Hotel Review: Hyatt Place Yerevan

Hyatt Place Yerevan

Elite Status: Hyatt Globalist

Hyatt Place Yerevan is a 4-star Category-2 Hyatt limited service property centrally located in Yerevan’s Republic Square. The 8-story building is a standard Hyatt Place, with a very solid breakfast.

I spent one night here using points, paying 8,000 Hyatt points.

Check In/Check Out

Check in was a little bit delayed, because they were having some trouble coding the card, but beyond that, standard brisk check in and check out.

Hyatt Place Yerevan

Room

As a Globalist, I got a standard King room, but on a high floor. It didn’t have views, since it looked into the building opposite the Hyatt Place.

The room is of a good size, with a large sectional couch by one wall, and a large King bed. There’s a long work desk by the wall, wardrobe with safe/ironing board, and a mini-fridge as well.

While welcoming elite members is not the standard procedure, Hyatt Place Yerevan actually delivered a small platter of cheese, honey and bread sticks, along with a bottle of wine. The gift was appreciated.

Hyatt Place Yerevan

Bathroom

Hyatt Place Yerevan

The bathroom is a bit small, but they packed in a lot – single sink vanity, and a tub with shower.

They stock Barney Kenet MD products, which is okay.

Hyatt Place Yerevan

Hyatt Place Yerevan

Food

The breakfast is a surprisingly good spread. They have an egg chef who made cooked-to-order eggs. The breakfast area was also well-stocked with breakfast pastries, fruit, and there were several hot selections as well.

Hyatt Place Yerevan

Service

Friendly and professional.

Amenities

There’s a 24hr gym on site on the second level, but I didn’t check it out.

Overall

Hyatt Place Yerevan’s location works both ways. Its Republic Square location makes it excellent, but when I stayed, there was some construction. The windows are also not completely soundproof against the festivities that might occur in Republic Square. The property is very much a standard Hyatt Place, but it has good breakfast, and goes beyond for elite recognition.

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Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Baku

Hyatt Regency Baku

Elite Status: Hyatt Globalist

Hyatt Regency Baku is a 5-star category 3 Hyatt property that is located some 3 miles from downtown Baku. The grounds of the property are lovely, and they have the most amazing service staff there.

I spent two nights here on a cash rate.

Hyatt Regency Baku

Check In/Check Out

Both check in and check out was fast. I also requested a 4pm check out, and that was honored with no issues.

Hyatt Regency Baku

Room

I was upgraded to a lovely Regency Suite, which is generously-sized. Upon entry, there is a guest bathroom to the right, and a closet. Beyond the entryway is a living room with a 5-seater sofa and a large coffee table. There’s also a four-seater rectangular dining set. Atop a little console are coffee/tea-making amenities.

Hyatt Regency Baku

The bedroom is of a good size, with the king-sized bed in the middle. There’s a work desk and lounge chair by the window, and a mini-fridge by the TV console.

Hyatt Regency Baku

There are power outlets by the bed, and the wifi is decent.

Additionally, I also received a welcome amenity of a box of chocolates and a bowl of fruit.

Hyatt Regency Baku

Hyatt Regency Baku

Bathroom

Hyatt Regency Baku

The large bathroom has a double-sink vanity, toilet, bidet, tub, and shower.

Hyatt Regency Baku

They stock Portico amenities, which is fine by me.

Hyatt Regency Baku

Food

Breakfast for globalists is served in their ground floor restaurant, and the spread is generous. They have an egg station, and at least six hot options. Their pastries selection is also amazing. More incredibly, the hotel actually has a section for special dietary needs, e.g. diabetic, gluten-free, etc.

Hyatt Regency Baku

Their outdoor terrace is really lovely.

Hyatt Regency Baku

Service

The service in this hotel is outstanding. Ms Aziza at breakfast gave suggestions of a local egg dish to try at breakfast, and I’m glad I took her suggestion. Mr. Nizami at the club lounge also provided really attentive service.

