I have an assignment coming up in July for Canberra, Australia ( Did you know this is the capital? I didn't.) I'll be two weeks in Canberra then train it to Sydney. My beautiful wife will join me for 6 days. We travel around the U.S. quite a bit, but are novices at the international trips.
This is most likely the only chance we'll get to visit Australia.
I am trying to decide between the Sydney Harbor Marriott at Circular Quay and the Sydney Marriott Hotel on College St. This will be a 5 nights points stay. The Harbor is a Cat 7 for 140,000 and College St is 100,000 PointSaver Cat 6. The points aren't a problem, just wanted to make note of the facts. I'd appreciate any info you have to share about either of these properties.
We'd like to see the highlights of Sydney without making this an exhausting marathon. What are your thoughts?
Thanks for all the feedback.
I've been to Sydney, but have never stayed at either property. (My sister lives at McMahon's Point right on the water.) My mom has stayed at Sydney Harbour Marriott at Circular Quay (pronounced 'key'). I just texted her, asking what she liked/disliked about the property. Her response was, "Liked it all. Right near the ferries and in the heart of downtown." I actually didn't realize there was a property at Hyde Park. I checked out both property websites as I'm sure you have also. They both look fantastic with modern appointments. Both lobbies are lovely looking. Whichever you decide, I would definitely make sure I got a room with a view to make it special. Circular Quay would have harbour views, where as the other property will have a view of Hyde Park, also nice. I think I'd want the Harbour/Opera House view. Sydney is such a beautiful city. Perhaps others who have had stays at these properties will chime in.
Here's the thing about Sydney. You can walk everywhere, as it's all very compact. Even from my sister's house in North Sydney across the water, we walk from her house to the train (lovely 10 minute walk), and catch the train (5 min. ride) across the (Sydney Harbour) bridge to the QVC (Queen Victoria Station.) Both properties are located in the CBD (Central Business District).
I actually saw the highlights of Sydney in one day (by foot), and it didn't at all feel like a marathon. City highlights are:
I think we did all of the above in one liesurely day.
Then on another day we did,
Also in Sydney, which I didn't do is the Sydney Zoo (if you have a hankering to see a Kangaroo and a Koala), and the Botanical Gardens. Also, not to be missed near Sydney:
The nightlife in Sydney is fantastic also. Be sure and head up to the 47th floor of Australia Square to the Summit Restaurant, which revolves. There is also the Sydney Tower Restaurant a top of the Sydney Tower. If the dinner is too pricey, splurge on a drink and appetizer and enjoy the view.
I'll try to post a photo album of these sites soon.
Hi Pained, you're quite welcome. My family is just spread out. The good of it is the travel to see them. The bad of it - is the travel to see them! I actually would be more well traveled if they were all closer (I spend a great deal of vacation days - and expense - on just traveling to visit family, which could be spent in more exotic, far away places if my family were in town), but really, it's all good. My sister's husband is on assignment for three to five years here in California (but spends an inordinate amount of time traveling around in the states), so I am lucky to have my sister close by for a while, even though she travels a lot with him. Unfortunately, since she's been here, all of my Qantas miles have expired. But again, it's all good.
Yes, along with a good map, which I'm sure the Concierge can provide you with, you should be good to go!
Do a search on Australia and Sydney here on Insiders. I think there is a lot of posts. Also, sorry to say, someone posted a negative review of the Hyde Park Marriott that you may want to read. If true, hopefully it's improved since then. (Search on 'Syndney' as they spelled it incorrectly.)
Lastly, Pendolino's in the Strand Arcade offers molto eccellenti fine Italian dining in Sydney. Highly recommend.
Just checked in for my points stay at the Sydney Marriott Circular Quay. They upgraded me to a suite on the 22nd floor. Great view of the Sydney Opera House and the rest of the harbor. Although it's winter here, it's probably low 70s outside with a big blue sky. Can't wait to start exploring. There were plenty of happy faces on the street. The train was a short 3 minute walk.
That is good that you were able to get an upgrade. I walked from the train station with my luggage to check in. The winters there are mild. I am glad that you have a nice view. While I was htere the food in the CL was at times enough for dinner. It changed every day and some days it was more desirable than others.
I think you're correct Gem. The streets have plenty of happy faces, but I'll bet the crowd in the Australian summer is much larger. I kind of like the size of what's here now. There is still a significant amount of excitement in the air with elbow room and warm temps. I'll take that every time.
Doing the "4km beach walk" tomorrow, Pluto. There were a few people in the C Lounge talking it up. It covers Bondi, Tamarama, and Bronte. There is also a "Cliff Walk". On Sunday, The Rocks is hosting The Aroma Festival....Coffee, Chocolate, Tea, and Spices. The vendors were setting up their tents this afternoon. Should be fun.
