Adventures in Claiming Retroactive Non-Stay Hyatt Gold Passport Points Part 1: Grand Hyatt Tokyo

October 23rd, 2015

Although I pride myself on being fairly proficient in the Hyatt Gold Passport Terms and Conditions, it wasn’t until a recent meal at the Park Hyatt Tokyo New York Grill that I realized that people can earn Hyatt Gold Passport points at restaurants even when they’re not staying at them. From the T&C:

3. Five Hyatt Gold Passport points will be awarded for each whole U.S. dollar or U.S. dollar equivalent, paid by a member for Eligible Non-Stay Charges. “Eligible Non-Stay Charges” vary on a hotel-by-hotel basis, but generally include spa and salon services, spa and salon retail items, one (1) day spa membership and food and beverage expenditures (except at outlets not operated by the hotel).

It was only by virtue of paying with my Hyatt Credit Card that that the staff noticed the membership number on it and used it to apply the credit, which showed up in my account almost immediately.

This only resulted in about 200 additional points but, after going over the past year’s worth of credit card statements, I realized that I had patronized Hyatt bars and restaurants without staying about a dozen times without receiving anything. That seemed like a decent chunk of points that I was leaving on the table, so I went back to research the T&C to see if it was possible to retroactively claim the credit.

You already know by the fact that I’m writing this that it is, but here’s the relevant text that proves it:

5. In the event a member does not provide their Hyatt Gold Passport membership number at the time Eligible Non-Stay Charges are incurred, the member must contact the hotel’s outlet directly to request retroactive point issuance. Retroactive point issuance credit timeframes vary hotel-by-hotel. Retroactive credit for which a receipt can be provided will only be awarded on Eligible Non-Stay Charges by the shorter of: 1 year from outlet visit, or the date on which the outlet began participation in the benefit (varies hotel-by-hotel). Eligible Non-Stay Charges prior to a member’s enrollment in Hyatt Gold Passport will not be eligible for retroactive credit.

It seemed like I was good to go…but first, I had to figure out what made a Non-Stay Charge “Eligible”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as cut and clear as I had thought it would be:

1. Hyatt Gold Passport members may earn Hyatt Gold Passport points for Eligible Non-Stay Charges (defined below) at participating outlets at Hyatt-branded hotels even when such charges are not affiliated with a stay at such hotel. Outlet participation is limited and this benefit may not be available at all hotels. Please ask outlet associates for participation eligibility.

To figure out whether or not a particular hotel participates in this program, see this handy link for the full breakdown. If you expand the Japan section, you will note that, while the Hyatt Regency Naha and Hyatt Regency Fukuoka are conspicuous by their absence, all of the Tokyo Hyatt hotels offer restaurant non-stay credit (and all but the Hyatt Regency Tokyo offer non-stay credit on spa visits)

Now I was finally able to start contacting each individual hotel for back credit. I started with the simplest and easiest, a single meal at the Oak Door Bar at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo (the Oak Door Burger was solid, but I have to say that I prefer the Andaz Tokyo burgers at BeBu) Armed with the knowledge of the date, location, and expenditure of the meal from my credit card statement, I fired off a quick e-mail to the mail address on the Grand Hyatt Tokyo website requesting retroactive credit.

Less than a day later, I received a very nice response from a representative of the restaurant apologizing to me for the oversight, and notifying me of the immediate deposit of points from the expenditure into my account, backdated to the original date of purchase. With the 30% Diamond bonus, this amounted to a whopping 92 additional points!

The only embedded image you're getting this time. Fear the almighty wall of text!

The only embedded image you’re getting this time. Fear the almighty wall of text!

Quick and painless, the way it should be! But, unfortunately, not the way that it always is.

In Part 2, we will begin our exploration into what could go wrong, as I break down my experience claiming retroactive non-stay credit with the Park Hyatt Tokyo!

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Inside…the Hyatt Regency Tokyo Regency Club

November 9th, 2014

I’d like to talk about my recent stay at the Hyatt Regency Tokyo in a Presidential Suite:

The living room of a Hyatt Regency Tokyo Presidential Suite

The living room of a Hyatt Regency Tokyo Presidential Suite

The bedroom of the Hyatt Regency Tokyo Presidential Suite

The bedroom of the Hyatt Regency Tokyo Presidential Suite

Unfortunately, I merely snuck into the room to take these pictures while the door was open.  This is not the Hyatt Regency Waikiki, which upgraded us from a base room to a Presidential Suite on the last night of our stay this summer.

