Hotel or Air First for Japan?

Nov 25th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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Hotel or Air First for Japan?

Hi all,

So we have our dates for Japan and have figured out our cities -- now I need to book. We arrive June 26th for 5 nights Tokyo, 2 nights Miyajima and 5 nights Kyoto before leaving for Bali.

I have done research on air and I think I want to take ANA as I can get direct from JFK and use my Amex platinum for point transfers, companion tickets, etc. We are a big group and will have a mix of first, biz and coach seats. ANA is flying their newer configuration out of JFK.

So my question is should I lock in my first choice flight first or concentrate on booking hotels. I have particular choices in Miyajima and Kyoto. I'm less choosy in Tokyo for some reason. I normally book air first, but in a lot of the threads, expert Fodorites recommend booking hotel first. Is it based on the month/season? Should I worry in late June?

Thanks for your advice.
Lolazahra is offline  
Nov 25th, 2014, 10:29 AM
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In my experience, there are many more choices of accommodation at any given time than there are award seats for flights, especially as complex as yours seem to be. Get your airline reserved ASAP and worry about hotels afterward.
MmePerdu is offline  
Nov 25th, 2014, 12:25 PM
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Go for the award seats for the flights. Hotels are much more of a commodity, unless you are looking at very small places. We always do it this way. In fact on our next trip, we may determine our destination on if we can get there or not with FF miles early on...
Craig is offline  
Nov 25th, 2014, 03:30 PM
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my opinion is flts 1st..
rhkkmk is offline  
Nov 25th, 2014, 04:12 PM
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Got it. I thought so but had read recent threads about confirming hotels and working airfare around them. Will start ASAP with hotels to follow.

Thanks all.
Lolazahra is offline  
Nov 25th, 2014, 05:38 PM
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I think the advice for hotels first is for cherry blossom time or autumn foliage where there is much both international and domestic travel. I agree with everybody who said flights first. I have been scanning rewards flights daily for another trip and IMO it's really carpe diem.
cmstraf is offline  
Nov 26th, 2014, 12:21 AM
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We always booked flights first, and because we used airmiles, we had to book them as soon as those flights opened for booking, I think 11 months ahead of travel the first time, a bit less the second. The second time, we had to adjust our dates by +/- 1 or 2 days because seat availability was so low, so it's as well as didn't book any accommodations first.
Kavey is offline  
Nov 26th, 2014, 06:07 AM
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United's FF award seats open at 12:01 am Chicago time
cmstraf is offline  
Nov 26th, 2014, 07:54 AM
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I hope you weren't counting on flying everyone over on award tickets. ANA has 2 flights/day from JFK to Japan, and it looks to me that between June 24 and 26 (6 flights), there's a total of 1 F seat and 0 business & economy seats available.
DonTopaz is offline  
Nov 27th, 2014, 07:37 AM
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Umbrellas can be had for cheap in Japan.
mrwunrfl is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 09:47 AM
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Thanks for the replies all.

mrwunrfl, you are funny. Yes I know it will unfortunately be the rainy season. We are going to celebrate my daughter's 13th birthday and her request is to be eating sushi in Tokyo on June 28th! I did read however that on average Tokyo only records 10 days of rain in June but not sure about Kyoto. I can't really worry about it though as the dates are locked in.

Don Topaz, you may be right. However, our whole extended party is not going on rewards and if we have to take separate airlines as long as we get there at the same time, it's fine. If I can't convert my Amex points then I will try for biz and first class companion tickets. I would be happy to take Asiana again, the layover will just be a pain on the way back.....I'm calling Amex today to get in to it. Will update.

Hotels -- I'm thinking Mandarin Oriental in Toyko. Though I just saw there is a new Andaz as well. Never stayed at an Andaz property but had dinner twice at one in Maui and it was fantastic. They are upscale, minimalist Hyatt properties. The Park Hyatt seems great too but folks complain about the location. Thoughts?

In Miyajima, I would like to do Iwaso or Iroha. Though Iroha seems stunning, if this is to be our only traditional dwelling, I think I would like dinner service in the room which Iwaso does indeed do. At Iroha, you eat in the dining room for breakfast and dinner. I must also research local though before making a final decision. Thoughts?

I'm at a loss in Kyoto...the new Ritz Carlton looks beautiful, but reviews are mixed on service. It's expensive so you want to ensure you get the absolute best for your buck. Hotel Mume sounds divine but we will never get in with our large party and even if miracles happened, it's probably too small. Hyatt seems a good bet -- nothing extraordinary but good service and location. Thoughts?

Thanks all. I'm going to try and start locking things in.
Lolazahra is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 11:09 AM
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Some thoughts on hotels in Tokyo & Kyoto:

In Tokyo, the Park Hyatt is a really nice hotel in a really inconvenient location. It's a terrific place to stay if you want to never leave the hotel - the pool/spa and the NY bar are great places to relax -- but things go downhill fast if you want to leave. You'll spend plenty of time waiting for shuttles or in cabs, and there's really nothing in the immediate vicinity of the hotel. I haven't stayed at the MO so can't offer any opinion. I do love the Grand Hyatt in Roppongi Hills -- excellent hotel with lots to do and see in the area, and it sits on top of a subway station. Sushi options at Roppongi Hills include a very high-end place (Jiro's son), and a very foreigner-friendly and good quality conveyor-belt place in the basement of the Hat next door.

