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Tim Foolery

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Tag Archives: South America

Park Hyatt Mendoza – Standard Room

Since we first started talking about visiting Argentina, we knew we wanted to visit Mendoza. Situated at the base of the Andes and one of the world’s best-known wine regions, this area was a must visit. Several friends had stayed at the Park Hyatt Mendoza and while it wasn’t the most modern hotel, it came with the best recommendations.

After finally making it to Mendoza, after flying in from Buenos Aires (and not realizing we needed to change airports) we made our way directly to the Park Hyatt Mendoza. The taxi ride from the airport to the hotel was about 25 minutes with limited traffic until we got very close to the hotel itself.

The Arrival

Stepping out of the taxi, we were approached by several bellhops offering to take our luggage. Since we were traveling light, this was a service that we didn’t need. We continued on into the grand lobby and directly to the check in desk, where there was no line.

Park Hyatt Mendoza - Main Lobby
The main lobby at the Park Hyatt Mendoza was very grand and welcoming.
Park Hyatt Mendoza
Park Hyatt Mendoza Lobby

Check-in was very quick. We have no status with Hyatt so there was no discussion on what sort of welcome gift we’d get. WiFi was included with all room as was the breakfast each morning.

The elevators up to the guestrooms and spa were near the casino entrance, which was enticing for me. I do love to spend some time at the craps table, when time allows. This trip, we just walked through the casino, not even slowing down to see what games were available.

The Rooms

The standard room had two twin beds, which is what we requested. The room was nicely sized for a standard room. We didn’t end up spending much time in the room itself as we were out wine tasting or exploring the area. I wouldn’t upgrade to a larger room or spend more money on a room at this hotel. The standard was perfectly acceptable.

Park Hyatt Mendoza - Sleeping Area
The bedroom area in our Standard Room
Park Hyatt Mendoza - Sleeping Area
The bedroom area in our Standard Room
Park Hyatt Mendoza Welcome Gift
Welcome Gift
Park Hyatt Mendoza - Vanity
The small vanity in our standard room
Park Hyatt Mendoza - Separate Bathtub
The separate bathtub in our large bathroom
Park Hyatt Mendoza - Shower
Next to the separate tub was the shower
Park Hyatt Mendoza - Bathroom
Toilet and Bidet

Breakfast

The breakfast was served in the first floor restaurant each morning. While not on par with a standard Asian hotel breakfast buffet, the Park Hyatt did a nice job. Lots of meats, cheeses and pastries to be found. A manned omelette/egg station offered a nice selection of custom ordered eggs. Plus, the key to any proper complimentary hotel breakfast: a nice sparkling wine. There was never a line for any of the food nor to grab a table.

Park Hyatt Mendoza - Breakfast
The breakfast buffet
Park Hyatt Mendoza - Pastries
Park Hyatt Mendoza Pastry Buffet
Park Hyatt Mendoza
Champagne, pork, tomatoes and cheese, a standard Tim Breakfast while traveling

The Park Hyatt Mendoza Pool and Spa

Since this was vacation, we made sure to build in some time at the pool and at the spa. We each had 90 minute massages, which were embarrassingly inexpensive. My masseuse was very strong and worked out kinks that I didn’t know I had. He was so good, I felt sore for the next day and a half. Maybe a little too aggressive.

The pool was located on the main lobby level and while it was a bit small, it was beautiful. The weather was stunning during our visit, so the pool was quite popular. We managed to snag some loungers pool side, near the bar, no less.

Park Hyatt Mendoza Pool Deck
The beautiful outdoor pool at the Park Hyatt Mendoza

While we knew we wanted to stay at the Park Hyatt Mendoza, our initial plan was to stay with points, but I completely forgot to book this hotel.  It wasn’t until about eight days before our departure that I realized we had no place to stay!  Unfortunately there were no award nights available during our stay.  We planned on transferring some Chase Ultimate Reward Points over to Hyatt.  Each night at the Park Hyatt Mendoza cost us 342USD.  I’d have rather spent points, but that’s what happens when you fail to plan. Considering we were using points for the rest of the trip, this high price tag didn’t sting so badly.

Final Thoughts

The Park Hyatt Mendoza wasn’t a stellar property.  It did remind me a bit of the Park Hyatt Zurich, but wasn’t as sophisticated.  That being said, I’d definitely stay at this property again.  The clean rooms and attentive staff made for a great first stop on our Argentine Adventure.

Have you stayed at the Park Hyatt Mendoza?  Did you think it was a bit dated?  Would you recommend this property to a friend or would you stay again? 

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LATAM Flight AEP – MDZ | Economy

We took three intra-Argentina flights on this trip. Two on LATAM Argentina and one on Aerolineas Argentina. I’ll be sharing a couple of different LATAM experiences in this overall trip report. You’ll also see a comparison to Aerolineas Argentina – a new airlines for us.

