My Trip to Tokyo

by on June 3, 2011 · 35 comments

in Delta, Hyatt, Trip Reports

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As I announced yesterday, today is my last day at my “day job” and the first day of my life as a full-time points consultant and blogger. When I made the decision to become The Points Guy full-time, I also decided to go on a memorable (and exotic) “emancipation” trip to kick it off.

With a trip to Europe planned for later in the summer, and the tropics being a little too muggy right now, where did I decide to go? Asia, of course! However, I only have five days for this trip since I’ll be at the Travel Blog Exchange in Vancouver next week. Not enough time? Nonsense.

I’ll save my grand Asian adventure for the next time, but with three days on the ground, I definitely have enough time for North Asia. Especially because this trip is more symbolic than anything else, marking a break between my past work and my future endeavors, and most important, it will be relevant for my readers.

A couple weeks ago Delta ran an incredible sale on flights to Tokyo, and a lot of TPG readers ended up buying fares. That got me thinking that it might make sense to go to Tokyo for my inaugural TPG trip – especially since I’ve never been, and it would be great to compare notes with many of you.

Once I decided on Tokyo, I thought it would only be appropriate to fly Delta into Haneda to test out the new route and that airport’s new international terminal. I also wanted to stay at the Park Hyatt, since I am a Hyatt Diamond and Park Hyatt is my favorite brand of hotels (not to mention the fact that I’ve been jonesing to visit the hotel since seeing Lost in Translation).

Since Tokyo tourism is down drastically due to the recent natural and nuclear disasters, I reached out to Delta and Hyatt to let them know that I’d be making a trip and I gave them a little background about my circumstances. Amazingly, they both offered to sponsor my trip. I decided to accept their offer since I’ve actually never flown on Delta’s newest plane; the Boeing 777-LR with the Business Elite lie-flat seats (which will allow me to get fully rested and maximize my short time on the ground), and I’m excited to lounge at the exclusive Sky Pool at the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

Just to be clear though, while my trip is mostly comped, you can still expect a full, candid trip report on both my hotel and flight experiences (JFK-LAX-HND in BusinessElite and NRT-JFK on the 747 in BusinessElite on the upper deck and also in Delta’s new Economy Comfort cabin). Additionally, I’ll be taking a lot of yourTokyo recommendations and will be doing some Japanese giveaways to commenters on that post (it’s not too late to add your thoughts)!

If you want to follow my travels, I’ll be tweeting (so follow me) and blogging from the road. Domo arigato again to Delta and Hyatt, and most importantly, to all of you who have given me great Tokyo tips.

I hope that this is the first of many wonderful, productive trips I take as The Points Guy thanks to all of your contributions and feedback. See you in the skies!

This is one installment in my series on my trip to Tokyo. You can find my past posts on the trip below, including:

My Trip to TokyoMy Initial Thoughts on Tokyo

Tokyo Day One Part One – Arrival at Haneda, Meiji Shrine, and Harajuku

Tokyo Day One Part Two – Shibuya, Park Hyatt Spa and Tokyo Hands

Tokyo Day Two Part One – Walking Around Shinjuku and Tokyo Hands

Tokyo Day Two Part Two – A Tale of Three Very Different Dining Experiences

Day Three Part One - Inside Access to Tsukiji Fish Market and Tuna Auction

Tokyo Day Three Part Two – Sushi at 6:30am, Tempura and a Night Out in Shinjuku

Tokyo Day Four – Jetlag Blues, Relaxing at the Park Hyatt and Hanging at the Delta SkyClub at Narita

Delta to Tokyo – 757 BusinessElite Review – JFK to LAX

Delta to Tokyo 777LR BusinessElite Review LAX to Haneda

Delta to Tokyo – 747 Upper Deck BusinessElite and Economy Comfort Review Narita to JFK

Park Hyatt Tokyo Review

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Joseph Linaschke

    Wow! Good for you, ditching corporate and managing to do this full time. I’m super happy for you; I did it a couple of years ago, and while it hasn’t been easy, I don’t regret a second of it. I’m very pleased that I’ve been able to use your services and contribute in some small way to your newfound success.

    Congratulations, good luck, and go brother go!

  • Cliburn

    Congratulations. I ditched the corp grind also a few years back… work for myself and now wide open for MRs…. (I going to HND in mid-July).
    Comped? You mean no MQMs?

  • RKS

    Nice! Way to go with Delta and Hyatt. Cheers!