I haven't stayed there yet, but the Ritz Carlton in Kyoto would be my choice. I love the Hyatt, but the riverside location of the Ritz (just above Ponto-cho) is a winning location.
DonTopaz is offline  
Nov 28th, 2014, 12:21 PM
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DonTopaz, Grand Hyatt looks great. I think we will check availability and rates for the GH and Mandarin Oriental. You are right about how wonderful the location of the Ritz Carlton Kyoto seems. And such sublime minimalist decor. I will check there also.

Anyone have any comments on Miyajima choices?

Thank you again. So helpful.

Take care.
Lolazahra is offline  
Dec 17th, 2014, 07:54 PM
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Generally, rainy days start from slight rains in cloudy days (mid June). With hot, humid and sunny days in between. In the later parts, a series of heavy rains will come (mid July). Not a significant change between Tokyo and Kyoto. Check with recent histories with these (If the difference between minimum and maximum temperatures is small, that day should be rainy all day.).
LuisJp is offline  
Feb 25th, 2015, 07:09 AM
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Hi all.

Just wanted to provide an update and ask a few more questions. I stopped trip planning as we went away for the Christmas holidays, but now I'm back to it as our June 25 departure date is fact approaching.

We decided to take Asiana again. Going we will fly from NYC with a layover in Seoul on the way to Tokyo. We will do trains internally and then fly from Osaka on Garuda to Bali. On the way back, we do a one way on Korean Air from Bali to Seoul and easily connect back to NYC on Asiana. Our group has tickets in all three classes of service and I did a combination of purchasing companion tickets, using points to upgrade, and also to apply money towards some of the tickets. I'm happy with how it worked out.

For hotels, in Tokyo we settled on the Shangri-La. Though I wanted to stay at the Mandarin, the price point was not right for everyone in our party. This hotel seems like a nice compromise as it's luxury but has more room/price options. Has anyone stayed there? Please let me know your thoughts if you have.

In Miyajima, we are booked at Iroha. I'm excited to try it for the two nights we are there.

I'm still deciding on a hotel for our five nights in Kyoto. I would love to try the new Ritz Carlton. It's very, very expensive however, so our whole group can't stay there. Some folks are booked at the Granvia and I was looking at either the Hyatt Regency or the Hotel Kanra Kyoto. Any thoughts on all?

In Bali, we are doing 3 nights Ubud and 5 nights Seminyak. In Ubud we are booked at the Komaneka at Bisma. I'm excited about this property. It looks stunning. In Seminyak, I went with a private villa booked through Bali Luxury Villas. It looks outstanding and will be great for everyone to share.

As for a tour guide, I think I'm going to go with a few days with Chris Rowthorn Tours in Kyoto and Tokyo. They can also set up a private Geisha dinner which I think I'm going to do. I need to get on this though -- I am lagging behind. Has anyone tried his yours?

Also, going to concentrate on everything we want to see and restaurant choices as well.

Thanks all. I wanted to let you know my progress and to get your thoughts on the few things above.

Take care.
Lolazahra is offline  
Feb 25th, 2015, 08:05 AM
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Granvia was very handy location for the half of the itinerary that had us heading out of Kyoto or using the metro a bit more. Standard room, which we booked, was very very ordinary. Thought the food/ bar were very overpriced so didn't use them. Tried to visit the bar once, only one of the two of us wanted a drink, and they refused us service, though the bar was empty and we were guests of the hotel. That said, concierge desk were very lovely.

For other nights, we've preferred to be in or near Gion area.
Kavey is offline  
Feb 25th, 2015, 09:03 AM
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Hmmm, Kavey, I don't like the sound of your experience at the Granvia. There are lots of lovely small places in Gion that I would like to stay at but I will have 4 children with me plus our extended family and friends, so we need a bit of space.

Thanks for the info!
Lolazahra is offline  
Feb 25th, 2015, 11:48 PM
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Ah yes completely understand. There was nothing wrong with the Granvia rooms, but they felt like any hotel room anywhere, not particularly luxe but perfectly acceptable.

Service was mostly fine with the exception of that bar experience though we mostly just went to the front desk a few times plus the concierge to get our luggage sent by the Takuhaibin service.

We booked room only and grabbed breakfast at one of the bakeries within the station, both cheaper and faster and perfectly tasty.
Kavey is offline  
Mar 1st, 2015, 10:42 AM
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>>>For hotels, in Tokyo we settled on the Shangri-La. Though I wanted to stay at the Mandarin, the price point was not right for everyone in our party. This hotel seems like a nice compromise as it's luxury but has more room/price options. Has anyone stayed there? Please let me know your thoughts if you have.<<<

Warm greetings, Lolazahra, and congratulations on your Japan holiday.

Regarding the Shangri-La, Tokyo, had the privilege of a most satisfactory business travel stay last December (with all-too-brief review to be found on my profile page). The property was perfect for that particular business trip. Should your budget allow, highly suggest a room / suite category with Horizon Club benefits.

Am confident the Shangri-La, Tokyo will be acceptable for you and your friends. Over time, have always experienced great working stays at SL properties in Bangkok, Hong Kong, London and Shanghai. The Tokyo property was particularly serene and warm; marvelous staff. Am presently scheduled to return to Tokyo for meetings in ~ six weeks, and would not be at all averse to another Shangri-La stay.

Savour your planning, Lola; happy for you. Should your travel ever take you to our fine home of Singapore (and even my secondary business travel port of SF Bay Area), honoured to assist with recommendations. Warm wishes to you and all,

macintosh (robert)

... Singapore Airlines, You're a Great Way to Fly ...
AskOksena is offline  
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