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The HfP chat thread – Tuesday 17th November

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We have decided to run this daily chat thread on Head for Points during the coronavirus outbreak.

Historically, the daily ‘Bits’ articles were the de facto repository for random comments and questions.  With the news flow being lighter, we are running fewer ‘Bits’ articles.

The comments under this article are where you should post questions about travel and, indeed, anything else on your mind.  At this tricky time, and given that many of you are at home, we want the HfP community to have a place to chat.


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Comments (315)

  • James says:

    Has anyone stayed at Waldorf Astoria on the Palm? Looking to book for December (fingers crossed) and would love some feedback. Will be our first time in Dubai.

    • Rob says:

      We’ve reviewed it on here twice.

      Palm is an awful location if you ever intend to leave the Palm – this is key thing to remember. Second thing to remember is that the Madinat Jumeirah complex is by miles the best beach resort in Dubai, especially with kids (unless you want to pay Four Seasons prices) so you need a good reason to discount that. Only exception would be if it is 3-4 days since Madinat is ginormous and you’d never get your bearings before you left.

    • blenz101 says:

      What sort of trip are you looking for James and is it specifically a Hilton you want to stay at? Traffic is exceptionally light here at the moment so although a little remote from other areas of Dubai you won’t actually be stuck queuing in traffic to get on and off the palm and taxis are cheap (Careem over Uber here is better value). Monorail is not running.

      If you did fancy trying the WA but would rather be based elsewhere one option you might consider is buying a pool and beach day pass. I think at the WA this is about 250AED per person from memory but you get the whole lot back in credit to spend on food and beverage and can use the facilities all day. Almost every hotel in Dubai offers something similar and could give you some variety in your trip.

      In addition to Rob’s suggestion the Le Meridian is also worth considering. It is close to both the entrance to the palm and right next to the Maria / JBR area of Dubai which is another area popular with tourists. Easy access to Sheikh Zayed Road which will connect you to anywhere else you may wish to visit.

      Worth noting that hotel lounges are not open in Dubai and you won’t find any buffets (a staple of Dubai brunches). For example at Hilton JBR If you have Diamond status you get a couple of drinks on the house per day and breakfast in lieu of lounge access. Brunches are happening but with food and drinks served to your table.

      Pretty much everything is open and the whole place feels clean and safe. Masks are compulsory in all public spaces with a 600AED fine for non-compliance which is strictly enforced. This means walking on the street, in a taxi, a mall or walking from your hotel room to your table at breakfast or beach lounger. If you are OK with this you will have a great time.

      • martyn ford says:

        This is very useful blenz, thank you. How are things @ The Conrad?

      • NC says:

        We’re in Dubai now and the massive lounge in the JW Marriott Marquis is most definitely open, as is the lounge in the Conrad.

        • James says:

          Hi NC,

          Would you recommend the Conrad for a 5 night getaway?

          • Blenz101 says:

            The Conrad is not a resort hotel, it is in the financial centre which is still very quiet given the lack of business travel and may choosing to work from home several days a week.

            I have been to VII inside which was relatively busy. If you are looking for easy access to beaches and restaurants with a little more life then I would recommend looking closer towards downtown or better still Marina/JBR/Palm.

          • NC says:

            We check in there in 2 weeks so I’m afraid I can’t comment yet!

      • James says:

        Excellent reply blenz! Thank you so much.

        Basically, its a 5 night trip for me and my girlfriend, more of a relaxing trip but we would like to get out and about if possible. We don’t have to stay on the Palm, I’m Gold with Hilton so we kind of liked the look of WA and fancied it but we’re definitely open to options and you sound like you’re the man who would know!

        We’d love to get half board/full board if possible.

        I’ve also got Gold with Bonvoy so open to any of their hotels also.

        Any help would be most appreciated!

        • Blenz101 says:

          If Hilton another option you could consider it the Habtoor, rooms are plush and it is far more central. It isn’t on a beach but you have the option of 10/15 mins trip over to Sunset or Kite beach (think California boardwalk with food trucks etc.) which are huge and natural beaches. The water and sand are far better than anything you will find on the palm. Staying here also gets you access to the WA palm facilities as well but you are also far more central for the malls and other attractions if you are planning to see a bit and room rates will be much lower.

          I can’t help with picking full board packages other than looking at the room rates or seeing what Emyr can do in terms of resort credit for the options you are considering. That said, Dubai has a great restaurant scene and you may find one of the biggest attractions of staying here will be to eat out and see different parts of town. It’s the perfect weather now to eat al fresco and given it is dark by 5.30pm. Would you want to eat in your hotel or have a BBQ dinner on the top of the QE2?

          Appreciate comments saying some lounges are now open, it hasn’t been my experience so worth emailing the hotel before booking anything expecting club access. Certainly Hilton JBR, Sofitel palm and Pullman have all remained closed citing inability to offer buffets.

          Whilst there has been so much talk of the palm you must visit the pointe, it now has the worlds largest fountain (lit by colored LEDs) and is a great show to watch whilst eating dinner. Shows are every 30mins from sunset to midnight.

          I don’t do Bonvoy (as you may be able to tell I am Hilton and Accor) but if there is a specific hotel you had in mind happy to give a view on location and any experience I’ve had from being inside for the restaurants and bars.

          • James says:

            You should be a travel agent! You’ve been such a huge help.

            We’re also looking at Le Royal Meridien and Le Meridien Mina Seyahi if you happen to have a preference to either?

            Thanks again!

          • Blenz101 says:

            Hi James. I’ve not stayed overnight at either but have visited the hotels for the facilities/bar many times and they are sound choices.

