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We spent five days in Maui at the beginning of summer.   We flew to Maui from the West Coast and planned the connection to try out Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner in business class.   We flew Southwest Airlines into LAX and took the two hour train ride down to San Diego.   Looking back, I think the train is cool and all, but I wouldn’t make a special effort or go out of your way to take it.

We flew Alaska Airlines economy class, exit row, from San Diego to  Maui.  The flight departed at 7:30 am and THIS was a good decision because we had a good night’s sleep the night before and arrived in Maui ready to go at 10:30 am.

We stayed in Lahaina at the Hyatt Regency which is about 45 minutes from the airport.   This was a Points + Cash stay as a Hyatt Diamond member so we used an upgrade for the Lahaina Suite.    The suite is two rooms, living room and bedroom, with two balconies, but only one balcony is big enough for chairs and sitting.  The other balcony is standing room only.   Our suite was in the Nipali building which seems to have been renovated recently, unlike the main building.

Upon arrival and check-in at the hotel, everyone gets a fresh orchid lei, which is a nice touch!

As Hyatt Diamond members we had complimentary access to The Regency Club.  It was fine: not terrible and not fabulous (like the Grand Club in Hong Kong was).  They had nice appetizers in the evenings, but alcoholic drinks were not complimentary ($5 charge for wine).   Breakfast was decent:  fresh fruit, cold cuts, breads, and one hot item (scrambled eggs, oatmeal, etc).

The grounds at the hotel are pretty, they have penguins and parrots in the open air lobby.  The beach is not expansive and while I was there they were doing some sort of renovations and some of it was covered up. The pool area is great with lots of variety and there are plenty of outdoor shower spots to rinse off sand from the beach.

As far as excursions, we went on a snorkeling tour to Molokini with QuickSilver.  I recommend it!

We booked the Road to Hana tour with Valley Isle Excursions.  We enjoyed the tour, our driver Joe did a good job and was pretty funny.  The lunch left a little to be desired. Food portions were pretty limited. The views and sights lived up to the hype and I thought this was the way to go – versus driving ourselves!

Other highlights included:

  • Lahaina Grill
  • Hali’imaile Distilling (pineapple vodka)
  • Deep sea fishing
  • Maui Wine (pineapple wine)

Returned to the mainland on a red eye Delta flight to LAX in first class and really enjoyed the service on that flight:  food was good and attendants were attentive.   We returned home from the West coast via Southwest.

Go! Maui is beautiful!
-J

 

Early in the year, we took an exciting trip to Southeast Asia.   It was especially exciting because 1) we flew premium class the entire way 2) we visited multiple countries 3) we visited Thai beaches for the first time!

We began our trip by flying Cathay Pacific business class from New York (JFK) to Hong Kong.  The 15 hour flight was uneventful and a nice way to experience Cathay Pacific’s world famous in flight service.  The food was really good.

Upon arrival in Hong Kong, we checked into the Grand Hyatt where our room was located on the 31st floor (Grand Club level).  We enjoyed the hotel. The Grand Club offers a nice breakfast spread and a lovely evening reception with cocktails and appetizers.  Even better than the food was the excellent service by the staff there.   They truly went out of their way to make guests feel special.

We spent three days in Hong Kong where the highlights included:

Ladies Market
Victoria’s Peak
Star Ferry
Tim Ho Wan – the cheapest 5 star Michelin restaurant in the world
Ozone Bar – highest bar in the world
and having a suit custom made!
By making using of a stopover, we continued on with Cathay Pacific to Bangkok, Thailand with just enough time to catch a Bangkok Airways flight to Koh Samui.  We spent four days in Koh Samui based out of the Sheraton Samui.   We kayaked Ang Thong National Park and learned how to make Panang curry in a cooking class at the Samui Institute of Thai Culinary Arts (SITCA).  Samui is a beautiful island!
After our time in Samui, we headed back to Bangkok for three days.  Our home base in Bangkok was the Radisson Blu and it’s in a great location for getting around the city easily.  We really enjoyed a night bike tour of the city by Grasshopper tours.   The tour is about 10 miles total and takes you through an amazing flower market, with a stop to enjoy Thai street food.
We also visited Tiger Temple (we booked a private car tour to get there), the floating markets, and had Thai massages pretty much everyday.  The massages were only $9/hour.  Traditional Thai massages are a bit different from the massages we are used to having in the States, they involve more stretching and no lotion or oil.
After three days in Bangkok, we flew Japan Airlines business class to Tokyo where we just spent the night.   The next day we flew Tokyo to Chicago  in Japan Airlines first class which was quite an experience in itself.  It was our first time trying JAL’s first class cabin and the service was fantastic.  Upon arrival at the airport, we had people rushing to take our bags from us and the JAL first class lounge in Narita is lovely and offers massages too.   JAL’s first class cabin is called the Sky Suite and offers a choice of a soft or firm mattress for sleeping.   Really nice!

After that whirlwhind of long flights and far east timezones, it was back to reality!
-J

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