[Airline Review] – Thai Airways (TG409) – Economy Class, BKK-SIN, (30 Dec 13)

Pre-Flight

The check-in counters for Thai Airways is located in the mid section of the Airport in Bangkok. There are several counters for Thai Airways thus it is imperative that passengers check the correct check-in row from the screen located in the centre of the airport terminal. Queue at the check-in counter bounded for Singapore was light, there was practically no waiting time, partly due to the numerous counters were opened for this flight. Check-in process was swift and the staff waste no time in processing our check-in. I requested for the last row of seats, which was promptly assigned.
Check in counters in Bangkok International Airport
There was a huge crowded bounded for Singapore on this flight, when I reached the boarding gate, most of the passengers were already there waiting for their outbound flight. It seemed that this flight is full. Despite an almost full flight, the ground staff at the check-in gate managed to process the boarding with ease like a well oiled wheel and wait time is reduced to a minimum. TG409 is located at the far side of the airport, buses were arranged to ferry passengers from the terminal to the tarmac. Again, this is where one can see the well organised Thai Airways in managing a nearly full flight of passengers swiftly and with minimum delays.
Waiting for boarding at boarding gate
View of the Tarmac at the boarding gate
Boarding at the gate
The bus that ferries passengers from the terminal to the aircraft

In-Flight

Pursuers are seen at the door of the aircraft greeting passengers and directing passengers to the correct aisle according to their seat assignment. The flight that bring me to Singapore on this leg is serviced by the 2 class Boeing 777-200ER. As with other Thai Airways flight, the Economy Class cabin is decked out in their iconic purple colour with seats in both purple and bright yellow colours, which adds a certain liveliness to the cabin. There seemed to be a overhaul onboard this aircraft. As I walked from the Royal Silk Class to my seat, I observed that the seats in the Royal Silk Class being different from that when I flew into Bangkok.
Bright Economy Class cabins
The Economy class cabin is spotless and bright when I walked in. The newly overhauled seats in the Economy Class seats are both comfortable and bright. The seats pitch is slightly longer at 86 cm (or 34″) apart compared to the 82 cm (or 32″) in the other Thai Airways aircraft’s. Being in the last row did give me more leg room than those up front. Only the last seats in this aircraft (apart from the Royal Silk Class) are dual configured in 2-3-2, whereas the rest of the Economy Class is configured in 3-3-3. As with the other aircraft, the seat controls for reclamation is located on the armrest, while the control for the AVOD is located below the screen. There is a hook by the side of the AVOD screen and also a USB outlet.
Pursuers seen helping passengers with their luggages
The AVOD screen is larger then the other Thai Airways aircraft, at a 10.6″ screen. Perhaps due to the recently overhauling of the aircraft, the AVOD is very responsive and is packed with loads of entertainment options from Movies (both Hollywood and Thai movies to games to short sitcom clips) to cater to passenger’s preference.
The new AVOD system onboard TG409
Meal was tasty as well. I opted for the Thai Curry Chicken set, which is mildly spiced and the chicken is tender. The only downside is the portion is a tad small, perhaps due to the tastiness of the food, one would want more of that.
Meal time
Close up of the Thai Curry Chicken
Meal time
The lavatory is located right behind my seat. The newly renovated lavatory is spotless and seem larger then one would experience in a typical Economy Class lavatory. Other then the hand wash (which is the only option in Economy Class of most airlines these days), TG409 also has eau de cologne in the lavatory for passengers to smell good after their flight.
Toilet seat
Eau de cologne available in the lavatory

Service

The service onboard this flight is far better then my inbound flight in Royal Silk Class. I can feel the warmth of the pursuers onboard this flight. After settling down I approached a pursuer to ask for a deck of playing cards, she mentioned that they have given out all the playing cards in the previous flight, however she told me that she will look around and see if she can find one for me. The pursuer returned to my seat a little later with a deck of playing cards and told me with a genuine smile that this is the last deck of cards she can find and apologised for that.  The pursuer told responsibility for a fault which is not hers, this goes to show that they value customers on this flight.
Before taking off, the pursuers were seen going from seat to seat to distribute blankets, leaving no seats uncovered. This is a stark difference from the Royal Silk Class which I flew in. The pursuers on this flight took initiative throughout the flight ensuring that passengers are comfortable and well hydrated. They are seen walking around asking passengers (including me) if I need more drinks. Once they saw the empty cup, the pursuer would started to ask if passengers wanted more drinks or shall she clear the cup. This level of attentiveness is what should be accorded in the Royal Silk Class during my inbound experience.
Taxiing to the runway
Taking off
Take off
During meal time, pursuers were spotted going around distributing food to a near full flight with relatively short amount of time taken. After 30 mins into meal service, it seemed that all passengers have gotten their food and were enjoying their meal. Meal trays were promptly collected after meal as well.
View of the sky

Overall

TG409 is a pleasurable flight to fly in. The cabin is newly overhauled with comfortable seats and responsive, power packed AVOD. The more important aspect is the warmth in service projected by the pursuers. They go all out to ensure that passengers feel comfortable during the flight.
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[Hotel Review] – S31 Sukhumvit Hotel, Bangkok (Duplex Suite), Thailand (26 – 30 Dec 13)