Free places to stay. Visit the relatives in Perth, and Surfside Marriott in Brisbane, which was as close to the Great Barrier Reef as I could get in those days. There was an excursion to take a sea plane to the reef, but they needed calm water to land. Unfortunately for me, they had chop all week, and the tour was canceled. Had really wanted to go up to Cairnes, and from their you fly to the Great Barrier Reef Airport where the hotel collects you and the baggage and takes you by yacht to the property. Checkin is on the yacht with champaign. Always wanted to try it, but you need a minimu of a day each way to get there plus a day to stay, and I was just out of time. Of course I would stay at Marriott if they had one there
Sydney is full of life. It's early Friday night here and the weekend vibrations can be felt as you walk from the Circular Quay docks through the open aired restaurants and pubs. Lots of smiling faces. Although it's winter, it only gets down to 52 or so. The businesses roll out portable heater/fireplaces that look like trees. It adds just enough warmth to allow the patrons to enjoy the outdoors.
Your trip has gotten a lot of excited about Australia. When I first went there the Australian dollar was known as the peso of the Pacific. 1 USD = 2 Australian dollars. At that time prices were about like here but our dollar has dropped a ton and the Australian dollar has gotten really strong. The combination makes it expensive to go there. If it ever changes back, it will be even more enjoyable.
I noticed that with Canada too but not as bad as Australia.
Canada used to return VAT tax but don't on lodging and such any more. When I drive there, I don't mind paying the tax on gas because I am using the roads but I resent it on the other stuff. The last trip that I took that included Canada, the most expensive hotel by close to double was in Canada. I meet some Canadians who fly out of Seattle because it is soooo much cheaper than out of Vancouver. When needing to spend the night close to the border, they choose the US side.
Pluto, how funny..I bent the elbow last night at the Fortune of War Pub. I like to sit and listen to the local chatter at these type of old pubs. I took the Manly Ferry the other day and hung out there. It was beautiful. Folks were enjoying the beach and the surfers came out in the afternoon. The beachfront road had a bit of South Beach feel to it. Not nearly as glitzy, but a lot of nice houses and restaurants.
Dear Pained one,
Just a few lines to supplement Pluto's post.
I've been to Sydney many times over the past 20 years, the last occasion being Christmas 2010. The prospect of a visit never ceases to excite me, but some discipline is essential: if what you want is easy access to the major tourist attractions - Pluto has listed the majority - the CBD and shopping centre, then stay at the Marriott at Sydney Harbour. The only option I'd add to Pluto's list is to take one of the little green ferries from Circular Quay out to Manley Point/Beach and The Heads. There is a direct train service from the Airport to Circular Quay Rail Station, taking around 40/45 mins.
The downside (as an ageing, increasingly grumpy "pom") is that Sydney Harbour is one of the great tourist attractions in the world; it is simply inundated with travellers. If you want a quieter location, then go to the Sydney Marriott Hyde Park. Mostly refurbished within the last 5 years, it is on the side of the Park, next to the Anzac Memorial, close to the major sporting (cricket, rugby, AFL) locations and the more "bohemian" and ethic parts of the city, and within easy (i.e 10 mins) walking distance to the Domain and the shopping centre, and good bus access to the Easter suburbs and the Bays. The Hotel itself has a direct train and bus link to the Airport, a very adequate Executive Lounge on the 21st (I think) and a roof-top pool and gym, from which you can look out over the city down to the Opera House and the further still over to Manley and the Northern side of the City. Lastly, you can get down to the Harbour either by walking (approx 35/40 mins) or taking a train (from Museum) or a bus.
Have a great time,
Good lookin' out, Arkwright. Yes, I did forget about Manly Beach, a worthy mention and what a wonderful ferry ride that would be. You broach an interesting topic regarding tourist crowds. While most of the western world is on summer holiday, it is winter down under. And Christmas occurs during the summer months in Australia. Have you noticed any sort of tourist pattern in terms of what constitutes high season and low season? Of course Pained is going to go when he is going to go, but I'm a bit curious about this. I usually go between Jan - Mar. and it hasn't seemed too bad.
First, thanks for providing the correct spelling of Manly - I kicked myself:-)
Secondly, on your point re tourist trends, I can only respond at the level of observation; whether anything below would stand even the least rigorous significance test, I rather doubt, but it is fun speculating.
