Globetrotting: UAE in Abu Dhabi


(This is part 3 of the series about our Globetrotting for 4-weeks using Miles & Points, from Oct. 12 to Nov. 6, 2015. Destinations included on this trip: Madrid, Abu Dhabi & Dubai, Maldive, Hong Kong & Macau, India’s Golden Triangle (New Delhi, Jaipur & Agra).

ARRIVING IN ABU DHABI in style

We flew 1st class on Etihad’s A380 jetliner apartment cabins. Impressive, indeed, and thrilled to experience this luxury. Spacious cabin with room to move around, a long, comfortable leather sofa that converts to almost a twin size bed for sleeping, two more leather chairs (one a recliner), dresser mirror, mini-fridge filled with sodas, bottled water & snacks  Amenities which includes cosmetic bag filled with travel sized lotion, lip balm, socks; a comfortable set of pajama, socks & eye mask. Dining was on demand, with a dedicated Chef on board to prepare our meals. One flight attendant pampered us with great attention. The 1st class apartment cabins (8 total) was only half full during our flight.

Etihad A380 jetliner

Etihad A380 jetliner

Fine dining in the air.

Fine dining in the air.

My only complaint, our flight was too short. After about six hours, we landed in Abu Dhabi, and were whisked away by Etihad Chauffeur service (complimentary to 1st and business class passengers) to our hotel in about a 20 minutes.

Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel

From a distance, I saw a leaning, tall building which is UAE’s answer to Leaning Tower of Pisa in Italy, the Hyatt Capital Gate hotel where we stayed for two nights. The architecture of this hotel is quite unique and very modern. The lobby has a huge and impressive crystal lighting and modern furniture, but reception desk for check in is on the 18th floor.

The Hyatt Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi

The Hyatt Capital Gate in Abu Dhabi

The inside view of the hotel.

The inside view of the hotel.

Our suite on 29th floor has a large living room with full view windows overlooking the waters, a separate bedroom, and a beautiful bathroom with separate shower & bath tub. There were plenty of bottled waters everywhere (bedroom, living room and bathroom), a tray with fresh fruits provided a healthy snack on our late arrival.

View from our suite

View from our suite

Sightseeing Highlights

Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque: the number one attraction when visiting Abu Dhabi; impressive, beautiful, amazing, etc. Everything about this temple is spectacular, very impressive outside and inside. Admission is free and they give free tours which lasts an hour. We came at 4:30 pm for the sunset and to join the 5:00 pm tour. Our volunteer guide Ali was very entertaining and informative.

Outside view of the Grand Mosque

Outside view of the Grand Mosque

Women are required to wear Abaya to cover hair, arm and legs before entering the mosque, and are provided free of charge. Men are not allowed to wear shorts. And we had to take off our shoes when going inside the temple.

The abaya women have to wear before entering the mosque

The abaya women have to wear before entering the mosque

The mosque is spectacular and very beautiful, both inside and out.  Outside has rows of pillars with flowers and marble floors decorated with flowers.

Grand Mosque (41)

Grand Mosque (12)

The inside is decorated with intricate designs; walls with flowers, floor covered with hand-woven carpet and seven chandeliers (one shown below, the biggest in the world).

Inside the Grand Mosque

Inside the Grand Mosque

Attention to details thruout the Mosque

Attention to details thruout the Mosque

One of the 7 chandeliers, and the largest in the world, found inside the mosque.

One of the 7 chandeliers, and the largest in the world, found inside the mosque.

Emirate Palace Hotel: if you are into gold, you’ll love this place. It is a luxurious hotel decorated with gold and marble.  I made reservation for lunch at Le Café  to insure entry, although per TripAdvisor visitors are usually without any dining reservations. The security guard asked to see our reservations at the gate. So I guess situations vary.

Emirate Palace Hotel lobby

Emirate Palace Hotel, lobby

I kid you not, everything here is glittered with gold. We went for ala carte menu instead of afternoon tea since we planned on doing it in Dubai. A minimum spend of 200 AED is required at Le Café. We ordered a camel burger, served with hummus fries and their famous cappuccino. Look closely at the photos below, can you see the specks of gold sprinkled on our food and cappuccino? The camel burger was so moist and flavorful; but could not taste the gold.

If you are longing to have a gold bar, there is a Gold Vending machine in the lobby with a money back.guarantee if you’re not satisfied with its quality.

The Gold Vending Mach

The Gold Vending Mach

Heritage Village: is trying to give you a glimpse into the old Arabian days. There are small houses or structures with displays of arts & crafts, a history of past presidents of UAE, a shopping area, a camel farm, and a museum. Getting inside these houses or structures give a respite from heat as they are air-conditioned.. Interesting place and admission is free. Nearby are restaurants where you can enjoy the view of waters while dining.

Heritage Village

Heritage Village

Women engaged in arts and crafts.

Marina Mall: we came not to shop, but only to get local currency, Durham or AED. Exchange rates at the airport is the worst, at the hotel a little better, but malls gave the best exchange rates for our US dollars.

Lebanese Flower restaurant was on my list to try after reading good reviews on TripAdvisor. Their food is great, reasonable and served in great portions. We ordered a platter of mixed grilled meat for 2 people for take away (they won’t understand if you say to GO); to eat for dinner at our hotel as we just had lunch at the Emirate Palace hotel. Oh my gosh, our platter was filled with so much food and there was enough to feed 4 people…kebabs, rice, grilled veggies, hummus, chunks of chicken & beef. Every morsel was moist and delicious! Highly recommend to include this on your list to visit.

Mixed meat platter from Lebanese Flower restaurant

Mixed meat platter from Lebanese Flower restaurant

There are other attractions in Abu Dhabi we decided to skip. The beach, for we are going to Maldive later on our trip; the Yas Island for we are not into car racing, the Souks (markets) for lack of space in our carry on luggage.. If your flight lands in Dubai, it is definitely worth taking a day trip to Abu Dhabi, either by taxi or a public bus.

Part 4, Globetrotting: UAE in Dubai to follow.

Singapore, Here We Come


Marina Bay & Singapore Skyline on the background.

Marina Bay & Singapore Skyline on the background.

Singapore here we are! 

We planned on staying here for 4 days before we head home to California, and thereby ending our 3 weeks Tour of Asia. I wondered how our experience here would compare to  other destinations we’ve visited, namely; Japan, Hong Kong and Bali. All have been wonderful, fascinating places and quite memorable for many unique and first-time experiences.

No loitering, no chewing gums. We were mindful that these are strictly prohibited and could result in fine, public humiliation and jail if caught in violation. It’s no wonder, Singapore is one of the cleanest city in the world.

We stayed at Grand Hyatt Singapore, to help meet the Hyatt Diamond Challenge which required 12 nights stay within 60 days of enrollment. It normally takes 25 stays or 50 nights to earn a Diamond status, but on this promo you’ll earn it after just 12 nights of stay within 60 days of enrollment. FYI, I met the challenge successfully and have Diamond status until February, 2016.

OVERVIEW OF GRAND HYATT SINGAPORE

Our suite has 2 floors, with a living room and dining table for 6 people on the 1st floor. There were snacks left on the table, a coffee machine and half bath.