            Le Royal Meridien – this is on JBR beach itself and you will have the full length of restaurants, shops and bars right on your doorstep with marina behind that and bluewaters as well. The pools are great and well respected for daycationers like myself. Service is always excellent.

            Mina Seyahi – more of a resort hotel and the beach here is far more private. Barasti beach club is part of the resort (separate pools) and is a very popular sports bar (20-30s) albeit not as wild as it was pre-covid, the foam cannon has gone. There is a lot of construction on the walk between here and the surrounding bars and restaurants in JBR. Take a look on google maps (Dubai Pearl construction)

            I would pick Le Royal Meridien on location if you are planning to get out and about especially on foot in the evenings. Others or tripadvisor would need to give you a steer if it was the rooms themselves which are the deciding factor.

          • Nick says:

            Blenz as someone reading this with a view to hopefully coming to Dubai next year can I say well done for the various updates you have given. Maybe ask Rob if you can be a Dubai based member of staff

          • NC says:

            The Habtoor Palace is a former St Regis which de-flagged in 2018. They still haven’t updated their menu which serves a “St Regis Burger” or various items eg crockery bearing the St Regis logo!

          • Rob says:

            If you want your bedroom to DIRECTLY overlook a 10 lane road ….

            There is a reason that hotel failed.

  • the_real_a says:

    You can use a credit card at PAW without any charges since the interchange fee caps. I have used PAW generally for 5+ years – be aware that if the post loses your cards, and you haven’t chosen special delivery then tough luck.

    • thehornets says:

      Agree, so only put a fiver/tenner on your first order and then top up later.

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Same strategy here! always order a new card with £5 credit.

        • EwanG says:

          Perks at Work also have many instant e-codes for retailers now, so rather than topping up the physical gift cards I’d received previously (having ordered a small value, then topped up a larger amount when received) and waiting 2-3 working days to do so, I’m now just using those e-codes, obtaining the gift card barcode in a couple of minutes.
          They also have an instant e-code prepaid Mastercard which won’t work with Monese, Rev or HMRC but works just about everywhere else that you don’t use gift cards at!

  • 747_Brat says:

    U.S. regulators allow Aer Lingus to join Oneworld Trans-Atlantic Joint Venture:

  • Chris says:


    I have a flight for Christmas but I don’t think I will make it – quarantining for 14 days here in UK is not very convienent…

    Does AMEX Gold Insurance cover me under their refund protection clause (or any other clause)?

    • Anna says:

      I doubt it if it’s purely down to disinclination to travel.

    • Harry T says:


    • Dr C says:

      Well I think it depends when you booked and what the guidance was on the destination you travelled to

      • TGLoyalty says:

        Yup. If there was no FCO advice against all but essential travel when you booked and there is when you’re planning to travel you should be covered but only your providers T&C’s can confirm that.

  • James says:

    Anyone else having difficulty getting through to BA on the 0800 number – it just cuts me off before even the blurb is finished. A real pain

    • BS says:

      That is because you are using Skype. Skype doesn’t recognise the call as ‘picked up’ by BA until you reach the options. So skype cuts the call thinking it is unanswered. The solution is to press star (or any other phone button that emits a tone) once every 10 seconds to keep the line open until you get through to the options menu.

      • james says:

        Wow how can you tell I’m using Skype? In fact you can’t – I’m using a mobile telephone!

  • Fred S says:

    Looking at entry requirements for Dubai it appears that negative PCR test and travel insurance are the main 2 prerequisites. However, they reserve the right to require tourists to isolate in a government facility if covid is suspected on entry. Only going for 4 days, so should I be concerned that even with a negative PCR test there’s a possibility of having to quarantine whilst out there and end up having to stay longer than planned?

    • Anna says:

      It’s a bit of a gamble. It’s probably advisable to take your temperature regularly and only travel if it’s normal.

      • Andrew says:

        And how relaxing is that for a holiday? You want to look forward to a trip not be approaching it with trepidation.

        • meta says:

          At the moment, every country has the rule that if they suspect you have covid symptoms, they can require you to self-isolate or quarantine. This year I’ve been to several European countries and temperature was checked on arrival at all of them. In Greece, they did random testing. It really depends on you what level of risk you are comfortable with. I would be ok to go to Dubai with negative PCR test and no symptoms. Generally, you would have to show some serious symptoms for them to require you to quarantine.

    • Has says:

      Does anyone know if Amex Platinum covers Covid with their travel insurance, if I was to travel to Dubai (after lockdown)?

    • Blenz101 says:

      Dubai is offering free testing on arrival and if travelling on EK you will also get free covid medical insurance. If you arrive with your own certificate (test taken 96 hours prior to departure) you will pass straight through to baggage reclaim.

      However, If you decide to take a free test at the airport, results in about 24hrs, and test positive then on your text/email (as in UK) you will be requested to self isolate. Your EK or own travel insurance will cover any care you may require. Tests in Dubai cost around 150AED if you want to check you are safe to travel again.

      On your entry form you declare if you do test positive whether you would be able to self isolate. Assuming you are staying in a hotel room then you will be able to tick yes. Others arriving from the sub-continent staying in shared accomodation who aren’t able to self isolate as I understand it are provided government run quarantine accommodation.

      Worst case is perhaps you decamp to an airport Hilton for £30 a night and delay you return until you are no longer infectious. Don’t think Dubai poses a greater risk here than anywhere else.

  • M says:

    Marriott offer will work via Emyr right?

  • Mikeact says:

    One for DIYers.
    Spend £300 over 1 month at Dulux Decorator Centres = 10,000 Avios.

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