Monday, August 27, 2012

Cambodia April 2012 - Le Méridien Angkor (Or How I Was Violated In My Own Room)

***This post is part 9 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

My stay at the Le Méridien Angkor started out wonderfully. It then devolved into the most surreal and downright terrifying experience I've ever had at a hotel. When I later met with the general manager, he commented that in his 22 years of working in the industry, this was an incident he'd never even heard of.

I arrived at the Le Méridien Angkor around early evening, and was immediately taken by the beautiful lobby area. The high ceilings and modern, yet stately, architecture really made for a good first impression. Check-in was smooth, as I was asked to relax in the sitting area while they prepared the paperwork. A cold welcome drink was also served.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Cambodia April 2012 - Cambodia Angkor Air 109 Economy Class (PNH-REP)

***This post is part 8 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

I arrived at Phnom Penh International Airport approximately two hours prior to departure, which I knew would be way more time than I actually needed. My taxi driver had come to the hotel a lot earlier than expected, and it didn't really make sense to tell him to come back later. Hence, an arrival at the airport before the counters were even open.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Cambodia April 2012 - The Pavilion Hotel And Exploring Phnom Penh

***This post is part 7 of a full trip report. The index can be found here***

I located the line for the official airport taxi and decided it was worth a few extra dollars for the peace of mind that comes with legitimate cabs. I've heard way too many horror stories of taxi scams, rigged meters, abductions, etc. And the set price of $9 USD for the one-way trip into town wasn't terrible either.

Once inside the taxi, the driver asked if I needed a cab over the next few days to see the sights around Phnom Penh. I had already anticipated having to find a taxi to take me to the Choeung Ek Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and Russian Market, so I negotiated a price of $25 for a half day with him to see all three sites. While that might not have been the lowest price I could have gotten if I shopped around and really bargained hard, I felt it was reasonable enough, and the driver seemed like a friendly guy. We set the pick-up time for 10:00 am the next day.

By the time I arrived at the hotel, it was already dark and I was getting hungry. The entrance to The Pavilion Hotel was very nondescript - just a wooden door set in a high wall along a quiet street. Once inside, I noticed how lush the landscaping was, with so many plants it felt a bit like you were in a jungle. The lobby was nicely decorated, and I was greeted with a refreshing passion fruit drink. After checking in, I was led to my room in the back of the hotel - which I liked because it was a bit more private and away from the other guest rooms.

Entrance to The Pavilion Hotel

Lobby area

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cambodia April 2012 - Dragonair 206 Business Class (HKG-PNH)

***This post is part 6 of a full trip report. The index can be found here*** 

I arrived at Gate 26 with plenty of time to spare. The gate area actually had very few people, and I assumed this wouldn't be a full flight. After snapping a few photos of our Airbus 330-300, boarding finally commenced as Business Class was called.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Virgin America 20% Off Promo Code Via Facebook

There is a new Virgin America 20% off promo code that anyone with a Facebook account can get. All you have to do is log into your account and go to the Instant Upgrade App from Banana Republic and Virgin America. You must first "like" the page by clicking on the like button on the upper right-hand corner. Then you can start the Instant Upgrade Game by clicking on the play now button. The game is super simple - just pick one of the luggage on display, enter your information, and see if you've won.

Three lucky fans will win a pair of flights on Virgin America and a $250 shopping spree at Banana Republic. But just for entering, everyone will receive a 20% off promo code for a Virgin America flight booked by August 31, 2012. Travel must occur between August 22 and November 14, 2012. The promo code may only be used for newly booked non-stop or connecting travel (not valid for multi-city itineraries), and is only good for non-refundable Main Cabin tickets. Blackout dates are August 31 and September 3, 2012.

In addition to the Virgin America promo code, you also receive a 25% off coupon for use on any full-priced item at Banana Republic stores by September 5, 2012. You can enter the contest by playing the Instant Upgrade Game once per day through August 30, 2012.

Cambodia April 2012 - Cathay Pacific The Wing Lounge HKG

***This post is part 5 of a full trip report. The index can be found here*** 

Upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport, I passed through the transit security area and headed back into the main departures hall. HKG has always been one of my favorite airports, just because of its plentiful passenger facilities, beautiful architecture, and of course, awesome Cathay Pacific lounges. Unfortunately, their flagship lounge, The Wing, has been undergoing massive renovations for over a year now, and that was still the case when I arrived. The Level 7 main entrance was temporarily closed, so I entered through Level 6 and was quickly checked in.

