October 30, 2016

Return to Al Maha: Planning & Booking

Introduction
Planning & Booking
British Airways First Class 747-400 Denver to London
British Airways Concorde Room
British Airways First Class 747-400 London to Dubai
JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
Al Maha Desert Resort & Spa Dubai
Park Hyatt Dubai
Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class Lounge & Spa Abu Dhabi
Etihad Airways First Class 777-200LR Abu Dhabi to Los Angeles

We're headed back to Dubai next month to spend a couple of nights at Al Maha.  While we've had an incredibly warm October here in Denver (it was 80 degrees today!) we wanted to head somewhere a bit warmer in November to relax and outside.  Southern Europe is nice but just not that warm.  We were just in Asia a few months ago so Dubai fit the bill.  Using our BA Travel Together Ticket to fly first class all the way to Dubai made it even more appealing.

Hotels:

As it stands now, we have 6 hotel nights planned.  We land late in Dubai so booked the JW Marriott Marquis for 35,000 Marriott Rewards points.  Dubai's hotel market is insane - we had so many options it was hard to choose.  But we'll be heading to Al Maha around noon the next morning so for 12 hours, we certainly don't need something crazy.  The JW Marriott Marquis is also the tallest hotel in the world so that clinched it for me.

JW Marriott Marquis advance purchase rate

Advanced purchase rates were going for $373 USD so was happy to get north of 1 cent per Marriott point (or >3 cents per SPG point).

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai
We're headed to Al Maha the next morning.  2 nights for a total of 78,000 SPG points.  While expensive, paid rates are astronomical.  At $1,779 per night, it's still a pretty incredible deal  That's over 4.5 cents per SPG point.
Al Maha isn't cheap
Next up, we decided on a couple of nights at the Park Hyatt in Dubai.  The hotel looks gorgeous and we're excited to hangout on the creek, maybe go skiing, hit the malls, and generally just chill out for a couple of days.  I paid a cash rate of $352/night and used 6,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night to upgrade to a suite.  The suite comes with a free minibar (yes!) and breakfast which reduces the out of pocket expense a bit.

Park Hyatt Dubai
For the last night in Abu Dhabi, I used a free night certificate from my Chase Hyatt credit card at the Hyatt Capital Gate.  The hotel is pretty close to the airport and to the sights that we want to see and you certainly can't beat the price (free).

Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi
In total, we used a total of 125,000 points as well as one free night certificate acquired through credit cards.  Our total cash outlay will be around $700 for 6 nights.  Retail value of the hotel nights would be ~$5,400.  We'll also get all of our meals and activities taken care of at Al Maha and free breakfast at the Park Hyatt.  

Flights/Ground Transport:

We used 153,000 British Airways Avios (transferred from Amex MR points and Chase Ultimate Rewards) for our outbound flight from Denver to London and then on to Dubai in British Airways first class.  We also paid $1,550 in taxes and fees.  Despite the hefty cash outlay, if we were booking Emirates first class we would have spent 300,000 Alaska MileagePlan miles.  Or 230,000 AA miles on Etihad.  So the travel together ticket definitely worked out.

On the return, we redeemed 230,000 AA miles and $95 in taxes/fees for the Etihad first class segment from Abu Dhabi to LAX.  While not the Etihad First Class Apartment, it's still Etihad First Class.  We'll get to checkout the brand new lounge in Abu Dhabi in addition to the great soft product (food, wine, amenity kits, pjs, etc...) on what is the fifth longest flight in the world.

We bought a Delta Economy Comfort ticket home from LAX for $350 each.  I was also able to use a $100 statement credit from the Delta Platinum Amex card.  So that brought the cost down to $600.

We booked our transportation in the UAE with a couple of the properties we'll be staying at.  Total cost to get form Dubai to Al Maha, back to Dubai, and then down to Abu Dhabi was $200 USD.

Total cost for the flights and ground transport came to $2,350.  We burned 383,000 miles.  Pretty decent for a roundtrip first class flight for 2.

Summary:

Our 6 night trip cost us 508,000 miles and points.  The cash cost comes to $3,050  We spent more than I wanted to for only a 6 night trip but getting back to Al Maha was a priority and we're both so excited to spend a couple days there.  Stay tuned for the outbound flight to London!

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