[Hotel Review] Kota Kinabalu Marriot Hotel

It took quite a bit of time and effort to get this family trip organized, both in terms of dates and flights. Fighting with Silk Air was such an experience gosh.

Anyways, I picked this Kota Kinabalu as the flight tickets were reasonable and I could redeem miles for my own ticket and shaving some costs. Then it all went in the hotel. Haha.

Marriot KK is the newest hotel jem in the small town, only recently opened in July 2018.

Set on the famed Waterfront – a popular center for dining and entertainment – and 15 minutes from Kota Kinabalu International Airport, this hotel indulges guests in panoramic views of South China Sea, authentic local culinary delights and thoughtful service. From the dramatic lobby to the sleek, modern rooms and suites, light wood tones and a calming palette glow under soft ambient lighting

Sounds like alot to live up to!

Address – Lot G-23A, Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah  88000 Malaysia. Tel: +60 88-286 888. Website.

Price – We made 2 bookings with 2 different Marriot Rewards account – 1x Deluxe Room @ MYR467++ per night with a Platinum Elite account and was upgraded to an Executive Suite (which would otherwise be around MYR830++ per night). Then another 1x Executive Club room with 2 double beds @ MYR670++ per night.

Location – this newest hotel in town is located in the city centre by the waterfront, connected to the Oceanus Waterfront Mall. Which has nothing going on for it as a lot of shops have not opened yet (or closed down?). But KK is a smallish town so getting around in a Grab cost us no more than MYR4 per trip for 4pax. Super worth!

Prior to arrival – Because having a connecting room was important for this family trip, I emailed pior to making non refundable reservations to secure the Platinum upgrade with connecting to the second room and to their credits, the room reservation team responded fairly quickly to confirm the necessary.

Getting there – We arranged for a hotel pickup which came in a form of a taxi @ MYR85 per trip (we also scheduled for a return transfer). As far as research shows, grabbing a cab from the airport would have been MYR70. For MRY15 difference I decided to just settle for the safest arrangements. The journey from airport took 15mins with normal traffic.

Check In – We approached the desk with the signage “Members’ Zone” and was requested for passports etc. And waited. And waited somemore. Then was politely asked to proceed to 15th floor where M Club was located for a private check in. Not the most seamless experience but it was fine. Yusuf at the Club reception was professional, friendly, and effiicent in getting our paperwork sorted out. The room was not ready yet but it was ready by the time we finished lunch so that was fine by us.

Executive Club Room – Room 1179 felt a lot than 40SqM and completely spacious with even with 2 double beds, a day sofa, a coffee table, and stil had enough space for a open concept wardrobe in the bathroom area itself along with the rest of the usual bathroom layout. Thann amenities completed the luxury experience.

Exective Suite – Suite 1177 was huge standing at 72SqM with a large living area (TV!), a smaller dining / working desk, a guest toilet, and a big-ass bedroom with a luxurious king bed (TV again!). And then an equally big bathroom complete with a bathtub. And more Thann amenities (yays!). Sliding panels also make it easier to separate the bedroom with the living area if privacy is required.

M Club – our favorite spot for the 4days in KK! Located on the top floor of the hotel with extensive views of the waterfront, it is the perfect spot for chilling out. The mixture of proper dining tables and lounge / sofa seatings allow options for different times of the day. Breakfast is served from 7am – 10:30am and cocktail hours are 5:30pm – 9:30pm but it is staggered between serving bites from 5:30pm – 7:30pm and alcoholic drinks from 6:30pm – 9:30pm. Most times, the Club is really quiet (it’s a good thing!). During cocktails hours, we saw 3 different kinds of hot food along withh breads, cheeses, cold cuts, appetisers and desserts. Alcohol include your usual wines (no champagne), beers, and a good variety of liquors. Otherwise, throughout the day, you’ll get cookies / cakes with coffee / tea / canned drinks, and sparkling water.

More pics!

Dining – we experienced Kitchen@8 for a lunch and a breakfast. While breakfast was your usual affair, lunch wasn’t. We had to endure a 45min – 1 hour wait for lunch on our arrival day. And the restaurant was not busy. At all. We painstakingly watched the food for other 2 tables making their way long after we ordered. Then waited some more for ours. By the time they came, we were absolutely starving. But disappointingly, they are either bland or merely average. They were not expensive by SG standards but not cheap by KK standards either.

Facilities – We woke up so early I had time go to the gym twice and also swam twice. The gym was quite nicely fitted out and completely empty. The pool was outdoors and at a spot of the building where you dont get much sun – which is the perfect thing for me! But the pool gets busier towards the 9am – 10am mark so come early.

Service – Service at the M Club was excellent most times except for the fact that plates during cocktail hours can be cleared faster. Otherwise, even outside of the Club, we encountered mostly friendly smiles.