I might be persuaded to write an off-topic post about this if others are interested.

I might be persuaded to write an off-topic post about the experience if others are interested.

Sadly, we were once again relegated to a View Room.  But regardless of the room, all Diamond members of the Hyatt Gold Passport program are afforded the use of the Hyatt Regency Tokyo Regency Club.  Which, on a yen-for-yen basis, is the best hotel club lounge value in all of Tokyo, comparable to those found in rooms twice the cost elsewhere.

A room key is required to enter the club proper, but the club reception desk is directly outside of this door.  So you can go directly to the ninth floor to sit down and check in in comfort, avoiding the long lines in the cavernous lobby down below.

If you arrive a couple hours early, a room may not be available, but you will be afforded entry into the Regency Club while you wait.  Once inside, you will find an enormous space with three separate seating areas, most of which will be almost completely empty at this time.

The lounge is shaped like a giant letter L (or number 7, depending on your perspective.  The first sitting room features a television and easiest access to the snacks and drinks.

When the TV is on, it's almost always tuned to CNN...with the sound off.

When the TV is on, it’s almost always tuned to CNN…with the sound off.

The middle room, the corner of the L or 7, features nice sofas and the best views of the nearby Shinjuku Central Park and the Park Hyatt Tokyo.

This seems to be the most popular, and quickest to fill during breakfast and evening cocktail time.

This seems to be the most popular, and quickest to fill during breakfast and evening cocktail time.

Pay your respects to paradise from the big round window.

Pay your respects to paradise from the big round window.

On the way to the third sitting room, there is actually a separate small smoking room that I forgot to take a picture of.  This room is behind a glass door, and does a good job of keeping the smoke out of the rest of the nonsmoking portion of the club.

The final room tucked in the back is the quietest, and the favorite of our family.

Best to just head straight over here if you arrive when the club fills up during the middle of cocktail and breakfast time.

Best to just head straight over here if you arrive when the club fills up during the middle of cocktail and breakfast time.

At all times during the Club’s open hours (7am to 10pm), there is a coffee/espresso machine, an assortment of hot tea, and various cold beverages available.

They do a good job of making a little seem like a lot.

They do a good job of making a little seem like a lot.

From 10am to just before evening cocktail time there are some cookies and a few additional tea varieties, such as peppermint.  This is enough to make a nice little pick-me-up I call the THF Special: Coca Cola, Peppermint Tea, and lemon.

For best results, let peppermint tea steep for five minutes, and crush lemon with straw.

For best results, let peppermint tea steep for five minutes, and crush lemon with straw.

After 2pm, some additional sweets are available in the form of one or two types of cut fruit and a modest cake.  Some apples and bananas may also be available.

This club really shines during evening cocktails and morning breakfast.  The alcohol and appetizers are set out from 6pm sharp.

Promptness is big in Tokyo

Promptness is big in Tokyo.

Though others feel otherwise, I am a big fan of these huge chunks of reggiano cheese.  Most of the appetizers change from night to night, but the cheese has been a staple for years.

Wash em down with sliced French bread, crackers, and beer snacks.

Wash em down with sliced French bread, crackers, and beer snacks.

A different cake and a fruit cocktail dish is also available.

The fruit cocktail is also a favorite of mine.  Over the past three years I may have consumed a hundred.

The fruit cocktail is also a favorite of mine. Over the past three years I may have consumed a hundred.

Although people will swarm the food immediately after it comes out, the staff do a good job of replenishing it.  If you’re not into competition, you may have a more enjoyable time waiting until the second or third round of food comes around.

This is especially true for the hot appetizers, which start coming out at 6:30pm (sharp).  The first wave is almost always gone by 6:31pm.  Drifting around the entrance to the food and beverage room via the first sitting room around 6:29pm will get you the coveted prize if you’re really hungry.

And the prize has gotten that much better, because the hot appetizers have just been increased from two to four!

It

It was tough to get a good picture on my phone with the light.