Club Lounge

Located on the 7th floor, the club lounge has evening cocktail service from 6 to 8. They serve an excellent array of canapés. The double-story lounge is also a lovely space to sit in.

Hyatt Regency Baku

Amenities

They have a lovely lap pool, and a large gym.

Hyatt Regency Baku

Overall

Although Hyatt Regency Baku is located some ways from most tourist sites, it has a lot going for it. It has lovely grounds featuring a garden, excellent pool and gym, and above all, they have amazing staff.

Hotel Review: Nish Palas Istanbul

Nish Palas Istanbul
Elite Status: Hyatt Globalist

Nish Palas Istanbul is part of the Unbound Collection in the Hyatt portfolio. Located in Nisantasi district, it is a category-2 Hyatt hotel with just 45 rooms. I spent one night here on a long Istanbul layover using 8000 Hyatt points, and liked the boutique-hotel feel of Nish Palas Istanbul.

Check In/Check Out

I showed up at around noon, but was checked in immediately and given a room.

Check out was fast as well.

Nish Palas Istanbul

Room

As a Hyatt Globalist, I was upgraded to a View room, which is a corner room with some views of the Bosphorous and the surrounding area. The room is quite lovely, with a small sofa set by the window, and a beautiful wood console by the wall with a Nespresso machine, excellent tea selection, and a well-stocked mini-fridge.

Nish Palas Istanbul

Nish Palas Istanbul

Nish Palas Istanbul

The King bed is quite unique, as it has built-in room controls by the headboard, so you can flick the master switch on the headboard. There are power outlets by the bedside, and I appreciated their special charging cord by the bed with all charging outlets imaginable. The wifi worked well.

Nish Palas Istanbul

Nish Palas Istanbul

Bathroom

The bathroom is on the smaller side of things, but is beautiful with dark marble accents. It has a shower stall with a rain shower and hand wand, and a single-sink vanity.

Nish Palas Istanbul

Nish Palas Istanbul

They feature their house-branded shower amenities, namely Nish Palace. I thought it was fine.

Nish Palas Istanbul

Food

Breakfast is served from 7-10 am at their ground floor restaurant Glens, although when I rolled down at 7 am, they informed me that they will only be ready at 7.30.

Nish Palas Istanbul

The breakfast was very continental, i.e. cereals, pastries. Although the selection was limited, the croissants were nice, and the orange juice was very fresh. They didn’t have lattes when I asked, but they did have a tea.

Nish Palas Istanbul

Service

Friendly and efficient.

Amenities

According to their booklet, they can direct you to a gym nearby. I didn’t enquire. They do have an inhouse spa/hamman, but I didn’t try.

Overall

This is my first stay in an Unbound Collection property. I really liked the boutique hotel experience. The Nish Palas Istanbul is almost like a regular apartment in a nice Istanbul neighborhood, and the unique touches in the room made for a memorable stay. The Nisantasi neighborhood is very lovely, with lots of shops, cafes, restaurants. It is also within walking distance to Taksim, and just a 10 min walk to Osmanbey metro station. I recommend staying here to experience a different part of Istanbul.

The Timeless Elegance of Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Elite Status: Hyatt Globalist

The Park Hyatt Zanzibar a 5-star category 5 Hyatt property located in Stonetown, Zanzibar, and is a short, 20 min walk from the ferry terminal. The property consists of two main buildings, an old wing, and a new wing; linking the two wings is a courtyard with a huge mango tree that’s a 400 years old. There’s also a third building with the gym and locker room.

The old wing is a UNESCO heritage building, and has very unique architecture. There are also some rooms, although I didn’t ask to see if the rooms looked any different. I was assigned a room in the new wing, which also houses their lounge and restaurant. This beautiful, white property by the beach has gorgeous terraces with glorious sunset views, and an infinity pool that creates the illusion that you’re adjacent to the ocean.

