Megan and I took a two-week tour of Southeast Asia during our honeymoon in August/September of this year. Here’s the Trip Report Index:
- Booking the Honeymoon
- Asiana Airlines Business Class (SEA-ICN, HKG-ICN, and ICN-SEA)
- Seoul-Incheon Airport and Singapore Airlines Business Class (ICN-SIN)
- Singapore Zoo
- Singapore Airlines Business Class (SIN-DPS)
- St. Regis Bali – Part 1
- St. Regis Bali – Part 2
- Day Trip to Ubud
- Thai Airways Business Class (DPS-BKK and BKK-HKT)
- St. Regis Bangkok
- Westin Siray Bay Phuket
- Day Trip to Phi Phi Islands
- Thai Airways Business Class (HKT-HKG)
- Conrad Hong Kong
Unlike my other reviews in this trip report series, I am not lumping together our Singapore Airlines flights because they were operated on different aircraft types. The service was also markedly better on our flight to Denpasar despite the older plane, and I think it is worth providing that perspective when some readers might be considering other options.
Singapore to Denpasar is a relatively short flight, and the older Boeing 777-200 aircraft has cloth upholstered seats in a 2-3-2 configuration that do not recline to a lie-flat position (at any angle). It’s a two-cabin plan, and they are comparable to most domestic first class seats in the U.S, right down to the underseat storage. I wouldn’t worry about it too much given the short travel time. Even the 2-3-2 configuration was not an issue as several seats in the forward cabin were empty.
Just for comparison, here’s the better business class seat on Singapore’s A330 from our previous flight from Seoul.
Megan and I still enjoyed the flight very much. I would compare it to a flight from the continental U.S. to Hawaii, right down to the giant TV screen I remember from my youth. (It was relatively useless since all it did was show the flight map.) The crew and passengers know they’re heading to a special destination, so even if there’s nothing explicitly stated about better service, you’re often in for a good experience.
Also keep in mind that you are flying Singapore Airlines and departing from Singapore. I love the city and the airport. It’s not hard to take a day trip during your connection, as we did to the Singapore Zoo, and the lounges are superb. Your experience will necessarily be different if you connect elsewhere. I would not want to route through Bangkok, for example, unless I had several days to visit.
We were welcomed on board by the lead flight attendant, who looked after us for most of our trip. Megan enjoyed a glass of Bollinger Champagne, while I opted for a 2009 Bordeaux from Chateau Loudenne. There was and would continue to be plenty of Champagne on this trip, and I wasn’t in the mood.
Instead of the “Book the Cook” option, which I never even looked into, we selected our meals from the menu. Megan had the roasted chicken breast and I the wok fried beef. Both were good, though perhaps a little heavy. That turned out to be a good thing because at this point our flight attendant decided to play master sommelier.
“Why, Dr. Mackenzie, why won’t you try some of your wife’s Bollinger? It’s 007’s favorite! You must have some.” And he would disappear for a moment before returning with a second glass.
Megan decided to switch from Champagne to the shiraz. “Dr. Mackenzie, you must try this shiraz and compare it to the Bordeaux. It’s simply excellent.”
Soon it was dessert time. “Would you care for any port, Dr. Mackenzie? You can’t end your meal without it.”
While all of it was, in fact, delicious, I now had four glasses arranged around me. I commented that he should open a tasting room, and our flight attendant kneeled down to eye-level and got very serious.
“The bottles are already open, and if you do not drink them, then they go to me. And I, unfortunately, am Asian and do not have the same enzyme levels that you do to enjoy and process so much alcohol. It is up to you to enjoy everything! As much as possible!”
Well, I guess we couldn’t argue with that. In my review of Asiana I mentioned that international business class is often a danger zone for wine in my experience. I should carve out an exception for Singapore Airlines. They do an excellent job, even if there is still a noticeable difference between business and first class. Cocktails are still iffy. Here’s the complete wine list if you’re interested:
- Bollinger Special Cuvee (60% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, and 15% Pinot Meunier)
- 2010 Weinhaus Ress Rheingau Reisling, Germany
- 2009 Clos du Val Chardonnay, Carneros, California
- 2009 Chateau Loudenne Medoc Cru Bourgeois, Bordeaux, France
- 2010 St. Hallett Faith Shiraz, Barossa, Australia
- 2006 Dow’s Late Bottled Vintage Port, Douro, Portugal
We arrived in Denpasar fairly drunk and were glad that the St. Regis Bali arranges complimentary ground transportation and airport assistance. A porter was waiting for us at baggage claim, and while we watched for our luggage, I handed him our passports and USD $30 each to process our visas-on-arrival. (Make sure you bring US currency, in cash, when visiting Bali.) He returned quickly, grabbed our bags, and was soon walking us past all the long lines to our waiting car.
Clearly the porters have some special privileges at this airport since there seemed to be more than one line. We didn’t even go through customs and immigration — at least, our passports might have but we did not.
Our porter handed us off to the chauffer, who had cool towels, bottled water, and a box of truffles waiting at our seats. And that was just the start to our stay at one of the most amazing hotels we’ve ever visited.