Wednesday, 29 October 2014

10 reasons to stay at Sheraton Macao

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A hotel / stay become a very integral part in any travel as it becomes an enabler of the wholesome experiences and memories that we carry back with us. Hence, picking a hotel becomes one of the most important decisions after deciding on a destination. With a holiday in my mind and Macao topping my list, here are 10 reasons (not in any particular order) why I'd stay at Sheraton Macao Hotel and also highly recommend the same for you to consider:

1. Part of the bustling Sands Cotai Central 
Sands Cotai Central is Macao's newest and most exciting fully integrated resort. The bustling Sands Cotai Central plays host to over 100 world-class retail stores, 2 casinos, 20 restaurants and cafes, loads of live entertainment and a host of amenities for the discerning business or leisure traveller. 

Aptly located right in the middle of Macao's premier destination; Sands Cotai Central, Sheraton Macao Hotel is in the heart of the bustling resort yet got a location that is comfortable and sophisticated. Can there be a better location?

2. Largest Sheraton in the world
Owner and managed by Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Sheraton Macao Hotel is the largest hotel in Macao as well as the largest Sheraton in the world. Spread over two towers - Sky and Earth, the hotel houses 3896 guest rooms and suites which exude style, warmth, sophistication and amenities that promise tech, social, work and relaxation conveniences.

Offering fine Asian and International cuisines are the 3 signature restaurants of Sheraton - Bene, Feast and Xin. Being located in the middle of Cotai Central, guests residing at #SheratonMacao also have convenient access to a wide range of diverse dining avenues hosted in the Sands Cotai Central resort property.

3. Dreamwork's Experience 
It's all about the experience; be it for a traveler on leisure or business; with family, friends or children, there is something for all to experience. You get to stay in Dreamworks themed suites, dine with, meet and greet or celebrate birthdays with Dreamworks characters like Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Puss in the Boots and likes. 

The signature 'DreamWorks Animation All-Star Parade' is a daily parade involving 12 characters, a troop of dancers, stilt walkers and performers set the tempo high and entertain the guests at Sands Cotai. They dance their way through the shoppes at  Cotai Central, wave and shake hands with the crowd as they parade on hit themes of Shrek, How to Train Your Dragon and more.

Stay at Sheraton Macao Hotel and you are sure to have a blast over 'Shrekfast' - a fairytale breakfast feast fit for a king. It involves an exclusive performance on stage by the DreamWorks characters followed by an intimate breakfast with the world’s favorite gang. Irrespective of your age group, you are sure to have a blast at this exclusive experience like no other. 

That’s #DreamworksExperience in a nutshell. Here's more on the exclusive range of DreamWorks Experiences

4. Dragon Training Camp
Who doesn't love 'Toothless the Night Fury' the most mysterious yet adorable dragon of all? 

Like DreamWorks Experience, the #DragonTrainingCamp quite excites me. Sheraton Macao recreates the magic of the Island of Berk to take kids through  a series of training zones like helmet decoration, interactive computer games, fun art and craft activities, dressing up kids with Viking paints and more before the meet with 'Toothless the Night Fury' and go on to become 'Certified Junior Dragon Trainers'.

Though this camp is designed for children of the age 4 to 12, I'd love to be a part this dragon training camp. If you'd like to be a part of it too, here's more about the Dragon Training Camp

5. Internally connected to the top hotels like Venetian and more 
Staying at Sheraton Macao Hotel provides for an experience like no other. Being connected to a host of amenities, local attractions, access to various hotels and casinos is the key. Staying at #SheratonMacao provides for all of this including access to Venetian, Holiday Inn, Sands Cotai Central Shoppes, various dining venues, live entertainment and loads of other facilities.

6. Casinos for some gambling kick
I am no regular or professional gambler just a tourist who loves to experience and make the most of it. Gambling to me is something I play for kicks. So not being a professional, playing just for kicks and fun of it Macao seems apt to enjoy a night or two at the casino for the affordability that comes with the currency exchange of HKDINR (1 HKD = ~8 INR).

Being centrally located in Sands Cotai Resort property, Guests have access to multiple casinos - 2 Casinos at Sands Cotai and also at Venetian and the likes. 