Be that as it may, my sense is that the numerical spread is fairly even, but the reasons underpinning this pattern vary by the season, specific dates/events and the age profile of the tourist population. For example, more "western world" families will tend to visit in the northern hemisphere's (NH) summer - largely because of (a) school/uni holiday factors and (b) marginally lower prices; older age groups will tend to cluster more in the NH winter months because they are not so constrained by "holidays" , and they often travel in search of warmer weather. Specific dates may also play a role; e.g. Christmas tends to attract Europeans partly because of Sydney's reputation (New Year's Eve fireworks etc), and the family connection for emigrants to Australia. There are some very specific "one-offs" which will explain some otherwise mysterious trends: e.g. The Ashes cricket series (every 4 years) will attract plane loads of"poms"; the mardi gras festival tends , I believe, to attract a disproportionate number of men.
One other factor that the would-be tourist might note is the extent to which Sydney has seen over the past twenty years or so a very significant increase in Asian immigrants (from Hong Kong and Vietnam for example) and Asian (particularly Chinese) students accessing Australia's quality higher education institutions. Some people now go so far as to describe Sydney as an "asian" city; this is, for me, to go too far, but it is very noticeable all the same.
What a comprehensive analyst you are. You brought up many things I hadn't thought about (especially Mardi Gras in Australia - who knew! Well then, on further thought, there are many festivals world wide that revolve around this or traditions closely related, so -understood.)
In a flurry of undiscipline, I commonly get into a rush when posting and occasionally misspell words as well as neglect to spell check. So embarrassing. I re-read my original post to Pained here, and even found a grammatical error or two. MOST embarrassing. A misspelling on your part cannot possibly serve to tarnish your obvious, formidable intelligence, A, so no worries.
All the best.
By all means; it sounds as though a large glass will rapidly become a bottle......................
I'm based in the NW of England, but spend a lot of time in/around London. And Peterborough is a short trip from Cambridge, which you might like to wander around:-)
Watched the Russell Crow version of Robin Hood last night. I enjoyed it, and especially enjoyed the references to places like Peterborough, Northampton, and - there really is a Nottingham. Guess my ignorance is showing. Hope there's still plenty of time left in my life for it to wane with new found travel experiences.
How about this kick in the pants.... I had a 5 nights points stay set up for the Sydney Hyde Park Marriott. I set it up two weeks back. It was a cat 6 Pointsavers. This morning I noticed that my points account was 100,000 higher than earlier this week. It didn't register right away (slow brain work by the Pained one). I do a double take and say Hmmmmmm. Then I noticed that my July stay in Sydney was no where to be found! It was canceled, wiped off the map. I called the Platinum number to inquire what may have happened. The young lady asked for the confirmation number and put me on hold..the code that came up on her end was a strange one that she was not familiar with. She came back after a few minutes and informed me that the hotel was no longer a Marriott as of May 23rd. Shocking, to say the least. The biggest issue was that if I didn't notice it on my end, there may not have been anything sent to me from Marriott to inform me of this closing. That's not good. I have 2 months to try and figure out an alternative...I'm not too happy, but I have some time. How about all the other folks who have reservations this week, next week, etc..? Without notice, will they show up to a boarded up vestibule? Not my friends at Marriott finest hour.
Not certain what is going on, but many of these properties are no longer 'real' Marriotts.
For instance the Autograph Collection, which appears in the Marriott Directory is not really a Marriott. I found out the hard way. Stayed at the Carlton in NYC, with a really good deal they had, but didn't get my normal upgrade. Well they said it was an upgrade, but it didn't look like one to me. The concierge lounge was not open, nor was there any option to use the restaurant in lieu of it. Oh, and this was the excuse to not putting on the concierge floor, due to the lounge being closed.
Next thing that happened, was I went to order a movie, and none of buttons seemed to actually buy the movie. A screen kept popping up to enter a credit card number. Called the front desk and they were unable to resolve it. Really wanted to see the movie so I got out my credit card and typed in all those strings of numbers. Had to redo it a couple of times.
On my way out the next day, I asked them if they were a 'real' Marriott and they said no.
I did get points for my stay. After reading the posts on Marriott insider, I realize the reason they would not let me charge the movie to the room was they didn't want to give me points for my spending.
I skipped breakfast in the restaurant as it was $20+, and went around the corner to a dinner and had a lovely breakfast at a fraction of the price.
But I am now avoiding these imposter hotels in the directory, cause they do not honor our Platinum benefits.
Am sticking to the Residence Inn on 6th at 39th or the East Side Marriott as I know what I will get!
