After a few years of searching for out most of the world’s finest aspirational airline merchandise, 2023 is about to be the yr that I take intention on the final handful of enterprise class and First Class experiences I haven’t flown but.
To that finish, I’ve kicked off the yr with a whirlwind journey of no fewer than six premium flights en path to and from South East Asia, as a part of a visit that additionally lets me meet up with some family and friends and evaluate a number of high-end resorts as properly.
On this article, I’ll share the thought course of behind how I deliberate the journey and which opinions you possibly can look ahead to right here on Prince of Journey.
(Relatively unconventionally, this “Booked” article is written after a visit has already taken place, as this was a kind of slightly spontaneous expeditions the place I didn’t full the ending touches till halfway via the journey.)
Whereas the first motivation for this journey was to evaluate as many new airline merchandise as attainable, I had additionally wished to hit up a number of particular locations in South East Asia.
First up was the island of Gili Trawangan (affectionately referred to as “Gili T”) off the coast of Lombok in Indonesia, adjoining to Bali. Prince of Journey workforce member Rohin has made this island his short-term dwelling, and I had been planning a go to on the market that was lengthy overdue.
Gili T provides world-class snorkelling and scuba diving, majestic seashores, and lots of different kinds of transformational experiences inside its get together scene, and I used to be excited to spend a number of days exploring part of the world I hadn’t visited earlier than.
After Gili, I had wished to spend a while in Singapore, a metropolis I hadn’t visited because the pre-pandemic days, so as to meet up with buddies and evaluate a handful of resorts.
It turned out that I’d be laid low with an episode of “Bali Stomach” throughout my time in Singapore, however I nonetheless managed to finish my major objectives between getting some relaxation and recuperation.
Then, I deliberate a number of days in Hong Kong so as to meet up with my dad and mom, and it’s all the time a pleasure to revisit the town I had known as dwelling throughout my childhood.
With this fundamental construction of the journey in place, I started architecting a behemoth of a flight itinerary – going the “good distance round” in each instructions – to tie every part collectively.
After celebrating Chinese language New Yr with household in Toronto, I booked British Airways A350 Membership Suites from Toronto to London, after which onwards to Barcelona, for 61,000 Asia Miles + $500 (CAD).
It’s price noting that Cathay Pacific Asia Miles will be fairly a sexy program when you’re trying to ebook British Airways, which is infamous for its surcharges in premium cabins. Whereas different Oneworld applications like Alaska Airways Mileage Plan and American Airways AAdvantage will cost upwards of $800 (CAD) in surcharges for a one-way transpacific journey, reserving through Asia Miles ends in some significant financial savings.
Membership Suites is British Airways’s flagship new enterprise class product with a sliding door. Whereas I had been discouraged from flying British Airways previously because of their surcharges, it’s about time that I took one for the workforce so as to doc the expertise, so I went forward and booked it with probably the most cost-effective factors forex.
Why Barcelona? Nicely, it’s one of many European gateways from which Qatar Airways flies their Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner product to Doha, and this was the second new airline product on my hit record for this journey.
The Qatar Airways 787-9 enterprise class seat is usually described as a “mini-Qsuites”, because it shares comparable traits to the world’s finest enterprise class, however is squeezed right into a narrower house. I’ve been curious to do this product ever because it was first launched in 2021, so now was the time to examine it off the record for 45,000 Qatar Airways Avios + €90.
I’d full the journey from Doha to Indonesia by the use of Oman Air 787 enterprise class, as a part of a routing of Doha–Abu Dhabi–Muscat–Jakarta for 60,000 Aeroplan factors. I’ve flown Oman Air’s First Class earlier than, however not their enterprise class, and it was fairly fortuitous that the Muscat–Jakarta service on the Boeing 787-8 was working on the precise date that I wanted.
From Jakarta to Lombok, I booked a Garuda Indonesia money fare for about $100, after which Rohin made the mandatory floor transport preparations to get me to my residing quarters on the island of Gili Trawangan by the use of automobile, boat, and horse carriage.
After three days on Gili T, I’d make my solution to Bali through boat, after which proceed onwards to Singapore on a Singapore Airways financial system class money fare for about $200.
