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Review: Park Hyatt Istanbul Maçka Palas



In a nutshell: The Park Hyatt Istanbul Maçka Palas is a very nice luxury hotel in Turkey’s largest city. The rooms are stylish and comfortable, front desk and concierge staff are excellent, and the hotel is in an nice neighborhood. The property lacks the intimate charm of the smaller hotels, though, and breakfast didn’t quite live up to what one would except from Hyatt’s flagship brand. 

It’s been a long time since I’ve stayed at a Park Hyatt. With 45 properties scattered across the globe, you can find Park Hyatt hotels in many major cities. They are luxurious and typically pricey, in either cash or points. As the Park Hyatt Istanbul Maçka Palas is an Award Category 4 property, I decided to use a Hyatt free night certificate for one of my three nights in Istanbul.

Although I could have spent all three nights at the Park Hyatt, I enjoy trying new properties and decided to “hotel hop” during my visit. I’m glad I did, too. While the Park Hyatt Istanbul is a fine hotel, I found that I preferred the other Hyatt properties at which I stayed.

Enough introduction. On to the Park Hyatt Istanbul review.

First Impressions at the Park Hyatt Istanbul

For my first night in Istanbul I had stayed at the Nish Palas, which was part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt at the time. This boutique hotel is located just a couple blocks from the Park Hyatt Istanbul, making it very easy to switch hotels in the morning. If you’re arriving in Istanbul by air, I would suggest taking a taxi directly from the new airport to the hotel. There is no mass transit serving the new airport. Taxis in Turkey are generally inexpensive.

Due to COVID-19, there was an entry station set up at the Park Hyatt Istanbul. The doorman would take your temperature remotely as you entered, and you also pass through a metal detector. You’re also required to wear a face covering while in the hotel.

The first thing that struck me about the Park Hyatt Istanbul was how utterly quiet it was. I’d just been at the Nish Palas, where there were a couple of guests at breakfast and a couple others coming and going. Not much activity, but it is a boutique hotel.

The Park Hyatt Istanbul, on the other hand, appeared nearly deserted. There was a single guest at breakfast during check-in. Occupancy rates must be way, way down during the pandemic.

The lobby of the Park Hyatt Istanbul is quite lovely, though. The unique lighting and sleek design of the lobby bar is particularly nice. I never saw a bartender during the entirety of the stay, so I wonder if it was even open.

The Lounge at Park Hyatt restaurant is located to one side of the lobby. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner from 6:30 AM to midnight daily.

The art near the front desk gave me a good laugh. Turkish butcher Nusret Gökçe has an odd claim to “fame” in a corner of the internet. He actually now owns the Park Hyatt Istanbul. I was not aware of this at the time of my stay, but now it makes sense why his face is in the lobby. Otherwise, it’s pretty over-the-top ridiculous. Maybe it’s still over-the-top ridiculous.

It is a beautiful lobby, yet it was so eerily quiet. With just 90 rooms, the Park Hyatt Istanbul isn’t that large of a property. But I figured there would be more activity than this, even during the pandemic.

Checking In

I was pleasantly greeted by the front desk staff as I approached to check-in. It was just 8:45 AM, but I figured that they would certainly have a room available. I was surprised how long check-in took, but the manager came out and chatted with me for several minutes during the process. 

She was very personable and spoke excellent English. We discussed coronavirus restrictions in both the U.S. and Turkey, comparing how the countries were responding to the pandemic. She also asked if I’d be headed anywhere else, as many countries require PCR testing upon return. As it was my first time in Istanbul, she suggested that I talk to their concierge about planning my visit in the city. She also informed me that they had upgraded me. To what, I did not know. It’d be a surprise.

During both previous Park Hyatt stays, I was escorted to the room. I am guessing the Park Hyatt Istanbul dispensed with this due to COVID-19. I was escorted as far as the elevator, which was fine. I’ve always found being escorted to my room to be a bit awkward.

I’d noticed social distancing stickers in a few locations in the lobby, and there was a whole sign of COVID-19 measures the hotel is taking near the elevators. The staff I’d interacted with were wearing masks, and overall, it seemed the Park Hyatt Istanbul is doing the best they can during the pandemic while staying open.

Proper social distancing does really limits the number of people allowed in their elevators. But…given that there were very few people in the hotel, it couldn’t have been much of a problem.

