LAX-SLC-CDG/CDG-AMS/AMS-MSP-LAX/Park Hyatt Vendome Etc

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by THREEA4ME, Oct 8, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    I knew I wanted to spend four nights in Paris and was comparing revenue tickets and using my evips with mile awards. Round trip to Paris was about $880 with good upgrade prospects, but AA could not guarantee me an upgrade to business so I wavered.

    My new strategy as Exec Plat on AA is to always book an award ticket as a backup. This way I can be guaranteed a decent seat in business/first that I can always cancel with no penalty. And that is what I did: LAX-LHR (BA First)-LHR-CDG (BA Biz), CDG-HEL (Fin Biz) HEL-ORD (Fin BIZ) ORD-LAX (AA First) for 112K miles and $387.

    At this point, I started looking for other routing alternatives and, particularly, wanted to get rid of my skypesos for a variety of reasons (I had 114K and a) I was worried about another devaluation; b) I could not seem to redeem them at lowest award availability for almost any flight; and c) see a and b.

    I heard about an award booker who was trying to start out his business -- was charging only $75 for his services in order to gain clients -- and I hired him -- get me to Paris in business using skypesos first, usair miles second and AA miles third (maybe he could find a better alternative than my above AA award). A few weeks out, he came through for me with the above thread title routing, all in business (except for the MSP-LAX portion) for 100K skypesos. I had wanted to go to Amsterdam for some time and I like spending my last day of a trip in a different city so this sounded ideal. Once he booked it, I called Delta and confirmed the routing and the nice Delta agent said to me, "Hey, you are in economy on your last leg, let me see if I can get you into first." Yes, you read that right. And he did!

    About to board my flight from CDG-AMS in business on AF so I'll continue this post later, along with my review of flights and a stay at the Hyatt Place Vendome as a diamond.
     
  2. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Look forward to your report on the Park Hyatt Vendome! There are also some reports of Diamonds being permitted to take their breakfast via room service, would love to hear anything you learn on that. Best, Gary
     
  3. ShadowTraveler

    ShadowTraveler Silver Member

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    How do you get a suite at Park Hyatt Vendome? Can you use suite upgrade certificate on award night or free night with credit card?
     
  4. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Suite upgrades are valid on paid reservations only.

    2 Free nights are in suites when a Diamond member signs up for the credit card.

    Any member can spend a 50% premium in points to reserve a free night in a suite.
     
  5. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    as I was saying...

    I got to LAX three hours early and there was no line at Delta Sky Priority. I noticed on the board that there was a flight to SLC that was leaving in 60 minutes and asked if I could jump on that on instead (as Delta had given me a 42 minute connection to catch my flight to CDG and I was nervous about missing it). They immediately rebooked me in first for no charge and so I got my boarding passes for both flights and was through security and into the Sky Team Lounge within ten minutes of arrival at LAX. The lounge at LAX itself is typical of your legacy airlines lounges: pretty lousy beer and well drinks, some 10 cent snack mixes and slow wifi. I stayed there until they called my flight to SLC. The flight was decent and only 83 minutes and I arrived and headed for the SLC lounge which was no different than at LAX. The wifi was glacial and so I did other work until they called me for my flight to CDG.

    On flights across the water where I intend to sleep, I always prefer the middle two seats as it is easy to get in and out and don't have to deal with some aviation geek open his window shade to see Iowa cornfields at 35K feet. But, alas, I was next to an elderly woman celebrating her 50th anniversary with her husband, who had the window seat and so I offered to move so they could be together and that put me in a predicament: a) I was now trapped if the person on the aisle was going to snooze the whole flight (she did!) -- since the near lie flight seats give you no room to maneuver out and b) I would have to inhale her Justin Bieber perfume throughout the whole 9:40 to Paris.

    Besides my bladder almost bursting and that Bieber Fever Roma, the flight was nice -- food was okay -- drinks were okay -- but the VOD was horrible -- they had one of those 4 inch pop out of the armrest screams that made it virtually impossible to enjoy one of the ten films on offer.

    Landed at CDG was through security and into the AF Arrivals Lounge located at the end of terminal 2F Landside in less than ten minutes. The lounge was probably great when it opened, but now it's servicable with showers and two slow computers with French keyboards and no food.

    Took the Roissy Bus for 10 euros (buying tix inside/US credit cards accepted) and when we arrived at Opera, I turned left, walked 20 meters to the corner, crossed the street, turned left and walked about three blocks, past the first sign of the Benetton store and when I reached the next street, I turned right on rue de la paix, walked about one block and there was the Park Hyatt Vendome, tucked nicely into the middle of the street.

