatively brief, given how much there is to potentially cover.

Does this place look like it’s straight off a postcard, or what?

All the overwater villas were on one jetty, and at the end of that was the hotel’s main restaurant and pool.

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Review: St. Regis Maldives Overwater Villa

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At many resorts in the Maldives, only a small percentage of rooms are overwater villas, and often require a big upcharge. In the case of the St. Regis Maldives, the resort has a total of 77 rooms, and about two thirds of them are overwater.

All overwater villas are located on the same jetty.

We were assigned room 518, which was a sunset overwater villa, located towards the end of the jetty.

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Review: St. Regis Lounge Male Airport

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As I mentioned in the first post of this series, I’m keeping this trip report pretty brief, and just focusing on the new aspects of the trip. So after checking out of the InterContinental Hong Kong we flew to London in Cathay Pacific first class, then to Abu Dhabi in Etihad first class, and then connected to Male in Etihad business class (which I didn’t write about this time, but it’s a route I’ve reviewed before).

That’s because we were staying at the new St. Regis Maldives Vommuli, which opened last year. This hotel is expensive, and justifiably so — it’s stunning. When the hotel first opened they allowed redemptions for 26,000 Starpoints for overwater villas for a very brief period, which is a great deal. I made a few reservations using this deal, but canceled all but one.

They updated the pricing pretty quickly, and I believe the property now costs 90,000 Starpoints per night. However, historically Starwood has run promotions for 35% off resort redemptions once per year, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that at this property in the future.

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Review: InterContinental Hong Kong

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As I mentioned in the first installment, I won’t be covering every aspect of this trip with this report. After flying to Bali we stayed at the St. Regis Nusa Dua and W Seminyak, and then we flew Cathay Pacific business class from Bali to Hong Kong. So that’s where we’ll pick up.

We had an overnight layover in Hong Kong, as we were arriving from Bali at around 8PM, and continuing the following day to London at around 3PM. So we needed a hotel for one night.

In looking at the options, it occurred to me that I had an IHG free night certificate expiring in a couple of months. Just for having the IHG® Rewards Club Select Credit Card (which has a $49 annual fee) you receive an annual free night certificate valid at just about any IHG hotel. That most than justifies the card’s annual fee, given that a vast majority of IHG hotels retail for over $49 per night.

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Review: Grand Hyatt Amman Grand Suite

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For our last two nights in Jordan, we chose to stay at the Grand Hyatt in Amman. Technically it was the last 1.5 nights, as our flight to Istanbul left at 3AM, but it seemed worthwhile to have the hotel for the full evening so we could at least get a few hours of sleep.

Our stay overlapped with Ben’s (which was super fun), so I won’t review the full hotel. I did, however, apply a Hyatt Diamond Suite Upgrade to the reservation, and I figure other people might be interested in knowing what the suites are like. We had breakfast in the Grand Club instead of the restaurant, so I’ll cover that as well.

We made several stops on the drive north from Petra, so it was about 4PM when we arrived at the Grand Hyatt. As Ben mentioned, security was tight, so the valet took the car at an outbuilding where we cleared security, before walking to the main hotel. It was a decently efficient system, and whenever we left the hotel the car was brought to the main entrance and the parking berms were lowered for us, which was nice.

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Review: Petra Marriott Hotel

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After a full day in Wadi Rum we headed north to the town of Wadi Musa, where Petra is located.

It was an easy drive along highways we’d traversed the day prior (how was it only a day?!), so even with a brief maintenance stop it only took ~90 minutes from leaving Wadi Rum to arriving at the Marriott.

As I mentioned in the introduction, I’d booked the Marriott Hotel Petra during the Black Friday sale. We paid $95 + tax for each of our two nights. This is a Category 4 hotel though, so you could also use:

• Anniversary certificates from the credit card
• 20,000 Marriott Rewards points (15,000 on PointSavers)
• 6,667 Starwood Preferred Guest points

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Review: Glamping In Wadi Rum

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Now you’d think, given that we were just up the hill in Little Petra, that Petra itself would be our next stop. Instead, we stopped for lunch in Wadi Musa (and worked for a few hours, I couldn’t help it!), before continuing south to Wadi Rum.

We arrived in Wadi Rum as the sun was starting to set, which made for a beautiful drive in.

