Kevinoncloud commuting

Grossed out by the Four Points by Sheraton Manhattan Chelsea Shower Drain

Let me start off by saying I really hate the Four Points by Sheraton brand. In fact, as a rule, I really don't like Sheratons in general (yes, there are exceptions to the rule). In fact, I wouldn't even be staying at this crappy property if it weren't for the ridiculous $129 rate (In NYC!?!?) and SPG's awesome, yet completely annoying, promo. However, putting my personal preferences aside, I expect all Starwood, Hyatt, Hilton, Marriot, etc chains ...

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Have You Seen "The Hangover 2?" Then You've Seen the Krabi Ritz!

The Ritz Carlton Reserve at Phulay Bay is the nicest hotel I have ever stayed at in my entire life. I wrote a review with my thoughts a while back. Well, if you have seen the "Hangover 2," which I saw earlier today, then you have seen some of the Ritz!

The wedding rehearsal dinner takes place in the welcome pavilion, the first picture of my post linked above. The pool is the Ritz pool, and when they're out on the beach, that's the same place that we would get picked up in our longtail boats to go snorkeling and explore the nearby islands!

I won't spoil anything about the movie, but I saw it today and thought it was worth mentioning!

Note: not all of the hotel is the same. For example, when they arrive at a white lobby at the hotel, that's not the Ritz. It doesn't have a lobby or a standard entrance.

16 Days in China: A Mediocre Night at the Beijing Marriott Hotel Northeast

While the bulk of my time in Beijing was spent at the Westin Chaoyang, I did one night at the Beijing Marriott Northeast. I chose to spend my last night in Beijing here. There were a couple of reasons that it made sense to do so.  First off, I needed one more night for Marriott's megabonus promo (yes - i am a fan of Marriott Rewards!). Second, the rate was about $50 US cheaper than the Westin I was staying at, and it even included a 300RMB hotel ...

UA976 DEN-IAD: Bummer of a Flight - And Are Breadsticks the New Bread?

I typically don't write about my day to day domestic travel, unless something interesting happens. Yesterday, for example, I had great service on a short flight to Denver so I was happy to write a few words about it. I was looking forward to my IAD-DEN flight in First Class today, but it ended up being a drag.

To get things started, I was never offered a pre-departure beverage. I was not one of the first to board, but I was in my seat for a solid 20 minutes before they ...

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Triple Mileage Plus Dining Miles Starting on May 30

Just hit my inbox. Triple Mileage Plus Dining Miles from May 30 - June 30. You must register for the promo, but I think anyone who has MP Dining can register.

Mileage Plus Dining, or more specifically, Rewards Network (the company that hosts MP Dining), offers up to 5 miles per dollar at a restaurant. You have to be a VIP in order to get that many, however, and to become a VIP, you need to dine at 12 or more of the Rewards Network ...

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UA 862 SFO-DEN: Free WiFi, Good Food, and Great Service!

Blogging at 35,000 feet sure is fun. I'm currently on UA 862 SFO-DEN, and I must say that this has been one of the more enjoyable flights I've had in a while. I was a bit late to board, and once I made it, I made my way up to 1A, the bulkhead. Before I ever asked, Linda, the friendly flight attendant, offered to put my bag in the closet and pull it out for me after takeoff. Thanks, Linda!

Due to a late incoming flight and general disarray at SFO, the flight was 90 minutes late. ...

16 Days in China: Air China's Economy Class

I was able to score some sweet suite upgrades that made my long-haul journey to and from much more pleasurable, but while in China, I had a few segments on Air China in the economy class. I snapped a few pictures, and here's a smattering of them.

My Air China itinerary segments included HKG-PEK, PEK-PVG, and PVG-PEK. Below are some pictures from HKG-PEK. I don't remember what kind of plane we were on, but it definitely did not have any sort of new or interesting configuration ...

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QANTAS to SFO: See Ya Later Alligator

I have never flown SFO-SYD on Qantas before (heck, i've never even been to Australia!), but I sure did enjoy seeing that big red kangaroo tail on my commutes from San Francisco down the peninsula. As of yesterday, QANTAS is all done serving SFO. SFGate reports that QANTAS is moving this plane to serve SYD-DFW, which is a much larger American Airlines (OneWorld partner) hub. With the absence of QANTAS, United is left as the only carrier flying non-stop to Sydney. I doubt this will help everyone's upgrade chances / award availability. If you're desperate to fly Qantas to Australia from San Francisco, you can pop down to LAX and take a ride on their Airbus A380 that leaves from there to Sydney.

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Banana Split! Just Noticed Some New Enhancements to United's P.S. Service

I end up flying P.S. about two or three times a month, and thus I notice whenever they make a tweak or change. United seems to constantly tweak the service. Sometimes it gets better - sometimes worse. I noticed a few changes on my business class flight a couple days ago, and I think these are all for the better.

United has traditionally served ice cream for dessert on P.S. flights, but this time they had more options for the sundae. As the flight ...