My favorite foods ever served at this lounge were the boneless fried chicken and Chinese shumai dumplings.  Neither were available on this stay, but the sliced beef dish and the gorgonzola penne were decent enough.  With four different items to choose from, it is definitely possible to make a meal out of this.

The alcohol is so-so, but it is a decent variety of free alcohol.  The Japanese sake is probably my favorite.

I think that 7pm to 8pm is the best time to arrive, as it becomes easier to get the food without worrying about it disappearing while you are lining up.

The breakfast from 7am is my favorite part of the Regency Club experience.  It goes far beyond a mere continental breakfast that many Regency Clubs settle for, with two hot meat dishes, hot eggs, a hot vegetable, and much, much more.

Plain

Plain omelet, sausage, stewed tomatoes, and bacon.

Lots

Lots of fresh fruit and salad.

Yogurt,

Yogurt, muesli, dried fruits, nuts, milk, juice, and more.

So many tasty breads and pastries!

So many tasty breads and pastries!

And cold cuts

And cold cuts

Extra

Extra tables are needed to hold it all!

All this, plus excellent, caring service from all of the Regency Club staff, make the Hyatt Regency Tokyo Regency Club well worth visiting, even if you must pay for it.

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Inside Park Hyatt Tokyo: Weekday Lunch Buffet

September 26th, 2014

Although I have eaten dinner at the Park Hyatt Tokyo‘s New York Grill on several occasions (though none since the Diamond free drinks were moved to the Peak Bar, taking away some of the fun of the NYG experience), I have never had the chance to eat this restaurant’s lunch buffet.  The hotel breakfast is quite filling, so when we stay, we always tend to have a light lunch, either through room service or one of the basement restaurant options.

However, after reading a follower’s review of the lunch experience, I knew that this was something that I would have to experience for myself.  A month later, the stars finally aligned enough for me to take a late lunch from work to check it out!

I can’t compete with Ms. Sakamoto’s excellent review (she does food and picture taking far better than I), so I will just fill in some of the blanks.  First off, the menu:

A choice of six main courses, plus all you can eat appetizers and desserts.

A choice of six main courses, plus all you can eat appetizers and desserts.

I didn’t quite get the price in that picture, but the base price for the appetizer buffet, dessert buffet, and main course is 5,000 yen.  This includes neither the 13% service charge nor the regular 8% tax (sadly, Park Hyatt Tokyo has chosen to post tax exclusive prices, which Japan law has allowed since the sales tax increase from 5% to 8% on April 1st), pushing the actual minimum cost to just over 6,000 yen.  While I would have liked to have tried a beef dish, all of them would have incurred extra cost that would have pushed my lunch into five digits.  Ms. Sakamoto’s review already shows the chicken and the lamb, so I decided to order the penne.

The appetizer buffet is set up at the large table in the New York Bar:

Kind of loses its mystique in the daytime...

Kind of loses its mystique in the daytime…

There are many different kinds of cold meat and vegetable dishes to choose from, but it was hard to distract me from the shrimp cocktail:

Protip: In Japan, it is rude to take the entire bowl back to your table.

Protip: In Japan, it is rude to take the entire bowl back to your table.

Shrimp cocktail like this is quite rare in Japan, and usually quite expensive.  I have paid upwards of 1500 yen for just six shrimp of these size, so at this point I was already feeling like I was getting my money’s worth.  And this cocktail sauce was awesome…not quite “homemade ketchup that comes with the duck-fried french fries awesome”, but still among the best I’ve tried…tangy, a little bit spicy, but not so much that it overpowers the flavor of the shrimp.

Of course, man cannot live on shrimp alone, so I picked up a few other items as well.  My favorite of the rest was the Caesar salad…tasty crispy bacon, plenty of Paramasan cheese, and a bold dressing that puts the store-bought varieties to shame.

When I returned to my table, I was pleasantly surprised to find the freshed baked bread that I often enjoyed at dinner.

You get a full loaf even when eating alone.

You get a full loaf even when eating alone.

