Review: Qantas First on an A380 Part 3 – Return from Sydney

As mentioned in my previous post I was able to reserve Qantas First on an A380 again for the return trip to the US. I’ll outline the major differences with this experience here but won’t go into as much detail.

The Lounge

While Qantas does have a First Class lounge in LAX, their “home” Lounge of Sydney is way better. It has all the same amenities (sit-down meal service, various buffets for coffee, pastries, fruits, drinks, etc.) but includes a much nicer view as well as a spa!

First off, it was very quick to get through check-in and pass security. There was a very short security line for “express” passengers (which included first class folks) and so I was through in a bit under 10 minutes. From there, I followed signs to the lounge.

The entryway is just beautiful – some amazing plants planted into a wall curve. The lounge is incredibly spacious and overlooks the main A380 gates – I saw Emirates, British Airways, and Qantas parked there while I ate some breakfast. Also, the check-in area for the lounge has one of those cool flippy signs for all the flights (It was annoying, however, that it showed repeats of flights as codeshares, so one flight would pop up as 5-7 different ones, taking up space).

Probably the most significant thing I did at the lounge was have a free 20-minute massage. There was a side area that mostly quiets any of the noise from the lounge (with some to be desired) but they do an effective job of making it feel special and comfortable. There are some various options to choose from and I’m sure they are all enjoyable. I was called the day before to book my massage because I was in Qantas First but I read reports that if you have access to the lounge in general you can walk up and see if there are any slots left.

Here are some other views of the lounge including meeting rooms, a business area (with computers and printers) and a children’s area.

Otherwise, while onboard I was treated the same way I had been treated 10 days prior: all the flight attendants introduced themselves; I had great meals and a comfy bed; free pajamas and all the other amenities I could need for my 14 hour journey home. I highly recommend Qantas First in either direction over the Pacific, but hope you can get the spa sometime!

Review: Cocotino’s Beach Resort

After our wonderful time at the Gipsy Beach Bungalows we transitioned to a more upscale place with less charm but more comfort: Cocotino’s Sekotong. It is a resort, of course, and has more people than we had been used to while staying in AirBnBs beforehand, especially when we essentially had our own private beach.

Despite that, it had some nice amenities: a wide white-sandy beach that went on for quite some time, relatively comfortable beds (more comfortable than at the Bungalows), air conditioning, better showers, two pools, a spa, and lots of food right at the restaurant on site. We had a brief snag in one room wherein many ants were found in the covers of our bed so they moved us to a different location that was better suited to our relaxation.

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The food was quite tasty and they even had an “afternoon tea” with selections of snacks, teas, and some cold drinks. I had a really nice time reading on the beach and going for a dip in the water as well as their pool. They have an on-site tour operator to bring people to the local volcano for hikes, snorkeling and SCUBA diving, boat tours, and more. We didn’t really partake as we just wanted to relax and eat some nice food, drink some good wine, and read books.

With one exception: we wanted to take advantage of their spa. They offered some pretty good deals for massages and other spa services so we took advantage at first by simply getting a very comfortable massage. It was probably the most comfortable I had had thus far on the trip (even from Samabe a few weeks prior). You could easily do a couples massage in the room featured below or they also had an intimate outdoor ocean-view area (I didn’t get pictures because I didn’t go over there).

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The place was really quite something. Very different from what we had experienced in the bungalows but also a nice experience. The only snag for us was that the night after our massage I got severely sick. I had stomach pain, chills, and a fever. My wife insisted (rightly so) that I visit a local clinic (one hour away) so we did, and after some IV fluids and debates, we decided to leave for Singapore that day. We cut out trip short at Cocotino’s and made for the Lombok airport!

Post-wedding bliss at the Lodge at Woodloch

It has certainly been a while since I last posted; planning and getting married takes a lot of your time away from other things you want to do. But, one of the nice things that happens is you get to experience true relaxation at a small mini-moon resort nearby your wedding site. My *wife* and I did just that – we went to the Lodge at Woodloch for a day and a half of jacuzzis, massages, good food, and relaxation.

We arrived on Monday at noon and were greeted by the gatekeeper to the entire complex. By the time we arrived at the main entrance there was a doorman there to take our luggage and store it for us while our room was prepared. We had a guaranteed check-in time of 4pm but it was likely we would get in sooner so we just went to the restaurant for lunch.

At lunch we were given a menu and told we could order any of the items on the list in multiple amounts and there would be no difference in price due to the all-inclusive nature of our stay. The one caveat was drinks: those had a cost, but were not too expensive, even by New York standards. The food was delicious and in reasonable portions so you did not feel gluttonous by the end of your meal.

By 2pm our room was ready and we were finished our meal so we went to relax a bit before our 3pm couple’s massage. We noticed that our bags had already been moved to the room and there was a bottle of champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries there waiting for us – a very nice touch.

We went to the spa for a tour of the facilities and waited in what was called the “whisper room” to await our massage therapists. When they arrived we walked to our suite and spent a wondrous 75 minutes getting our bodies’ tension reduced immensely. When we returned to our room we decided to nap and enjoy the feeling.

Later when we were about to leave for our dinner reservation, I realized that I had been so relaxed I had forgotten my glasses in the whisper room! One of the staff gladly brought it to our room.

The bed was amazingly comfortable and not too cushiony as some (including us) would not like. We slept very well but still woke up early in the day due to leftover energy from our wedding weekend. So we went to breakfast and returned to our room after for more slumber. The food at breakfast was similarly tasty with reasonable portions and there was a breakfast bar with some yogurt, granola, and other food you might desire.

For the last few hours of our stay we used the spa lockers to keep a few necessities around. My wife went for a facial and I read much of the NY Times while sitting by a fire place in their snack room. Then I went to the gym and enjoyed a small workout and the use of their shower facilities. All your needs are taken care of – private shower rooms with mirrors and chairs, towels, bath soap, shampoo, conditioner, shaving needs, etc. By the end of my time in the locker room (or “men’s retreat” as they called it) I was relaxed and ready to go home.

I highly recommend this location to anyone who wants to relax and enjoy themselves solo, in a group, or as a couple’s unit. Their prices are exorbitant, however, so make sure to find one of their deals either online or by calling and asking for one.