I’ve already detailed the adventures of getting walked from our previously-booked Airbnb in Wadi Rum, so won’t go into that here, but you’ll want to read it if you haven’t yet voiced your opinion on the scam/no scam question. Instead, I’ll review the camp we actually stayed at — the Teva Milky Way camp.

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Review: Feynan Ecolodge

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One of the things we wanted to do in Jordan was explore the natural landscapes. Jordan is a beautiful country, with several diverse protected areas. The largest is the Dana Biosphere Reserve, which has a variety of archaeological sites in addition to stunning landscapes.

Feynan Ecolodge is owned by the Royal Society for the Conservation of Nature, but everything is run and managed through Ecohotels, with a very strong emphasis on sustainability. Nearly all the staff comes from the local Bedouin community in Dana, which makes for a unique experience, and a nice way to support people directly.

There are a few ways to get to the ecolodge. If you aren’t self-driving, a great choice would be to start in Dana Village to the East of the Reserve. You could even spend the night there (the Dana Guesthouse would be my recommendation), and then hike through Wadi Dana to Feynan. You can easily arrange for your luggage to be driven to Feynan by the locals, which makes this a convenient option.

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Review: Novotel Taipei Taoyuan Airport

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We had a fairly short overnight in Taipei before our connecting flight. We were arriving from Los Angeles at around 5PM, and departing the following day to Singapore at 9AM. As much as I love Taipei as a city, Taoyuan Airport is quite a ways from town.

As a result, I figured it made the most sense to stay at the Novotel Taipei Taoyuan Airport, given that the hotel is just a short (free) shuttle ride from the airport.

We booked only a few days before our stay, so by the time we booked they only had executive rooms left for sale, which retailed for ~$200. That’s not cheap for an airport hotel, but still seemed better than any of the alternatives.

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Review: Mosaic City Hotel Madaba Jordan

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If you look at a map of Jordan, it becomes immediately apparent that the airport isn’t particularly close to the hotels of central Amman, and that most of the things you’ll want to see are South of the airport anyway.

Based on that and some recommendations from others, we decided to save Amman for the end of our trip, and instead booked our first night in the town of Madaba.

Even in the middle of the night with poor directions the drive to Madaba took less time than driving into Amman, so I think this was a good choice. Similarly, if you are planning on going to the Dead Sea, I would also consider heading there immediately versus dallying in Amman.

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Review: Pentahotel Hong Kong

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The MTR is an 8-10 minute walk from the Pentahotel in Kowloon, though taxis are better for shorter journeys since their starting price is so low.

The entrance is on the ground floor, while individual check-in is one floor up. The lowest floor is used to check in tourist groups. Every evening the entrance was packed with Chinese, Korean and Japanese tour groups waiting to be escorted to their rooms. There was also a pizza bar on the entrance level, which had some fascinating pizzas.

A quick escalator or elevator ride takes you up one level to the main lobby. This area is slightly more calm with spread out seating and a pool table.

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Review: W Hotel Punta De Mita Mexico

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Prior to this trip I had never visited Mexico as an adult. As a kid we took a couple of cruises there (though 12 hours at a Cozumel cruise port probably doesn’t give you a fair representation of a place), and I remember once vacationing there when I was really young, but that’s about it. I also connected at Mexico City Airport last year, but that doesn’t really count.

Given that I fly halfway around the world to relax at a resort, I figured I might as well try somewhere closer to “home.” The new W Punta de Mita opened just last year, and looked like a fun place for a getaway.

I booked only a few days in advance using the Citi Prestige Card fourth night free benefit. For my stay the hotel had a rate of ~$350 per night, which was brought down to an average of ~$260 per night after applying that benefit. The rate was actually much higher further in advance, but this hotel seems to consistently lower rates closer to the actual stay date.

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Review: Radisson Blu Oslo Airport

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Given our early departure the following morning, we decided to spend the last night of our trip at a hotel at the Oslo Airport.

Having stayed at the Park Inn by Radisson Oslo Airport on the first night of our trip, we decided to try the Radisson Blu Oslo Airport this time. In my experience, both of these hotels are comparable in price with the Radisson Blu maybe just a few dollars more.

We rode the NSB train from Oslo Central Station to the airport and then walked over to the hotel. The Radisson Blu is the closest hotel to the airport, but you still need to exit the terminal to get there. It’s an easy walk that takes only a few minutes.

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