1. Introduction: Constructing — and Re-constructing — the Award Trip
  2. American Eagle DC – New York and the New Nicest JFK Airport Hotel, the Hilton
  3. Cathay Pacific First Class, JFK – Hong Kong
  4. The Wing lounge in Hong Kong and Cathay Pacific Business Class Hong Kong – Kuala Lumpur
  5. Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur
  6. Malaysia Airlines Business Class, Kuala Lumpur – Langkawi
  7. The Andaman Langkawi
  8. Malaysia Airlines Business Class, Langkawi – Kuala Lumpur
  9. Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur
  10. Things to See and Do in Kuala Lumpur
  11. Korean Airlines First Class, Kuala Lumpur – Seoul and the Korean Airlines First Class Lounge Seoul
  12. Korean Airlines First Class, Seoul – Washington Dulles

When Starwood first took over The Andaman in Langkawi, Malaysia I was intrigued. I’d heard of the property, seen it on several ‘best’ lists (for best beaches, spa, etc). But early reports were that it had really gone downhill, that it needed significant investment.

Then I heard that Anne Scott had taken over as General Manager and I figured the place had a shot. She was the general manager that opened the Le Meridien Chiang Rai, which I found to be a really special place when I went there a few months after opening (I’ve heard that things have slipped a bit since she left).

One of the best pieces of advice in travel — not on the scale of usefulness of “hang up, call back” whenever you don’t get the answer you want — is to get to know your hotel general managers. Anne was very hands on during our stay in Chiang Rai, she greeted each guest on arrival whenever she was on property, and she was there to see us off when we checked out. I kept up a correspondence with her, I shared my feedback on the hotel, what I thought it did well but most especially where I thought they could make little tweaks to improve things. She was genuinely receptive. I even noticed when she won an award (“Asia’s Leading Woman in Hospitality”), dropped her a note of congratulations.

When I considered staying at the Andaman a couple of years ago, I emailed her. I asked for her advice and she told me candidly that I shouldn’t come for a visit yet, that there was a lot of work to be done and that I’d enjoy it much more if I waited. So when I was planning a trip for Thanksgiving 2012 I e-mailed her again, and this time she told me it was worth coming. She later explained that she was better than halfway through her original list of projects (though she had since added many more) and much of the heavy lifting was complete. That was enough for me.

And this is admittedly key: I am not a Starwood Platinum these days. The hotel doesn’t have a lot of suites, and while Platinum members definitely get upgrades a suite isn’t something to consistently expect here as an elite upgrade. I told Ms. Scott that the room would be a fairly key ingredient of enjoying my stay, I wanted to use points for the stay but there wasn’t an option to book a suite for double points. She told me just to book the base-level award and she’d ensure an upgrade. Get to know your general managers. Even if they’re at a hotel you don’t plan to return to, because they wind up at other properties down the line.

When we arrived at the Langkawi airport there was a hotel representative waiting for us, he pointed out several things along the half hour drive to the property. When we checked in they knew to expect us, again as in Kuala Lumpur we didn’t have to identify ourselves.

We were brought to the check-in desk, then were escorted to a couch to finish formalities, and Ms. Scott came out to greet us. She recommended the complimentary morning rainforest walk, and told me we’d most like the open air Malay restaurant down by the water (one of three restaurants on property — open only weather-permitting — the other two are the main all-day dining room and the Japanese restaurant, though they are building a seafood restaurant by the beach).

She’s one of the most thoughtful hotel general managers I’ve met, and by that I don’t mean “considerate” but rather “insightful.” I still recall the conversation we had about breakfast, it was the first project she undertook with the chef at the Le Meridien before they opened, her view is that people don’t take time to linger over breakfast in their daily routines so investing in thinking through how to make that meal special will go a long way towards separating a vacation from daily life.

After check-in we were escorted to our room which was at the very far end of the property and on the third of four floors. Reception is on the top floor, and the property is built into the side of a hill so the rest of the hotel descends down to beach level. Thus we were one level below reception.

There was fruit in the room, and also macarons and a bottle of wine.

