Nectar, the points earning option for Sainsbury’s is offering a novel deal for people who do not need their points for a while. In fact not very long.

If you deposit some or all of your Nectar points in to their ‘Hive’ you can earn ‘interest’ at a rate of 10% per annum, credited weekly to your Hive account.

Bearing in mind that Sainsbury’s is slashing earning from next year, this is a modest chance to increase your balance.

The system credits the points to Hive immediately but can take 24 hours to re-credit.

My first week’s ‘interest’ posted yesterday.


More information can be located here.

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The New York Port Authority issued a request for proposals to convert the old TWA terminal at JFK in to a first class hotel in early October.  The terminal, an icon at JFK, has been empty since 2001, with occasional visits possible during one of the New York Open House events.

In recent weeks I have written about poor service at the Radisson JFK and at the Hilton there.

It would be great to have a superb hotel right on airport grounds, and adjacent to the AirTrain service.

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I had a quick overnight stay in Colombo, whilst transiting from Doha to the Maldives and wanted to stay somewhere not too far from the airport. The Ramada Katunayake is about a 10-15 minute cab ride from the airport and suited my purposes. There is also a Ramada in the city centre so be careful which you book.

Booking the hotel on Expedia.co.uk I didn’t need to worry about points and at £53 for the night it was good value. I had been in touch with the hotel before arrival to arrange for a driver to pick me up. Alas, he was not there when I cleared Customs. However, the City Centre Ramada has a desk in the arrivals area and I ask there for assistance.

The guy behind the counter was great. He called the hotel and then located a driver for me, escorting me the kerb to make sure I got in to the right car.

It was quite dark by the time I arrived at the hotel. Reception was prompt to confirm the booking, indicate that they had upgraded me (how nice) and directed me to my room on the 3rd Floor. Opening the door the room reminded me of the old Best Western in San Juan at the airport. The room was clean but basic, although had I wanted luxury I could have travelled to the city.

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I turned the light switch on for the bathroom, and all the power went off in the room. Looking for the breaker box, and not finding it, I noticed that all power had been lost to the hotel and indeed those properties I could see from the window. What HAD I done?

Luckily I had my iPhone, and for the first time ever used the torch function. Power came back after about 5 minutes, stayed for 15 minutes and then went again for another 10 minutes. This was my hint to go to bed.

I slept reasonably well as the property was pretty quiet at night as it is set back from the main road.

The next morning I had a shower and there was plenty of hot water. The bathroom was perfectly functional:

I went down for the buffet breakfast which was not included in my room rate and ended up costing about £4. There was a wide choice of hot and cold items with the staff readily refilling any glass or cup that was emptied.

I had arranged for the driver who delivered me, to come and collect me, and he was there at the appointed time for the trip back to the airport.

After two security checks – one to get in to the building and another to get in to the check-in desks, I secured a boarding pass and was off to immigration and the lounge that BA uses. More about that tomorrow.

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BA has added a small enhancement to their mobile app which – at certain airports -gives you notification as soon as your gate is published. This saves having to watch the screens.


Note the screen above says Terminal 5 at Heathrow only, but the iTunes store says Terminals 3 and 5 at Heathrow. Odd.


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As I approached the desk to have my boarding pass scanned, the agent said ‘Sir, you are the only business class passenger today, would you like your own bus to the aircraft?’

There is that moment when we all would pause to think about the answer, and so did I. In truth it didn’t matter to me this time, but I should probably have said ‘Yes’. However I did say that I would take the bus used for the Economy passengers. About a minute later I regretted it.

In retrospect I realise that I had never taken a bus at Doha during the day. Goodness it was hot. Even by walking the 20 yards to the bus from the terminal I was sweating. Few seats on the bus, coupled with a small number of passengers, meant a long wait in the bus that had become a sauna.

Eventually we were moving off, but no air conditioning came on and the bus became more and more unpleasant.

We arrived at the A320 after 15 minutes and we climbed the stairs to the front of the plane. After taking my seat in Row 1, the crew suggested that I might like to move as there was more leg room in Row 2. They produced cold towels; I was suitably grateful.

