Sneak Peek: Kuwait Airways new First and Business Class

Posted by Mark

firstclass

A few hours ago Kuwait Airways posted photos on their instagram account of how their new business and first class cabins will look like and frankly, it’s a bit disappointing. Although it’s a MAJOR improvement over their current planes, the first class seats (pictured above) look more like business class seats on other airlines, while their business class (pictured below) is more like premium economy.

businessclass

They haven’t posted any photos of the economy class seats but anything really is better than what they have now. The first new plane arrives this coming December. Here is a link to their [Instagram]


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Kuwait Airways will have WiFi and GSM on flights soon

Posted by Mark

kuwait-airways

According to an article published on Interactive Travel, the new Kuwait Airways planes that will start arriving at the end of the year will allow you to use your mobile phone during flight as well as connect online via WiFi.

The airline has ordered five A330s and seven A320s, all of which will be line fitted with Mobile OnAir and Internet OnAir. The first A320 and first A330 will be delivered in December 2014 and May 2015.

If this actually happens I might start flying Kuwait Airways again. [Link]


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Atlantis, The Palm

Posted by Mark

atlantis1

Last week while in Dubai I ended up staying at the Atlantis hotel. Since it’s launch I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews about the place and I now understand why, it’s not meant for everyone, me included.

atlantis-room

When I first arrived at the hotel which is located on the artificial island The Palm, I thought I was walking into a shopping mall. There were a lot of people outside the entrance of the hotel and even more people inside the gigantic lobby. It was super busy like no other hotel I’ve ever walked into. It felt like a mall but then I realized it also felt like a Disney resort. My room was their standard room and it looked really generic but had a beautiful view and was pretty large in size. What makes Atlantis so special is the activities they have ranging from swimming with the dolphins to their large Aquaventure Waterpark.

atlantis2

They even have a huge aquarium right inside the hotel thats a lot bigger and nicer than the one we have at the Scientific Center. The hotel also has 21 restaurants, bars and lounges including the very popular Nobu, they have a ton of stores to shop at and they also have a very impressive gym. I actually thought the gym was the trendiest looking place in the whole hotel, it’s very nicely designed, one of the best looking gyms I’ve ever seen.

atlantisgym

While at the hotel we were given a tour of the most expensive hotel room in the Middle East, the Royal Bridge Suite. It costs around KD10,000 a night and it’s huge. You check check out the pictures below. And yes I said KD10,000 a night, that’s not an extra zero there by accident.

Personally I didn’t like the hotel. Not that where was anything wrong with it on the contrary, I actually found the hotel really fascinating. I remember watching a documentary once on Harrods and it was mostly a behind the scenes documentary on how the store handles all the traffic and what it takes to keep the place running, I would be very very interested to watch a similar documentary on Atlantis. The hotel is ginormous with over 1,500 rooms and so much foot traffic but yet they still manage to provide great service. In the three days I was there I never felt like I was just another guest. But still, the hotel just wasn’t for me, I prefer my rooms to be trendier looking, I also like my hotels to be a lot smaller and more importantly on this trip I wasn’t interested in any of their activities and thats really what Atlantis is about. On the other hand this is definitely a great place to stay at with children for the weekend. You would never have to leave the hotel and the children would never get bored with all the things to do. Check out their website [Here]


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Flying Business with FlyDubai

Posted by Mark

flydubai1

Last week I was invited to try out FlyDubai’s business class during a short two night trip to Dubai. I hadn’t flown FlyDubai for quite some time now and I hadn’t flown their business class at all since they introduced it this past November.

