Saturday, September 28, 2013

4th July Getaway: KC Beach Club Koh Samui


Thanks to recommendations from the Conrad Koh Samui flyertalk thread, we had made transfer arrangements with "Mr Samui" for our entire stay in Koh Samui. This included the ride from the airport to KC Beach Club, KC Beach Club to the Conrad and Conrad to the airport. Taxi prices are overpriced Koh Samui thanks to the taxi mafia so would recommend everyone else to do the same.

Mr Samui had no problems finding the KC Beach Club even though the hotel just recently opened and was somewhat tucked in a corner making it hard to find from the main street. It would not surprise me if we would have gotten lost in a mafia taxi.

Porters were on hand to help us with our luggage and we were welcomed with some welcome drinks before the check-in formalities. Unfortunately our room was only going to be available in a couple of hours so we headed out for a Thai lunch/snack at a nearby restaurant. We were hot, sweaty and tired by the time we got back and thankfully the room was now ready.

The room itself was clean and modern which was not surprising since the hotel was relatively new. The only complain I have is that there seems to be more style than substance and quality. For example, they squeezed a jacuzzi into the bathroom making the bathroom somewhat tight. The furnishings also seem on the cheap side and I wonder how long it will last through wear and tear.

The main reason on why we decided to stay at the KC Beach Club was its location in the main tourist area of Chaweng beach and its poolside parties. The parties by the pool wasn't all too wild (no college spring break here) and it was fun for us to sit by the pool, enjoying the sun, sipping a drink/cocktail while people watching and listening to some house music. There is also a second pool closer to the rooms if you prefer something quieter but I would not recommend KC Beach and Chaweng if you want a "get away from everyone" vacation.

Monday, September 23, 2013

4th July Getaway: Singapore to Koh Samui


After the ultra long haul 18 hour flight, the shower at the terminal 3 Silverkris lounge sure felt good. Even though we just had "breakfast" on the plane a couple of hours ago, I couldn't resist helping myself to the local cuisine from the extensive buffet in the lounge.

We had to make our way to terminal two for our flight to Bangkok with the flight already boarding by the time we got to our gate. Our flight to Bangkok was operated by an Airbus A330 equipped with the one of the best regional business class seats IMHO. The steward came around with a selection of juices and water prior to departure and he was happy to open a bottle of champagne when requested.

A330 business class cabin
After departure breakfast was served and I had Book-the-Cook the Nasi Lemak which I found out last Christmas was one of the best Nasi Lemak I've ever had. It was equally as good this time round and the champagne definitely paired well with the spicy sambal.  Lydia instead Book-the-Cook the chicken porridge meal and it did take a while to get her food served. The flight attendant did apologize citing that they were having issues finding a bowl to serve the porridge in.

Since it was only a 2 hour flight, it was frustrating not being able to finish Zero Dark Thirty with the IFE shutoff in preparation for landing right as the special forces were about the storm Osama's compound. Blah! Really wish SQ would follow other airlines like Emirates and allow IFE from gate-to-gate.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

4th July Getaway: Newark to Singapore


Since we were on separate tickets for the Newark to Bangkok via Singapore flights, we had to re-checkin the luggage and obtain our boarding passes at the SQ counters in Newark. It wasn't a big deal since there were no lines at the check-in counter. It did take a while longer than I would have wished to get through the security lines with only one line present with no premium lines to cut through.

Instead of proceeding to the SAS lounge that Singapore Airlines uses in Newark, we headed first to the Lufthansa Senator lounge that was just next door thanks to my StarGold status. The lounge was tiny and we only spent like a couple of minutes in there since it was stuffy due to what looked my air- conditioning problems. The Lufthansa lounge did have better food and drinks selection if compared to the SAS lounge.

Food selection in the Lufthansa Lounge
The air-condition situation wasn't much better in the SAS lounge but thankfully the lounge was a tiny bit larger which helped the air circulation. The lounge was pretty packed with passengers from the SAS and Swiss flights sharing the lounge and we had a hard time finding a place to sit. In the future, I would not arrive early just for the lounge.

SAS Lounge

There were snacks like sandwiches, cheeses and chips on offer but overall nothing too exciting. I did some wine tasting on the wines on offer and also had several shots of espresso that helped me stay awake. About an hour before the departure for the Singapore flight, there was a buffet of several hot items like chicken and noodles that were compliment of Singapore Airlines. I assume this was meant for passengers on SQ21 but there wasn't like there was anyone checking boarding passes.

With only roughly a hundred passengers on the flight, it was a quick boarding process. After checking our boarding passes, the gate agents were offering sweets and chocolates which I thought was a nice touch.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

4th July Getaway: Getting to EWR


Prices out of Austin to Newark were ridiculously over priced ($300-$400 one way) since we waited until the last minutes to book flights. They were cheaper options to La Guardia and JFK but the hassle of transferring airports before a 18 hour flight to Singapore didn't sound too appealing. We lucked out when there were ~$150 tickets an hour drive away in San Antonio to Philadelphia Train Station via Newark. We would obviously dump the train segment and just get off in Newark and even with a one way car rental to San Antonio, we would come out ahead.

It was an easy hour drive to San Antonio airport and with no lines in the premium security line, we were in the tiny United Club in no time. The lounge looked "refreshed" and new and I still don't know if it was recently renovated. The only amenity lacking were restrooms in the lounge.