PRIMECLASS LOUNGE, RIGA AIRPORT, LATVIA

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The Primeclass Business Class Lounge at Riga International Airport is used by the airport’s major carrier, Air Baltic, and other airlines which offer a Business Class product to their passengers.

The lounge is always available for Prioritiy Pass holders and entry can also be purchased for 40 Euro per person.

The lounge is located in the Schengen departure area offering 100 seats (830 sqm) with open views of the tarmac and runway. A bar, food options, a shower and restrooms are available. Food quality and choice was mediocre, the bar was often unattended and people had to search for staff to be served. The tables were also not cleaned  and cleared frequently and some were dirty for more than 20 minutes.

I found this lounge experience to be subpar and I would not pay the money if I had to. Sometimes it can be better to find a quiet and comfortable space in the airport restaurant to get a drink and a snack rather than using a poorly managed lounge.

http://www.primeclass.com.tr/en/Services/Pages/Riga-International-Airport-primeclass-Business-Lounge.aspx

AIR BALTIC

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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 aircraft was 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.

https://www.airbaltic.com

ANDAZ by HYATT, MUNICH, GERMANY

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Andaz by Hyatt is an upscale lifestyle boutique-style hotel chain intended for cosmopolitan travellers. The Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor is strongly connected to the heart and soul of Munich.

The hotel features the city’s highest rooftop bar, a full-service spa with swimming pool, event and meeting areas, and four food/beverage outlets. The M’Uniqo is the hotel’s trendy rooftop bar which offers a stunning view over Munich and the nearby Alps. The Lonely Broccoli restaurant is the hotel’s main dining restaurant where breakfast, lunch and steak-house style dinner is served. The Andaz Lounge Bar is more than a classic hotel lobby bar. There is a classic bar, a lounge type seating area which invites guest to sit down, unwind, have a drink, charge their mobile devices  or use the golden brezel for Instagram photo shots. (I found the lower lobby restroom to be the most popular Instagram hotspot). Bicicletta is a coffee bar where healthy smoothies, bowls and other savory snacks and coffees are served. The is a small outside terrace available for smokers or people who prefer to get some fresh air.

My check-in at the Andaz Munich was smooth and efficient. My 9th floor room was large, bright with a fantastic view over Munich and the nearby Alps. The decoration was contemporary and stylish. There was an openly designed bathroom with an oversized shower sporting a rainforest showerhead. The toilet was separate and a small walk in closet was provided. Flat screen TV and a complementary minibar with local drinks and snacks were also offered.

I found my stay at the Andaz Munich Schwabinger Tor very pleasant. This new lifestyle hotel concept, when combined with the hotel’s super-friendly staff, made me immediately feel at ease and at home.

https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/germany/andaz-munich-schwabinger-tor/mucaz

AIR DOLOMITI, ITALY

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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.

https://www.airdolomiti.eu/

CONRAD HOTEL, DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

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The sky-scraping Conrad Dubai is a view-star hotel with popular night sports, a premium spa, and a completely unexpected palm-filled pool deck for this downtown hotel. 

The World Trade Centre Metro Station on Conrad Dubai’s doorstep provides easy access to several attractions, including Dubai Fountain and Burj Khalifa, both just three stops away. The airport has a station too, but the 10-minute cab ride is quicker. 

I arrived late night with my Uber and was led to the Executive lounge right away to complete my formalities there. The agent was very efficient and within minutes I was done. She explained all the facilities to me and offered me a drink before I retired to my suite.

I booked a King Deluxe suite which was 100 sqm. with a separate living room, a large bed, a bathroom and a separate guest toilet. There was a small kitchenette as well and it was located on the 43rd floor offering splendid views of the city. A Nespresso maker completed the usual luxurious amenities.

I enjoyed the size of the room very much and the services at the Executive Lounge were fantastic. Breakfast offered a wide choice and many items were available upon order as well. 

The Happy Hour offering comprised a full buffet of pre-dinner snacks and a wide selection of beverages. Staff was always attentive and very charming, ready for a little chat when times were more quiet.

The gym was open 24hours and unfortunately I did not have chance to try the spa, but overheard other guest being happy about their treatment.

The pool area was very nice and large enough to accommodate large numbers of users. The pool had a refreshing waterfall and was nicely decorated.  What I did not like about the pool was the very loud music and the ugly cream coloured plastic loungers. 

