Award Trips

A Week of Spas, Upgraded Rooms, & Fun in Thailand

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I usually try to take a first class international vacation for once a year for 1-2 weeks, funded with points and miles. I’d been to Singapore earlier in the year to take advantage of my United Airlines award ticket on Singapore Airlines but 3 days didn’t really feel like much of a vacation.

So I was lucky enough to book award tickets for July on Cathay First using 135,000 American Airline miles for a week in Thailand and a few days in Hong Kong. Due to illness my flights weren’t quite as fun as I’d hoped, but it gave me the perfect excuse to indulge in even more spa treatments once I landed then I’d originally planned.

I arrived in Bangkok at 1AM and was upgraded from a regular room to the Grand Executive Suite at the Grand Hyatt Erawan.

Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok Executive Suite Living Room

I spent the next morning trying out their rooftop spa villas.

i.sawan Residential Spa rooftop spa treatment villa Bangkok

I really didn’t want to leave such an awesome suite, but I was excited to see what recognition I would get at the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit (my favorite Bangkok hotel) as a Platinum. Unfortunately I hadn’t left enough time (an hour and a half) for check in before my second spa treatment of the day.

I’d been upgraded to a Grande Suite, but it wasn’t ready. It took over an hour for them to call me, and then there was a delay getting my luggage. So I showed up to my all time favorite spa — The Grande Spa —   sweaty, anxious, and with all the benefits of my morning massage completely gone.

Fortunately that was short lived and soon I was peacefully ambling around almost fully relaxed. I’d planned to order dinner but wound up sprawled by the pool for happy hour drinks and appetizers before going to be early.

Happy Hour drinks by the Sheraton Grande Pool

I had finally started to decompress and was super excited to have my friend join me. Unfortunately she’d left her ATM card in the machine on the way out of the airport (her bank uses the kind that just swipes rather than inserts) and arrived slightly panicked about 1). preventing fraud and 2). having cash for the rest of the trip.

Using Skype to contact her bank though we managed to find some quick solutions and were ready to head off for two nights in Pattaya. I love Bangkok but had wanted to spend some time on the coast and finally picked Pattaya over Hua Hin because it was about an hour closer.

I’d deliberately stayed at the Sheraton Grande the night before so we could take advantage of their complimentary car transfer which otherwise would have run us ~$75 each way. As we headed to the lobby one of the attendants asked if would be interested in switching to a car from the usual bus and we were upgraded for fee to a Mercedes! Yay!

We also had a good driver and arrived at the Sheraton Pattaya in around an hour, 30 minutes less then expected.

Driving through Pattaya

The drive through the outskirts of Pattaya hadn’t been very appealing, so we decided to stick to our plan of hanging out on the beautiful hotel grounds the whole time. Having 3 pools to pick from was awesome ( I decided to ignore the fake beach) and I enjoyed getting my first hot oil on the forehead spa treatment. Best night’s sleep I’d had so far!

Sheraton Pattaya Pool

Ideally I would have booked the stay for a day or two longer since I wasn’t nearly tired enough of lounging around, but now I know for next time. The hotel van took us back to the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit where we stayed another two nights.

We’d been to Thailand the year before over new year’s eve and done the full round of city tours including the Grand Palace and river tour. So this time we decided to truly make it a vacation by doing what we wanted to do and not what we felt like we should want to do.

Did you guess? More spa trips, pool time, amazing restaurants, and a little bit of shopping.

The Sheraton Grande is not even half a mile from the Asoke Health Land Spa location, so it was hard to feel guilty about spending hours at the spa when it was only $18 plus tip!

Keri HeelsFirstTravel Post Thai Massage at Health Land Spa

Thoroughly relaxed after a 2 hour Thai Massage

Right across from Health Land Spa was the highly recommended Big Mama’s Pizza playfully decorated with an Italian theme and pictures of fat cats. 🙂

Big Mama's Pizza Bangkok restaurant

You could order from their Thai restaurant next door as well, so while my friend munched on a good pizza, I enjoyed a powerfully spicy plate of fresh papaya salad.

Big Mama's Pizza Papaya Salad

We were going to try to cram in another spa session on our last morning at the Sheraton Grande, but the weather was so balmy and the pool so inviting we wound up staying there instead. Definitely didn’t regret it!

Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit  Grande pool

For the last night we were back at the Grand Hyatt Erawan (I needed stays for status) which wound up being the perfect location!

Top on our to-do list for the day was a little souvenir shopping and Amarin Plaza which is next door to the Hyatt is my new favorite. It lacks the craziness of the MBK mall and seems to have slighter nicer things. Also, since it’s off the beaten path, it’s a great place to bargain.

And across the road it gets even better. Central World has a branch of the Secret Garden restaurant with it’s unique (and delicious!) crepe cakes.

bangkok crepe cake

And on the floor directly above, there’s a branch of Din Tai Fung which has some of the best soup dumplings I’ve ever tasted, at about 1/3 the price I’d pay anywhere else!

Din Tai Fung Bangkok juicy pork dumplings

Our stay in Bangkok ended with an 8AM flight out of Bangkok to Hong Kong on the new A380 which meant leaving the hotel at 4:30 in the morning. Technically we didn’t have to be at the airport that early, but I wanted to leave enough time to have the free hour long aromatherapy massage offered to all Thai First class passengers. 🙂 Mmmmmmm.

Disclaimer: I have no self control when presented with the opportunity to have really affordable massages at nice spas, nor when easy walking distance of crepe cake and world class dumplings. Apologies if this post made you hungry or made you conscious of how badly you need a massage.


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