Category Archives: Uncategorized

THE SCHALLER STUDIO HOTEL – BENDIGO, VICTORIA by JOHN POND

After seeing the sign “To Bendigo” on our various trips to Melbourne, my wife and I decided a couple of nights in this historic town would be a great short break. Bendigo is about two hours drive along the Calder Highway from Melbourne. We did not want to take our car all the way from Sydney, so on flying into Melbourne we headed to the nearby “The Larwill”, part of the Art Series Hotel Group, to pick up our Smart Car. Apparently some of the Art Series hotels offer bicycles and Smart Cars at a very reasonable rate. Continue reading

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Conrad Macau

When visiting Hong Kong, whether on business or pleasure, I always endeavour to allow two or more days to go to Macau, a less than 60 minute journey from either Hong Kong or Hong Kong Airport by jet ferry. Although I am not a gambler, I find Macau to be a real jewel, with some of the best hotels and restaurants in the world. On this trip I chose to stay at the Conrad Macau Cotai Central. This is certainly one of the finest hotels in this ex Portuguese territory. Continue reading

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SOLAR SPRINGS RETREAT – Review John Pond with Sandra Tiltman

My wife Sandra and I wanted to recharge our batteries at a health spa not too far from Sydney, so after a 2 hour drive we arrived in Bundanoon home of Solar Springs Retreat. Here is mainly her review. Continue reading

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GRAND HYATT MACAU – REVIEW BY JOHN POND

Why Macau? Gambling, shopping, eating and sightseeing, it has so much to offer, with its Portuguese heritage not completely destroyed. Not many realise that the gaming drop is approximately seven times greater than Las Vegas, making it the most affluent gaming mecca in the world. Though not a gambler, I always endeavour to include Macau on any visit to Hong Kong. On this trip, my wife and I chose to stay at the 5 star Grand Hyatt Macau. We were new to this property but are big fans of Grand Hyatt and this hotel is certainly that – Grand. Continue reading

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GRAND HYATT MELBOURNE – A REVIEW BY JOHN POND

Location, location, that’s what this hotel is all about. Situated in the very heart of downtown Melbourne, this Collins Street hotel is perfect for the business traveler or those who come to Melbourne to shop. Continue reading

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The Hotel Grande Bretagne ATHENS Review

A few weeks ago I flew to Athens for several days of sightseeing before joining a cruise in nearby Pireaus. I had not been to Athens before and was pretty excited at the prospect. As is my usual practice, I used Trip Advisor to search for a suitable hotel that fitted my parameters. Location, 5 stars of course and with excellent reviews. Well 2 hotels kept popping up. Hotel Grande Bretagne (A Luxury Collection Hotel) and King George also (A Luxury Collection Hotel). They are part of the Starwood Group, so they had to be good.When staying for several days at a destination, I often book more than one hotel. I love a good hotel and want to experience all it has to offer. As an ex hotel manager, during part of my varied life, hotels hold a facination. Continue reading

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Outrigger Waikiki Hawaii Review by John Pond

Firstly let me say I love Hawaii and in particular, the Waikiki Beach area. There are so many great hotels to choose from. I have been visiting Hawaii on a regular basis since 1960. Perhaps more than any other hotel, the Outrigger Waikiki keeps calling me back. I have stayed at this hotel probably in excess of 20 times. On a recent business trip I again returned to this, one of my favourite hotels. Continue reading

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KAHALA HOTEL & RESORT, OAHU, HAWAII Review by John Pond

Recently I was in Honolulu for several weeks on a business trip. For most of my visit I was accommodated in beachfront Waikiki properties, but as my stay grew to an end, I felt I deserved a few days of relaxation at one of Hawaii’s best resorts. I had previously stayed at The Kahala over 25 years ago. It was like being on an outer island resort, but literally ten minutes cab ride from Waikiki, so I booked three nights at The Kahala Resort to end our Hawaii stay. Continue reading

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ASTON WAIKIKI BEACH TOWER APARTMENTS, WAIKIKI, HONOLULU. John Pond Review

