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.

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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

Flight Review: Business Class on Malawian Airlines from Blantyre to Dar Es Salaam (BLZ-DAR), ET 42

Malawian Airlines

Route: BLZ – DAR (Blantyre – Dar Es Salaam)
Air craft: Q400
Seat: 2J
Flight time: 2 hrs

Although this is operated by Malawian Airlines, I booked it as an Ethiopian Airlines. I was booked in economy, but got a gate upgrade to business class.

There are 7 seats in business class on Malawian Airlines Q400 from Blantyre to Dar Es Salaam, with 3 single, business class seats (1-3 A) seats, and 2 sets of two seats (rows 2 and 3, seats J & L; J is aisle, L is window). There is one very small lavatory for business class right at the front.

Malawian Airlines

As a Q400, there is very limited cabin space. Although there were only 5 passengers in business class, cabin space filled up quickly. As I had a bulkhead seat, I had to find stowage for my two bags (one carry-on and a “laptop” bag).

I was assigned Seat 2J. Seat 2J is actually a bulkhead seat, so I had plenty of legroom. The leather seat is basically the same as comparable Q400 flights, meaning, it is comparable to US domestic first class seats on older aircraft, or the same seats as my Premium Economy flight on Aerolineas Argentina two years ago.

Malawian Airlines

After take off, the flight attendant came around to take dinner and drink orders. She served drinks first, before plating up dinner individually. Choice was either chicken or beef. The cabin was pretty tight, she actually plated up the food on seat 1A. The food actually looked the same as the food in economy, but served in real plates. I opted for the chicken this time.

Malawian Airlines

Overall

I probably wouldn’t pay extra to fly business class. The economy seats are tighter, but I’m a small person, so it makes no difference to me. But thanks for the upgrade anyways!

To the Islands: Guam, Palau, Tokyo – the Non-Survivor Edition, 29 Jan – 07 Feb 2017

Palau

I’ve actually never watched Survivor, but Palau is on my list, because it’s a miles&points redemption dream. It’s one of those places that’s so close (~2000 miles from Singapore as the crow flies), yet so expensive (over 1000 USD) and hard to get to (multiple stops).

Enter United miles. Palau is in the same region as Japan and Korea, making it a cheap redemption (12,500 miles one way for economy saver). It’s not often that one can get over 500 usd for a 12,500 mile redemption. Ok, in reality I paid 50,000 United miles because while waiting for my friend to confirm, economy saver availability went away, and I ended up taking business class saver one way, and economy standard the other way.

Anyway, here goes my island-hopping itinerary!

29 January 2017: Singapore to Haneda (on Japan Airlines Business Class redeye for 25,000 Alaska Miles)

30 January 2017: Narita to Guam (on United Airlines Business class, priced as a free stopover, 25,000 miles)

31 January 2017: Guam

01 February 2017: Guam to Palau (on United Airlines Business class)

02 February 2017: Palau

03 February 2017: Palau

04 February 2017: Palau to Narita (redeye, United Airlines)

05 February 2017: Tokyo

06 February 2017: Tokyo

07 February 2017: Tokyo – Singapore (Delta, I paid for it, and got 5,000 Alaska miles from the flight)

Hotel Review: Hyatt Centric Montevideo, 11 July 2016

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

We spent one night in July 2016 at this property, and had an excellent stay. The deco of the property is fresh, and we were also treated well as diamond members.

Pre-Check In Communications
The Hyatt Centric was proactive in their communications. On the last minute, I decided I wanted a shuttle from the port to the hotel, given that the hotel is some ways from the port, and we arrived after dark. Arranging transport last minute was quick and painless, and our driver was there as promised. It was 27 USD (925 UYU) for the 20 min ride from the port to the hotel in Pocitos, and they supplied a Mercedes (the alternative is BMW).

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Check In/Check Out
Not as quick, but still painless. When I arrived, the Director of Operations came out and introduced himself and thanked us for being diamond members, while the FD did our check in.

Check out was quick, no problems with the bill.