  • Phil

    wishing I was you! i need to start blogging…. though this puts to rest firmly the “debate” Gary had been having over whether or not bloggers get pref treatment. not that you don’t deserve it at all, but for sure it has it’s perks! enjoy :)

  • Peter

    At the Park Hyatt Tokyo – the New York Grill for lunch is a reasonably good deal compared to dinner – for cheap-er eats go to the “food court” restaurants in the basement of the tower (can’t reach with the same elevators to the hotel at the top of the tower however).

  • The Points Guy

    @Joseph- thank you! And good luck on your Executive Platinum requalification!

    @Cliburn- I’m not expecting any MQMs out of it, but “ya never know”. That would be awesome if I did, but I’ll requalify for Diamond with out it, but wouldn’t mind that nice rollover :-)

    @Phil- I think Gary was referencing normal stays and I don’t think I’m flagged in their systems (though I’ll never really know). There have been many times where I’ve gotten less than preferential treatment. I don’t mind, because I don’t want to be treated differently. This trip is different because I actually contacted them. If I would have purchased the cheap coach fare, I definitely would have been in coach.

    @Peter- thanks- I actually have plans to have lunch at NY Grill. Expect a report to come!

  • Lauren

    Best wishes on the trip and the new career move!! Really excited for you :)

  • Elliot

    Hey awesome job on getting Delta and Hyatt to comp you! Which department at Delta did you call to apprise them of your trip??

    Also, I tried opening the Chase Sapphire and they said that since I did the BA Visa 100k and the Citi AA 100k and the AMEX Plat 100k that there were too many credit pulls this year. What to do? I want the Sapphire too! Please help and advise.


  • mark

    Have a great trip, TPG. Very jealous. Enjoy!

  • D. Whitaker

    I congratulate you for your recent entry into “free agency”. I have just started following your site and postings and have to express a small bit of concern at your acceptance of gratis travel and accomodations. This has been a problem in the past with travel journalism and some so called professional travel review and I hope you will be able to maintain an arms length and jaded eye on behalf of those of us that place stock in your opinions and review. Best Wishes !

    Addendum- FYI- Just returned from London Andaz. Good, but not great. Property Mgmt email responded to concerns with nice apology gift.

  • Kevin

    Congrats on the career move and enjoy the trip! It’ll be quick but you’ll love it. I’m really envious about the stay at the Park Hyatt since I’ve also wanted to stay there ever since seeing Lost in Translation!

    Your first day there definitely go see the Fish Market early in the morning, you’ll be awake at 5am or so and it’s worth seeing. I loved Shibuya and Shinjuku as well.

  • The Points Guy

    @D- totally understand your concern- I personally hate fluffy PR pieces- so don’t worry about that. All of my other travel is personally financed with my own miles, points or cash unless otherwise noted.

    Thanks for the feedback- keep it comin’!

  • The Points Guy

    @Kevin- I get in Sunday at 5am and was going to go straight there, but apparently it’s closed on sundays. I’m definitely going though!

  • Mike

    Way to kick off your new venture with trip to japan. I’m eager to read your trip report because I’m going to japan in Sept for about week.

  • Kevin

    Bummer it’s closed on Sunday! You’ll still probably be up early on Monday (took me a few days to adapt to time over there) so you can still see it then.

    Can’t wait to see photos and read the review about the Park Hyatt. I was going to splurge for a night there when I went in 2007 but my budget just didn’t allow for it at the time. :(

  • Another Mike

    @Cliburn My first thought was also the MQMs…I would say I have a problem, but they would be DOUBLE MQMs!

  • Michael

    Congratulations on your new career, earmarked by a courageous first step!

    Make sure you hit the Ramen stands outside the fish market. Amazing!

    Also, if you are in Shinjuku or Shibuya, walk a few blocks off the beaten path into a neighborhood. You will be astonished by how quiet everything is. For a city of 22 million, it’s whisper-quiet.

    If you are feeling adventuresome and like baseball, The Yokohama Giants are a blast. Nothing like going to a game in the states. Word of caution: once you step outside of Tokyo proper, you need to carry Yen. No cash machines that work and no currency exchange shops nearby. And the Giants, for instance, don’t take credit cards to get into their stadium!

  • David Marsh

    I’ve stayed at the Century Hyatt in Tokyo.
    I’d take a guess that you will have the same kind of special toilet in the Park Hyatt. If you do, I guarantee you will wan to write about that!
    I guess you don’t have much time there, but I would recommend a trip to Kyoto on the Shinkansen

  • Alexander Krach

    Congratulations, and many thanks for what you do everyday my friend. I’m excited for your Tokyo trip as well. As an architecture buff, I have always loved the Park Hyatt, and only more so after seeing Lost in Translation, which was filmed all over the hotel.