Location

S31 is located along the main Sukhumvit Road along Soi 31. The hotel is around 5 mins walk from the nearest BTS station. There are a number of food options available around the vicinity. There are also quite a number of massage parlours around mainly offering traditional Thai massages. There is an upmarket shopping mall along the main Sukhumvit Road, which is near to the hotel. There is a 24 hour supermarket nearby. The hotel is 4 BTS stations from Bangkok city centre.
Hotel Signage

The Suite

Living Room

Avillion Port Dickson is under Small Luxury Hotel Group. Being SLH member, I got a complementary upgrade to a duplex suite. The 2-level suite was fantastic. The lower level of the suite has a small kitchenette and a full size fridge, equip with a microwave oven. Opposite the kitchenette is a toilet, which is a thoughtful additional in the suite. There are some storage space underneath the stairways leading up to the second level of the room. Further from the kitchenette is the living room in the suite. This part feature a 3 seater couch facing the TV in the living room. There is a reading couch for one to relax on just after the 3 seater couch, in front of the floor to ceiling glass window.

Minibar at the Kitchen area
Bar table separating the kitchen from the lounge area
Full Size fridge in the kitchen
Kitchen area
View of the ground floor
Toilet on the ground floor
View of the couch by the window from second floor

Bedroom

Round the corner is the stairways leading up to the second level. Most of the storage space is located on this level. Upon arrival on the second level, a huge King bed which seem to be able to sleep 4 adults comfortably. The ledges along the perimeter in this level is a thoughtful addition as it provided additional space to put my stuffs onto. There is another TV facing the bed on this level. The wardrobe can be opened on both sides, from the bedroom and the bathroom.

Staircase leading to second floor
Huge King bed on the second floor
Another TV in front of the bed
Huge king bed

Bathroom

The bathroom is just a little up from the bedroom. It featured a huge bathtub and a walk-in rain shower, and a toilet bowl. There is also a huge mirror in front of the toilet bowl, which is also a fire escape leading to a corridor outside the room.
Toilet on second level
Walk-in shower
Sink area
Bathing amenities
Bathtub
Sink area
View from the room

Swimming Pool and Gym

I had the chance to utilise most of the facilities on this property. The pool area was rather small, with less then 10 suntanning benches. The pool was of a good size and is elevated onto the platform. One can see the activities inside the pool through the glass wall, perfect for photo taking without getting wet. There is also a mini golf area at the side of the pool, where patrons can borrow the golfing sets at no extra charge. The gym is located on the 9th level. The small but functional gym seem well equipped with most of the gym equipment one can find in a full scale gym. There is even a boxing ring in the gym. At the same level was the changing room, where one can find both sauna and steam bath facilities. The hotel has fantastic hardware that can make one feel comfortable.

Thai artwork along the corridor outside my suite
Corridor outside the suite I stayed in
Massage centre reception
Swimming  pool, gym reception
Gym
Boxing ring inside the gym
Swimming pool
Tuk tuk provided by the hotel

Service

Most of the staffs here are very friendly and know the meaning of customer centric. Upon entering the lobby of the property, the friendly and welcoming staffs welcomed us to the hotel and extended their services to help with luggage. Despite declining their assistance, the staffs escorted me to the lift and pointed out that the reception is on 8th floor, where I will be able to check in. Check in was a breeze and the staffs at the check in counters were very friendly and very welcoming.
The staffs are welcoming and pleasant, especially those on the ground floor where concierge is located. They are very willing to recommend places to go and their local knowledge is fantastic beyond words. However the staffs at the gym level and the spa staffs needs to pay more attention to their customer service. Most of the time they are seen chatting with each other or playing on their mobile phone. Even when approached for towels for the pool, they couldn’t seem to care less about meeting customer needs. The hotel provides free tuk-tuk shuttle to the nearest BTS station, but at the period when we were there, it was down except for the last 2 days.

Overall

The hotel has fantastic hardware, with excellent sleep quality and spacious suite that I stayed in. Most of the staffs are very friendly and there are certainly huge room to improve on the customer service aspect of the hotel for the staffs at the gym and the spa.

 

[Hotel Review] – The Westin Grande Sukhumvit (Deluxe Room), Bangkok, Thailand (25 – 26 Dec 13)

Location

The location of the hotel is fantastic, it is just next to the Terminal 21 shopping mall. The hotel is also close to the BTS train system. There is no lack of food options around the hotel and there are several shopping malls around the hotel.

Hotel Signage

The Room

The floor area of the room felt just right for its category, it isn’t too cramp and there isn’t too much unnecessary furniture in the room.

Bathroom

Heading into the room, the toilet door is located on the right side. The toilet itself was presentable and functional. A single basin with racks that the hotel staffs displays the amenities. The amenities are of good quality, but the flaw is it is too small a bottle. I had resorted to bugging the housekeeping staff a few times to get more bathing amenities. The walking shower is just next to the toilet bowl, tucked in one corner of the bathroom. On the other side of the bathroom is a smallish bathtub, with a huge mirror hung up on the wall. The bathtub looked too dirty to be used, hence I did not even bother using it.

