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Messages - Wizmanison

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1
Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Mauritius or Seychelles
« on: December 01, 2020, 12:06:40 AM »
Thanks.
In which hotels did you end up staying?

On main island it was Avani resort and on La digue it was "Le Relax Luxury Lodge" which I highly recommend avoiding. Pictures made it look nice and it was anything but that.

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Mauritius or Seychelles
« on: November 30, 2020, 11:12:06 PM »
With no less than 3 airlines now offering direct flights from TLV to SEZ, I thought it's worth revisiting the topic.

I've been to Mauritius and it's amazing - great hotel redemptions, and a great Chabad Shalia'h, which provided us with all the food / wine we needed, and we always managed to make a minyan when somehow needed to say Kadish (it was in December / high season).

Sadly Mauritius is still closed for the time being (they require 14-day in-room quarantine).

SEZ has no Marriott hotel besides the famous North Island, where certs can't be used. However there are a few Hiltons etc

Anyone been there lately? Any feedback? Thx!
I was there about a year and a half ago and I regretted not going to Mauritius IMO. Havenít been to Mauritius but it looked more developed and nicer. SEZ although beautiful and while I did visit the other islands and even stayed in La digue for the weekend I found it the accommodations to be pretty lackluster. There were several hotels under construction and I do believe with time it will be a more beautiful and luxurious place to visit! The beaches and the water were stunning! I just think the accommodations, at least compared to Mauritius and other places around the world I stayed, were lacking. Hope that helps! Havenít gotten around to even starting that TR but I hope to one day finish it! In the mean time feel free to reach out for some info or pics

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Trip Reports / Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: November 30, 2020, 01:34:50 PM »
Stunning pictures / videos

Thank you!

wow amazing write up and pictures keep it coming . did u take along the toaster oven all the way ?

Will do! Yes got it from amazon and took it there and back :)

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Trip Reports / Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: November 29, 2020, 05:56:01 PM »
Day 4 Shabbat:

(No pictures for this update since it was shabbat)

We woke up to another amazing day with great weather. For Saturday lunch we heated it up before Shabbat came in to defrost and then kept it in the fridge till Saturday morning where we left it out in the sun for a couple hours. Surprisingly, when it came time to eat. The food was actually warm!

From our villa in the morning we saw two turtles. And then later in the day a couple that was snorkeling by our villa said they just saw a massive shark right in front of our villa where the reef ends. So while I got stuck staying with the baby :( my wife jumped in and saw a baby shark really close to her and the big fully grown shark in the distance. She got scared and rushed back. By the time I went out to get a look it swam away :(. However, I continued snorkeling but as it happens to be that on the day we donít have a go pro we see an abundance of colorful and stunning fish! We will be going back tomorrow to get some pics though.

 If I hadnít mentioned it earlier they actually provide, like most of these hotels, complimentary snorkeling gear rentals and they are some pretty good equipment.

It was only today that I realized that although I initially thought the snorkeling was lacking compared to the SR. Since I remember the corals being less bleached and more fish life near the villa, that for the WA if you just venture out like another minute from your villa to the end of the reef there is a lot of beautiful fish. I also donít recall ever seeing a shark or turtles from the SR so as of now it seems the WA is superior in that respect as well. Leaving the SR with not much else...

I did also notice that the butler service at the SR VS the ďhostĒ service at the WA is not comparable. Maybe I just landed on a mediocre host but I recall my butler at the SR always checking in on us and sending us fruit bowls. Whereas at the WA unless I WhatsApp my butler she doesnít really offer anything or checkin. I had to ask for the snorkeling gear and we were never really given a proper tour of the place or anything like that. Not saying itís necessarily bad service but in comparison to the SR I would say itís lacking. The host here, when I do reach out, is very responsive and kind so no complaints about bad service.

Besides for that we just chilled most of the day. Took the baby to the kids program to play with the toys and enjoyed the villa.
 
I have to say the hotel in general seems really busy and more than just 50% occupied. Iíve noticed that at breakfast, kids club, and at other places the hotel is seems pretty full with rarely any open tables.


After shabbat, I tried again to speak to QR to book infant award and was able to finally book it with ease! I think the key is calling at a good time to get the Doha Call center to pick up rather than the India call center. Or, if Florida call center opens back up that should work as well.

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Trip Reports / Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: November 29, 2020, 05:54:49 PM »
Day 3

After spending the night trying to get Qatar to ticket an infant ticket unsuccessfully, I called it a night. We woke up early again since thereís not much to do at night here and every minute of the sun out here is amazing. I sent out my drone as the sun was rising and here are the pictures/videos of the resort:

























And here are some of the room and water:

















And here is one of those cool drone videos:

https://imgur.com/JZt7Ens

Or in GIF form (for some reason they upload in really bad quality):



And a video of the Sunrise:



After that it drizzled for like less than 5 minutes and then a rainbow appeared.






The weather was amazing today with pretty much clear skies and really hot. We headed to breakfast and saw this amazing view once again.