Up on 2nd floor is our bedroom, a full bathroom and separate area with a dresser. To say we were overwhelmed with its size was an understatement.

We loved their Club Lounge, decorated simply but looks elegant. It offered a variety and wide selections of food during breakfast and cocktail hours. There were hot & cold appetizers, salads, variety of cheese and cold meat, desserts…gourmet & high quality Plenty of choice for drinks as well.

Our favorite attractions are listed below, in no particular order.

THE GARDENS BY THE BAY

The Gardens by the Bay is a massive project that used reclaimed land to build a 183-acre botanical garden next to the more iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel. It’s main attraction is the “Super trees” — 10- to 15-floor steel frames with vines and other plants growing over them. Access to the outdoor garden is free, but there’s a charge to get inside the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest Dome.

The Super Trees: In the evening, there’s a sky show of choreographed lights and sounds amidst the super trees, which we missed unfortunately.

The Super-sized trees at Gardens By The Bay

Cloud Forest Dome: Within the enclosed compound is a 35-metre tall mountain veiled in mist and covered with lush vegetation with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

The tallest indoor waterfall in the Cloud Forest.

The tallest indoor waterfall in the Cloud Forest.

Vegetation and flowers that completely cover the mountain.

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Small openings with view of the Marina Bay Sands.

Small openings with view of the Marina Bay Sands.

A small opening with view of the Super trees.

A small opening with view of the Super trees.

The Flower Dome:  Any garden lover would enjoy a visit to this dome. It replicates the cool-dry climate of the Mediterranean regions and houses collection of plants, some familiar flowers such as roses, geraniums and hibiscus. Unusual plants and trees. On a separate area, there is a display of various animals completely covered with plants & flower petals.

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A birds-eye view of the Flower dome.

A "sea of flowers".

A “sea of flowers”.

A sample of unusual plant found at the flower dome.

A sample of unusual plant found at the flower dome.

SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENThe only garden in the world that is opened daily from 5:00am until midnight every single day of the year. Admission is free except at the Nat’l. Orchid Garden. Founded in 1859, it showcases the best and spectacular tropical flora in a stunning verdant landscape. It is the country’s 1st UNESCO Heritage site, joining the ranks of the iconic landmarks of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and The Great Wall of China.

Taken at the Botanic Garden.

Taken at the Botanic Garden.

The Ginger Garden

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Camia flower, also known as butterfly lily has fragrant smell.

Camia flower, also known as butterfly lily has fragrant smell.

The National Orchid Garden: Boast to have the world’s largest orchid display with over 60,000 plants and over 1,000 species of orchids.

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The Marina Bay Sands (MBS): The unique building of MBS has become an iconic symbol of Singapore. It’s popular for its infinity pool and breathtaking view of the city’s skyline and Marina Bay from the top floor. There’s a fee (S$20) to get up to the Skypark Observation deck, but only hotel guests are allowed in the infinity pool area. Or, you can get up for free by having cocktails (S$20) or dinner at the restaurant on top, The Ku De Ta, and get a similar view.

The iconic Marina Bay Sands Resort

The iconic Marina Bay Sands Resort

Lobby of Marina Bay Sands Resort.

Lobby of Marina Bay Sands Resort.

MOST ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE

Eating at Hawker Food Center: If you want to eat like a local in Singapore, you need to go to Hawker food centers and street foods where you’ll find a diverse range of authentic flavors and options with influence of Indian, Malay and Chinese. You’ll find here the best Southeast Asian cuisines at the lowest price. We visited a few, and choosing what to eat was mind boggling, but all were tasty and good.

Maxwell Food center

At Maxwell Food Center

At Maxwell Food Center

Marina Bay Sand (MBS) Food Court

Lau Pa Sat Market

Breathtaking Skyline views of the city atop MBS: Up on 57th floor, people who paid to go to the Skypark Observation deck, while we got our view from the Ku De Ta restaurant.

Crowd waiting for sunset while having cocktails at Ku De Ta.

Crowd waiting for sunset while having cocktails at Ku De Ta.

Enjoying our cocktails.

Enjoying our cocktails.

Skyline city view at night.

Skyline city view at night.

Dining at Ku De Ta: Perhaps the most coveted dining address jn Singapore, this place is not for fine dining, but more casual where you get a nice cocktail and order few dishes to share as you enjoy the panoramic view of Singapore’s skyline. Eating here is not cheap, but worth splurging on. We got to try Wagyu beef which costs $110 US per 100g, melt in your mouth, along with 2 other dishes.

Bar at the top on Ku De Ta.

Bar at the top on Ku De Ta.

Lucky Plaza:  We were surprised to discover that this multi-level shopping mall is comprised of shops mostly owned by Filipinos from various provinces or cities of the Philippines: Pampanga, Iloilo, Cebu, Manila, Cavite, etc. The sounds of my native language (Tagalog) resonating in my ears felt like I was back home. It was so surreal esp.I have not gone back home to my native land for more than 30 years.

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Exploring the City:  It was easy enough to explore the city as our hotel is walking distance to bus stop, metro station, and to Orchard street, a shopper’s paradise to those seeking high-end and known-designer brands.

The popular shopping street in Singapore.

The popular shopping street in Singapore.

It was fun getting lost in the city and discover impressive structures.

The Helix Bridge

The Helix Bridge

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The Singapore Flyer

The Singapore Flyer

ETHNIC NEIGHBORHOODS IN THE CITY

Chinatown: A sharp contrast to the rest of the city, with low rise buildings and rich with cultures, from fragrant smells of traditional cuisines to the bold red and gold tones that run through the streets; stringed lanterns adorning the streets. Good place to eat and shop for souvenirs.

Chinatown in Singapore

Chinatown in Singapore

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Little India: One of the most vibrant and culturally authentic districts of Singapore. It’s a sanitized version of the real thing, and flavors found here are not watered down for Western palates. We ventured into their food court, walked the streets and saw gold shops. It was during the “Festival of Lights” or “Deepavali”, celebrated by Hindus across the world to mark the triumph of good over evil, and light over darkness….so the streets were transformed into a fantasyland of colorful arches and magnificent lights.

The Festival of Lights in Little India.

The Festival of Lights in Little India.

Streets hanged with lights during Deepavali.

Streets hanged with lights during Deepavali.

Klam Glampong or Arab Street: True to its name, it epitomizes the Arabian way of life. Here, you’ll find conservatively dressed Muslims on their way to Sultan Mosque,  illuminated at night giving it a magical glow. Shop for vibrant fabrics and order custom-made gowns. Bargain for Oriental carpets, ornate lamps. Savor ethnic cuisines. If you want “Middle Eastern Exposure”, you’ve come to the right place.

The Sultan Mosque

The Sultan Mosq

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In Summary: Singapore did not disappoint, it was everything I had anticipated and more. Fun, exciting and vibrant. Many attractions to see and enjoy. So much diversity, and its ethnic neighborhoods offers interesting cultural experience.