Shortly after arrival a knock came to the door and a plate of appetizers was delivered.

In the evening there was turndown service, and then perhaps half an hour later a delivery of chocolates.

The evening dessert deliveries was a real highlight of my stay at the Le Meridien Chiang Rai, every night a different chocolate dessert, so I hoped it would be one of the special touches that Anne Scott brought to the property, but there wasn’t any sort of evening delivery the rest of the stay.

When we arrived in Malaysia the night before it was late at night, I had no problem falling asleep and slept normal local hours. But on this second day jetlag was catching up to me, largely because I slept very little on the flights across the Pacific (a function of the 9am departure time from New York). And come 6pm I was exhausted so ordered some Nasi Goreng from room service and retired early. I figured it was vacation, I’d have 5 nights here, so why not just sleep when I was tired and get up whenever I awoke?

Naturally asleep around 7pm I woke up early and needed some coffee. The Nespresso machine in the room wasn’t working, so I decided to call room service to have them deliver a pot. But the phone just rang and rang. So I called the front desk, and that just rang and rang. Tried again half an hour later, same thing. Half an hour after that and room service picked up. I told them what I wanted, they said someone would call me back to confirm. About 20 minutes later I got a call back and was told that it would take 20 minutes for coffee to be delivered. They brought coffee, and packaged creamer. I asked for fresh cream, the employee delivering the coffee went away and I got a phone call. I explained I wanted fresh cream, she said she would call back, and a few minutes later I had a call explaining that room service had only packaged creamers. It took me two hours, but I had coffee, and I had packaged creamer. Fortunately the coffee routine would get smoother from there.

In-room internet was excruciatingly slow. I couldn’t get a consistent signal at all in the bedroom, but it was workable from the living room (although in-room internet went down for about 24 hours during the stay and was available only in the business center).

The room was kept up well but far from modern. Some of the furniture in the room didn’t match. The couch was too small for two people to sit on, so there should definitely have been a larger couch or couch and a comfy chair, as it was a second person in the living room needed to use a dining chair.

My other room complaint was that there was a family with two young daughters in the room above me for part of the stay, and I could hear a banging noise from above as the children ran around. If noise is an issue to you, it’s advisable to ask for a room on the fourth floor so that no one is above.

The staff, though, are much friendlier and far superior to the physical plant and furnishings. The waitress we had each morning in the restaurant tried hard to figure out my coffee preferences on the first day and she had everything organized for me starting on second visit. The coffee in the restaurant wasn’t very good — it tasted burned, though perhaps it’s the coffee they use since even the cappuccino and espresso had remnants of that flavoring (maybe they overheat the shots of espresso?). But cappuccinos each morning worked. And that was always after coffee from the Nespresso machine (which we had them replace on the second day).

I spent a good bit of time sitting out on the balcony reading, looking out over the beach and the sea. No one ever bothered me while I was out there but it’s important not to leave the balcony door open. As you’re advised by a decal on the sliding glass door, always leave the balcony doors locked or else the monkeys will come in in search of food. I didn’t see monkeys for the first two days on property and started to think it was all a ruse, but afterwards it seemed as though they were everywhere.

Spa treatments really were outstanding. I did two 2.5 hour treatments, the second of which was one of the very best spa experiences I’ve had. In fact I think the last one that was as good was four years ago in Bali. There are beautiful views from the spa bungalows. But the bungalow itself used for that second treatment wasn’t relaxing. Towards the top of one of the columns of the open air bungalow was a wide ring of mold. Bugs were scurrying around all over that mold ring. Another thing that they could work on is staff decorum in the reception area, several were gossiping loudly in the back which were a bit of a buzzkill on the way out after my treatment. Similarly, staff do things for their own convenience like empty the tub during the end of a massage, and the sound of water going down the drain drowns out the sounds of the ocean (defeating the purpose of the open air bungalow). So while it’s a good spa, and I did get one outstanding treatment, there’s a little work to do here as well.

I really came to enjoy Malaysian cuisine during this trip, something I’ll write much more about in the coming chapter on activities in Kuala Lumpur. Here I’ll just say that I was surprised (though shouldn’t have been) by the South Indian influence and the curries. Those were some of my favorite pieces of breakfast, and also dinner.