The chef today offered us options of kosher cereal to chose from that had an OU hechser which was nice of him. After that we biked around a bit with the baby and then went back to the villa to swim and snorkel. We saw again from the villa the nurse shark swimming by but by the time I would have got ready to jump in it was too late :/





Besides for that didnít see anything else that interesting. Here are some more GoPro pics and a video that shows how clear the water is, the beautiful sand, and a school of fish:


















Getting prepared for lunch and shabbat I went to the kitchen dining area and asked if I could take some stuff out my freezer bag. They asked me to wait 10 minutes while they have the bag brought here from their big freezer that was located elsewhere. As I was taking out several meals for the next 2 days the chef seemed perplexed as to how I intended on eating these frozen meals. Saying that usually his guests ask him to heat it in his oven. I gave him some vague answer that we would be fine and were used to it and went back to heat up some lunch!

Tried giving QR another try but their US call center was closed. Luckily I brought my Pixel 3XL from that deal around 2 years ago. I resumed my long paused service and made a wifi call to the India call center for .01 cent a minute. After 40 minutes there didnít seem to be much success. They told me they would have to reach back out to me latest by Sunday to try to get approval to book this infant ticket. Escalating to a supervisor didnít do much either so I guess Iíll call back again motzei shabbat.

After that sent the drone out again to get some pics of the villa and some family pics and after like 20 minutes I got a call from our butler, Ella, that drones are not permitted at the villa.

We brought in a beautiful Shabbat and heated our food for Friday night and Saturday before Shabbat came in so as to not leave the toaster oven on all of Shabbat for safety concerns.




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Trip Reports / Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: November 24, 2020, 01:07:29 PM »
Any final thoughts on WAI vs STR?
Short answer: WAI over STR any day of the week. Long answer coming in my next update ( hopefully by Friday). Have it all written out just need to make time to link the pictures :)

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Trip Reports / Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: November 24, 2020, 01:06:23 PM »
Looks great here.
Excellent photos.

Was your private pool (at your OWB) heated?
Not heated but never felt it was cold or a problem to go swimming. Even at night!

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Next Vacation - Ideas
« on: November 19, 2020, 12:27:21 PM »
I was planning to go to the boardwalk yesterday with DW and take a long walk, but it was freezing. So instead we stayed home and looked at the picture on @Wizmanison 's trip report to the Maldives. It really gave a great feel to our "staycation."

Thanks @Wizmanison
Appreciate the kind words :) Hope you both enjoyed as much as we did! Stay tuned as I should have the rest of the TR finished by hopefully next week!

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Maldives Master Thread
« on: November 18, 2020, 02:52:19 PM »
I am traveling from JFK to MLE on Qatar Airways in a couple weeks and, naturally, will on the flight during shacharis (twice). Does anyone have experience wrapping tefillin on a QR flight? Experience any anti-semitism? All advice/guidance is much appreciated.
Just did it a couple weeks ago on both the way there and back. No issues whatsoever...

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Destination Guides And Trip Planning / Re: Bora Bora Master Thread
« on: November 17, 2020, 08:02:49 PM »
Does anyone know how upgrades work at the STR BOB?

Base room is very reasonable at 360k for 5 days, but what are the odds of getting an OWB from that room?

Also, how is there no wiki here?
If my experience helps at all: When I was there I booked straight into the OWB with points. I believe it cost me 420k points. A couple weeks before booking though I realized it made more sense to pay revenue and cost me way less points to sell MT to cover that.

With other SRís in the past I find it can be pretty easy to secure an upgrade by emailing or calling prior to stay. Maybe even more so now during low occupancy covid season.

Spoiler alert to my TR... I much preferred the Conrad over the SR BOB.

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Trip Reports / Re: Bangkok, Koh Samui, Singapore and Maldives TR
« on: November 02, 2020, 02:32:22 AM »
Reading this amazing TR while at the WA MLE makes it even better!

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Trip Reports / Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: October 29, 2020, 12:20:22 PM »
$500 is pretty normal for a lap child in J on a OW ticket.
I guess Iím just spoiled by getting the outbound flight for $270. (Or $110 if the dispute/complaint works out in my favor)

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Trip Reports / Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: October 29, 2020, 12:07:06 PM »
Trying to add the infant to the new flight and just spent over two hours and 4 HUCAís later with my spotty WiFi calling connection 
trying to convince Qatar that they do in fact book infant tickets on AA awards and AA canít do anything on their end. Not so surprisingly it didnít work even after showing them my last 3 reservations that all have Infant tickets. All of which were booked with AA! Checking out for the night and will try again tomorrow but looks like itís going to cost $500 :/

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Trip Reports / Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: October 29, 2020, 10:37:31 AM »
Really great TR and beautiful pictures.
The comparison with STR is very helpful
Thank you! I plan on finishing my long overdue STR TR in the next couple days to further help anyone whoís in between the two get a better picture of what each offers... at least from my perspective.

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Trip Reports / Re: Maldives Round 2 - Waldorf Astoria Ithaafushi
« on: October 29, 2020, 10:17:27 AM »
We warmed up some of our food in the toaster oven. And although it took much longer than I expected for the food to heat up properly once it was done (after about an hour in the toaster oven) the food was great (considering we cooked it ourselves ;)). Not sure if you guys want to see pics of the food so I didnít include them but if thats something I should be doing feel free to lmk!


