Hotel Review: Shangri-La Jakarta

On my recent trip to Indonesia, I had the opportunity to stay at the Shangri-La Jakarta for 7 nights. Our company hosted a multi-day event at the Shangri-La and my colleagues and myself stayed at the Shangri-La for a full week. I expected good service from a Shangri-La but I was absolutely thrilled with the service I received.

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Pool Grounds

Everyone in Jakarta loves to smiles and the Shangri-La is no exception. Everyone: bellhops, wait staff, chefs, front desk, management….all were incredibly warm and inviting. Just like everywhere else in Jakarta, security is tight on site. Taxis are easy to retrieve out front with Silver Bird taxis almost always on standby out front.

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Lobby Bar

The hotel has just about every amenity you need paired with comfortable rooms. You can take a half point off for the slightly dated room decor but to be honest, it didn’t matter one bit to me. The decor is still upmarket and very comfortable. I hear they are renovating many of their rooms, however. For your point addicts, this property participates in the Shangri-La Golden Circle loyalty program.

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Deluxe Room Bath

The location of the hotel is slightly off the main thoroughfares but still very close to all the attractions of Central Jakarta. Traffic is horrendous in this city so always plan to give yourself LOTS of extra time to go anywhere. Fridays are the worst, especially during the afternoon-evening rush!

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Spectacular view of Central Jakarta from my room

With my incredible city views every morning, fresh breakfast in Satoo, and well run event space at Rosso, every day started with a great experience. I only dined in two of the on-site restaurants which included Satoo and Rosso. Both the food and service were fantastic within each. The variety at the buffet in Satoo was incredible!

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Delicious Shangri-La treats at Satoo
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Outside Satoo on the Shangri-La grounds

I highly recommend the Shangri-La for a multitude of reasons. Service is number one in my book and I hope I get to return to Jakarta, just to stay here again.

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My Whirlwind November to Asia: Comparing OneWorld In-Flight Products

Well I’ve been a bit terrible about posting much lately but I’ve had quite the busy travel schedule lately. I traveled to Asia twice in 2 weeks this past month so I feel as if my body is just now back to normal sleep.

I traveled to Jakarta for work for 9 days, returning just before Thanksgiving and then after only 4 days at home, traveled to Tokyo for a short 6 day vacation in the Tokyo area. I actually passed through Tokyo Narita 4 times plus an extra fifth visit due to flight schedule changes.

In total traveling to Asia, I experience the following OneWorld long-haul products:

  • Japan Airlines Premium Economy
  • Japan Airlines Economy
  • American Airlines Business Class
  • American Airlines Economy

Aircraft Flown:

  • AA A321
  • AA MD-80
  • AA 777-200
  • JAL 767-300
  • JAL 777-300ER
JAL 777-300ER Parked at Narita Airport
JAL 777-300ER Parked at Narita Airport

 

Outbound Journey #1: DFW-LAX-NRT-CGK

I flew AA Economy (Main Cabin Extra) from my home at DFW to LAX, connected to JAL Premium Economy (Bulkhead) LAX to NRT, followed by JAL Economy (Bulkhead) NRT to CGK. Premium Economy was not offered on my final leg to Jakarta as it was operated on an older 767.

Return Journey #1: CGK-NRT-ORD-DFW

Returning from Jakarta I flew JAL Economy CGK to NRT, JAL Premium Economy (Bulkhead) NRT to ORD, and finally AA Economy (Main Cabin Extra) ORD to DFW. Premium Economy was offered on my leg from Jakarta to Tokyo, however, it was completely booked when I booked my trip.

Outbound Journey #2: DFW-NRT

This was a nonstop itinerary from DFW to NRT in AA Economy (Main Cabin Extra/Bulkhead) on an older 777-200.

Return Journey #2: NRT-DFW

While this itinerary was changed multiple times due to flight mechanical issues, ultimately, the itinerary was nonstop from NRT to DFW in AA Business Class.

Smile for Global Entry!
Narita Admiral Club – Very traditional but great service!

 

Smile for Global Entry!
Smile for Global Entry!

 

Comparing Products

Your gut reaction of course is to automatically assume that the JAL operated flights were exceptionally better than American Airlines. While in most areas this was true, there were a few ways that American Airlines came out ahead.

Overall on service, JAL was more welcoming but there tends to be a bit of a language barrier for English-speaking passengers. One notable exception was a super sweet flight attendant in Premium Economy on JAL NRT-ORD. The staff in AA Business Class was very chatty and inviting but in Economy, forget it! They would rather not speak to you unfortunately. JAL Economy far exceeds AA Economy for long-haul flights.