Breakfast is served in the all-day dining restaurant in the main hotel. There’s an outdoor seating area the butts up to the pool but you cannot see the water from there as that’s obscured by trees. The choices are varied with curries, vegetarian choices (including some good roti), Japanese options, and Western choices. There’s an egg station and an area of freshly baked breads. Certainly good but there’s little variation day-to-day and it was a little less extensive than I would have imagined considering everything I’ve heard about top end Malaysian breakfast buffets.

I tried each of the restaurants at dinner. The beach bar transforms into an open air Malay restaurant at night and the food was outstanding (as were the cocktails, the Andaman martini was my favorite).

The main dining room was fine but I don’t really like returning to the same space for dinner as breakfast and the food was unmemorable. It was pouring rain the night that I was there, and the best outside tables required a reservation. They had ‘closed off’ one table they thought was too close to the edge, I took that and never got wet and actually enjoyed being a bit closer to the end of the weather and having a cool evening breeze, watching the rain pour down. The Japanese restaurant was adjacent to the main dining room and had outside seating, but it’s comprised of tables along a main walkway so people do walk by during dinner.

The food I enjoyed the most was actually at the Malaysian cooking class I participated in at lunch my last full day on property. The staff and chef were friendly, the ingredients were fresh. I always try to take cooking classes in new destinations and then bring a little bit of my trip back home. Most of the cooking I do at home is Thai, I love making Thai soups and curries the most.

This hotel is in a very special place. It’s on the beach, on the edge of a 10 million year old rainforest. I could have stayed in the more modern Westin, but that experience could have been in any vaguely Asian location. And the location of the Andaman is unquestionably beautiful.

I could have stayed at the Datai or the Four Seasons for <substantially more money. The hotel was a fantastic value when I booked it as a Starwood Preferred Guest category 4 hotel (it has since been raised to category 5). The staff are fantastic, a few slips notwithstanding. But it is an older physical plant. It can get busy, with most beach chairs taken. It’s not a place for seclusion and the ultimate in privacy,, the way I’ve experienced on recent stays at the Park Hyatt Maldives (overwater villa at the far end of the pier), Conrad Koh Samui (all rooms are standalone ocean villas with private pools), or Westin Siray Bay (lucking into a standalone villa with private pool and then pressing for one that couldn’t be seen from the all-day dining restaurant).

As they’re only halfway through their original list of capital projects, and they continue to add more, the place will only get better. I would return. But I think I’d give it fewer than 5 nights, at least for a stay where I intend to remain mostly on property. The breakfast options were fine but I was bored of them by the 4th morning. I didn’t love the main dining restaurant or Japanese restaurant for dinner, and I wouldn’t want to rely on the open air Malay restaurant (or the soon-to-open seafood restaurant) for so many nights.

After five nights it was time to leave, we rang up to have our bags picked up from our room and went to the front desk to settle our account. Again the General Manager came out to see us off and wish us well. We chatted briefly about our plans for the rest of our stay in the country. She relayed that she often struggles to make good recommendations for Kuala Lumpur, and that her best one was for a company that does food tours — which happened to be the very company I had contacted for assistance in finding the best eating for the very next day.

A hotel car was ready to take us on to the airport and we bid adieu to the Andaman, for the next step of our adventure.

  1. Robert Hanson said,

    If only I had a travel blog with thousands of readers in search of “aspirational travel”, I too could get advice like don’t come here yet, and now is the time to come. Not to mention free upgrades despite my lack of status.

    No, I don’t begrudge you your extra benefits. You’ve worked hard on this blog for 10 years, and deserve them. But I really think there should have been a disclaimer at the beginning of the post, similar to the ones you give on affiliate links, that this travel report is not representative of the level of service and facilities we ordinary folks will experience. Or even Starwood Plats for that matter.

