Trip Report: Holidays At Home And New Years In Paris

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by Sean Colahan, Feb 29, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. Sean Colahan
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    Introduction

    This last trip of 2011 (and first for 2012) started out with a stop in my hometown outside of Philadelphia to see my parents and family for the holidays before jetting off to Paris with my lovely wife to celebrate her 30th birthday (12/29) and to ring in the new year. We booked US Airways for our flights as I found a pretty good deal and I was hopping to use miles to upgrade us to Envoy Class (US Airways International Business Class) for at least the flight over and possibly the flight home. I also threw in a couple day stop in Philadelphia on the outbound so that we could visit my family for the Holidays.

    While I got a good price on the flights, the hotels in Paris during that time of year were tres expensive. I decided to cash in some points for our hotels so we could stay right downtown. I didn't have enough points with one hotel chain so I split it between the two. I booked one award night at the Hilton Arc de Triomphe and 2 nights at the Le Meridian Etolie (1 night award and one night paid.) The flight from PVD to PHL was uneventful as always, but for some reason they had that particular flight blocked out at 1.5 hours (when its maybe a 42 minute flight), so there was no surprise when we landed at PHL and the Captain came over the intercom announcing our 45 minute early arrival (which turned into a 35 minute early arrival as we had to wait to get to our gate.) We deplaned and walked out to meet my waiting parents curbside. The next couple of days were spent enjoying the company and companionship of my family.

    I will break the rest of the trip report into the following sections. (The links go directly to my blog post as opposed to the section of the thread w the post.)
    -PHL Lounge Crawl
    -US Envoy Class PHL-CDG
    -Hilton Arc de Triumph Paris
    -Touring Around the City of Lights
    -Le Meridian Etois
    -New Years Eve in Paris
    -Departing CDG and the Star Alliance Lounge
    -US Economy Class CDG-PHL-PVD
    -Recap
     
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  2. NYBanker
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    Any more to come?
     
  3. Sean Colahan
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    Yes...just realized I never posted the rest of the trip report. Thanks for the reminder, my life has been pretty crazy last couple of months.
     
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  4. Sean Colahan
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    Sorry for the long delay guys, but the rest of the trip report is being rolled out this week in chunks. Stay tuned!
     
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  5. Sean Colahan
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    PHL Lounge Crawl (Part 1)

    http://seancolahan.com/2012/05/05/t...d-new-years-in-paris-part-1-phl-lounge-crawl/

    Since my cousin, my wife, and I were flying out at around the same time, we decide to do an airline lounge bar crawl before our respective flights that evening. Since we had the international flight, we decided to start at the Delta Sky Club in Terminal D and work our way towards Terminal A-West.

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    After clearing security at Terminal D we headed to the Delta Sky Club which my cousin guested us into. The decor was very modern and keeping to the Delta brand. Lots of frosted lucite glass and the Delta colors of Blue and Red were prevalent, though not distracting. This lounge was small, but very well appointed. We found some seats and my cousin got the first round of drinks (Gin and Tonics were our drink of choice this crawl).

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    The bar and food at this club were all self serve. They had typical domestic lounge fair including cheese and craters, fruit, and various snack mixes. The liquor that they had was all quality (we were drinking Tanqueray Gin but I don't remember what the other options were for vodka, rum, etc.) The one thing that stood out at the club was how well Delta carried on their airlines branding (subtly) with the use of their royal blue and red colors throughout the club but without making it gaudy with Delta logos all over the place.

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    Once we finished out drinks we walked out into the terminal and down the concourse to the United Club, located between the C and D terminals at PHL. This club was on the smaller side, but look similar to other United Clubs I have been in the US. There was a small separate bar area where we ordered our drinks from a bartender, then found a table off by itself by a window which allowed us to look out onto the ram and watch the airplane activity. Lounge offerings were similar to those of the Delta Club with cheese/crackers, snack mix, etc.
     
