October 28, 2015

Round the World in 11 Days: Planning & Booking

Planning & Booking
American Express Centurion Lounge DFW
Emirates A380 First Class Dallas to Dubai
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Dubai
Emirates First Class Lounge Dubai
Emirates 777-300 First Class Dubai to Male
Transfer to Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa
Park Hyatt Maldives
Transfer to Male
Singapore Airlines 777-200 Business Class Male to Singapore
Grand Hyatt Singapore
Singapore Airlines The Private Room Singapore
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER First Class Singapore to Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER First Class Hong Kong to San Francisco

They say the best part about a vacation is the anticipation.  This trip is no exception.  Emily and I have had The Maldives on our bucket list for years.  For us flying halfway around the world to get to a beach is part of the fun.  When the opportunity to spend time in The Maldives and Al Maha, (outside Dubai) I started to work on flights.  Here's an overview of the booking process and what everything cost.


We've already covered our first couple of nights in Dubai at Al Maha.  This cost me 78,000 SPG points (normally 120,000) thanks to Starwood's recent promotion.  Given the fact that the resort is all inclusive (3 meals per day and 2 activities) and room rates go for more than $1,500 USD/night, I consider this a great deal.

Cash rates at Al Maha Dubai

All in, I'm getting about 5 cents worth of value from my SPG points.  Not that I would ever pay $2K for a night in a hotel but this regardless, this is one of the best redemptions of my life.

We'll then head to the Park Hyatt Maldives for 4 nights using Hyatt Gold Passport points.  The hotel used to be a category 6 then went to 7 and now is back to 6.  So 25,000 points per night for a total of 100,000 for our stay.  I used a combination of Hyatt points earned from stays and transferred in the rest from my Chase Ultimate Rewards account.  I did pay cash to upgrade us to an overwater bungalow for the last night of our but I'll leave that out of the booking process since that was totally optional.

Park Hyatt Maldives beach

After our stay at the Park Hyatt, we have a couple of nights booked at the Grand Hyatt Singapore.  I used a few extra points to upgrade us to a club room for a total of 54,000 points for the 2 nights.  For the extra 7,000 points per night, we'll get access to the club lounge (will help with our early arrival) including breakfast, snacks in the afternoon, and appetizers and cocktails in the evening.  I value the points at $140 - we likely won't get that much value out of the lounge but we have the points so why not?

Loungin' at the Conrad Singapore

We arrive late in the evening in San Francisco from Singapore so needed a hotel for the night.  Thanks to the Hyatt Chase card, we had a a free night certificate (well worth the $75 annual fee in my opinion) which I redeemed at the Hyatt Regency SFO.  In total, we've got 9 nights booked in hotels for 232,000 points.  Cash cash cost of $0.


I guess I saved my cash for the flights.  I needed to position us in Dallas before our flight to Dubai.  Luckily American offers pretty cheap flights from Denver and I was able to score 2 tickets for $150.

I redeemed 180,000 Alaska Airlines miles and paid $80 in taxes/fees to book us on Emirates' A380 First Class service from Dallas to Dubai and then Dubai (after stopping over for 2 nights) to Male.  Pretty spectacular deal.  I've been steadily saving up my Alaska miles but didn't have quite enough for two tickets.  Luckily I was able to transfer in 25,000 miles from my SPG account which only cost me 20,000 thanks to SPG's 25% airline transfer bonus.  Can't wait to shower at 35,000 feet!

Getting to the Park Hyatt is a bit of a miles and points downer.  There's no way to get to the hotel other than to pay $500 per person.  The hotel books your flights and arranges your speedboat transfer. to the resort.

Getting to Singapore was easy.  I used 59,500 Citi Thank You points transferred to Singapore Airlines to book us on Singapore's redeye (business class) service to Singapore.  I also paid $292 USD in taxes.  While we could have left earlier, I wanted to maximize our time in the Maldives and the taking the redeye enabled us to eliminate an extra night in a hotel.

Completing our round the world adventure, we'll be flying Singapore's 777-300ER service from Singapore to Hong Kong and on to San Francisco.  Ultimately I'd rather fly the A380 and Suites class but wasn't able to find any availability.  Perhaps that will change between now and our departure!

Singapore Airlines 777-300ER First Class Caviar Service

The redemption cost me 182,500 Singapore KrisFlyer miles (transferred from Amex Membership Rewards) and $611 USD in taxes and fees.  I redeemed a United travel certificate from our cancelled Hawaii trip for our flight home to Denver.

Including the transfer to the Park Hyatt, total cash outlay was ~$2,100.  Basically the cost of one RTW coach ticket.  I also redeemed 422,000 miles from a variety of programs.


23,000 miles of first class flying, bucket list checking, and 9 nights in luxury resorts/hotels for a total of $2,100 and 654,000 miles and points.  Not a cheap trip by any means but certainly cheaper than most week long trips to the beach flying coach and staying in average hotels.

Stay tuned for the play-by-play over the next couple of months.  I'll try to crank out the trip reports as close to our return as possible.  Thanks for following along!!

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