- Trip Report: Austin to Bali, Cathay Pacific Business Class
- The Bali Hyatt Hotel
- Walking Around Sanur, Bali, Indonesia
One of the nice things about the Bali Hyatt is its location. I’ve stayed at resorts in the past that were far removed from any other businesses, restaurants, etc. If you wanted to shop or go to a restaurant for dinner, you had to take a cab into town. Thankfully, that is not the case at this property. Several stores and many restaurants are within easy walking distance of the hotel.
We wanted to see what the neighborhood had to offer so we left the hotel and made a right turn on the main street. I had heard that we could walk to a Hardy’s Supermarket where we could buy snacks for our room.
One of the first things we saw was a utility pole that might not meet the standards here in Texas.
We also saw a reminder that we were in a low-lying coastal region.
We went into Hardys department store and supermarket and bought a variety of snacks — cookies and crackers, tea bags, sugar for our coffee. My wife even bought a swimsuit. One thing I noticed about the clientele is that very few of them appeared to be locals, most were American/European/Australian. I am not sure if that was because they were all tourists like we were, or they were part of the expanding expat community in Bali. The low cost of living is attracting more and people to the area from overseas.
When all was said and done, we had the best of both worlds. We were staying at gorgeous tropical retreat, but also had stores and restaurants within easy walking distance. We were in a great location!
- Austin to Bali, Cathay Pacific Business Class
- The Bali Hyatt Hotel
- Walking around Sanur, Bali, Indonesia
Forty hours after we left our home in Texas we finally arrived at our destination, the beautiful Bali Hyatt Hotel at Sanur, Bali, Indonesia.
The Bali Hyatt is an exceptional property for two reasons: its outstanding location among acres of beautifully landscaped trees and shrubs, and the very high level of customer service that the staff provides. You’ll see photos of the property in this article, but first, I want to talk about the service at the hotel.
I have never been to a hotel where every employee, and I mean every employee, from the manager to the gardeners and the man who swept the stairway in the morning, greeted me with a smile whenever he saw me. Along with that I got a cheerful “Good morning sir!” or if my wife was with me, a bow and “Good day, madame.” And as I said, this happened every time we saw an employee.
On our second day at the hotel I called the front desk to let them know that the sliding door to our balcony would not close properly. In less than 15 minutes two engineers came to our room and made the repair. Later that afternoon, when we returned from the pool I found a note from the hotel assistant manager.
He apologized for the problem we had with the door, said he had called our room several times during the day to verify that the repair had been made to our satisfaction, and asked that I call immediately to let him know if it had been taken care of. I called and explained that the repair was 90% complete — I could close and lock the door but my wife could not.
Just a few moments later engineers were back in our room and they fixed the door so that it closed properly. I thought that was the end of the story until later on that evening when there was a knock at our door. I opened it and was greeted by a bellman who presented me with another letter from the assistant manager, who apologized that the door had not been fixed properly the first time, thanked us for being so cooperative with them, and as a sign of their gratitude towards us as guests, asked that we enjoy the complimentary bottle of wine that the bellman left in our room.
That is exceptional customer service and is an example of the wonderful service you can expect when you are a guest at this property. The staff of the Bali Hyatt will truly make you feel welcome during your visit to the Island of the Gods.
When we arrived at the Bali Hyatt, our van pulled up to the property entrance where we had to stop for a quick security check: all doors of the vehicle were opened, the trunk was opened, and one guard used a mirror on the end of a pole to look beneath the chassis of the vehicle. It was a quick inspection and a necessary precaution followed by all properties after the 2002 terrorist attacks.
We pulled up the driveway to the hotel entrance and got our first view of the beautiful landscaping at the property. It’s hard to see that there is actually a hotel entrance behind these trees.
As we got out of the van we were greeted by several members of the hotel staff: two men who took our luggage, and two ladies who put leis around our necks, then escorted us into the hotel lobby.
I thought we would go to the front desk to check in, but instead we were seated at a comfortable sofa across from it. As the desk clerks got our paperwork. we were presented with cold Balinese beverages that were greatly appreciated. We were also starting to get an idea of the level of customer service at the property.
A clerk came over and explained my bill, what charges there would be, confirmed my reservations, etc, and graciously presented me with the room cards. There have been so many times when I have checked into a hotel and the clerk has either dropped the cards on the counter or handed them to me with a “Here you go” attitude. That is not what I got this day, this clerk truly made us feel like welcome guests.
A bellman already had our luggage loaded on a cart and escorted us to our room. The hotel consists of four buildings, each four stories tall with an open courtyard. Our room was in the second building on the top floor, facing the landscaped area towards the SPA.
