Monthly Archives: January 2018

A Very Asian Conrad Christmas: Trip Planning

  • Trip Planning
  • Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge (HKG)
  • Cathay Pacific B777 Business Class HKG-HND / HND-HKG
  • Conrad Tokyo
  • Conrad Tokyo (Executive suite)
  • Cathay Pacific Tokyo Haneda Lounge (HND)
  • Conrad Macao
  • Conrad Hong Kong
  • Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge (HKG)

For Christmas 2017 I attempted to plan an end-of-year holiday travelling in style, leveraging various deals to attempt to keep the total cost manageable.

Maximising Hilton Honors Diamond

Having already planned for a trip to the US in July, I aimed to do something a little closer to home. Based on the various discussion threads on FlyerTalk, particularly a thread dedicated specifically to sharing of opinions on the best Conrad properties, I narrowed my hit list down to Tokyo, Macao and Hong Kong.

Conrad Tokyo

Hotel entrance at Conrad Tokyo

This was initially my grand masterplan to empty out my Hilton Honors point balance – at 80,000 points per night, combined with the 5th night free benefit for (silver and above) Hilton Honors redemptions, I planned to redeem five nights at the property for 320,000 points (about $1920 if you value the points at 0.6¢ each). Not really the best of deals, but considering that the revenue rate was about ¥230,000 (S$2700) I figured it was not a terrible way to burn off my points while enjoying Diamond benefits.

Then, two things happened.

First, I managed to get my Diamond status extended one extra year. Now that I had another year to enjoy its benefits, saving my points for Conrad Maldives seemed like a very attractive proposition…

Ask and you shall receive – I tried my luck requesting an extension and was offered a status challenge.

Second, a number of flash sales came up later in the year. The most enticing one I’d observed was a 50% discount for Japan (and South Korea) properties.

 

The anticipated damage was thus brought down to a more manageable ¥115,000 (S$1,350). Still not cheap, but definitely a lot more affordable. Coupled with a booking via the Citi Prestige concierge to activate the fourth night free benefit (a ¥20,000 rebate), I was looking at an out-of-pocket cost of ¥95,000 (S$1,120). A 4-night booking would have been a more optimal combo, but since the rest of my plans had been firmed by then, I decided to stick with the original 5-night plan.

Anyway, at about S$220 per night, I wasn’t complaining about staying there a little longer.

Conrad Macao

Hotel lobby at Conrad Macao

The plan for this was rather straightforward – redemption rates for the property were pretty low at 40,000 points per night (which I value at S$240), so I went ahead to lock in two nights for 80,000 points.

Interestingly enough, when I made the redemption the higher-tier ‘KING DELUXE CITY VIEW’ room was offered at the same rate as the standard ‘KING DELUXE’ room. The only difference was probably the view, but since it cost me nothing, I figured why not?

Conrad Hong Kong

For Conrad Hong Kong I made use of a different strategy. Awards stays are also priced around 80,000 points and I was not too keen on spending S$480 worth of points per night at that property. I was also only planning a short 2-night stay, so the 4/5-night combos mentioned above didn’t really help. Knowing this, I decided to give the Entertainer a go.

The Entertainer (essentially an electronic coupon book) is probably better known in Singapore for offering many 1-for-1 deals at various eateries ranging from as Yoshinoya to high-end (high cost) establishments such as The Fat Cow. Something that’s mentioned a little less frequently is that these deals exist for selected hotels as well.

How this works is that you email the property informing them that you wish to make a reservation using the Entertainer 1-for-1 offer, they proceed to make the reservations for you, and you redeem the electronic coupon during check in. For Conrad Hong Kong, this was done by making a full revenue reservation for the first night followed by a complimentary reservation for the second. I received full elite recognition throughout my stay and had points credited for the first night, though I’m not certain if the second night counted towards status requalification (I suspect not).

I was quoted 3,740HKD (S$635) for the reservation, so it worked out to about S$318 per night at this property. I was somewhat dissatisfied that the nightly rate was effectively higher than Conrad Tokyo’s, but since this was a cancellable rate and saved me the hassle of looking out for other offers throughout the year I decided that it was good enough.