King Premium Room

One always hopes for a suite as a Globalist, but a Premium Room at the Park Hyatt Istanbul is still extremely nice. I stayed in room 510. My understanding that this is a premium room is based solely on the bathroom, which has an odd basin in it and is very large. Premium rooms are described as having “a Turkish Hammam.” I visited a hammam the following evening, and while there was no attendant or stone slab in my room, the stone basin and bowl are similar to what was used while I enjoyed my hammam experience. Anyway…back to the room.

The room is very large and well-appointed with a stately, luxurious style. From the king bed, to the excellent desk, to the coffee and closet area, everything was excellent. I spent the day out, but enjoyed working and reading the next morning when I couldn’t sleep due to the jet lag. It was nice to have such an excellent room.


Both the desk and nightstand tables have easy-access power outlets. The desk actually has a whole array of plugs. I did have to borrow another adapter, as I’d forgotten the one that would fit the Turkish European-style outlets. The Park Hyatt was more than happy to lend me one.

The bathroom is the true defining feature of the room, however. It is enormous. You have a duel sink just inside the door. Off to the right is the toilet and bidet, in their own separate room. To the other side is than bathing area. You have your pick from the deep-soaking tub, to the rain shower, to your very own steam room. I enjoyed the steam room that evening, and it worked marvelously after taking about 15 minutes to heat up nicely. There is also the small, odd sink I mentioned with a metal dish and towel on the stool. The most curious part is that the stone basin doesn’t appear to have a drain. I wonder how the housekeeper cleans it.

The room didn’t have much of a view. You look out over the pool deck toward the building next door. Given the location of the hotel and the fact that it isn’t especially tall, it is doubtful any of the rooms have a truly excellent view.

Overall, my room at the Park Hyatt Istanbul was excellent. If you like luxury, especially bathroom luxury, it is the place to stay if you’re a Hyatt fan. I have no complaints. Yet if I could pick, I’d still prefer the Nish Palas a couple blocks away, if just slightly. Maybe it’s the view? I’ll give up quite a bit for a room with an excellent view.


Before turning in for the night, I called downstairs to ask what time breakfast started. The receptionist stated it would open at 7:00 AM. Unfortunately, I ventured downstairs to find that it wouldn’t open until 8:00 AM. This is way too late for me, and I felt it did cut into the time I had to enjoy Istanbul for the day. I came very close to skipping breakfast at the hotel, but decided to stick it out. 

The breakfast is in the Lounge at Park Hyatt, just off the lobby. There was no one there when I arrived at 8:00 AM on the dot, and I stood awkwardly around for a couple minutes before the hotel manager spotted me and ventured back into the staff area. She did not look happy that I was kept waiting.

The waitress seated me at one of the tables, and I chose to be on the “exterior” section essentially within the lobby. The Park Hyatt Istanbul breakfast menu requires you to use a QR code. Unfortunately, my phone would not read it, and I had to wait to ask the waitress what they could offer. No paper menu was provided.

She listed off a few options and I went with an omelet. I’m kicking myself for not ordering menemen, a traditional Turkish breakfast dish with tomatoes and peppers. Had I known what it was, I’d absolutely have gone with that option. The coffee was excellent. I forgot to ask for cream, but it turned out to be just fine black, neither burnt nor bitter.

Breakfast was fine. There was no “wow factor” at the Park Hyatt, unlike my experience at the Nish Palas the previous day. The food and service were both better at that boutique hotel, which says a lot about the operations at the Park Hyatt. The server basically disappeared after the food was ready and I didn’t see her until the next guests arrived at 8:30 AM, just as I was departing. I kinda wanted a bit more food, but breakfast had already dragged on, and hitting the city was more important. 

One other awkward COVID-19 thing: they took my temperature midway through breakfast. This was probably supposed to be done at the beginning, but it hadn’t happened.

Other Hotel Facilities

The weirdest park about my stay at the Park Hyatt was how completely deserted the hotel felt at times. There was no one downstairs when I ventured to the pool deck at 9:15 PM to take a look. No one. No guests, no staff. I sat on my phone for nearly a full 10 minutes until someone returned to the desk. It makes me wonder just how few people they have during the pandemic. Turkey was one of the first countries to reopen with few-to-no restrictions, so I’d hoped they’d have a fairly good tourist season. 

The pool at the Park Hyatt Istanbul is not especially large, but l loved the design. It’s lovely. If I hadn’t been headed out that morning, it would have been nice to enjoy a swim.

To get to the pool you take a staircase near the front desk. This also gives you a nice view of the restaurant and lobby below. You can see all the social distancing reminder stickers littered across the hotel.