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United Flyers: We Have a New Jeff Smisek Video

For those of you who fly frequently on United, you surely have Jeff Smisek's pre-security speech ingrained in your head.  This is the video about the upcoming changes, and how he thinks we're going to like them. As of May 1, we now have a new video. Instead of there being a plane in the background with the new United livery, it's just the United / Continental logo. This video seems a bit shorter, and it's much the same, but in this video he mentions that United will be keeping Economy ...

Review: The Westin Beijing Chaoyang

My two weeks in China were spent mostly in Beijing, but I popped down to Shanghai for the weekend in between. My plan was to stay at the Westin Beijing Chaoyang for five nights, stay at the Renaissance Zhongshan Park when in Shanghai, and then return to Beijing for six more nights. I knew I wanted to stay at a Starwood property for my second stint in Beijing, but I wasn't sure which to pick. After my first stay at the Westin Chaoyang, there was no doubt ...

Home Sweet Home! And the Longest Day Ever…

After a long trip to Asia, I'm happy to be writing this post from the comfort of the United States of America. And to make the day even better, it looks like San Francisco decided to welcome me with a beautiful day! Check out that view of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Bridge, and the rest of the city from my plane. Click the picture for a larger image. Although, I must say, this has been the single longest day of my life!

Let's go through ...

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Just Witnessed: Family Finagles Its Way Into Maple Leaf Lounge @ YVR

I thought this was a pretty unprofessional thing to witness. I'm currently sitting at the YVR Maple Leaf Lounge near the reception area, and a husband, wife, and their two kids came up to the reception and said, "Hi can we come in?" The receptionist said, "Perhaps - let me see your boarding pass." She then paused, and said, "I'm sorry, Sir. This lounge is reserved for Air Canada elite members and ...

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Does Anyone Else's Company Use American Express as a Corporate Travel Agency

I just got this rather disturbing e-mail from my company. It looks like we'll be switching to American Express as our Corporate Travel Agency. What does this mean for me? Well, I don't really know... I'm asking you! Does anyone else work for a company that forces you to use this? I wonder if this is as small of a change as just booking all the flights / hotels I want through a direct-bill service and not getting credit card points. Or is this more complicated? Am I no longer going to be able to pick my flight of choice? Does anyone else have something similar in place with their company? Regardless of how sweeping the change is, I can't imagine there being any actual benefit to me. It's humorous that a bolded benefit is "offline / online booking tools." Like... WOW! You mean.... I can book travel online!?!? Or by calling someone!??! What a huge benefit!

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Oh My! What Have I Been Eating!?

In regard to food, my motto on on this trip has been, "I'll try anything once." So just what have I been trying?!

I've had some pretty delicious food… and some pretty NOT delicious food.

Let's start with the Beijing classic, Peking Duck. Having already tried Da Dong Roast Duck last year, my Chinese colleagues suggested that we go to a more traditional place. They settled on Xi He Ya Yuan in Zhongguancun, and I was not disappointed!

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Review: Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park

Let me spoil the surprise for you. I love the Renaissance Shanghai Zhongshan Park. I thought it was a fantastic hotel that enhanced my weekend in Shanghai in every way. As the world's tallest Renaissance, it has only furthered my love of Marriott's Renaissnace brand, no matter what the naysayers say.

I took the Maglev train from Shanghai Pudong Airport to the 2 Subway line, and the 2 goes right to Zhongshan Park. As soon as you get out of the ...

The Thing That Annoys Me with SPG's New Promo...

Starwood has just announced a new promotion for the second quarter. Stay three nights at an SPG property and get a free night at a Starwood resort, with no cap to the amount you can earn (except the number of nights during the promo period).  A list of all the redeemable resorts can be found here. This is a great promotion, and I'll likely use it to snag a weekend at a St. Regis somewhere, hopefully the one in Princeville, Kauai or the Punta Mita ...

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16 Days in China: A Night at the Le Meridien Cyberport

My reason for going to China was to do business in Beijing for a couple weeks, but in my efforts to book the cheapest ticket, get the most miles, and have the best chances of my upgrades clearing, it made sense to do a stopover for a night in Hong Kong. There was a pretty good rate at the Le Meridien Cyberport, and I'm working on qualifying for SPG Platinum so I gave it a shot. I figured that I could use the opportunity to have a night in Hong Kong, a city ...

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American Airlines Sues Orbitz

Not even a week after American Airlines finished settling things with Expedia, the company is now suing Orbitz. This suit is due to the fact that Orbitz isn't playing nice with American and using their direct booking pipeline. This battle of online travel aggregators versus travel providers is nothing new. I can see how American would prefer Orbitz to use the direct booking engine, but is it suit-worthy if they don't? I'm not a lawyer, but this one doesn't add up to me. Apparently, it doesn't add up to Travelport, the owner of Orbitz, as they referred to the suit as a "ludicrous, meritless antitrust lawsuit.” Sigh... more frivolous lawsuits that do nothing but put money in lawyers' pockets.