The seats were pretty comfy but with limited recline:

Row 3
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Row 1
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Looking back at the Economy cabin most passengers had been seated at the back, presumably for weight and balance.

The flight attendant got me all excited when I asked for Champagne when she enquired whether I would like the Krug. ‘Oh Yes Please’. It was odd but I just assumed that it had been loaded in error. In fact, as I found a moment later, she was new and had forgotten that this flight was sold as Business and not as First. It was her second day flying.

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As always with Qatar the menus are in the seat back pocket and so I was able to browse. The crew came along and asked when I would like to eat, being the only passenger I was not worried about them running out of choices.

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Bread and butter – Qatar do this really well in my view – I love the choice of rolls in a bowl.
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Starter – the prawns
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Entree – the stuffed chicken

Dessert – the chocolate cake – I think I got two pieces!

The crew kept my glass topped up through the meal and arranged coffee for me after I finished.

I napped for about two hours, not very comfortably in the upright seats, and pretty soon we were landing at Columbo.

Qatar uses one of the gates closest to the immigration desks. I had pre-arranged my visa and was on my way in about two minutes past the final Duty Free Shops before baggage. They had a wide range of large domestic appliances for sale – fridges, cookers and air conditioners. I assume that they deliver them rather than expecting you to get them on an airport trolley.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | One Comment

All of the blogs have done the new AAdvantage to death since American Airlines announced it’s plans yesterday. It seems that most people are pretty happy with the discussion. For me, well whilst I fly AA I credit to my British Airways account and so the changes have little impact.

I do have one dog in the race though – Million Mile Status. There seems to be precious little about that anywhere I could find.

American used to credit every mile you earned towards Million Mile Status – flights, hotels, credit cards, coupons from cereal boxes (yes that was real), and so I accumulated a good number of miles and at 2 Million I secured lifetime Platinum status. I’ve been a member since 1986 so have a bunch of accumulated earning (and burning). That’s important as it will secure me lounge access with British Airways if I ever drop below silver with them.

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However, a couple of years ago American changed the rules to only credit flights towards Million Mile status and my chance of getting to 3 Million evaporated.

I was interested to see what AA would do with those customers bringing balances from USAirways to the new AAdvantage party. Of course they could have said that they would credit everything earned with US (and America West), before AA changed the rules to MM status. That would have been generous. However, it looks like they will only bring over those flights we actually flew. It’s not even clear that America West flight will count.

This is my twitter exchange with the Social Media team:


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Posted by MilesFromBlighty | One Comment

The Concourse Hotel at LAX from Terminal 8

The Concourse Hotel at LAX

Some time ago I reviewed this property when it was a Radisson – you can read the review here.

Since then it has been rebranded as a Hyatt partner hotel and is undergoing renovation. Honestly it needs to. The property’s fabric is tired, but the jewel is their staff who seem to understand this and so make a super effort to be helpful.

I’ve had three stays there recently and have started to like it.

Whilst the property is in walking distance from the terminal at LAX, the shuttle they share with Quik Park (located at the rear of the hotel) makes it quicker to wait for the shuttle in my experience. LAX operates a coloured sign system to indicate where you should wait for what services on the outer kerb. Buses won’t stop outside their designated areas, and you often need to wave an arm if you see you bus so he knows you want him to stop.

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The hotel’s shuttle buses look like this:

The Concourse Hotel at LAX Shuttle

I’ve found that even if you miss one, the next one is along in a few minutes. I’ve never had to wait the ten minutes between shuttles that they claim. The bus goes through the parking structure to drop off it’s parking customers first and then drops you at the hotel, or you can get off in the parking garage and walk 500 yards to Reception. The buses, whilst full, have never had passengers standing in my experience. This is a big contrast to the other properties I have stayed in at LAX.

The Concourse Hotel at LAX Quik Park Garage

The ground floor is quirky, with the Reception to the right as you come from the bus stop, or on the left as you come through the main entrance. The Reception is behind the staircase in the centre of the picture below:

The Concourse Hotel at LAX Lobby

There are seating areas in the lobby as well as a bar/take away area:

The Concourse Hotel at LAX Lobby

On each of my stays I received a standard room on the 10th floor. There are recent reports of Diamond Gold Passport members receiving suites, as I did when it was a Radisson. Each time I stayed I received the 1,000 points Diamond Amenity and a small food item in my room. The bottle of wine shown came as a result of some feedback in my Hyatt survey about the property.