I asked if the Park Hyatt would be able to wash my neck gaiter face covering during the stay. Turns out it got really sweaty during my first day in Istanbul. Unfortunately, the only offer was to launder it offsite during the day, which would mean I’d be checked out by the time I needed to pick it up.

Park Hyatt Istanbul Macka Palas: Review Wrap-Up

Although the Park Hyatt Istanbul is an excellent hotel, I find it ironic that I rank it 3rd out of the three at which I stayed. Aside from the breakfast experience, I really have no complaints. The front desk and concierge staff were friendly and helpful, and the room was downright excellent. I’d happily stay here again, but there are other Hyatt options in Istanbul that might be more appealing. I’m not saying it’s bad. It’s certainly not. I’m just saying you can (amazingly) do better.

By: Family Flys Free
Title: Review: Park Hyatt Istanbul Maçka Palas
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Published Date: Fri, 16 Oct 2020 14:08:25 +0000

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What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?




People have always liked to drink on board flights, especially people from Australia. Therefore, it should be no surprise to anyone that there was an inflight bar offering in the 1970s.

Ansett Airlines were a major player in the Australian domestic market up until their demise in September 2001. For many years, there were two domestic airlines, Trans-Australia Airlines (TAA) and Ansett.

Ansett’s Inflight Bar

At the time, Ansett operated Boeing 727s, Douglas DC-9s and Fokker F27 Friendships on domestic routes in the country. Airline tickets were quite expensive, with tariffs agreed upon by both airlines thanks to Australia’s weird two-airline policy at the time.

While tickets were expensive and food complimentary, you still had to pay for a drink at the bar. Here is an inflight bar menu from the era, showing the drinks available and their prices.

Clearly the pricing is astounding by today’s standards – 30 cents for a beer? I’ll have thirty-three please! I like how Australian gin is 35c while the imported gin is just 5c more. Which would you choose?

You can tell it is from another era as you can buy cigarettes on board. These price up at 45c, a far cry from the extortionate prices people in the west pay these days for a smoke!

Overall Thoughts

The on board offering is pretty comprehensive for internal flights, and I imagine you’d be hard pressed not to find something you might like. In those times, all payments would have been by cash as well, which would have meant a lot of coinage being handled on board.

Of course, things haven’t changed too much over the years. On many airlines you pay for your drinks just as they did back in the 1970s. Shame the prices aren’t the same of course!

Did you ever buy drinks on board flights from the inflight bar back in the day? Do you still? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

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Featured image by Daniel Tanner on via Wikimedia Commons.
Menu image by Ikara on Australian Frequent Flyer.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: What could you order from Ansett Airlines’ inflight bar in the early 1970s?
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Published Date: Thu, 19 Nov 2020 15:03:14 +0000

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These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?




The shrimp stop swimming at dusk and gather near the river’s edge. After sunset, they begin to climb out of the water. Then they march. All night long, the inch-long crustaceans parade along the rocks.

The parading shrimp of northeastern Thailand have inspired legends, dances and even a statue. (Locals also eat them.) During the rainy season, between late August and early October, tourists crowd the riverbanks with flashlights to watch the shrimp walk.

Watcharapong Hongjamrassilp first learned about the parading shrimp, and the hundred thousand or more tourists who come each year to see them, about 20 years ago. When he started studying biology, he returned to the topic. “I realized that we know nothing about this,” he said: What species are they? Why and how do they leave the safety of the water to walk upstream on dry land? Where are they going?

Mr. Hongjamrassilp, a graduate student at the University of California, Los Angeles, decided to answer those questions himself. His findings appeared this month in the Journal of Zoology.

Working with wildlife center staff members, Mr. Hongjamrassilp staked out nine sites along a river in Thailand’s Ubon Ratchathani province. They found shrimp parading at two of the sites — a stretch of rapids, and a low dam.

The videos they recorded revealed that the shrimp paraded from sundown to sunup. They traveled up to 65 feet upstream. Some individual shrimp stayed out of the water for 10 minutes or more.

“I was so surprised,” Mr. Hongjamrassilp said, “because I never thought that a shrimp can walk that long.” Staying in the river’s splash zone may help them keep their gills wet, so they can keep taking in oxygen. He also observed that the shells of the shrimp seem to trap a little water around their gills, like a reverse dive helmet.

DNA analysis from captured shrimp showed that nearly all belonged to the species Macrobrachium dienbienphuense, part of a genus of shrimp that live mostly or fully in freshwater. Many Macrobrachiumspecies spend part of their lives migrating upstream to their preferred habitats.

