I have written about the DISCOVERY Loyalty Program by the Global Hotel Alliance (GHA) on multiple occasions. Personally, I have completed at least 30 stays at the Pan Pacific Singapore and the Pan Pacific Orchard in the last two years. Within Singapore, the DISCOVERY program is one of my personal favourites as it offers everything important for a perfect staycation - especially when you reach top-tier with the program after 30 eligible nights!
Locally, there are two DISCOVERY brands (which amount to five distinct properties) in Singapore:
- Pan Pacific Singapore
- Pan Pacific Orchard
- PARKROYAL on Beach Road
- PARKROYAL on Pickering
- PARKROYAL on Kitchener Road
1. Enjoy Longer Staycations - Check-in at 9AM, Check-out at 6PM
It is worth noting that as a Black member in the DISCOVERY program, you will get early check-in and late check-out privileges at 9AM and 6PM respectively (where available). Since most staycations happen on a Saturday, this means that you can check-in at 9AM on Saturday morning and check-out at 6PM on the following day (Sunday). Since most properties allow you to check-in only at 2PM and require you to check-out at 12PM the following day, having the Black member status with DISCOVERY would extend your weekend staycation from 22 hours to 33 hours (50% more time!).
2. Double Room Upgrades
While I do not think it is official, I have always been given club or lounge access whenever I get upgraded into a club room. As part of my DISCOVERY benefits as a Black member, I am given a two-category upgrade where available - if that room is available to purchase during check-in, it should be given to you. For example, when I booked the regular Pacific Room at the Pan Pacific Singapore for Christmas Eve, I was upgraded into the massive Pacific Harbour Studio (with a tub to fit four adults!) since it was available when I was checking-in. I have never had to ask for an upgrade even once during all my stays at GHA properties.
3. Unique (and Valuable) Local Experiences
One of the best things to redeem for in Singapore (if you ever lay your hands on a Black Local Experience) is the 3 Day Club Access at the Pan Pacific Singapore - this Local Experience probably gives you the most value in Singapore too - since I estimate this to be worth approximately S$600. The Pacific Club at the Pan Pacific Singapore is one of the best club lounges in Singapore and it serves complimentary Champagne breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails that change your mind about hotels (in a great way). Other notable experiences include a helicopter ride in Hong Kong and if you are a foodie, a weekend brunch experience Keyaki for two.
While checking out room rates this evening on the Hilton HHonors app, I noticed something a little different - the first result is the Hilton Garden Inn Serangoon which is apparently coming soon (first Hong Kong, now us?!). I did not actually know (assuming this is right) that there is a Hilton Garden Inn opening in Singapore (this could be great news for us Hilton HHonors members) and with a little digging, I found a little more proof to back this speculation.
Last month, I shared how easy it is to basically earn money for each fulfilled dining reservation that you make via Chope. If you are the kind that enjoys making dinner reservations for yourself (or even for your family and friends), you should check out Chope since it is essentially a free service that rewards you with 100 Chope-Dollars (equivalent to S$3 in dining credit) each time you make an eligible booking. In fact, for a limited time only, earn up to 300 Chope-Dollars (equivalent to S$9) when you sign-up and use Chope for the first time.
The Citi Rewards Card is one of the best Singapore credit card (in my opinion) to have in 2017. When you charge the right type of transaction to this credit card, you can earn up to 10X Citi Dollars (equivalent to 4 miles per S$1). While there are ways to verify whether or not a transaction will earn you 10X points thanks for crowd-sourcing, I recently realised that you can check on the number of points awarded per transaction (after it has been posted) which really helps to verify and mitigate some risk in those large purchases.
There are no lack of elite credit cards in the Singapore market but let's face it - the regular one for the masses are the ones with the best benefits in terms of mile accrual. Of course there are some exceptions (i.e. using a Centurion Card on EXTRA Partners) but most of the best cards for mile accrual in Singapore are credit cards that most working Singaporean adult can qualify for. With that being said, there may be instances where people cannot qualify for the credit card they want and there may be many different reasons like bad credit score or insufficient annual income. One way around this is to apply for a secured credit card instead as this will provide you access to a card you really want (even if you do not meet the general criteria for it!).
While I am still trying to grasp all the amazing features on ExpertFlyer, I wanted to feature a small piece on searching for award and upgrade redemptions using this pretty impressive tool. I have to mention from the start that ExpertFlyer requires a paid subscription for more robust and advanced queries - there is however a free account where you can sign-up for seat alerts but you will require a Basic or Premium account to search for award redemptions (there is a free trial that you can sign-up for though!).
Hakone is a popular spot for a day-trip if you are visiting Tokyo - in fact, I would recommended staying the night if you do not wish to rush through the whole thing. During my latest visit to Tokyo, I stayed at the Hilton Tokyo for the first half of the trip and getting from the hotel to Hakone was relatively easy. With that being said, there were things that I wish I knew before heading to Hakone from Tokyo so I hope this guide will benefit someone out there who is looking for a Hakone itinerary (or simply a quick guide).
I love dining out but I generally like going to places with a reservation - there is nothing more upsetting than finding a fully-booked restaurant when you have already made up your mind on what to eat. Chope solves that problem for me since I can always make a reservation easily (some restaurants do not take same-day reservations unfortunately so you will still have to call them) and more importantly, it allows me to accrue Chope-Dollars which I can then use to purchase discounted dining vouchers on the Chope shop. Here are some reasons why you should use Chope every time you go out for a meal!
While there are many VPN providers out there in the market, it is not common to see one that offers over 500 servers in 141 countries. While I do travel out of Singapore from time to time, I am usually logged on to a WiFi connection somewhere and one of the things that I am most concerned about when transacting over an unsecured network is privacy. While public WiFi signals are great for getting work done (be it in a cafe or in a hotel), security can be a real issue if you do not take necessary precautions.
As 2016 comes to an end, I am once again faced with an interesting problem - the InterContinental Ambassador renewal. While I have not come close to maximising the benefits this year, I have gotten the published benefits (upgrade and late check-out at the InterContinental Singapore) on all my paid stays. The only question now is this: should I renew my InterContinental Ambassador membership with points or by cash?
If you saw my article last week on the credit cards to get in 2017, you would have (and should have!) noticed a new addition - the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card. Let's be honest here, OCBC has not been on the list of credit cards to get (for mile accrual) in the last couple of years. So when I found out that the OCBC Titanium Rewards Card now gives up to 10X OCBC$ (which translates into 4 miles per dollar), I had to check it out for myself. My conclusion? This could very well be OCBC's best credit card in the market right now for mile chasers.