The Hyatt Regency Delhi has been a high standard hotel for many years. It is particularly famous and popular for its restaurants which have a good reputation and are very busy every day. From my experience, I can say that all meals that I had at the Hyatt Regency Delhi were delicious and the staff were always friendly and polite.
I stayed in a standard room which was very clean and well kept. The best asset was the mobile air purifier which was placed in the room. With temperatures of more than 45 degrees Celsius outside and generally bad air quality, this gadget is most welcomed. It can be set to purify the air, it can humidify the air, or it can be put into “aroma therapy” mode which is intended to diffuse aromas such as eucalyptus, ocean breeze or lavender. I have tried all features, I guess it worked all right, while the aroma therapy was not really noticeable. But I like the idea of having it in the room.
Rooms have the usual amenities and housekeeping did a good job to keep the room tidy and even a shoe shine service was performed during the room cleaning which I felt was a nice touch.
HOW IS IT TO TRAVEL TO THAILAND DURING THE CORONA PANDEMIC?
This is a review about a trip that I made to Thailand during the Covid-19 pandemic while the ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) requirement was still in place. The state quarantine is mandatory for all visitors, including Thai citizens. (Thai citizens are also offered a “free” quarantine stay at a state operated facility such as a small hotel or a military camp). There are strict requirements for foreigners who seek to enter Thailand during the pandemic. These requirements include visa, Certificate of Entry, special insurance covering at least USD 100,000, negative Covid-19 test result 72h before arrival and a Fit-to-Fly certificate. Further information is available on the websites of the Royal Thai Embassies around the world.
The ASQ Hotel packages always include 15 nights accommodation (16 days), 3 meals per day, a 24/7 nurse on duty, 2-3 mandatory Covid-19 tests, and airport pick-up transportation. After the stay, guests are issued a completion of quarantine certificate and are allowed to travel freely within Thailand. Guests must also use a tracking app called Thailand Plus.
Pre-flight: Documents are thoroughly checked at the departure gate at the respective airline (only a handful of airlines are authorized to bring passengers to Thailand).
Post-flight: passengers are gathered in small groups and are guided to various check-points where temperature and documents etc are checked. Finally Immigration, as always, and then passengers leave the airport from designated area where the hotel staff pick up the guests and take them to their chosen ASQ facility.
I stayed at the Silver Palm Hotel which is a medium priced, 3-star hotel located near Rama 9 Road. As I had already pre-paid the hotel, check-in was smooth and fast. Blood-pressure and fever were checked and I was offered a breakfast before I was escorted to my room. I booked a Deluxe room and I was lucky to have a beautiful view of the pool and the garden. There was a big balcony where I spent most of my day from early morning to sunset. The room was spacious, there was plenty of water available, a microwave oven and a fever thermometer. Fever checking was required twice per day. All communications with the hotel took place via the LINE application. I sent photos of my temperature results every day to the nurse and ordered my food and booked my garden time, all with the LINE app. Garden time was allowed after 5 days after the first Covid test took place and for people with a negative result.
The food was nothing to write home about. The choice was very limited, sometimes with only 1 or 2 offerings. The food was usually delivered more cold than warm and the taste was ok but not more than that. I pimped it up with seasonings that I brought with me. The staff also offered to buy items from a nearby 7/11 mini-mart and would add 20% to the local price. Other deliveries were only allowed by family members.
The hotel staff which I met were extremely friendly and helpful. As I did not want to spend a lot of money I was happy with the service of the hotel. Check-out on the last day was possible from 6am and was completed swiftly and my departure certificate was ready.
There are many choices of ASQ hotels in Bangkok, Pattaya and shortly in Phuket as well. I would recommend everyone to bring plenty of snacks, good books, an HDMI cable to connect your devices to the TV and books, Netflix etc.. to keep you busy. A balcony was essential for me and I was very happy to have it.
With its corporate new builds, Puerto Madero can feel a bit soulless but it’s a good area to retreat from Buenos Aires’ pace. It’s a 10-minute walk across a messy building site – major roadworks are in place – to the downtown area and to the Leandro N. Alem underground station and buses. The international airport is an hour away by taxi, the domestic airport is 15-20 minutes away.
The hotel is not easy to miss: it’s a large silvery,glass box on the dockside, with the Hilton name in blue. The contemporary style of the structure is mitigated by plush carpets and a lively lobby/bar. The glass-walled lifts offer great views across the nine-floor atrium, which floods the building with natural light. Artworks are spread around the floors.
The hotel’s staff are multilingual and efficient; and check-in was done swiftly. The lobby is a bright airy space for informal meetings and a drink. The hotel has a good gym, pool, sauna, spa and solarium.
