Trip Report: Thailand (part 9) Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa

DSC08161
Myself in front The Naka Island entrance

The next leg of our Thailand vacation was spent at The Naka Island which is part of Phuket. The Naka Island is part of Starwood’s Luxury Collection portfolio.  We spent three nights at this property while exploring Phuket. Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 8) Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui to Phuket

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)

After a lovely week in Samui it was time to head off to Phuket.  I booked two economy class tickets to Phuket via Kayak about a month or so before our departure.

DSC08013
Samui Airport

We enjoy Samui Airport due to its Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 7) Mae Koh National Park Boat Trip and Chaweng Beach

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Boat Trip to Mae Koh National Park

In researching things to do while in Koh Samui my wife decided she wanted to take a visit to the national park.  The Mae Koh National Park is a series of Islands in which many can be seen from our hotel (Conrad Koh Samui). We ended up booking our tour directly through the hotel.  There is a representative from a tour company (please forgive me I forget the name) which set up shop right in the Conrad Koh Samui and was actually hanging out by the concierge desk.  He explained the different options and explained that he recommends the VIP option which was about $50-60 extra person but gets you on a speed boat with a maximum of 12 other people. The non VIP options are boats with 30+plus people.  The total was around $120 per person for an all day boat tour with snorkeling and swimming and lunch and stops at various locations around the national park.

We were told to arrive in the lobby on the day of our excursion around 7:45am.  However the driver was extremely late picking us up. The boat company representative met is in the lobby and apologized that the driver was late. He offered us towels and a few bottles of water.  After about a 30 minute wait the driver showed.  We were the only one in his van.  We took about a 40 minute ride around to the north side of the island where our boat awaited. We were the last to arrive and there were 10 other people (5 couples) waiting for us. We all quickly boarded and off we went!

DSC07815
On our boat

While on board the crew explained the rules and details of what our day would entail. The staff was amazing. They were very nice and everyone had there role. There was one main tour guide who spoke english and was the main guide. While the other workers had other responsibilities around the boat.

DSC07816
Heading out on the boat

DSC07817
Some of the crew from our boat

DSC07820
Kayakers from a different boat

Our first stop was about 30 minutes out on our speed boat at a small island to snorkel. Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 6) Conrad Koh Samui

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Conrad Koh Samui

DSC07689
Myself in front of the Conrad Koh Samui entrance

My wife and I enjoyed five amazing nights at the Conrad Koh Samui in August! The Conrad brand of hotels and resorts is under the Hilton umbrella of properties.  We were excited to score our five nights using Hilton points.  This resort is a five star, all villa property on Thailand’s second biggest island in the Gulf of Thailand!

We got a cab from the airport which cost us 1500THB one way to the resort.  The email I received from the property prior to arrival detailed a 1500THB cost for a taxi as well, 4000THB for a Volkswagen, or 3500THB for a BMW X5 or Mercedes.  The ride to the resort was around 45 minutes or so. When we got to the resort entrance the driver started to climb some STEEP and twisty roads!! In fact it was some of the steepest roads I have ever encountered.  When you arrive at the top however you realize that the resort lobby is situated high on a cliff top with lovely scenery!!

DSC07803
Conrad Koh Samui entrance signage

DSC07584
Conrad Koh Samui lobby

DSC07693
Views from the Conrad Koh Samui lobby

We were greeted by the staff on arrival and offered Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 5) Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok to Koh Samui

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok to Koh Samui

Our last leg of our journey to Koh Samui was on Thai Airways 737 business class.  This was a very quick flight of about 40 minutes. We arrived at the gate and they were already boarding passengers.

DSC07563
Our gate to Samui

The plane was only 30-40% full and we were two of the three business class passengers. My carryon was slightly too big too fit in the overhead bins however the flight attendants were able to accommodate my bag in the seat in front of us and they secured it with seat belt! I have never seen that and thought it was nice so that my bag didn’t have to be checked.

DSC07564
My wife in Thai Airways 737 domestic business class Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 4) Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt to Bangkok

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)

I must admit I was pretty excited for this flight! It would be our first flight on Airbus’s mega-plane, their A380, which is the largest passenger aircraft in the world! Thai Airways is somewhat notorious for equipment swaps meaning they will sometimes substitute another type of aircraft then what was originally scheduled.  We got lucky and the scheduled aircraft stayed an A380.

We boarded through the upper jet bridge as the the first class cabin is located on the upper deck of the plane and in the front of that cabin. Upon reaching the door we were greeted by the two nice flight attendants and were escorted up to our seats.  I thought the cabin was spacious and airy and overall aesthetically pleasing.  I do think it would be an overall nicer experience in first class had they only installed eight seats instead of 12.  The load in first class would be 11/12 seats occupied for this flight.

DSC07479
Our Thai Airways A380

DSC07480
My wife boarding Thai Airways First Class

Upon reaching our seats and getting our bags put away we were offered the obligatory hot towel and on Thai Airways a glass of Dom Perignon or our choice of other beverages such as juice.

I always struggle Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 3) Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt

After arriving in Frankfort and getting our bags cleared through security again we wandered around Frankfort airport wondering what lounge we could use.  We initially wandered over the the Lufthansa First class lounge (not the first class terminal) but I had a feeling they would not let us in.  Indeed they looked at our boarding passes and advised we could have access to the Senator lounge and they explained it was close to our gate for our next flight. So off we went!

DSC07467Lufthansa Senator Lounge entrance

DSC07468
Lufthansa Senator Spa Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (Part 2) United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago to Frankfurt

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)

As usual when flying out of O’Hare we hopped on the Coachusa bus on Monday from downtown Milwaukee. We left work at 1pm to catch the 1:45pm bus.  About one hour and 45 minutes later we were dropped off at O’Hare with plenty of time to catch our scheduled 6:25pm flight.