After our little snafu upon arrival, we managed to make it to to the right airport with enough time for some pizza before our 1 hour and 54 minute from to Mendoza. Like every other experience with LATAM, the check-in lines were long, but moved fairly quickly. Even though we were transferring from another flight, it was booked separately, so we were treated as a new customer, not a transfer.

Boarding

We were scheduled to leave at 15h55. We didn’t start boarding until 15h50. Adding to the boarding time, we were leaving from a remote stand. Unlike most airlines I’ve flown, the boarding process with LATAM Argentina is a little funky. Elite members board early, like every airline. Next, we were organized into two groups: small hand luggage and larger hand luggage.

We were traveling just with briefcases (or in my case a duffel), so we were in the small hand luggage line. I think the intent is board the small stuff first, which should fit under the seat, then everyone with larger bags boards and dukes it out. After our bus filled up, we were the first five people on the plane. We put our bags in the overhead bins and there we no issues. Easy enough.

I was in row three. The all-economy configuration was totally retro. These seats were the old formerly padded (now compacted) leather recliner style seats. No, these weren’t the first class style recliners. The pitch was awful. My knees were slammed into the seat in front of me from jump.

LATAM Argentina Flight
LATAM Argentina Legroom

This was only exacerbated by the guy in front of me who couldn’t get out of his seat without leaning back as far as possible, nearly dislocating my patella. At least he only got up about 10 times on this less than two hour flight.

Once seated, the flight would never be ready for departure. The plane was nearly full and all the “large hand luggage” people struggled with their bags. There was plenty of room for bags. Unfortunately most people wanted their bags up front, so they would move bags in the first couple of rows, to fit theirs in. I had to ask three separate people not to move my bag. One guy took my bag out and set it on the ground, put his in its place and walked away. I called him back and handed him his bag. Crazy, no?

The Flight

The flight itself was uneventful. We were served drinks and some nuts. There was no in-flight entertainment. I’m happy we charged our gear on the United flight, otherwise this would have been long and boring.

I’ll say that each time I fly LATAM throughout South America, I get a different experience. It’s never been stellar, but it seems like each of the planes is quite different. This one was so old, not to say that it was bad. The really new planes have the slimline seats that are like sitting on a bus bench.

Despite leaving nearly 30 minutes late, we landed in Mendoza right on time. We deplaned, at a gate this time and made our way immediately into baggage claim. The claim area was small, with only a couple of belts. Our bags were some of the last off the plane. Departing baggage claim was a mess. Security routed all passengers through an additional screening checkpoint. Most people ignored this and just pushed by. You could choose to wait in the line, or just walk around. We chose, initially to follow the rules. It wasn’t long before we made a different decision. We decided to just walked on by with about 100 other travelers.

LATAM Argentina Baggage Claim
Baggage Claim in Mendoza – Free For All

After a long day of work, travel, surprise airport transfers, we finally made it to our first actual destination in Argentina. Mendoza. Hopping in a taxi we were off to the Park Hyatt and a couple days of wine tasting and wonderful spring warmth.

Have you flown LATAM Argentina? How did it differ from LATAM in other countries throughout South America?

Most Popular Blog Posts: 2018 Edition

Each new year, I like to take a look back at the prior year. I recently shared my 2018 Travel Year in Review, which showcased my various flights and trips. Today I’m going to take another look at my most popular travel blog posts in 2018.

Let’s start by defining the parameters. We’ll be looking at two posts 1) The post that was most popular in 2018, regardless of when it was published and 2) The most popular post that was penned in 2018.

Most Popular Post – Any Publishing Date

LATAM In Flight Entertainment (IFE) continues it’s reign as the most popular post viewed in 2018. In this post, I shared how useful LATAM’s App was for maintaining a distraction while flying. It surprises me that this continues to be such a popular topic, two years after it was originally published!

Most Popular Post – Published in 2018

This years most popular post doesn’t really surprise me. The content is beautiful. Not saying this just because I created it, but because my subject is utterly breathtaking. Vienna. The post titled The Most Instagrammable Places in Vienna was such fun to create too. I spent the better half of a day walking around Vienna, enjoying the late winter atmosphere snapping pics of beautiful and noteworthy places. I’ve heard from a handful of people who’ve used this guide during their visits to the city. Such a compliment.

The Wiener Staatsoper / Vienna State Opera House.
The Wiener Staatsoper / Vienna State Opera House.

I dig looking back to see how last year turned out. It’s helpful in not only planning for travel, but helps in curating content for future posts. What type of content do you want to see more of in 2019?

Need Advice: Argentina Trip

Each year, we travel somewhere for Thanksgiving.  We find it a great time to leave the country as no one is traveling for business that week and most Americans are traveling domestically.  We’ve traveled to Ireland, Mexico City, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Colorado, and Oregon for Thanksgiving.  This year, we are heading south to Argentina.  This will be my first visit to the country, while it will be Mike’s second.

