Vietnam, Cambodia, Macau and Hong Kong Trip Report: TurboJet from Hong Kong Airport to Macau and the Sheraton Macao Hotel

Hong Kong airport to Macau Ferry —

Index:

On arrival at the Hong Kong airport, after being bused to the main terminal from our Dragonair flight, we stayed in transit. There’s no need to go through transit security, even.

Near immigration is the Turbojet booth. I had prepaid our tickets and checked our bags through. I had paid ~ $15 extra for ‘super class’ and there was no line for that at the Turbojet counters.

I handed over the printed confirmation for our tickets and the baggage claim tags from Dragonair. They keyed the tags into the system and issued our boarding passes for the boat.

This was all a very quick process, and indeed I would have been ok even without checking bags all the way through in Siem Reap since it was very quick from the plane to the terminal and right up to the Turbojet counter.

With boarding passes in hand and a full hour to sailing, we walked around the corner to the Turbojet boarding area and down the escalator to the train which would take us over to the ferry pier.

In the future I wouldn’t go over so early, since there’s really nothing to do and very little at all at the ferry pier. While options are limited prior to immigration and without clearing security into the departures area of the terminal, there are more options than at the ferry pier (although there is complimentary wireless internet).


Our boat was a few minutes late arriving at the Hong Kong airport, and they needed just a few minutes to turn it around. We’d be boarding about 10 minutes late in all.

‘Super class’ is upstairs and features bigger seats.

They offer a one-tray meal in Super Class for the 50-minute journey to Macau.

On arrival, Super Class passengers are let off first (they hold back everyone else until business class passengers disembark). That gives a head start through the immigration lines. But since we had checked bags, we were still going to have to wait for those to come out after immigration, so the head start wasn’t ultimately helpful in getting out of the ferry terminal much more quickly (and the lines at the terminal aren’t bad at all in any case).

After picking up bags we walked through customs, outside the terminal, to grab a cab to the Sheraton.

I had desperately wanted to stay at the Grand Hyatt, it’s a property I’ve wanted to spend more time at since I met Flyertalk’s SanDiego1K and her husband there for lunch four years ago. It’s in the City of Dreams complex which I found very cool. The lobby reminded me in some ways of the Park Hyatt Tokyo. The club lounge was impressive, and her suite was gorgeous with a view of the Macau airport runway.

But I was going to Macau during Chinese New Year. And even months ahead of time that hotel was sold out.

I checked with Hyatt about availability and was told that there was Diamond Guarantee availability at nearly $500 per night for a suite. I didn’t book that.

I kept checking back, hoping rooms would open up, but they didn’t. In fact, even the Diamond Guarantee availability became unavailable. I didn’t realize that was possible, though should have, a hotel can designate a certain number of high demand dates where they do not have to honor the Diamond reservation guarantee.

Even at the end, in the days leading up to arrival, no rooms or even Diamond guarantee rooms became available.

So I had to decide where to stay, and everything was pretty much sold out. I couldn’t book a Diamond guarantee room at the Conrad. The Sofitel wanted over $500 per night. I couldn’t get into the MGM or Venetian. The Sheraton wanted about $550 per night but had standard rooms available and so I could book award nights using Starwood points at 10,000 points per night.

I wasn’t excited about the idea of the Sheraton but it would be perfectly functional and unquestionably the best value under the circumstances.

At 3,896 rooms, the Sheraton is both Macau’s largest hotel and Starwood’s largest. It’s part of an integrated complex that also includes the Conrad and Holiday Inn hotels.

I caught a cab from the ferry dock, and the cab driver was able to find the complex, but not the hotel entrance. He dropped me off in front of the Conrad and we walked through the hotel to the Sheraton’s check-in desks.

The lines for regular check-in were long, but there was a separate roped-off area for SPG Gold and Platinum check-in with no line whatsoever, so I was taken care of quickly.

The room was fine, it was functional, it was a Sheraton. So it had a comfortable bed. But it’s a large hotel, and not very much a luxury experience.

More than anything else, what stands out in my mind from the stay is being accused of trying to steal coffee by room service.

I woke up a little after 6am at the Sheraton Macao Hotel and decided to order up coffee from room service. They explained that I could tell them how many cups of coffee I wanted, and that’s what they would fill the pot to. So I asked for 6 cups.

A short while later room service delivered the coffee. It seemed awfully light for 6 cups. I poured two cups, and the pot felt nearly empty. So I called back down to in room dining. The same person I ordered from answered, and she remembered that I had ordered 6 cups. She said she’d send up 4 more cups right away.

