A Machu Picchu Anniversary: Sheraton Lima Convention Center

TRIP INDEX

After landing at Jorge Chavez International (LIM) Airport, we got our passports stamped and collected our bags. First order of business was to get a taxi to the Sheraton Lima Convention Center.

Thanks to a great tip from fellow blogger Jamison, we went directly to the Taxi Green stand before even entering the actual Arrivals Hall. We paid the posted rate, received a receipt, and a driver started rolling our luggage through the throngs of people and taxi drivers.

Sheraton Lima Convention Center is in the Centro Historico (Historic Center) district of Lima. This is where you can find most of the history of the city, with several monuments and other Spanish-influenced architecture. As a semi-history buff, it was interesting to be within the city that Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded almost 500 years ago.

As for the hotel, it is conveniently located next to a shopping mall with food court in case you need to do any shopping or grab a quick bite.

Upon checking in, the front desk agent welcomed us and informed us that we had been upgraded to the Club Floor, which meant access to the Club Lounge. This was great because it meant we were all set for breakfast the next day, before leaving for Cusco.

We were shown to our room on the 17th floor and a welcome amenity of was awaiting us. Nice to have some fresh fruit after a day of travel.

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Club Lounge

The following morning, we woke up early to eat in the Club Lounge before heading back to the airport for our flight to Cusco. It was early enough that we were the only ones in the lounge. The lone waiter was very attentive and friendly, offering to refill our coffee and juices more than once.

The spread was pretty extensive. I am a fan of a hearty breakfast so I found the spread, especially the meat options, more than adequate for breakfast. I can see why these Starwood Platinums cherish their breakfast amenity!

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge – Lomo Saltado

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

Sheraton Lima Convention Center

Sheraton Lima Convention Center Club Lounge

The Newest American Express Centurion Lounge

Last week, American Express opened their latest Centurion Lounge in DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport’s Terminal D. This makes for the second Amex lounge in the US; the first being in Las Vegas McCarran International Airport.

Over the weekend during a mileage run through DFW (on our #questforEXP), Joann and I were able to stop in to take a quick look at the offerings of this new lounge.

amex centurion lounge

amex centurion lounge

amex centurion lounge

Amenities & Services

The main draw of the lounge is supposed to be the Exhale Spa that offers a slew  of complimentary 15 minute services:

  • Massages
  • Manicures & pedicures
  • Facials
  • Hand scrubs

We didn’t get to try them out since our connection was so short, but we will make it a point to on our next mileage run in 2 weeks!

List of Exhale Spa Treatments. amex centurion lounge

Of course there is free WiFi (password protected). Just ask for the code upon check-in. Other bits that we quickly checked out in the lounge were a multitude of power outlets (perfect for all travelers), some workstations, TVs, and even a family room with an Xbox Kinect!

I think Amex did a great job with the design of this lounge, from the bright but not over the top colors to supplying the amenities that a traveler might not know they need until they need it.

Food & Drink

With DFW as the setting, it’s no surprise that much of the food is Tex-Mex inspired. There were a good number of hot options available – chicken or spinach enchiladas, pulled beef brisket tacos, rice & beans, corn soup. Then of course, there was also a salad bar and some cold options like roasted vegetables and guacamole.

amex centurion lounge

Cold & Hot Food Bar

amex centurion lounge

Pulled brisket taco, chicken enchilada, and chips & salsa

We picked a bit of everything and were really pleased. Actual flavor and fresh ingredients! Very new for a lounge in the US.

amex centurion lounge Cocktail Menu

Cocktail Menu

While pleasantly surprised by the food options, I was pretty stunned by the cocktail selection. Tex-Mex based cocktails concocted by Jim Meehan of PDT in NYC… all on the house!

It’s refreshing to see everything on the menu complimentary versus domestic carrier lounges that charge for “premium” drinks/spirits.

Access to the American Express Centurion Lounge

Platinum and Centurion card holders can access the lounge free of charge, along with a spouse/domestic partner + children under 18 OR 2 traveling companions.

Any other American Express card holders can gain entrance to the Centurion Lounge for a $50 fee.

Overall

Even though we only got to sample a small part of the Centurion Lounge’s offerings, both Joann and I were really impressed. We both kept commenting on how the food was quite high quality for a lounge and the drinks were creative and strong! The staff was superb; they are really proud of their product here and it shows. We were asked several times if everything was OK and if we needed anything.

I definitely love the fact that, once inside, everything is complimentary. It really makes being a Platinum card holder and transiting through DFW worth it. I would even say that I would pay the $50 to access the lounge if I had a longer layover because it was just that much better than any airline lounges in the US and many across the globe. Very easy to get your money’s worth here. Kudos to American Express for a great job!

Hawaiian Mileage Run: Sakura Lounge HNL

TRIP INDEX

We just cleared security with TSA PreCheck and it was beautiful. Anything to save time in the Honolulu Airport’s open air terminal on this humid day is a life saver before a long flight.

For more on PreCheck, head here. Bottom line: get it!

We walked towards the Kona Brewing company and took the elevator upstairs to JAL’s Sakura Lounge. American, along with several other oneworld members, uses this lounge. I believe they used to have their own lounge, but decided to move in with JAL in 2011.

The lounge is adequate. A few snacks. Two different kinds of soup. Plenty of seating. PLENTY of power outlets. The air conditioning is ice cold, which is top priority for me.