The room categories range from plain, spacious Deluxe rooms to large Executive suites, which have access to a dedicated lounge, evening cocktails and all-day non-alcoholic drinks. Deluxe rooms have queen-sized beds, soft pillows, ergonomic armchairs, walk-in wardrobes and large work desks. Rooms with river or city views are available. Bathrooms have powerful showers and bathtubs.
El Faro normally serves a buffet breakfast, including fresh pastries, a range of cereals, a good choice of fresh fruit and juices, and decent coffee. It was closed during the time of my visit and breakfast was served in one of the convention rooms instead. The evening à la carte menu looks interesting, but I didn’t try it. Sommeliers are available and they advise guests about the carefully sourced cellar wines. Croutons is a nice café-patisserie and Alberto’s lobby bar offers a good selection of cocktails and has charming bartenders.
I slept well even though there is a small area where youngsters play and dance but they did not stay too long into the night. I had a pleasant stay, enjoyed the spacious room, and enjoyed a good night’s sleep.
I visited the San Francisco Marriott Marquis during Corona pandemic and the usually busy hotel has become a very quiet place to stay. After a recent renovation, the hotel is stylish with a sleek minimalist design.
The hotel is situated in the industrial South of Market district, just a block south of Market Street, and within a few blocks of some of the city’s most renowned museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Just north of Market Street is the city’s main shopping district, Union Square, while transit lines to Fisherman’s Wharf, San Francisco International Airport, the East Bay and Golden Gate Park are all within a block of the hotel.
The hotel offers an artisan restaurant (B55 Craft house & Kitchen), a 39th floor cocktail-bar (The View Lounge) and MissionStreet Pantry (snacks, drinks and some groceries).
Rooms are contemporary in style and spacious—with large windows that actually open (slightly), an in-room coffee maker and a mini-fridge, the famous Marriott signature bed and a comfy living area with sofa. They’re nothing flashy, but comfortable—the type of room multiple generations can enjoy. There’s a table-top tablet for navigating both the hotel and the city, and the bathroom boasts a marble interior. A favourite perk: anyone with a Netflix account can stream shows and films directly through the TV.
The massive 2-storey Gym is normally open 24/7 but closed during the pandemic. The Marriott Marquis hotel offers direct App check-in as well as fast check-out via TV or the App. This enables hotel guests to avoid crowds in the lobby.
I had a very pleasant stay and look forward to a return visit in the future.
Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade adds sophistication and classic luxury to one of Lisbon’s most stylish avenues, Avenida da Liberdade. If shopping is your thing, then you won’t be disappointed here, as the hotel is surrounded by high-end fashion boutiques. The hotel’s décor blends its French origins with a local touch, giving it a discreet elegance and refinement. Use of dark exotic woods and gold accents; along with some Asian antiques and works of art harking back to the period of the Portuguese colonies lend the hotel a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
These touches make this French chain hotel feel more like an intimate boutique hotel, rather than a big brand. I was greeted in a charming way at check-in and as I am an Accor Club member everything was done efficiently and fast. I was assigned a room facing Avenida da Liberdade with a nice view.
The room was spacious with a large, comfortable, soft bed where I slept very well and a rather small bathroom which featured French Hermès products. There was a minibar, a coffee maker and water kettle available. Turn-down service was also done and little chocolates left on the pillow before the night rest.
I found the breakfast room in the basement rather dark and uninviting; and decided to skip breakfast and rather have lunch upstairs at the popular AdLib restaurant where the service was super friendly and the food tasted ok.
I tried to contact the hotel twice before my arrival for some enquires and both attempts were unsuccessful with no replies, except for the usual e-mail receipt confirmation. I found this rather bad service for a 4 star hotel.
I had a satisfactory stay at the Sofitel Lisbon Liberdade. There were no surprises and if you are able to get a decent rate it is certainly not a bad choice.
Royal Orchid Lounge, Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, open since November 2019:
ROYAL ORCHID LOUNGE:
Thai Airways offers their First and Business Class passengers a separate check-in located at gate Door 1 on Departure Level 4 at Suvarnabhumi Bangkok International Airport. Porters are available and separate areas for First and Business Class passengers are provided for check-in, security screening and Fast Track immigration.
After passing through immigration, an escalator takes passengers down to the lounge level near gate D1. The First Class lounge, and the former Business Class lounge (now used for Star-Alliance partner airline’s passengers), are located in the west zone on the left and the new Royal Orchid Prestige Lounge is located in the east zone on the right and is used exclusively for Thai Airways Royal Silk Class passengers.