Finally, our 3 weeks Tour of Asia is over and a trip I will remember for the many 1st time and unique experiences during our trip. Flying 1st class aboard Cathay Pacific. Riding the bullet train in Tokyo. Walking the streets of Kyoto dressed in Kimonos. Taking the tram to Victoria Peak in Hong Kong. Unforgettable and amazing stay at St. Regis in Bali. Over the top Sunday Brunch at Kayuputi. Frangipani bath and spa treatments for 3 1/2 hours in Nusa Dua. Dinner Ku De Ta on 57th floor of Marina Bay Sands Resort in Singapore. Seeing the most beautiful Nat’l. Orchid Center.

A trip of a lifetime made possible by my new hobby, collecting miles and points.

 

 

 

 

 

Bali’s Best Attractions


Bali offers a variety of landscapes that include sandy beaches, lush rice terraces, volcanic hillsides, rugged coastline, cliffs, mountains, and waterfalls.

In addition, Spirituality is deeply rooted among its people. The main religion here is Balinese Hinduism, and a Hindu temple is called a pura. The island dotted with many temples is known as the “island of a thousand temples.

“A little bit of spirituality, little bit of beauty, and a whole lot of wonder: The essence of Bali. There can be fewer experiences as fulfilling as enjoying the sights, smells, sound and many hues of the wonderful island of Bali.” –author unknown.

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With careful planning and reading about what to see or do in Bali,  you can come up and organized your itinerary according to your interest. You’ll be amazed how much we saw and did during our short visit (4N/4D).

Day 1: Sanur (south Bali): A coastal stretch of beach of Denpasar city in southeast Bali, about 30 min drive from Ngurah Rai International airport. Despite the abundance of restaurants and accommodations, it has a quiet and relaxed feel to it.  A good place to consider if you are tired of the party atmosphere of Kuta or of the sleepy Nusa Dua.

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Lounge set up by one of the hotels along  Sanur beach.

Lounge set up by one of the hotels along Sanur beach.

 DAY 2 : Explore Bedugul Attractions (northern part of Bali)

Bedugul and it’s surrounding areas are in the mountains north of Kuta and Ubud. The attractions and sites we visited are near to each other, and can easily be done in one day.

Tanah Lot Temple: A Hindu Temple set on a big rock surrounded by seawater on the west side of Bali. It is a popular and most photographed landmark of Bali. We visited in the morning to avoid big crowds who prefer coming at sunset to witness the breathtaking view of the temple at sunset.

Tanah Lot Temple, visitors are not allowed inside.

Tanah lot

Tanah Lot Temple, during low tides visitor can get very close and walk around.

Pura Ulun Danu Temple: The temple sits on the edge of Lake Bratan and gives illusion of floating in water.  It is significant, especially to rice farmers for its subak irrigation system.  Built in 1633, the temple is devoted to Ida Batara Dewi Ulun Danu, goddess of the lake.

Colorful garden leading to Pura Ulun Danu Temple.

Colorful garden leading to Pura Ulun Danu Temple.

Part of the temple that gets all the attention is the 11-roof meru, situated on a point of land, jutting out into the lake.

Pura Ulun Danu, also known as “The Floating Temple”

Pura Ulun Danum

Pura Ulun Danum

Taken at the play area of the temple, this amusing posed caused two little boys  playing laughed so hard.

Jetiluwih Rice Terraces: The best of the 3 rice-field terraces found in Bali. 

Jetiluwih Rice Terrace

Jetiluwih Rice Terrace

Munduk Fall: Located in Munduk, to reach the fall get off the main road and trekked down to a heavy forested steep hill, avoiding motorbikes using the same path. Going down is manageable but climbing back up maybe difficult for people who have heart or breathing problems.

A cacao tree we spotted on the way to the falls.

A cacao tree we spotted on the way to the falls.

We also saw men (dangerously) climbing up tall trees to harvest cloves, used commonly to impart aroma and flavor when baking ham.

Did not know cloves (an herb) are harvested like this.

Did not know cloves (an herb) are harvested like this.

After about 30 min or so of walking, there it is the Munduk falls!

The Mundok Falls

The Mundok Falls

Getting into the water after working out a sweat to get here must be so refreshing, which was exactly what these guys had in mind.

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Candikuning Market: Prices of herbs here are higher than what I paid for at Munduk. Be sure and bargain. I did, and got a shop owner to accept my offer which was 20% of her original price, using prices at Munduk as basis for my bargaining.

Lake Buyan & Lake Tamblingan: Also known as “The Twin Lakes”, the two crater lakes are located within the caldera of Bedugul volcano. They used to be a single lake until 1800 when a landslide separated the lake into two. A narrow strip of land, less than a mile in width, divides the two lakes.

One of the Twin Lakes.

One of the Twin Lakes

One of the Twin Lakes

One of the Twin Lakes

DAY 3: Attractions near Ubud (Kintamani & surrounding areas)

Penglipuran Village: I highly recommend visiting this village on your way to Kintamani. It is a traditional countryside village that takes you back in time to experience how the locals lived. What I love the most is the well maintained, beautiful gardens featuring tropical plants and unusual, unique flowers.

The Penglipuran Village

The Penglipuran Village

A girl from the village selling some souvenirs.

Pura Tirta Empul Temple: Dates back to 926AD and known for its sacred spring water with healing properties. Many people climb up to the temple for a bath and meditation in the long main pool believed to bring good fortune and health.

The temple Includes the traditional Balinese split gate along with shrines to Shiva, Vishnu, Braham, Mt. Batur and Indra.

The entrance to the temple.

The entrance to the temple.

We had to wear sarongs to cover our legs.

We had to wear sarongs to cover our legs.

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Worshippers first make an offering to the temple then climb into the main pool to bathe and pray.

Offerings to the temple.

Offerings to the temple.

This Hindu Temple is famous for its holy water where Hindu Bali people go for purification of body, mind and soul. Visitors can bathe here as well.

The Holy Spring Water

The Holy Spring Water

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Mt Batur Volcano and Lake Batur:

Mt Batur, as seen today, was formed by an eruption in 1917 and is still an active secondary volcanic cone. Since 1917, Mt Batur has erupted three times (1926,1974, 1994).

Mt Batur

Mt Batur

Lake Batur is the largest lake of Bali. It is crescent-shaped and found in the smaller, secondary caldera of the Batur volcano, right at the foot of Mt. Abang.

Lake Batur

Lake Batur

A Visit to a Batik Gallery: Before visiting here, I thought batik fabric is made by dying a fabric using wax to create patterns and designs. I learned there are two other methods: weaving and by hand-painting (a very meticulous and labor intensive method). At their shop, cost of hand painted scarves starts from $100 US and up.

Batik by weaving.

Batik by weaving

Bali’s Cultural Festival

In the words of Surya, our tour guide “Bali likes to party and there seemed to be one going on from every other village almost everyday”. We saw at least 3 festivals just in one day while in Ubud.

A way of life for Balinese. Festivals and events are celebrations which are part of the social landscape of the island. They showcase its rich art and cultures and have become part of Bali’s attraction. The days of celebration are determined by Balinese calendar from long ago, while others are highlighted schedules that take place on specific dates each year

One of the many festivals we saw just in one day in Ubud.

