May 25, 2014

Suite Trip to Bali: Planning & Booking

Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK
Asiana 777 First Class Suite New York to Seoul
Asiana First Class Lounge Incheon
Asiana 767 Business Class Seoul to Bangkok
Novotel Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
Thai Airways Business Class Lounge Bangkok & Royal Orchard Spa
Thai Airways 777 Business Class Bangkok to Bali
Four Seasons Bali at Sayan
St. Regis Bali Resort
Exploring Bali
Singapore Airlines 777 Business Class Bali to Singapore
Conrad Singapore
Exploring Singapore
Singapore Airlines The Private Room
Singapore Airlines First Class Suite Singapore to Los Angeles

As I mentioned in the introduction, we originally booked this trip for February of 2014.  So the planning process actually started late last summer when we had amassed enough Amex Membership Rewards points to book two first class return tickets from Singapore.  We knew we wanted to go to Bali and we knew we wanted to fly Singapore Suites.  So once we got that piece of the trip booked, most everything else fell into place.  Since we booked one-way tickets, I've broken up the booking thought process for each leg of the trip below.  If you have questions about the trip, let me know in the comments or email me.

This is the last pre-trip post.  Get ready for the actual trip reports coming in July.

Denver - Bali:

Getting to Bali is hard.  It's not that close to anything and from Denver, you're in for three flights at a minimum.  Last summer, I booked one-way business class tickets flying from Denver to Toronto United.  Then Toronto to Taipei on EVA with the final leg on EVA continuing on to Bali.  In December, first class space opened up (see:  importance of gardening reservations) on the Asiana New York to Seoul route.  This is the only Asiana (until they launch their A380) flight operated from the US with the closed door suites so it was an easy decision to change the routing.  The change required a nerve racking call to United (they weren't sure they could book the ticket and I was on hold for almost 30 minutes) but it ticketed and we have seats and an Asiana booking reference number.  There was no cost to change the routing - just an incremental 10,000 miles a piece for the first class segment.

Asiana First Class Suite

Because of the routing change, we'll have four flight segments and two overnights (first in New York then in Bangkok).  It's a lot of flying but we'll get to experience the Asiana suite, first class lounge in Seoul, and the Royal Orchard Spa in Bangkok.  Our final itinerary looks like this:

DEN - LGA in United First
JFK - ICN in Asiana First
ICN - BKK in Asiana Business (Two Cabin Flight)
BKK - DPS in Thai Business (Two Cabin Flight)

Total Cost:  140,000 United Miles & $28.80 in taxes and fees

Bali - Denver:

First, we had to figure out how to get from Bali to Singapore which was pretty easy.  I booked us in Singapore Airlines for the 2.5 hour ride to Singapore using United miles.  There are no fuel surcharges on this route which is great.

Singapore Airlines used to only make Suites class tickets available for around 1,000,000 miles per ticket.  They changed this policy at some point and now enable their own frequent flyer members (KrisFlyer) to book at the standard first class price.  Finding one seat at the lowest level (saver) is pretty easy but it's virtually impossible to find two seats on a flight to the US.  So if you want two seats on the same flight, your best bet is tell book one at the saver level and one at the standard level.  Luckily, we had been stocking up on American Express Membership Rewards points from multiple credit card sign-up bonuses.  Once I found the flights, I transferred the points in my KrisFlyer account and waited.  The transfer took a couple of days and it was time to book the flights online.

Singapore Airlines A380 Suites

Singapore Airlines provides a 15% discount if you book online.  The saver award ticket cost us 91,375 miles and the standard ticket cost us 178,500 miles.  Certainly a lot of miles but worth it considering this is the only way to fly this product together.  We also had to pay the fuel surcharges which total $796 USD.  During the 19 hour flight, I am pretty sure we will polish off a few bottles of Krug.  So we're getting a good amount of value for the fuel surcharges:)

Since the Singapore - LA flights using Singapore KrisFlyer miles, I had to pay our own way back to Denver.  I booked one way economy tickets on United for $290.  Our final itinerary looks like this:

DPS - SIN in Singapore Business (Two Cabin Flight)
SIN - NRT in Singapore Suites
NRT - LAX in Singapore Suites
LAX - DEN in United Economy

Total Cost:  35,000 United Miles, 269,875 Membership Rewards Points, and $1,086


Emily and I have traveled a fair amount together but we've only had a couple of airport overnights.  So we are doubling that with this trip!  We land at LGA around 10PM and will take a cab over to JFK and stay at the Sheraton JFK.  Rates were reasonable ($180) given the holiday weekend and I've heard the hotel is serviceable for a quick overnight (our flight leaves at 1PM the next day).

In Bangkok, we land around 10:30 PM and have a 9AM flight the next day to Bali.  We both want to be at the airport early the next morning to enjoy the Royal Orchid Spa for a bit so we decided to stay at the Novotel at the airport.  We found a prepaid rate on for $130 and we can walk to the hotel.  I'm pretty happy with the decision especially given the current situation in Bangkok.

In Bali, I booked three nights in a pool suite at the St. Regis for 113,250 SPG points.  I have heard amazing things about the hotel...the rooms, property, service, and food are all supposed to be among the best in the SPG portfolio.  It was certainly a lot of SPG points to spend on a few nights but  a pretty good redemption given that rates for this room category (2,000 square feet, pool, butler service, breakfast included, airport transfer included, etc...) typically go for around $1,000/night.

St. Regis Bali
The St. Regis is on the beach and we wanted to spend a few days in Ubud to get a feel for that part of Bali.  We agonized over where to stay since there are SO many places none of which can be reserved with points.  We finally settled on the Four Seasons at Sayan which we are both really excited about.  I booked through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts.  The hotel is pricey but it's the Four Seasons and daily breakfast and a couple of massages are included.  Since most everything else was paid for with miles and points, we figured we could splurge on this hotel and pay cash.

In Singapore, we booked the Conrad using points.  We stayed here last year and loved it.  It is in a great location with a phenomenal lounge.  We hope to explore a bit more of the (albeit small) country and this is a great jumping off point to do just that.

Total Cost:  113,500 SPG Points, 120,000 Hilton Honors Points, $310 plus cash for the Four Seasons


This is our second anniversary trip so we wanted to go pretty big.  We managed to redeem 678,375 points and miles for this trip.  Our total out of pocket (with a significant portion going toward our hotel in Ubud) cash expense for the entire trip should be under $3,500.  Considering coach paid tickets to Bali would have set us back about $2,000 each, I feel pretty good about the cost.  We leave in early July so look for the next installment in the next 6 weeks or so.  Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment