Monday, March 26, 2018

Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok, December 2017

December 8-10, 2017, I stayed at Rembrandt Hotel Bangkok, Thailand, to attend the World Taxpayers Association (WTA) regional meeting in Asia, December 9-10. This photo I got from the web, the rest are from my phone camera.

View of the hotel from the pool area, 4th floor.

My room, wide and comfortable bed. I was wondering, should I work and write or sleep in deep comfort?

My work area, next to a wall-mounted tv. Internet is fast and complimentary.

My bathroom. Frolicked in warm water bath at the tub, saraaaap.

View from my room, 15th floor. The MRT station is not far but cannot be seen here, covered by other buildings.

Buffet breakfast resto. I took my meals early, 6+ am. By 9 am, meeting starts and shortly after, the morning snacks would be served.

I munched lots of fruits at breakfast. Thailand is an agriculture powerhouse, huge wide agri area, little typhoons, mechanized agri, so food is mass-produced and cheaper.

Swimming pool at the 4th flr. But I did not bring my swimming trunks.

I enjoyed my stay in this hotel. Thanks WTA for the hotel accommodation.

Friday, March 23, 2018

JW Marriott Houston, November 2017

First time I went to Houston, Texas, was in May 2010 to visit former officemates Glo and Ronald, stayed in their house. Short stay so they did not bring me to the city proper, to NASA instead and other interesting places in the suburbs.

Last November, I went back to Houston to attend the Heartland Institute's "America First Energy Conference" on November 10, I stayed at JW Marriott Houston, uptown Galleria of the city, the venue of the conference. I stayed there November 9-11, 2017.

Photos I took from my old and blurred phone camera. It was cold that time, the temperatures dropped to around 12-14 C.

Hotel lobby and aisle. The restaurant is on the right side after the check in/out area. One staff there is a Filipina, she's from Pampanga but has been living in Texas for more than a decade. Friendly to me, of course.

My bed. Big, wide, soft, comfortable.

Wall-mounted tv, beside my work area.

Also spacious toilet and bath.

Scenes from my window, left to right.

I like my stay in this hotel. Thank you Heartland for the travel grant.

See also:

Marriott NY Marquis Hotel, March 21, 2009 

Chicago’s Marriott Magnificant Mile, May 16, 2010 

Marriott Hotels: NY Marquis, Magnificent Mile Chicago, and Manila, December 12, 2016

Airport transfers and tourism

* This is my article in BusinessWorld last November 10, 2017.

Is there a connection between tourism and the travel time to and from the international airport and the city proper?

I asked myself this question while I was reading Eva Air’s inflight magazine en route to Houston, Texas.

I spent a total of 17 hours traveling — two hours from Manila to Taiwan, a layover of one hour, and another 14 hours from Taiwan to Houston.

The good news is that all three airports mentioned have free Wi-Fi, especially in Taiwan, which offers fast Internet connections without requiring registrations. The bad news is that free Wi-Fi does not reach some gates at the NAIA.

I paid a visit to Houston to attend the “America First Energy Conference,” set for Nov. 9 at JW Marriott Houston, sponsored by the Heartland Institute, which also provided me a travel scholarship.

The airline’s En Voyage inflight magazine has one table that shows the list of the global airports they serve, distance from airport to downtown, the estimated travel time by train, bus and car/taxi (C), and cost in local currencies. I reconstructed the table and chose only major cities in East Asia, computed the average speed by car/taxi travel, then added data on each country’s international tourist arrivals and tourism receipts in 2016 (see table).

From the above numbers, these preliminary analysis would show:

1. Economies that have quick and convenient transport systems between their airports and city centers have higher tourism arrivals, even if their airports are far away from the cities. These examples include: China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea, and Singapore.

2. Airports near their city centers have fewer visitors, if transport systems between locations are slow. These examples include: Vietnam (especially Ho Chi Minh airport) and Philippines, both NAIA/Manila and Mactan-Cebu airports.

There are many factors of course why some countries have very high tourist arrivals while others have fewer visitors. These factors are convenience of the airport itself, overall peace and order situation of the country, dominance of the rule of law, proximity of that city/country to other important tourism areas in other cities and countries.

If one lands in Bangkok, one can go to Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam by land, without the need to take other flights.

Preliminary data show that yes, there seems to have a positive connection or correlation between fast airport transfer and tourism arrivals.

The data on Manila airport is a bit outdated because (1) there are now convenient and fast bus transportaion from NAIA/Manila airport to city centers of Makati City, Pasay City, and Manila and vice-versa, and (b) newly opened NAIA Expressway (PPP project by San Miguel) has significantly cut the travel time by car from the airport’s three terminals to city centers.

Some implications for the Philippines and its infrastructure and tourism policies.

One, NAIAEx tollway is doing good and should contribute to attracting more visitors into the country; thus, further extension of this tollway to BGC and other areas as planned by the project proponents and O&M operators should be facilitated by the government and not subjected to various cumbersome and costly regulations and permitting procedures.

Two, moving the Philippine international airport to a farther but bigger space (Clark in Pampanga, or Sangley Point in Cavite, or currently rice lands in Bulacan, etc.) complemented by fast train and/or buses to city centers will be a win-win situation.

Three, allow more integrated PPP (builders and O&M operation functions are assigned to only one winning bid player or consortium of players) for big, new airports, not hybrid PPP.

W Hotel Lexington New York, September 2017

After my trip in Kuala Lumpur last September, I went to New York for another meeting on IPR, thanks to my sponsor. I stayed at W Hotel at Lexington Ave., NYC, September 15-17, 2017. The first three photos I got from the web, the next three photos are from my old and blurred phone camera.

When I checked in, a Filipina-American lady attended to me. It is nice to meet a fellow Filipino in hotels like this. I don't remember her name but she's very friendly and she has been living in the US for two decades or more.

The resto-bar near the hotel lobby. Nice and beautiful.

Deluxe rooms are like this, small but good enough for 1-2 guests.

This was my room. As I said above, my phone camera produces blurred photos. My room was facing another building, not much to see outside. Like most US hotels, there are no complimentary coffee, unlike most if not all Asian hotels. But at least there is complimentary and fast internet.

Outside the hotel, going out on the left of Lexington Ave., a Marriott Hotel just across the street.

W Hotel side view, I took this from Marriott side.

Grand Central Station is about 15-20 minutes by foot from the hotel.

It was my 3rd visit to NYC. First time in 2004 after my Atlas Fellowship in Washington DC, I took the bus and visited the big city. Second time in 2009 when I attended the Heartland Institute's 2nd International Climate Change Conf (ICCC).

Hope to post more photos that NY trip in the coming days or weeks.

Intercontinental Kuala Lumpur, September 2017

Lasts September 10-12, 2017, I stayed at InterContinental Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I attended the Economic Freedom Network (EFN) Asia meeting and conference 2017. Grand hotel, I like it. Below, the hotel lobby.

My bed, wide and very comfy. I don't remember what floor I stayed.

My work area, I like it, big wide table. Flat embedded tv on the black wall in the middle. Internet is complimentary, fast.

Breakfast area. I boycotted the bread, veggies, salad area then I devoured the high fat, high cholesterol food. :-)

Outside the main resto, an artificial waterfalls. Cool.

EFN Asia meeting 2017, at one of the many meeting and function rooms.

EFN Conference on trade and US-China leadership. At one of the ballrooms.

I liked my stay there. Next month I will stay there again for another meeting and conference.