    Yes it is mentioned subtly in the post, but not so that it stands out and makes it clear that you got special treatment as a famous blogger. You make it sound like we can all just “get to know our managers”, but I’m sure it’s more that she knows you are giving her hotel a free advertisement thru your post. And that works both ways, if you had gone before she got things up and running, it would have been a negative advertisement. So she counseled you to wait. I doubt she would have given me that advice.

    Without the free suite upgrade, you probably would not have gone there, nor liked it as much. So you were in essence paid by the hotel with extra perks to write this report. I understand you don’t think of it this way, but it seems like it to me.

  2. beachan said,

    Thanks for this installment! I am going there for 3 nights in February.

    Were you in a suite or a standard room? Any insights (other than 4th floor for noise) which part of the hotel has the better views? Is it worth using my SNAs there?

    Sorry for so many questions, but two more please :>). On FT, there is a lot of advice to get a car, Your thoughts?

    I am leaning towards a rate that has dinner built in. It’s only 100 MYR greater than the lowest refundable rate, but 100 MYR than the lowest non-cancellable rate. Of course, SPG is only 12k/night, but I”m saving up for the Gritti Palace. How much do you think dinner for two costs (without drinks)?

    Thanks again for the report and thanks in advance for the answers to my several questions!

  3. beachan said,

    Whoops, I meant 300 MYR higher than the non-cancellable rate. They have fixed their “Red Hot Deal” rates it seems.

  4. Gary said,

    @beachfan I was in a suite, the views are the best in the highest-numbered rooms all the way at the end of the property. I don’t know what rooms are available using suite night awards, my sense is that platinums generally get upgraded otherwise to better view rooms but usually not suites. The suite was small, so I was happy to have it compared to a regular room.

    I agree get a car if you want to go off property, lots of guests had cars and the front of the hotel was absolutely packed with them.

    I’d say that 100 MYR is an absolute bargain for dinner for 2.

  5. Gary said,

    @beachfan 300 myr is a different story I don’t think you’re really saving much at that point (though there are some pricey option sin the japanese restaurant for sure but have no idea if those would be permitted)

  6. Gary said,

    @Robert Hansen let me see if I can offer some context that helps here, because I actually think it’s very clear how I went about planning this trip and I’ve been counseling being in touch with hotel management in advance of stays as a strategy for years.

    As for thinking that this post is misleading, I did not write a review where I said HEY LOOK I GOT A FREE SUITE UPGRADE you can too. I wrote my entire lead-in to the post explaining that I have a past relationship with the general manager, that I *corresponded with her in advance*. And that she is fabulous. And that Starwood Platinums usually do not get suites as elite upgrades (based on status alone) because there are a limited number of such suites.

    I think the advice is sound, hopefully you or at least others will find it useful to be corresponding with hotels as part of a booking strategy on vacation.

    I’ve written about this as as part of upgrade strategies, and my own success with it is hardly an outlier. As you’ll see in an upcoming installment I will explain that strategy vis-a-vis the Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur. I do not flaunt anything blog-related when I do so. And I frequently get very bad service, and I write about that as well. I corresponded with Ms. Scott in advance of my stay at the Le Meridien Chiang Rai as well, no mention of a blog [and I am 100% certain there is no chain-wide flag on my account as a blogger]. And she was equally helpful if not more so.

    If you’d like to dismiss any sort of treatment that stems from communicating with a hotel, and not stemming from automatic processes of an elite, I’d just say that you do so at your own peril. Because much better treatment can come from interacting pleasantly with a hotel GM than comes from a mass status program.

  7. beachan said,

    The 300 MYR lower rate is non-refundable, which I normally don’t book more than a week out, and prefer to never book non-refundables, so the fact that the dinner might be worth half the difference makes it a no-brainer.

    Thanks for all the responses!

  8. Brian L. said,

    So the monkeys were exhibitionists? :)

  9. KL said,

    Robert Hanson hit the nail on the head; i think we’re all a tad jealous you have this blog that increases your influence and bankroll over what us normal people have access to, but the fact of the matter is, you do get better treatment just for being who you are.