The Concourse Hotel at LAX

The Concourse Hotel at LAX

The Concourse Hotel at LAX

The beds were ‘sleep number’ beds allowing adjustment of each side separately to your individual comfort:
The Concourse Hotel at LAX King Bed
There is a fridge, coffee maker and two bottles of water in the room

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The bathroom is typically sized for a US hotel, with plenty of towels, although no bathrobes.

The Concourse Hotel at LAX bathroom

Each room afforded a great nights sleep, even those facing the runway. Although across the freeway, the hotel is fairly close to the end of the southerly runways, but I was not awakened by aircraft noise.

View of the US/AA commuter terminal from the hotel:

American Airlines Commuter Terminal at LAX

The night time view:

LAX night time view from The Concourse Hotel at LAX


The restaurant opens for Breakfast nice and early, and offers a huge buffet – hot and cold items. It is a slightly old feel, like many hotels had in the 1980’s, but the staff are super friendly and you can eat as much as you like if you choose the buffet.


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They have Corned Beef Hash – who cannot love a property that has that on offer?

Overall, three great stays and I look forward to the renovation!

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British Airways B747-400

On Saturday I wrote about some excellent Business Class fares from Dublin through to September 2015, and indeed it seems it was to too good to be true. Or it was a mistake.

BA have now restricted travel dates on these tickets as follows, for the first international flight.

22NOV 14 – 29NOV 14 OR
19DEC 14 – 10JAN 15 OR
13FEB 15 – 21FEB 15 OR
27MAR 15 – 19APR 15 OR
22MAY 15 – 30MAY 15 OR
17JUL 15 – 05SEP 15.

There is still time to book if these dates work for you as the sale ends 12 November. Saturday night stay required.

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Park Hyatt Buenos Aires

After my stay at Intercontinental Buenos Aires I moved to the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires on a Cash and Points rate. ($125 + 10000 Gold Passport Points). The contrast to the Intercontinental is immediate as you arrive at the lobby. Cool and understated the Park Hyatt contrasts hugely with the ornate lobby at the Intercon.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires Lobby


The agent at check-in confirmed my rate, and the partial points redemption and that I would receive free internet and breakfast as part of being a Diamond Gold Passport member. They also confirmed my late check-out, useful as the United flight home did not leave until 9pm. After that I was escorted to my room.

The lift should have given me an idea of the sort of decor I would enjoy once I got there. Very chic.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires Lift

When we exited the elevator, the agent accompanying me indicated that they had given me an upgrade to a suite. Goodness that was nice, having enjoyed one at the Intercon. The room was on the corner of the hotel, overlooking the main road where the entrance is.

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Once inside there was a small corridor which led to both the sitting room, and through a large closet to the bedroom and bathroom.


Park Hyatt Buenos Aires suite sitting room

The living room had a large desk, a sofa, large flat screen TV, a coffee table, the coffee maker and mini-bar. Hardwood floors with carpets gave it a feel of being in a very smart house.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires suite sitting room

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The views from the large windows were of other homes in adjacent streets.

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The was a small visitor bathroom just off the entrance lobby:

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires half bathroom

In the room was the usual guide to the hotel, including a price list for everything that the hotel supply’s should they encounter anyone who takes an attraction to the items in the room, including the worlds most expensive ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign!

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The walk through closet – a first for any hotel I recall – led first to the bedroom and then the bathroom.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires closet

In the picture above straight ahead is the bedroom, with two comfy chairs and the door on the left leads to the bathroom.


With bright white bedding and more hardwood floors with natural wood on the walls made it felt welcoming. The large amount of natural light from the corner windows made it feel airy.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires bedroom

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires bedroom

The drapes were operated by a switch next to the bed. A second TV was in the room directly opposite the bed. I slept very well in the Hyatt Bed provided – it was firm enough for me, whilst the duvet kept me suitable warm. It was cold at night when I was there so this was most welcome.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires bedroom

Views from the bedroom were towards the port.

