Category Archives: Seychelles Saga

Seychelles Saga: Hilton Northolme – The Room

Seychelles Saga

A word about our rental car first. We got to the Avis counter and low and behold, the Avis guy wasn’t there. Stuck without really an alternative, we went with an enterprising guy next door who said he had called the Avis guy, and would offer the same price. He quoted the same price that we had on our reservation, so we accepted. He did of course try to add a 100 Euro “insurance” adder, to which I firmly declined (I had called Chase to confirm that my United MileagePlus credit card would provide primary insurance, which they said it would). He tried to add a few other charges, all of which I declined, and almost pulled the plug on the car. Ultimately, we were given a neon green two door that our suitcases barely fit in.
The drive up to the hotel was only about an hour with a few wrong turns. I’ll get to more about driving around the island in the next post.
Once we made it to the hotel though, things started looking especially up.
We parked in a lot close to the main entrance and walked a bit to a remote check-in area. From there we were driven down to the front desk in a golf cart (I don’t recall why), where we went through the formalities.

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Front Desk.

From there, we were driven to our room, what was really a free standing villa. We were in villa 112.

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Entrance to our villa.

Instead of the normal “Do not disturb” sign, it had an sign on the front that you could change based on how you were feeling.

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Relaxin’

The room villa had 3 rooms, and an anteroom, as well as a rather sizeable deck.
Looking around the room, we had a wonderful “Welcome” sign on the bed.

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4 poster bed.
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“Welcome!!”

We could simply could not contain ourselves to look around the rest of the room immediately, and had to check out the deck, which was sizable and had one of the most beautiful views we have ever had.

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2 person lounge chair on the deck.
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Outdoor table and chairs – great for evening pizza.
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Gorgeous view right from our room.

Stepping back to the room, we had a sitting area.

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Sitting Area.

In the sitting area was a nespresso machine.

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Nespresso!

There was a separate and sizeable bathroom, with a soaking tub, standing open shower, with a separate room for the toilet.

 Tub and Shower.
Tub and Shower.

Seychelles Saga: Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai

Seychelles Saga
We had an 8:45am flight out of DXB, and wanted to make sure we would be able to visit the lounge (which we had heard great things about), so we were out of the hotel before sunrise.
We were groggy at check-in, so we didn’t get any photos there (still have to remember these things!) but when we made it to the air side of the airport, we were amazed at how busy the place was.

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Busy Terminal

After looking around, we went upstairs to the Emirates First Class Lounge, and entered a completely different world it seemed.

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Emirates First Class Lounge Entrance.

There was seating throughout the lounge.

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Lounge Seating.

The lounge is so big that you practically need a map.

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Which way to the ….

Of course, you probably noticed the “Timeless Spa” entry toward the bottom of the sign, and you can imagine our response when we further saw this sign.

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Complimentary Treatments? Where do we sign up?

The complimentary options for First Class passengers were: A half back massage, mini-manicure, express reflexology, and basic hairstyling. We both went for half back massages, and were quite impressed what as to how good a 15 minute massage could be. For me, my masseuse even put used some oils.

Next it was time for a nice breakfast.

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The restaurant.

The menu was quite attractive:

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Menu
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Menu

First came the breadbasket and beverages. I of course had a mimosa. Also note the Voss water.

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The breadbasket was actually quite good, with some interesting danishes.

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Mmm Bread.

Unfortunately the waffles we had didn’t have such a nice fate. I pretty much dove into them immediately, and didn’t remember to take a photo until I finally took a breath. Normally I wouldn’t bother to include a photo, but these waffles were especially good.

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Waffles, what’s left of them at least.

Even though we didn’t partake of it, there was also a buffet.

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Buffet.
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Buffet.

After breakfast, we had a little time to stroll before heading to the gate.

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Terminal from above.

The walk to the gate was full of fairly expected sights, like Emirates’ A380.

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EK A380

Before long we were at the gate – just in time for final call!

Seychelles Saga: Grand Hyatt Dubai

 Seychelles Saga

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Our Emirates Chauffeur dropped delivered us to the Grand Hyatt Dubai in the evening, and left early morning, so most of the photos are in the dark.

The lobby was big, expansive and beautiful. With lots of greenery to break up the huge space.

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Front Desk
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Lobby
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Lobby
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Lobby
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Lobby

Checking in was a breeze, aside from a brief stop at the Concierge to see if he could convince Emirates to provide a chauffeur for our way to the airport the following morning – unfortunately, despite great efforts, we were not successful.

Our room was a standard room, with a desk,

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A comfortable bed,

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And a pretty spacious bathroom with a full tub, shower, and even a bidet.