So at 6:30am there’s a knock on the door, and the man who delivered the first pot of coffee appeared. He didn’t have a pot of coffee in his hand. Instead he declared: “I am here to investigate.”

…He lifted the pot of coffee and said, “there’s still some left”.

He then said it’s not possible that we could have gotten less coffee, because the machine is electronic. They specify how much goes in the pot.

There I am, standing in a bathrobe in my hotel room, being told that it’s not possible that I could be missing coffee and in any case the coffee I ordered was right there, in the pot!

…He thought I was trying to cheat the hotel, to get extra coffee without paying for it.

He then poured the remaining coffee from the pot into an empty cup. It filled only half way. I said, “You were right, there were actually two and a half cups.”

He harumphed, walked directly outside the room, and handed me the pot he had brought along with the four replacement cups of coffee I had been promised — once I satisfied him that I wasn’t actually trying to steal coffee.

You’d think I’d have learned my lesson about room service but I did order breakfast one morning and it was very good.

There’s nothing wrong with the hotel, and reports are that Platinums are treated well with upgrades and club lounge access (I’m not Platinum this year). But I really do hope to stay at the Grand Hyatt next time I’m in Macau.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community Milepoint.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Immigration for us took an hour, 30 minutes when we left, very disorganized. We really did not enjoy Macau at all and found it refreshing to return to Hong Kong.

  2. “Platinums are treated well with upgrades and club lounge access”

    This is very, very true. Last year as Plats we got an upgrade to a beautiful suite. And the club lounge can be used for a full breakfast and dinner if one is so inclined (it’s a huge buffet with all drinks including booze included).

    Plats can also check in at the club and it’s an extremely pleasant experience.

    This was all for a stay on New Year’s Eve and day when the hotel was quite full.

    That said, Macau is a generally depressing place and the thick cigarette smoke everywhere is choking.

  3. I average 150 nights with SPG and I have to say, I’m always upgraded to a suit, just stayed at the US Grant in San Diego, and was upgraded to one of the nieces suits I have ever been in. With the US Airways award chart staying the same even when they enter into OW, I see hong kong happening for only 90K in J and will be staying at this Sheraton…

  4. I took the Turbojet and found it to be ok in the sheltered ports of Hong Kong and Macau, but when it gets out in the open water, I thought I was going to hurl the water was so rough. Some other guy on my boat hurled most of the way. That is a very sorry looking sandwich and your muffin looks like it has eyes. 8-b

  5. The Sheraton Macao isn’t always practical – no gift shop to buy toiletries/soft drinks in a billion-dollar building – but they treat Plats very well. Multiple checkin desks all have Plat/Gold line availability, the club lounge is enormous and overstaffed, and plenty of food options therein.

  6. @Bill – actually there was a gift shop setup not far from the elevator banks in my tower, it wasn’t a ‘room per se’ but racks and whatnot protruding out into the corridor. There was a place to buy various sundries.

  7. I did Super Class from HKG to Macau, but took regular class back.
    On my Super Class journey, I think there were only 3 other people upstairs with me….and, of course, one of them sat by me! LOL
    I thought regular class was fine on the return to Hong Kong, although there was no comp meal service and the seats were a little more cramped.
    My stay was at the Holiday Inn. It was booked (and paid for) by someone else, and I had no complaints.

  8. Gary, I have a reservation at the grand Hyatt Macau this Friday night in a suite. Email if you’d like more details about my stay.

  9. Stayed at Sheraton Macau on points this past Fall. As a platinum I checked in in the roped off area downstairs but checked out in the club lounge area upstairs. Was upgraded to a suite without asking and given Club lounge access. Club lounge was beautiful and there was large variety of hot and cold options, both Asian and Western.

  10. “I took the Turbojet and found it to be ok in the sheltered ports of Hong Kong and Macau, but when it gets out in the open water, I thought I was going to hurl the water was so rough. Some other guy on my boat hurled most of the way.”

    My wife spend the second half of the trip back to HKG in the bathroom hurling. If fairness, her sea legs suck and the sea was far from flat that day…

  11. For turbojet, you have to make sure you are traveling on a jetfoil. Those ships are the ones that ‘fly’ on the sea (using boeing engines) , and the ride is smooth in the rough open water. However, you have to ask the person in the counter as they dont sail on a fixed schedule…

  12. @all guys visited HKG-Macau: if we fly internationally to HKG to stay 3-4 days in Hong Kong and 2-3 days in Macau, what is less hustle: Macau first, then Hong Kong or other way around? My concerns are convenience and timing: immigration lines, luggage check in/out, etc. Thank you in advance for any suggestions.

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