The lounge was opened in October 2019 and is approx. 2000 sqm. The lounge offers various seating options (restaurant-style seating near the buffets) and lounge areas as well as rooms for child-care and showers.
There are two bars and a main buffet area plus 2 small corners with a more limited food selection. Comparing this new lounge to the “old” one, the food and drinks options are much more generous and more delicious items are available. Frequent visitors of the old lounge remember the triangle sandwiches and the hot dog sausages that were served for decades.
A fresher look and a wider choice of food offering is now available. This was urgently needed as there are plenty of excellent alternative lounges available at this airport.
I found the new lounge to be pleasant, even though it was a very busy night. This is not the most luxurious lounge that I have experienced but it serves the purpose well.
ROYAL ORCHID SPA:
Thai Airways offers a unique facility to its premium passengers which is the Royal Orchid Spa. This spa offers separate treatments for First Class passengers (full body massages in separate luxury rooms) Herbal Spa or Steam rooms and short neck/shoulder or foot massages are available for Business Class guests. There is a resting area where relaxing Thai music is played and healthy beverages are served. The relaxation and rejuvenation treatments offered a wonderful way to get in the mood before a long flight. I find this a fantastic place to visit, especially in the evening before long night flights.
The Thai Airways Royal Orchid Spa is consistently voted number one airline spa by Skytrax and I find it a true heaven in the busy airport world. I always enjoy this special THAI experience.
Air Baltic is the flag carrier of Latvia with its head office on the grounds of Riga International Airport. Its hub is Riga, with further bases in Tallin Airport and Vilnius Airport. The airline was established as a joint venture between Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and the Government of Latvia. In January 2009, SAS sold its entire stake in the company.
Air Baltic operates 12 Bombardier Dash 8 aircraft with 76 seats, 4 Boeing 737-300 aircraft with 142 seats and 22 newer Airbus A220 aircraft with 145 seats.
I took a morning flight from Zurich to Riga and checked-in online. As gate seat changes cost extra (12 Euro) I waited to board last and then took an emergency exit seat which offered a fantastic legroom. The aircraftwas a 20 year old Boeing 737-300 and Air Baltic offers BOB (buy on board) menu offering food and drinks for purchase.
The crew conducted a manual safety demo and a special “overwing” exit briefing which I found to be very professional.
Most passengers did not buy anything from the options so the flight was very relaxed.
Air Baltic offers low fares and I found the service in a good price/performance ratio representing good value for money.
They will start nonstop flights between Zurich and Vilnius and Tallin this Spring (2020) and I hope I can soon try the newer A220.
Air Dolomiti is a 100% owned subsidiary of Lufthansa with its base in Munich, Germany. The airline’s name derives from a section of the Alps known as the Dolomites. It started operations in January 1991 and mostly operates flights between Munich and Italy as well as some other destinations which allow operations with Embraer aircrafts.
I flew from Zurich to Munich and I found the aircraft appearance to be clean and comfortable. However the seating was on the narrower side. The configuration is 2-2 where in Business Class always 1 seat per seat-pair will be kept unoccupied for privacy reasons. This procedure is well known by carriers such as Lufthansa, Swiss and Austrian.
Service consisted of a pre-departure bottle of water, a refreshing towel and a pack of sweets. During the flight a cold tray was served with a full range of beverages including coffee and tea. The flight was half empty and I expected a friendly service, but the crew seemed to be annoyed working and made a rather depressed impression. What I really liked is that there was free wifi available on board. This is a nice feature, even though most of their flights are an hour or less flight time.
The Flight operated on time and arrived in Munich at an outside tarmac position. There was no separate bus for Business Class passengers available. I took Air Dolomiti on the same route back to Zurich, it was a similar experience.
I flew Alaska Airlines First Class from Los Angeles to Las Vegas and Las Vegas to San Francisco. Both flights were on aircraft of the former Virgin America Airlines which was taken over by Alaska last year (2018).
Check-in at Terminal 6 was a breeze and Alaska sports a nice small premium-lounge which offers a bar, a few breakfast items (including their own branded pancake making machine). The lounge was very busy this early morning but offered plenty of seating, a nice tarmac view and super-clean rest rooms.
Both flights were very short so the food and beverage offering was limited. The was a pre-departure drink, a drink inflight and a snack basket. Flight Attendants were professional and charming and made it a pleasant experience. Early booking rates for First Class are very competitive, and were only US$ 40 more than tickets in the main cabin. (Bear in mind that you have to pay extra for each check-in bag on US-domestic flights). The flights departed on time and Alaska Airlines has a 20min baggage delivery promise.
I really liked the fact that First Class had only 2 rows and really comfortable recliner seats which makes even a short flight very comfy.