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  6. Sean Colahan
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    PHL Lounge Crawl (Part 2)

    After the round we left and made our way down to the US Airways section of Philadelphia Airport.

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    Due to time constraints (and not wanting to get too liquefied up before our flight to PAris in Envoy Class) we skipped the US Airways Club located between B and C concourses and went to the former US Envoy Lounge (very recently made into an Envoy/US Airways Club lounge) located between Concourse A-East and A-West. To access the club we had to up up a long escalator as the club was located on top of the terminal. We checked in and said that we were flying Envoy to Paris that evening. We gave the event our boarding passes as she was going to try and get us two Envoy seats in the middle section next to each other. She also gave us 2 drink coupons because we were flying Envoy. (A side note, US Clubs charge for alcohol beyond the free house beer and wine.) We kindly asked if my cousin could have some drink coupons even though he was not flying Envoy that evening. We used an excuse that we were celebrating my wife's 30th birthday that evening before our respective flights. The woman who was checking us in smiled and gave us an extra 2 tickets. Score!

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    We made our way into the lounge which was much nicer than the lounge at B/C concourses and had an amazing view of the ramp and runways. This would be a great lounge to plane-spot at during the day. It had a nice subtle mood lighting and a very tall ceiling, though there was not a lot of noise being reflected around. We went to the far end of the club and found some seats. While my cousin was getting us our round of drinks I scoped out the food offerings. The spread was similar to the other lounges plus there was an addition of a warming crock that held soup, something I heard that US has started offering in the clubs during the afternoon and evening hours. As we would have a nice dinner on the flight, I didn't partake, but look forward to the next time I'm in a US lounge to give it a try. We enjoyed our cocktails and the company before it was time to head down to the gate area and board our flight to Paris.
     
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  7. Sean Colahan
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    Flying US Envoy Class PHL-CDG (Part 1)

    http://seancolahan.com/2012/05/08/t...d-new-years-in-paris-part-2-us-envoy-phl-cdg/

    After doing a Philadelphia Airport Lounge Crawl with my cousin (who was flying out that night on Delta) we boarded our Airbus 330-200 airplane bound for Paris Charles de Gaul Airport.

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    My wife and I were flying Envoy this evening (upgraded through miles) as this whole trip is a birthday present to celebrate her 30th birthday. The Envoy cabin boarded first. After getting on board, I asked the gentleman sitting in the middle section next to my wife if he would mind switching seats with my window seat so that I may sit next to her. He graciously agreed to switch seats and I got settled in.

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    There were blankets, pillows, and amenity kits laid out on the seat, a liter water bottle in the embedded bottle holder, and headphones on the ottoman.

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  8. Sean Colahan
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    Flying US Envoy Class PHL-CDG (Part 2)

    While getting situated, the flight attendant (Frank) who would be serving my side of the Envoy cabin came buy to introduce himself and welcome me on-board (the other aisle was served by Telise). He then came through with Champagne, OJ, or Water as a pre-departure beverage. My wife and I both went with the Champagne and proceeded to toast her birthday the next day and our trip to Paris.

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    While boarding was going on and we were enjoying our pre-departure champagne we made sure to snap tons of photos of us on the plane as well as the on-board product. The flight attendants also came around at this time to take our orders for dinner.

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  9. Sean Colahan
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    Flying US Envoy Class PHL-CDG (Part 3)

    I went with the stuffed chicken while my wife went with the crab cakes. Once we took off and headed on our course to Paris warm nuts and cocktails were provided. This was followed by the dinner service. White linens were provided for the tray tables. The appetizer and salad course came together along with warm dinner rolls and consisted of chilled prawns with a bell pepper salad and sweet Thai chili sauce. The salad was fresh seasonal greens garnished with cherry tomatoes, walnuts, and shaved parmesan cheese.

