Friday, 18 August 2017

Intercontinental Lisbon, Out of Egg Tarts and No movie

Can't get enough (and of) Portuguese Egg Tarts

And I didn't get my free movie benefit

Stayed Feb 2017

Exterior of Hotel

I found myself in Lisbon in the attempt to escape the high hotel rates in Barcelona which was hosting some convention and the nightly rates was 2-3 times more than usual.

I figured the savings could pay for a ticket to another city to explore and one-way TAP Portugal flights to Lisbon were going for less than $100SGD!

In addition, I was looking for an opportunity to use my Ambassador Cert from the IHG (Intercontinental) Programme and Intercontinental Lisbon was a great opportunity to use it!

The first night on the (refundable) Ambassador rate was 165 Euros and I got the second night free with the cert. (Unfortunately the second night was going for 145 Euros so that meant less savings for me.)

The prepaid rate was about 140 Euros per night so it was about 115 Euros off the joining fee of the programme.

The hotel was near town and on the side nearer to the airport, and so it was prefect for my quick visit to the City of Seven Hills.

The ride from the airport was smooth as the driver was acquainted with the hotel and needed no help in directions.

Upon arrival, the staff helped me with my luggage spontaneously and the front desk was just at the entrance as well.

Lobby with the Front Desk on the left side of the picture

I was assisted by a new employee who was being guided by a senior and she was really quite slow. I didn't mind as I wasn't in a rush and in a forgiving mood.

All of us have been beginners at some point in time.

The walk from the hotel to town was generally downhill and quite easy and I would advise taking a taxi back to the hotel in view of this. Unless you really want to train those glutes.

My itinerary for Lisbon was quite sparse so I got convinced at the Front Desk to buy lounge access for my stay.

So after checking in and surrendering my Ambassador Cert, I was shown to the elevators and made my way to the way.

On my way to the room, the optical illusion of a full 4-legged table at the lift-landing caught my eye.

The room was a fair size and consistently with the Intercontinental feel.

The double basins were nice to have when traveling with a companion.

Welcome Fruit

I was rather curious about the extension pod on the desk which had USB ports as well as power points for Europe and UK (and Singapore) types of plugs.

The view from my room was towards downtown and gave me an outline of the route. The rooftop garden pictured is at the Four Seasons next to the Intercontinental.

I took a look at the minibar prices. Quite significant I say.

The lounge was located on the ground floor, in an extension from the lobby.

Entrance to Lounge

Hot food

Egg Tarts!

I was quite happy to see egg tarts in the lounge and took a few of them. Quite good I must say.

After finishing the first batch pictured above, I waited for the next serving.

And waited.

And waited.

And waited.

No more came.

And so we had a little Taittinger in disappointment about the egg tarts.

The gym was fair and empty as usual.

Well, the best egg tarts are still at Belem where the queues are long but still move rather fast.

Coupled with chocolate milk, they were simply heavenly!

For the night before I left Lisbon, I wanted to watch an in-room movie which is a benefit of the Ambassador programme.

I asked the Front Desk about that benefit before dinner and was told I was not entitled to it.

I tried again after dinner with another staff and was told the same answer.

And so, I just rested early for that night.

In the post-stay feedback, I typed this in and received a reply that I was indeed able to watch one free movie as part of my benefits.

As an apology, I was suppose to receive 1k points but I have just realized that I had never checked if I got it in the end.

Oh well, to me, it was just a good-to-have.

Overall, I was pleased with the hotel and the rates were indeed not bad!

Happy and Healthy Travels! (Egg tarts are not healthy btw.)

Thursday, 10 August 2017

How I Was Almost Quarantined because of a transit in Dubai, after a Grand stay in Westin Rome

Should I have been sent to the hospital?

Amazing Mistake Upgrade at Westin Rome

Fever and Dubai do not mix well

Stayed October 2016

While writing this entry, I was thinking if I should split it into 2, but I decided I needed to reduce my backlog as much as possible.

From the St Regis, I moved to the nearby Westin which have much better online reviews.

The walk to the Westin wasn't too bad even with luggage, and I was also eager to leave the small room at St Regis.

There, I had an amazing upgrade due to a special set of circumstances.

The hotel is easy to spot as the exterior looked really classic with the balconies and cupola as in the picture above.


Lobby and Front Desk
Staff were less eager as there were many more guests moving around and I was attended to by Mr Flaviano who took my card and processed an authorization of a fairly large amount.

With that, he showed me to my room and proudly said I had been upgraded to a Via Veneto Suite!

Door to the Suite!

This was when my companion got concerned and asked Mr Flaviano to check on my booking.

I was asked to just rest in the suite while the check was being done and I was assured that the suite has been assigned to me and I shouldn't worry at all.

The suite has a really big and impressive living room, decorated with paintings and opened up to a nice balcony with nice views of the city.

The very impressive living room!


The bedroom looked pretty normal with a nice chandelier. Perhaps I should just say less impressive when compared to the living room. Normal does seem to be an understatement.


The bathroom was more than fine and the bathtub came with jaccuzzi jets. That, I really liked.

I had trouble with the dual shower head which I never did figure out the proper usage.

Anyone can enlighten me on this?

On the table were some nibbles and a bottle of Martini as welcome gifts.


So what happened?

First, I had booked a Junior Suite under a refundable rate (which I advise to do when booking in advance) and had changed the rate and room type subsequently.

My changes were acknowledged by the SPG system, however, I think the hotel booking was not updated.

That explains the large pre-authorisation amount (I remember it was 1500 Euros) and I do think the upgrade could have been a mistake. Of course I can be wrong. Perhaps the hotel is really that great to elite members!

With the issue resolved (without a gigantic hole in my pocket), I did my usual exploration of the hotel.

Common sitting area
 I made my way to the lower lobby which leads to the meeting rooms, the business center and the gym.

Lower lobby

Meeting Rooms

Business Centre

Breakfast the next morning was solid with a nice range and good quality in a opulent restaurant.
Not as grand as the St Regis surely, but it is only a meal...

However, it was also much more crowded and I had to wait for some time before being seated.

I took a walk around the lobby extension before checking out which was very efficient.

I returned the bottle of Martini to the front desk as I was already very surprised by the upgrade and that I do not drink alcohol either.

Sadly, I did not manage to bid farewell to Mr Flaviano and thank him for his help.

After that extraordinarily upgraded stay, it was time to home and my flight home was via Dubai.
The transit time was several hours and, after some research, I figured I could go see the famous Burj Khalifa!
The metro system was easy to use and I had a short but great time in Dubai!

Unfortunately, I started feeling unwell at this point.
A sore throat, chills, body aches and lethargy hinted at a possible fever.
Luckily, I managed to board my flight home to Singapore!

During the flight, I felt worse as time went by and I really wanted to go home as soon as possible for a good rest.
While I was glad to be in Business class for a better rest, I was also disappointed that I couldn't really enjoy the experience.

I took comfort in the fact that I didn't fall ill during the trip, but only at the very end.

The flight landed safely and I proceeded to disembark. 

Unfortunately, this wasn't the end of my woes.

On reaching the gate, I was picked up by the temperature scanner for having a high reading.

The airport staff stopped me and motioned me to the side.

Oh Dear!

I was questioned on several things, including how long I was and what I did in Dubai, and if I came into contact with camels. I gathered there were concerns of MERS from the Middle East.

My temperature reading was less than 38.0 Celsius, so I was simply told to go to the hospital if I got worse by the protocol. 

I was elated at that, because who wants to end a holiday with a visit to the hospital?

Happy and Healthy travels! (To myself as well!)