Friday, February 18, 2005

Sao Paulo – Admirals Club Lounge

It is 10.30pm and finally, I’m on my way home. What a week… ending in a quick ride to the airport, only to find it crowded and noisy. I decided to hang out in the Admirals Club lounge – you get free access when you are on International Business class. The lounge has that incredible 1980s airport décor of mauve and grey carpet with rosewood doors and marble… and because it is Friday, it looks like a refugee camp with all the business travelers going home. Yuck. Free drinks, though.

I just adore the Grand Hyatt Sao Paulo. The hotel put me in a suite this time, which was very lovely and spacious. The shower…. OMG the shower. Still the best shower I’ve ever had. Not only is the design pleasing, the rain shower is just at the perfect height for me, and the stall is so spacious. I love this hotel so much! Everyone was very warm and gracious, still the best service I’ve ever had.

This time, I flew into Sao Paulo from Buenos Aires. The airline was TAM, and it was kind of funny. I was not paying attention to the safety video, but when they spoke in English I looked up, and the video was with claymation-style puppets, like the old Thunderbird show or that recent movie Team America! Totally cute. It ends with them spelling out “Have A Nice Flight” in cute block letters. First class was nice service, but during it I decided to look at the in-flight entertainment. OMG, it was an old Star Trek episode, the one when that floating machine gets onto the Enterprise and it follows Captain Kirk to the bridge. Once it gets there, it starts to take control and it zaps Lt. Uhura, she loses her memory and has to learn English all over; Scotty is zapped dead. But not in English, it was in Spanish or Portugese, so I forgot how it ended. HILARIOUS. I wonder who they are marketing to…

Getting to the hotel was a chore. It was a 2-hr ride from the airport, the traffic was incredibly bad. Apparently there was a major storm and it just snarled everything. Once I got there, though, I totally relaxed – time for ME. The only free time that I truly had on the trip, other then the first afternoon in Mendoza (but I worked that night there). I didn’t work at all, went to the health club and then I had a massage at the spa, ending with room service. Dessert was incredible, just a huge hunk of pineapple with coconut sherbet. Simple, boy was it good. Mmmmmm.

For lunch they took me to Eau, which apparently was voted the best hotel restaurant in Brazil. It is French, yummy. For dessert we had the little cookies that are made with chocolate and Earl Grey tea. They were nice enough to send a little box to my room to take with me, very thoughtful. Of course I stole the soaps, they are from the Amazon and just amazing. I’m giving one to my mom.

Buenos Aires: what a great town. I really look forward to going back and checking it out. I saw so little of it! The new hotel will be amazing, I’m totally looking forward to staying in it. The official name is Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt Buenos Aires. Just wonderful. The neatest part of the trip was meeting Christophe again and his wife, who went to school at AFCENT in the Netherlands! Amazingly small world…

Looking forward to being home for a few days before going off to Australia, Hong Kong, Paris, Zurich and Lausanne. Should be fun!

Ok, time to take off soon. This lounge is incredibly cheesy… worst I’ve been to.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Buenos Aires

Wow. What a great city. Vibrant, beautiful buildings and streets, outdoor cafés and shops. It reminds me of a cross between Paris and Madrid, but with a Latin flavour. Neat.

I arrived at the Caesar Park - a hotel that will be our competition - and went for a quick walk. The new Park Hyatt will be just a block from here, and the streets have a neighborhood feel, yet there are high class stores nudged between modern and traditional European-style apartment buildings. Interesting. As I took a walk, I went down this little hallway called Alvear something or other (no, not the Alvear Palace). It was just a line of small shops built into a part of a building, kind of like a small mall. As I walked down, there were antique shops; a very hip and cute coffee shop; a stamp collector; at the end there was a neat outdoor patio and overlooking it a very small hip wine bar playing Eurolounge music, and another exit hallway - down which were a traditional Argentinian store with woolen rugs, etc and across a modern rustic furniture store in the Argentinian style (ie, simple wooden chairs with strong rope in a neat simple design as backing, etc). Neat place.

The Park Hyatt is literally a former palace, nestled between tree lined streets, expensive stores and apartment buildings. Reminds me of the Plaza in some ways how it is situated, although there is no "central park" across the street.

Can't wait to explore more... but bed for now.
Santiago de Chile

This trip has been a whirlwind. I arrived in Mendoza on Sunday. It was cloudy, and I was frustrated as I left my mobile phone in Santiago airport. It is lost! I cannot believe how difficult it is to do business travel without that phone. Luckily, I was able to call AT&T and have it deactivated and a new phone sent to me at home... I will get it once I get back to Chicago this week.

Mendoza is so lovely in the Summer! I love being in the summer in the southern hemisphere, it is February but it is warm! Cloudy in Mendoza and rainy at night... when I left the hotel for the airport, they had gotten enough rain to make the aqueducts completely full of rain water. It was amazing to see, very scary. You can understand the power of fast moving water when you see that. Usually the aqueducts are dry as the area, like the Wine Country of California or Australia, gets little rain.

Arriving in Santiago last night around 8pm was wonderful. The sun sets late this time of year, and it was just going down as I neared the city. The mountains are desert, similar to Arizona, and the setting sun made it just gorgeous. They are nearing completion of a superhigway to the airport and I got through customs-immigration and to the Hyatt in under 45 minutes. Amazing as the airport is far from the city and usually traffic and the construction makes it a 2 hr trip.

The city is so beautiful, glass skyrises, green trees and wide boulevards. It is like a combination of Vancouver and Los Angeles, clean and warm with mountains. Yum! The airport is nice too, new and very modern. Love it.

Now I am off to Buenos Aires, I have never been and am excited to see the city. I get in tonight and will be able to relax a bit, tomorrow is a full day to see the new Park Hyatt under construction and then to set the pricing. Should be good! Off to relax a bit...