  10. Gary said,

    @KL I realize you might presume that but it just hasn’t been my experience. I get pretty good treatment at times because I am meticulous in my planning and reaching out to hotels. And picking the hotels I stay at based on researching how they treat elites. But hotel properties rarely ever know that I have a blog, although sometimes I hear from them after the fact when I’ve posted something especially after I’ve posted something negative (they all have google alerts for mentions of the property’s name).

    I built a long-standing relationship with this hotel’s GM, built on past stays and actively maintaining a correspondence, and that yeilded a better stay in this case. Which — contra Robert Hanson’s reaction — I was very clear about, in fact I led the post off with.

    But I guarantee you that even though I had an Ambassador Suite at the Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur they treated me on the basis of my elite status and nothing else, you’ll see from my subsequent post they wouldn’t give me as late a checkout as I wanted — without paying a full night’s room rate (even 50% they wouldn’t take). And I got no bennies at the Hilton JFK, or at the Sheraton LAX where I was one of the organizers, or any myriad number of my hotel stays over the course of the past years.

    99% of my stays are very much anonymous, this one I don’t attribute at all to the blog but to cultivating a personal relationship. I can think of only 2 hotel stays ever where it seemed I got any extra attention where the hotel was also aware of my blog, and in at least one case that knowledge of the blog came after the special attention began.

    Regardless, I haven’t ever taken a free stay, and I provide as much detail as I possibly can about how I wound up with a given upgrade — precisely so that you can either try to mirror my own strategies, or decide for yourself if your experience is likely to be similar to mine.

    In this case, some folks think that the personal relationship with the GM was motivated on her end because of the blog, which we’ve never spoken about and a relationship that began prior to my first stay at her properties. If you’re inclined to thing my experience isn’t replicable, then simply assume that you don’t wind up in a suite, and 95% of the rest of the post applies in exactly the same way. (And I flag that the suite isn’t a normal occurrance based on status.)

    Hope all of that is useful by way of transparency and explanation.

    Cheers,
    Gary

  11. Albert said,

    Interesting profile on Anne Scott:
    http://www.caterersearch.com/Articles/10/05/2011/338218/Brits-Abroad-Anne-Scott.htm

  12. Carl said,

    Thanks for the review, i was really looking forward to it. I would add that the LM Chiang Rai is still wonderful in every way and that this is the second time you have mentioned it has slipped. Like you, i make it a point to get to know hotel managers and was very impressed by the team there, having also known the F/B Manager from his time in BKK at another property.

    I am a bit surprised at the comments from some of your readers. I am not a blogger, but I get to know hotel managers, and as a result have had some wonderful experiences. I would not have a Starwood Ambassador if it was not for a GM in Thailand who referred me during the pilot program. And it is not because i am a huge spender. My rates are low unpublished government rates, C/P, and i stay maybe 60-70 nights per year.

    Finally, how was the rainforest, the pools, and the beach?

  13. Gary said,

    @Carl – I have mentioned I’ve heard it’s slipped, I have not returned myself. The beach was lovely, the rainforest as well, I never saw much point in laying at the pool though that much was fairly deserted even on days when tons of folks were laying on the ocean. The setting itself was fantastic.

  14. Carl said,

    thanks for the clarification Gary, great report, appreciate the effort you put into it.

    I forgot to ask, why did you let your Platinum slip? Will you qualify for 2013?

  15. Gary said,

    @Carl i gave it up before they improved benefits in 2012, and my stay plans didn’t require going for it. i haven’t really decided whether to push for it in 2013, or whether to take away meeting spend from someone else at work to get it that way (but meeting spend plats aren’t 50 night plats and thus don’t get advance confirmable upgrades)

  16. Robert Hanson said,

    Gary, I’m not trying to slam your blog, or you either. I have posted a number of times how extremely grateful I am for everything I have learned from you, especially as you were the first travel blogger I found out about. Even everything I’ve learned from Lucky and MP is due to finding out about them thru your blog.

    I just don’t believe that if I had emailed the GM, and asked about staying at her hotel, she would have advised me to hold off for a year or two so she could get the place in better shape. Give out that sort of advice too often, and you are the ex-GM.

