18 Hours in Hong Kong: Grand Hyatt Review
This is Part 6 of a multi-part series detailing my trip to Hong Kong and Cambodia, flying First Class and staying within a $350 budget for ALL expenses. If you haven’t read the first 5 parts yet, please check them out:
Part Four: Cathay Pacific 777 First Class Review
Arriving in Hong Kong
My Cathay Pacific flight arrived on time at around 2pm in the afternoon. I had really enjoyed the flight and the service on board was exceptional! I honestly wished the flight was longer, but I was also excited to explore Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong International Airport is located on an island about a 30-45 minute drive from downtown. The arrival was beautiful, arriving over the water, and seeing all the boats/junks and varying terrain on approach.
After de-planeing, I had a short walk to customs, where I waited in line for about 15 minutes. Although Hong Kong is part of China, it is considered an autonomous territory. The city was governed by the United Kingdom for 156 years, and the transfer of sovereignty to China occurred on July 1, 1997. Because of the many years of British influence, Hong Kong has a very unique dynamic and, of note, does not have the same visa or travel requirements as mainland China. I presented my passport and filled out immigration form–no visa required, and the Hong Kong customs agent gave me a small ticket to keep in my passport for the duration of my stay. No passport stamp either.
Getting from the airport to the Grand Hyatt
I had read online that the most economical (and often quickest) way to get from the island that the airport is located on to either Hong Kong island or Kowloon is the Hong Kong Airport Express Train. The train cost me 180 Hong Kong Dollars (HKD), or $23.19 (with no foreign transaction fees since I used my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card). Purchasing the round-trip ticket was easy, and there were many signs showing me how to get to the train.
The trip took about 25 minutes to Central Hong Kong Station. When I arrived there were some free shuttles to take you to several downtown hotels. I took the shuttle to the convention center, since that was the closest to the Grand Hyatt. The employees were helpful in directly me to the correct shuttle even though their English was limited.
The Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
Since the shuttle bus dropped me off at the convention center, I ended up entering the Hyatt through a side door, and found my way up towards the lobby area. Once I arrived, I was impressed with the very open and luxurious lobby and check in area, including a huge vase of fresh flowers.
There was no line, and I approached the front desk employee to check-in. I had done a fair amount of searching for a good value room in Hong Kong, bouncing back and forth between a full points stay and a points+cash stay at various locations. In the end, I chose to use 12,500 Hyatt points and $151 in cash to book a room at the Grand Hyatt. Let me explain why I chose this option.
Sometimes you can actually get better value for your points and certain hotels if you use the points+cash option instead of the straight points option. In this case I could get a room at the Hyatt for $502.00 cash, use 25,000 Hyatt points, or pay $151 plus 12,500 points.
To further break this out, if I used 25,000 Hyatt points I would be getting about 2 cents of value per point ($502 divided by 25,000). However, if I used the points + cash option I would essentially be using 12,500 points to pay for $351 in room cost ($502 minus $151). Thus using the same math, I am now getting about 2.8 cents of value per point ($351 divided by 12,500).
Of course, I checked my Hyatt point balance and saw that I only had 3,700 points, which wasn’t going to go very far. Luckily, I had plenty of Chase Ultimate Reward Points from my Chase Sapphire Preferred card. This is hands down my favorite credit card for the ease of earning points, the transfer partners, and the 50,000 point sign up bonus. It is also my #1 recommendation for beginners to this hobby.
Within minutes, I logged into my Chase account and began the transfer process. I transferred 9,000 Ultimate Reward points to Hyatt. The transfer was instantaneous, which gave me the points required to book the points+cash stay. This is the beauty of transferrable currencies.
A fair value for Ultimate Reward Points is around 2.1 cents per point, so my 9,000 points were worth about $189. Hyatt points are worth about 1.8 cents each, and I used 3,500 of them, totaling $63 in value. My total value in points spent on this room was $252 pus only $151 in cash outlay, for a total cash+points cost of $403–which is a substantial savings off the $502 retail cost of the room.
Check In and the Room
I was greeted warmly by the employee and he asked for my passport and a credit card. After a few minutes he said that he had given me a complimentary room upgrade to a City View Room due to my Hyatt Platinum Status, which I had gotten via a free status match. I wrote about how I accomplished this free status match here a couple months ago in this post.