Check Out – the team kindly gave us a 5pm late checkout for the Suite due to our flight timings so we had to check out the other room @ 2pm first. This arrangement worked out to be just nice for our schedule.

In conclusion, this is the best hotel in KK and if budget permits, get a room with M Club access. But if not, an entry-level room with breakfast should work too. I wouldn’t attempt any more any ala carte meals at Kitchen@8 – hop over to Oceanus Mall where there’ll be cheaper options. Or grab a MYR4 ride to the town’s spanking new mall, Imago, which is 10mins away. But all in, a terrific trip with lots of massages and surprisingly, shopping!


[Hotel Review] Mercure Singapore on Stevens

I finally managed to redeem my 2nd Accor Plus Stay Plus benefit!

Despite already experiencing Novotel Singapore on Stevens in April (my post here), I decided to redeem it at the same premise bearing both properties as it is still one of the newer Accor properties which I’ve never stayed at which offers a Club Lounge. Well, actually also because it is one of the more available redemptions at last minute notice (1 week!). I’m not complaining.

Address – 28 Stevens Road Singapore 257878. Tel: +65 6491 6100. Website.

Price – Complimentary due to my Accor Plus Stay Plus benefit, but a quick check on their official site showed SGD125++ for a Superior Room and $235++ for a Privilege Room.

Prior to arrival – I had informed the reservations team of an anniversary occasion and mustered up enuf skin to directly request for an upgrade to the Privilege Room, a double upgrade from my booked Superior room. Then I held my breathe. Only to see a disapppointing reply that all room upgrade requests will be granted upon arrival. Fine.

Check In – So I made sure I was there at 12:30pm on a less than busy Saturday afternoon. Thankfully, the nice Korean lady who checked me in at the Accor counter understood the importance of the upgrade and so yays to being upgraded to a Privilege Room! *cues sparkly comic eyes. But I found it strange that I was not given any details about the Lounge’s operating hours or benefits. Along with my key card, I recieved my Accor Silver welcome drink for 2pax and their shuttle bus timings.

Room – I was assigned Privilege Floor Room with 1 double bed on the highest floor, 1006. At 18SqM, it actually felt pretty okay, maybe because they managed to compact all the necessary functionalities into the space. One can definitely feel the difference compared to Novotel’s 24SqM but nothing major. Bathroom was understandably compact as well but hey as long as its new and clean, I have no complaints. The L-shaped sofa was a fun touch as well.

Premier Lounge (official details here) – Mercure was supposed to have a separate Privilege Lounge on Level 1 but I guess they decided that having a shared one with Novotel works fine too. The original Privilege Lounge is now an event space. But Privilege room guests have to hence change lifts to the 2nd / 1st floor and take the Novotel lift to the 10th floor to access the Premier Lounge. The lounge still looks the same as before but their cocktail hours of 6 – 8pm saw more variety of food served which was a nice change.

Having a shared lounge also means that the small place tends to fill up really fast so come by early to snag a window seat.

My only rant is – the staff @ the Lounge has to be one of the most inattentive Lounge staff I’ve seen. Even when I was the only table there, I was never once offered to be serviced any drinks – it was basically a greeting and then you are on your own to figure out what is available and what’s happening. I had to also request for help to clear my table when I was the only occupied table and even so, the staff would clear one plate and never came back for the rest that needed to be cleared. I have to ask thrice to help clear 3 plates. I was never once offered if I’d like anything / need any help – so it felt largely DIY. No service whatsoever at all. Disappointing.

They were not the most professional, preferring to huddle and chat amongst themselves and one male staff even sort of ‘bounced around’ in plain sight of us – he must have forgotten this is a Premier Lounge and not a playground.

Service – Except for the above, service was otherwise nothing to complain about.

Breakfast @ Winstone – A cosy affair compared to the mad rush @ Food Exchange where Novotel guests go. The Lounge was also not a preferred choice due to the poor variety. I’d prefer this anytime! If breakfast is not included in your room rate, it’ll cost $27++ per pax which I would think is fair value, especially if you are getting a 50% for 2pax with Accor Plus. Not that you have much breakfast options around the premise anyways haha.

Check Out – The team kindly accorded a 4pm late checkout from the originally granted 2pm which was really appreciated. But housekeeping came by @ 2pm because they didn’t get the memo. Stuff like this could have been easily resolved.

Shuttle Bus Service – Okay this is where it gets a little rough. You get a slip of paper showing their shuttle bus timings from Hotel to DSF Galleria and back. But when we tried to take the 9pm shuttle to DFS on Sat evening, we were told it has already left. Now this is bearing in mind that there was no need for pre-registration for seats and all that – you just need to not be late. Which we were not. But no bus because it decided to depart early.