Bathtub
Walk in shower and toilet bowl
Storage shelf in the toilet
Storage shelf in the toilet

Sleeping Area

Opposite the toilet are some shelving that houses the minibar and drinks, with a small wardrobe. The main bulk of the room is taken up by the king-sized bed, big enough to sleep 3 adults. Opposite the bed was a large LED TV. There is also a 2 seater couch beside the bed and a study study for those who want to do some work in the room. The view of the room we were assigned was facing the city, which is a better view of the 2 sides of the hotel. However the down side of the room is that it somehow felt wasn’t ready for occupancy. We saw an empty plate on the study desk, which comes with a small note that reads “Please enjoy the complementary fruits”, it turns out there was NO fruit on the plate! I am not too sure if this is a practical joke that the hotel cracks with the customers on Christmas itself.

Mini bar area
Mini bar
Wardrobe
Couch in the room
King-size Bed
TV and the work desk
EMPTY fruit plate!!
View from the room

Swimming Pool

After settling in, I headed for the pool for sun tanning. The pool was of a right size, however the water is very cold , despite it being the middle of the day. The amount of tanning benches at the pool is rather limited. Once one is able to grab a spot, the pool is a good place for tanning.
Pool area
Facade of the hotel from the pool

Service

I stayed at this property on Christmas day itself. Check-in counters are located on the 8th floor. Upon arrival, I was warmly greeted by the staff at the front door, whom had volunteered to help with my luggage to the reception which was pointed out by the staff is on the 8th floor. I told the staff I can  manage the luggage and he showed me to the lift that will take me to the check in counters.

Check-in counters 
Xmas tree in the lobby
At the counter, the staffs greeted me with a smile and helped to process my check in promptly. I gotten the keycard and was given a room that matches my requirements. However, there was no special mention about my SPG member unlike the other hotels under the chain. I collected the keycard and proceeded up to our room. When I was at the door of the room as assigned, I couldn’t get the door open with the keycard. I enquired with the housekeeping staff who was a few rooms down regarding the problem I was facing. She promptly put down her work and concentrated on helping me solving the problem. Although she spoke very little english, she managed to find out my problem and called front desk. Upon checking with front desk, I realised I was told the wrong room. The housekeeping staff even showed me to my room and ensured that I was comfortably settled down before resuming her work.
I saw some staffs around at the pool. All of them doesn’t appear to be interested in working. Spotted some chatting in one corner with their colleagues, while others were busy playing on their mobile phone. I checked out the gym, which was rather small, the staff at the gym saw me entering the gym and gave me a “what the hell are you here for” stare. I am taken aback by the difference in service standards among the staffs that we have met throughout the hotel. Some of the frontline staffs are not interested in ensuring customers are well taken care of, while that level of service was seen portrayed by a backend staff such as a housekeeper was totally different. The free wifi at the lobby is a joke! I was given one slip, which can only be logged in by one device at a time for 1 hour! However most of the slips that I was given were expired! Wonder what is stopping the hotel from opening up wifi at the lobby for patrons to use!!

Overall

Overall, while the sleep and the room was comfortable in this hotel, the difference in service standards portrayed by the various staffs and the rude joke that we encountered in the room, coupled with the dirty bathtub are serious flaws that the hotel intentionally or unintentionally overlook. There are better hotels around at this price range that will provide better and more consistent service.

[Airline Review] – Thai Airways (TG402) – Business Class, SIN-BKK, (25 Dec 13)

Pre-Flight

Thai Airways counter is located in Terminal 1 of the Singapore Changi Airport. The check in counters are sufficiently manned, as such the waiting time isn’t long. I was initially flying on Economy Class (hence was not escorted to the Premier Check in lounge), but decided to get an upgrade at the airport. After paying for the price difference in classes, checking in was swiftly done. The staff at the counter did the usual by reminding me which gate the aircraft is located and the boarding time. She also handed me the invitation to the Thai Airways lounge and provided directions on where it is located.

Thai Airways Lounge

Thai Airways lounge is located on the level above the immigration counters and there are signs that lead up to the lounge. The exterior of the lounge looks refreshing, however nothing seemed to be changed from my previous visit 3 years ago. The staff at the front desk saw me walking in and greetings was accorded promptly. I surrendered my invitation to the lounge and headed for the lounge to relax a little before my flight.
Entrance to the Lounge in Changi Airport
The interior of the lounge was dim in colour, the central theme colour was brown to give it a sense of class and cosiness. However, the lounge felt a little underwhelmed, as it is rather small facilities are limited. There are very limited options for food and drinks. Main bulk of the area of the lounge is dedicated to seating patrons, while the food counter occupies a small portion of the lounge. There is also a very small corner where one can find business facilities such as computers and internet access. There are also some reading materials, with collection of major business and travel magazines and newspapers.