We booked the Pre-Opening rate, which includes breakfast at the lobby restaurant, but the FD encouraged us to eat at the Club Lounge on the 13th floor instead. We had to inquire about the times of service at the lounge for breakfast (printing it on the card like a regular HR would have been helpful).

Although we opted for points, we found a welcome amenity in our room. It consisted of a bottle of Uruguayan red wine, six macaroons, and some fruit. There was also a personalized welcome note from the Director of Operations.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Room
We booked a regular King room, but were upgraded to a Club King with River View on the 10th floor. It’s 49 sq m, and contemporary in design, with three distinct areas.

Sleeping/work areaThis area is carpeted, and the King room is in the middle of the room. The decor is very Room & Board, with hanging lamps, and fabric headboards. The bedside tables are generously-sized, and they also have USB chargers by the wall for your electronic devices. The TV faces the bed.

The work desk is a little bit small, has a work lamp (not adjustable), and power plugs. There’s also a little booklet with things to do, and room service, on a very hipster clipboard.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Lounging
This area is hardwood, and there’s a floor-to-ceiling window featuring view of the river. Part of the view was obscured by a room to the right of the room, so you can peep into the living area of another hotel guest.

There’s a nice fabric sofa, table, and an extra fabric armchair. Our welcome amenity was on the table. There’s also a cabinet facing the sofa, which contains the fridge (really cold!), an electric kettle, and an Illy coffee machine.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Bathroom
This area is tiled, and in the form of a long rectangle. The bathroom has a rather open concept, but you can close it off with two barn-style doors, one accessed from the bedroom area, and one from the entryway. The toilet/bidet can be closed (but not locked), and there’s a walk-in shower with rain shower and wand.

The sink and dresser is pretty long. There’s a actually a chair if you want to sit at the dresser, with amenities like cottonwool.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Club Lounge
On the top floor of the hotel (13th), it’s decently-sized, and offers a great view of the River.

We only went during hors d’oeuvres and breakfast service, so I’m not sure if it’s open throughout the day. Both services are hosted. It’s slightly odd that the hosts ask for my room number only after I’ve taken my food.

The hors d’oeuvres has no hot option, but quite a bit of complimentary alcohol. There are several desserts, one salad option, breads, cheeses, olives, etc.

The breakfast selection is continental. I found the pastry to be on the hard side of things, and I prefer my pastries to be warm and flaky.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Service
Friendly and efficient.

Wifi
Fast

Food and beverage
On the expensive side of things (over 900 UYU for a room service hamburger). We ended up walking a little to a sushi place 6 mins walk from the hotel for our dinner.

Overall
This is a lovely property. I love the design of the hotel, and they obviously did a good job getting it ready – I couldn’t tell that it just opened one month ago. I’d return to this property in a heartbeat if I’m in Montevideo again.

Hyatt Centric Montevideo

Sao Paulo, Brazil to Buenos Aires, Argentina: Have Some Change in Your Wallet for Argentina!, 09 July 2016

Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport Terminal 3 Star Alliance Lounge

Another travel day for us, but not a particularly terrible one. Our flight from Brazil to Argentina is in the evening, so we got to sleep in and take advantage of a late check out (Hyatt lets Diamond members check out at 4 pm). We hopped onto an Uber at 2 pm, and arrived at to the Sao Paulo International Airport in good time at 3 pm for our 6 pm flight to Buenos Aires.

The airport lounge was ok (separate review). I was trying not to stuff up on too much food in anticipation of the reportedly excellent food on Turkish Airlines (bad mistake). While the food on Turkish wasn’t great, we did like their business class product. For anyone who wants to try it, they were offering one way upgrades for 249 USD for the leg from Sao Paulo to Buenos Aires.

TK 15 Turkish Airlines Business Class Sao Paulo - Buenos Aires (GRU - EZE)

Getting from the Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires to town itself proved more challenging than we anticipated. I was expecting to be able to change some money at the airport, but there was only one cambio within the secured area, which was closed by the time we arrived (!!!). We tried to get an uber, but there weren’t any cars near the airport. A big placard by the taxi companies about how much they hate Uber also wasn’t exactly encouraging for potential consumers.

