GIVEAWAY: Angry Birds Adventure Room at DoubleTree by Hilton JB

EDIT 10.09.16: Congratulations Shara Wong! Your family will be on-route to Malaysia for an Angry Birds Adventure!

I thought we were on a travelling spree in 2015 clocking five holidays out of the country but it seems like 2016 is going to top the charts with six! Didn't I declare to take it slow this year because I came back totally exhausted from Italy in October 2015?

It had been a very good year. Many travel opportunities came by for us and in turn, we pass on these blessings to you. With our invitation by DoubleTree JB, we brought home not only with a review but an Angry Birds Room Package to give away as well! But first, hear us out on our experience with DoubleTree JB just 10 minutes from Woodlands Immigration Check Point [in the context of No Traffic].

How pampering! Our transportation needs were met by DoubleTree JB to and from our home! Meyer and I have not entered Johor Bahru via Woodlands before and we were not about to do so in fear of car theft. I reckon the last time I visited Johor Bahru, I was only five years old. That is almost three decades ago.

When we came to know that the hotel provides car transfers between Singapore and Malaysia, we jumped on the opportunity and took their offer to be chauffeured. In a Malaysian car no less. I would recommend everyone to do that as well if you intend to drive in - for that peace of mind. Furthermore, the queue from one Immigration Check Point to the other can be rather daunting over the weekend. It is a lot more comfortable to be driven and especially with a luxurious ten-seater like this, what more can we ask for.

The children got to watch cartoons and took their naps in a flat-bed position. Oh my! Just like a First Class Seat on the plane!

We were driven by a very seasoned driver, Hassan. After driving in and out of Singapore so many times a week, he shared that [going out of Malaysia] Lanes 1 and 4 are the fastest lanes at the Malaysian Immigration Check Point. Ah! Good point to note Singaporeans!

Not only was he a safe driver, he was attentive to the needs of my children. He did not immediately offered Ewan and Faye cartoons to watch, which I appreciate because TV is our last resort right? Only when he noticed they were getting restless and causing a lot of commotion [and problems for us parents] did he asked, "Would you like to watch a cartoon?" Oh that resounding YES was unforgettable.

After a while, the children fell asleep and I absolutely appreciated his attempt to be as quiet as possible. Not many people are sensitive like that to softly close the car TV console and whispered when we needed to converse. At good-bye, he only nodded and bowed a Thank You knowing it was best not to wake sleeping children.

Type of Vehicle: Hyundai Starex
No. of Vehicles: 2
Price: RM350++ per way from Singapore to Malaysia
Travel Time: 90 minutes per way including traffic

TIP: The hotel does outsource to other transportation companies should their Hyundai Starexes be booked out on your date of travel. Settle for nothing less than the official Hotel Transportation service. My opinion at least.

When we arrived at DoubleTree JB, a porter assisted us immediately and we were directed to the Front Desk for check-in. A 100% occupancy rate over the weekend is a norm and we did not have our room ready on arrival. We made no fuss knowing well that we had arrived before the official check-in hour.

The hotel flaunted an expansive lobby area housing the Front Reception, Lounge, two Restaurants, Spa and an Angry Birds Play Corner. It is modernly designed to cater to a total of 333 well-appointed guest rooms and suites. Even though they were facing a full house, the lobby never quite felt congested and we indulged in the luxury of space.

Before we proceeded up to Level 13 where we whiled our time away meaningfully, we were treated with the warm welcome of a [warm] chocolate chip cookie. One each for the four of us. I haven't seen little sleepy faces lit up as quickly as my kids'. DoubleTree JB is thinking out of the box with their welcome amenities and instead of receiving an icy cold glass of tea, we got a treat that both children and adults can enjoy as a family.

Hidden in the extreme left of the lobby [inside The Food Store] sat a secret play corner for children! Well, it is not meant to be a secret but no signs pointed to it and if I had not read it in a brochure, we would have missed it.

There is a television which I assumed is for watching cartoons, a Lego table for building blocks and large foamed Angry Birds blocks to build your very own life-size game! I thought that was rather innovative and we couldn't stop building and trashing it as a family! Ewan is into destructive play and he was that Angry Bird in the making. Right after the structure was built, he wanted to destroy it almost immediately! Faye, watching her brother had so much fun, decided to join in the game.

With many childhood diseases on the rise, a bottle of sanitiser sat in the corner of the room to be used before and after play.