The view from our balcony was spectacular.
The balcony view was not unique, the property is full of stunning views. I hope you enjoy these photos of the hotel grounds.
I highly recommend the Bali Hyatt hotel for singles, couples, and families. it is a beautiful hotel with wonderful customer service, and is also quite a good value. At the time we were there, a king-room was less than $120 per night or 5,000 Hyatt points. That is quite a good deal for such an outstanding property. Visit the Bali Hyatt, you will enjoy it!
After doing more American Airlines mileage runs earlier this year than I care to count, I had built up enough miles for my wife and I to take a special trip. I put my miles and hotel points to good use, booking a two-week vacation to Bali, Indonesia. The trip report follows:
- Austin to Bali, Cathay Pacific Business Class
- The Bali Hyatt Hotel
- Walking around Sanur, Bali, Indonesia
We had reservations on American Airlines, First Class, from Austin to Los Angeles (LAX), then Cathay Pacific Business Class to Hong Kong (HKG) and then on to Bali (DPS).
We arrived at Austin Bergstrom-Inernational Airport and checked in with plenty of time to spare for our 7:05 p.m. non-stop flight to Los Angeles. We spent some time in the Admirals Club then went to our gate. We’d fly an MD-80 to LAX, with seats in First Class.
The flight was uneventful, other than leaving 10 minutes late due to the extra time needed to seat an elderly passenger who was in a wheelchair. This was not a problem for us since we had a 5½ hour layover at LAX — 10 to 15 minutes would not make much of a difference to us.
We arrived at LAX and had to leave the secure area to walk to from Terminal 4 to the Tom Bradley International Terminal for our flight to Hong Kong. We went to the Cathay Pacific counter to check in as we had done when we made our last trip to HKG; four years ago Cathay issued us new boarding passes and a ticket to get into their premium lounge, but that did not happen this time. The agent told us we could use the boarding passes that American Airlines gave us in Austin, and those passes would also get us into the oneworld First Class Lounge located on the terminal’s fifth floor.
I expected the oneworld lounge to be as nice as the Cathay premium lounge was a few years ago: spacious, quiet, with a wide selection of food from which we could choose, I could not have been more disappointed.
The oneworld First Class Lounge was long, narrow, crowded, and very loud. It was so crowded that I didn’t think my wife and I would be able to find a place to sit together, but we walked the length of the club and were fortunate to find two seats together. We were not impressed. But ten minutes later an announcement was made that a Qantas flight to Australia was leaving and with that the club quickly emptied.
We spent a few hours in the lounge then made the very long walk across the terminal to get our Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong.
Our flight was scheduled to depart at 1:30 a.m. Shortly before 1:00 they began the boarding process, taking the passengers in wheelchairs to the jetway. My wife and I were among the first people on the line for Business Class seating. At 1:15 I noticed the wheelchair passengers were still at the end of the jetway, and no one else had been called to board. Could they load the plane in just 15 minutes?
No, they could not. At 1:20, ten minutes before departure, they announced the flight would be delayed because it did not have a Second Officer: new departure time was 3:30. An audible groan went up from the hundreds of people waiting to board the plane. I found it to be odd: was it 10 minutes before departure when they finally realized they had no Second Officer?
My wife and I talked about returning to the oneworld lounge, but it was such a long walk back that we decided to stay in the gate area. Cathay did the best it could to make the situation better. There were frequent announcements updating the situation. They offered free refreshments: cookies, chips, water, warm soda. The passengers greeted those refreshments as if they were part of an emergency food mission to a country full of starving people — they made such a commotion trying to get at the refreshments that we decided to pass on them.
At 2:15 I suggested to the gate agent that he allow First Class and Business passengers to board so that we could at least get some sleep at our seats. He did not think that was as good an idea as I did. He did announce that a Second Officer was coming in from San Diego, and as soon as he called and said he was 45 minutes away from the airport, they would begin the boarding process. Just a few moments later that call came through, we started to board, and took off at 3:00 a.m., 1½ hours late.
Cathay Pacific Business Class is wonderful! We each had our own individual mini-compartment with a seat that would lie-flat to give us a chance to sleep. The flight attendants are personable, always smiling, anxious to help, and always addressed me by name.
There are two Business Class sections on the 777-300ER. One section is near the center of the aircraft, 12 rows with 4 seats in each row for a total of 48 passengers. The other section is directly behind First Class and has only two rows of seats, for a total of eight passengers. This is where my wife and I were seated, almost in our own private world, with only six other passengers in our area.