Most parading shrimp that Mr. Hongjamrassilp captured were young. Observations and lab experiments showed that these shrimp probably leave the water when the flow becomes too strong for them. Larger adult shrimp can handle a stronger current without washing away, so they’re less likely to leave the water.

Walking on land is dangerous for the little shrimp, even under cover of darkness. Predators including frogs, snakes and large spiders lurk nearby, Mr. Hongjamrassilp says. “Literally, they wait to eat them along the river.”

And the shrimp can survive on land for only so long. If the parading crustaceans lose their way, they may dry out and die before they get back to the river. A few times, Mr. Hongjamrassilp came across groups of lost shrimp dead on the rocks, their once-translucent bodies baked pink.

Yet most navigate upstream successfully, and scientists have spotted other freshwater shrimp around the world performing similar feats, scaling dams and even climbing waterfalls.

Leaving the water when the swimming gets tough may have helped these animals spread to new habitats over their evolutionary history, Mr. Hongjamrassilp said. Today, the number of parading shrimp in Thailand seems to be declining. He thinks tourist activity may be a factor, and learning more about the shrimp might help protect them.

The study’s authors made “some really excellent observations,” said Alan Covich, an ecologist at the University of Georgia who was not involved in the research. But understanding why the Ubon Ratchathani shrimp move upstream, and how far they travel, will require more research, he said.

“The most surprising thing to me was that it attracted so many tourists,” Dr. Covich said. He doesn’t know of any other example of people gathering to appreciate a crustacean in quite the same way.

“We have crayfish festivals, we have all kinds of things,” Dr. Covich said, “but generally it’s people eating them, not watching them move.”

By: Elizabeth Preston
Title: These Shrimp Leave the Safety of Water and Walk on Land. But Why?
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Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 17:02:07 +0000

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Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?




There are reports that Aer Lingus have applied for 1,500 slots at Manchester Airport for the Summer 2021 season. This will allow the airline to base four aircraft there and service flights to the United States.

At present, there have been no press releases from the airline stating what is going on. Even so, it probably makes sense for the Irish airline to do this in the current market.

Aer Lingus And Manchester

From what is known, there will be three Airbus A321LRs and an A330 based at Manchester. These will operate non-stop services to New York JFK, Boston, Chicago and Orlando, and the season starts on 28 March 2021.

With Thomas Cook having gone out of business, there is likely space for another competitor. New York and Orlando will see competition from Virgin Atlantic, while the other two routes have no airline flying at the moment.

Aer Lingus has been connecting passengers over Dublin very successfully from the UK regions for a while now. Due to this, they will have visibility on traffic patterns, potential yields and more, making this an informed decision.

I imagine they also hope to cream off some of the connecting traffic that routes through London Heathrow on British Airways and Amsterdam on KLM among others. It would prove to be quite successful.

Transatlantic Joint Venture Approval

The US Department of Transport has tentatively given its approval for Aer Lingus to join the oneworld transatlantic joint business. This is operated by American Airlines, British Airways, Iberia and Finnair.

These airlines coordinate schedules and pricing, share revenues and expenses. For the consumer, it means more choice – those making a booking on British Airways across the Atlantic will also see options on American Airlines on the BA web site as one example.

Theoretically, it would allow people seeking flights on the British Airways web site to automatically be given options to fly non-stop with Aer Lingus, along with the Manchester-London Heathrow-US city connecting itinerary.

Whether Aer Lingus will join the oneworld alliance, even in a oneworld connect capacity remains to be seen. Frequent flyers would welcome it, especially those in Ireland.

Overall Thoughts

No doubt the boffins have been working behind the scenes to see if the business case for transatlantic flights from Manchester stack up. As things have proceeded as far as a slot application, I would guess chances are good that it will go ahead.

Either way, let’s see if this happens and if it does, whether Aer Lingus will stay for the long haul. If they can make more money elsewhere, they’ll up sticks and leave. Regardless, it is an interesting development in European aviation.

What do you think of Aer Lingus starting transatlantic services from Manchester? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.

To never miss a post, follow me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
All my flight and lounge reviews are indexed here so check them out!

Featured image by N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons.
Aer Lingus A321neo LR by Pitmanaaron via Wikimedia Commons.
Business class cabin via One Mile At A Time.

By: The Flight Detective
Title: Will Aer Lingus launch transatlantic flights from Manchester?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Wed, 18 Nov 2020 18:03:48 +0000

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