    And if “One of the best pieces of advice in travel…is to get to know your hotel general managers” is really meant as advice for your readers, and not merely to gloss over how you got special treatment, I’d say it’s not useful advice for most of us.

    Yes, Lucky does get to go to Asia and stay at aspirational properties nearly every month, giving him the chance to get to know many high-end managers. But that’s why he’s called LUCKY, right? And I’m sure there are some top corporate executives whose jobs get them sent to HK and BK monthly who could also do this.

    For those of us who are not corporate execs, nor professional travel bloggers…we are probably never going to stay in a high end Asian property twice in our lives. And if we do return after a number of years, the manager may well have changed anyway. I personally mainly travel to Europe, and in years of doing that, I have yet to even meet an assistant manager, much less a GM.

    The fact that you are pretty sure most properties you stay at don’t know “who you are”, and usually don’t give you any special deals only underlines for me that this particular GM does know who you are, and thus gave you preferential treatment. You have followed her career online for years, corresponding with her, and sending her congratulations. Yet it doesn’t occur to you that she quite likely has looked you up too. I just googled your name, and 11 off the top 12 listings is about you.

    I believe you that you don’t try to use the blog to get special treatment. But luxury hotels keep files on their regular guests, and their preferences. I’m sure far more properties know “who you are” and tell their employees to give you careful treatment than you are aware of. I usually laugh when I read a blogger writing that the entire staff “addressed me by name”. As if the entire staff knows the names and faces of everyone staying there. No, they just know the names and faces of the VIPs management has told them about.

    But if you want to keep maintaining that when you get a 2 bedroom suite when technically you were only entitled to a one bedroom, it was just out of pure luck…well, ok, I’ll keep reading your blog, learning lots from it, and try to keep quiet from now on. Thanks for all you do….

  17. Bob said,

    Robert Hanson is spot on. “Get to know your GMs” has slightly different results when you have a famous website.

  18. Joelfreak said,

    I will vouch for Gary, that talking to hotel GM’s DOES help tons. I am currently on a BRG rate for the WORST room at a hotel in Hawaii (lets keep the location a bit secret), and by talking to the GM, and having a small relationship with her, I got an upgrade to an oceanfront room with a balcony…and I do NOT have a blog. Does Gary get good treatment because of WHO he is? I’m sure he does, but overall, I think the general staff of the hotel doesn’t know, or care, who he is. Thus, he gets the same treatment you or I would get.

  19. Gary said,

    @Robert Hanson – oh I’ve long appreciated your contributions here so please don’t misunderstand me. I’m just saying that a good bit of upgrades has to do with rapport, communication, being nice, and getting on with people. And that’s not just about having a blog — I’ve helped others strike up correspondence under their own names to good effect as well.

    And I’ve occasionally lucked out with upgrades but I am not lucky. It’s almost all strategic. It’s corresponding with hotels to find out what sort of room I need to book to get the kind I want, it’s complaining at appropriate times about what I’ve been given, my biggest and best rooms have come either on mistake rates or by tipping at checkin (vegas).

  20. Bob said,

    Nobody’s referring to the service he might get from some random waiter. Just the upgrade to the room he’s not entitled to, and one that is more expensive for the property.

    It’s kind of like when big time bloggers fawn over the customer service they got from a twitter complaint.

  21. Gary said,

    @Bob I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anything off of twitter. And I’m just trying to communicate here, for those that want to try it out, that ‘regular folks’ can and do benefit from developing an ongoing rapport with property managers.

  22. Lisa said,

    Just chiming in here – but I have to agree with Gary that getting to know the GMs absolutely can help you, regardless of “who” you are. I don’t have a blog, nor do I travel to Asia extensively for business (primarily for leisure), but I have met and interacted with several GMs at different hotels in Asia (the two most recent being the Four Seasons in Langkawi and The Chedi Club in Ubud) and I have found them to be very welcoming and receptive. They absolutely enhanced our stays at these properties and provided us with extra special service. For some reason, I haven’t had the same experiences in NA or Europe, as the GMs haven’t been as “visible” during our hotel stays. However, I found that just taking the time to speak with the staff (regardless of their level) and get to know them can really help provide some benefits during your stay.