The last time I visited The Wing back in 2011, much of the lounge was blocked off due to construction. This time, I saw a vast improvement, with the Level 6 Business Class Lounge completely overhauled, and sections of Level 7 opened up as well. However, most of Level 7 was now part of the Business Class Lounge, as the First Class Lounge was in the midst of its own renovation (due to reopen in the fourth quarter of 2012). First class passengers still had exclusive access to The Atrium on Level 7, but honestly, it looked like nothing more than an extra cordoned-off area lacking in amenities found throughout The Wing.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cambodia April 2012 - Cathay Pacific 881 New Business Class (LAX-HKG)

***This post is part 4 of a full trip report. The index can be found here*** 

The gate area was packed by the time I got there. I decided not to scrounge for a seat and just found some space on the floor against the wall. Boarding soon commenced, but it was evident by the slow-moving process that we would end up departing slightly behind schedule. First and business class were eventually called, and I soon entered the aircraft.

Cathay Pacific 881
Boeing 777-300ER (77D)
Los Angeles (LAX) - Hong Kong (HKG)
Thursday March 29, 2012
Departure: 1:30 AM (scheduled) / 1:45 AM (actual)
Arrival: 7:15 AM (scheduled) / 7:43 AM (actual)
Duration: 14h 45m (scheduled) / 14h 58m (actual)
Seat: 11A (Business) 

Upon first look, the new Cathay Pacific Business Class was simply fantastic. I suppose most business class seats these days have gone the way of lie-flats and improved privacy... but even by those standards, they were amazingly well thought out. I had chosen my seat far in advance, and was able to snag 11A in the first row of the mini-cabin up front. With only room for eight in the small cabin and suite-like privacy for each passenger, it almost felt like being in first class!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

New American Express Credit Card Offers

American Express seems to be on a roll the past few days with new credit card promotions. First off we have the Business Gold Rewards Card, which is offering 75,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $10,000 within the first 4 months. The spend requirement is quite high, so make sure you can actually complete it before applying. Here are the relevant details:
  • This offer is only good through August 9, 2012
  • Earn 3 points per dollar spent on airfare; 2 points per dollar spent on advertising, gas, and shipping; 1 point per dollar everywhere else
  • Annual fee of $175 is waived for the first year
  • Per the terms and conditions, the welcome bonus offer is not available to applicants who have had this product or any Business Gold, Green, or Platinum Card account within the last 12 months
  • Membership Rewards points will post to your account 6-8 weeks after meeting the spend requirement
In addition, keep in mind that this is a charge card, and all statements must be paid off in full each month. The Membership Rewards program has lost a bit of its luster this past year, as I've written in this post. However, they still maintain some decent airline and hotel transfer partners, and they consistently run transfer bonus promotions throughout the year. 75,000 Membership Rewards points can be valued at more than $1,000 if used wisely, so this is a very good deal you should seriously consider if you can meet the high spend threshold.

If the $10,000 spend is too high, you can also consider the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card, which is currently running their annual summer promotion. The typical sign-up offer for this card offers a maximum of 25,000 SPG points after meeting the spend requirement. However, from now through September 4, 2012, you can earn 10,000 SPG points after your first purchase, and an additional 20,000 SPG points after spending $5,000 within the first 6 months - for a total of 30,000 SPG points. Here are the relevant details:
  • This offer is only good through September 4, 2012
  • Earn 2 SPG points per dollar spent at SPG Hotels and Resorts; 1 SPG point everywhere else
  • Annual fee of $65 is waived for the first year
  • Receive credit for 5 nights and 2 stays towards SPG elite status each calendar year
  • Per the terms and conditions, the welcome bonus offer is not available to applicants who have had this product within the last 12 months
  • SPG points will post to your account 6-8 weeks after meeting the spend requirement
I've written extensively about the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card in the past (see here, here, and here). It is simply one of the best rewards cards out there, and I have not hesitated to pay the $65 annual fee for the past 2 years just to keep it in my wallet.

There is also a business version of this card, which is also offering 30,000 SPG points. However, I have not found a public link for that yet. If you are interested in applying for the business card, I would recommend heading over to Boarding Area and you will find many bloggers there with affiliate links. May I recommend View From The Wing and Rapid Travel Chai's links, as I really enjoy both their blogs and think they are incredibly cool people.

Finally, as you all know, I don't post any affiliate links on my blog, nor do I make any money off of advertising. However, once in a while, there is the chance for me to earn some extra miles and points by referring friends and family to certain credit card offers. Right now, the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card is allowing anyone to refer people to the card, and earn 5,000 SPG points in the process (if their application is approved). If you enjoy this blog and would like to do something extra nice, just send me your name and email address at, and I will fill out the referral right away (personal card only). You'll receive the same great offer I listed above, and I'll earn an extra 5,000 SPG points. Thanks as always!