We fought through a busy United terminal to check out the United Club lounge.  There was some bad weather in various parts of the US on this day and it was wreaking havoc on many domestic United flights.  Our scheduled flight was showing on time on the board so that was a relief.  However due the IRROPS (irregular operations) the lines at the United Club lounge were insane! It was very busy and most every seat was spoken for.  We stayed for a snack and a drink (I had a beer and my wife had a wine).

DSC07390
O’Hare United Club line!

DSC07391
United Club entrance

DSC07392
Line outside the United Club for the normal United help desk!

We decided to go to our gate and check out the scene.  It was somewhat crowded and the boarding area was sort of small.  There were a few people lined up in their boarding queue’s, so we decided to to just wait around for boarding.  Well our boarding time came and went with no updates.  Eventually they updated the board saying our flight was delayed due to “severe weather”! That was laughable since the weather in Chicago was perfectly fine and you could see planes taking off left and right outside.  Eventually one of the female gate agents admitted the delay was due to waiting for a cleaning crew to arrive as the plane is currently “filthy”! My wife replied to me, “really makes you want to get on the plane, huh?” They also encouraged business and first class customers to go back to the lounge and they would call us to board however the lounge wasn’t much more appealing and then of course we would have to go back and wait in line just to get in.  We stayed at the gate.

DSC07393
Our gate for our flight

DSC07394
Desk at our gate where we needed to document check prior to boarding

Eventually they got the plane cleaned and made an announcement that everyone needed to proceed through the “doc check” line prior to boarding. That should have been announced earlier as many people didn’t know they were required to go through that line. Also all the Global services and other First Class pax were escorted up to the front of the line in the boarding area.  I have no idea if they were rounded up in the lounge or what however we were not part of that group. Continue reading

Trip Report: Thailand (part 1) Introduction

_______________________________________________________________________
Introduction
United Airlines 747 First Class Chicago (ORD) to Frankfurt (FRA)
Lufthansa Senator Lounge Frankfurt (FRA)
Thai Airways A380 First Class Frankfurt (FRA) to Bangkok (BKK)
Thai Airways 737 Business Class Bangkok to Koh Samui (USM)
Conrad Koh Samui
Mae Koh National Park Boat trip and Chaweng Beach
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Koh Samui (USM) to Phuket (HKT)
Naka Island a Luxury Collection Resort and Spa
James Bond Island and Little Island Boat trip
Phi Phi Island Boat trip
Patong Beach and Bangla Road
Air Asia Economy Class Phuket (HKT) to Chiang Mai (CNX)
Four Seasons Chiang Mai
ELE (Elephant Life Experience) Elephant Camp
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep Temple
Bangkok Airways Economy Class Chiang Mai (CNX) to Bangkok (BKK)
St. Regis Bangkok
Dinner at Vertigo at Banyan Tree Rooftop
Chatuchak Weekend Market and Wat Pho Temple
Cathay Pacific Business Class Bangkok (BKK) to Hong Kong (HKG)
American Airlines First Class Hong Kong (HKG) to Dallas (DFW)
______________________________________________________________________

Introduction

DSC07751
Just another beautiful Sunset in Thailand

We enjoyed our trip to Bali so much last year that we knew we wanted to visit southeast Asia again if we had the chance.  Thailand seemed like such a natural choice for us. As I have mentioned in the past my wife loves beach destinations (as do I) and Thailand has some of the prettiest beaches in the world. Thailand also provides a diverse landscape from the beaches in the south to the the hills/mountains in the north to the craziness of Bangkok.  I knew we had to try and see it all so it made sense to make this our big two week vacation for 2014.

Flights

Once my wife’s United Airlines account accumulated enough miles in October of 2013 I was quick to book our flights to Thailand!!! I was able to book it all online and it was a snap! There was a good amount of availability and I wanted to incorporate the trip around a holiday which we both had off, in this case, Labor Day worked great! United first class connecting to Thai Airways first class. About 18 hours in first class to Thailand!

DSC07400
United Airlines Boeing 747 First Class

DSC07487
Thai Airlines AirBus A380 First Class

I then found cheap domestic flights so we could bounce around Thailand to experience the different regions of the country.  I used Kayak to find the flights for the dates we needed. Two flights on Bangkok Airways and one on AirAsia.

Our way home we used American Airlines miles.  This turned out to be kind of a fiasco (meaning first world problems) about four weeks before departure I got a kick in the nuts from American Airlines I received a schedule change from American Airlines.  I will go into more detail in that part of the trip report. In the end we ended up flying a mixture of Cathay Pacific and American Airlines in Business and First Class.

DSC09155
Cathay Pacific Regional Business Class A330

DSC09192
American Airlines 777-300 First Class

 Hotels

We used a variety of points for some hotel nights and cash for other nights. We were fortunate to indulge in all 5-star luxury properties!  We started with the Conrad in Koh Samui, followed by Naka Island Resort in Phuket, Four Seasons Chiang Mai, and St. Regis Bangkok! A pretty nice lineup of properties in our opinion.

DSC07986
Conrad Koh Samui

DSC08524
Naka Island Resort

DSC08767
Four Seasons Chiang Mai

DSC08946
St. Regis Bangkok

I will be breaking down the miles, points and cash used for each flight and hotel. We had a ton of fun and experienced so many fun sights and sounds of Thailand! I will be highlighting some of those amazing events!  Stay tuned for future installments of this trip report as I will try my best to post one segment/part of the report per day!  Thanks for reading!

-pointspinnacle