Posts Tagged With: Sao Paulo

Lounge Review: Star Alliance Lounge Sao Paulo, 09, 28 July 2016

Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport Terminal 3 Star Alliance Lounge

The Star Alliance Lounge Sao Paulo is located in Terminal 3 of Sao Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport. I accessed it twice through premium flights out of the Sao Paulo airport.

Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport Terminal 3 Star Alliance Lounge

The lounge area is fairly large. It did get pretty crowded when I was there, but it’s not too hard to get some seating, unless you have a group of ten or something. They have various separate seating areas, e.g. lounge seating if you’re trying to elevate your legs for a bit, work seating, if you’re trying to get some work done, or more group/dining seating, so sofas and dining tables with chairs.

The food and drink selection is ample, although I wouldn’t say it’s insanely awesome. It’s pretty much a good offering with some hot options, and it probably can fill you up if you get multiple helpings. I wouldn’t write home about it, but I was also happy that there was food.

Sao Paulo Guarulhos International Airport Terminal 3 Star Alliance Lounge

They had a few wines, but it also didn’t look that impressive. Overall, this is a very solid lounge.

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Hotel Review: Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo, 09 July 2016

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

The Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo is in the Pinheiros area. There are many chain hotels like Sheratons/Hiltons and the Morumbi mall. I was trying to hit Hyatt Diamond status via stays, so I shelled out for it. It wasn’t too bad for it had a weekend paid rate of $140.

Location

I can’t contribute too much on this topic. I only went to the mall nearby, which is about 15 min walk away. And for dinner, I went to Fogo de Chao via Uber, which was also pretty nearby. I don’t think the subway is near either. I took an Uber to the airport as well, and that was pretty cheap, and a little over 40 mins without any traffic. Having said that, traffic does come to a standstill around the area. I did have a great view of the traffic gridlock from my room.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

Check In/Check Out

I checked in at the main lobby, and was asked if I’d like to check in at the Club Lounge instead. I declined that option. Check in was good. I got upgraded to a club room, and when I asked about late check out (my flight is at 6pm), I was told I had already been given a 4pm check out.

Check out was painless as well.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

Room

I was given a King Club room on the same level as the Club Lounge. The room and bathroom are both large and well-appointed, and filled with all the amenities you’ll associate with a five-star hotel.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

In the entryway, there are some cabinets. Hidden in this set of cabinets is a mini fridge, and there’s a tea pot on top of the cabinets. The room is large, with a nice desk, and a King bed in the middle of the room. There was also a chaise lounge by the window.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

My room offers a view of the Morumbi bridge, although not much else in terms of the view. You can see more of Sao Paulo’s skyscrapers on the rooms on the same side of the Club Lounge.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

The bathroom is large. It has a tub, a shower, a bidet and a toilet. There are plenty of amenities, and a large closet in the bathroom. They supplied it with Castanha do Brazil bath products, which I thought was ok.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

Club Lounge

The Club Lounge is a very impressive space, with high ceilings. Throughout the day, there are some snacks, and drinks in the fridge. They have evening hors d’oeuvres, and also serve breakfast.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

The evening hors d’oeuvres is pretty decent, although it doesn’t really offer much in terms of hot dishes. If you’re trying to have a light meal before party time, or before a Brazilian dinner time, it’s not bad. The alcohol selection looked pretty decent as well. The snacks I had were tasty.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

Breakfast was more continental, with a full array of pastries, yoghurts, and fruit. There’s also some alcohol if you fancy a morning cocktail.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

Overall

At $140, the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo was a great deal. It’s really hard to put a finger as to what about a hotel makes you go … “ahhh”, and refuse to leave, but that’s essentially what happened. After checking into the room, leaving it was kinda tough. And that’s a good sign for a hotel.

It comes highly recommended.

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Chile, Santiago to Argentina, Buenos Aires to Sao Paulo, Brazil, 27 July 2016

Santiago Aerial Shot

Award travel comes with its drawbacks. Sure, I’m flying business class, and paid a grand total of 40 dollars for this itinerary, but this itinerary also involves sitting 10 hours in Buenos Aires, and arriving in Sao Paulo at 2am.