Thanksgiving in Argentina

Thanksgiving in Mendoza, where to go?

So far, we’ve book airfare down to and back from Argentina as well as flights inside the country.  We’ve chosen our cities to visit and the hotels in which to stay.  We’ll be staying in Cordoba, Mendoza and finally a few days in Buenos Aires.  I’ve only made reservations for one meal while we are there too – our final night in Buenos Aires, we are hitting a lovely fine dining restaurant as we celebrate Thanksgiving.

I need your help though.  I’m looking for advice from travelers and locals who can tell us great places to eat and wineries to visit.  Frequent readers know that I love a good bike tour, so any recommendations on who to ride while while in Argentina, let me know.

What is the one thing you wish you had done while you were in Argentina?  What about the one thing you wish you hadn’t done?

Casa de Piedra Hotel Boutique (La Paz)

Like in Arequipa, Peru, we wanted to stay in a local hotel – not a western chain.  Our research led us to the Casa Piedra Hotel Boutique in La Paz.  We would be spending three nights in this hotel, which was just a 3 minute walk to the Plaza San Francisco and the neighboring church.  The hotel was about 25 minutes from the main airport in El Alto.  The hotel didn’t have an elevator, so you had to schlep your luggage up the stairs from street level to the lobby.  The restaurant is on the street level and our room was on the main floor with the reception area.

After we landed, we headed straight to the hotel, arriving at reception around 14h45.  When we approached reception, we were greeted by name (again).  Either we stick out like sore thumbs, or we were the last ones expected to check in that day.  In any event, we were given our keys (actual metal keys) and shown to our room, which was just off the main stairs.

We booked a double room with two twin beds.  We will book two beds if we think it is important to do so culturally (not necessarily the case here) or if the king beds don’t look like actual king sized beds.  We’ve gotten burned many times when booking a king bed and getting stuck with a double.  I need room and space when sleeping. Little did we know that the beds would be perfect for us on this stay – La Paz was rough on us.

Our room had a private bathroom, which was elevated from the rest of the room (likely, the bathroom was added as an after thought and it needed to be elevated to accommodate the plumbing requirements).  The beds were small (narrow), but pretty comfortable.

View of our double room in La Paz.

View of our double room in La Paz.

View of our room from the nearly unusable lofted space.

View of our room from the nearly unusable lofted space.

A view back to the main door of our room.

A view back to the main door of our room.

Our room had a lofted space with a small dining table and two chairs.  The room had great ceiling height, but in the lofted space you were so crowded, it was virtually unusable.

Our tiny lofted space had a table and chairs - also it has a ceiling that was so low, it was nearly unusable.

Our tiny lofted space had a table and chairs – also it has a ceiling that was so low, it was nearly unusable.

Our room also had a small desk, which under normal circumstances would have been great to write post cards, or do a little work, if needed.  We used the desk only to store our hats and nothing else.

The small desk in our rustic room.

The small desk in our rustic room.

The room itself was perfectly comfortable.  The door wasn’t all that secure – it never came open, but if someone wanted to get into our room, it wouldn’t be difficult and it likely would go unnoticed by everyone on property.  I just made sure I kept all my valuables with me at all times.  The bathroom (I failed to take pictures of the bathroom for some reason) had pretty respectable water pressure and access to hot water.

I thought the building itself was a charmer – a lovely old colonial building that has rustic, but not overly so.  The floors creaked as you walked across the room or down the hall, but not so much that it bothered you while you were sleeping or relaxing in your room.

We had dinner one night in the hotel and the food was mediocre at best.  We were feeling the affects of the altitude at this point.  We were short of breath and were really feeling some GI distress.  I didn’t realize that altitude would wreak havoc on your stomach as much as it did to us in La Paz.  That’s another issue I had with the hotel (and it is likely an issue with many older hotels in La Paz) – you couldn’t flush your toilet paper, you had to put the soiled TP in the waste bin next to the toilet.  In general, that wouldn’t be a big problem – we’d just make sure that we used the facilities while out and about or before the room was serviced.  Unfortunately, with our upset stomachs, we spent a lot of time trapped in the room and the waste bin filled up quicker than it normally would.  I tried a couple times to get the bin emptied, to no avail.  Gross, I know.  We had upset stomachs and the room didn’t smell as fresh as it should have.

In general, the hotel worked out fine for us and I would likely return, if I needed to be back in La Paz again. That being said, I really don’t think I’ll ever be going back to La Paz again.  The altitude sickness really soured me on the City.

Where did you stay on your visit to La Paz?  Do you prefer to stay at traditional western chain hotels, or more locally owned and operated properties?  What do you think about the inability to flush the toilet paper?