Snack area
Snack area
Snacks that I opted
Internet terminals
Reading materials

In-Flight

The flight from Singapore to Bangkok is serviced by the Boeing 777-200. This aircraft has only 2 classes – The Royal Silk Class and the Economy class. Upon entering the aircraft, pursuers are standing at the gate greeting and welcoming passengers onboard. I showed them my ticket stub and was briefly told where my seat is located. Drinks were served shortly after I settled down and menus was distributed at the same time. The pursuer came back shortly and asked for my option for meal.
The bird that is taking me to Bangkok
Pre-flight drinks
The Royal Silk Class is decked in purple colour and the seats are in egg-shell shaped. The seats offers 152 cm (or 60″) pitch, which feels spacious. The seat is capable of reclining to around 170 deg for sleeping. The seats are electronically controlled via the panel on the arm rest located in the centre of 2 seats. The Royal Silk Class onboard this flight is arranged in a 2-2-2 configuration. The seats are very comfortable and has massaging functions for passengers. Tables on the seats are stowed inside the arm rest. There are also reading lights located on the top of the seats for passengers to utilise.
Cabin in Royal Silk Class
Seat Controls
Reading lights
The controller for the AVOD is located on the side of the armrest and the system offers passengers a variety options to keep oneself entertained throughout the flight. The screen of the AVOD is rather large however the AVOD system seemed lag a fair bit.
AVOD system
Large screen
AVOD controller

Meal Service

As this is the morning flight, only one course is being served. Prior to the meal service, pursuers were seen placing a small piece of table cloth. Soon came the meal with the option that was consulted prior to taking off. After which, the pursuer was seen popping around the cabin with a basket of breads for passengers to choose from. I opted for the chicken omelette and the taste was pretty standard.
Menu
Meal options
Drinks options
Drinks options
Chicken omelette
After meal, pursuers came by to clear the table and asked passengers if they want coffee or tea. As I saw on the menu the option for cappuccino, I opted for one. Drinks were made available throughout the 2 hour flight.
Cappuccino
Drinks onboard

Lavatory

The lavatories is located to the front of the aircraft and was decorated with orchids. There are amenities such as eau de cologne, moisturiser and hand soap made available.

Orchid decoration in the lavatory
Wash basin
Toilet bowl
Toilet paper

Service

Service is rather disappointing onboard this flight in their Royal Silk Class. The pursuers were seen to be friendly to selected passengers but not all. Pillows were placed on every seats but not the blanket. The  pursuers subsequently distribute quilts to every passenger except me. I had to ask for practically everything onboard this flight. The pursuers also took some time to return to me with blanket.
I asked for cappuccino after meal, but was given a long face when I rejected both coffee and tea and opted for cappuccino instead. The pursuers also stop short of me when distributing immigration card. I had to ask for one, which took them 20 mins to return with one for me. Similarly, the pursuers did not even come round to collect the meal tray while they were going around collecting for other passengers. I had to press the buzzer to alert them that I had long finished my meal.

Overall

Thai Airways has a huge room to cover for their service lapse on this flight. I was treated transparent most of the time despite being in their business class. Everything had to be asked and I was often skipped a few times.  The seats are however very comfortable and passengers have no lack of entertainment options onboard.

[Hotel Review] – Pan Pacific Hotel (Pacific Harbour Suite), Singapore (26 – 27 Oct 13)

Location

 

Located in Marina Centre shopping area, Pan Pacific hotel is a great place to stay for those who prefer a convenient location with lots of shopping and eateries around. The hotel is also centrally located in Singapore, making traveling around Singapore a breeze. However the subway station is a tad far from the Hotel. One would have to go through the shopping mall in order to reach the subway station.

The Suite

Wardrobe Area

We were upgraded from the Habour View Club room to the recently renovated Harbour View Suite. Upon entering the room, a long corridor greeted us. just to the right side of the room is the walk in wardrobe linked the bathing area. There are no lack of storage space in the walk in wardrobe and is huge enough to stow 3 large sized luggage. The safe can also be found here. The room can be segregated in to 3 areas, Bathing area, Couch area and sleep area.

Bathroom

The bath area takes up about half the size of the room. The lighting in the bathroom, as well as the whole room was sufficient and gives one a cozy feeling. Just after the walk in wardrobe are two glass cubicles, one for toilet and one for shower, with a rain shower head and a bench. The lighting is in these 2 cubicles are well designed and the pressure from the rain shower head is fantastic. After the 2 cubicles, one can find a huge square bathtub, which is large enough for 3 people and a dual sink. There isn’t any locks on the doors to the bath room and these doors can be slide away to give one a spacious feeling of the room.
This corridor greet us upon entering our Suite
First thing one will see to the right when entering the room is the walk in wardrobe
Cubicles for shower and toilet
Walk-in Shower cubicle
Toilet Cubicle
Huge bathtub and dual sink

Living Room

The couch area can be found just after the bathtub. The simple, yet functional couch area features a 3 seater couch, facing a LED TV. Between the couch and the TV is the study desk for guests to use as a study desk. The mini bar and nespresso machine can be found in this area of the room. There are sufficient glasses for guests to enjoy various drinks that can be found inside the fridge, which is neatly tucked away in one of the cabinets in this area. The non-alcoholic drinks are complementary. Beside the couch is a side table, which is large enough for it to function as a small dinning table for 2. There are welcome amenities such as fruit platter, 2 bottles of Evian water and a jar of cookies. The cookies tasted great.
The living area of the suite
Welcome amenities

Bedroom

Separating the couch area and the bedding area are 2 see through shelvings, where the hotel displayed some artefacts for decoration. The bedding area is rather simply designed, but yet functional. This area features a very comfortable huge king size bed, a single seater armchair by the floor to ceiling windows, another TV as well as 2 bedside tables. The whole room is well designed and gives one a cosy feeling, a home away from home feeling. The centre of attraction in the whole room got to be the bathtub. The view of the room we were allocated is facing Marina area, which offers stunting views of the area. Guests can also enjoy the light shows displayed by Marina Bay sands at the comfort of the bed. The room is well decorated without giving guests a feeling of being too cluttered.
View of the bedroom 
TV in the bedroom
View of Marina Bay area from the bedroom
View of the suite from the bedroom into the living room

Pacific Club

Guests staying at the club floor are given access to the 24 hour Pacific club, which is located on the top of the hotel. The views at this lounge is simply stunting, great for relaxing and chilling at any time of the day. There are snacks available in the lounge at any time of the day, and some finger food at allocated timing.

