01 November 2023 Barranquilla
In search of a room upgrade
““…before my Awakening, when I was an unawakened bodhisatta, being subject myself to birth, sought what was likewise subject to birth. Being subject myself to ageing… illness… death… sorrow… defilement, I sought [happiness in] what was likewise subject to illness… death… sorrow… defilement.”Siddhartha Gautama (the Buddha BEFORE his awakening) talking about seeking his happiness in things (and people?) that do not last (Ariyapariyesana Sutta: The Noble Search – MN:26)
The Buddha didn’t suddenly just “awaken” under the Bodhi tree, some of his important insights into the human condition happened even BEFORE he left home “while still young, a black-haired young man endowed with the blessings of youth in the first stage of life.”
Today is another travel day, so after breakfast at Hotel Casa Bethel, I checked out and headed for the offices of the MarSol bus company. I arrived just after 10 am and was put on the minibus leaving at 10:20 am. The bus has a 2+1 seat configuration and is only half full. It was an uneventful journey arriving at the MarSol office in Barranquilla just before 1 pm. I took an Uber to my hotel, NH Collection Barranquilla Smartsuites Royal.
On checking in, as a Titanium member of the GHA Discovery programme, I made a point of asking for a double upgrade. The receptionist tried to explain that the hotel is very full and an upgrade might not be possible. I commented that there is no point in me being a Titanium member and booking this hotel if I don’t receive the benefits of membership. I was given a Junior Suite. I paid € 46 per night without breakfast.
Top Travel Tip: How to get ‘Titanium’ membership of the GHA Discovery Programme. Firstly, subscribe to the digital edition of ‘Business Traveller UK’ magazine for £18 which will give you ‘Platinum’ membership of the GHA Discovery programme entitling you to room upgrades and other benefits. The quickest and cheapest way to advance to Titanium status is to stay in 3 different brands of hotels within this loyalty programme. Last year whilst travelling in Asia I stayed in the Parkroyal Saigon for one night for € 85 including a room upgrade and breakfast (before moving to a much cheaper hotel). Later in the trip I stayed at the Pan Pacific Hanoi for one night for € 94 including a room upgrade and breakfast (before a flight to Bangkok). In Bangkok, I first stayed at Avani Sukhumvit Bangkok Hotel including a room upgrade but no breakfast for € 36 for one night. Now that I had Titanium status, I moved across town to the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort where I had a double room upgrade including free buffet breakfast. The total bill for staying 3 nights at the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort including double room upgrade, breakfast and dinner was € 166 (about €55 per night). My Titanium status expires December 2024.
I dropped my bags in my room and went across the road for a McDonalds burger meal and McFlurry (M&Ms) ice-cream.
I spent the rest of the day just resting in the hotel. I did take a look at the rooftop pool but I couldn’t muster the energy to actually use it.
Even though I was craving a salad, I still had some snacks left so I didn’t bother with dinner, but I did lose myself in the latest episode of ‘Bake Off’ before enjoying an early night.
- MarSol bus ticket Santa Marta to Barranquilla € 7
- Uber to hotel € 2
- Lunch – McDonald’s € 9
- NH Collection Barranquilla Smartsuites Royal booked through GHA Discovery € 46 per night (Junior Suite without breakfast)