flydubai2

Since last September FlyDubai has also been flying out of Kuwait from the Sheikh Saad Terminal (the terminal previously used by the now defunct Wataniya Airways). There are a number of advantages to this terminal over the main Kuwait International Airport. Firstly the airport is a lot more visually tasteful, it’s cleaner and it has more natural daylight coming in. It’s also smaller which means the process of checking in or landing and getting your bags is a lot quicker. For business travelers you also get a whole wing of the airport just for yourselves. The business class section of the airport consists of multiple lounges, a food area and shower rooms. The lounge looks pretty much the same from when Wataniya Airways was running it which is a good thing. If you have Diners Club or American Express you can also use this lounge even if you’re flying economy. The downside to the airport is that you don’t have a proper restaurant to eat at just a Starbucks. Also, the long term parking at Sheikh Saad Terminal is expensive costing KD5 a day while the long term parking at the regular airport is just KD2 a day. But if you don’t mind walking a bit, there is free parking across the street near the military airbase although I could imagine that filling up pretty quickly.

flydubai3

The business class on FlyDubai is a proper business class with large fancy seats and all the business class amenities you’d expect to find. Their business class reminded me a bit of Wataniya Airways, actually because we were flying out of Sheikh Saad Terminal the whole experience felt like flying Wataniya Airways and thats a good thing since I used to love flying with Wataniya Airways. First thing I spotted when I sat down in my seat was the bottle of Evian water. They could have used any other brand like most airlines would do, but I suspect because they really want the customers to feel this is a true business class, they went with a brand easily associated with luxury.

flydubai4

The seats also had power plugs and large touch screens with access to in-flight entertainment. Before take off we were also served complimentary drinks and once we were in the air we were served breakfast. Disappointingly we didn’t have a choice for breakfast and so I was stuck with yogurt and granola. On the bright side, they did have a drinks menu which includes alcohol and I have to say their Sauvignon blanc was surprisingly very good for breakfast.

flydubai5

After arriving to Dubai, we were shuttled to the terminal in a small bus. Once we arrived to the terminal we had our own priority pass line and within minutes we were picking up our luggage. A very smooth and quick process.

flydubai6

Leaving Dubai is where I thought I would have an issue. The reason I used to dislike flying with FlyDubai is because their airport in Dubai (Terminal 2) used to be the saddest airport ever, like worse than the Kuwait Airport even. But since the last time I flew with Dubai their airport has gone through a major overhaul. The airport looks a lot better now, theres more seating and there’s also more options for food with Paul open there as well as Costa and Subway. Definitely a much more pleasant experience and from what I’m told there is still more work being done.

I started flying with FlyDubai because they usually had the cheapest tickets to Dubai and I would guess it was like that with a lot of other people. This is why FlyDubai has to work twice as hard to build their business class brand and reputation. They want people to realize that although their economy class has no frills, their business class is a completely different experience. It’s why I was invited to fly with them, to help spread the word about this. Their business class ticket prices seem pretty competitive, I just checked tickets to Dubai this weekend and the cheapest business class ticket Emirates had was KD362 while FlyDubai was KD173. Thing is they fly to a ton of other destinations other than Dubai and I would imagine their business class prices would be competitive on all the routes as well. So overall, FlyDubai’s business class is pretty damn good.

Update: I was just informed there is actually a Chili’s Express and other coffee shops on the 2nd floor of the airport before checking in.


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Review: Hidden Hotel – Paris

Posted by Mark

hidden hotel exterior

Last year when I went to Paris I ended up staying at the trendy Le Citizen Hotel which I loved. This year though when I went back during the holidays I ended up staying at another trendy hotel called Hidden Hotel.

hidden hotel interior

Hidden Hotel is a boutique hotel located near the Arc de Triomphe and a few streets away from Champs-Élysées. Being close to the Champs-Élysées really wasn’t the selling point for me but what did interest me was the fact that the George V metro line that was located at the end of Champs-Élysées was just a 10 to 15 minute walk from the hotel. The street the hotel was located on was very quiet and the same applied to all the streets from the hotel to Champs-Élysées. Not that there weren’t any cafes or restaurants all along the way, it just seems majority of the tourists do not wander out of Champs-Élysées into the adjacent side streets for some reason.

