April 16, 2017

A Week in Japan: Planning & Booking

Planning & Booking
United Polaris Business Class 787-8 San Francisco to Osaka (KIX)
Intercontinental Osaka
The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Cathay Pacific First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (HND) to Hong Kong
Conrad Hong Kong
The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines First Class 777-300ER Hong Kong to San Francisco
Hyatt Regency SFO

I'm still working on a couple of segments from our latest trip to Al Maha in November of last year.   I plan to finish those trip reports in April but given that our next trip is coming up next month, I wanted to get the introductory post on the blog.


At the moment, we have 10 hotel nights planned.  We fly out early to San Francisco, catch the direct United flight to Osaka and land early afternoon.  I booked the Intercontinental Osaka for 40,000 IHG points for the overnight.  We have nearly 150,000 IHG points so seemed like the right thing to do given we'll only be in town for one night and convenience is key.  The hotel is located next to the train station so will be convenient to get from the airport and to Kyoto.

In Kyoto, I booked the Ritz-Carlton for a total of 210,000 Marriott Rewards points using a combination of Marriott Rewards points and SPG points.  This was an incredible redemption given cash rates of $1,700 per night!  The property looks gorgeous and we're really excited about visiting Kyoto.

In Tokyo, I went back and forth between returning to the Andaz or giving the Park Hyatt Tokyo a shot.  We had a couple of expiring Chase free Hyatt nights so decided to go with the Park Hyatt (30,000 points/night at Park Hyatt vs. 25,000 at the Andaz).

In Hong Kong, we're going to split our 3 nights up.  The first two nights at the Conrad which I stayed at with my brother a couple years ago.  Emily hasn't stayed there and the lounge/location (close to Victoria Peak/Central) were both solid.  At 80,000 points a night prior to Hilton devaluation, and free breakfast/lounge access, this seemed like a good move.

We're going to spend our final night at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong on Kowloon.  I booked an Amex FHR rate for $488 USD.  Definitely expensive but we'll great complimentary breakfast along with a $100 hotel credit to burn at Ozone, the highest bar in the world.  Since all of the other hotel nights were booked with points, we figured a splurge was in order.

We land at SFO too late to grab a flight to Denver so we'll stay at the Hyatt Regency SFO (recently remodeled) on a Chase Hyatt anniversary night.  We stayed here last year and for a quick overnight, the hotel was clean, close to the airport, and free.

All in, we booked 10 hotel nights for 410,000 hotel points, 3 free night certificates, and $488 USD.


The fastest way to get to Kyoto is to fly to Osaka.  There's only a couple of options (United and JAL) from the US to Osaka and we wanted to get an overnight there before taking the train to Kyoto.  United had business (Polaris soft product) award availability to I booked both of us for 130,000 United miles total and $11.20 in taxes.  7.1 cents per mile on this redemption.

The flight departs SFO at 11AM and gets in to Osaka at 3PM the next day so we should have an afternoon, evening, and morning the next day to experience Japan's second city.

Getting around in Japan will be done by train - both of us are really looking forward to this.  In terms of getting to Hong Kong, I've written a couple of posts about our flight already.  I ended up booking us on Cathay Pacific First Class from Haneda to Hong Kong for 55,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles and ~$100 in taxes and fees.  Not bad considering cash cost on this sector would have been $4,084 USD per person!  That's a redemption of nearly 15 cents per mile!

Getting home from Hong Kong was actually the first sector of the trip I booked.  Finding save availability on Singapore Airlines in first class for two is tough...so I booked that when I saw it available back in December.  I reviewed the first leg of this flight (SIN to HKG) last year.

Total cost of 140,250 Singapore KrisFlyer miles (transferred from Chase UR points and Amex MR points) and $159 USD in taxes and fees.  This flight retails for nearly $8,200 - a redemption of 11.7 cents per mile.

I tacked on a United coach ticket from SFO to DEN the following morning for $106 a piece.

All in, we redeemed 325,250 miles for over nearly 15,000 miles of business/first class flying.  Out of pocket cash cost was approximately $480.

Another stellar use of miles and points.  735,250 points and 3 free night certs burned.  Total cash cost around $968 for a night trip to Japan and Hong Kong for two!  Stay tuned for the first segment in May - will add lounge reviews at SFO assuming we have sufficient time.

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