I am an Australian who recently stayed a month in the Waikiki area. Most of the time was spent in 5 star hotels. I try to visit Hawaii annually as quite honestly I love the place. I had always been impressed by the Aston Waikiki Beach Tower due to its excellent position opposite Waikiki Beach and right in the middle of the restaurant and shopping precinct. On my last trip I decided to spend a few nights there and check out the differences between Waikiki apartment living and 5 star hotels. Continue reading

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Sheraton Hotel Waikiki Review

Sheraton Waikiki.  It’s been several years since I have stayed at the Sheraton Waikiki, perhaps the largest 4-5 star hotel on Oahu.  This 1000+ room hotel dominates the Waikiki beach skyline.   Our room on the hotel’s 29th floor situated on … Continue reading

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John Pond Review: Moana Surfrider – Waikiki

MOANA SURFRIDER This hotel comes with a great deal of history After a slightly over-long wait at the check-in desk (7 minutes) in which the reception staff did not seem to realize we existed, a smile or nod would have been … Continue reading

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HOTEL RENEW BY ASTON

This boutique style hotel was originally I believe a Holiday Inn but has been taken over by Aston and renovated to such a point that it looks like a new property. The rooms appeared brand new and were decorated more … Continue reading

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Royal Hawaiian – The Pink Lady by John Pond

I think in reviewing this classic hotel it is important to know a little of this landmark’s history. The Royal Hawaiian opened on February 1, 1927. The then six-storey, 400-room structure was fashioned in a Spanish-Moorish style, popular during the period and influenced by screen star Rudolph Valentino. The Honolulu Star-Bulletin described the newly opened Royal Hawaiian as “the first resort hostelry in America”.
Set on ten acres of prime Waikiki beachfront, the hotel’s site boasts a majestic lineage having been used as a playground for King Kamehameha after he conquered the island of Oahu. Continue reading

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Hotel Paradis D’Ouvea – Heaven or Hell?

Half an hour’s flight from Noumea, (often flights are cancelled or just do not leave) you find yourself in what could be described as a mini-paradise. Unfortunately you quickly realize it is more like hell. Continue reading

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Le Meridien Hotel At Anse Vata Beach, Noumea, New Caledonia

On a recent trip to Noumea we stayed at Le Meridien Hotel. My wife and I decided to spend a few days here and were delighted with our large hotel room with a generous balcony offering sweeping views of the ocean. Continue reading

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“A Touch of France In The South Pacific”

Arriving early evening at Noumea’s modern La Tontouta International Airport, we moved quickly through customs and immigration procedures, collected the luggage and went outside the terminal to meet the Arc en Ciel transportation service that was to drive us to the hotel. We had booked and paid for this service on line, prior to leaving Sydney, which streamlined the procedure. We shared the spacious mini-van with others from the plane, but if desired, a private transportation could be booked for a higher fee. The airport is 45kms from the city, so it’s a shame the flight arrives after dark, as you cannot see the beautiful scenery on the way into town. However, I did enjoy the scenic trip on the return journey to the airport. Continue reading

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Singapore Fairmont Hotel – Great Location by John Pond

We stay at different hotels for different reasons. Location is paramount next to hotel amenities and service. One of the best located hotels in Singapore would perhaps be The Fairmont.
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InterContinental Wellington

As an Australian I am ashamed to say I have not visited Wellington before. The reason for this visit was to spend a few days in this delightful city before boarding a cruise ship for a voyage around New Zealand’s South Island. Continue reading

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Four Seasons – San Francisco

The Four Seasons group of hotels is a favourite, so when we decided to go on our shopping tour of San Francisco, we wanted a hotel that was not only 5 star, but was well situated near the majority of shops in the downtown area. The Four Seasons San Francisco fitted our wish list. Located on Market Street in the flat part of town, we arrived by taxi from the airport (about 25 minutes) and pulled into the car entrance at the rear of the hotel.
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San Francisco – Mandarin Oriental

A few weeks ago my wife and I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, located in San Francisco’s Financial District at 222 Sansome Street. The hotel was a short walk to the shopping district, which was the main reason for our visit; San Francisco is the greatest city to shop for clothes, especially mens. Continue reading

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Ritz-Carlton Hotel, San Francisco