hidden hotel interior

The hotel had a very earthy feel to it. All the materials used inside the hotel and the rooms were made of natural wood or stone giving it a very organic all natural feel. They had four different sized rooms to choose from, the Intuition, Emotion, Sensation and Exception. The Intuition was the smallest room they had while the Exception was their super large one. I ended up staying in the Sensation.

hidden hotel room

When you first walk into the room it splits up into two main sections, on the right hand side you had the sleeping area with a fairly large flat screen TV, a desk and a small seating area while on the left hand side you had the closet area and bathroom. Both sides of the room are practically the same size and both sides of the room had large windows which brought in a lot of natural daylight. My room was located on the top floor of the hotel and overlooked a lot of other rooftops. I would sleep with the blinds open and loved waking up in the morning and watching it rain outside while I cozied up in bed.

hidden hotel interior

I found the bathroom very spacious and it was probably my favorite part of the room. The toilet itself was in a small separate room but the sink and shower area were open to the rest of the space. There was complimentary breakfast included along with two separate breakfast areas to dine in. The hotel is spread out into two building next to each other. I think one building contains the large Exception rooms while the other building contained the other rooms. The building I was staying in had cold cuts, cheese and fruits kind of breakfast while the building next door had the more traditional omelets, crepes and pastries breakfast. I could have breakfast in whichever building I wanted and having the choice was good. The customer service at the reception was friendly and very one on one. It’s mainly why I prefer staying at small boutique hotels compared to larger ones.

hidden hotel interior

My only gripe with my stay was with the bed. Although the room had a large king sized bed it was in fact two beds stuck to each other. I hate that since I always end up uncomfortably in the middle. Other than that there really isn’t anything I didn’t like. The room had a safe, hair dryer and lots of power sockets. The internet was fast, the TV had English channels and practically every night when I came back to the room I found goodies waiting for me like chocolates, cookies and even jam. If you do end up staying at the hotel make sure you pass by Café Latéral one night. It’s a typical French style cafe near the hotel filled with mostly locals and a great atmosphere. For more information on the hotel you can check out their website[Here]

Note: The first image in this post is taken from Hidden Hotel


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Pegasus Airlines

Posted by Mark

pegasus

Has anyone here ever flown with Pegasus Airlines before? I checked ticket prices to London and if you’re really flexible with your dates you can get tickets for KD110 or tickets to Barcelona for KD100 for example. It’s a no frills Turkish airline and all flights go through Turkey, like a Turkish version of Jazeera Airways. [Link]

Update: I just realized according to their press release, they start flying from Kuwait starting March 26th.

Update2: I love their description of Kuwait on their website…

Kuwait is a well-known business destination, with a number of interesting sites worth seeing including Failaka Island with its old dhows and archaeological sites and the traditional-style shops at Al-Mubarakiya. Activities to be enjoyed in Kuwait include horse-riding, golfing and sailing.


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New Kuwait Airport Website

Posted by Mark

airportwebsite

The Kuwait Airport website was recently majorly revamped. The website visually looks a lot more cleaner and modern with the most important information, the arrivals and departures timings now clearly displayed as soon as you enter. According to the website theres also a mobile application coming and WiFi will soon be free throughout the airport. Check out the revamped website [Here]

To take a look at previous designs, here’s how the website looked in [2007] and [2011]