Champagne at the Club lounge

Swimming Pool

The pool area is great. staffs can be seen walking around clearing towels and offering ice bottled water to guests who utilised the pool. Locker keys are also available from the staff at the pool side should guests opt to deposit their valuables in the changing room.

Pool area
Hotel facade from the pool
Pan Pacific logo inside the pool

Service

We have gotten a harbour view club room. This time round my impression of the hotel changed dramatically. We were greeted by the duty manager upon arrival and escorted to our room immediately for in room check in. We do not have to go through the hassle of queuing and waiting for a staff to be ready to check us in. The ride from the ground floor to almost top of the floor in the outward facing bullet left is always pleasurable.
The services at the lounge is simply amazing, a far marked improvement from the last time I stayed here. Staffs readily greeted guests who walked into the lounge from the lift. Drinks are offered upon guests picking their seats. The services offered by staffs here are warmth and attentive and yet not disruptive. The staffs generally are rather observant and did their due rounds to ensure any empty plates/glasses are cleared almost immediately. The friendly staffs also took the extra effort to engage guests, almost eager to find out how their day has been and are not stingy in recommending things to do around the Marina Area or within the hotel. All guests are treated equally, a marked improvement from my last visit where discriminatory behaviour was observed. This time round, Pan Pacific got the receipe right. Food were topped up in good time, with staffs constantly checking the level of the food and topping them up as soon as the supply seem low.

We had breakfast at the Edge restaurant. Staffs were ready to greet guests and the spread of food at the restaurant was fantastic for breakfast. There are options for both eastern and western guests, catering to a variety pallets of guests. However one short coming we have observed is the staffs clearing the plates without even acknowledging the presence of guests, despite guests still seating at the table. The staffs just cleared the plates away without even asking or checking with guests.

Overall

Overall the hotel has at the hardware and the software to make guests feel comfortable and readily accommodate to guests requests. The staffs even went extra mile to ensure guests are well taken care of. In an instance, we were chatting casually with a staff (Mia) at the club lounge and we mentioned that we might not have sufficient time to pack up as our room is in a mess. Upon hearing this, Mia excused herself and returned 5 minutes later to deliver good news to us, she had taken the initiative to check if our room was available and had extended our check out timing by another 2 hours, despite we did not request for this. Such attentive and thoughtful service is apparent throughout the hotel. Other then our experience at the Edge restaurant, the hotel is great and fantastic. A truly 5 star hotel, that delivers 5 star experience to guests.
 

[Airline Review] – KLM (KL835) – Economy Class, SIN-DPS, (15 Sep 13)

Pre-Flight

The flight on KLM from Singapore to Denpasar is scheduled to leave in the late afternoon and arriving Denpasar a little after 7pm. The check-in counters for KLM is located in a corner of Terminal 1 in Changi Airport, sharing the same counters as Air France. It is located near the sky trains of the airport which ferries visitors to Terminal 3. Check in was fast (perhaps because we were early for checking in), and little queue was spotted. Check-in process was fussless and we were promptly handed our boarding pass. The staff at the check in counter offer little smile, however did not forget to point to us our gate number and the time we were to report to the boarding gate.

In-Flight

The KLM flight to Bali is the Boeing 777-300ER, which has only 2 classes. The seats in the Economy Class is decked in blue colour, which gives one a refreshing feel. The cabin looks clean and vibrant with the colour chosen.
Economy Class Cabin onboard KLM
View of tarmac from boarding gate
View of the tarmac from my seat
Taking off
Economy Class seat pitch is pretty standard with 79cm (or 31″), which is sufficiently comfortable for a short 2 hour flight to Bali. The Economy class seats are arranged in the standard 3-4-3 configuration, with the last few rows configured in 2-4-2. The seats we requested is towards the back of the aircraft which gives one more privacy as compared to those up front. These seats are also close to the lavatories, however is being disadvantaged by being the last ones to be served meals. The seats in Economy class does not come with blankets or pillows, unlike some other major airlines which will have these basic amenities provided for.
The seat recline button is located by the arm rest of the seat and the controls for the In-Flight Entertainment stowed away on the other armrest. The IFE is very standard with the other airlines and shows some of the latest Hollywood Blockbusters. It also comes with games and short sitcoms as well as a short clip that introduces the destination the aircraft is flying to.
IFE onboard KLM flight KL835
The lavatory is very standard as one would find in most airlines these days. The airline only provide hand wash in the Economy class lavatory.
Meal is fairly tasty and is being served around 30 minutes after taking off. The pursuers will come round in their food cart asking passengers which option they prefer for meal. Meals comprises of  salad as appetiser, a bun and a main meal. I opted for chicken curry rice, the spicy level of the curry is mild however the rice is rather tasty. Coffee or tea is being served after the meal trays are being collected for guests to enjoy.
Food served onboard
Chicken curry
Coffee served after meal

Service

Service onboard KLM is rather lacking. The pursuers gave me an impression that they are just there to do a job and not interested in doing more for passengers. I asked for a pen to fill in the immigration card, which was handed out 30 minutes into landing, the response I got was they do not have pens and I was asked to borrow one at the immigration counter upon landing. KLM feels like a budget airlines with food and check in, as mentioned earlier basic amenities such as pillows and blankets were not made available onboard. Despite these, the pursuers did present the basic courtesy smiles when serving food and drinks.