This portion of the trip will be covered in individual reviews of various business class products, airport lounges, and hotels. One observation – there’s really nothing that I’d like to eat in the Buenos Aires airport. Sigh! It does make it easy for me to decide on free (lounge) food, in that case.

This ends the narrative version of my South America trip. Thanks for sticking with me, as I added three new stamps to my passport!

AC92 SCL-EZE Air Canada Santiago to Buenos Aires Business Class

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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

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Sao Paulo, Brazil: Mattress Running is Work, but there’s also Rodizio, 08 July 2016

View of Sunset and rush hour traffic from Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

We’re still adjusting to the time difference. We went to sleep without turning on either of our alarms, and before we knew it, it was after noon. Like one pm. I woke up in a mild panic, because we are supposed to check out at noon (although we were given a courtesy late check out of 2 pm because of my IHG Platinum status), and neither of us have our bags packed.

Grand plan of today? Moving over to the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo. They have very reasonable weekend rates, and I’m also trying to re-qualify for 2017 Hyatt Diamond status, so off to Morumbi we go.

We did manage to throw everything into our bags, and we managed to check out by 2 pm (thanks, IHG!), roll into an uber, and we were at Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo by 3 pm.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo was such an upgrade over the Holiday Inn Express, that the +1 just wanted to stay in the room. We both spent time doing more vacation administrative things, like uploading our photos, and exchanging our photos.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

Morumbi is their business/shopping district of sorts as well, and by 4 pm, I was hungry, so I suggested we head towards the Morumbi mall, which is about 10 min walk away to see if we can snack on something. We are starving ourselves in anticipation of an amazing Brazilian rodizio for the evening.

Nothing much to report. Macaroons got demolished, and we also nibbled on some stuff at the Grand Hyatt Club Lounge (they have a good alcohol selection), while waiting for traffic to die down, and for restaurants to open.

Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo

For dinner, we went to Fogo de Chao, which was about 15 min away by Uber. It was the +1’s first time trying a rodizio. The meats were excellent, as was the service. We both left feeling completely stuffed. Dinner, drinks and dessert for two set us back by $100, which is remarkably excellent value.

IMG_2316

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Sao Paulo, Brazil: Doing the Paulista, 07 July 2016

Funky building on Avenida Paulista

So, I’m down with a cold, which is a shame, because now our activities are fairly limited. Also, we have no reals, and I’m half thinking that we can try to do this whole trip without changing any reals at all. After reading some stuff on wikitravel, I decided that Avenida Paulista is the perfect strip for our one and only exploration of Sao Paulo.

Avenida Paulista stretches quite a number of neighborhoods, and encompasses some old architecture, nice little city parks, shopping, business, the works. Without reals, we used Uber, and we called an Uber to drop us off at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

The +1 didn’t wake up for breakfast, so he was starting to get hungry. We walked into a mall, and headed up to the top floor, where we found a food court, which was very busy with the lunch crowd. I ended up getting a steak for $4, which I can’t complain too much about, mostly because it’s $4.

Cheap $4 steak - not very good, but can't complain for $4

For the fans of Havaianas flip-flops, it’s an urban myth that they cost $2 in Brazil. But they do just cost $10 in Brazil, if you are looking to score some cheap(er) Havaianas.

We pretty much walked up and down Paulista to check out some of the 18th century buildings, and also admire some of Brazil’s crazier contemporary architecture, like the glass pyramid building. We also ducked into a city park for some lovely respite from the concrete jungle. It has an odd mixture of couples making out with little kids playing around the many playgrounds within the park.

A nice little garden off Avenida Paulista

Around 5 or so, we were done with the walk, and decided to head back to Perdizes for dinner, because there are many sushi options around. We took an uber from Paulista back there. Sao Paulo roads are pretty insane, as I watched the Uber driver follow the GPS.

We hung out in our room until we tried a Japanese sushi rodizio (all-you-can-eat) across the street from our hotel. Our lack of Portuguese language skills and crappy mad gesturing meant that there was quite a bit of mis-communication. We ended up having a rather starch-heavy meal, which was quite a Japanese interpretation of Japanese food. It’s not the end of the world, and it also just costs us $40 for two people, so can’t complaint.