7. Business Meetings, Conferences & Events (MICE)
Be it Business Meetings, conferences, corporate events, weddings (Indian style or any), Sheraton Macao Hotel is all geared up to provide the most holistic experience. Yes! Even Indian Weddings; they are all set for an extravagant Indian wedding right from organizing the rituals to the food of every state and Union Territory, every need for a grand wedding is met here. 

Pillar-less Grand Ballroom, 9 junior ballrooms, over 150 breakout rooms with direct room access make Sheraton Macao the most comprehensive and versatile hotel to handle meetings and events of any magnitude. With nearly 3900 stylish guest rooms and suites, a world of amenities, apt location and 19,000 SQMT (includes 5,000 SQMT of Sands Cotai space) of meeting and event space, Sheraton Macao also has the most extensive inventory to accommodate a board room meeting for as low as 12 guests to a theatre style event for 5,000 guests.

At Sheraton it does not end with the space and amenities. A host of critical services are offered to cover a wide range of event needs like event manager, audio and video system, sound and light system, computer technology services and the list goes on. Chefs from all over the world are brought in-house to cater to the discerning palate of the globe trotter. 

Planning an event at Sheraton Macao? Head here

8. World of Benefits with SPG
With instant membership to over 1100 hotels falling under 9 distinctive brands in over 100 countries; a single Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) account is a key to earn holidays while you stay or use amenities at member properties. With member properties like #SheratonHotels, W Hotels, St. Regis and more, you get to earn free award nights, access to special events, early check-in, late check-out and a world of benefits. With the ability to convert points into air miles, who knows you’d be flying free to your dream destination the next time around!

Are you a Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG)? If not please enroll for it now to get yourself access to a wide range of offers that are rolled out exclusively for SPG members.

9. Pay for 2 night and stay an additional night for FREE
What's caught my attention in the most recent offers is the 'Pay for 2 nights and stay an additional night for free'. 

What are you waiting for? Book your stay now and get an additional night FREE.

10. Unwind in the Pools
It's hard to beat a good dip in a pool on a lazy day. And when to unwind, you have not one but three pools in the property with each focused on serving a different need; it clearly makes for an unforgettable holiday. 

Jaya, Sala and Tiki are the 3 pools that come with private cabanas and a chilled out poolside cafe for some snacks and light meals. 

Well, there are a lot more reasons and the list can go on. Why not go for yourself and experience the world of dreams and return with a custom duty free baggage of wonderful experiences and memories.

Do not forget to share your experience with me... Cheers!

Have a great Holiday!

Address: Sheraton Macao Hotel, Cotai Central, Estrada do Istmo. s/n, Cotai, Macao SAR, P.R. China
Phone Number: 835 2880 2000

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Getting into Bali (Indonesia) has never been easier 'Visa on Arrival Decoded'

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Bali - a floating island state of Indonesia has a very distinctive culture. It may best be described as a wonderful marriage of complimentary opposites. A famous tourist destination among the Australians; this Indonesian state has been attracting a lot of visitors from India as well. 

A vacation was on the cards and the destinations of our pick were Bangkok and Hua Hin in Thailand and Bali in Indonesia. Bali was our first destination for the holiday. We flew Thai Airways (via Bangkok) and the flight brought us into Denpasar, Bali at around 2 past noon. With a lot of the day already being spent travelling to get to Bali; we headed straight to the immigration counters.

The process was really simple and technically does not need more than a few minutes. If you are an Indian passport holder and travelling to Bali, here's a checklist of what you will need to carry with you and to get through the immigration process on arriving at Bali:
  • Passport must be valid for more than 6 months as on the completion date of travel
  • 2 passport size photos on a white background (>80% coverage)
  • Visa fee of USD 35 per person as an entry fee to Bali
  • Completed application forms (immigration and customs form) provided on flight to Bali
  • Itinerary and return air tickets

With the necessary requirements met, here's what you can expect on arriving at Bali - 
  • Get ready for your immigration process by sliding in your boarding pass and completed immigration and customs form in between your passport pages.
  • Follow the airport sign boards and you will be guided to the payment counters where USD 35 per person will be collected against each passport as an entry fee into Bali. Retain the payment receipt in the passport along with the boarding pass and other forms.
  • Head to the immigration counter where you will be asked to produce your passport along with the boarding pass, visa payment receipt and the immigration form.
  • Get ready for a photograph at the immigration counter and receive your passport with a 30 day visa stamp.
  • Proceed to baggage carousal, collect your baggage and then head towards the custom clearance counter before finally heading out of the airport to your desired destination in Bali.