My wife fell asleep shortly after we took off, but I stayed up to eat dinner, then took advantage of the lie-flat seat, pillow, and down comforter, to sleep for 4-5 hours. When I woke up I had time to read from my Kindle, listen to some podcasts and music on my iPhone, and then eat breakfast.
We landed at Hong Kong. Cathay Pacific has a camera beneath the fuselage of their aircraft, passengers can watch it at their seat. This is our landing at Hong Kong.
I had hoped to spend some time at the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge in HKG, but we were so late on our arrival that we could only go to our departure gate. We came in at gate 21, I looked at the departure screen — it said we were leaving from gate 33, so we started to walk towards that gate. I soon noticed something odd: we were the ONLY people walking in that direction and the two moving sidewalks were both going in the opposite direction from us. I figured out the problem when I read a sign under the departure screen; we were in the arrival terminal and had to get to the departure terminal.
Now the only flights that HKG has are international flights, no local ones. But no difference. We still had to take a train to the other side of the airport and then clear security again. By the time we got to our gate we had barely 10 minutes to spare before our departure.
We boarded our flight and saw how much less upscale our flight was. We had gone from international business class, 4 seats across, to regional business class with 7 seats across. Seats reclined but did not go flat, and instead of sharing a cabin with 6 others, we had more than 60 people in the cabin with us.
The flight went smoothly except for the air conditioning. When we were an hour out of HKG many people in our area were using their magazines to fan themselves. We complained to the flight attendant who said she would do what she could to lower the temperature. She was able to get it a little bit cooler, but it never become comfortable.
We landed at the Ngurah Rai International Airport at Denpasar, Bali, and immediately realized we had arrived in a third-world nation. The arrivals area is old, run down, with no air conditioning.
The fist thing we had to do was wait on a very long line to buy our entrance visa, $25 per person. Then we went to the immigration line which was even longer than the line for the visa. All this in a crowded terminal without air conditioning.
The Shakedown, Part I
As we were waiting on this intolerably long line for immigration, an airport security person, in uniform, came up to me and said he could take us to the front of the line. Great, what a friendly gesture! But then he added we would have to pay him an extra $40 per person for him to do this. Again, this was a government official in uniform asking me for the bribe! I told him no. Can you imagine what would happen if a TSA agent asked for a bribe like that? Interestingly, a friend flew in the following day and agreed to pay the bribe, but he was only charged $20. I might have said yes at that price.
We eventually got through the immigration line then had to get our bags and go through the customs line. Several attendants grabbed our bags from the luggage carousel and headed off with them. They get us through security (yes, we had to have our bags scanned and go through a metal-detector to get INTO the country.) When we were done, I had to tip the guys to get our bags back.
When we finally left the terminal, the ride to the hotel was waiting for us: they met us with cold bottles of water, and drove us to the hotel. We may have been tired after the long flight, but the ride to the hotel certainly woke us up! I could never drive here. They drive on what we Americans would call the wrong side of the road (like I did without trouble in Ireland a few years ago) but it seems that almost everyone here rides motorcycles. They pass on the left. They pass on the right. I saw them go on the sidewalk to get past traffic congestion! They cut us off countless times, I had no idea how we were not in an accident. The driver of our van put it very well when he said the motorcycle drivers did not follow the traffic laws, which meant it took “great instinct and imagination to drive here.”
Watch this video: we’re on a two lane street, and our van is in one of the lanes — look at how many other lanes the cars and motorcycles create, and note that the motorcycles go on the sidewalk to get past the congestion,.
After a 25-minute ride we arrived at our hotel, the beautiful Bali Hyatt in Sanur. More about that in the next post.
Travel is good. Free travel is better. Free travel on one of the world’s finest airlines with air and hotel included is just about as good as it gets.
Cathay Pacific is marking one year of service from Chicago to Hong Kong with the Walking on Air sweepstakes.
The Grand Prize Winner will receive a premium vacation package for two (2) to Hong Kong. Vacation package includes:
- Two (2) Roundtrip Economy Class tickets from any of Cathay’s US Gateways (San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago) or Canadian Gateways (Toronto and Vancouver) to Hong Kong.
- Five (5) nights stay at J Plus Boutique Hotel, courtesy of Tablet
- A private, guided tour to our museum at Cathay City to see the fashion featured on our Walking On Air runway show.
- Two (2) $150 vouchers for a dream jetsetter wardrobe for two, provided by Rent The Runway.
- One month subscription to Birchbox.
I’ve entered, you should too! Visit their site to enter the sweepstakes. Good Luck!