I stayed here for two nights using cash & points (20,000 WoH points + 250 USD)

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Check In/Check Out

Pretty fast. They went through the formality, whereby the property manager came out to welcome elite guests. I am not sure how I feel about this – I am an extreme introvert and get awkward very easily.

Check out was fast, no problems with the bill.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Room

I was upgraded to a beautiful suite in the second level of the new building. The suite is one of the largest suites I’ve stayed in. Upon entry, there’s a guest bathroom to the right, and a long entryway with a work desk.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

To the right, is the living room area, which has a console for coffee/tea. They supply an Illy machine, along with a mini-fridge. They also stock water in large glass bottles, which are replenished daily. The living room has an oversized sofa set, a small dining table, and a lounge chair. On the coffee table, there were a few jars of snacks (nuts, dates, cookies), and on the dining table, there was some fruit. During evening turndown service, a small slice of cheesecake was also left in the room.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

The bedroom and bathroom are to the left. The bedroom features a large King-sized four-poster bed with a mosquito net. There’s also a small dining table and another lounge chair. There’s also a good-sized balcony with views of the sea, and a table and some chairs for sitting outside.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

It’s actually hard to describe, a lot of Park Hyatt Zanzibar’s charm is in the details. For instance, the trunk by the bed had the most beautiful wood carving; the decorative lamps hanging in the bedroom were gorgeous, and the artwork was in the room was easy on the eyes.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Bathroom

The bathroom is open-concept, and features a single sink, bathtub; the toilet and rain shower are enclosed within the bathroom. It’s possible to open the wooden sliding doors of the bathroom, and soak in the tub while looking at the bedroom.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

They stock Inaya Zanzibar toiletries in larger glass bottles. The bath products were excellent.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Food

Breakfast is complimentary for globalist guests, and was served from 6.30 – 10.30. The service was excellent, as was the food. There was a nice variety of high quality food, which rotated a little during my two-night stay here. Their juices are amazing.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

There’s also made-to-order eggs, waffles, and crepes. There’s also a special cocktail hour from 6-8 pm on Friday for “invited guests” (no idea what that means – I did get an invite), but I didn’t attend.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Service

Service was impeccable. In my experience, Park Hyatt service is based on anticipating needs, and personalized service. They started remembering my preferences by the second day.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

Amenities

There is a beautiful infinity pool that seems to meld into the sea. The temperature of the pool is also perfect.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

The gym is on the small side of things, but 24hr using key card access, and has everything you might need for a work out.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

The changing room was surprisingly ratty, though. I probably caught the cleaning staff in an off moment.

Overall

This hotel is an architectural stunner. The rooms are also beautiful with a certain understated elegance. The suite is one of the largest I’ve stayed in. Service was for the most part flawless. The Park Hyatt Zanzibar is definitely entering my books as one of my favorite hotels.

Park Hyatt Zanzibar

For the full set of pictures, please click here.

Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Elite Status: Hyatt Globalist

Located close to the ferry terminal and in downtown, I had a great stay in this beautiful hotel. Although there was some construction going on during my stay, the disruption was very minimal (if any).

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Check In/Check Out

Check in was quick, which was appreciated, because I was pooped after arriving at close to 10pm.

Check out was a tad slower, because the front desk agent didn’t know how to process cash and points. Also, the stay didn’t post automatically on my Hyatt account.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Room

I was upgraded to a suite on the 7th floor. Upon entry, there’s a guest bathroom to the left with toilet and sink, and a mini kitchen to the right, with coffee/tea making amenities, and a mini fridge. A Nespresso machine was provided.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

The entryway opens to a gorgeous living room with a balcony furnished with a table and chair. I wasn’t able to open the balcony door. The living room has a chaise lounge, and a sofa, with a large coffee table as the centerpiece. There is also a foldout work desk on the dark wood cabinets in the living room. There was a welcome amenity of fruit on the coffee table.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

The bedroom features a comfortable King bed and another chaise lounge. There are universal power outlets by both sides of the bed, and USB ports as well. This was much appreciated.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Bathroom

