Holiday Inn Old Sydney, Sydney

At work we have a list of hotels we’re allowed to stay at. The Holiday Inn Old Sydney must have been on the list for all of 5 minutes and I must have been lucky enough to book it at the right time. But boy did I have troubles expensing the bill after my trip lol.

Holiday Inn Old Sydney is a heritage listed building that was once the wool sheds I believe. Its situated at the northern end of the historic Rocks area. Its a wee bit away from the office building of the CBD but not too far. If you’re a history buff or ship lover you’ll love the location.

I liked this hotel as I had a room that looked out over George St, the overseas passenger terminal and the Opera House. On my second day there there was also a cruise ship in port that I had a magnificent view of. It amazing how close the ship looked!

The rooms were relatively good for a budget hotel. As with most Holiday Inns the bathroom and living area was a little cramped but functional.

The bed was of good quality and rather comfy as were the pillows. There was an armchair but that wasn’t all that comfortable so I used it for my work bag.

There are heaps of restaurants and bars in the vicinity but since its a touristy area they’re mostly more expensive that other restaurants and bars.

If I needed to stay in Sydney on a budget this would be a good hotel to choose.

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InterContinental Hong Kong

The past couple of times I’d been in Hong Kong I stayed at the InterContinental Grand Stanford on Mody Road in East Tsim Sha Tsui which is the smaller sister hotel of the InterContinental Hong Kong.

The InterContinental Hong Kong is on Salisbury Road right on the Kowloon waterfront overlooking Victoria Harbour and is close to Tsim Sha Tsui and East Tsim Sha Tsui MTR stations, is a short walk to the Star Ferry, and just across the road from the Peninsula Hotel and Nathan Road. Its was very central.

This is the flagship InterContinental Hotel in Hong Kong and from the moment you drive upto the front door you can see it oozing opulence.

I was staying at the hotel for 2 nights using my Priority Club points so I didn’t expect to get the presedential suite but I was overawed by the suite I did get. I didn’t get a view of the harbour but I did get to look out onto the green oasis that was the pool and bar area of the hotel.

The room was large with a work area with a selection of international news papers, a very comfortable king bed and a reasonable sized bathroom with serarate bath and shower. Bathroom amenities were the standard ones that were also in use at the InterContinental Grand Stanford up the road.

Since I was staying on points I didn’t get the free mini bar that I normally get as a Royal Ambassador.

On the first evening my colleague and I were pretty tired so decided not to venture too far from the hotel. We decided to have a couple of drinks in the lobby bar at the hotel that overlooks the harbour. We had a couple of drinks and some snacks before venturing out to try to see the light show that Hong Kong puts on each evening but it was raining so we didn’t last long. I’d seen it before so didn’t care that I’d missed it again.

On the Saturday afternoon afer some touring around in the morning and a quiet lunch, we decided to try the afternoon High Tea that the hotel was famous for. There was a queue for tables when we arrived as the afternoon tea is very popular with locals as well as tourists. Being resident in the hotel we managed to jump the queue a little and were seated in about 15 minutes and then spentthe next hour or so eating cucumber sandwiches washed down with coffee. Very relaxing and all the while we had the great view of watching life going on on Victoria Harbour out the large windows. There was so much food that we didn’t even bother going out for dinner. My colleague crashed and I went out for a couple of beers at a bar I knew up near the other InterCon hotel.

On the Sunday we decided to try breakfast at the Peninsula across the road. Service left a little to be desired but the food was nice.

And then it was time to head back to Melbourne. After a late checkout we used the hotel limo to get to the airport for our evening flight home.

Would I stay at the InterContinental Hong Kong again? Definite yes!

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Hotel Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16

I had a 3 day training course in Macau of all places earlier on in the year. The course was held at Hotel Sofitel Macau at Ponte 16 in Macau and I had the pleasure of staying at the hotel as well.

