On to Melbourne

Monday, June 13

Westin Sydney

Westin is built around an old Post Office (the Intercontinental was built on top of the old Treasury building).

We checked in about 1pm and were given a ‘deluxe room’, number 1806. The door has electronically-controlled signs for do not disturb and service room – you flip a switch inside the room by the door, and the appropriate note lights up outside.

Our room certainly had a fantastic bathroom. It wasn’t the Nui, I couldn’t feed the fish from my tub, but it had a large glass window between the bathroom and the room (with an electric-controlled screen between the two) and separate toilet and shower rooms housed in frosted glass. Here’s the sink. The shower had two heads – one directly above from the ceiling, and one coming out of the wall as is standard, the latter being removeable/moveable.

Here’s the entryway to the room, the room as seen from the bathroom, and a shot of the room itself.

The room had a power converter by the desk, not just the standard ‘shaver only’ 115V outlet in the bathroom, although it felt a bit light and I doubt it had any surge protection capabilities (not sure I’d want to plug my laptop in, for instance).

Though Sydney is in general pretty strict about not permitting smoking in most public spaces, smoking was totally permitted in the lounge. I never asked why, but wonder if it might be that it’s considered technically ‘outside’ and just covered by a very high skylight?

Champagne was delivered to our room shortly after arrival. I had only made the booking the evening before – I had a place to stay for free but decided it would be nice to spend our last night in Sydney in the city. Still, they managed to put that small gesture together quickly. We’d sure racked up a bunch of complimentary bottles by this point. 😉

This hotel had one of the best room service menus I’ve seen, and execution was excellent. I like that in Australian hotels, at least at the Intercontinental and the Westin Melbourne, there isn’t a percentage added on to room service orders – just a $3 or $4 delivery charge.

One thing that annoyed me about the hotel, though, was that they added an AU$1.30 charge to the bill as a donation to UNICEF. This tactic has been discussed often on Flyertalk. I really detest it.

I take my philanthropy quite seriously. I investigate organizations that I give to in order to understand their mission and their effectiveness. Giving to ineffective charities is worse than a waste – it’s counterproductive and harmful to the intended beneficiaries of service, because it crowds out better charities (most studies suggest that total giving is a fixed pie in any given year, driven more by economic conditions than events, and that specific solicitation tactics when successful simply shift which charities benefit).

Although I guess if I wanted to know more about UNICEF, I could have watched the dedicated TV channel they had at the hotel!

Since I want the charge removed, I make a trip down to the desk on my way out. They’re more than happy to take it off and do so instantly, but it’s an unnecessary trip. I actually stewed on it for awhile after receiving the bill under the door early in the morning.

Tuesday, June 14

3:00 pm Depart Sydney (SYD)
Qantas Flight 443
Coach Class Boeing 767

Left the hotel about 1:15pm and caught a cab to the Sydney airport (AU$30.50). There wasn’t any traffic at all and were there in no time flat.

At checkin I mentioned that I was flying international first the next day and the CSR didn’t charge an excess baggage fee. We had (4) pieces to check and would only have been entitled to (2) without fee. Our international segment was on a different ticket – this was a standone one-way red e-deal – so the ongoing flight technically shouldn’t have made a diference. But I guess was saved AU$20.

We were assigned seats 54 J, K. That’s the last row on the right side of the plane in coach. The flight was completely full with every last seat taken, and there was no opportunity to switch.

Our inbound aircraft was late arriving, so we boarding about 10 minutes late, pushed back at 3:15pm, and were in the air at 3:30pm.

UNICEF sure seems popular here, as the flight attendants were hawking for donations as well.

Snacks were apples and packaged cookies and drink service was whole ‘mini’ cans of soda, mini water bottles, and coffee/tea.

Flight was pretty bumpy but short. Bags came out in about 20 minutes, and we were on our way out of the airport.

Westin Melbourne

After an AU$39.50 cab ride to the hotel, checkin was smooth. I was given a slightly oversized room with a large (balcony-sized) bay window. There were chocolates in the room waiting for us. Bags were delivered to the room within minutes.

Just like the Westin SYD, there were electronic do not disturb signs. Very modern style.

Hotel’s bar, Martini Bar, seems very W-like, even broadcasting the name in colored lights on the sidewalk outside.

Room had a nice bathroom, a large double sink, mirror the length of the whole bathroom, and like the Westin SYD an overhead shower in addition to removeable standard-placed showerhead. Bed was comfortable.

These two Australian Westins seemed to follow protocol well, identifying guests respectfully by last name, and answering the Service Express line promptly and cheerfully (always responding to requests with “of course,” “certainly,” and “I’d be glad to”).

We ordered a pot of coffee at 6am, the room service delivery charge was $4 here rather than the $3 at the Sydney Westin and Intercontinental. So our pot of coffee – which wasn’t all that large – was $13 + $4 delivery charge. I guess they need to build the lack of a % add-on into the price. Heh.

We checked out of the hotel a few minutes before 8am and the bellman offered us a cab (~ AU$45) or a BMW (AU$65) to the airport. Since there was a cab right up front, we just took it. The cab stalled on the way to the airport, something about having just changed types of gas.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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