In the end, after bumbling around the airport for way longer than anyone really should, we ended up paying for a fixed price taxi from the airport to town. It was 47 USD for the 20 mile journey (~40 min). The taxi booth doesn’t take credit cards – cash only. USD works as well.

Thankfully, the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires is quite an oasis. We were very grateful once we hit our suite and could recover from the travel day. I must be getting old – I actually need to recover from travel days, no matter how luxurious.

Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Boston, 19 Feb 2016

Hyatt Regency Boston

The Hyatt Regency Boston is a four-star hotel, that is centrally-located in the Theater District, and a short walk (~10 min) from South Station, so it’s a convenient hotel to get to from the airport.

They have updated the property in the last year or so, so their rooms have a modern décor, with some retro furniture.

Check In/Check Out:

I was actually rather nervous about checking in, because I arrived at 6ish am. To my pleasant surprise, my room was ready for me.

I did a web check out. So I just clicked a button, and dropped my keys in the key box.

Hyatt Regency Boston Executive Suite

Room:

I used a Diamond Suite Upgrade, and was confirmed into an Executive Suite (530 sq ft). The suite is large, but slightly oddly shaped, because the hotel is slightly oddly shaped. The living area is rectangular, but the bedroom is triangular.

In terms of decoration, it’s an updated room, so think a semi-industrial design, i.e. grey couches, closet doors that look like a bomb shelter entrance, and floor lamps taller than most humans.

Hyatt Regency Boston

The living room just has a 3-person sectional facing a TV, with a coffee table, and a cabinet with the mini-fridge and the Keurig coffee machine. The King bed occupies the center of the bedroom, and there’s a small seating area with two armchairs by the little triangular nook, and a number of benches.

Hyatt Regency Boston Executive Suite

The bathroom is separated into vanity and toilet/shower stall, with the closet being located in the vanity. It’s a pretty good idea, because it means that someone can be showering in privacy, while the vanity is available. One of the more questionable choices is leaving the spare toilet roll by the vanity, instead of the separate toilet/shower area. It’d make for quite a situation if you ran out of toilet paper. With it being winter, the marble floors are also a tad cold, and I couldn’t find flip flops (and left my flip flops in Seattle).

Hyatt Regency Boston Executive Suite

Hyatt Regency Boston

The shower is low-flow, and they stock KenetMD products. No real comments. I thought the conditioner was a little bit weird, and a strange gluey-texture. The low-flow shower also reminded me of the low-flow shower Seinfeld episode.

Work:

As an updated room, there are power outlets aplenty. There are USB chargers, and power outlets on both sides of the bed, and power outlets by all the lamps. That was very helpful if you lug around a bunch of electronics like I do.

On the downside, there wasn’t really a work desk, so I sat on the couch and worked on the coffee table.

Wifi:

Although I was given premium wifi, it was actually pretty slow. I highly suspect it had something to do with the location of the room. The living room is closer to more central parts of the hotel, while the bedroom is further away, and the wifi speed slowed down, when I moved from the living room to the bedroom.

Breakfast:

An amazing perk of being a Hyatt Diamond is the breakfast benefit at full service Hyatt properties. If a property has no club lounge, you can get a full breakfast for up to four people on your reservation (if there’s a lounge, breakfast will be served there). Hyatt defines a full breakfast as either a buffet breakfast, or an entrée with juice and coffee.

After surveying the underwhelming-looking buffet breakfast (lots of carbs, bacon/sausage, and egg station), I ordered a Maine lobster egg benedict ($24), along with orange juice ($4) and coffee ($4). I thought it tasted ok. It was certainly filling, and of course, I can’t complain about getting a $40 (taxes and gratuities are waived as well) breakfast for free.

Lobster Eggs Benedict at Hyatt Regency Boston

Overall:

I loved the location, the updated room, and I had a good night’s sleep on the very comfortable bed. Considering that I actually just paid $120, this was incredible value.

This was my first suite upgrade at Hyatt. While the suite is nice, I might have actually preferred a standard room at a higher level.