  23. Gary said,

    +1

  24. Carl said,

    I agree with the get to know your GM strategy. I don’t do it for every stay, but when I want a stay to be special, I do reach out the GM ahead of time. Just the fact that you got the name and communicated your needs makes you special compared to the other guests that are checking in that day, and if you had a special request or it was a special event, your reservation will get special attention.

    What is a Starwood Ambassador? What does it do for you? I’m n SPG Platinum and I’ve not heard of the Ambassador program.

  25. Gary said,

    Starwood ambassador is a designated contact who helps you with your reservations, contacts the hotels with requests, etc. They assign them at 100 nights.

    Oh and I’m actually surprised nobody commented on the photos of the monkeys…

  26. Joan said,

    Don’t assume the “Being greeted by name” is just a bennie in Asia for int’l bloggers.

    Several years ago we stayed @ the Hilton KL as a HHonors Diamond or Gold (can’t remember)…Leisure, flashpackers, taking a lux break in an executive floor suite during our close to the ground travel in SIN & Malaysia.

    I was continuously shocked & startled when staff…desk, doorman, etc. kept greeting me by name “Mrs. S***. How did they know…remember?

    It was really fun & speaks to one of the reasons that when I choose to spend big money it’s on a higher class business hotel in Asia.

    For the beach, I prefer the $8 USD per night cottage on the beach in Gili Meno :)

  27. Michael said,

    Love Gary’s strategies. I’ve been fortunate to meet most of the top bloggers and they are hard workers who cultivate their travel. Yet, even as tops in their professions, things go awry (Thepointsguy is denied boarding using UA miles; planes break down; upgrades at the SheratonLAX are denied, etc.) What DOES help regular joes such as myself is learning small, insider traits that can yield great results (like when to travel, when to book, being notified of terrific deals (like Hilton’s 50 percent off sale or Carlson’s stay one night get one night everywhere).

    As an aside, Gary recently gave me great advice on securing a LARGE SUITE at the Andaz Wall Street. It worked like a charm and I ended up staying in a suite larger than my apartment in LA. All for under $200 a night (due to learning from a blogger about the Hyatt BRG of not only matching lowest rate but beating it by 20 percent)…

  28. Carl said,

    What is there to say about fornicating monkeys?

  29. Carl said,

    The suite I got with my confirmed upgrade at Andaz Wall Street was not large. What’s the secret?

  30. Michael said,

    @carl – if they are selling it and you are diamonds d you are using a suite upgrade and you are charming (and you are not bashful about tipping), it an be yours

  31. Carl said,

    Andaz Wall Street does some deceptive floor numbering too. I don’t remember the numbers any more but the lowest floor of rooms/suites is numbered liked 10 but is actually more like the 3rd floor

    I didn’t know you had to pay cash as well as the suite upgrade. Next time, just save the suite upgrade for a property where bribes don’t work (the rest of the world ex NY & LAS)

  32. SST said,

    We loved the Andaman a year ago… Had the fresh fish brought in by the fishermen around 4, to the beach. Choice of preparation and spices, time booked, and a wonderful dinner. Also blew our mind at the Indian restaurant in the jungle between the Andaman and the Datai—nice walk home too…..

    Hope these are still options.

    A drive around Langkawi is also a lot of fun, and we rented a car at the airport by haggling for $25/day—- enjoyed the whole darned island. I like Anne’s place…. Relaxing beyond belief at the beach, too.

  33. BR said,

    LOL….the monkeys

  34. Bits ‘n Pieces for December 13, 2012 - View from the Wing said,

    [...] Good Points didn’t have a very good stay in Langkawi, I’m certainly glad that I chose the Andaman rather than the [...]

  35. Stacey @VeryGoodPoints said,

    I must say, I’m really disappointed you didn’t publish this a few days earlier ;) I wouldn’t have made such a stupid decision and selected the Sheraton Langkawi.

    It does seem like I’m following you around the world. First Macau, then Langkawi and Kuala Lumpur. What’s next so I can start planning.

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