My wife and I wanted to get out of town for a few days, and thought my birthday weekend would be a good opportunity. Now that we knew the when, we had to decide the where.
Last year my wife came along with me when I went to Chicago for a frequent flyers seminar put on by some of the experts from FlyerTalk. We were staying at an O’Hare hotel, but took the train to downtown Chicago one afternoon, saw some of the sites and ate some great pizza. We had such a good time that we decided the Windy City would be a perfect destination for us.
I began the planning process and found one problem with our choice of dates: the NATO summit was taking place in Chicago at the same time we’d be there. That might not only make it difficult for us to find a room at a downtown hotel, but there would also be thousands of protestors,, street marches, etc. We had enough of that in Rome last year and did not want to deal with it again. so we moved the trip back a week, arriving in Chicago the day after the end of the Summit.
We had an easy trip from Austin to Chicago, taking a non-stop flight that departed at 11:30 a.m. This was my first trip after earning Executive Platinum Status, my wife and I were both upgraded to first class. We had an uneventful flight (uneventful = good!) to O’Hare where we took a van to our hotel, the Chicago Wyndham, located downtown, just a block from Michigan Avenue and the Magnificent Mile.
Although I had no elite status with Wyndham they treated us well, giving us a room on the 16th floor looking out on downtown.
I’ve seen some reviews of the property on TripAdvisor where people complain about the hospital next door and the noise from the ambulances. All I can say to these people is that if they want a room with no noise, don’t stay in downtown Chicago. The noise of cars, trucks, and sometimes ambulances is constant — that’s what happens when you stay downtown in the middle of one of the world’s great cities. After the first night, we did not even notice the noise any more.
A Corner Bakery Café was located across the street from the hotel, and provided a n easy source to affordable food.
The location of our hotel could not have been better. We were one block from Michigan Avenue, just a few blocks from the John Hancock Tower, and walking distance to the Navy Pier.
We visited the Hancock Tower on our first day. The views are stunning.
We were fortunate to visit the Hancock Tower on a day with clear skies and breathtaking views. My goal, on our next visit, is to be in the tower at sunset and then see all the lights of the city come on.
We soon left the tower and took advantage of the wonderful weather to walk along Michigan Avenue, the Magnificent Mile.
That evening we went to dinner at Gioradano’s Pizza. Chicago is justifiably famous for its pizza, and Giordano’s is an excellent practitioner of the art. Chicago has two major styles of pizza: deep dish and stuffed crust. While the former is good, we much prefer the latter.
The pizza at Giordano’s is delicious but very filling. We ordered their smallest pie, it came with six slices. Between the two of us we were able to eat three. The rest came back to the room and into the refrigerator. They were great leftovers the following day.
The next day we took an Architecture History Cruise of Chicago. This 90 minute cruise along the Chicago River highlighted the many architectural styles of the buildings along the river. That may be interesting to some, but not to us. We simply enjoyed a nice cruise around town on a beautiful day.
After the cruise we visited the Navy Pier for dinner then returned to the hotel.
Our final day in Chicago was a quiet one. We visited Millennium Park to see the Bean.
We also had the chance to visit the Crown Fountain, which consist of two 50 foot towers, each covered with LEDs, which make is possible for them to display images of people’s faces.
We waled back to our hotel along Michigan Avenue. The NATO Summit Conference had taken place in Chicago a week earlier, but there we still saw reminders of the conference.
We got back to the hotel and started to pack for our departure the next day.
We got up early the next morning, ate breakfast at the Corner Café, then checked out. We took the advice of the concierge — he told us it would cost less to take a cab to O’Hare than to pay for two tickets on the Shuttle and he was right. The cab was $5 less than the two Shuttle tickets had been, and were were not crowded into a van that had to make stops at several hotels along the way.
We arrived at O’Hare, checked in, and then spent a few hours at the Admirals Club before boarding our 4:00 flight to Austin.
We were both upgraded to first for the flight on an MD-80. We would not arrive in Austin until after 6 p.m., so I assumed we would get a meal in first class, but I was wrong. We were served beverages, heated nuts, and a cookie. It was not the meal I hoed for, but was certainly better than anything we woudl have gotten in Coach.
We landed in Austin on time and as we got off the plane I left one of my bags in the overhead bin and did not realize this until after I had left the terminal. Fortunately, great service from the AA staff in Austin helped me to get my bag back promptly.
