Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hotel Review - Vibe Hotel Sydney (Room 619)

Vibe Hotel - Sydney

11 Goulburn St (Map)
Sydney NSW, Australia
+61 2 8272 3300

Hotel Review and Trip Report - Sydney Vibe

This hotel is located between the city centre and the central train station. Its a Nine story building off a couple main streets in Sydney. The front desk staff was very friendly upon check-in and check-out. Typically Sydney hotels dont have rooms ready before 3pm -- so if you arrive early in the morning, its wise to book the night before to ensure you have a room available at 7am after a flight from the US.

Room 619 was in a great location away from the elevators and down the hall from lots of foot traffic. The windows DO open in this room -- allowing for good airflow. The windows are also double-pained so it cuts the noise from the busy street below.

The bed was fine, but like most beds in Sydney hotels -- it NOT like the overbuilt mattress now in most top chain hotels in the US.

There was plenty of storage and a small area for making coffee and tea. The fridge was stocked, but still had room for personal bottles. Oddly the room safe was not electronic -- and looked like it was 1940.

The bathroom was typical -- high bathtub, room enough for personal items near the sink. Ok bathroom, nothing to write home about.

At night, I didnt hear anything from neighboring rooms or in the hallway. The room service was somewhat limited, but it was good food and (again) very friendly service. There is a bar and resturant in the hotel -- but it is very close to other places to eat and drink.

My only complaint was the room was a bit dusty and some items were in need of repair (TV remote was missing a battery cover and the Tea Kettle leaked). I was only in my room a limited about of time during my stay so I didnt bother to ask them to fix the issues. I am sure they would have fixed the issues if I had asked.

This hotel is often listed as a 3-star -- I would say its a very solid 3 star and could approach 4 star if it was a bit more updated and tidy.

Overall a good place to stay in Sydney and often available at a very good price on or at Priceline.

Hotel Review - Sydney Holiday Inn Darling Harbour

Holiday Inn - Darling Harbour

SYDNEY, 2000

Hotel Review and Trip Report - Holiday Inn Sydney in Darling Harbour

I selected this hotel mainly due to price and location for business. This hotel is a step above the typical US Holiday Inn. Its very clean, professional and seems to be more business-oriented than a usual Holiday Inn. It also has a very nice restruant and bar in the building.

My room was located on the Third Floor which is the lowest of the Guest Floor. I would recommend getting a higher floor -- as my view was blocked by the Convention Center across the street. One cool feature was watching the top of the Monorail go by every once and awhile , as the Monorail track runs next to the hotel.

Room 326 was near the end of the hall away from the Elevators. It was fairly quiet -- but this floor houses the Gym, Laundry and the main housekeeping area -- so there is often something going on --- luckily these features are all located near the Elevator, away from the rooms.

The room is oversized and has plenty of room. The Beds are almost queen sized and seem large compared to usual SYD beds found in other hotels. One major downside - the windows do NOT open so you can't get fresh air. Since there is a Monorail, major street and convention center outside the window, it is double pained -- making the room very quiet. Internet access was fairly pricey at $27.50 for one day.

There is a fairly large mini-bar area with sink and plenty of room in the fridge. The closet faces the bar area and has a electronic safe.

Unlike most Sydney hotels -- the Television had extra channels including the W channel and Arena (which is basically Bravo in the US). The room was small but efficient -- there was some minor damage to the wall, but nothing too bad.

Overall a very solid business hotel. On the downside - Location (near Darling Harbour/Chinatown), high-speed costs, non-opening windows, and lax maintenance. One the plus side - Oversized room, Priority Club points, and good in-hotel dining/drink options.

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Trip Report - Air Canada Jazz - Seattle to Vancouver (Dash 8-300)

I started a very long adventure from Seattle to Sydney, by first flying from SEA to Vancouver. Fares out of Vancouver to Sydney were $2000 less, compared to flying out Seattle -- even though both itineraries go via SFO.

I left on a Sunday and arrived at Sea-Tac to find the United Counter a total mess. Air Canada doesnt have personnel in Seattle and uses United ticket counters, gates and personnel.

The Premier Exec/1k line was full of trapped non-english speaking folks who were unwilling to use a kiosk -- and were very confused. This backed up the line into the very narrow lobby. A United rep was pretty clueless at clearing the situation and instead shooed folks out of the First Class line. It was a mass cluster and probably the worst Airport check-in I have ever had in recent years.

After dealing with checking my bag and switching my seat to an exit row, I headed to the gate. The flight to Vancouver is on Air Canada Jazz on a Dash-8 300 series. These planes are basically the same as the Horizons Dash8s -- but are a bit smaller, more worn and tired.

View from seat 10F:

The window is blocked by the wheel well and landing gear.

Here is a view of Seats 10A and 10B -- there is extra leg room at these seats:

The flight was fairly basic - one flight attendant handed out drinks on the very short 30mins flight. The plane lands at the International Terminal at YVR. At the time I landed, there were folks allowing International Connections to bypass customs and enter the International terminal. I didnt have a connecting ticket -- so I had to go into customs and re-check my bag with United. Vancouver is a good airport -- and all these flights and custom facilities are located in the same International Terminal.

Canadian customs was busy, but moved quickly. In Vancouver, like alot of Canadian airports there is a US customs and immigration at the terminal. So you clear US customs/immigration before departing Canada. There is a Alaska Airlines Board Room at Vancouver (I think this used to be the Red Carpet Room - but I could be wrong).

In addition, there is a Air Canada Maple Leaf Lounge with Star Gold customers can use when traveling internationally. Its a very nice lounge and up above the concourse offering some nice views.