DAY 2

I guess with all the time difference we woke up at around 4am, mostly because the baby wouldnít go back to sleep, and since the sun wasnít out yet we just hung out outside. At 6:30 breakfast opens up, complimentary for gold & diamond members, so we took our bikes and headed there. This is around when the sun starts to rise so it was a beautiful bike ride and the breakfast area, named the Tasting Place was beautiful. There was only one other couple there. The views were beautiful and it was right on the beach with a choice of indoor or outdoor dining. The buffet was in a separate room and seems to be the only place in the hotel that they require you to wear a mask when entering. When we asked about the kosher options they said that they have separate pots and pans, cutlery, and plates for kosher guests since they get so many and offered to make eggs and such. I also inquired about what milk they have since Iím not CY and for anyone that was wondering Ill post a pic below of the options they have.















Some things I forgot to mention or include yesterday was some pics of the stroller and highchair they offer as well as the fact that they donít have or offer a printed map of the resort so I would recommend you bring your own as its a big place. Also going to include the floor plan of the OWB and the kids program schedule:












After visiting the breakfast area we wanted to bike around the resort to see more of it as we didnít explore at all on the first day. The day and weather were really beautiful and sunny. The bike ride felt like it was never ending since the hotel is just so big. I remember being able to walk around the SR in like 30 minutes but this Island seems triple the size of the SR. It really felt as if every time we say a new part of the resort on our bike ride we didnít believe it could get any nicer. There are lots of nice bridges with scenic views as you bike around the resort. Our first stop was the beach and water sports area. They have a really nice swing area that the baby really enjoyed and made for amazing pictures. In this area they have volleyball court, ping pong, foosball, and the like. As well as where you would do paddle boarding and all that. In regards to the beach, I am not sure if Iím mixing up my trip to SR MLE or SR BOB but one of them had pretty bad sand by the beach. I think it was BOB. For the WA the sand leading up to the water is pretty horrible and uncomfortable to walk on but once you get close enough to the sea its soft and nice to walk on.























Nearby that area is the public pools and the kids club. The kids club was closed since it was before 9am but we got to see the water park area that looked amazing. The pools were empty since we were there so early. I know it seems like I keep saying this but the pool was absolutely stunning (since it was easy in the AM the pictures do not do it justice!). There were two right next to each other and it seemed as if the first one was really shallow for kids and the second one less so. This is considered the family pool and approximately called The Ledge because the zero edge look it has at the end. Both pools have an amazing view of the beach and meet at the end to make one big pool. Not expecting another pool, since that one was so big, I was shocked to see another one that also looked really nice. It had a cool purple tile throughout and behind it was a grass and lounge area. After that we biked around some more and came across this arching bridge that over looked a beautiful stream. On the edge of the stream you can see the gym which looked really cool and something I will be visiting later (open 24/7)! The spa is near the fitness center as well. Continuing to bike around we passed by a nice looking tennis court (tennis is free if you donít use a coach), cool restaurants that had beautiful views overlooking the ocean, and Ö.









































We headed back to our villa as the baby was getting tired. And as I was telling my wife how it seemed that snorkeling wouldnít be as good as it was at the SR we happened to see an eagle ray swimming under the bridge! We also some pretty birds and fruit bats. And even a pretty looking bird perched on top the stunning terra restaurant (where they donít allow kids to dine due to safety concerns).









Once we got back to the villa we went swimming in the pool and also went in the ocean. The ocean was warmer than the pool which was also the case in the SR. What I really donít like compared to the SR is that you canít really jump of your OWB into the ocean since the reef is so shallow. It basically goes up to your knees and it looks like that is throughout all the OWB.

You could see that where the reef ends there was lots of activity from jack fish jumping out the water and chasing small schools of fish. Some of the areas mentioned on FT for good snorkeling that we have yet to try are circled or highlighted in red below:






We went snorkeling for a little and although we didnít see much Iím happy we at least saw some fish as I was worried that because we didnít see much fish from our patio the first day compared to the SR. But today we saw a lot of activity. We saw a long eel (I think), a nurse shark, and some other big colorful fish! Unfortunately, we only got crappy pics above water for those so my GoPro pics of the snorkeling we did do will have to do for now:

























We found Dory


Corals were clearly bleached and damaged. You really didnít see much fish unless you ventured closer to the end of the reef.


After snorkeling we just lounged by the pool and enjoyed some of the fruit we got from breakfast this morning. Then we took our son to the kids water park and kids club which was really amazing. There was slides and water guns at the water park to enjoy and if not interested in getting wet there was a bunch of things to do and even a trampoline! Inside is a lot of toys and activities to do like painting and coloring.






























Since the kids club was next to the public pool and beach we headed there next to enjoy and then headed to the villa to heat up some homemade penne vodka pasta and Mayven pizza! Like last time we seemed to have messed up with packing the pizza as the cheese either gets stuck to the foil or the pizzas stick together. Welcoming any advice on how to properly pack pizza :). Needless to say it was delicious and after that we headed for the complimentary drinks for happy hour at Peacock Alley. Here is the selection to chose from:



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