In terms of food, JAL was overall better but the AA Business Class breakfast NRT-DFW was a surprise favorite meal. The only thing that I ate truly horrendous was the mid-flight snack on AA in Economy DFW-NRT. It looked like wet cat food on bread!

And in terms of seating, there’s no fair comparison between Business and Economy. But I really loved the JAL Premium Economy Seats. They were an affordable compromise when paying cash for a seat. I sat next to a very large man NRT-ORD on JAL and the Premium Economy seat gave plenty of extra room that I didn’t notice at all. In a standard economy seat, we would have elbow wars the whole flight! I love the foot rest that extends out to be half as good as an angle lie-flat seat.

Here’s a few highlights in “airline gastronomy”:

 

JAL Premium Economy “Udon de Sky” Mid-Flight Snack

 

JAL Premium Economy Ice Cream

 

JAL Premium Economy Lunch LAX-NRT

 

AA’s Disappointing Mid-Flight Snack in Economy DFW-NRT. Or as I remember as the “wet cat food sandwich”

 

AA Business Class Pre-Arrival Breakfast NRT-DFW

 

JAL Premium Economy Pre-Arrival “Brunch” NRT-ORD

 

AA Business Class Starter NRT-DFW

 

AA Business Class Lunch NRT-DFW

 

AA Business Class Ice Cream Sundae NRT to DFW - A Classic!
AA Business Class Ice Cream Sundae NRT to DFW – A Classic!

I had a great couple of trips, even if they left me totally exhausted. I got to experience many different products in a very short time so it was pretty cool!

Share your thoughts in the comments below. Or on Twitter @BenjaminJ84 and @AvionAddiction.

 

Good Morning from LAX: DFW-Las Vegas $96 on AA, June/July Flying Blue Promo Awards Ending Soon

Good morning, readers!

I’m writing you this morning from the Alaska Board Room lounge at LAX. I have to say I quite like this lounge. It’s nothing fancy but it’s quiet, nicely furnished, and comfortable. Plus you can’t go wrong with coffee options at the Alaska lounges.

For those of you who are D/FW based like me, be sure to take a peek at this cheap last minute deal on American to Las Vegas, courtesy of the folks at The Flight Deal. Only $96 R/T all in!

I’ve been quite busy this week finalizing my summer travel plans including spending some time in France and Germany. I’m looking forward to visiting a few regions that I haven’t visited quite yet. I made some final adjustments to my return journey by booking a Air France/KLM Promo Award on Air France in Business Class at 50% off! Now is the time to book promo awards for June and July travel to/from Europe. I snagged a one-way in Business from Frankfurt to Minneapolis for only 31,250 Flying Blue miles!

Promotion is available in either direction to/from Europe. As the Promo Award space sells out, some of the routes have disappeared. But here’s what still bookable through 4/30/2015 for North America:

  • Europe to/from Atlanta, Air France Business Class, 25% off
  • Europe to/from Edmonton, KLM World Business Class, 50% off
  • Europe to/from Miami, Air France Premium Economy, 25% off
  • Europe to/from Minneapolis, Air France Business Class, 50% off

Come May 1st, destinations for August/September travel will become available with new promotions.

As always, keep up to date by following me on Twitter and Facebook: @AvionAddiciton/Avion Addiction or on Twitter @BenjaminJ84

 

Trip Report: Cathay Pacific 777 Regional Business Class, Hong Kong to Taipei

Cathay Pacific is well renowned for it’s exceptional in-flight service and it’s short haul regional service is no exception!

On a recent trip to Hong Kong, we took a side trip to Taipei, redeeming 36,000 Avios and roughly $70 in taxes for round-trip Business Class on Cathay Pacific. This was one of my best redemptions using Avios on partner travel. This redemption is within Zone 1 of the BA award chart so it should remain intact with the negative changes to Avios redemptions that take effect on April 28,2015.

Outbound: HKG to TPE

While the flight is just under 2 hours from Hong Kong to Taipei, you can look forward to a robust Cathay Pacific experience. We arrived quite early to HKG to spend some time in the lounge. Since we were at Gate 31, we opted for The Bridge lounge near Gate 35. We’d intended to visit The Wing but got didn’t get around to it. The entrance to The Bridge is impressive and the staff was very kind. There are two side to the lounge and we opted for the left hand side first. The views from the lounge are perfect for avgeeks with great views of the tarmac. The lounge was fairly empty on this side of the lounge which I enjoyed. The decor is very stylish and the seating quite comfortable. And I can always appreciate a sparkling clean restroom!

Hands down, Cathay Pacific lounges at HKG have the best lounge food. There was a buffet of lunch items, both Cantonese and Western. The dumplings were quite good and the selection was great. You must try the signature XO sauce! The bar on this side of the lounge was self service.