After checking in, I took the elevator up to the 25th floor and found my room. Walking in, I was very impressed!
I had no complaints about the room, it was even better than I was expecting! But, I didn’t have a lot of time in Hong Kong, so it was time to head out to explore. The room actually came with a complimentary smart phone that I could use during my stay. The phone included free international and domestic calls, and free data. It also had pre-loaded info on it regarding attractions, dining, transportation, and more! This was the first time I had ever seen this in a hotel–and it was a really nice touch. I scrolled through the phone and opened google maps to determine the best way to get to the Victoria Peak Tram, which was the first thing I wanted to check out.
Exploring Hong Kong
Google showed me that it would be about a 20 minute walk, so I set out on foot to take in the sights. Even with the phone giving me directions I had a few issues navigating around downtown since many of the streets are non-crossible to pedestrians with fences prohibiting access. Many of the major roads had pedestrian bridges to use instead, but I found that these confused the Google Maps app. It ended up taking me about 30 minutes until I found the entrance to the Tram.
I purchased a roundtrip ticket for 83HKD, or $10.70. There was about a 20 minute wait in line for the tram, which runs every 8 minutes.
Finally my tram arrived, and I boarded the full car.
The Peak Tram is a funicular railway, where a cable attached to a pair of tram-like vehicles on rails moves them up and down a steep slope, the ascending and descending vehicles counterbalancing each other. The tram itself covers just under a mile. But it climbs 1,312 feet in elevation to one of the highest points on Hong Kong island. The tram has been in operation since 1888.
The views at the top were amazing, even though the afternoon was slightly hazy. I enjoyed the views so much, I actually spent more time up there than I was expecting, which included wandering around the various shops and watching the sun begin to set.
Unfortunately, I was now running out of time, so I decided to head back to the hotel and get some dinner. The walk back took about 20 minutes since I had a better idea of how to navigate around the city. when I got back, I checked out the lobby bar to see if they had any local beers for sale. I was in luck and got to try a Dragon’s Back Pale Ale, which set me back a whopping $12! However, the beer was brewed right down the street and it was a pretty solid pale ale. It also came with chips and a few other snack selections.
I was not terribly hungry after the food on the flight and the light snacks at the bar, but I wanted to check out the hotel’s One Harbour Road Chinese Restaurant.
Dinner at One Harbour Road
I asked for a table by the window and was rewarded with a nice view of Hong Kong similar to the view from my room. The prices at the restaurant were very expensive, and I ended up spending $29.38 on my chicken with cashews dish. Honestly, this was my only disappointment with the stay at the Hyatt. I found that the food was good, but was not that good to warrant such a huge premium. The service was great at the restaurant, but the food was lacking in flavor and too expensive.
I originally was planning on going back out after dinner to explore and maybe see one of the night markets, but unfortunately, I had hit a wall. Instead, after dinner I went back to my room and laid down on my bed to write a little bit before I went out again, but soon found myself falling asleep. The bed was extremely comfortable, and I knew that I still had a big trip ahead of me with an early flight in the morning. I showered, set my alarm for 5:15am and was soon sound asleep.
Overall stay in Hong Kong
Overall, the Grand Hyatt was everything I was hoping for. The service was excellent, the room was modern, clean, and comfortable, and the extra amenities like the free phone were perfect touches.
And that brings us to the cost roll-up
Total Leg 2 (JFK-HKG plus night in Hong Kong) Cost:
- 67,500 AAdvantage Miles
- Taxes/Fees: $49.30 (reimbursed via my Citi Prestige Card–see this post for details)
- Close-In Ticketing Fee: $75 (reimbursed via my Citi Prestige Card–see this post for details)
- Airport Express Train round Trip: $23.19
- The Peak Tram: $10.70
- Beer at the Hotel Bar: $12
- Dinner at Hotel Restaurant: $29.38
- Grand Hyatt City View Room: $151 plus 12,500 Hyatt Points
Total Leg 2 and Night in Hong Kong cost:
Total Trip Cost after Legs 1 and 2:
Stay tuned for my next post, where I will share my exploration of the Angkor temples–the highlight of this trip!
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