This week we are taking a walk down memory lane with a vintage first class trip report. I’m sharing photos and brief commentary from a trip I took in the final days of 2010 and first days of 2011 that included many first class flights from five Star Alliance carriers. As we enter a new decade, the goal of this trip report is to examine how airlines have changed over the last one. Although this trip report has never been published, I will not be publishing a detailed, word-heavy review as I do for current trip reports. Instead, commentary will be limited and the focus will be on photos. For the final post, I will summarize, as generally as I can, how premium products have changed over the last decade.
- Prior Segments
- United Airlines 757-200 First Class Los Angeles to Chicago
- Lufthansa A340-300 First Class Chicago To Munich
- Turkish Airlines 737-700 Business Class Munich To Istanbul
- Turkish Airlines 777-300 First Class Istanbul to Bangkok
- Fifth Freedom Flashback: Bangkok To Ho Chi Minh City On Qatar Airways + Lufthansa
- Thai Airways 747-400 First Class Bangkok To Beijing
Today we take a break from the flight reviews to look at the Park Hyatt Saigon, one of my favorite Hyatt hotels, and exploring Ho Chi Minh City. I have not been back to Vietnam since this trip, so I don’t know what has changed…but I know I very much enjoyed my time in Ho Chi Minh City and look forward to visiting other regions of Vietnam on a future trip.
Park Hyatt Saigon
- This stay was during Hyatt’s Faster Free Night era…we stayed at Park Hyatt properties in Saigon, Beijing, and Shanghai for free thanks to cheap stays at Hyatts in the USA…those were the days…
- What a beautiful property this is; especially the common areas.
- Even the use of “Saigon” versus “Ho Chi Minh City” evokes imagery of French Indochina.
- For all the pitfalls of romanticizing that occupation, the colonial-era bar (with gentle piano music and signing filling the evening) is a cool place to spend an evening.
- Due to my Hyatt status, the hotel sent up a plate of very pungent cheese and a bottle of wine (remember the old welcome gifts Hyatt Diamonds used to receive?).
- The 2008 Australian Cabernet Merlot was excellent.
- We tried—for review purposes—the hotels’ French-Vietnamese fusion restaurant, Square One, ordering a mixed grill platter.
- Food was fine, but it does seem like a tragedy to go to a place like this while you are in Vietnam
- The breakfast buffet was huge and delicious, including a huge juice bar.
- Our room, with two twin beds, was small but nicely appointed, with dark wood finishes.
- Nice spa, fitness center, soaking pool.
- I loved the greeters at the door – you never have to open the door yourself here.
- Despite being sold out, the hotel never felt full.
- I cannot wait to return to this property to provide an updated review.
Exploring Ho Chi Minh City
- As a student of U.S. history, I was most interested in examining the Vietnam War from the Vietnamese side.
- The War Remnants Museum was certainly one-sided, but hardly surprising (and facts don’t lie, even though the omission of some facts is itself a lie).
- The former headquarters of South Vietnam, now called Independence Palace, is like a time capsule back to the 1970s and well worth a visit.
- As for Ho Chi Minh City itself, I was a bit surprised to see how much communist propaganda was festooned around town.
- I get that the country still calls itself a socialist republic, but has largely embraced a market-based model.
- The French architecture in government buildings and the Roman Catholic cathedral creates a stark juxtaposition to the thousands of motorcycles cruising by.
- Hint: walk right into them and don’t stop. It is only when you stop that you get hit.
- I can’t wait to go back.