After two such heaping helpings of appetizers (27 shrimp in total!), the penne arrived:

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Penne Rigatte Gragnano

To be honest, I was underwhelmed with this.  It seemed to be technically well-executed, but I’m not a big fan of Arrabiata sauce to begin with.  I wish they had two different kinds of pasta to choose from, a tomato base and a cream base.  Actually, I wish they had an option to do without the main altogether;  I would have been happier going back for another round of the appetizers.

But at this point I was already quite full, so I had to turn my attention to the dessert:

Placed right next to the food so as to taunt you. I very nearly topped my Caesar salad with a brownie.

Placed right next to the food so as to taunt you. I very nearly topped my Caesar salad with a brownie.

I couldn’t quite try everything, but everything that I did try was marvelous.  My favorite three were:

3. Key lime pie.  I’ve been a key lime pie fan since I was a kid, so I’m fairly fussy in this regard.  This was a bit lighter than I’m used to in a key lime pie, but the flavor was well-balanced and quite delicious.

2. Chocolate brownie: Thick, moist, and fudgy. Perhaps my favorite brownie in Japan.

But number one, by a large margin, was the strawberry ice cream:

Strawberry ice cream is on the right. My stomach vetoed coming back to try the frozen yogurt on the left.

Strawberry ice cream is on the right. My stomach vetoed coming back to try the frozen yogurt on the left.

I do not know if this was their own special recipe, but I do know that I cannot go back to eating Haagen-Daaz after knowing this.  So fresh.  So creamy.  So strawberryey!  My words can’t do it justice.  Next time I stay at this hotel, I am definitely ordering this ice cream again from room service, regardless of what it costs.

The staff certainly does its best to earn their 13% service charge.  They brought me a newspaper without asking, water was always refilled quickly, and no matter how many times I went up to the buffet, somebody was always waiting to tuck in the table cloth for me when I returned to my seat.  Unfortunately, the only hiccup was a significant one for me;  it took over 20 minutes for the check to arrive once I asked for it, delaying me from getting back to work quite a bit later than I was hoping for.  But it’s hard to hold this against them;  they certainly aren’t gearing their services to the salarymen, and the rich Japanese housewives that seem to make up the majority of their clientele probably couldn’t care less about extending their time in the restaurant…I certainly would if I could!

Delay aside, the New York Grill lunch buffet was a wonderful, luxurious experience.  Not something that I could pull off everyday, but it would be great way to celebrate such accomplishments as discovering gold in Shinjuku Central Park or defeating the Kraken.

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Inside Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills: The Andaz Suite

July 23rd, 2014

Although the Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills hotel has opted out of allowing the use of Diamond Suite Upgrades (the ability for Diamond members of the Hyatt Gold Passport loyalty program to upgrade any paid booking to a suite four times a year), Hyatt agents were allowing their use during the initial hours after the start of the opening of reservations for this hotel.  I took advantage of this to upgrade a reservation for this past three day weekend, for what will likely be my only stay in an Andaz Tokyo suite.

Which is too bad, because it is really, really, really nice!

Behold, your kingdom awaits!

Beyond the entrance of Room 5036, your kingdom awaits!

Because the suite came with a big bowl of cherries and a bottle of wine, I decided to forgo the Diamond Amenity (eclairs from the pastry shop) to just collect the additional 1000 points.

I cannot quite fit the living room, bedroom, and bathroom area all in one shot, but the bathroom is dark while the other rooms are bright and beckon for your first attention, so let’s focus on those first.

As you may recall from Andazamania, I was not a big fan of the blocky white walls of the bedroom of the regular room.  Well, they make their appearance here in the living room, but for some reason it seems to work much better in this environment.  Maybe because there are things like televisions and big pieces of art to break up that “trapped in a mental institute” vibe I got from the other bedroom.

This huge sofa is very nice for relaxing and watching the television.

I fell asleep twice on this.

I fell asleep twice on this.

The sleeping vantage point.

The sleeping vantage point.

The big artwork in the corner leads to another angled window with additional views, including that of your own suite!

Go behind this vase and do the Titanic pose. You know you want to.

Go behind this vase and do the Titanic pose. You know you want to.

For people that like to spy on themselves.

For people that like to spy on themselves.

In addition to many views of wide open spaces, there are plenty of little nooks and crannies to appeal to chasmophiles as well.

Excellent for a game of hide and seek.

Excellent for a game of hide and seek.

