Greetings from 35,000 toes within the air!
I’ve been off gallivanting for the previous 5 weeks or so on a visit that started 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 had been comparatively open-ended, however since I’ve now locked in many 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. Just a few years in the past, I had the chance to go to 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 workforce member in Melbourne. The climate in Australia this time of yr is ideal, because it’s neither painfully scorching neither is it chilly by any means.
I’d visited Melbourne a number of years in the past as effectively, and I used to be trying ahead to catching up with a workforce 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 mates within the journey area – Jarvis from The Luxurious Traveller, Immanuel from Flight Hacks, and Albert from JetAlbert – to do some snowboarding in one in every of Japan’s finest ski areas, which fellow workforce member T.J. additionally visited earlier on this yr.
Following my time on the slopes, I’ll head again residence to Vancouver after what could have been the longest I’ve been away from residence 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 can be fully new to me. Besides, I additionally discovered myself in a number of lessons of service that I’ll not sometimes frequent. 😉
After an idyllic time in Bora Bora, my companion 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 Airways AAdvantage miles. I figured it’d be an excellent alternative to overview this product, and at 5 and a half hours lengthy, the consolation of a lie-flat mattress isn’t completely crucial.
I wished 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 enterprise class from Auckland to Sydney for 22,000 Avios, which is an efficient instance of the utility of Avios on short-haul regional routes all over the world.
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, due to my Aeroplan Elite Standing and Air Canada’s lounge entry settlement with Virgin Australia.
The subsequent leg of the journey required getting from Australia to Japan. This one was a little bit difficult to guide by way of discovering a product I hadn’t flown earlier than. I had locked in an ANA 787 enterprise class flight at first, however since I’ve already flown and reviewed ANA a number of instances lately, I stored my eyes open for a last-minute various possibility.
Just a few days earlier than the departure date, I managed to seek out some nice flights from Melbourne to Sapporo by means of Brisbane and Taipei, with a mix of Virgin Australia and EVA Air enterprise 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 manner again to the northern hemisphere.
Following my ski journey, I’m seeking to check out Gran Class on the Shinkansen bullet practice to get from Hakodate again to Tokyo.
That is speculated to be the “true” First Class cabin on Japanese trains, which I booked for about ¥40,000 ($412 CAD) – most definitely 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 costs.
This is without doubt one of the extra area of interest SkyTeam companion redemptions inside the Flying Blue loyalty program, however maybe it shouldn’t be – by all indications, China Airways enterprise class seems to be to be a really snug approach to get residence, and I’m trying ahead to reviewing the expertise and sharing my impressions.
There are many transferring components on this journey, which is summarized within the following map.
Consistent with a lot of my latest journeys, I’ve endeavoured to cowl many luxurious lodges from completely different lodge manufacturers on this leg of the journey, in assist of our journey company at Prince of Journey.
In Auckland, I booked two separate stays earlier than heading off to Wellington. Once 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 had been comparatively excessive right now, which led me to a factors redemption as a substitute.
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 manner all the way down to Round Quay and to the Park Hyatt Sydney, broadly thought of to be the most effective Hyatt properties on the 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 finished by the 4 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 Evening 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 tough to discover a cause to remain at a W, and with the model’s latest Australian enlargement in Brisbane and shortly Sydney, I believed I’d verify the Melbourne location off my record.
I wrapped up my go to to Australia with a keep on the Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Road, 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 standing match alternative final yr, 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 brief, I figured I’ll 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 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 to be completely beautiful and provides an opulent ski-in ski-out expertise, so I’m thrilled to be visiting with some mates 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 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 trying ahead to my first-ever stick with the Ritz-Carlton Reserve model and discovering out about what units it aside from 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 residence, and peak cherry blossom season approaching leading to sky-high money charges, I booked the AC Lodge Tokyo Ginza – which was going for upwards of ¥100,000 ($1,000)! – for 42,000 Bonvoy factors.
I appreciated the AC Lodge’s central location in Ginza, which might permit 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 per week or so earlier.
Plus, having toured a lot of Tokyo’s high lodges throughout my first post-pandemic journey to Japan final 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 common vacationer hotspot for a few years to return.
Following my “pre-honeymoon” journey 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 mates and workforce members, and getting in some train in a few of my favorite locations all over the world.
As with most of my journeys, I’ve additionally had the chance to pattern some airways and lodges which can be both new to me or that I’ve been excited to revisit after a few years. In truth, I’ll have redeemed factors for flights in all three of the most important airline alliances – together with a head-to-head comparability of the Taipei-based EVA Air and China Airways – by the top of this journey.
Having stated that, at about 5 weeks’ length in complete, this additionally occurs to be the longest time I’ve been away from residence in fairly some time.
Penning this abstract in the direction of the tail finish of the journey, I need to say I’m nearing the purpose of full exhaustion. I’m trying ahead to spending an prolonged interval at residence by way of the upcoming months, and I in all probability gained’t be planning too many extra five-week journeys sooner or later!
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