Overall

The journey onboard KLM to Denpasar, Bali is on time and there is no delay. KLM, despite being a full fledged airlines, KLM only provides the bare necessity of checking in luggages and meal onboard. Seats onboard are rather standard, however it felt that some of the budget carriers provided better seat comfort then KLM. Services onboard is also rather standard. KLM still provides a value for money option of flying to Denpasar from Singapore with the frills of a full airlines (it is actually cheaper then some of the budget airlines if one were to take into account baggage check in and meal onboard).

[Hotel Review] – Bali Island Villas & Spa, Bali, Indonesia (16 – 20 Sep 13)

Location

Bali Island Villas & Spa is located in one inconspicuous area of Seminyak in Bali. Seminyak is an upscale area of Bali and is quieter then Kuta. This area would allow guests to have far greater privacy then one would find in Kuta area. The villa is about 10 mins walk from Seminyak Sqaure, where one can find more dinning options. The area around the villa is rather dead, with limited dinning and shopping options. The villa is also located a fair distance away from the beach and the beach is not directly accessible to guests staying here. Not many cabbies know the location of the villa, hence, one would have to use certain landmarks to guide the cabbies. One such landmark would be W Hotel Bali, which is located just next to the villa. In terms of location, the villa is rather out of the way.
Hotel Signage

The Villa

Kitchen

As one walk into the villa from the entrance, a full kitchen complete with microwave and full set of utensils were made available in the villa. There is even a kitchen island between the kitchen area and the living room. At the side of the kitchen is a small storeroom, where one will find a water dispenser, capable of dispensing both hot and cold water. This made the kettle rather redundant. The fridge and iron and ironing board was also available in this small room.
Full size fridge and water dispenser
Full size kitchen in the villa

Living Room

The living room of the villa feature a 3 seater and a 2 seater couch. The 3 seater couch can be turned into a queen sized bed which can hold up to 2 adults. There is also a book shelf with all sorts of books and some display by the shelving where the TV was placed. The decor in the living room is functional and yet contemporary.
Living room
View of the living room from the kitchen
TV and shelving in the living room
Shelving in the living room with books to keep one occupied
Walk way into the bedroom

Plunge Pool

Facing the living room is our private plunge pool. The pool is rather small, however good enough for one to enjoy a quick dip. The sun tan chairs are right beside the pool, by the entrance from the bed room. beside the sun tan chairs is a staircase leading up to the open terrace, where one will find a day bed under a pavilion. There is a ceiling fan up the pavilion and illumination for one to enjoy the night. There are also a couple of sun tan chairs up on the terrace.
Private lap pool
Private lap pool
Private lap pool
Stairway to the upper terrace in the villa
Upper terrace
View of the pool from upper terrace
Tanning chairs
View of the pool and garden from upper terrace
View of the pool and garden from upper terrace
Upper terrace

Bedroom

As one walked into the bedroom, a huge king size bed greeted us. There is access to the suntan deck beside the pool from the bedroom. In front of the bed is another TV. The decor of the bedroom is simple yet stylist. The bed is comfortable, but the quality of the blanket is rather bad, insufficient to keep one warm should one adjust the air con to the lowest temperature.
King bed in the bedroom 
Another TV in the bedroom

Wardrobe Area

There is a small corridor that doubles as a walk in wardrobe as well as access to the bathroom. The storage space for the wardrobe is massive, it is definitely designed with a 4 person in mind. The safe however is a little disappointing. It is manual and lacked instructions for its use. It is also not secured to any fixtures, which makes it look as though it can be easily removed. We did not end up using the safe.
Walk-in wardrobe

Bathroom

The bathroom has 2 sinks, so couples need not fight over sinks. As with the other parts of the villa, there are more then sufficient storage space in the bathroom. The centre piece of the bathroom gotta be the oversized jacuzzi bathtub. water pressure from the jacuzzi function of the tub is lovely, and of the right pressure. The tub has a small stairway that allow users to step safely into the tub. However the when filling the tub with water, one is caution not to turn it to the maximum volume, which will lead to small blackish particles into the tub. Signs of poorly maintained piping. There is a separate shower in one corner of the bathroom. The disappointing part about this shower is there is not only no rain shower, the normal shower head of the villa we were in seemed poorly maintained and the water pressure is not consistent.
Sinks in the bathroom
Bathing amenities
Jacuzzi tub
Toilet and shower area
We were promised internet access in the villa, however we only got internet 1 day before checking out, due to some issues with the internet provider. If one were to bang on the 3G network inside the villa, one will be disappointed. the 3G connection inside the villa is very poor. Most of the time we did not get any 3G signals.