One of the many festivals we saw just in one day in Ubud.

Another festival we spotted.

Another festival we spotted.

It was fascinating to see the women parading in their colorful outfits. They carried baskets on their heads filled with flowers and foods to bring to the temple as offerings.

Fascinating colorful outfits.

Fascinating colorful outfits.

DAY 4 : NUSA DUA

Pura Luhur Uluwatu:  A famous Balinese sea temple, and one of the nine directional temples of Bali meant to protect it from the evil spirits. A spectacular temple perched at the edge of the rock overlooking the raging sea. The word Luhur means “something of divine origin” and ulu means “land’s end” while watu means “rock” in the old language, and as you can see aptly described this temple. There is Kecak dance performed everyday at the adjacent cliff-top stage at 18:00 to 19:00, and charged a nominal fee. We did not go due to lack of time.

To be honest, it took a long drive to get here and was little disappointed for there was not much to see. Beware of the monkeys roaming around that can be aggressive at times. Our tour guide carried a stick to shoo them away. You can’t get into the temple unless you’re a Hindu. Best you come in the morning to beat the heat.

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

Pura Luhur Uluwatu

Luhur Uluwatu atop a cliff overlooking Indian ocean.

Luhur Uluwatu atop a cliff overlooking Indian ocean.

Enjoying the ocean view.

Enjoying the ocean view.

Conclusion: So glad we included Bali in our Tour of Asia, It turned out to be a most enjoyable, exciting, fantastic sensory and cultural experience. The wonders and essence of Bali is fascinating, and the warmth and hospitality of Balinese people, endearing.

Please let me know how you like this blog and leave your comments. Thank you.

 

At Long Last, St Regis Bali Resort


I wanted to stay at St. Regis property for some time after I saw gorgeous and beautiful pictures of St Regis Resort in Laguna Beach, CA. However, the cost per night, even with promo or special offer, still is too high for our budget. But then, I finally found a way to make it happened

My longing to experience a luxurious stay at St Regis became fulfilled, when we stayed for one night at St Regis Bali Resort during our short trip to Bali (Oct. 2014).

Welcome to St Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua.

Welcome to St Regis Bali Resort in Nusa Dua.

Local instrument playing in the lobby to welcome guests.

Local instrument playing in the lobby to welcome guests.

Hotel Overview

The hotel is located in Nusa Dua about 25 minutes from Ngurah Rai International airport in Denpasar. It offers an exclusive complimentary return airport transfer in an air-conditioned Mercedes-Benz sedan. We only used this service on departure day, as we stayed in Sanur when we 1st arrived. This service was awesome. The driver took care of everything for us and did not leave until we entered the area for passengers only.

St Regis Bali is a five-star luxury resort offering all suites and private villas for accommodation. Guests are assigned their own Butler, to help and give service for all your needs. They can unpack your luggage, iron your shirt, make coffee in your room, make reservations for dinner, spa, etc. Their signature St Regis Butler Service is available 24 hours.

As a category 7 Starwood property it requires 30,000 Starwood points per night to stay here for free. I booked our one night stay using Points and Cash (15,500 plus $290 US), took the offer to upgrade to a pool villa for additional cost $100. Our total cost inclusive of tax & service fees for one night was around $480 breakfast included. Not bad, for regular cost for this villa was going for $1350.

This is why I love points & miles, they allow us to experience luxury at a fraction of the regular costs.

Check-in

We felt like VIP’s as soon as we arrived. The staff greeted us with our names and ushered us into the open air lobby; asked to seat on the sofa as we wait to be checked-in. They also gave us welcome cocktails. Our assigned Butler introduced himself (forgot his name) and said he’ll take care of us during our stay. He showed us around for a quick tour of the property, then took us to our room.

St Regis hotel lobby

St Regis hotel lobby

Tour of the propery

Symbol of St Regis filled with flowers.

Symbol of St Regis filled with flowers

Grounds of St. Regis Property.

Grounds of St. Regis Property.

More landscaping...

More landscaping…

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Our Pool Villa #107

The suite is beautifully appointed, spacious with a separate living room, a writing desk, a walk in wardrobe closet with built-in cabinets.

Walk-in wardrobe closet.

Walk-in wardrobe closet.

A separate living room area.

A separate living room area

The bathroom is very nice with a free-standing tub, a separate rain shower and two TV (one mounted on the wall, the other by the tub).

Spacious bathroom with a separate tub and shower.

Spacious bathroom with a separate tub and shower.

We went out to have spa treatment & dinner outside of the hotel, and returned late. We saw our bed was decorated with towels shaped into a big heart and 2 swans.  I’m sure because I mentioned on our reservations that we are celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary. And found a pleasant surprise when we returned very late, a decadent cake. What a nice touch!

Our bedroom (king sized bed were sold out).

Our bedroom (king sized bed were sold out).

Outdoor space

I’m not sure which one I like better, the indoor or outside, both are equally amazing! There is a covered patio furnished with a daybed, table and 2 lounge chairs. A private courtyard and with a plunge pool; and a most comfortable cushioned gazebos.

Covered patio with day bed, table & lounge chairs.

Covered patio with day bed, table & lounge chairs.

The cushioned gazebo.

The cushioned gazebo.

Our private plunge pool.

Our private plunge pool

Dining Experience

Our room rate included a lavish breakfast spread (all you can eat) at the Boneka restaurant. You can order any dish from the menu, as well as partake any food from the buffet table. This has to be the best breakfast ever. Unfortunately, we could not “pig out” as we have  reservations for another fantastic dining experience for brunch just in  few hours.

The Boneka Restaurant.

The Boneka Restaurant.

As many have recommended, we started off by ordering from the menu their popular dish, lobster omelet.

Lobster omelet

Lobster omelet

Their lavish Buffet

Their lavish Buffet

Sunday Platinum Brunch at Kayuputi, their other restaurant was another exquisite dining experience and one I highly recommend. Reservations are required in advance. At Bali’s standard the cost is quite expensive ($110 US per person), but definitely worth it. See this link for a separate review, http://wp.me/p2jCGg-xA.

Kayuputi restaurant

Kayuputi restaurant

Pool facilities

There are only 2 public pools at this property, the lagoon pool and the main pool.

The lagoon pool

The main pool surrounded by covered cabanas.

The main pool surrounded by covered cabanas.

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Main pool with view of the beach.

Main pool with view of the beach.

A beachfront splendor

It boasts a beachfront splendor with a stunning white sand beach, and clear turquoise waters.

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Conclusion: This place is so luxurious, so beautiful with stunning beach and amazing foods; coupled with outstanding service…what’s not to like. One day for sure ain’t enough to enjoy what this resort offers. I’d like to stay longer when we come back.

 

Our Bali Trip in 4N/4D


Eat, Pray and Love, the movie comes to mind when Bali is mentioned. It is a 2006 memoir written by author Elizabeth Gilberts about a one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia. It starred Julia Roberts and was filmed in Bali. I think it’s fair to say the movie brought fame and made Bali a popular tourist destination.