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Sinks
Toilet and Bidet
Toilet and Bidet
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Soaking Tub
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Shower

We dropped our stuff off at the room and made a beeline for the Grand Club.

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A welcome site at the Grand Club

There was ample seating in a few different rooms, as well as a great view.

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And a great spread.

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Deserts were great as well.

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There were also plentiful quantities of beverages.

After our time in the lounge, we returned to our welcome amenity and enjoyed a little red wine as a night cap.

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We were out the next morning – for our final flight on our journey to make it to the Seychelles.

Seychelles Saga: Emirates First Class Milan to Dubai

Seychelles Saga

  • Emirates – EK Flight 102
  • Aircraft Type: 777-300
  • Milan-Malpensa (MXP) – Dubai, United Arab Emirates (DXB)
  • Depart: 10:15am; Arrive: 7:20pm
  • November 16, 2013
  • Seats: (First)

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We knew before we boarded the plane that we would have a different product than the more luxurious one on the 777-300ER we had flown the morning before. This was still an enjoyable flight though, just 2x2x2 across instead of 1x2x1.

The seats were also grey instead of the tan color.

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Like the 777-300ER, there was a in seat mini-bar, as well as a basket of goodies left out.

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And a pretty nice looking IFE screen.

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With a controller that you could pull out; again, not as nice as the 777-300ER, but leaps and bounds ahead of other first class products, like BA’s old First.

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The cabin was probably half full, if that, although with the mini-bar partitions it was easy to forget the cabin was shared at all.

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Before long we were offered a glass of Veuve Cliquot, and some nuts.

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Once we were airborne, the meal service started with some small bites. We switched to Dom Perignon, proceeded to go through not one, not two, not three, but four bottles during the course of the flight.

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The menu read:

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First was Caviar – kind’ve hard to pass that up.

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For the main entree, I had a stuffed chicken breast which was good, and my wife had the lamb machbous which she enjoyed.

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Lamb Machbous.

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For dessert, we had an Orange sweet curd souffle.

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The few hours between meal services were fairly uneventful. I think we were on the fourth bottle of Dom by the time we made it to the “light bites” before landing.

My wife had a seasonal salad, along with some tea.

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I had some wonderful butternut soup.

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Overall we had a pretty uneventful flight, and followed it up with a short train-ride to the main terminal, through customs which was pretty much a breeze, and through the baggage claim to the Emirates car transfer desk. We weren’t sure if we’d be able to get a car transfer flying on an award ticket or not, so tried our luck. We were fortunate on the way to the hotel, however even with the concierge at the hotel calling, we couldn’t get a ride back.

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Seychelles Saga: Emirates First Class Lounge Milan-Malpensa Airport

Emirates First Class Lounge Milan-Malpensa Airport

We departed the hotel for the walk to the airport (a whole 5 minutes), shortly before 8am, primarily because we wanted to balance the time we would have to wake up, with enjoying the lounge. It worked out well.

We already had our boarding passes (they were printed for us at the lounge in JFK), so we proceeded right to security / immigration, which was pretty quick.

On our walk to the lounge, we got the first look at our ride for the next 4-5 hours to Dubai.
Emitrates plane

Also on the walk, a pair of opposing alarmed doors just kind’ve stood out. I’m not sure why, but it just seemed a bit odd to me. Take a look:

Exit door

And, as far as random things – I’m feeling like there may have been some F1 fans, because they even had a Pit Stop…

pit stop

Needless to say, we skipped the pit stop and headed to the Emirates Lounge, which was one floor up and had a reasonably good view.
The Emirates Lounge

We found a table / seats, and really enjoyed the table display.

Flowers

I neglected to take any photos of the lounge, sans the entry-way area.

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There were plenty of drinks, and a pretty nice food spread.

Drinks:
drinks

drinks

Espresso:
Espresso

For food they offered omelet’s made to order, cheese sandwiches, a handful of other options, and a Frittata (which always reminds me of Harrison Ford in Morning Glory

food

And of course, they had some fruits and fruit juices, cereal, milk, etc.

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And cold meats.

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Before long it was time to board. This was a nice surprise, because Emirates has “gates” that directly connect to the jet way (by elevator, not necessarily directly to the aircraft).

jet way

Seychelles Saga: Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport Hotel & Conference Centre

Seychelles Saga

Seychelles Saga: Sheraton Milan Malpensa Airport Hotel & Conference Centre

When we had planned our stop in Milan, we had done so with the idea that we might go into Milan, but we just weren’t sure how we were going to feel. Long story short, we had been coming off a few weeks of hard work, so our 20 or so hour stay ended up being significantly catch up on sleep, and wandering through the landside of Milan Malpensa Airport.