The main bathroom is accessed from the bedroom, and has two doors. It features a beautiful marble floor, double vanities on opposite ends of the bathroom, with a tub in the middle of the room. There’s also a wall of closets, with strangely, a mini fridge. There’s an enclosed rain shower, and enclosed toilet.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

The bathroom is stocked with Moooi bath products in refillable bottles. It was decent.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Food

I had a complimentary breakfast, which was served at the restaurant on the ground floor. It was served from 6.30 – 1030.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

The breakfast selection was of a high quality. They even served coconut juice in a whole coconut. There were made-to-order eggs.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

Club Lounge

There is a club lounge advertised on the website, but I am guessing that it’s under construction. I didn’t find it when I went on a mini exploration trip.

Amenities

They have a gym and pool on site, but I didn’t visit either of those.

Overall

The Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam is a beautiful hotel, and its location close to the ferry terminal worked for me. Their entry-level suites are also gorgeous.

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam

I Think I May Have Peaked: The Day of Upgrades, 29 August 2018

Malawian Airlines

Today started out as a regular travel day, which then turned epic, as I was given a couple of very nice surprises. My travel plans involved flying from South Africa to Tanzania, and the cheapest flight was $150 on Air Ethiopia (actually operated by Malawian Airlines) with a stopover in Blantyre, Malawi.

The day started off normal enough. I went to the Ethiopian Airlines counter, only to be told to check in at the Malawian Airlines counter, and ended up on a very full flight.

Then, those of us who were flying on to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania were gathered, and corralled into the transit waiting lounge at the small Blantyre airport, to wait for our flight to Tanzania. Nothing much to report, it was just a small room, but I spent my time writing.

As it turns out, our flight to Dar Es Salaam was oversold. About 15 mins before boarding, I heard one of the airport staff call my name. He asked for my boarding pass, and gave me a new boarding pass for business class. I had gotten an op-up (explained below)! Granted, it was for a short flight on a Q400, but I was still elated.

To top off my day, when I arrived at the Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam, after giving me my keys, the front desk agent casually mentioned that I had been upgraded to a suite as I was walking away. Talk about a great day.

What is an op-up?

Op-up is a short for operational upgrade. Airlines have revenue management software, which helps them predict and manage inventory. Airlines often overbook their inventory, predicting that some customers will not show up for their flights (no shows). However, from time to time (or more often these days), everyone shows up, and suddenly the airline has a problem. Airlines often have some buffer in other classes, e.g. first class, business class, or premium economy seats available. In these instances, they will bump up economy passengers into other classes, so everyone who bought a ticket will still get on the plane.

Different airlines process operational upgrades differently. There are forum (plural?) dedicated to speculating how this system works. Usually, having elite status of some sort helps, but based on my personal experience, being lucky really helps. (And this is coming from someone who is not particularly lucky).

So, why was I so ludicrously excited over this? Prior to this last month, I have NEVER gotten an op-up. I am an Alaska Airlines MVP Gold, Delta Platinum Medallion (Skyteam Plus), American Airlines Executive Platinum (OneWorld Emerald), and Turkish Airlines Elite (Star Alliance Gold), and have gotten elite-based upgrades on Alaska, Delta, and American. But despite all my shiny statuses, I have never gotten an op-up. To rub salt to the wound, several of my friends and family members have gotten op-up, even with a complete lack of flying status, which goes to show the importance of luck. Sometimes, airlines are looking for a specific number of people to op-up, e.g. four, so a party of four travelers might be upgraded together.

In any case, I guess the stars aligned for me this month. In both the British Airways and Ethiopian Airlines (Malawian Airlines) flights that I have gotten an op-up this month, they were overbooked in economy by one, and as luck would have it, I probably had the highest elite status. While I have no elite status with the operating airline, I probably did have the highest partner elite status.

Excuse me, while I go buy some lottery tickets.

