Tag Archives: dining

Dining with kids in hotels- what are your options?

The Milelion does not have children. This is not his fault. Rather, it is the women who are wrong. However, other Milelion readers have been able to procreate, and that’s totally cool with The Milelion. He bears them no ill will, so long as their progeny don’t end up seated near him on an aircraft.

If you have kids, you might be wondering what your options are when it comes to hotel dining. If you’re going to stay at a Starwood property, you might want to know that Starwood has what’s called a “Kids Pass” which allows parents to pay a flat daily rate for their kids (aged 12 and below) to get all you can eat dining throughout the duration of the stay.

The fine print-

  • If you buy the Kids Pass, you need to buy it for the entire duration of your stay (it’s charged on a daily basis). You can buy it after your stay has started, but need to participate till the day you check out. You can’t pick and choose particular days to do the Kids Pass
  • To use the Kids Pass for meals, the adult accompanying the child also needs to buy an item (some places say main course, others only say “an item”). If the kid is only having a drink, the adult needs to be present but doesn’t need to order anything

What this is, in reality, is a sneaky way of locking in additional revenue because properties are banking on the fact the parent is locked in for hotel dining as well. Add that to the fact that you can’t pick and choose particular days to do the Kids Pass, and you might be wondering why this is a good deal.

Well, it’s not going to make sense in all situations, but it could make sense when you’re staying at a resort where outside dining options are limited because the resort is cut off from the rest of the world.

The magic question is how much does it cost? It varies from resort to resort. SPG provides a list of participating resorts where you can buy a Kids Pass, but advises you to contact individual properties to get pricing. So I did. I emailed every single one of those properties just so you don’t have to. Here’s the ones that responded within 24 hours (I’ll keep adding to this list as responses come in)

Property City Charge/Day (Local) Charge/Day (SGD)
Westin Shimei Bay Resort Hainan Free with paying parent $0
Sheraton Hua Hin Hua Hin 300 THB $12
Le Meridien She Shan Shanghai 66 RMB $14
Sheraton Grand Guangzhou Huadu Guangzhou 69 RMB $14
Sheraton Fiji Resort Nadi FJ$20 $14
Sheraton Samui Koh Samui THB 353 $14
Sheraton Shenzhou Penisula Hainan US$10 $15
Laguna Nusa Dua Bali US$10 $15
Le Meridien Angkor Siem Reap US$10 $15
Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa Nha Trang US$10 $15
St Regis Bali Bali US$10 $15
Sheraton Bali Kuta Bali IDR 150,000 $16
Le Meridien Bali Jimbaran Bali IDR 150000 $16
Sheraton Bailuhu Resort Huizhou CNY 88 $18
St Regis Langkawi Langkawi 60 MYR $19
Westin Siray Bay Resort Phuket THB 500 $20
Westin Resort Bali Bali US$15 $22
Westin Resort Nusa Dua Bali US$15 $22
Sheraton Rhodes Resort Rhodes 15 EUR $23
Naka Island Phuket 600 THB $24
St Regis Sanya Yalong Bay Resort Hainan CNY 117 $24
Westin Miyako Kyoto Kyoto JPY 2000 $25
Westin Resort & Spa, Whistler Whistler CAD 25 $27
Andaman Luxury Collection Langkawi 90 MYR $29
Sheraton Grand Rio Hotel Rio US$20 $29
Sheraton Maui Maui US$20 $29
Schloss Fuschl Salzburg 20 EUR $30
Sheraton Mallorca Arabella Mallorca 20 EUR $30
Sheraton Grand Mirage Resort Gold Coast AUD 30 $31
Sheraton Mirage Port Douglas Port Douglas AUD 30 $31
Sheraton Iguazu Resort Puerto Iguazu US$22 $32
St Regis Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi AED 90 $35
Le Meridien Phuket Beach Phuket 890 THB $36
Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Dubai AED 100 $39
Westin Mission Hills Resort Rancho Mirage US$29 $42
Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove Seychelles EUR 30 $46
St Regis Saadiyat Island Abu Dhabi AED 120 $47
St Regis Doha Doha QR 150 $60
Trump Turnberry Turnberry GBP 40 $71

It seems like in general, you can get good value at properties in Asia. Of course without visiting the properties I can’t tell you anything about the quality of the food, but if you’re willing to lock yourself into hotel dining in a place like Nusa Dua in Bali (which, let’s face it, doesn’t have an awful lot going on around it) being able feed your kid at all the St Regis restaurants for S$15 a day is a pretty sweet deal. You’re going to want to think strategically about this- how many meals will you be eating in the hotel? Outside of the hotel? Will buying this plan make you feel obliged to eat in the hotel instead of heading out?