I was very happy to see that the suite bedroom does away with the blocky wall patterns.  Just a simple white wall that takes nothing away from the MASSIVE window overlooking the Tokyo cityscape.

Now this is a room made for sleeping!

Now this is a room made for sleeping!

That is, when you're not peering out over miles of cityscape and contemplating the meaning of life.

That is, when you’re not peering out over miles of cityscape and contemplating the meaning of life.

They're advertised as king-sized beds. Not sure about that, but definitely larger than twin.

They’re advertised as king-sized beds. Not sure about that, but definitely larger than twin.

No, you’re eyes weren’t deceiving you:  you have your very own brass telescope at the far end of the room!

You'll spend a lot of time tightening the screws on it to keep it upright on its own.

You’ll spend a lot of time tightening the screws on it to keep it upright on its own.

Not good enough for peeping toms, but good enough to be interesting.

Not good enough for peeping toms, but good enough to be interesting.

This will come in handy at nighttime. You'll see why a bit later.

This will come in handy at nighttime. You’ll see why a bit later.

There’s a nice little make-up table on the way to the bathroom, as well as a separate little closet area (there are two of many things in this suite…closets, sinks, even toilets!)

Sorry that the desk didn't quite make it into this shot.

Sorry that the desk didn’t quite make it into this shot.

It was a little dark, so I’m afraid my cell phone didn’t get great pictures of this room.  It’s not too much different from the regular Andaz room bathroom, just done on a larger scale.

The two sinks are on opposite sides of the bathroom, in case you need maximum distance from your partner.

The two sinks are on opposite sides of the bathroom, in case you need maximum distance from your partner.

The bath is pretty much identical.

Personally, I would prefer a tub that I could stretch out in without bending like a banana.

Personally, I would prefer a tub that I could stretch out in without bending like a banana.

But the amenities are very classy looking Argan amenities from France.  This appears to be exclusive to the Andaz Tokyo suites.

I thought they smelled too fruity and sweet, but my wife loved them.  Still prefer Aesop.

I thought they smelled too fruity and sweet, but my wife loved them. Still prefer Aesop.

I thought that I got some shots of the other closet, but apparently I did not.  Sorry about that.  You can kind of see into the area from here.

That's where the room safe is.

That’s where the room safe is.

That door you see on the right is the entrance to one of the toilets, the other one being inside of the bathroom (not the room with the bath…proper terminology is confusing for me!)  Unfortunately, I did forgo getting a decent picture of the toilet room to instead make the funny observation of the opposite mirrors extending past the sink and all the way to the floor!

What am I supposed to be checking down there?

What am I supposed to be checking down there?

This was a city view suite.  The bay view suites apparently run about 50,000 yen extra, and I’m not sure that the room itself is any different.  If I had to choose, I would probably go with the bay view, though I certainly wouldn’t pay an extra 50,000 yen for the privilege.

Nothing looks bad from 50 floors up.

Besides, nothing looks bad from 50 floors up.

Given that this suite has so many windows, it’s no surprise that there’s a completely different feel to it come nightfall.

This giant whatchamacalit looks even more magnificent with a dark background.

This giant whatchamacalit looks even more magnificent with a dark background.

And if you’re in the suite come eight o’clock, then you’ll get good use out of your telescope, catching one of several nightly fireworks shows from the far away Tokyo Disney Resort!

If you could hear them, it would probably be at least ten seconds after the actual blast.

If you could hear them, it would probably be at least ten seconds after the actual blast.

We were extremely lucky on Sunday night to see some even more impressive fireworks in the form of a lightning storm.  Watching dozens of streaks of light fly all around us hundreds of meters in the air was one of the greatest experiences of my life.  I wish I could promise such a view to everyone.

Not a picture from that night, but I swear that one of them looked a lot like this.

Not a picture from that night, but I swear that one of them looked a lot like this.

And when it’s time to sleep, the blinds do a good job of blocking out the rest of the world.

I found this bedroom to be, in all ways, much more soothing than the regular Andaz room.

I found this bedroom to be, in all ways, much more soothing than the regular Andaz room’s bedroom.

All in all, I think that this is my favorite of all of the suites of all of the Tokyo Hyatt hotels that I have experienced.  Even the Atrium Suite.  That said, I will not be paying over 200,000 yen a night for the privilege going forward!