Bali is the 3rd destination of our 3 week Tour of Asia from Los Angeles with 1st stop in Japan, then Hong Kong and now, to Bali island of Indonesia. We stayed from Oct. 15 – Oct. 18, 2015.

Airport & Visa on Arrival

We arrived in Denpasar Int’l airport at 3:30pm when bulk of flights arrive. The arrival of big crowd at the same time results in long lines to get a VOA (Visa on Arrival, cost $25 US) and long waiting time to get through immigration. It took us over an hour and a half. There are taxis outside (fixed rate depending on destination) readily available for transport to your hotel.

Tour Guide

I arranged our tour with Driver’s With Distinction online, and selected Surya to be our driver/guide for the next 3 days. He is personable, spoke good English and has an infectious laugh. He was very prompt, always on time or even early at times. Very satisfied with his service and highly recommend.

Recommended Attractions

Bali offers so many temples and attractions so it’s wise to pick which ones your time will allow. I communicated ahead of time ahead of time with Surya which sites to include in our itinerary, where we’d like to eat and where to shop. Listed below are the attractions and sites we visited during our trip.

Must see: Pura Ulun Danum, Penglipuran Village, Tanah Lot Temple View, Tirta Emple (Water Temple).

Pura Ulun Danu

Pura Ulun Danu

Penglipuran Village

Penglipuran Village

View of Tanah Lot from the distance.

View of Tanah Lot from the distance.

If you have more time: Mundok waterfall, Jatiluwih, Kintamani & Volcano, Mt Batuk & Lake Bratan, Uluwatu (a very long drive and not much to see, you can skip).

Mundok Waterfall

Mundok Waterfall

Jetiluwih Rice Terrace, the best looking of 3 rice terraces in Bali.

Jetiluwih Rice Terrace, the best looking of 3 rice terraces in Bali.

See separate blog for more comprehensive photos: “The Best of Bali’

Accommodations

We stayed at 3 different hotel locations during our trip: 1 night in Sanur, 2 nights in Ubud and 1 night in Nusa Dua and for good reasonsI wanted to use our time efficiently, minimized driving back and forth had we based our stay in one place. Our trip covered the south (Sanur), to the north (Bedagul), to central part of Bali (Ubud). then back towards south (Nusa Dua), and got us closer to Denpasar airport for our flight departure.

Hotel Reviews

Kamuela Suite & Villa in Sanur A boutique-style hotel that features local décor and theme creating a true ambience of Bali. It’s location is great, next to many small shops and restaurants. There’s even a money changer to get local currency (Rupiah) at a good rate, honest and reliable. Cash is King in Bali and authorized money changers offer better exchange rates than ATM

Our suite cost $90 US per night breakfast included. TIP: I booked direct at their website, and got free two 15 min foot massage. .

Entrance to our suite in Kamuela.

Entrance to our suite in Kamuela.

One of the friendly staff of the hotel.

One of the friendly staff of the hotel.

An unusual fruit sitting on a tray caught my eye as we entered our suite. Shaped like a pear, with a skin like that of a snake, this fruit is known as Salak, commonly called the snake fruit, a species of palm tree family native to Indonesia & Malaysia.

The Salak or snake fruit common in SE Asia.

The Salak or snake fruit common in SE Asia.

 It’s sweet, crunchy and taste like a crossed between jackfruit and durian (tropical fruits commonly found in SE Asia).

It’s sweet, crunchy and taste like a crossed between jackfruit and durian (tropical fruits commonly found in SE Asia).

Breakfast is served by the pool, which is surrounded by lush tropical plants and include freshly squeezed juice, sliced fruits and made to order breakfast entrée’s.

The pool at Kamuela Hotel.

The pool at Kamuela Hotel.

Breakfast by the pool.

Breakfast by the pool.

Mee Goreng, a typical Indonesian dish.

Mee Goreng, a typical Indonesian dish.

Sanur Beach:  Walked along the beach to find Kembasa to have seafood dinner, but had no luck.

A walk along Sanur Beach

Sanur Beach

Sanur Beach

Lounge set up by one of the hotels along the Sanur beach.

Lounge set up by one of the hotels along the Sanur beach.

Komaneka Bisma Hotel in Ubud

I rate this hotel a perfect score of 10.  A beautiful and luxurious suite, coupled with excellent service and hospitality. Staff anticipated our needs without asking, courteous and friendly. They called us by our names, and never failed to say hello, have a nice day or asked how was your day. They even gave us parting gifts at the end of our stay, how sweet.

Our suite at Komaneka Bisma in Ubud.

Our suite at Komaneka Bisma in Ubud.

Komaneka at Bisma Hotel in Ubud.

Komaneka at Bisma Hotel in Ubud.

Want more? See a separate blog, Review of Komaneka Bisma Suite.Here’s the link, http://wp.me/p2jCGg-LJ

St Regis Bali in Nusa Dua

One other hotel stay that blew our mind. Luxury and great service all around.

St. Regis pool villa suite #107.

St. Regis pool villa suite #107.

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St. Regis Bali Resort secluded beach in Nusa Dua.

To explore, read about and see more photos; see a separate blog, Review of St. Regis Bali. http://wp.me/p2jCGg-Mx

Dining Experience

We consider ourselves foodies, and love to eat anything good, exotic flavors, local foods, simple, gourmet and extravagant.  Bali offered us all those. I don’t think we had any bad meals.

Kayuputi Platinum Sunday Brunch

Definitely unique and out of this world, non-stop offerings of gourmet food. You are given 3 hours to eat from the menu and food trays passed around constantly. Food coma for sure. Expensive but definitely worth every penny. Here’s the link for the blog already posted, http://wp.me/p2jCGg-xA.

Kayuputi Platinum Brunch at St. Regis Bali.

Kayuputi Platinum Brunch at St. Regis Bali.

Baba Guling

A specialty dish all over Bali, with every place claiming they have the best roasted suckling pig. We went to Ibu Oka in Ubud, and Anthony Bourdain (a popular Food TV host) called it the best. Be sure to arrive early around 11:00am for lunch. They only prepare so much and once they’re gone, the place shut down.

Komaneka at Bisma Restaurant

Every meal we ate here were very tasty, very good and always presented beautifully.

Seafood in Jimbaran

No visit to Bali is complete without going to Jimbaran for seafood. There are so many places to choose from. Read up on TripAdvisor for reviews and tips where to go. Sorry, can’t remember the name of the place we went for lunch.

Seafood in Jimbaran

Seafood in Jimbaran

Fresh, delicious grilled fish, prawns , clams & calamari.

Spa Haven

Bali is haven for spa lovers, we discovered. They are everywhere, and very inexpensive and you’d be a fool if you don’t take advantage like we did, almost everyday.

Kamuela Hotel Spa: A brief intro to what’s in store for us, spa experience during our stay in Bali. Received complimentary 15 min foot massage which was really good and would pay to have it again here.

Leha LeHa Spa We had our 1st initiation of our rituals of pampering while in Bali at this spa in Sanur, and received a 1 1/2 hour Balinese massage and 45 min body scrub. Perfect!