My stay at the Conrad Dubai was very pleasant and I would return to this hotel without hesitation. The Executive Lounge was the highlight of my stay.

https://www.hilton.com/en/hotels/dxbcdci-conrad-dubai/

FAIRMONT HOTEL, BARCELONA, SPAIN

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This five-star resort is located on the prestigious Avenida Diagonal, which is known for its wealth of high-end restaurants and shopping opportunities. The hotel is located approximately 6km (just under four miles) from the city centre, which is accessible by a 15/20-minute taxi ride or a 30-minute metro ride.

The imposing lobby area draws on ultra-modern furnishings and a palette of silver and gold to achieve a look of tasteful decadence. The space is flooded with natural light which enters via a huge window that reaches up through the entire height of the building. It looks and feels like very much like a luxury cruise liner. Avant-garde art installations and intelligent partitions create smaller spaces within the bar, lounge and reception area, adding intimacy and plenty of opportunities for peace and privacy.

I found the check-in procedure to be dreadful. There were about 20 people standing in line for 3 open desks and the handling of each check-in seemed to take forever. It took me full 30 min to get my turn and then another 10 min of processing which I could not understand. I had a pre-paid room and all the agent needed to do was to swipe my credit card for incidental costs and make a photocopy of my ID card or passport. When I complained the agent told me that this was normal as the hotel was full. I was given a voucher for a drink and I told her there should be a manager or someone in charge to help out during busy check-in periods.

All of the nearly 400 rooms and suites are soundproof and are fully renovated. The room amenities featured the usual, and the bathroom was fine too. There was a kettle but no coffee maker.

I slept very well and enjoyed the breakfast in the morning which consisted of a good choice of food and beverages and a nice service.

There are 2 pools available in the huge green garden area. One is a family pool and the other is adults only. The guard was very determined to make sure that the rules were followed and sent away all families with small children. I appreciated that. However on my second day they were no pool towels available until about 1030 am. (Pool opens at 9am). I could not understand how this could be possible in a large hotel like this. 

My stay at the Fairmont Barcelona was fine, but I expected more in terms of service. I guess the takeover of the Fairmont hotels Group by the Accor Group was not a move to make things better and more exclusive. – 1 Star for this hotel down to 4 would be appropriate. 

https://www.fairmont.com/barcelona/

PAU SALALS VIP LOUNGE, BARCELONA, SPAIN

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The Pau Casals VIP Lounge at Barcelona Airport is located in the Schengen Zone Departure Area. It offers a modern stylish layout and a wide range of amenities.

There is a large self-service area consisting of a full bar, a coffee bar and hot and cold food items. There are quiches, sausages, cold cuts, soups and salads as well as a pasta dishes. I tasted a few items and they were all fine.

What I particularly liked is the very efficient staff working there. The food was replenished very frequently and the bar tables, as well as the lounge area of the lounge, were always kept tidy and clean.

The lounge is accessible for premium class passengers of airlines departing in the Schengen area and for Priority Pass holders. 

I found my stay there more than pleasant and wish other lounges were kept so clean.

http://www.aena.es/en/barcelona-airport/pau-casals.html

HOTEL RUNGHOLT, SYLT, GERMANY

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Sylt is an island in northern Germany part of Nordfriesland district, Schleswig-Holstein of and well known for the distinctive shape of its shoreline. It belongs to the North Frisian Islands and is the largest island in North Frisia. The northernmost island of Germany, it is known for its tourist resorts, notably Westerland, Kampen and Wenningstedt-Braderup as well as for its 40-kilometre-long (25-mile) sandy beach. It is frequently covered by the media in connection with its exposed situation in the North Sea and its ongoing loss of land during storm tides. Since 1927, Sylt has been connected to the mainland by the Hindenburgdam causeway. In latter years, it has been a resort for the German jet set and tourists in search of occasional celebrity sightings.


I stayed in Kampen at the Hotel Rungholt which is family managed in the third generation. My room was average sized with a skylight window offering a magnificent view over the sand dunes to the North Sea. Amenities were good, the bed was very comfortable and I slept well. 

The hotel has a spa where massages are offered, a large indoor pool area with sauna and more. 

The picturesque village of  Kampen is only steps away and the beach is within walking distance. I found the location of the Rungholt hotel excellent. 

The hotel has a garden with the typical Sylt loungers. There is a beautiful lounge area where snacks and drinks are served all day. It is cozy and inviting to have a drink or a coffee and cake in the afternoon. The hotel has a main restaurant where a delicious breakfast is served and half-board guests enjoy their dinner. A bar is available in the evenings.

I had a pleasant stay at the Rungholt Hotel and would stay there again without hesitation. 

https://hotel-rungholt.de