Sushi Dinner

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Sao Paulo, Brazil: Who said business class will leave you refreshed?, 06 July 2016

Garbage Disposal

When I first booked our business class tickets on American Airlines, it was the full-flat product. But American Airlines pulled a last minute aircraft change (like on day of) to their older product, and we ended up with their crappier angled-flat product. I contacted their customer relations, and they tried to argue that it’s the same product. #AmericanAirlines #fail #DisAAdvantage

We arrived in Sao Paulo a little over 9 am and were out of the airport by 10 am. Here’s where it gets fun. If I’m just changing a small amount of money, I generally don’t mind the crappier rates at the airport. Except, this wasn’t just crappy. It was insane. I tried to change $100, and the bank’s fixed rate commission alone was $25. I’d have gotten less than $70 for a $100. So, we walked out, and just tried to take a cab with a credit card.

Getting from Guarulhos International Airport to Sao Paulo (GRU) and back:

The airport is some 25-30 miles from Sao Paulo itself. It was our first day here, so it didn’t occur to us to take an Uber. We went outside the terminal, and they had a counter, which sold you taxi trips. The agents will calculate the distance, and give you a fixed price. Our trip from GRU to Perdizes, where our hotel is ($25 miles) was 150 Brazilian reals (~$45).

However, Uber is widely available in Sao Paulo. On our way back to Sao Paulo, we were staying even further than Perdizes, and the Uber ride cost us 90 Brazilian reals (~$25). Do yourself a favor, and take uber and earn some miles and points while you are at it.

After all the pain associated with getting from the airport to town, we arrived at the hotel pretty close to noon. I was pretty wiped out by this point despite the angled flat seats and starting to come down with a cold, so we just took a long, epic nap. I think we woke up at around 4 in the evening or so.

Next stop? Food. It’s both our first time in Brazil, and we didn’t want to venture too far, so we checked out what’s in our area. Adjusting to South America dining hours is pretty trippy. They do dine pretty late, and restaurants do close after lunch service, and re-open at close to 8 pm. Having missed breakfast and lunch, we were getting pretty hungry, so the challenge was finding something that was open at 6 pm.

The +1 has T-mobile, which has complimentary international data, so we ended up at Mito’s Burgers, an American-style diner about 10 min walk from our hotel. I was sick so I couldn’t taste anything, but the +1 said their burgers are excellent. Two entrees, two drinks and a dessert came up to $40.

Mito Burgers Mito Burgers

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Another South America Run, 05 – 28 July 2016

Avenida Paulista

I’m cashing in on my bounty of Miles and Points, and also rewarding myself for finishing my PhD. So I decided to do a graduation trip before starting a new job in Singapore. I hope my Spanish improves rapidly! *yikes*

05 July: Seattle – San Diego – Dallas Fort Worth – Sao Paulo (nobody said award flights are direct, but at least I’m flying First/Business class)

06 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil

07 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil

08 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil

09 July: Sao Paulo, Brazil – Buenos Aires, Argentina

10 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

11 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina – Montevideo Uruguay

12 July: Montevideo, Uruguay

13 July: Montevideo – Colonia, Uruguay

14 July: Colonia, Uruguay – Buenos Aires, Argentina

15 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

16 July: Buenos Aires, Argentina

17 July: Buenos Aires – Rosario, Argentina

18 July: Rosario, Argentina

19 July: Rosario – Cordoba, Argentina

20 July: Cordoba, Argentina

21 July: Cordoba – Mendoza, Argentina

22 July: Mendoza, Argentina

23 July: Mendoza, Argentina

24 July: Mendoza, Argentina – Santiago, Chile

25 July: Santiago, Chile

26 July: Santiago – Valparaiso – Santiago, Chile

27 July: Santiago, Chile – Sao Paulo, Brazil

28 July: Sau Paulo, Brazil – Singapore (a long, 25 hr flight in SQ First)

Categories: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Itinerary, Uncategorized, Uruguay | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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