Your travels might not involve Starwood properties, so you should know that many other hotel chains offer “kids eat free” type dealies. These sometimes involve booking a special rate, but there are also situations where it’s as simple as showing up at the hotel restaurant and getting a free kid’s meal whenever the adult orders something.

Here are some examples you might find useful. You should definitely check with individual properties when booking, however, as there may be differences among properties in the same brand

  • Holiday Inn– Kids 12 and under eat free at any Holiday Inn restaurant worldwide when accompanied by a paying adult
  • Marriott– Special family rates can be booked that provide Kids Eat Free privileges at restaurants
  • Hilton- Particular properties offer special family rates including Kids Eat Free privileges

 

Free Crystal Jadeite Membership for SCB Cardholders

Standard Chartered has partnered with Crystal Jade  to offer a complimentary Crystal Jadeite membership for all SCB credit and debit card holders. DBS has done something similar to this in the past but that promotion is since over.

You can sign up here for this promotion. At the time of writing, their sign up link was not working- it redirects you to the DBS promotion sign up page which has since expired. I suppose that will get fixed shortly.

Members get

  • Up to 12% rebate for every S$1 spent year round
  • Up to 20% rebate for every S$1 spent during the month of your birthday and during Members’ Day
  • A complimentary appetizer voucher at Crystal Jade Kitchen
  • A complimentary appetizer voucher at Crystal Jade La Mian Xiao Long Bao/Jiangnan
  • 20% off dining voucher at Crystal Jade Kitchen or La Mian Xiao Long Bao/ Jiangnan
  • 15% off e-voucher for dining bill at any participating restaurant

To max out the discount (i.e. to get the advertised “up to” rebate %) you’ll need to pay with a DBS or SCB credit card. If you use any other bank’s credit card you will get a 10% rebate instead of a 12% rebate.

Note that this complimentary sign up promotion is different from what you get when you sign up for the standard Crystal Jadeite membership. If you pay the $38 fee to sign up you will get the aforementioned gifts + $40 of Crystal Jade points that can be used towards your next meal. So you do come out on top, assuming you intend to dine there more than once.

Membership is valid for 1 year and will be automatically renewed if you’ve spent more than $1,000 in your membership year. Failing which, an $18 fee is payable (but gives you $20 of Crystal Jade points)

You should read the FAQ here and note the exclusions- you won’t earn points during the highly lucrative CNY period sadly, nor for set menus or festive products.  The full T&C are here.

This offer is available for sign us till 30 Nov 2016.

Is The Entertainer good value for money?

entertainer

For the uninitiated, The Entertainer is a booklet of coupons that gives you 1 for 1 deals on dining, activities, hotels, spas and retail.

The Entertainer costs S$85 but if you use the code 2016MONEYSMART (I’m sure they doesn’t mind me reposting it, they probably earn a commission for every person who signs up using their link anyway) you get S$10 off as shown below.

entertainer2016

All the coupons in The Entertainer are valid for the calendar year, ie 1st Jan to 31st Dec 2016. Given that we’re already in May, does it still make sense to buy it?

Only you can answer that question, because the value you get depends on your pre-existing lifestyle spending patterns. If you’re the type who doesn’t really like eating out or in general spends very little money on activities/ spas, you certainly shouldn’t let this change that.

But if you already set aside a certain amount of money to indulge in these things, you can still save a lot by buying The Entertainer now.