Thanks Abdulwahab


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Paris: Off the Beaten Path

Posted by Mark

If you’re planning to go to Paris anytime soon you might find the below places interesting to check out:

deyrolle

Deyrolle
This first spot really depends if you’re into stuffed animals or not. Deyrolle is the most fascinating taxidermy store I’ve ever been to. It’s fairly large with a lot of wildlife on display from large animals like lions and horses to small insects like butterflies and bugs. Everything is for sale and there really is a lot to see but photography isn’t allowed which is why I was only able to capture the one shot above. The Deyrolle website has some images (but outdated compared to what I saw) and you can check them [Here]

dinky

Galerie Du Jouet Ancien
This is a little store I found accidentally and fell in love with instantly. The store sells vintage toys with the main focus being on toy cars. The store is tiny but crammed with toys so there is a lot to see (and buy). This is a [Link] with some information on the store and here is a [Map]

pozzetto

Pozzetto
This is my favorite gelato place in Paris and mostly because they have the best pistachio gelato I’ve ever had anywhere. It’s right at the start of the trendy Le Marais district (where L’As du Fallafel is also located) so you can pick up an ice cream once you’re done shopping or after you’re done with your falafel sandwich. [Link]

cnit

La Défense
This is the largest purpose-built business district in Europe and I loved it because it looks completely different from the Paris you know and see. This area of Paris is where all the tall skyscrapers are located including the 20th-century version of the Arc de Triomphe, the Grande Arche. It’s very easy to get to, just take the metro line 1 till the last stop.

steampunk

Métro Arts et Métiers
If you’re a steampunk fan you’ll love this metro station which was designed by a Belgian comic artist in a steampunk style. The station is located on line 3 and 11 of the Metro but only one of the lines is designed this way so if you get to the station and it doesn’t look like the picture above just head over to the other line.

Other places of interest:
Maison Goyard – They’ve got a mens store and a women’s store opposite each other on the same street. Other than the bags, check out some of the pet accessories they have if you really want to spoil your pet.
Colette – A trendy fashion store with a restaurant in the basement.
Ferdi – A small restaurant but you need to book in advance. We were having dinner there when we found out they had to turn away the rapper Drake because they were fully booked.


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Qatar Airways has a 3 day sale

Posted by Mark

qatar

Qatar Airways have a 3-day sale taking place that started yesterday and finishes tomorrow. They’re offering 30% off on flights so Kuwait to London for example now costs KD168 and to New York just KD238. If you’re planning to travel next month during the national holiday, this could be a good deal. Check it out [Here]


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The Lumineers – Live in London

Posted by Mark

The Lumineers

The Lumineers were the last concert I had planned for the week and I got to see them perform live last night here in London. The doors were going to open at 6:30PM so I was hoping to arrive to the venue at around 4:30 but ended up arriving at around 5:30PM. There were two long lines when we got there and we decided to stand in one of them but then I noticed a third line that was fairly empty, at first I thought it was a priority line or for people without tickets but we asked one of the organizers and he told us it was a third line they had just opened. So we ended up moving over to the newly opened line and headed right up to the front. When the doors finally opened we headed straight to the stage area and it was still empty since we were the first group to get there so we ended up standing second row center stage.


[YouTube]

The venue the concert was being held at was a palace located on top of a hill surrounded by acres and acres of park land. From the main entrance into the main concert hall we had to pass through 2 large palace wings, the first had the security and ticket check while the second wing had an indoor market, they had picnic tables in the middle surrounded by different food stalls all around. The actual concert hall I guess was originally a huge ballroom and easily fit us all even though we were over 10,000 fans last night according to the organizers.

The Lumineers

Before The Lumineers came on, a band called Thao & The Get Down Stay Down opened up for them. I hadn’t heard of the band before but the lead singer had a lot of charisma and was pretty cool to watch. They played for less than an hour before The Lumineers finally came on.


[YouTube]

I have no clue how we ended up second row to The Lumineers but it was incredible since it made the concert a much more personal experience. They’re super talented obviously with each band member playing on multiple instruments throughout the night. At one point even the drummer and pianist swapped places with each playing the other persons instruments. They pretty much played all their popular songs from their album in addition to ‘Gale Song’ which is off the new Hunger Games movie soundtrack as well as my personal favorite, ‘This must be the place’ which is a cover for the Talking Heads (watch it above).

It was a great night and I’d highly recommend watching them live if you ever get the chance to.


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