Service

Prior to our arrival, I had made arrangements for the complementary transfer, despite my friend and I arrived Bali 1 day in advance, the villa still gladly picked us up from our hotel in Kuta. The driver was early for the transfer, however he only made the call to our room at the appointed time. Very pleasant service right from the start.
As we arrived at the villa, we were escorted to our room and the villa already has everything ready for our arrival. The check in was done in our villa, and one staff is already on standby in our villa, with the necessary check in paper work and welcome drinks already awaiting us. My friend and I was pleasantly delighted with such fantastic service right from the start. Checking in took a mere 5 mins and we got a short brief of the facilities in the villa from the staff. After which, the staff quickly retire themselves to give us the privacy that we need to explore the villa.

Overall

Overall, the location of the villa seem fair, however it just takes 10 mins walk towards Seminyak square. The entrance to the villa is rather inconspicuous. Most of the cabbies in bali might not know the exact location of the villa. The stay is pleasant, the staffs are wonderful. The flaw with the internet and the bathroom area can be further improved to overcome these negative aspects of the stay.

 

[Hotel Review] – Sheraton Bali Kuta Resort, Bali (Ocean View Room), Indonesia (15 – 16 Sep 13)

Location

Sheraton Bali Resort is located in the heart of Kuta Beach, where all the actions in Bali are located. The hotel is situation on top of one of the few shopping malls in Bali – Beachwalk Mall. Here is where one can find most of the big chain restaurants and cafes such as Starbucks and Coffee bean & Tea leaves. There are several eateries and restaurants, pubs within a stone’s throw away from the hotel. The Hard Rock Cafe/Hotel is located within mere minutes from the hotel by foot. Opposite the hotel is the Kuta Beach, which is famous in Bali. There are no lack of shopping and eateries around the hotel. There is also free scheduled shuttle service from the shopping mall to Nuasa Dua.

The Room

Balcony

The room was huge for being the most basic room. There was 2 armchairs in the outdoor balcony for one to relax in and view life pass by in this part of Bali. There was limited views of the sea despite being named the “Ocean View Room”, one can view mainly the street.
Fixtures on the Balcony
View from the balcony at night
View from the balcony in the morning
View from the balcony in the morning

Sleeping Area

The centre of the room is a huge king-sized bed. The bed is very comfortable providing guests with excellent sleep quality, however air-conditioning seemed to be set at 23°C, which was rather warm. There is a small dining table which doubles up as a working desk by the side of the room, as well as an armchair in the room beside the bed. Despite all these furniture, the room by all means does not feel small at all.
View of the room with the King bed
Arm chair by the corner of the room
Corridor into the room
Dining table which doubles up as a work desk

Bathroom

The bath room and the room is separated by a glass wall, where there are blind that can rolled down from the bathroom to provide more privacy for guests who opts so. The wardrobe is located in the bathroom, which is a rather intuitive design. The bathtub is large enough for 2 to soak into. Beside the bathtub is a single wash basin and 2 cubicles, one for the toilet and one for walk in shower with rain shower head and the normal shower head. Both shower heads seemed to be poorly maintained, as the water pressure is not strong enough, despite putting it into full blast.
Good quality showering amenities
Toilet bowl
Walk in shower
Open wardrobe
Hug bathtub

Swimming Pool

The swimming pool is rather small, but has great view of the ocean and sunset. It is certainly a great place for suntanning.
Swimming pool at night
Swimming pool in the day
Swimming pool in the day

Service

We arrived pretty late in the evening, at around 8pm. There was only one counter serving customers, which was the counter for SPG members. Being a SPG member, it did not feel any different. We were being made to wait, despite a few staff walking around the check in counter. Finally after 20 mins, we were being served by another staff who took the initiative to open up another counter to check us in. He immediately identified me as a SPG member and welcomed me. Other then that, the hotel did not seem to make any effort to make a SPG member feel special. Having said that, once we were being served at the check-in counter, the procedure for check-in was swift and we were informed that out room was being upgraded to ocean view room. Our requests for the room was being met. The staffs are great and tried their best to accede to any requests by the guests.
Lobby of the hotel
Artwork at the lobby
Artwork at the lobby
Corridor outside the room
Corridor leading to the rooms

Overall

Overall, the hotel is good, but certainly with room for improvements. Sleep quality was fantastic in the hotel, despite being the “lowest category” room, the rooms are fairly huge. The location of the hotel is great as it is close by to shopping and eateries.

