August 6, 2016

Planning & Booking: I'm Going Going, Back Back to Maldives, Maldives

Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines A330-300 Business Class Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines 777-200 Business Class Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA 777-300ER First Class Tokyo (NRT) to Houston
American Express Centurion Lounge Houston (IAH)

We are just a few weeks away from our RTW adventure to Istanbul, Maldives, Singapore, and Tokyo.  This will be our second RTW trip in the last year and we're really excited about how this trip came together.  If you're interested in reading in previous updates, check out the latest introductory post.

Lots of flying but looks worth it

As it stands now, we have 9 hotel nights planned.  We needed a Newark overnight and I ended up booking the Marriott Renaissance Newark Airport for 25,000 Marriott Rewards points.  This ended up being a phenomenal use of points as the the hotel is selling for $249/night which comes to $288/night with taxes.  Getting more than 1 cent per Marriott point is amazing.

Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel Rates
In Istanbul, we ended up booking the St. Regis through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts since we really need the ability to check-in early and in theory, we should be able to get in the room at noon or earlier.  The rate came to $251 USD with taxes.  That includes the early check-in, likely room upgrade, and $100 food and beverage credit.  While we could have certainly saved money by staying at the Park Hyatt ($180 USD/night) or a few other options, we wanted to checkout a new property in Istanbul and figured the rooftop Spago would be a nice way to end the day and burn our $100 credit.

St. Regis Istanbul Rooftop Views

In the Maldives, we'll be staying at the Conrad Rangali Island.  We used two free weekend night certificates from the Citi Hilton HHonors Reserve Card.  We used 190,000 points to book the other two nights.  While the hotel is currently sold out for our dates, the closest available dates (non-refundable rate) are coming in at ~$750/night AI.  So outstanding value in this use of the free nights and HHonors points.

Conrad Maldives Rates
In Singapore, we burned an expiring IHG free night certificate for our one-night stay at the Changi Airport Crowne Plaza.  The hotel was selling for nearly $250 so paying the $49 annual fee on the IHG credit card to get this free night was certainly worth it.

In Tokyo, we settled on a Hyatt Cash + Points rate at the Andaz.  We burned 25,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points (transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards) and the nightly cost will run us around $200 with taxes based on current exchange rates.

In total, we used a total of 240,000 points as well as 3 free night certificates acquired through credit cards.  Our total cash outlay will be around $650 for 9 nights.  Retail value of the hotel nights would be ~$4,700.  We'll also get $100 to spend at the St. Regis in Istanbul as well as complimentary breakfast (thanks to HHonors Gold status) and happy hour cocktails at the Conrad.  


We used 160,000 United MileagePlus miles to book the Denver to Newark to Istanbul (via JFK) to Male in business class.  There were also $22 in taxes and fees.  The JFK to Istanbul segment is operated by a 777-300ER and the Istanbul to Male segment operated by an A330-300.

Getting to the Conrad isn't cheap.  The seaplane ride (booked through the Conrad) costs $1,120 for both of us.  But it will be an adventure and both of us are really looking forward to this part of the trip.

There were fairly limited options to get to Tokyo from Male.  While we could have flown Sri Lankan Airlines on paid business class tickets to Tokyo for ~$800 USD each, this would have forced an overnight flight that we want to avoid.  So we opted to save the cash and booked a Singapore Airlines business class award (points transferred from Citi ThankYou points) for a total of 106,250 points and $300 in taxes/fees.  We depart Male at 12:50PM and arrive in Singapore at 8:40PM.  We depart Singapore the next morning at 8:05AM and arrive at Tokyo's Haneda airport at 4:05PM.  So we have a night in Singapore to explore the city if we're feeling up to it.  We should get to experience Singapore Airlines' new business class on the SIN - HND segment as it's operated by a 777-300ER.

Coming home, we had to book two separate awards.  I booked myself using Air Canada Aeroplan miles (transferred from Amex Membership Rewards) and Emily with United MileagePlus miles.  We're flying ANA's 777-300ER service in first class from Narita to Houston.  Then connecting to a United flight home to Denver.  Total cost was 110,000 United miles and 105,000 Aeroplan miles.  Taxes and fees on both tickets amounted to $113 USD.

That's a total of 7 flights (ex seaplane rides) and 23,000+ miles RTW in first or business class.  Total cost was 481,250 and $435.  The seaplane flights add another $1,120 in cost.


Our 10 night (9 hotel nights) trip cost us 721,250 miles and points.  The cash cost (with seaplane ride) comes to $2,205.  Our last Maldives trip essentially cost the same from a cash perspective.  Point outlay was a bit less due to the relatively high amount of point used at the Conrad (although HHonors points are super easy to earn).  For two people, you couldn't even buy one coach RTW ticket for $2,205.  While the Maldives isn't cheap, staying/flying for pennies on the dollar certainly makes an aspirational trip much more affordable.

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