The Bridge - HKG
The Bridge – HKG
The Bridge - HKG
The Bridge – HKG

We left the lounge briefly to do some quick shopping and returned to The Bridge. This time we turned to the right hand side of the lounge which was much more crowded than the other side but not terrible. The bar on this side is staffed and you have similar food options.

HKG Boarding
HKG Boarding

We headed to the gate about 30 minutes before departure time and our 777-200 began boarding about 5 minutes later. The flight was not very full in economy or business so we only used one jetway. We were seated in 15H & 15K and pre-departure service began right away. We were brought options of champagne, orange juice, and coconut juice. I went classic and stuck with champagne. Seats are somewhat of a hybrid between a recliner and angle lie-flat. The seats were quite comfortable for a short-haul flight. They are certainly more comfortable than most U.S. domestic first class seats.

Regional Business Class "Hybird" Angle Lie-Flats
Regional Business Class “Hybird” Angle Lie-Flats

There were only 6 people in business class so we received quite a bit of attention from the flight attendants. Menus were brought before takeoff and our selections made as soon we hit 10,000 feet. Due to the short flight, meals were served right away but without feeling rushed. Our lunch consisted of fresh fruit, roastfchicken served over root vegetables, polenta, and a chocolate mousse cake. The meal was excellent (for airline food) and the service was attentive.

Lunch Presentation
Lunch Presentation

As we completed our meals, our trays were prompty cleared although I had plenty of time to enjoy a second glass of champagne before final approach. We arrived at Taipei Taoyuan right on schedule and said goodbye to the friendly crew. Our flight was continuing on to Fukuoka but everyone had to deplane for transit or to pass through customs. Customs was initially slow until additional lanes were opened and were were on our way. We were head to the Taiwan HSR but I didn’t particularly enjoy the long bus ride to the rail station. Transit time to the center of Taipei including bus transfers was about an hour.

Return: TPE to HKG

With a 7:00 AM departure, we had to wake up quite early for our departure. Early morning departures are definitely not my favorite. We opted for a taxi to the airport and after using the hotel staff to translate for our taxi driver, we were on our way. This early in the morning, we were quick to the airport, taking only 20 minutes. We headed straight to the Cathay Pacific lounge which was hidden down a passageway but there was plenty of signage. There was a bit of construction going on nearby. This time were given paper lounge passes instead of just showing our boarding passes on our phones. Although I’m sure either would be acceptable.

There is no comparison to the lounge in Taipei to the lounges at HKG. Still, the lounge was tidy and uncrowded. The food selection was mediocre with a small selection of pastries and dumplings. The washrooms were a bit small but clean.

Cathay Pacific Lounge - TPE
Cathay Pacific Lounge – TPE

We headed to the boarding gate about 30 minutes before departure time but boarding had already started. Economy was pretty full but business class was only about half full. We boarded through 2 jetways this time and took our seats on the opposite side of the plane in 14A & 14C. This time we were on a 777-300 which featured a landing gear camera which was a cool entertainment feature.

Front View of Regional Business Class Seats
Front View of Regional Business Class Seats

Pre-departure beverages were offered immediately although no coconut juice this time. I skipped the champagne and stuck with orange juice. 7:00 AM is a bit early for me for champagne. Menus were handed out although there was only one option for breakfast. Once we were airborne, breakfast was served which consisted of fruit, miniature omelettes, sausage, potatoes, and a croissant. It was basic but good for airline food. I paired it with a Hong Kong milk tea which was quite good. Turns out it was powdered Lipton tea served with hot milk and the sweet flight attendant snuck me a few packets of tea to take with me!

Breakfast Presentation
Breakfast Presentation

Serving carts were used on this flight but they weren’t used on our outbound flight. Presentation is always nice when the cart isn’t used but it really doesn’t matter to me. Trays and cups were collected more promptly on this landing so I didn’t get to finish my second cup of tea. We landed right on time into Hong Kong and arrived directly at the jetway. We were connecting onto Delta back to the U.S. in a couple of hours so we had to clear customs and pick up our checked bags. This left us unable to return to The Bridge or any of the other post-security lounges. We did receive passes to The Arrival lounge which was near the ticketing counters, pre-security so after re-checking our bags onto Delta, we headed to The Arrival. When we walked in, I couldn’t quite believe how small the lounge was! There wasn’t even a washroom in the lounge, just a few desks, a self-serve bar, and some snacks. There are showers available but no toilets so you must leave the lounge.

While you can’t expect to receive multi-course meals on short haul flights with Cathay Pacific,you can expect to receive attentive service, quality meals, and a comfortable seat. It was hard to adjust to flying Delta back to the U.S. after such a pleasant trip with Cathay Pacific around the region. I was quite pleased with the value of my redemption with BA Avios!