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The bathroom feels a little odd when you walk in, until you start to explore it. An essentially square room with a large wall that bisects it. This wall provides the support for the basins as well as the wall adjacent to the bath tub.

Tub? No that’s not the right word. It is a huge, deep luxurious bathing device – built for wallowing and not washing.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires bathroom

To focus on each area of the bathroom might give you an idea of how large it is, and what it provides.

The basins
Park Hyatt Buenos Aires bathroom

The bath
Park Hyatt Buenos Aires bathroom

The toilet

The shower and wet area

With natural tones and white, the bathroom matched the rest of the suite. It was, I have to say, one of the most lovely bathrooms I have ever enjoyed.


As there was no lounge at the hotel, I chose to splash out on room service. I selected the gnocchi with pesto, and chocolate cake. When it arrived, after about twenty minutes, my floors butler accompanied the two members of room service staff in the delivery. They switched my Diamond Gold Passport amenity from red to white wine.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires room service

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires room service

Goodness it was tasty. An excellent room service option I have to say.


After a superb nights sleep I went for breakfast in the restaurant. Hot options were available and chose scrambled eggs to go with the cold items from the buffet. The staff were lovely and my coffee cup was constantly refilled.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires breakfast

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires breakfast

Leaving the restaurant I noticed how beautifully the public spaces are designed.

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires lobby

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires lobby


The bedrooms stretch over more than one part of the building and you can walk through the restaurant to experience the grounds. At the top of the slope is a separate restaurant which is open for lunch and dinner and accessible from the street by a separate walkway.

A waterfall tumbles down the hill, between the two parts of the hotel:

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires grounds

The view from the top back towards the main building:

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires main building

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires gardens

The rear of the main building:

Park Hyatt Buenos Aires main building

The separate entrance for visitors to the restaurant at the top of the slope:


The old Park Hyatt, now rebranded, is a 10 minute walk away from the new Park Hyatt. I stayed here once many, many, years ago.

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Processed easily, and after arranging a car to the airport, I left the hotel hoping to be able to return to one of the best Hyatt properties I have experienced.

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28-10-2014 06-23-34

Flybe has abandoned it’s own frequent flyer scheme in order to give out Avios based on spend.

You normally earn 4 Avios per £1 spent, but if you book and fly to or from London City you can earn 16 Avios per £1 spent. This lasts until 31 December 2014 which is a pretty decent length of time.

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Tower London poppies

A huge piece of public art is nearing its climax at the Tower of London. By 11 November, volunteers will have planted 888,246 ceramic poppies, in over, around and under the Tower of London by hand. The quantity matches the number of British casualties in the First World War which marks the centenary of its start this year.

The poppies are being sold to members of the public after the display ends, after 11 November, British Remembrance Day. At this time they are all sold.

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The six charities benefitting all work with current and former members of the British Armed Forces.

Tower London poppies

The installation works both on a large and small scale. There is an undeniable majesty of seeing the moat, an otherwise wasted part of the Tower filled with a sea (or perhaps) an ocean of red. The poppies form a ring surrounding the historic building, which houses the British Crown Jewels. With Tower Bridge in the background there is a historic vista on the east of the Tower.

Tower of London poppies

Tower of London poppies

On the west side you have the contrast of The Shard, a very new addition to the London skyline.

Tower of London poppies

The artists responsible for the installation have made it ebb and flow across public entrances, the foundations and other parts of the Tower.

Tower of London poppies

Tower of London poppies

Tower of London poppies

When you look more closely the detail of the individual flowers is clear. Looking even in a small area you realise how many heads there are. The realisation of course comes fairly fast that each one represents a dead member of the armed forces, and the sheer quantity of the sacrifice becomes clear. Even in a small area there are hundreds of flowers.

Tower London poppies

Tower London poppies


I was down at the Tower early in the morning, and the sun was just rising behind Tower Bridge, illuminating the Tower for another day of ‘planting’ poppies.

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If you are in London before 11 November, I strongly suggest you visit. It really is extraordinary.

Tower London poppies

If you are looking for other things to do during your visit read my series on things to do in London.

Posted by MilesFromBlighty | 8 Comments

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