While we waited for our room to be ready, we spent some time on the 13th floor where the Swimming Pool and Indoor Jacuzzi are located. With a change in wind direction, Singapore and Malaysia got hit by haze over the weekend. I was unwilling to bring the children or myself outdoors and we had to give the swimming pool a miss.

Thankfully, the children still get their own kind of water play in the indoor Jacuzzi! The male and female toilets on Level 13 owned a Jacuzzi eat and to top that up with convenience for guests without rooms assigned, there are lockers, showers, hair-dryer and everything you need to freshen up from a long drive in.

We had the Jacuzzi all to ourselves with a panoramic view of Johor Bahru right before our eyes. Awww that dreadful haze. We could have seen farther than the last hazy building in front of us. When there are Bubbles and Water, there will always be happy kids.

It was lunch time after our "swim" in the Jacuzzi and we popped into Tosca on the same level for lunch. Every Saturday, Tosca presents an All You Can Eat Italian Buffet with Live Pasta Station, Frozen Yoghurt and an opportunity for children to Make Their Own Pizzas!

We made this trip together with my in-laws and we had five children in our care for a superbly fun time! My nieces and nephew tried their hands on making their own pizzas and the results were astounding! So, it goes to show, anyone can make pizzas. But really, all the kids did was to put on the toppings and the chef did the rest like making the crust and baking the pizza *ahahhaa* It seems like a fun activity for all. The adults walloped every single triangle of the three pizzas made! Do you agree that when you children cook something, it just tastes surprisingly delicious?

Adult Price: RM50 nett with free flow of Sprite and Coca-Cola
Child Price: RM25 nett [5 to 12 years old]
Operating Hours: 1200 to 1500 hours, Saturdays Only

From RM490++ per night, the Angry Birds Adventure Room Package includes:
- Accommodation in a DoubleTree Guest Room [Double Double]
- Two [2] entry tickets to Angry Birds Activity Park JB
- Family buffet breakfast for two [2] adults & up to two [2] children at Makan Kitchen
- 10% off additional entry tickets to Angry Birds Activity Park JB

Validity: Book by 11 July 2017 and Stay Between 1 July 2016 to 14 July 2017.

Obviously, the children claimed this room to be theirs and couldn't stop screaming "Angry Birds! Angry Birds!" It was bright and cheery with brought about so much excitement in Ewan and Faye. We could hardly tear them out of the room. The Angry Birds amenities placed on the children's bed included Angry Birds balloons [foc], stationary sets [foc] and a pair of Chuck plush toys. [RM85nett each].

The bedspread was surprisingly soft and I was really happy with the quality, expecting cartoony sheets to be rough and prickly. They can be purchased at RM120 per set of bed sheet, quilt cover and two pillow cases.

The toilet looks out into the bedroom through a full-glass panel from its standing shower cubicle. We wondered if we could screen out nudity while we showered and yes we could. There is a button to press to automatically lower a blind between the toilet and bedroom.

So now. How is it that a family of four will is going to squeeze into this room? Technically we could with Ewan and Faye still smallish in size. If they were Primary School go-ers, I doubt we would have space. A very comfortable option is to get a connecting one-bedroom suite that opens up from the children's Angry Birds Adventure Room. It is the perfect solution to house everyone together with more than sufficient space and privacy for the whole family!

A living area separates the master bedroom from the children's room, totalling the floor area to about 100sqm. The one-bedroom suite is the only room category in the hotel that comes with a bathtub [besides the Presidential Suite] - another win for my children who loves the tub.

I would say an extra RM300++ per night for this suite addition is worth every dollar. Do not forget how strong Singapore currency is right now! We are closing it at a very good deal!

IMPRESSIVE! There was so much food on the buffet line, we couldn't believe our eyes! Meyer and I just went, "Wow! Wow! Wow!" as we walked from one end of the restaurant to the other.

The Makan Kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. We had the opportunity to dine with them for dinner and breakfast during our stay and I have nothing but compliments for the spread and quality of food they presented. In my most honest opinion, you can skip Tosca for food and spend all your meal periods at Makan Kitchen instead.

As I walked around photographing the spread, I wished I could stop immediately to just sink my teeth in them. If you had been following me long enough, you would have noticed I write little about food because I cannot wait to bite into juicy, delicious, succulent, glorious food! I cannot bear to see my Tandoori Mackerel with Patiyala Sauce Cheese Naan go cold after taking endless pictures of them? Oh just writing about this makes me hungry already.