I don't know Jerry, the Boscolo in Rome - which I will soon post on, including photos - did a great job with my brother (it's an Autograph Collection hotel, not to be confused with the AC hotel brand) and is part of the Marriott International family. Also, the Boscolo in Venice (which I will also blog about soon, to include photos) is a wonderful hotel. Both hotels honor elite benefits in my experience. Maybe the difference between these and the disappointing Autograph Collection hotel experience that Gemprincess endured is related to the fact of location, and by that I mean that the Autograph hotels which provided excellent service were located in Europe, where as Gemprincess' disappointing Autograph hotel experience happened here in the U.S. From other posts here on Insiders, it appears perhaps that the level of service in Europe far exceeds that of like kind properties here in the U.S. All I can say is that I was very pleasantly surprised by how nice the two Italian Boscolo Autograph Collection hotels in Rome and Venice were, to include their amenities and services.
I think you might be on to something here with the differences in the Autograph Collection being US-based versus ex-US. Maybe I will try it again, just to make sure it wasn't just an inexperienced person, or the hotel was fully booked and had no options.
Also, in the regulary Marriott brand hotels, I always get more in the way of suite upgrades and perks, especially Eastern Europe. Maybe less business travelers?
Hi GemP, I am a little surprised to hear that the Autograph Collection are not 'real' Marriotts. We stayed at one in Atlanta last year. It certainly seemed like a 'niche' Marriott and the service was great. As they had no CL, they gave us breakfast vouchers and a voucher for a complimentary cocktail in the rooftop lounge. The room was pretty good and we got full points allocation.
I was surprised as well, but when my 'upgrade' was questionable [room facing an inner courtyard rooftop], I had to manually entere my credit card into the TV to watch a movie, and no breakfast, I became suspicious and started asking questions about whether they were part of Marriott, and that is when they told me no they are not.
I did get my points, and my platinum bonus points.
It may be that these properties can decide on their own what they will and will not do.
Anyways I have a real marriott a couple blocks over that can't do enough for me, so I am going back to them.
Woooooooowww. It's one thing - I suppose - if a hotel discontinues the Marriott brand (and some hotels should certainly be stripped of the brand name apparently), but to pull the rug right out from under your feet without any notification is completely unacceptable and not to be born! Marriott! Take note of this. This should NEVER happen to a customer, especially an elite customer! Wow.
Did you try to get into the Circular Quay on points? I have a nice Marriott story that may apply... Last week, my bro-in-law checked in to the Courtyard Rome Central Park (reserved on points) and found the property to be unacceptable to his requirements. He stayed one night (as he checked-in in the evening - too late to do anything about the situation that first night), and the next morning got on the horn to Marriott, as well as went over to the Boscolo Autograph Collection Hotel - a stone's throw from the Marriott Grand Flora (which was entirely booked). Between Marriott and the Boscolo, he got his points re-credited, and was able to stay the next two nights at the Boscolo on points (quite amazing that the point stays were available with virtually no notice), he paid for the following night, and the fourth night was booked solid (they stayed w/us at the Grand Flora the last night as we had a spacious suite upgrade). I was very impressed with Marriott and the Boscolo's efforts to accommodate him, and I hope that the same can be done for you with another fine Marriott property (Circular Quay perhaps) in Sydney. How far out is your stay? Let us know how this turns out. I encourage you to exhaust every avenue in expressing your dissatisfaction to Marriott International regarding this truly disastrous turn of events. Good lookin' out on your part, Pained.
Its rare to find a Marriott property not to one's liking [only happened to me once], but occassionally it does happen, and the best thing to do is just find another property that lives up to our expectations. I have always found Marriott elite line more than helpful, as well as other properties.
First, I am sure that you will have a great time. I have been in Australia 6 times and always had a great time. I stayed at the Circular Quay the last time. It was a good hotel and in a great location as others have said. I took the train there from the airport and it was easy. The CL was good.
Now as to the cancel. I thought if a business was sold that the new owner had to honor all committments made by the prior. This doesn't sound right. It may be that Marriott took it's name back. However Marriott made a committment to you. You were confirmed. I would try to get PR to move you to the Marriott on the harbor using the same number of points. It is worth a try. If they won't do that then the least they could do is to make sure that you do get in and make sure that you have an upgraded room.
No one had mentioned the capitol where you will be for 2 weeks. I have been there twice and it is worth while to see the design of state buildings, each unique. Also the parliment building. There was a museun there that was also worth while. Sorry that I don't remember the details as others did.
More thoughts: it is the law that if you have an airline ticket the carrier is obligated to get you to your destination even if their plane is out of service. They must make arrangements even if they have to put you on a different airline. I am sure if it is the law but when Marriott reserves a room for you, and something happens and they are oversold, etc., they must find you a room of the same quality or better and if necessary pay for the difference. You reserved a room and Marriott took your points in payment. Since they took payment this was more than just a reservation. I don't see how they can just give them back and leave you out in the cold. I really think that they should put you in the CC hotel for the same number of points. You probably need PCS and may have to speak to management. Good luck!