Reviews

Malawian Airlines: Johannesburg to Blantyre (JNB – BLZ), sold as Ethiopian Airlines 21 ET21 Economy Class

Malawian Airlines: Blantyre – Dar Es Salaam (BLZ – DAR), sold as Ethiopian Airlines 42 ET 42 Business Class

Hyatt Regency Dar Es Salaam Regency Suite

Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg is a 5-star Hyatt category 2 property, located close to the Rosebank Gautrain station, and attached to the Rosebank Mall. I stayed here thrice, once for four nights, with two other one-night stays. I paid for the four nights using points+cash (4000 Hyatt points + 660 Rand per night), and paid for the two one-night stays with points (8000 Hyatt points)

Elite Status: Hyatt Globalist

Check In/Check Out

Check in and check out was always fast. I was impressed that the hotel actually read my stated check in preference. In my first stay, I requested a super early check in (7 am), and they actually prepared a room for my early arrival.

Check out was fast and painless.

Room

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Suite

As a Hyatt Globalist, I was upgraded to a suite on my four-night stay. The hotel is boomerang-shaped, with its suites located at the curvature of the hotel. Hence, the suites have an interesting shape.

Upon entry, there’s a long cabinet with tea/coffee making amenities, including a Nespresso machine. They also stocked two large bottles of water, which was replenished daily.

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

The living room is triangular in shape, with a five-piece sofa set, coffee table, and a work desk by the wall. There’re also floor-to-ceiling windows, and a lounge chair, making it the perfect spot for reading.

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

The bedroom is behind the double-doors, and feature a comfortable King bed, and yet another lounge chair. There’re also a couple of cabinets, in addition to the wardrobe.

They also left a mini amenity of jars of candy on the living room coffee table, along with a welcome note, which I enjoyed immensely.

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Club Room

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

I was assigned club rooms for my other two one-night stays. Located on the 8th floor, these rooms were of a good size, with a large king bed and a work desk. There’s also a lounge chair.

Power and wifi

There is one universal power outlet located by the work desk area. No special outlets by the bedside. The wifi was decent throughout my stay.

Bathroom

Suite Bathroom

Its entrance is located in the bedroom. It’s split into two. Upon entry is a single sink vanity area, with another door leading to the shower/toilet area. The shower/toilet area consists of a tub, separate rain shower, and toilet. The bathroom was very spacious.

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

They use Just So bath amenities, and in the suites, they use those large reusable dispensing bottles. I was not a fan of their shower product (dried out my hair), and didn’t particularly like the scent of their shower foam, but I used it anyway.

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Club Bathroom

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Decent-sized bathroom, features a single vanity, tub, and enclosed rain shower. They stock travel-sized Just So bath amenities.

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Food

I mostly ate at the lounge. The food was decent, and they rotated the food fairly often.

Service

Housekeeping was insane (in a good way). I left my sleeping clothes lying around, and when I returned, it had all been folded neatly, and placed on a bench. The next day, I tried to be more mindful to reduce the work of housekeeping, but somehow, I forgot my pajama bottoms, and once again, it was folded.

Club Lounge

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

The club lounge is located on the 8th floor, and features double-storied high ceilings and views of the surrounding area.

Open from 6.30 – 10 pm, it has a continental breakfast service from 6.30 – 10.30 am and cocktail service from 6 pm – 8 pm. The continental breakfast was decent, if lacking in variety. The cocktail service had rotating canapés. I think I went there about 5 times, and I never saw a repeat.

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Amenities

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

There’s a 24 hr gym and a swimming pool on site (not sure about hours of the swimming pool). The gym is an okay size, with three treadmills, couple of ellipticals, and some bikes. There’s also a rowing machine, weights, etc. The equipment is well-maintained. They also supply water and bananas (if the latter doesn’t run out).

Hyatt Regency Johannesburg

Overall

I had an excellent stay at the Hyatt Regency Johannesburg. It has an excellent location, and it runs like a well-oiled machine. I highly recommend checking out Hyatt Regency Johannesburg if you happen to visit South Africa.