All in all, our trip to Chicago was a lot of fun. We agreed that our time in Chicago was much more pleasant and less hectic than our trip to Rome the year before. We’d be very happy to visit Chicago again, as long as it is not in the middle of winter. If you are looking for a city that is fun, easy to get to, lots of public transportation, and many fabulous sites, take a look at Chicago. You’ll be glad you did!
My wife and I are going to take a trip to Chicago for 5 days later this month. I don’t know if a live travel agent with an office downtown could have gotten me a better deal or not, but I decided to book the trip myself. I used the major travel sites: Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, HotWire, Priceline, Hotels.com, Kayak, Hipmunk, and American Airlines Vacations.
I wanted two non-stop tickets on American Airlines from Austin to Chicago, leaving in the morning, and returning in the late afternoon. And I wanted a downtown hotel, I did not want to stay at O’Hare.
Checking prices on a daily basis I learned that none of those agencies charged the same price two days in a row. They also had different prices from each other: one might have a special sale on a given property that the others could not match. Regardless of which service I used, I always got a better price buying a package deal than booking air and hotel separately.
In the end, I booked the trip at a site I had previously not heard of, bookit.com. I found that their price for the days of our trip were better than all the others. Was this a fluke, or will it give me a better price on another trip? Let’s find out.
I’m going to check the price on a 5-day trip from Austin to Seattle, depart June 13 and return June 17, fly American Airlines, and stay at a nice downtown hotel. Let’s see what kind of prices I get with this highly unscientific survey.
American Airlines, Leave Austin 8:35 a.m., Arrive Seattle 12:35 p.m. with a stop in Dallas. On return we’ll leave Seattle at 3:05 and arrive Austin at 10:40 p.m. We’ll use these flights for all the itineraries. We’ll stay at the Sheraton Seattle, total cost $1,957.
Traveloicity did not have availability for the same flights as Expedia. So I did the best I could. leaving Austin at 8:25 a.m. arriving Seattle at 2:55 p.m. That’s not bad, but I did not like my return options, all of which left at sunrise. I selected a flight that left at 7:30 a.m. and got into Austin at 2:55 p.m. I booked the Sheraton Seattle: total cost: $1,830.91 Compared with Expedia I saved $160, but also had to be at the airport on my departure day by 6 a.m., thus losing half a day in Seattle.
American Airlines Vacations:
American Airlines could not book me on the same flights as Expedia, so I tried to match the Travelocity itinerary. I could not match that either, so I booked a flight that would leave Austin at 10:05 a.m. and arrive Seattle at 3 p.m. For the return I would leave Seattle at 3:05 p.m. and arrive Austin just after midnight at 12:10 a.m. American did not offer the Sheraton Seattle so I chose the Westin Seattle instead. Total cost: $1,863.69. Not a bad deal, we’d arrive home late, but I preferred that to an early morning flight from SEA.
I booked the same flights as I did with American Airlines Vacations. I was however able to book the Sheraton Seattle. Total cost: $1,628.24.
I was able to book American Airlines, leaving at 10:05 and arrive 3:00 p.m, returning Sunday at 3:05 arriving 12:10 a.m. I was able to book the Sheraton Seattle: Total Cost: $1,587.27.
Same flights and hotel as bookit.com, total cost: $1,676.99
This site booked hotel and air separately. I found the AA flights I wanted and it sent me to aa.com to purchase them. Then it opened another window for the hotel. On aa.com I booked a 9:25 departure, arriving Seattle at 2:15 Return flight left at 3:05 p.m. and arrived at 12:10 a.m. Cost for tickets is $882.40. Sheraton Seattle was $281 per night plus tax, for $1,014.52. Total cost: $1896.92
I used the standard Priceline, not the name-you-own-price version where you really do not know what property you will get. I booked American Airlines departing 12:20 p.m. arriving 5:55 p.m. Return is the 3:05 to 12:10 a.m. that so many others have offered. I was able to book the Sheraton Seattle. Total cost: a stunning $1,393.70, by far the best deal I have found.
What does this prove?
Not much. It shows that this specific trip booked at this time of day resulted in Priceline giving me the best price. If I check again tomorrow evening, or change the itinerary by 1 or 2 days, it’s very likely that all of the prices listed above will change. Will Priceline still come out ahead? Bookit.com had the lowest price for my Chicago trip, and by booking it in the morning I save over $300 compared to booking it the prior evening.
Does each service offer the same features? Some offer a price guarantee while others do not, that could be part of the price difference.
I did find that the best days for booking a vacation are Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Prices go up on Friday and do not drop much until the following Tuesday.
If you are planning on taking a trip and you have the time, checking all of the services on a daily basis will help you to save money in my opinion.