Komaneka at Bisma in Ubud Spa:  As part of our hotel package, I received a one hour spa Balinese massage. A massage is always good, and this one was no exception. Hotels usually charged more, so I would rather go to independently-owned spa parlors for better priced and/or treatments.

Boutique Spa Sekar Jagat:  Tops our spa experience in terms of treatments and price. We received 3 1/2 hrs of treatment plus seafood dining on the beach for an incredible price of $190 US for couple. It was such an exciting, unbelievable and worth writing about on a separate blog. Must read, you’ll be surprised. Here’s the link for  “Bali, a Spa Haven”….http://wp.me/p2jCGg-LX

In Conclusion

We love Bali and would like to return someday. Despite our short stay we managed to see and experience a great deal.

There are so many details and wonderful photos, I wish to share. I think its best if I write separate blogs on sites/attractions/hotels that warrants comprehensive coverage. Here’s the link for my blog on Bali’s Attractions,  with more photos and details. http://wp.me/p2jCGg-LE.

Please visit my website, http://www.ramonadetravels.wordpress.com to find those upcoming blogs referred to here. You may also find blogs on other travel destinations for ideas and inspirations, as well as helpful tips.

Thank you and please let me know what you think and write your comments and/or any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hong Kong in Four Days


HONG KONG: Oct. 12- Oct.15, 2014

I saw Hong Kong (HKG) featured on Food TV show as a haven for foodie lovers, and it became the driving force to move up HKG on my bucket list. I love to eat, has an adventurous palate wanting to try out everything gourmet, different, and exotic.  A stop to this city was then included during our 3-week Tour of Asia in Oct.2014, and 2nd destination after spending one week in Japan.

Excited, at the same time apprehensive of our 1st time visit to Hong Kong.

Weeks before our scheduled visit, I watched daily on TV coverage of ongoing rallies in the city and hoped they would be over by the time we get there.  On the contrary, the situation escalated as gov’t. officials refused to meet & talk with protestors, and resulted in spread of more rallies. Outbreaks of violence erupted in some areas. A number of streets  closed for safety reasons, The situation definitely affected tourists as there were fewer public transportation in operation and were re-routed, causing confusion and difficulties to get to popular tourists spots.

Mongkok market in Kowloon was our foodie destination on this trip. Its street foods and bargain shopping attracts many visitors and locals alike. It has the largest and busiest markets and a good intro to HKG’s way of life.  For safety reasons,tourists were advised to avoid this market due to ongoing rallies resulting in closure of streets to get here. What a great disappointment, but better safe than sorry.

Airport to hotel

We left Osaka Int’l airport at 10:00am and landed at HKIA at 2:30pm. The Airport Express is a fast, convenient and inexpensive transport option to get from the airport to your hotel in Kowloon or HKG Island.  Our hotel, Hyatt Regency, is in Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon. The Airport Express to Kowloon station (HK$90,) takes about 25 min, runs every 10 min. From Kowloon station we took a complimentary shuttle bus (K3) which runs every 10-12 min, and dropped us off directly to our hotel.

Hyatt Regency in Tsim Sha Tsui

Love the location of our hotel; restaurants, shops, attractions and metro stations are all within 5 -15 minute walk. Our room on high floor has a full view of the harbor, and pretty spectacular esp. at night and during the Symphony of Lights show.

Spectacular view from our room window.

Spectacular view from our room window.

Spectacular night view from our room.

Spectacular night view from our room.

My Hyatt diamond status gave us free daily access to the Club Lounge which serves plenty of good food for breakfast, and during nightly cocktail & appetizers enough for dinner. This resulted in real savings to our budget for meal cost.

Appetizers served at the Club lounge during nightly cocktail hours.

Appetizers served at the Club lounge during nightly cocktail hours.

Oh by the way, their deserts are to die for! Gourmet, decadent and “no calories”.  Yeah, I wished.

Sampling of their desserts.

Sampling of their desserts.

Highlights of our trip

Star Ferry

The Star Ferry has carried passengers across the harbor between Kowloon to HKG Island since 1898. It’s a popular tourist attraction affording visitors a fantastic view of the city skyline for only HK$2.20.

The Star Ferry

The Star Ferry

Wasting no time, soon after we checked into our room we ventured out to the Star Ferry terminal (10-15 min walk) from the hotel.

Hong Kong Island as we approach riding  the Star Ferry.

Hong Kong Island as we approach riding the Star Ferry

 Tsim Sha Tsui Waterfront (Kowloon)

Locals and tourist flock here to stroll and watch the spectacular sunset on the harbor with the skyline of  HKG island as the backdrop, amazing view!

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The Promenade for best viewing of Hong Kong Island.

The Promenade for best viewing of Hong Kong Island.

Watch fascinating junk boats cruising the harbor.

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It’s a great place to meet up with friends, rest your weary feet and people-watched.

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Newly weds come here for photos, as well as models. It is truly a fun, exciting place to hang out.

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This is a good spot to watch a light show every night at 8pm, called the “Symphony of Light”.  But watched it in comforts from our hotel room.

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We continued walking and reached the “Avenue of Stars“, Hong Kong’s answer to the Hollywood “Walk of Fame” where you can see the stars of Chinese and Western actors alike.

The Best Peking Duck

Reviews on TripAdvisor claim China restaurant serves one of the best, if not the best Peking duck in Hong Kong.  Its located near the ferry terminal, and planned to come back for dinner the next day. They don’t allow half-order of the duck so we ended up ordering a whole duck, which was huge.  Our verdict, it was just OK. Perhaps what contributed to our disappointment was we only had one entrée, and got overwhelmed by it.

The restaurant with view of Hong Kong Island skyline.

The restaurant with view of Hong Kong Island skyline.

Our duck being sliced in front of us.

Our duck being sliced in front of us.

A huge plate of Peking Duck.

A huge plate of Peking Duck.

Ride 360 Ngong Ping Cable

This cable car runs a little over 3.5 miles, spanning from Tung Chung across the bay towards the airport and then on to Lantau Island. The cable car gives a panoramic view of the airport, harbor, and city before it travels through the surrounding mountains. The ride lasts about 25 minutes and takes you to Lantau Island,

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The cable car ride over waters and surrounding hills initially made me nervous and scared, but once I got used to the height I started enjoying the amazing views that surround us.

Lantau Island: is the largest of Hong Kong’s islands dominated by dramatic hills and peaks and spectacular scenery, picturesque coastline with some excellent beaches, temples, monasteries, traditional fishing villages and wonderful hiking trails. It features the Po Lin Monastery and its vegetarian restaurant, as well as the 85-foot (26 m)high bronze Tian Tan Buddha statue, also known as “Giant Buddha”. The Giant Buddha is visible at a far distance as we approached the island.

The Giant Buddha as seen from a distance from our cable car.

The Giant Buddha as seen from a distance from our cable car

Ngong Ping Village

Is set on Lantau Island, next to Ngong Ping Cable Car Terminal and the Tian Tan Buddha Statue. It’s a culturally themed village designed and landscaped to show the cultural and spiritual integrity of the Ngong Ping area. It’s rather touristy with an array of retail, dining and entertainment.

Entrance to Ngong Ping Village.

