Tag Archives: hotels

Hotel mini-review: Conrad Bangkok (Executive Corner)

Orchid, Elephant, Turtle:
Touring the Thai Conrads

Thai Airways Business Class SIN-BKK (A350)
Conrad Bangkok (Executive Corner)
Thai Airways Business Class BKK-USM
Conrad Koh Samui (Oceanview Pool Villa)
Thai Airways Business Class USM-BKK-SIN


We stopped over in Bangkok and headed back to Conrad Bangkok, where we’d stayed last December. We didn’t manage to snag a suite mega-upgrade this time round, but were upgraded to an Executive Corner room, which isn’t too bad. If you compare floor plans, you’ll see that the room (at the bottom right of the floorplan below) takes up about the same amount of space as the living room in the Deluxe Suite. This is still extremely roomy – it actually also means you don’t spend quite as much time walking around unnecessarily in an overly large room. Or, at least, that’s what I told myself after failing to secure a suite upgrade.

Breakfast and lounge offerings are still pretty much the same (in a nutshell – good) so I’ll just focus on the room.

Upon entering the room you are still treated to a seemingly pointless corridor…

…which I assume is there mainly because of the shape of the building. The room itself is pretty spacious – I do think the extra space is well utilised.

Behind the work desk are the mini-bar and a walk-in closet.

The room came with the standard rice crackers, fruit and chocolates. The fruit platter seemed somewhat less generous this time (just two bananas) – not sure if the suites come with more fruit or it’s just a seasonal thing.

The bathroom came with a bathtub, a single sink, a shower (and the toilet, of course); it was just (very much) more compact than the one in the deluxe suite, unsurprisingly.

The Executive Corner room is technically a three-step upgrade from the basic room, but it’s essentially the same as a Deluxe Corner room (one step up from basic room), only situated on a higher floor and with executive lounge access. That said, the extra space (570 sq ft vs. 441 sq ft) is certainly noticeable and not a trivial upgrade – Hilton Honors Gold or Diamond guests would do well to try to make sure they get at least a Corner upgrade, if available.


Louis believes he caught the premium travel bug after attaining KrisFlyer Elite Gold and occasionally being upgraded while shuttling between the UK, Singapore and Japan (in economy class). These travels have led to a wonderful marriage, as well as a burning desire to maximise his frequency of travel in business class or better.

He travels with a gryphon plush toy, Griffles, which often stands in for him in vacation photos. Griffles continues to amuse (and confuse) air stewardesses, hotel staff and just about everybody else, all around the world.

Should you jump on any of these daily getaway deals?

The US Travel Association runs an annual promotion called Daily Getaways that is meant to encourage US tourism. This year, they need it more than ever.

Despite who the organizer is, not all deals have to be used in the US. In the past they’ve had sales on US-based hotels, theme parks and car rentals. But they’ve also sold things like loyalty program points and gift cards, which can be redeemed at any property worldwide.

I was looking at this year’s offerings and saw a few items that I’m really tempted to pull the trigger on. You can see the full calendar of deals here, but here are some that caught my eye.

May 2nd- 250,000 Hilton points for $1,200 (236 available)

This is an opportunity to pay 0.48 cents per Hilton point. I know it is possible to buy Hilton points at 0.5 cents each when they run a 100% bonus sale, but the problem is you’re limited to buying a maximum of 80,000 points (pre-bonus) per account per calendar year. So you’d max out at 160,000 points, bought at 0.5 cents each.

This lets you get 250,000 points into your account at 0.48 cents each. To put things in perspective, you need 80,000/95,000 points per night at dream destinations like the Conrad Koh Samui or the Conrad Maldives (although recently I’ve only ever seen 95K point availability). I haven’t fully understood the ins and outs of the new Hilton redemption scheme, but my understanding is when you use the pay with points and cash option you can really maximise your value.

So if you’ve got an upcoming luxury vacation planned, you might want to consider crunching the numbers and seeing if buying points lets you enjoy a nice hotel for much less than what you’d be paying.

Image result for conrad maldives
Conrad Maldives

There is a maximum purchase of 1 set of 250,000 points per customer. You can buy a total of 5 sets of points in this promotion- the other sets come in different denominations as seen below. I find these less attractive though, given that you could get this amount or more during one of the 100% points sales, but it might be a way of circumventing the annual points purchase limit.

  • $144 for 30,000 points (450 available, 0.48 cpp)- maximum 3 per customer
  • $480 for 100,000 points (275 available, 0.48 cpp)- maximum 1 per customer

There is a line in the fine print that says “Open to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia and must be a Hilton Honors member to participate.” , but I’m pretty sure that’s just in there for legal reasons. After all, this is a site meant to promote US tourism. What sense would it make if they didn’t let a non-resident claim a purchase?

Furthermore, other points buying offers (eg IHG, Hyatt) don’t have any such restriction. So I’m guessing this is a Hilton-side additional line of text, and I have doubts as to whether it really matters or not.

May 4th- $500 Marriott gift card for $400 (200 available)

Locking in a 20% discount on a future Marriott stay might also be an interesting idea. Marriott gift cards do not expire and can be used at any Marriott brand including the Ritz Carlton.

Ritz Carlton Tokyo

Marriott gift cards are not yet accepted at any of the Starwood brands, but it remains to be seen if that changes when the two companies are merged into one sometime around 2018.