Whenever the opportunity arises, I always mention to travelers the many additional benefits they will receive if they decide to book a room on the Club Floor of any hotel which offers its guests such a facility. On a recent visit to San Francisco, my wife Sandra and I decided to take our own advice when I made a booking at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Continue reading

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San Francisco: Handlery, Union Square

As a regular visitor to San Francisco over the years, I have discovered a hotel that ticks all the boxes for location, friendly service

Sandra being welcomed by President Jon Handlery
and is moderately priced. The Handlery Hotel is literally one minutes walk to Union Square, Macy’s, where your hotel key card entitles you to 10% off all purchases including those on sale, and all the great shops, department stores and theatres. Off the foyer there is an excellent restaurant, The Daily Grill (not run by the hotel) open all day. Its cosy bar makes one want to linger. The restaurant also provides room service for the Handlery. Situated in the flat part of the city, walking is a breeze. Continue reading

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Las Vegas: Four Seasons

My most recent stay in Las Vegas was at the Four Seasons. One of their finest hotels, but with a difference.  It is the only 5 star hotel in Las Vegas without a Casino. Don’t worry there are several within seconds … Continue reading

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Waikiki, Honolulu: Hyatt Regency

There are many great hotels in Waikiki, the Hyatt Regency is one of my favourites and I have stayed there many times. Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa is a vibrant destination combining relaxation and adventure with true Hawaiian … Continue reading

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New York: The Benjamin

This 186 roomed hotel is one of New York’s premier luxury hotels – The Benjamin, this hotel attracted me with thier pillow menu. A sleep concierge will help you select from 10 types of pillows for the ultimate night’s sleep. … Continue reading

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New York: Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotel New York. Situated in the heart of Manhattan’s premier shopping and business district, between Park and Madison Avenues, the I.M. Pei-designed Four Seasons features stunning views and gracious style. Staying at this hotel was a remarkable luxury … Continue reading

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New York: Hotel Beacon

The Hotel Beacon NYC, a haven of comfort amid the bustling excitement of New York City. Located on the historic Upper West Side, amid tree-lined streets and landmark buildings, the hotel is a beacon for relaxation. Friendly and accommodating, they … Continue reading

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Puerto Rico: Hotel El Convento

After a cruise on Sea Dream across the Atlantic from Spain, we arrived in Puerto Rico and headed for our hotel the Hotel El Convento in the heart of Old San Juan. To be honest, we were pleasantly surprised. The hotel, originally a monastery, was close to just about everything. There were some great 5 star outlet stores and just about everything was a short walk away. Continue reading

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Singapore: Mandarin Oriental

Arriving at the entrance of any luxury 5 star hotel always makes my heart beat a bit faster, but on a recent visit to Singapore, I must admit my heart started to race on entering the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Whenever I see a hotel offering Club Floor Rooms, I always book that option. I have found from experience that the benefits and extras offered to guests booking these rooms far outweigh the slightly extra tariff. Continue reading

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Madrid: Westin Palace

Westin, Madrid. Treat yourself royally. Built by order of King Alfonso XIII in 1912, The Westin Palace, Madrid was recently restored to its original splendor. Situated near the Prado museum, historic monuments and some of the best tapas restaurants in town, It is listed in the Condé Nast Traveler “Gold List 2010” as one of the best hotels in Spain.
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Bangkok: Lebua at State Tower

Sandra, my wife and I were whisked from the airport to the Hotel in the hotel’s limo. We ate breakfast and all dinners at the hotel, quite honestly, we did not want to leave the hotel, it had so much to offer. The best breakfast treats, several award winning restaurants. The best views overlooking the city ever. Facilities such as a full kitchen and laundry, everything the traveller could desire. Large balconies, this is one hotel I can’t wait to return to. Continue reading

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Dubai: Shangri-La

This award-winning Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai, is a luxury hotel that offers luxurious accommodations, exceptional dining and gracious hospitality in the heart of one of the world’s most dynamic cities. Outstanding in every way.  A few minutes from the airport and just … Continue reading

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Dubai: Burj al Arab

Burj al Arab DUBAI 7 star self rated ?  My wife and I decided to break up our flight from Europe with a couple of nights at the Burj al Arab, rated as the World’s only 7 star hotel. This top … Continue reading

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