Menus at a Glance:
À la carte Menu (PDF)
Seafood Weekend Menu (PDF) - RM128 per adult [Fri & Sat Only]
Sat & Sun Hi-Tea Menu (PDF) - RM 80 per adult [Sat, Sun and Special Days Only]
Best of Malaysia Daily Dinner Buffet (PDF) - RM 88 per adult [Sun to Thurs Only]

I can be critical about the behaviours of front-liners because they make or break an experience. Here, I share some encounters with certain staff in the hotel and rate them by +1 or -1 to depict a Good Job or Bad Job respectively. Overall, I would say

Lobby [+1] :: We were attended to with so much care, there was nothing else I could ask for. Ewan and Faye were playing catch while indulging in their warm chocolate cookies when suddenly Faye tripped and her cookie fell onto the floor. Before I could react, a gentleman came right up to her and offered a new cookie! I thanked him profusely for his attentiveness and  politely declined his offer [well, I think she had had enough sweets for the morning] but he insisted in good will. We were impressed. I was an ex-hotelier and we call inattentive and unmoving staff in the lobby "Lobby Lizards". There weren't any Lobby Lizards there at DoubleTree JB during our weekend getaway!

Angry Birds Play Corner [-1] :: After playing with the Legos and Angry Birds Building Blocks, they children wanted to watch a cartoon on the flat-screen tv mounted on the wall. I requested for help three times from staff at The Food Store and finally had one that came with a remote controller. Unfortunately, a few clicks and tries proved that the TV cannot be switched on. Without saying a word, he walked away and left us puzzled. Meyer saw him walking to a table at The Food Store cafe and proceeded wiping it down. Hmmmm he knew the TV was not working but did not offer us a solution but walked away instead? We gave up and walked away as well.

Pizza-Makings at Tosca [+1 & -1] :: Most staff were attentive, one staff was confused and another simply not personable. So there... mixed reviews on our experience with their staff at Tosca. We were seated by a passionate waitstaff who made sure Faye had her child seat, gave her a napkin over her lap and presented the children with unbreakable utensils. Yet, another staff insisted we took a particular table that he had set instead of the one we preferred. In my opinion, he found it was too much hassle to reset another table for us. His excuse was that our chosen table had been reserved for dinner but from my experience, there was more than sufficient time for a turnover.

Security [+1] :: We travelled with our family of six adults and five children this trip. Unfortunately, we were not roomed on the same floor. I tapped my key card in the lift, hoping it would bring me to level 23 where my in laws were but was denied access. I tried my luck to get access from a housekeeping attendant on my floor [they have access to every floor with they card] but was given this answer, "I am sorry m'dm but due to security reasons, you will need to go to the front office to gain access. I will not be able to help you." SUPER! I thanked him profusely for keeping in line security standards, totally understanding where he was coming.

Makan Kitchen [+1] :: Attentive, Passionate and Helpful. I do not think they were aware I was there for a review of the hotel. Yet, I got great service rendered to me when they saw I needed help. With Ewan running alongside me and Faye wanting me to carry her occasionally, waitstaff at the restaurant assisted me with my food and even carried the plates back to our table with us. To be honest, I had not expected personalised service like this to be present at DoubleTree JB. It would have been a basic for me should we be residing at The Peninsula Hong Kong [which did not meet Basics at all when I was there] and yet, DoubleTree JB did it with grace and a big warm smile.

It was a beautiful weekend spent with the family and we definitely would recommend this Angry Birds Adventure Experience to our friends. If a weekday visit permits, definitely try to work out a short drive in on a weekday to avoid massive jams on the road.

... ... ...

For the giveaway,
one lucky reader will walk away with a 
2D1N Angry Birds Adventure Room Package!

Steps to win the giveaway: 
1) like A Million Little Echoes Facebook page

2) like DoubleTree by Hilton JB Facebook page

3) comment in this Facebook post, the name of your favourite Angry Birds character!

To increase your chances, like and share this blogpost with "Win A 2D1N Angry Birds Holiday in JB!" (make it public)

Giveaway ends on 9 September 2016, 2359 hours and results will be announced the next day at A Million Little Echoes Facebook page. 

Our little Travel companions 
August 2016 - Ewan at 4 years old and Faye at 2 years old 
Click on our Travel tab to read all about our travel tips and tricks
including our experience at Angry Birds Activity Park [Johor Bahru].

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