It’s very hard to see how you can lose by buying some of these, if you’d be staying at a Marriott property sometime down the road anyway and seeing how the value doesn’t expire.

You can buy a maximum of 1 such gift card. Other denominations available include

  • $80 for a $100 Marriott gift card (1,070 available)- max purchase 3 per customer
  • $200 for a $250 Marriott gift card (252 available)- max purchase 2 per customer

May 5th- $1,000 Orbitz promo code for $650 (55 available)

This code is for use on hotels only, and can be used for stays any time before 31 Dec 2018.

I’m tempted to see this as a sort of omni discount code for any hotel you might fancy. It could be one of the better ways of getting a good deal at a place like the Conrad Koh Samui, or perhaps a Maldives overwater villa. Or it could help to offset hotel costs in expensive cities like London and Tokyo.

I think the concern is that if you buy this you’ll end up having to pay inflated OTA prices. But that doesn’t have to be the case- take the Conrad Koh Samui, where Orbitz is throwing up rates that are more or less similar to Hilton’s official site (US$663 vs US$647, the best rate I could find on Orbitz vs Hilton.com)

Orbitz site
Hilton site

There is a maximum purchase limit of 1 per customer.

May 10th- 72,000 Hyatt Points for $775 (25 available)

Buying 72,000 Hyatt points at $775 means paying 1.08 cents per point. Lucky over at OMAAT believes that Hyatt points are worth 1.5 cents each, so you’re actually getting a very good deal. It’s no wonder the Hyatt packages always sell out the first every time they appear on the Daily Getaways site.

Image result for park hyatt milan
Park Hyatt Milan

You could get a top tier property like the Park Hyatt Milan that costs 30,000 points a night, or US$324. Considering paid rates here start at US$650, you’d be getting substantial savings. Provided you’re the type of person who would have stayed at such a property in the first place, of course.

There are 3 other packages you can choose from

  • 24,000 Hyatt points for $260 (54 available, 1.10 cpp)
  • 30,000 Hyatt points for $330 (120 available, 1.08 cpp)
  • 40,000 Hyatt points for $415 (30 available, 1.04 cpp)

Conclusion

I think it’s well worth taking a look at the other deals on offer and deciding whether you can fit them into your travel plans.

I’m currently leaning towards the Orbitz travel voucher simply for its flexibility, but I’m guessing it will get snapped up rather quickly. I’ve set a calendar alert for when the deal goes on sale, and if you’re thinking of getting anything on offer I recommend you do the same.

PS- I know they’re selling IHG rewards points as well, but don’t take that deal. You can buy IHG rewards points cheaper when they go on sale.

Satisfying the Shakespeare in Me | Radisson Blu Metropol, Helsingborg

Satisfying the Shakespeare in Me!

A delightful side-trip to Kronborg Castle

Visited in Sep 2016
Written Apr 2017

I was never fond of English Literature and had absolutely no interest in Shakespeare’s work, and yet, this trip brought me to the setting of one of his most popular work!

Kronberg Castle is the royal castle in the famous play of Hamlet and is known as Elsinore in the story.

While researching the places to visit in Denmark, the castle appeared as one of the interesting sights and after searching, there were no chain hotels in the town around the castle. Not good for me, I love my upgrades and points!

Then, I noticed there was a Radisson Blu in the region, but across the Øresund in the Swedish town of Helsingnor.

Further research revealed that ferries still provide transport across this narrowest part between Denmark and Sweden!

So, I made a refundable booking with my points at the hotel a few months before my trip.
Just 2 weeks before my flight, there was a sale for Club Carlson hotels and the rate was pretty good!

Thus, I booked the cheaper non-refundable rate and then cancelled my prior booking.

Points saved!

Landing in Copenhagen, I took a train to Helsingborg via Malmo and the experience was uneventful.

The hotel was a short 15 min walk from the station, which is also the ferry terminal. So I ended up visiting the terminal several times, for food, for the ferry as well as the train back to Copenhagen.

The hotel looked clean and updated and I went up to the counter immediately. As it was only 10am, my room was not ready and I was unable to check in.

The front desk ladies were very polite and proactively advised what I could visit while waiting for the room, with my luggage under their care.

Front Desk

After a quick tour around the small town, I returned to a small, but adequate-sized room.
There was not much of a view from the room, but hey, I didn’t really come to visit Helsingborg.

I like brightly lit corridors!
Ice machine at the lift landing
Small room with a Queen bed

 

Small toilet

 

View from room

The hotel restaurant Nelly’s Food is apparently rather famous and was definitely packed during lunch and dinner times.

After a good sleep in the comfortable bed, I woke up to a great breakfast at Nelly’s with its open kitchen concept.

 

 

 

 

The restaurant itself is beautiful and drinks, coffee and tea machines were by the side.

 

 

After the scrumptious breakfast, perhaps it is good to check out the small gym.

Well it could be better, but no one’s using it anyway.

 

A short walk back to the terminal and with ferry tickets in hand, I was ready to see Kronborg Castle!

A lovely rainbow added colour to my visit and it was indeed an epic side-trip.

A reminder to readers who may want to try this route, passports are required for the ferry to Denmark and I resisted telling the officer off when he asked if Singapore is a real country as he had never heard of ‘The Little Red Dot’.

Just smiled and waited.

Happy and Healthy travels to all!