Sunday, May 1, 2022

Urban Escape

Admittedly, without spa or gym or swimming pool or dine-in dinner service (that was back when those COVID restrictions were still in place), the idea of staycation lost quite a bit of charm. That said it didn't stop us from planning a stay at Marco Polo Gateway for one night during the Easter long weekend, courtesy of the newly launched GHA Discovery loyalty program. Turned out it was a blessing in disguise and a much needed getaway from all the life madness. 

Me being a self-professed “hotel loyalty points junkie” (and an expert, I got to say), I did look at the fine prints and every details of membership tier and benefits when the enrollment email arrived for my new GHA Discovery membership they kindly extended me with. While their "tangible" benefits were basically on par with its competitors - by that I mean the room upgrades and free amenities - a few things did stand out. First their hotel collection stretches over different brands and different styles which was slightly unusual than those under a single hotel group (35 brands and 550+ properties, I was told). That gave much flexibility in terms of how to earn and redeem.

And other than earning arbitrary "points" as in most other programs, GHA Discovery gave you Discovery Dollars (D$) which directly translate into actual dollar term (1 D$ = 1 US Dollar) and can be used to cover all hotel booking made using their website or app - saving you the trouble of looking the conversion table of hotel by categories and sorting out how many points are needed to redeem, or keep finding out the redemption rate was "not available" for the hotels you wanted to book.

Back to our staycation itself - well the booking was arranged using the D$ that was provided to me as a gift, and the hotel PR team was kind enough to upgrade us to a suite, up from the “superior room” included in the original package. We arrived slightly early to beat the Easter weekend crowd and check-in was a breeze. Barring the lack of view - the room, or Continental Superior Suite as it’s called officially, was situated at the back of the hotel so nothing much to see through the window except the office building right next door - the room was spacious and comfortable, and bigger than the usual hotel "junior suite" with clear separation between living area and bedroom. 

How unfortunate the Continental Club, their executive lounge facility, was still closed - otherwise we would have spent the afternoon chilling and eating up there as the access was included. But they did send us the take-away afternoon tea set which we got to enjoy inside our room. (and it was delicious)

And no dine-in at their restaurants at night time too because of government regulations, but the meal from the room service was just as lovely, which we paid using the dining credits included in our “Urban Sanctuary” package. Pretty standard offering from the a la carte in-room dining menu, but the food arrived right on time, nice and hot, and we enjoyed the Nasi Goreng and the Vindaloo with condiments while binge-watching on foreign TV channels pretending we were travelling. And oh, free in-room mini-bar too – that was a nice touch. 

Buffet breakfasts were served at Three on Canton – comfortable space and nice selection of food across multiple food stations a notch above standard business hotel, and after eating, we did spend some time strolling in Kowloon Park right across the street. Hardly a new and exciting place for us, but it’s great to spend some time enjoying this part of the city with outdoor sculpture garden, water fountains (I didn’t even know they got two of those!) or the beautiful flower garden away from the crowd on a quiet Saturday morning. 

GHA Discovery:

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