I’d been to Macau twice before but didn’t bother head out towards where the Sofitel is located. Its a strange but beautiful location which is the mixing pot of a bustling main roads with Chinese and Portuguese restaurants, temples and of course the iconic St Paul’s a 10 minute slow walk away.

The hotel has a courtesy bus to pick you up from the ferry terminal after the one hour ferry trip from Hong Kong. It’s about a 15 minute drive through the worlds largest casino to get to the hotel.

Being a casino the opulence of the the hotel is breathtaking with the reception a large marble affair.

My original room had two single beds, but a bit of a whinge later had me ensconced in a room with a King bed. The room was excellently appointed and the amenities in the bathroom were L’occitaine. Sweet!

The view from the hotel room was south west and allowed me to look over the busy Inner Harbour into mainland China. It was surprising the amount of river traffic that crossed that river. I would have thought that the small boats from relatively free Macau to/from mainland China would have been under excessive control but id didn’t seem to be the case.

Breakfasts and lunches were provided and in the hotel’s Mistral restaurant. The meals were buffet style so you could indulge (or more likely over indulge) in your portuguese and chinese favorites. The quality of the food was top notch, probably one of the better buffets I’ve had the pleasure of eating at!

Under the hotel was a casino. On the last evening I did pay my Macau tax and gambled away around HKD$200. Not a King’s ransom but I had fun and lost.

I’d stay here again and use it as a base to explore the little alleys of historical Macau.

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Beijing Hilton, Beijing, China

I was lucky enough to spend 8 days in Beijing in June this year. Primary reason for the trip was to attend a training course for work but I took the opportunity to stay on for a couple of extra days to do some sightseeing of the city and its surrounds.

I stayed in the hotel where the course was organised, the Hilton Beijing. Its in what is referred to as the diplomatic area of the city and a quick walk around the neighbourhood soon showed why. A very closely guarded US Embassy was on the street right behind the hotel.

The hotel is relatively modern and certainly upto the usual standards of decent western hotels.

I had a very nice suite with a king bed, couch (which I don’t think I used) and a desk.

Bathroom was a good size and well appointed. There was a bath and a separate shower. Amenities were of ok quality.

The staff were very unobtrusive and I don’t think I ever ran into the housekeeping staff while I was in my room. The room was always kept neat, tidy and clean.

We ate all of our breakfasts and lunches during the course (Monday to Friday) in the hotel restaurant on level 1 and the variety and quality of the food was magnificent. I think I put on a couple of extra kilos that week!

For dinners we mostly went out as a group to sample the best Chinese food I’ve ever eaten. I love duck so I had to try the eponymous Beijing Duck and I’m drooling thinking back to how good it was.

I do love travelling for work as it lets me see a place on someone else’s money to decided whether I like the place and I can say that I loved Beijing and I would happily spend my own money to go back and explore more.

The hotel was great as the Beijing in general.

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2011 in Frequent Flyer miles

As 2011 draws to a close its always fun to look back and see how much travel I did this year.

In total I’ve done 66 flights taking around 182 hours (7.6 days) and flown around 134,000 kilometers.

Sadly only two of those flights were for leisure.

Where did I get to this year?

Australia

  • Sydney
  • Brisbane
  • Canberra
  • Hobart

New Zealand

  • Wellington
  • Auckland
  • Christchurch

Asia

  • Hong Kong as a gateway to Shenzhen
  • Bangkok
  • Singapore for my holiday

North America

  • Los Angeles
  • Las Vegas

On the upgrade front it’s been a reasonably good year with a number of “free” upgrades to business class both domestically and trans Tasman. Also got a “first class” upgrade on a flight from Los Angeles to Las Vegas but I’d count that as a business class upgrade rather than a first class upgrade. I’ve also got all of the international points upgrades that I’ve requested across a mixture of Premium Economy and Business Class.

My Domestic map looks like

and internationally

Let’s see what next year has in store.

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