What they don’t have, which the old Admiral’s Club did have, is a shower. I don’t know how you can have a lounge in a ‘tropical’ climate like Hawaii and not offer a shower in your lounge, especially with all the late day departures. This is just me complaining because of a long day out in the sun, needing another shower!

It looks like our upgrades won’t clear which, without any AA status, has us seated in the very last row of coach for this longhaul. Oh well, at least we’re on the outside of the 2-3-2 seating in the back of this bird.

Time to fill up on more ice cold water and then head to the gate, hoping for a miracle!

IMG_2558 IMG_2557 IMG_2556 IMG_2555 IMG_2554 IMG_2553 IMG_2552 IMG_2551 IMG_2550 IMG_2549

Mistake to Madrid: Rome Airport Lounges

TRIP INDEX

After landing, Joann and I followed signs to passport control. This was our port of entry for the EU so we I got stamped. Joann actually didn’t get a stamp. Anyone know why?

The first thing we did was get some food. The food on flight wasn’t at all enough, especially since it was a redeye.

Pizza... real original!

Pizza… real original!

With my hunger quelled, the next order of business was finding somewhere to relax. Thanks again to our American Express Platinum cards, we both have complimentary memberships to Priority Pass. It really comes in handy for the trips in Economy Class where lounge access doesn’t come along with the ticket.

Before we left, I used the website to find out that FCO has three lounges available to Priority Pass members.

Avia Lounge

Our first stop was the Avia Lounge. This is the one we spent the least amount of time in because of how disappointing it was. It looked like the newest with the way it was furnished, but it was just way too small. It was a nice thought but even with only two other people in the lounge, we felt a little crowded.

There are beverages, coffee, and a small selection of alcohol. The only food was some prepackaged snacks. It was very domestic airline club-esque in that sense.

Avia Lounge

€25 for entry, no way!

 

Pretty much all of the Avia Lounge

Pretty much all of the Avia Lounge

My advice: skip it!

Le Anfore Lounge

This lounge, while not one we visited for long either, was worlds better than the Avia Lounge. It was much bigger so even though it was very crowded, we felt a little more relaxed.

There is so much seating, but not too much privacy. The spread of food is definitely better and they have a massage chair and showers; very handy for a longer layover.

I think this lounge would have sufficed, but we decided to check out the third and final lounge to which we had access.

Mosaic Lounge

The Mosaic Lounge is shared by many airlines, but probably for good reason. We enjoyed it the most. It was larger than the Le Anfore Lounge and was spaced out much better. Again, there was ample seating, but it didn’t feel crowded thanks to the larger footprint.

This lounge also had showers and a food and beverage spread similar to the last one. All I wanted was an espresso, some free WiFi (there was), and then a long nap. Lucky for us, at the far end of the lounge, there is a walled off area with some lounge chairs that are meant for sleeping.

After setting an alarm for an hour before our flight, both Joann and I knocked out cold since we didn’t get sleep on the redeye and it was effectively 7 AM for our bodies.

Mosaic Lounge

Mosaic Lounge

Overall

If you have a layover in Rome, consider the Mosaic or Le Anfore Lounges. Don’t even bother with the Avia Lounge; it’s too small.

If we had a layover longer than 4 hours, I think we might have tried to venture into the city to see a few things and grab a bite. As this was a short layover, the lounges did their job and Amex Platinum and its complimentary Priority Pass membership save the day again!

Mistake to Madrid: JFK Airport – KAL Lounge

TRIP INDEX

Joann and I started our trip to Madrid by getting dropped off by my parents at JFK Airport. It was our first time flying out of Terminal 1, housing a United Nations of airlines – Aeroflot, Air China, Brussels, Lufthansa, Fly Jamaica, and, of course, our airline for this trip, Alitalia.

We approached a quiet Alitalia check-in counter and the NYC-based agent was happy to check us and our bags in. I also had him verify that our Delta frequent flyer numbers were on the reservation so we could earn Delta miles, as they are in the same SkyTeam Alliance. It wasn’t a problem and he happily verified it. We were on our way to security.

After some slow moving security, we were in the relatively small airside of T1. We went straight to the KAL Lounge because there are no other real choices airside besides the gate.

Note, if you want food, head to the second level landside/before security. It has a pretty extensive food court which, I have to admit, might be better than waiting in the average Korean Air Business Class Lounge.

The KAL Lounge

The KAL Lounge doesn’t scream exclusivity like some of the lounges we’ve been in before, but it would do since we were just waiting less than an hour until our boarding time. We checked in with the agent and she gave us a piece of paper with the WiFi password on it.

KAL Lounge shared by several airlines

KAL Lounge shared by several airlines

KAL Lounge Front Desk

KAL Lounge Front Desk

The lounge itself wasn’t that great. They had some sodas, juices, and alcoholic beverages – nothing high end. For food, they had some cheese, crackers, Fig Newtons, Oreos, and other snacks.

The KAL Lounge also has showers in case you want to freshen up before your international flight.

After indulging in a few beers and plenty of Tillamook cheddar packets, Joann and I left the KAL Lounge for our gate. It fulfilled its duty as far as waiting for a flight goes. I’m glad we didn’t get to the airport early just to check it out.

When we got to the gate, to no one’s surprise, it was a mad house with gate lice completely engulfing the counter.

Since we were already too late, we decided to just hang back and board after everyone else. No need to get stressed out before our 9 hour flight to Rome…