Unfortunately, it seems like Conrad Hong Kong is no longer listed on the Entertainer for 2018 – I’m not aware of any good deal for this then, other than perhaps waiting for an opportune flash sale to come by once more!

Exploring Asia Miles

I hadn’t actually redeemed anything on Asia Miles before, but started considering giving it a go after the KrisFlyer devaluation early last year. I took the chance to explore the utility of companion ticket awards and got myself a pair of tickets from SIN-HND, with a Hong Kong stopover on the way back.

The specifics are detailed in this post. I wasn’t too excited about the regional business hardware I’d be in for most of the trip, but it seemed like the most efficient way to get to my intended destinations in relative comfort.

The ground experience, though, I was pretty excited about.

Cathay Pacific The Pier Business Class Lounge

Fro what I’d read, The Pier was the best of the bunch of CX lounges in HKG, so I was rather excited to have the chance to visit and review it on my way to Tokyo.

Cathay Pacific The Pier First Class Lounge

The Milelion also reached out to the CX team to see if we could possibly do a review of their First Class lounge experience while I was in Hong Kong.  They graciously agreed and invited me to visit The Pier First Class lounge before flying back to Singapore.

So this was actually rather unplanned, but definitely something I looked forward to greatly.

Fast Forward

The trip actually started off with a visit to the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at SIN Terminal 4, followed by a SIN-HKG flight on a Cathay Pacific A350 aircraft, but since the Milelion had already reviewed both of those (excellent) places/products I thought I’d skip ahead and begin the trip report with my visit to Hong Kong’s lounges.

I’ll probably be cranking out the actual reviews in the weeks ahead – but first up, instead of delaying it any longer, I’d start by sharing my review of The Pier First Class Lounge… soon! Really soon.

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The great unknown

2017’s gone already? Time for another (belated) annual post.

Things have moved so very quickly this year; the momentum I’d mentioned previously is still very much present now. I find myself hurtling forward at breakneck speed, unable to eliminate the many vagaries of the future.

Sometimes, it’s even a little scary.

Work

It’s not all been smooth-sailing. One major hiccup I’d encountered was probably the failed bid to secure funding to pursue a master’s degree.

I’d first applied for postgraduate funding from my organisation back in 2014, and back then I’d advanced to the interview panel before crashing out. Three years on, I made the application again and was surprised to find myself eliminated even earlier in the process. I think I’ve been contributing more to the organisation in my current position than I had previously, so it’s all rather disheartening and unexpected.

I still think I’m doing pretty well at work (perhaps I’m mistaken) – the environment probably has a big part to play in this. It’s really awesome to be able to work together with highly motivated and competent colleagues (who don’t participate in office politics) and to work under bosses who entrust you with plenty of space to get your work done.

So I’m trying one last time this year. If it fails to go through again, I’ll probably have to think through some decisions like whether to pursue further studies independently of the organisation, whether to follow the default path for career progression, or whether to attempt to stay on in my current unit.

Will the third time be the charm? Only time will tell.

Travel

I think I’ve been incredibly blessed to be able to travel as much as I have in the past two years. As someone who’s flown fewer than five times (I’m counting return air travel) before legal adulthood, it’s rather amazing to be able to zip around the world on premium class cabins and staying in nice places.

(This is a rather geeky thing to say, but I was especially glad to have finally made it to Conrad Tokyo in December.)

I’m also more involved with the Milelion now – other than increased writing frequency, there are some side projects the team is working on together. It’s rather exciting to be a part of all these fledgeling dreams – there’s a bit of the feeling of being in a startup, which is probably as much as I’ll have the chance to sample without giving up a relatively stable job.

I really, really think that my travel frequency will be going down pretty soon though (see below), so I’m not too sure how this will pan out once that happens.

Family

Finally, come July, it’s going to be a little more crowded at home. It’s something that I’d already thought about previously, but I guess it took some time to decide it was really the path we wanted to go down.

And now that it’s finally happening, I feel like a whole other universe of unknowns that I’ve previously been ignoring has opened itself to us. There’s still some time to prepare, but I suspect that there’s going to be plenty of just-in-time learning.

2018 seems like it’s going to be all about dealing with unknowns. Not quite my favourite thing to do, but I guess I’ll just have to learn.