Below I’m going to highlight some of what I think are the better deals

Dining

The Fat Cow

I do not use the term “life-changing” lightly (I believe the 2 life-changing experiences I have had this year are The Conrad Koh Samui and the discovery of muskmelon), but The Fat Cow is without a doubt life-changing.

fatcow

This restaurant serves some of the finest Japanese beef to ever make it to our shores, and although it’s not cheap (for the best experience, skip the Australia/US offerings and go right for the Ohmi Grade A4 Ribeye @ $120), the 1 for 1 voucher will at least put it in the “splurge” category (as opposed to the insane category)

DSCF7755

DSCF7752

Oh, and you cannot miss the Fat Rice, which is every bit as good as it sounds

fatrice

Protip: If you are craving Fat Cow but don’t want to burn a hole in your pocket you can go for their lunch menu, where $45 buys you a Fat Cow donburri. The beef won’t be as good as the ala carte cuts, it’s still tremendous value all things considered.

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Ristorante Amarone & Gattopardo

Pasta Mancini, used at Gattopardo

Those who know me know I love my pasta. And am obsessive about it. And that I can spend an hour talking about the differences between bronze-drawn and teflon-drawn pasta, why you should never eat Barilla (much less San Remo which by the way isn’t even an Italian brand) and how you identify a good Italian restaurant (they don’t use Barilla). A great primer on the subject can be found here

San Remo pasta. Not actually from Italy.

 

Till then, know that Amarone and Gattopardo  are on the Milelion’s approved list of Italian eateries and they both have 1 for 1 with The Entertainer.

Amarone at Capital Tower

I realise each person’s dining preferences differ so you should definitely read through the list of restaurants yourself and see if there are 1 or 2 big ticket restaurants where the savings from 1 meal could pay for the cost of The Entertainer itself.

Hotels

Conrad Koh Samui Residences

I mentioned in my article on how to hack the Conrad Koh Samui that the (more expensive) Conrad Koh Samui residences are covered under the 1 for 1 stay voucher. If you’re able to find 3 other people to go with you could still stay for as little as S$280 a person a night. Which, considering the usual S$1,000+ rates isn’t that bad.

Other beach destinations

Shangri-la Maldives

There are also many great hotel deals in beach destinations like Phuket (Banyan Tree, JW Marriott etc), Bali (Fairmont Sanur, Pan Pacific Nirwana) and the Maldives (Banyan Tree, Shangri-la, the Taj). If you’re intending to honeymoon in one of these locations then you should see whether you can make these discounts work.

The only caveat I’d add here is that the 1 for 1 deals might not be a great idea in the Maldives, where the best resorts are located on private islands only reachable by seaplane (~US$500 per person). So unless you’ve got the financial firepower to stay at that particular place your whole trip it doesn’t make sense to stay only 2 nights. Contrast this to a place like Phuket or Koh Samui where you can (relatively) easily resort hop after your 2 nights are up. I suppose you could always get your partner to make a booking as well and enjoy 4 nights for the price of 2 though.

Banyan Tree Maldives

Note that the conditions of the voucher require you to book the first night as the “Best Available Rate”. This refers to a refundable rate, so while I’m pretty sure that 2 x Prepaid-rate room nights will still cost more than 1 x Best Available rate room night, it does make sense to check and see how much of a deal you’re getting

In this example from the Conrad Koh Samui Residences, you can see that the lowest rate available is a prepaid THB 34,425 a night, but the BAR is THB 45,900. Therefore, your savings aren’t technically 50%, but more like 33% (based on 45,900 vs 34,425*2)

kohsamuiprice

Activities and Spa

Not my area of specialty, but there are a large number of buy 1 get 1 free treatments. No guarantee that they’re the sort of places that won’t engage in hard-sell tactics, but there are some reputable names here like Adeva .

Similarly, there is an extensive list of couples activities that you can do on weekends.  Examples include Aqua Spin, BreakOut Games, Climb Asia, Combat Skirmish, Expat Kitchen, LilliPutt Indoor Mini Golf and Forest Adventure.

Conclusion

According to the app I’ve saved more than $500 already this year (although you could make a good argument about how that’s an illusory saving if it made me buy things I would not otherwise have) and I’m definitely going to renew it for 2017 when the time comes.

If you’re planning an upcoming big ticket hotel or restaurant spend, it’s worth it to check out whether you can use The Entertainer to save some money.