Tag Archives: entertainer

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.

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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.

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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)

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

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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)

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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.

Can you hack the Conrad Koh Samui?

More than one month after trip to Koh Samui, my stay at the Conrad remains one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

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Despite the rather hit and miss service, the quality of the villas, the breathtaking views and the experience of watching day turn to night over the sea from your own private villa pool make this a must-return place for me.

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view from the villa pool. pizza not included.

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 Base Case (S$1,083 per night)

The problem is, as you might expect, that such an experience does not come cheap. I burned 95,000 HHonors points in my account for this trip , and even that only got me one night at the property (to be fair those points were more or less costless to me, coming as compensation for a disappointing stay at a property in Pune).

So when I was looking at revenue rates for a potential getaway for 3D2N over the long NDP weekend (6th-9th Aug, with one day leave taken on 8th Aug), my heart sank. The views are as breathtaking as the price, evidently.

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84,277 THB (S$3,250) for 3 nights is, unfortunately, somewhat outside my price range. And by somewhat, I mean totally. But if there’s one thing The Milelion doesn’t do, it’s pay full price! (or shower twice a day because seriously who has time for that)

So, how can we bring The Conrad Koh Samui into affordable territory? Those dastardly Americans have their Hilton HHonors cobranded cards which give them 2 free weekend nights at any Hilton property around the world (well not any, but the Conrad Koh Samui is included)

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Those of us in Asia have to be a bit more creative…

Option 1: Hilton Premium Club Membership (S$623 per night)

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I only recently learned about this rather low-profile program, but it provides you with a way to get more than 50% off the Conrad’s usual rates.

Here’s the deal. You buy an annual membership for Thailand at THB7,500 (S$290). This comes with-

  • 1 Voucher for 1 night accommodation at THB 11,250 nett (Deluxe Villa) with ABF (American Breakfast) at Conrad Koh Samui (Valid any day in the week) booking based on availability, excluding Public Holidays for resort hotels
  • 4 Vouchers for one night in a Deluxe room “Beach Escape” for 2 persons with ABF (valid Sunday to Thursday) at THB 11,500+++ (for a Deluxe Villa) at Conrad Koh Samu
  • 2 Vouchers for one night at Best Available Rate and receive second night COMPLIMENTARY, Excluding Public Holidays for resort properties.

Let’s do some quick math for my 6-9th August stay-

  • 6th Aug-11,250 THB (13,452 THB all-in)
  • 7th Aug- 11,500 THB (13,751 THB all-in)
  • 8th Aug- 11,500 THB (13,751 THB all-in)

The total amount will be 40,953 THB (S$1,580). Remember to add the cost of your Hilton Premium Club Membership (7,500 THB) and altogether you’re looking at S$1,870 versus S$3,250 if you went for the official rates. How’s that for some travel hacking!

It gets better. Along with your Hilton Premium Club membership comes the following substantial savings on your spa and restaurant spend at the property-

  • One (1) Voucher buy one and get one for free Spa Treatment. Valid at Hilton Worldwide Hotels in Thailand. Fully Transferable
  • One (1) Voucher for Complimentary Set or Buffet Lunch for two persons (Valid everyday) food only. Valid at Azure at Conrad Koh Samui
  • One (1) Voucher for Complimentary Set or Buffet Dinner for two persons (Valid everyday) food only. Valid at Zest at Conrad Koh Samui
  • One (1) Voucher for Complimentary Afternoon Tea for two people. Valid at Aura Lounge at Conrad Koh Samui,
  • One (1) Voucher for Complimentary bottle of House Wine when dining in any restaurant. Valid at Hilton Worldwide Hotels in Thailand. Non-Transferable.
  • One (1) Voucher Buy one bottle of House Wine or House Spirits at a 50% discount when dining in any restaurant. Valid at Hilton Worldwide Hotels in Thailand. Fully Transferable.
  • One (1) Voucher for Complimentary Signature Drinks for 2 persons. Valid at Hilton Worldwide Hotels in Thailand. Non-Transferable
  • 50% off dining at Azure and Zest when 2 people dine (33% with 3 people, 25% with 4 people)

That’s quite a bonanza. To summarise, 1 for 1 spa treatments at the Conrad Koh Samui spa, 1 complimentary buffet lunch, buffet dinner, and afternoon tea plus complimentary drinks and house wine is going to settle all your meals for a day. For the rest of your stay, you can use the 50% off (when 2 people dine) at Azure and Zest.

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Zest

Like I said in my review of the Conrad, the base prices at Zest aren’t cheap by any means, but they’re reasonable given that you’re in a 5 Star property. Take a further 50% off the menu price and you’re looking at a very sweet deal indeed

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Sample prices at Zest
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More sample prices at Zest

I’d probably put this as my preferred method of hacking the Conrad, given the other freebies that come with the membership.

Note: There are other benefits that apply at other properties in Thailand but since the focus of this post is on the Conrad Koh Samui I’ve excluded them from above. Strongly encourage you to read the full range of benefits here.

Option 2: The Entertainer (S$566 per night, sort of)

For the uninitiated, The Entertainer is a discount booklet full of buy 1 get 1 free deals at restaurants, activities, retail establishments, spas etc.

The cost is S$85, although they run frequent sales where you can buy it for S$75 or less. You can read more about the Entertainer here, and I believe there is a S$10 off coupon there you can use too.

The Entertainer also has a Hotels section which has numerous vouchers with buy 1 night get 1 night free. The first night must be priced at the Best Flexible Available Rate. One (somewhat major) issue with this is that The Entertainer only covers the Conrad Koh Samui Residences. The Residences are located in exactly the same place as the Conrad Koh Samui, but they comprise of 2 and 3 bedroom villas instead of the standard 1 bedroom villa.

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If you look at this map you’ll see the 2 and 3 bedroom villas on the upper levels of the property. The Conrad regular 1 bedroom villas start with 1XX, 2XX and 3XX. 4XX and above are the Residences

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I emailed customer service to ask, and the base level 2 bedroom villa will set you back THB 56,501 a night, or S$2,180. Add S$85 for The Entertainer and that’s S$2,265.

If we factor in the 1 free night, that rate gets halved to S$1,130. But remember that it’s a 2 bedroom villa, so if you find another couple to go with it’s effectively S$566 a night.

Of course, this rate is only valid if you’re able to find a second couple to go with. And I’m sure the villa is plenty large, but unless you’re the swinging sort you might be more comfortable having a romantic weekend in a bit more privacy. For what it’s worth, the rate comes with full breakfast for 4 adults.

Option 3: Buying HHonors Points (S$540 or $640 per night, depending on period)

The final option is to buy Hilton HHonors points and redeem them for a room. These go on sale several times a year and the cheapest price I’ve seen them go at is 0.5 US cents per point.

Points rates at the Conrad Koh Samui (when available) price either at 80,000 or 95,000. For the period I’m looking at it’s pricing at 95,000.

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6th-9th August, 95,000 points per night

The total price for 3 nights will be S$1,920 (95,000 points *3 nights * US$0.005 per point), or S$640 per night. Of course, if you can find a period with 80,000 point rates, the cost will be S$540 a night.

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4-8th June, 80,000 points per night

Remember that you can only buy a maximum of 80,000 points per year. This figure is before bonuses, meaning that the effective maximum you can get is 160,000 points at a cost of US$800. So you’d need your partner to buy points as well in order to get enough.

Conclusion

The Conrad Koh Samui is an absolute must-visit place if you’re intending to head to Koh Samui. The above tricks by no means make the Conrad Koh Samui cheap, but they bring the otherwise unattainable prices down to more realistic levels.

Hope this helps!