Advertisements
Tim Foolery

Home » Posts tagged 'Trip Report'

Tag Archives: Trip Report

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? 

Advertisements

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?

Wait. Wrong Airport?

As we deplaned from our 10 economy flight from Houston, we had about four hours to kill at the Buenos Aires Airport We figured that we may be able to move to an earlier flight if we can make it through customs and immigration quickly. Well, that wasn’t going to happen.

Customs and Immigration

As we made our way to the checkpoint, we were herded into the foreigner line (rightly so), which had about 500 people ahead of us in line. With about six stations open, we knew we’d be here for a while. Luckily, I went to the bathroom before hopping in line.

Fast forward a little over an hour, it was our turn. I never know if we should go through the line together when entering a foreign country. We are married, but sometimes other countries don’t recognize same sex marriages and once, I had to go back into the line, which caused lots of people to think I was cutting. No issues in Buenos Aires though.

We grab our bags and head out to re-check and try for an earlier flight. As we check the big board, we don’t see our flight listed. We see flights to Mendoza, but not at our scheduled time and not many on our scheduled airline. My first thought was that there was a schedule change and we didn’t get notified. Or perhaps our LATAM flight was operated by someone that we hadn’t heard of before. We continued to ponder the big board and I grabbed our itinerary and found the problem.

A New Problem For Us

We were at the wrong airport. Instead of leaving from EZE (Ministro Pistarini International Airport) we were leaving from AEP (Aeroparque Jorge Newbery). This helps explain why the fine folks at United couldn’t check our bags all the way through to Mendoza. AEP is 43km (27 miles) from EZE, so it looks like we won’t be getting on an earlier flight, but we better get cracking if we don’t want to miss our current option.

We waited in the taxi queue for about 20 minutes, then another 25 for the taxi. At EZE you order a cab through a central dispatch, you are given a number and then eventually a driver shows up to transport you.

The ride to AEP was pretty uneventful and fast. It took us about 30 minutes, but the taxi was more like a fancy lawn mower than a car. Loud. Spewing fumes. Rickety. The driver was really nice and helped with our luggage and kept us safe among the other wild drivers. His car reminded me of an old roller skate – it’ll probably get you there, but a wheel could break off at any moment.

We arrived in plenty of time to make our flight, but there were absolutely no options for an earlier departure. So to kill time, we snagged a pizza in the food court, which was really great, by the way.

AEP - Aeroparque Jorge Newberry the Wrong Buenos Aires Airport
Wrong Buenos Aires Airport Pizza Lunch

Our best laid plans for an early transfer fell short today. As we waited to board the flight to Mendoza we remembered that we chose the flight with the long layover because it saved us about 75USD per person. If we had gone with the earlier option, we would have missed it – likely leaving us with more travel troubles.

Have you ever realized you were at the wrong Buenos Aires airport? How about the wrong airport in ANY city?

Adventures in Argentina: Introduction

Argentina has been on our list to visit for a few years now. We finally decided to pull the trigger and spend our Thanksgiving break exploring three separate cities in Argentina. These adventures were a great break from a hectic work life.

Our goals for this trip were pretty simple – get away from work for a week and explore a new area of the world. Argentina is well known for it’s wine and it’s beef. As with almost all of our trips we built our experiences around food, wine and seeing beautiful spaces. Of course we had to couple these requirements with our need for a relaxing break. It is a vacation after all.

Andes Mountain Views from Argentina
Views of the Andes from Mendoza.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share with you my thoughts on the various flights, hotels, restaurants and experiences, including:

Not to spoiler the ending here, but we loved our time in Argentina. Next time we will do somethings a little differently though.

Have you been to Argentina? What was your favorite spot? Did you have to deal with the bird poop scam?

Vienna Airport Lounges

Leaving the Hotel Bristol at 08h15, I was at Vienna International Airport by 09h10. Passing through security and immigration was a breeze and I found myself at the Austrian Airlines Business Class Lounge about 40 minutes before our scheduled boarding time.

A Tale of Two Lounges

The Vienna Airport Lounges are interesting to me. There is the Business Class Lounge and the Star Alliance Lounge. Each time I fly in Business, I am relegated to the Star Alliance Lounge. The only explanation I get is that I have to go their since I do gave Star Gold Status.

While this is indeed true, I am flying Business Class and think I should be allowed in that Lounge. The Star side is utterly packed. Each time I enter this lounge, I find that every single seat is occupied and people are just standing around like vultures, waiting for a seat to open. It isn’t relaxing. Usually, I’ll just pop over to the Priority Pass Lounge next door, which looks like a mediocre restaurant at a mall. At least I can sit though.

This time was different, I was admitted to the Business Class side of the lounge.

Vienna Airport Lounge

Booze selection available at the Business Class Lounge

Vienna Airport Lounge

Breakfast Breads at the Austrian Business Class Lounge

Vienna Airport Lounge

Tea selection at Austrian Airlines Business Class Lounge

It wasn’t stellar, but I did get a seat. I also grabbed a pastry, some sparkling wine and the Monday edition of Le Monde.

Vienna Airport Lounge

Lounge water, bubbles and newspaper

I spent only about 20 minutes in the lounge then took the long walk to my gate.

Teheran Gate at Vienna Airport

Maybe I will go to Tehran after all

Austrians Business Class Lounge is head and shoulders better than their Star Lounge, but it sure isn’t anything to arrive early for. Show up early enough to grab a newspaper and a glass of bubbles and call it good.

Austrian Airlines Boeing 767

My ride to Chicago. Austrian Boeing 767

Which Lounge is your favorite in Vienna? Have you ever been relegated to the Star Lounge despite having a proper Business Class ticket?