    Safe travels, and can’t wait to hear about it!

  • 2B

    Wait, how exactly are you able to make a living through blogging? I’m totally in the wrong industry. :) Congrats and safe journeys!

  • Katie

    Try some black seasame or sweet potato (look for purple) ice cream. It might not be called sweet potato but it is potato something…I can’t quite remember. Both are amazing!! Also, try some Chu-Hi. It comes in cans and can be found at the 7-11. I really like the lime. When I was there the main focus was cherry blossoms, so in Tokyo, I can’t recommend much. We missed the fish market too. Guess I will just have to go back!! Have fun!

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  • Susan Griffin

    I’m sorry I but my comment under the wrong heading so I’ll repost here: My husband and I have a trip this summer to SHA on Delta with exit row seats. They are offering me am upgrade to Ecomony plus for $120. Please check out the seats and let me know if it’s worth it. Thank you, and best of luck on your new venture!

  • Gus

    Check out Roppongi in the evening. Always a fun time.

  • Declan

    If you’re a foodie, you’ve got to go to the skeejee (spelling?) Market. If you can get there early you can see them auctioning off tuna for tens of thousands of dollars. Even if you miss that its still far and away the best seafood market in the world

  • Bruce

    Sorry, but I have to agree with FTG on this. When I read your post, the first thing I thought was “really?” Even with the best of intentions, I don’t see how someone can ask for a free trip, get a free trip, and then criticize the provider (assuming it’s deserved). And if you do, I assume future potential sponsors will be wary of underwriting your next adventure. I love your blog–I read it every day–but think you’ve overstepped with this, and even full disclosure to the reader doesn’t eliminate a conflict for the writer. Hope you’ll reconsider both asking for and accepting in the future. Doesn’t feel right, doesn’t look good.

  • stan

    I think it is not wise to accept free anything and then rate it. It will take a supper human not to bias the review — I and many trust Consumers Report magazine because they “pay” for what they report on and test things that the general public buy.

    I did business with WAL-MART buyers for 20 years and many other retailers , they were the only company I could not buy even a cup of coffee for , because management knew what it could LEAD TO…. BE SMART… STAY CLEAN -do not change

  • Ed

    @Bruce and @Stan, let’s give TPG the benefit of the doubt before we say he’s sold out. I agree that it will be difficult for anyone to continue to attract sponsors if they churn out a negative review but let’s wait and see.

    Besides, *all* bloggers sell out to some extent. Some do reviews of high-end merchandise, others get wined and dined in exotic locations. ALL of them get referrals ads from companies that they promote.

    Some do a better job than others about coming clean about any referral money they make. AFAIK, TPG was always upfront about this (whereas other bloggers had to be nudged), so that gives me hope that he will be honest about his free trips. I’ll bet some of these bloggers are even getting some comps that we–and maybe they–don’t know about. (It’s not to hard to imagine that hotels have marked the info records of all travel blogger, to ensure they get better treatment! Restaurants used to do this all the time with food critics.)

    In any case, there is a new idea for a blog post here, if anyone wants to tackle it: “How does a blog reader ‘read between the lines’ to know when a blogger is biased? ” and “Does taking any money make you biased?”

  • The Points Guy

    @Susan- I’ll be flying in Economy Comfort for a majority of my flight home- will post pictures so you can get a sense of what to expect and my thoughts on the recline/pitch.

    @Bruce/Stan/Ed- Understand your concern- from my perspective, this trip is more about Tokyo and less about Delta and Hyatt. A lot of TPG readers got in on the Tokyo fare sale and I even met one on my flight (and he was upgraded to BusinessElite on his $630 fare- how awesome is that). I think the most value for people will be my insight on Tokyo and the things to do/what transit to take/etc, all if you have limited time in the city. As for the flight/hotel I think I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking. I personally find there to be a pack of pictures of in-flight experiences and hotels. The picture I take of my 777LR lie-flat seat is the same as someone who redeems miles for that ticket. Likewise my Hyatt hotel room is a regular room someone would get if they redeemed points or free nights.

    My integrity is worth a lot more than any future trips (which I have a ton planned already using my own miles and points) and Delta and Hyatt knew that before I accepted anything.

    Okay- off to explore Tokyo day 2! Thanks again for writing with your comments.

  • The Points Guy

    @David- the toilet is quite special. Its got a heated seat and a built in bidet with a ton of buttons. Trust me- it’ll be in the report!

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