(I had the choice of flying with Jetstar or AirAsia on a less expensive fare, however it might’ve labored out to be the same quantity after paying for my carry-on baggage allowance, so it was positively finest to go together with Singapore Airways for a superior expertise.)
Then, from Singapore to Hong Kong, I snagged Singapore Airways 777 First Class for 45,000 KrisFlyer miles + $60. Whereas I’ve flown the well-known Singapore Airways A380 Suites Class earlier than, I haven’t flown the airline’s much less over-the-top 777 First Class but, so this was the proper likelihood to strive it out.
What’s extra, this could enable me to evaluate the newly renovated The Non-public Room by Singapore Airways, which is the airline’s devoted floor expertise for Singapore Airways First Class or Suites Class passengers.
Lastly, I wanted a solution to get again to North America from Hong Kong, and I used to be happy to have the ability to line up two new enterprise class experiences on both facet of a two-hour layover in Paris: Cathay Pacific enterprise class from Hong Kong to Paris for 65,000 Asia Miles + $200, and Paris to New York onboard Air France’s new 777 enterprise class – which was solely launched as of January 2023 – for 55,000 Flying Blue miles + $300.
Cathay Pacific enterprise class is one which I’m slightly stunned I haven’t already flown, provided that it’s a comparatively widespread premium cabin for Asia-bound passengers based mostly in Canada and the US.
In the meantime, Air France’s new enterprise class seems completely gorgeous when it comes to the visuals, so I used to be excited to follow-up my fulfilling flight in Air France A350 enterprise class a number of years in the past with one other transatlantic experience of their new cabins.
I’m at present within the midst of a hotel-hopping part alongside my travels in service of our journey company at Prince of Journey, and this journey was no exception, giving me an opportunity to go to a great mixture of aspirational factors properties and luxurious resorts which might be solely bookable with money.
You possibly can count on opinions of the next resorts from this journey:
The Waldorf Astoria Lusail is a brand new Hilton high-end property that had caught my eye after I visited Doha for the World Cup in 2022, so I used to be desperate to expertise it for myself this time when charges have been not prohibitively costly. I booked a keep right here on a Hilton Honors member price of about $250 (USD).
Gili T doesn’t have any resorts which might be a part of main chains, so Rohin helped me ebook the Soda Resort next-door to him for about $50 (CAD) per evening. The residing quarters have been pretty fundamental, however with a tasty Indonesian breakfast included within the price, I have to say I had fairly an fulfilling keep.
In Bali, I made a decision to make progress in the direction of my Hyatt Globalist standing this yr by reserving the Alila Seminyak, which might additionally let me try a brand new a part of the island having solely frolicked in Ubud and Nusa Dua earlier than. I booked a World of Hyatt member price of $200 (USD) right here, which was a greater deal than redeeming Hyatt factors.
In Singapore, I made a decision to pay attention my keep within the Orchard Street space this time, so I booked the St. Regis and 4 Seasons, that are fairly shut to one another, for 47,000 Bonvoy factors and a journey agent trade price, respectively.
Lastly, in Hong Kong, I booked three of the town’s finest luxurious properties on trade charges, all concentrated across the Central and Admiralty districts on Hong Kong Island.
Specifically, I used to be thrilled to be making my first-ever stick with the Mandarin Oriental model at its unique location in Hong Kong, and to have the ability to deal with my dad and mom to a keep right here was solely the cherry on high.
I’ve additionally been curious currently about whether or not there are any significant variations between luxurious lodge manufacturers which might be bookable with factors and loyalty applications versus these which might be solely accessible with money, and I’ll have some ideas to share round that subject within the close to future.
To kick off 2023, I’ve set off on one other fast-paced journey to pattern a sextet of airline merchandise, meet up with family and friends, and check out some new luxurious lodge manufacturers.
With a little bit of fancy footwork, I used to be in a position to squeeze good worth out of a number of totally different loyalty applications, and I’m excited to share my impressions on a few of the world’s high airline and lodge experiences that we’ve but to cowl over the subsequent few minutes.