We have SPG Gold status, and this was our first time at SPG staying with it. I’m not sure I could tell anything different, other than free internet, I didn’t notice much different. I still believe free internet should be a standard now, but I digress.

The lobby was fairly modern, spacious, and clean looking.

Loby

There was also an espresso set-up in the lobby.

espresso

We were given room 1105, which was a standard room, looking away from the Airport.

The room, while standard was pretty spacious. Looking back toward the entry, there were a couple of closets.

clothest

Just after entering the bathroom was to the right.

bathroom

The toiletries were nice as well.

toiletries

After the bathroom, on the right was the bed.

BED

and across from the bed was a nicely wall mounted TV, as well as a small workstation, and coffee / tea set-up.

TV

Overall, the hotel was nice for an Airport hotel, but I would really have to consider whether I’d make the trek into the city instead next time… Especially if I had Emirates premium transfer service each way.

 

Seychelles Saga: Emirates First Class – New York-JFK to Milan, Italy

Seychelles Saga

Emirates First Class New York to Milan

The gate was already significantly crowded, but we found a side-route to board. While we were not the first to board, I think we were the first First class passengers to board.

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Onboard we were pleasantly surprise with an amazing looking cabin, much like the one on the A380.

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The seats were great too:

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As we were settling in, I noticed the mini-bar, and quite honestly thought to myself — wow, this is extravagance, who needs a mini-bar in First Class? Later in the trip, it became quite apparent how nice it is, to have a place to grab a water or soda from, during times when the cabin crew are seated (e.g. taxi, take-off, landing, etc.).

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And of course, there was pre departure bubbly.

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Pre-departure champagne was Vueve Clicquot, which was what they had in the lounge. They broke out the Dom Perignon (I think 2003) once we reached cruising altitude.

Soon after, the cabin crew came around with amenity kits, pajamas, slippers, and eye shades.

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I will note that the Mrs.’ amenity kit was much smaller than mine. Mine (inside the brown bag) looked like an old leather dictionary cover. Really, really nice, but large.

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Once we were in the air, the cabin crew came around with more champagne and some warm nuts. As you can see, there was a pretty good selection of them.

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After that, we each had a selection of sandwiches. They were alright, but I was looking for something more.

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The alternative (and I think they pulled it from either Business or Economy Class) was a small pizza. I clearly had not eaten enough in the lounge, nor done my research as far as the extent of the meal service.

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The Mrs. Had some stuffed potatoes and some sweets. I can attest to the great quality of the pink macaroon (aka, it was great).

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Afterwards we were tired enough that we really just wanted to sleep, so unfortunately I didn’t get photos of the bed made up. Briefly described: the seat was reasonably comfortable as a bed, the mattress pad however was too narrow for the seat and didn’t help all that much. Not to be picky, but a second pillow would’ve also helped, but the one was at least of a size that I could double it over.

About 90 minutes before arrival, we got our wake-up, and had a small breakfast. I opted for the Crepes, which were good, but nearly as phenomenal as my crepes on Qatar Airways Business class to Singapore.

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The Mrs. had an egg dish, which she enjoyed.

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Before we knew it, our descent had begun and our great flight was almost over. The views were great though, with snow covered mountains among the clouds.

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Before long we were on our way to the Sheraton for our brief visit in Milan.

Seychelles Saga – Emirates First Class Lounge

Seychelles Saga

We really started out at Reagan National (DCA) in DC, but since that was a CRJ700, I won’t spend really anytime. It was a quick flight anyway. Once to JFK, we made the trek to the Skytrain, then onward to check-in.

Checking in was smooth until the agent noticed that our boarding passes hadn’t printed with lounge access. They had to dig into the reservation, because apparently Alaska Air awards look like travel agent and employee tickets, and the latter two don’t get lounge access (not sure why).

The agent finally gave up and called the manager of the lounge and let them know to expect us.

We proceeded to security. This was a nice surprise, because the First Class line also happened to be TSA PreCheck. We were through almost as fast as we could push the folks (who didn’t know the PreCheck process) in front of us.

When we made it to the lounge, we were still a few hours before our flight, so the agent at the entrance pretty much knew who we were. The lounge was great. It was overtop of two A380 gates, and even had boarding from the lounge.

The lounge was really nicely done in earth tones. It didn’t look especially opulent, but still very nice. The food was plentiful and quite good.

We had a “Light” meal in the lounge, which was a good thing because the flight only had “light bites” and then a full breakfast. I will note that the champagne in the lounge was Vueve Cliquot and quite good.

There were also some nice views of the A380 flight that was to leave after us but go directly to Dubai.

Before we knew, it was time to board. Unfortunately we didn’t get to board from the lounge, so we had to navigate the masses to board, but such is life.