Quick Tips:
Keep your itinerary and return tickets handy for the need of these may arise at the immigration counters.

With the influx of travelers, the queue can get really long and thus taking at least an hour or more to get through the complete process.

Note: An exit fee of IDR 200,000 (equivalent of approx. USD 20)  is levied at the airport during departure from Bali. The currency needed is IDR - the local currency of Indonesia.

Happy & Safe Travels!

Friday, 3 October 2014

International Travel: With plenty of time at the airport.. here's what you can do

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It might be really hard to find someone who does not love to travel. Everyone travels for a purpose - may be for business, leisure or any other. Even with the same purpose, the objectives of each traveler or a travel group differs. Likewise, be it business or leisure, I love travel for it lets me explore, learn, rejuvenate, experience the life, culture, food, create memories for life and so on...

Okay, so I tend to arrive at the airport close to 3 hours before the departure time and this allows me to comfortably get through the check-in process, immigration counters, security checks and leaves me enough time to go explore and go around the international terminal in a look out for anything random and interesting.

I love everything about travel be it - driving to the airport, queue at the check-in counters, sometimes annoying but the necessary security checks, transits at the airport, shopping at the duty free, announcements for boarding the flight, sipping beer and grabbing some food at the airport; knowing that's exactly what I'd be doing on flight other than finding means to pass time. For me, all of these activities build in the excitement, create a tempo and make me look forward to the good times ahead. Close your eyes, think of it and... don't they do so for you as well?

Here are some tips on what's available at the Bangalore International Airport beyond the security check counters:

Duty Free Shopping:
  • Shop perfumes, liquor, chocolates, heritage goods, cigarettes, cigars,and a lot more.
  • We all know it; a single passport and boarding pass  is also a ticket to a maximum of 2 liters of liquor from the Duty Free Shop at Kempegowda International Airport (KIAL). This is the norm at most if not all international airports across the globe. 
  • Pick your favorite whiskey or explore from the fabulous range of different liquors on sale. I must tell you, "The pricing at KIAL is better than most airports I have traveled through or purchased liquor from. Dubai included - Beat that!" 
  • #DidYouKnow - You get a minimum of 5% off when you pre-order as you depart from Bangalore; Your order is ready for pick-up at the Arrival duty free when you return from your travel.
Food & Beverages:
  • 7 Tawas & Noodle Bar - A one stop shop for hot and fresh Indian and Chinese food. For me kathi rolls from 7 Tawas have been the best bet so far. 

  • Bar 380 - When at airport, nothing beats a bar with a view. Seated at Bar 380 provides spectacular view of the Airport runway and Nandi hills across it.
  • Urban Food Market - Not enough time sit and enjoy a good bite? How about a quick bite for the road! This is exactly what Urban Food Market caters to.

  • There surely aren't extensive shopping opportunities but a fair selection of books, travel accessories, gifting and more. There are also stores like Shoppers Stop, Fab India and the likes.
  • Kick start you holiday with a relaxing foot massage or a spa package while you have the time to board your flight. O2 Spa offers a wide range of services so why not treat yourself special from the very beginning of the travel.

Power Sockets:
  • Grab a comfortable chair, and make the best of your time. Read a book, browse the Internet with the available free wifi. 
  • Worried about electronic devices running out of charge? I'll say, "Worry no more, most seats are equipped with charging facilities for all electronic devices.
Smoking Chambers:

  • Smoking is prohibited in the public areas at the airport but care has been taken to provide for specifically designed chambers where travellers can smoke.

For a more detailed review, please visit my previous blog-post on Kempegowda International airport ==>> Click Here