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    I asked the flight attendant if I could have a small glass of all 4 wines they offered to give them a try and see how they were. All the wines were good for their varietals and were all thoroughly enjoyed by myself and my wife (both self proclaimed winos). DInner was then served. My roasted breast of chicken was stuffed with mushrooms, served with pomodoro sauce, white wine risotto, and a zucchini, summer squash, and pepper vegetable medley. The crab cakes were accompanied by a lemon herb sauce, and the same sautéed vegetables. Everything on both of our dinners was excellent. The other two dinner options were Tenderloin of Beef and Four Cheese Ravioli. After dinner came desert. My wife went with the Ben & Jerry's Triple Carmel Chunk Ice Cream while I went with the cheese plate. I think the next time I fly Envoy across the Atlantic I might go with the express dining option where they bring everything out at once (minus the appetizer) as to allow me to get more sleep in the very nice lie-flat bed.
     
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  10. Sean Colahan
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    Flying US Envoy Class PHL-CDG (Part 4)

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    I then reclined my seat a bit to relax and watched a bit of a movie. Looking at the time I decided to put my seat in the lye-flat position and try and get some sleep so I would be refreshed for our first say in Paris. I positioned the bed in bed mode, spread the blanket and adjusted the pillow. The blanket was thin but covered me completely and was adequate. The pillow was also decent. When I layer down, I felt that I had a good amount of privacy as the shell that was behind the seat shielded my head and upper torso from the goings on in the Envoy cabin. I managed to get a couple of hours of sleep before landing.

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    I stirred a bit when people started getting breakfast, but I did not get to enjoy breakfast as I wanted to sleep longer than eat. My wife, who did order breakfast had the fresh fruit bowl compete with granola, yogurt, and breakfast breads. The other breakfast option was a vegetable omelet served with red potatoes, asparagus spears, and seasonal fruit salad.

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    Upon landing at CDG we taxed a bit before pulling up to our gate at Terminal 1…a definite ode to 60's "modern" architecture. The airport looked like the set to James Bond: Moonraker. Gerbil looking tubes criss-crossing each other in the middle of the remittal connecting different levels. We were the first to deplane, go through customs (which was incredibly easy and quick), and catch the RER and Metro into Paris and to our hotel.
     
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  11. Sean Colahan
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    Hilton Arch de Triumph Hotel (Part 1)

    http://seancolahan.com/2012/05/09/hiltonhotelarchdetriumph/

    We arrived in downtown Paris early and went straight to the hotel to check-in and/or drop our bags off for later so we could go tour around.

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    We walked up to the Hilton HHonors check-in and were helped right away. We were able to check-in early, but our room was not quite ready. We were welcomed to use the Executive Lounge to have breakfast and wait for out room to be ready. The Executive Lounge was very nice with dining seating as well as a food buffet. We were seated and then helped ourselves to breakfast. After sitting down with our breakfast, one of the Executive Lounge managers came up to welcome us to the Hilton Arch de Triumph and to personally give me her card and to say that if there was anything I needed that the concierge downstairs, the Executive Lounge concierge, or herself would be happy to help. During our breakfast we found out that our room was ready, our bags were being taken there, and were given our room keys. We finished up and headed to our room to check it out and freshen up.

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    The room was very well appointed, spacious, and had a calming, relaxing feel with the use of brown and purple colors. There was a king bed, two club chairs with a table in-between, a desk and office chair, and a credenza with a flat screen TV on top.

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  12. Sean Colahan
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    Hilton Arch de Triumph Hotel (Part 2)

    The bathroom had the sink and closet outside of the bath section. There as both a tub and shower (along with toilet) in the actual bath room…very nice and unexpected in a European hotel.

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    The view out of our window was of the hotel courtyard which, during the holidays, was stop up with a clear igloo champagne bar. We took a look at the bar on our way out of the hotel one night, but did not stop for a glass of bubbles.

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    We took a nap, showered, and freshened up in the room before heading out into Paris to explore and wander around our first day there. That night when we returned to the room we had a little special treat waiting for us in the room care of the management thanking us for our stay. (I am pretty sure that this was arranged as part of a secret santa gift exchange that I was a part of.)

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