So the Duty Manager kindly offered to cab us there, which we thought was a good service recovery.

The next day, we managed to get on the shuttle to head out, and decided that we would be early to catch the shuttle back to hotel for our check out. We arrived 2mins earlier, but was told again that the shuttle has left. It was really frustrating that the bus had once again departed earlier and we were left in the lurch again! This time, it took us a call to the hotel + transfer to 3 different people before the 3rd person said he will get the bus to pick us up soonest. The funny thing is, we were faulted for missing the bus throughout, from saying we should not be late (we were early!), the bus is not able to wait (we were not late!), and that the schedule is fluid depending on traffic (then perhaps don’t indicate a specific timing on the schedule!).

We had to ask to speak to the Duty Manager when we reached back and while he was civil about it and gave the usual spill blah blah blah, we didn’t feel he was sincere about it. He told us that the service is outsourced too – erm so maybe you can try to fix your communication with your vendor that its bad to depart earlier than scheduled and leave your hotel guests in the lurch?

There were so many ways they could have done service recovery right, but they didn’t on all counts. Sigh. An annoying blip on the experience for sure.

Final Thoughts – I do think the property offers great value for what it’s worth especially if you get a Privilege room. But have fun playing mouse with the shuttle buses 🙂

[Hotel Review] The Club Residence by Capella – 3 Bedroom Suite

Had the opportunity to be stay-in on-site for a corporate event for 5 days. Woo-hoo! Courtesy of my management, I was assigned to be with 2 other team mates in the Club Residence instead of the main hotel blocks. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be really excited or what, but nonetheless, yays to free stay.

Continue reading “[Hotel Review] The Club Residence by Capella – 3 Bedroom Suite”

[Hotel Review] Ibis Styles Batam Nagoya

I’ve always felt abit iffy about going to Batam again after my 2015 trip as most of the hotels there are old and icky. I still shudder thinking about my last choice of hotel there.

I was stoked to see the announcement of this new Accor property in 2017 and figured one day I should check it out while its still relatively new. Yays to another excuse for a quick getaway hehe.

Continue reading “[Hotel Review] Ibis Styles Batam Nagoya”

[Hotel Review] Hotel Jen Orchard Gateway


[My first review available here]

Decided on a last minute staycation and despite feeling like the crowd will be madness in Orchard on a weekend, I decided to go ahead anyway. Anything for a chillax weekend where I can act like a potato for 2 whole days. Even if its a property I’ve already been to. But different room this time. Hehe.

Continue reading “[Hotel Review] Hotel Jen Orchard Gateway”

[Hotel Review] Novotel Singapore on Stevens

My first attempt to redeem my Accor Plus Stay Benefit for 2018!

I’ve wondered about staying here ever since this new kid on the block opened in October 2017. The 2nd Novotel and also the 3rd Mercure in Singapore in a joint development and shared premise sounded really exciting.

And of course I picked Novotel as it is a complimentary stay and its more value to pick the more expensive!

Continue reading “[Hotel Review] Novotel Singapore on Stevens”

[Hotel Review] Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square

After redeeming my miles for Bangkok (25,000 miles on SQ), I decided to stay in Siam area for the 4days this time as interestingly, I’ve always stayed at other areas as Siam hotels are always super busy (and expensive!).

The hotel has been running for ages but they have also recently undergone a much needed refurbishment. The pictures shown online from late 2017 onwards seems to present modern Novotel touches all across, quite nice indeed.

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[Hotel Review] InHouse Hotel Heritage 薆悦酒店

Imagine my surprise when I found a hotel in Ximending which I can actually earn points from! Taipei is notorious for not having chain hotels which causes hotel membership followers like me huge dismay when it comes to maximising our nights. I last stayed at Via Hotel and Westgate and while they were nice, I always thought it would be perfect if I can earn some points at the same time too.

So it was literally a no brainer when this property appeared in my Taipei Accor search – a partner hotel! Yay!

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[Hotel Review] Hotel Dua Kaohsiung

I’ve seen this hotel while browsing non-Taipei Taiwan hotels and thought it looked really nice. Then I forgot about it and chanced upon it again when researching for Kaohsiung hotels for my 2017 family trip. So happy that it is also now a partner hotel of Accor – yays to earning status points while staying at a nice hotel!

Based on the pictures I saw on TA, the hotel seems like a superb choice for my 3nights’ stay and I booked the largest room available – a little splurge for 3 of us!

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[Hotel Review] Sheraton Towers Singapore

Thanks to my bro who had enough SPG points (12,000!) to redeem for a free night at the property so I took the chance for a 2D1N staycation. I knew the property is quite old but I also heard they have since refubished so I thought I’d give it a shot.

(Plus, Platinum members get free Executive Lounge access. Yay!)

Continue reading “[Hotel Review] Sheraton Towers Singapore”