Having a more relaxed two night stay with my family helped me to form a much more well-rounded overall view of this hotel.  I do intend to revisit my previous review with what I have learned on this trip in the very near future.

But what I can say right now is, if you were lucky enough to get a Diamond Suite Upgrade for this hotel, make sure that you do not pass up the opportunity!

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Inside…Hyatt Regency Tokyo Eau de Vie

June 23rd, 2014

As I mentioned yesterday, I received a bunch of coupons with my new Hyatt Regency Tokyo Point Card.  The two best coupons were the 1000 points with any purchase Birthday Coupon, and the half off drinks between 16:00-20:00 at the Eau de Vie bar.  I wanted to see if it was possible to use both at the same time, and I had never seen this bar before anyway, so that’s all the excuse I needed to drop in and pay a visit tonight.

Can't get a straight shot of the entrance because the railing overlooking the atrium is too close.

Can’t get a straight shot of the entrance because the railing overlooking the atrium is too close.

The sign out front tells us that this place was established in 1980.  It does feel like it is possible that this is one of the few things that has remained unchanged about this hotel since the Century Hyatt Tokyo first opened.

Also: the bathtubs of the unrenovated rooms.  But I digress...

Also: the bathtubs of the unrenovated rooms. But I digress…

Google Translate tells me that “Eau de Vie” is French for Brandy. It seems an appropriate name for a hotel that has a lounge named Lounge and a Pastry Shop named Pastry Shop.  Come to think of it, any name besides Bar comes off as a bit too subtle for the Hyatt Regency Tokyo…but they make up for it by beating you over the head with that fact that this is a hardcore, old-school, straight-up BAR, right down to the quiet jazz mood music.

It's too dark inside to take pictures.  But that's never stopped me before.

It’s too dark inside to take pictures. But that’s never stopped me before.

There are tables to be had, but in a place like this, the bar counter is the place to be.  An ample supply of all sorts of expensive liquors awaits.

Not the kind of place I feel comfortable ordering a strawberry daiquiri.

Not the kind of place I feel comfortable ordering a strawberry daiquiri.

I know very little about liquor, so when the menu comes I just point to whatever the special happens to be.  If you’re expecting something wild and exotic like the Timeless Passion Cocktail, then you are obviously new to the Hyatt Regency Tokyo.  It is a timeless classic, the Classic Mojito.

But it's made with fine Cuban rum!  That's pretty exotic!

But it’s made with fine Cuban rum! That’s pretty exotic!

Google also tells us that “traditionally, a mojito is a cocktail that consists of five ingredients: white rum, sugar (traditionally sugar cane juice), lime juice, sparkling water, and mint. The original Cuban recipe uses spearmint or yerba buena, a mint variety very popular on the island.”  I did not catch whether the bartender was using sugar cane juice, but everything else checked out, so I don’t doubt that this was the real deal.

He was not stingy with the spearmint.  Nor with the ice.

He was not stingy with the spearmint. Nor with the ice.

Again, I’m the wrong person to be giving out drink reviews, but it sure seemed like a high quality Mojito to me.  Minty, with a nice bite from the rum and the lime.  I had an enjoyable time nursing this and the bar nuts for around 20 minutes.

But I came to use the coupons, and now was the time to put them to the test.  When the check arrived, I handed over the birthday coupon, the half off happy hour coupon, the Hyatt Regency Tokyo Point Card, and my Hyatt credit card.  The staff took them all without a word, and a minute later I had my receipt for the 1010 yen drink, and 1050 points on my Hyatt Regency Tokyo point card!

Point total is updated in real time on the card!

Point total is updated in real time on the card!

I am now over 4% of the way to the 25000 points needed to upgrade to the Hyatt Regency Tokyo Premium Card!  Someday, free parking will be mine.

And on top of all that, I received another coupon for 50% off drinks.

Extremely overpriced drinks become only moderately overpriced!

Extremely overpriced drinks become only moderately overpriced!

It’s good for parties of up to 10 people.  I don’t think that I’m going to stop in for a drink again before the coupon expires on August 31st.  If any of you would like it, leave a comment and I’ll think of a way of getting it out to you.

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