Bali Day 6 (20 Sep 13) – Last Day In Bali

This is our last day in Bali, we were rather reluctant to leave Bali as that means this is the day that marks the end of our vacation and back to reality. We woke up slightly early then the previous 2 days to start packing our luggages. We ordered breakfast from the reception and it was delivered within 30 mins as with the previous days. We looked forward to the delicious breakfast everyday without fail. Breakfast was delivered in the midst of our packing. We stopped briefly to enjoy our breakfast before continuing with our packing. It did not take us too long to complete our packing and soon we found ourselves checking out of the villa. Checking out was a breeze and we even got the villa to drive us back to Seminyak Square. It seemed that this is our usual hang out place in Seminyak (not by choice as this is the only square in Seminyak). We walked around the smallish square and finally settled for coffee at one of the cafes. We arranged for a Balinese spa massage for today to fill in the time from checking out to our boarding time. After our coffee, we decided to walk around and towards the spa.
Breakfast is served
Breakfast is served
Breakfast is served
View of Seminyak Square
Around Seminyak Square
Chilling in a cafe at Seminyak Square
Chilling in a cafe at Seminyak Square
Chilling in a cafe at Seminyak Square
It did not take us too long to reach our destination, although it is rather out of the way and hidden off the tracks (thanks to the staff from the villa whom brought us there the day before and we just relied on our memory). Although we were around 15 mins late, the warm staffs at the spa was patient and welcomed u with the biggest smile one can find in Bali. We took a 2 hour spa package and the massage skills of the staffs here was fantastic. They took away the aches and completely allowed our muscles to relax. 2 hours whisk past quickly and we were sadden to be leaving this wonderful massage joint with skilful staffs. We attempted to walk back to the villa where we will collect our luggage and be transported to the airport. How wrong we were as we were terribly lost , attempting to find where we were using the google map on our phone seemed to fail. We had to stop a few times to ask for directions and even attempted to hail a cab, but with no avail. Somehow we land ourselves at Seminyak Square where everything suddenly looked familiar and subsequently found ourselves back to the villa, where the staffs readied the car to transport us to the airport.
 
Time for some Balinese Spa
We booked our spa session at Venus Spa
Inside the spa
Inside the spa
Saw this interesting Guardian Statue while walking around Seminyak
Walking around Seminyak
It took us about 1 hour to reach the airport, where the staffs bid us farewell and thanked us for staying at the villa. What fantastic gesture!! We were slightly hungry at this point and wanted to grab a bite. However the eateries are outside the airport terminal. We initially wanted to check in our luggage before heading back out for food as we did not want to lug our luggage along while looking for food. When we checked with the security personnel at the entrance into the terminal building, we were told we can’t exit the terminal once we went inside (well they are not exactly the friendliest staff). My friend and I then decided to just head into the terminal and get ourselves check in, hoping to find some thing to eat in the immigration area. We soon find ourselves passing through the immigration and were looking for food. Luckily for us there were several options available. We settled for some Indonesian eatery and got our stomach filled up. By this time it is around boarding time and we hurried towards the gate for our flight where we spent the next couple of hours heading back to Singapore.
Some airport lounge food before boarding
Dinner onboard
We ordered a bottle of red wine as well
Dinner is served
Though it is a short 6 days trip, we managed to see some famous sights in Bali, tried the famous Balinese massage and even find the time to relax in the villa and return to Kuta area time and time again. This is a relaxing trip and may our next trip be as relaxing!!

 

 

Bali Day 5 (19 Sep 13) – Another Lazy Day

We woke up rather late as well today, with the intention of taking it easy on this day. Same plan as the day before, we wanted to just relax in the villa and waste our day away. As with yesterday, we woke up pretty late and ordered our breakfast with the reception. Today is rather uneventful. After breakfast and lazing around for awhile, we hit the pool and continued with our ritual of suntanning. We again tried to persist with a whole day of suntanning, however we did not have the determination to do that. After a couple of hours of suntanning and hitting the pool, our patience ran dry and decided to head out. We wanted to confirm our spa session the next day and got the driver to drive us to the spa. We managed to confirm our bookings and hailed a cab towards Kuta. We arrived in Kuta and walked around as though it has already formed part of our ritual. As the sun is about to set, my friend and I went over to the beach and took some pictures before heading back to Beachwalk mall.
I just love the in villa breakfast
In villa breakfast
Breakfast is served
Getting ready for suntanning
and a dip in the pool
A few days ago, I remember coming across a sign which provides free transfer from the mall to Bali Collection. As we have researched, Bali Collection is a shopping mall. This immediately forms the image of mega air-conditioned shopping centre that my friend and I have always fond of. We originally wanted to take the free shuttle bus from Beachwalk Mall to Bali Collection. As we checked with the timing, it is rather late. I proposed to my friend that we do not wait for the bus, fearing that the shopping mall might be closed by the time we got there. We wasted no time and hali a cab to find our way towards Bali Collection in Nusa Dua. The ride towards Nusa Dua is a mere 30 mins away.
Sunset over Kuta Beach
We were bewildered the moment we alighted from the cab. We had thought that Bali Collection is a mega shopping mall like the Discovery Mall in Kuta, but bigger. To our disappointment, Bali Collection looks more like a shopping arcade, with some shops scattered around the open air shopping arcade, a Sogo departmental store and several restaurants serving mainly western food. We walked around and explored the area a bit, but it did not take long to bore us. As it is already way past dinner time, we walked around looking for a restaurant that serves Balinese cuisine. After all, we did not managed to taste Balinese food so far. We shopped around for a suitable restaurant, and managed to find one which serves Balinese food. There are more western food than local food. The open-aired restaurant also has a live band singing and entertaining the patrons having dinner. We ordered our food and ate there. After eating, we decided to head back to the Villa as there is really nothing much that appeals to us in Bali Collection.
Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Dinner in Bali Collection
Creating some Mooncake Festival mood