Entrance to Ngong Ping Village.

The Ngong Ping Village

The Ngong Ping Villa

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My husband underwent total replacement surgeries on his left hip (Apr. 2013) and right knee (Mar 2014).  Amazingly, he endured long day walks and even managed to climb more than 200 steps to the top of the Giant Buddha without  problems.

My hubby with backpack climibing up to the top of the Giant Buddha statue.

Climb up to the top of the Giant Buddha statue.

Tai O Fishing Village:

The Tai O Fishing Village in the Western coast of Lantau Island is a quaint and picturesque village, with the traditional stilt houses typical of the old Southern Chinese fishing villages. This is one of the few remaining places where you can still see them in Hong Kong. With its pretty setting on the coast framed by the mountains, and all the activity surrounding the harbor, traditional seafood market, and daily life in the stilt houses, it is a photographers dream and definitely worth the trip from Hong Kong.

During a 20-min boat ,we saw interesting stilt houses. Some are dilapidated, some nice-looking ones, and some well maintained with small garden on their front.

We took the boat tour of stilt houses.

We took the boat tour of stilt houses.

A dilapidated stilt house.

A dilapidated stilt house.

A stilt house with garden on the front.

A stilt house with garden on the front.

One of the many stilt houses of the fishing village.

One of the many stilt houses of the fishing village.

After the boat ride we went to the market dominated by stalls selling all kinds of dried fish, including a stingray. Meandering through the narrow alleys, we saw other food items, fruits & vegetables, and souvenirs being sold.

Many dried items like this hang from many stalls.

Many dried items like this hang from many stalls.

This one has a dried sting ray hanging.

This one has a dried sting ray hanging.

What caught our eyes, and got us excited was the smell of gigantic shrimps being grilled. This we got to try! Which ones to order? Definitely, the giant grilled prawns, scallops baked in garlic , stuffed oysters & some type of clams, I could not remember the name. Delish and the best seafood we’ve eaten during our trip in Hong Kong. Fresh, moist, sweet & tasty. 

Prawns and oysters.

Prawns and oysters.

Scallops in garlic butter sauce.

Scallops in garlic butter sauce.

Client comments posted on the board.

Client comments posted on the board.

The Peak Tram

The tram takes you to the top of the Peak, Hong Kong Island’s largest mountain, at 1700 feet. You ride a funicular to the top where you enjoy spectacular 180 degree views of the skyscrapers of Victoria Harbor, Kowloon, and the surrounding hills. It’s the best view of the city.

The Tram we rode up to the Peak, then took the bus down.

The Tram we rode up to the Peak, then took the bus down.

The Peak (Victoria Peak)

The highest point and one of the most popular attractions in Hong Kong. Its cityscape is the best in the world. At day time, you see the most impressive skyscrapers and Victoria Harbour all the way to the green hills of the New Territories.  Imagine watching sunset from up here, when cloud turns into hues of pink and orange; and galaxy of lights illuminate the buildings at nighttime….must be spectacular and breathtaking!. If you only have time to see one attraction, this is it!

The iconic view from Victoria Peak.

The iconic view from Victoria Peak.

View up here is amazing.

View up here is amazing.

More views from the Peak.

More views from the Peak.

Stanley Market

Less than an hour bus ride from Central in HKG island, it’s a popular day out to escape the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong proper. The market is in the quaint village of Stanley on HKG Island’s south coast and popular for good food and shopping. You’ll find reasonable prices here for clothing, accessories, souvenirs, etc. You will be expected to bargain here, so honed in your bargaining skills.

We boarded a double-decker bus, sat on top for better viewing as we went thru winding roads. It was a scenic ride and had great views of the Repulse Bay, where the Stanley Cup is held.

View of the Repulse Bay.

View of the Repulse Bay.

We came here just to visit, NOT to shop as we were intent on having only carry on luggage for the rest of our tour of Asia.

Samples of stall in Stanley market.

We then walked through the promenade, but the scorching heat was becoming unbearable.

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Found relief by having lunch at this restaurant with cooling fan. Lunch was actually very good, and glad it accepted credit card for we were running low on HKG dollars.

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The blowing fan from the restaurant provided a much-needed relief from scorching heat.   Hubby ordered steak and I ordered an Indonesian dish, and enjoyed our lunch.

Before we knew it our stay in Hong Kong was over. We had a great time, and look forward to our next destination, Bali, Indonesia.

UDPDATE: My husband and I will have an opportunity to visit Hong Kong again in October of 2015, and hopefully this time will get the chance to satisfy the foodie in us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huntington Beach, a Perfect Beach Getaway


Huntington Beach (HB) is a seaside city in Orange county in Southern California, and offers an uninterrupted 10 miles of coastline making it very popular  among surfers, and often called the surf city.

An uninterrupted 10 mile coastline  of Huntington Beach

An uninterrupted 10 mile coastline of Huntington Beach

Shark or no shark, HB here we come. The day before we checked-in at our hotel for an overnight stay, the city closed the waters of HB to the public due to reports of  a surfer encounter with a baby shark. Luckily, to surfers and swimmers delight, the waters opened to the public the next morning.

We however, came to HB to check out Hyatt Huntington Resort & Spa. We are sort of doing Hyatt-hopping, and had stayed at Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, Hyatt in Palm Springs, and next month is going to Hyatt Indian Wells Resort & Spa with my RN group (“Retired Na”, retired already)  consist of me, my husband, two sisters and brother-in-law who plans on retiring next year. BTW, we normally make award booking when we stay at Hyatt properties using award certificates, Hyatt points or Points and Cash.

Review of Hyatt HB Resort & Spa

Hyatt HB is a category 5 property, and requires 20,000 Hyatt points or 10,000 plus $125 on Points & Cash per night which is how I booked our two rooms. Otherwise, a standard room will cost almost $400 per night inclusive of taxes and resort fees ($25); and a suite over $500 per night. Parking only by valet is extra and cost $35.00.

Welcome to Hyatt HB Resort & Spa

Welcome to Hyatt HB Resort & Spa

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With my Hyatt Gold Passport (HGP) Diamond status, one of our rooms was upgraded to a suite using a suite certificate and the 2nd room received free upgrade to a deluxe room. Our rooms are on the top floor overlooking the pool and with partial view of the ocean. Our suite (4366) has a living room with a desk, the bedroom area, and has two bathrooms….one with a deep tub and a separate one with a shower. It also has an expanded balcony big enough for lounge chairs.

Our suite, the living room area.

Our suite, the living room area.

Our suite, the bedroom area.

Our suite, the bedroom area.

View of the pool from the  of our room. Being a weekend, the hotel was fully booked.

View of the pool from the of our room. Being a weekend, the hotel was fully booked.

Love all the perks that go with my elite status. For my welcome amenity, we chose a bottle of Merlot wine with cheese, crackers and 1,000 Hyatt points for the other room.

Our welcome gift.

Our welcome gift.

