Greetings from 35,000 ft within the air!
I’ve been off gallivanting for the previous 5 weeks or so on a trip that began in French Polynesia earlier than persevering with onward to Oceania and now Japan.
That is an replace to, and a continuation of, my earlier journey that left off from Bora Bora a short time in the past. On the time, the remainder of my travels have been comparatively open-ended, however since I’ve now locked in a lot of the itinerary, I believed I’d share an replace right here as to my whereabouts and the journey planning course of.
On this a part of my journey, I’ve been rediscovering Oceania after a very long time away. A number of years in the past, I had the opportunity to visit New Zealand, which left a long-lasting constructive impression on me, and it’s a spot I’m eager to return to time and time once more.
After a number of days hopping round New Zealand, I headed over to Australia to discover Sydney for the primary time and spent a while with a Prince of Journey staff member in Melbourne. The climate in Australia this time of 12 months is ideal, because it’s neither painfully scorching neither is it chilly by any means.
I’d visited Melbourne a few years ago as effectively, and I used to be wanting ahead to catching up with a staff member and exploring the town by way of the eyes of a digital nomad native.
After sipping on some scrumptious espresso and trying out some nice lodges, I’ll jump over to Northern Japan for a while in Niseko. I’m assembly up with some buddies within the journey area – Jarvis from The Luxury Traveller, Immanuel from Flight Hacks, and Albert from JetAlbert – to do some snowboarding in considered one of Japan’s finest ski areas, which fellow staff member T.J. also visited earlier on this year.
Following my time on the slopes, I’ll head again dwelling to Vancouver after what may have been the longest I’ve been away from dwelling for fairly a while, at round 5 weeks!
On this a part of my journey, I had the chance to check out a pleasant number of new airways that I both haven’t flown shortly or which might be utterly new to me. In addition, I additionally discovered myself in a number of courses of service that I could not usually frequent. 😉
After an idyllic time in Bora Bora, my accomplice Jessy headed again to Canada, whereas I continued onward to the following a part of my journey.
I booked a premium economic system flight from Papeete to Auckland with Air Tahiti Nui for 25,000 American Airlines AAdvantage miles. I figured it’d be a very good alternative to overview this product, and at 5 and a half hours lengthy, the consolation of a lie-flat mattress isn’t completely vital.
I needed to go to the capital, Wellington, throughout my keep in New Zealand, so I wound up reserving some economic system Air New Zealand flights from Auckland to Wellington and again for $200 NZD ($170 CAD).
When it got here time to move throughout the Tasman Sea, I booked a flight in Qantas A330 business class from Auckland to Sydney for 22,000 Avios, which is an effective instance of the utility of Avios on short-haul regional routes world wide.
After a while spent trying out Sydney, I flew to Melbourne in Virgin Australia economic system class, which I booked for 8,000 Aeroplan factors. I additionally had a while to benefit from the Virgin Australia Lounge Sydney, because of my Aeroplan Elite Status and Air Canada’s lounge access agreement with Virgin Australia.
The subsequent leg of the journey required getting from Australia to Japan. This one was slightly tough to guide when it comes to discovering a product I hadn’t flown earlier than. I had locked in an ANA 787 business class flight at first, however since I’ve already flown and reviewed ANA a number of instances just lately, I stored my eyes open for a last-minute various choice.
A number of days earlier than the departure date, I managed to search out some nice flights from Melbourne to Sapporo by the use of Brisbane and Taipei, with a mix of Virgin Australia and EVA Air business class – each on their flagship Boeing 787-10 and the brand new regional product on the Airbus A330.
I booked this leg of my journey for 65,000 Aeroplan factors, and I used to be thrilled on the concept of sipping on matcha milk tea whereas making my approach again to the northern hemisphere.
Following my ski journey, I’m trying to check out Gran Class on the Shinkansen bullet practice to get from Hakodate again to Tokyo.
That is imagined to be the “true” First Class cabin on Japanese trains, which I booked for about ¥40,000 ($412 CAD) – most certainly as a one-time expertise, for the reason that common Shinkansen seats are usually fairly snug too.
Lastly, after heading again to Taipei on an economic system class money fare with China Airways, I’ll end this journey on a excessive observe by flying China Airways enterprise class from Taipei to Vancouver, which I booked for 84,000 Flying Blue miles plus round $300 (CAD) in taxes and fees.
This is likely one of the extra area of interest SkyTeam accomplice redemptions inside the Flying Blue loyalty program, however maybe it shouldn’t be – by all indications, China Airways enterprise class seems to be a really snug technique to get dwelling, and I’m wanting ahead to reviewing the expertise and sharing my impressions.
There are many shifting elements on this journey, which is summarized within the following map.
In step with lots of my current journeys, I’ve endeavoured to cowl many luxurious lodges from totally different lodge manufacturers on this leg of the journey, in help of our travel agency at Prince of Travel.