    Check in was easy -- upgraded from the award stay of Park Queen to Deluxe King, which was just an ordinary room. Wifi and American breakfast was included. To answer Gary's question, yes, you can have breakfast in your room, but I would advise against it on two parameters: 1) Unless you have a suite, the room itself is cramped enough that it's not really enjoyable to eat in the room itself; and 2) the excellence of the breakfast is the buffet and seeing what they have on offer and it's so nice to go back up and get what you prefer. Sure, you can order everything, but I just think it's better to enjoy the beautiful dining area and have everything fresh (never liked eggs via room service).

    I did receive a great bottle of Champagne on my first night - so lovely -- and just found the staff could not be kinder. The concierge arranged opera tix for me that were choice and taxi's were flagged immediately when needed.

    Speaking of which, after a two night stay, we took a 7 euro taxi to Radisson Blu Champs Elyesees, where I had booked a two night award stay due to amassing points at Club Carlson through their promotions -- basically, I stayed twice at $90 hotels and ended up with enough points for two nights in Paris -- rooms that would have cost 440 euros a night if I paid for them (which I never would have done). The rooms are charming and came with a view of the Arc de Triomphe. It's a really nice location with the Etoile metro and RER two blocks away and next to the hotel the great L'Atelier de Joel Rubuchon where we dined one night to one of the greatest meals of my lifetime (160 euros per person but well worth it!).

    The RER back to CDG, a lousy airport as everyone mentioned, and then through security in 10 minutes and into the AF Lounge which is small and has the tiniest shower rooms in mankind. If you are claustrophic, you have been warned.

    The flight in blocked-off-middle-seat business class to AMS was fun because I got to listen to a very attractive couple behind me have the most delightful fight about his infidelity. His rationalizations were hilarious.

    We landed at AMS and I loved the fact that security was a breeze (2 min) and that you can hop on a 4.30 euro train to Centraal Station that took only 15 minutes. So easy! From there it was a five minute walk to the Dom where I stayed at Hotel NH Krasnapolsky, which I grabbed for 140 euros ai on an orbitz one day sale the previous month (usual rates are about 210-240). I would have stayed at the Andaz, of course, but it hasn't opened yet. The hotel was in a perfect location and everyone was nice, but it's definitely 3 stars. Highlight was Cafe Hoppe for the best beer ever (in cask) for 2.50 euros a glass and walking around the city and it's beautiful architecture.

    24 hours later I'm back in the great KLM lounge (window view of all the aircraft/nice spreads/great booze, comfortable chairs and fast Wi-fi) as I'm about to board my Delta flight to MSP and then home to LAX.

    Will fill in later with more precise details and hopefully edit this down a bit as well...
     
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  6. gleff
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    gleff Co-founder

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    Thanks for the word on the room service. I'll be there 4 nights and will imagine I'll want to eat in the restaurant a few mornings but the option to have something delivered before getting ready for the day is nice as well... :)
     
  7. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    My flight from AMS-MSP was okay -- a 767-300 where I sat in 2C in a near-lie-flat seat and had those awful 4 inch screens. Same movies as outgoing flight and the VOD didn't work for the first 90 minutes of the flight. The meal was okay and it sure beats coach, but I certainly would prefer to fly anything other than a 763 again on a long-haul.

    My flight from MSP-LAX on a 757 was fine and boring, which suited me as I slept the whole way.

    All in all, a great value for 100K skypesos, as I spent six months trying to use them and am happy I saved my USAIR and AA miles for better planes and routing in the future.
     
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  8. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    Those are the types of directions that should be stickied somewhere. :)

    Great trip report so far... could use some pictures though, especially of the rooms at the Radisson or the lounges, even if just for future reference. Available food and showers are nice amenities to have after long flights, but if they're disappointingly bad then it's good to be forewarned so you can make other plans. :)
     
  9. THREEA4ME
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    THREEA4ME Silver Member

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    Vig,

    I don't do pics on trips -- I just like wondering and not taking photos and being old school. Plus every photo now exists somewhere, including the room photos of the Vendome/Radisson. All in all, my general opinion is that both hotels are great redemption choices but lousy revenue ones.

    As for the directions to the hotel off the Roissy Bus, just to be clear, when you exit the bus, you turn left, walk 20 meters to the corner, cross the street, and then turn left, keep walking til you see the Benetton store, go one short block to the end of the Benetton store and turn right -- go about 300 meters and the Park Hyatt will be on your right in the middle of the block.
     
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