Another perk resulting in big savings for meals is the free access to Club Lounge for daily breakfast, snacks & beverage (11:00am -5:00pm); appetizers (5:00pm -7:00pm) and desserts (8:00- 9:00pm). The rosemary roasted almonds are so good, as well as the different flavored macaroons, and two kinds of cookies to tide your hunger over until dinner time. To quench your thirst there are waters, sodas, bottled juice, yogurt; for caffeine-seekers there’s coffee and cappuccino.

The Club Lounge which serves daily breakfast, snacks, beverage, appetizers and desserts.

The Club Lounge which serves daily breakfast, snacks, beverage, appetizers and desserts.

The property is right on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Beach Blvd, occupying the entire block. It is huge, sprawling and consist of over 500 rooms, housed on two main buildings. There is a main pool for adults with cabana, equipped with TV and mini-fridge; a kid pool with sliders, and three jacuzzi pools.

The pool with cabana equipped with TV and mini-fridge

So disappointed, but still managed to smile when slider pool already closed.

So disappointed, but still managed to smile when slider pool already closed.

The grounds are well-spread, and simply but beautifully landscaped. I can’t help and kept comparing it to Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad (another Category 5) which I initially liked better being nicer, more luxurious, and very colorful landscaping. But HB Hyatt grew on me, that in the end like it more for being on the beach and convenience to  But honestly, I won’t mind going back to either one as long as I have points to cut down the cost.

A big fountain located on the main building, and the 1st view you'll see from the lobby.

A big fountain right outside the main building, and the 1st view you’ll see from the lobby.

The ground landscaping, simply beautiful and elegant

A panoramic shot of the main ground

A panoramic shot of the main ground

The 3 Sisters (Lena, Linda & Belle)

The 3 Sisters (Lena, Linda & Belle)

Grounds at Hyatt HB Resort & Spa

Oh, this place is so beautiful.

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Main plaza where shops, restaurants, general stop and rental shop are located.

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There is a bridge from the hotel that leads directly to the beach. The staff will set up chairs & umbrella for you on the beach, for free. Awesome!

The landscape by the spa has a tropical feel, and with a pond filled with koi fish.

The landscape by the spa has a tropical feel, and with a pond filled with koi fish.

Not to be outdone, the boys want to pose too.

Not to be outdone, the boys want to pose too.

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It is a fully equipped or contained resort, with a small general store, a small shop, 4 or 5 options for dining from casual to fine dining. There are fire pits scattered around, perfect to gather round on chilly nights and for making s’mores. The store sells the kit with everything you need to make a gooey & delicious s’mores.

A very enjoyable getaway

A short stay it was, but we managed to experience and do lots of activities. A little bit of this, and a little bit of that  made this getaway enjoyable and lots of fun. Would have been perfect, if we got to the Spa earlier to use the sauna, steam bath and Jacuzzi; we missed the pool sliders which closed at 7:00PM, and my brother-in-law got to swim in the ocean.

SHOPPING

Location of our hotel is perfect, right on the beach and convenient. It is walking distance to the Main street where many restaurants and small shops are located. It took us less than an hour to drive to HB, and since it was too early to check in to our hotel we drove around to kill some time. We spotted a bunch of tents set up by the beach so we parked our car to do some shopping. Us, three sisters are thrilled to find some good buys…bangles, sunglasses and cover-ups.

The Tres Hermanas, happy with their good buys.

The Tres Hermanas, happy with their good buys.

BEACH TIME

A short walk across the bridge, we’re on the beach! Mr G wanted so much to swim on the ocean, but did not have the time. Instead, we walked barefooted, rubbing the sand between our feet, heels & toes (to exfoliate), got wet with strong rush of water from big waves.

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JACUZZI TIME

The hotel was fully booked, and all the pools were so crowded earlier in the day. But in the early evening hours, the crowd dissipated and we found one of the 3 jacuzzi pools empty. Aahh, felt so good and relaxing.

GORGEOUS SUNSET

Nothing more spectacular and romantic than watching sunset on the beach.

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WALK TO THE PIER

Next day, after a good breakfast at the Club Lounge, a walk to the pier sounds perfect. A great way to exercise while enjoying the beautiful view of the beach which looks amazing now empty (the weekenders have gone home, and it’s still quite early in the morning). There is a paved pathway from the hotel all the way to the pier (about a ¾ mile), so there are many joggers, and bikers; as well as interesting sightings.

Ready for our morning exercise.

Ready for our morning exercise.

The Pier which is less than a mile away from the hotel.

The Pier which is less than a mile away from the hotel.

Interesting Sights on the way to the Pier

Lifeguards on training

Lifeguards on training

Lifeguards on training

Lifeguards on training

Family bicycling

Family bicycling

The Pier

Welcome to Huntington Beach Pier

Welcome to Huntington Beach Pier

With my sisters

With my sisters

One for all, all for one

The pier is a place for all to enjoy. To go fishing, for friends to catch up & chat, for old folks to relax & enjoy. For surfers & learners, to play volleyball….

Designated area for playing volleyball.

Designated area for playing volleyball.

For seniors to enjoy the view.

For seniors to enjoy the view.

To go fishing

To go fishing

Take your date out

Take your date out

To exercise while enjoying a great view.

To exercise while enjoying a great view.

Especially for sea gulls

Especially for sea gulls

GOOD EATS

Normita Surf City Tacos: We stopped here for lunch before checking in at Hyatt. It’s a tiny place with only four small tables outside, and no more than 10 seats for eating at the counter. Their taco is the best, with a good size crunchy & moist fillet of Mahi served with a special sauce and definitely worth $4.40 each. A better deal is the Taco plate for $9.50 that comes with 2 tacos, rice, beans and chips. We came back here the next day, only to find out it’s closed on Mondays.

The famous fish tacos at Normita's

The famous fish tacos at Normita’s

Hyatt Club Lounge: The buffet breakfast is awesome, with variety of food: sliced fresh fruits, prosciutto & salami, eggs, smoked salmon, bagel, cream cheese & capers. There are healthy options such as hot oatmeal, cereals, milk & yogurt.

Breakfast at the Club Lounge

Breakfast at the Club Lounge

Pete’s Sunset Grill: One of the restaurants at Hyatt, and ate here for dinner. We had the best poke I’ve ever eaten (better than Maui). The bowl consists of green rice, big chunks of ahi tuna, seaweeds and topped with tiny salmon eggs….delish! The price is very reasonable at $14.00 and comes in big portion.

Dinner at Pete's Grill at Hyatt HB Resort & Spa

Dinner at Pete’s Grill at Hyatt HB Resort & Spa

Mo Ran Ghak: Searched for this place based on good reviews on Yelp to have lunch before we head home. With a big crowd waiting in front of the restaurant, we knew we made the right choice. We ordered bibimbap ( a typical Korean rice dish mixed with meat, vegetables, chili paste topped with egg) served on a very hot plate that resulted in crunchy bottom layer of rice “tutung”. Really good.

THE SURF CITY

And rightfully so, just see for yourself why many flock here; the learners, beginners, intermediate and the experts. And why US Open Surf Tournament will be held here in a week.

The Learners & Beginners

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Only an hour drive from home. Comfortable and nice accommodation. Good eats and good view. Relaxing, combined with some exercise and some shopping. Truly, a perfect beach get away.