In Auckland, I booked two separate stays earlier than heading off to Wellington. After I arrived from Bora Bora, I stayed on the Park Hyatt Auckland, which I booked for 20,000 World of Hyatt factors.
I then redeemed 60,000 Hilton Honors factors for a keep on the Hilton Auckland. Money charges have been comparatively excessive presently, which led me to a factors redemption as an alternative.
My keep in Wellington was a bit extra modest, as I stayed on the DoubleTree by Hilton Wellington, booked with money for $250 NZD ($213 CAD).
Upon arrival in Sydney, I checked in on the Shangri-La Sydney, which I booked on an trade fee. After very nice stays in Toronto, Vancouver, and Hong Kong, I used to be excited to take a look at this property throughout my first go to to the town.
From there, I made my approach right down to Round Quay and to the Park Hyatt Sydney, broadly thought of to be among the finest Hyatt properties on this planet. I booked my keep at this Class 8 property for 40,000 World of Hyatt factors, which was a wonderful deal in comparison with the money fee.
Previous to leaving the town, I ended by the Four Seasons Sydney to get one other style of the 4 Seasons model, which I booked on an trade fee.
I had a complete of three nights in Melbourne. Having stayed on the Grand Hyatt on my final go to, I believed I’d examine it to the Park Hyatt Melbourne this time, which I booked on a money fee of $280 AUD ($260 CAD).
For the second evening, I redeemed a Free Night Award value 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy factors, after which topped it up with one other 12,000 factors, for an evening on the W Melbourne.
It’s by no means troublesome to discover a motive to remain at a W, and with the model’s current Australian enlargement in Brisbane and shortly Sydney, I believed I’d examine the Melbourne location off my listing.
I wrapped up my go to to Australia with a keep on the Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street, which I booked for $280 AUD ($255 CAD).
For the final leg of my journey, I put my IHG Diamond standing, which I earned by way of a short-lived status match opportunity last year, to good use with a keep on the ANA Crowne Plaza Sapporo for ¥14,400 ($150).
There aren’t too many different good lodge choices in Sapporo, and since my time within the metropolis was comparatively quick, I figured I could as effectively take my under-utilized IHG Diamond standing for a spin.
That brings us to Niseko, the place I’ll be splitting my 4 nights throughout a double-header between the highest two luxurious properties within the space, each of which opened fairly just lately.
I’ll spend the primary two nights on the Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono, for which I redeemed 35,000 World of Hyatt factors per evening.
This lodge seems completely gorgeous and presents an opulent ski-in ski-out expertise, so I’m thrilled to be visiting with some buddies and reviewing the property.
From there, I’ll head throughout to Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, for the following two nights. Higashiyama seems to be a a lot smaller property than the Park Hyatt at solely 50 rooms, although no much less luxurious.
Whereas this got here at a steep value of 95,000 Bonvoy factors per evening, I’m wanting ahead to my first-ever stick with the Ritz-Carlton Reserve model and discovering out about what units it other than common Ritz-Carltons.
The final lodge I’ve booked for this journey is a little more modest. With one evening in Tokyo earlier than heading dwelling, and peak cherry blossom season approaching leading to sky-high money charges, I booked the AC Hotel Tokyo Ginza – which was going for upwards of ¥100,000 ($1,000)! – for 42,000 Bonvoy factors.
I appreciated the AC Resort’s central location in Ginza, which might enable me to hit up a number of eateries inside strolling distance, in addition to get my Rimowa suitcase repaired on the close by boutique after one of many wheels broke in Brisbane Airport every week or so earlier.
Plus, having toured lots of Tokyo’s prime lodges throughout my first post-pandemic trip to Japan last September, I believed there’d be some worth in beginning to overview a number of the extra budget-friendly lodging, as the town guarantees to stay an especially fashionable vacationer hotspot for a few years to return.
Following my “pre-honeymoon” trip to Bora Bora, I’ve been busy rediscovering some outdated favourites in Oceania and snowboarding in Hokkaido.
This journey has been a really fulfilling combination of labor, connecting with buddies and staff members, and getting in some train in a few of my favorite locations world wide.
As with most of my journeys, I’ve additionally had the chance to pattern some airways and lodges which might be both new to me or that I’ve been excited to revisit after a few years. Actually, I’ll have redeemed factors for flights in all three of the main airline alliances – together with a head-to-head comparability of the Taipei-based EVA Air and China Airways – by the tip of this journey.
Having mentioned that, at about 5 weeks’ period in whole, this additionally occurs to be the longest time I’ve been away from dwelling in fairly some time.
Penning this abstract in the direction of the tail finish of the journey, I have to say I’m nearing the purpose of full exhaustion. I’m wanting ahead to spending an prolonged interval at dwelling by way of the upcoming months, and I most likely gained’t be planning too many extra five-week journeys sooner or later!