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 was Beijing in general.

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.

Chow, Wellington, New Zealand

I was in Wellington with several colleagues today and we decided that we’d give Chow on Woodward St a try for lunch – my colleagues had both been there before and said they liked it. They usually have good taste in food, so I believed them.

We got there around half eleven, I think we were the first people in for lunch.

We ordered several dishes to share, from memory

  • Red Duck Curry
  • Teriyaki Squid
  • Beef Satay
  • side of Asian Greens
  • Pork and Shitake Mushroom Dumplings
  • Jasmine rice

Let’s get the good dishes out of the way first. The Beef Satay and Asian Greens were very good. Its a pity we didn’t order more of those dishes as I’d have probably left satisfied if that’s all I’d eaten.

But, unfortunately that’s where the goodness ended.

The Pork and Shitake Mushroom Dumplings had little to no flavor at all and were completely forgettable.

The Red Duck Curry was atrocious. Too sweet and way too much coconut milk! I love my curries but could hardly eat this dish and gave up after one spoonful.

The Teriyaki Squid just had no flavor and was rubbery – we should have tried the Salt and Pepper Squid as it could only have been better.

My colleagues were shocked at how the quality and edibility of the food had fallen since they last ate there.

In all, 3 people who won’t be going back to Chow again.

InterContinental Grand Stanford, Hong Kong

I was in Hong Kong for a week for a well deserved holiday and one of the perks of working for who I work for is being able to use the corporate hotel rates, and perks, when on holidays.

I hadn’t been to Hong Kong for 6 years and wanted to stay on the Kowloon side of the harbour. Luckily the InterContinental Grand Stanford in is Tsim Sha Tsui East, just a quick walk from the Tsim Sha Tsui East and Tsim Sha Tsui MTR stations and the Star Ferry.

The room was spacious and well appointed and had excellent air conditioning (which was needed due to the hot and humid weather in Hong Kong this time of the year). The bed and pillows were superb and I had no problems with getting a good sleep.

I was lucky enough to score a harbour view room that allowed me to look to the Wan Chai and Central areas on Hong Kong Island.

The buffet breakfast was good value offering a mix of western and Chinese options.

A very nice hotel – would stay here again.

Stamford Plaza, Adelaide, Australia

Do you ever have that sense of foreboding when you turn up at a hotel? Sometimes its just the fear of the unknown and the upcoming adventure then everything turns out fine… Then there’s the other times. This is one of those times!

I guess I’ve just been spoiled by the first class, luxury hotels I’ve stayed at for the past 5 years. So when you end up in a supposedly decent hotel, and you get a room that only has two single beds and looks like it was last refurbed in the 80s, including a cork bulletin board in the room (wtf were these people thinking!) I get a tad disappointed.

The location is great, just across from Parliament House and a 5 minute walk from the casino (if that’s your poison).

The lifts are a shocker… slooooow… some up/down indicators don’t work, nor do some of the visual floor numbers. Apparently they are being fixed at the moment, or so the notice on the in-room cork bulletin board said… I only hope I wasn’t using the recently done up lift… if I was then there’s something majorly wrong!

Room was quite small, and felt cramped. One of the smallest rooms I’ve been in years. Certainly not the room size you would expect from a supposedly “deluxe” hotel… it was more motel room sized.

The bathroom was ok in size, but I get the feeling that it was only half refurbed when it was last done up. The vanity area was actually a nice, modern wooden unit, but the bath/shower looked very, very dated and had chunks missing like something heavy had been dropped in it.

TV was an old clunker of probably mid/late 90s vintage… none of those pesky flat screen plasma or LCD TVs that most hotels now offer.

All the time I was in my room, the InterContinental across the road was mocking my hotel decision. I checked our corporate hotel directory but the InterContinental just wasn’t on the list, so I just had to look out my uncleaned window and think of nirvana just a short walk away.

Will I be staying at the Stamford Plaza again??? Not if I can help it!