Showing posts with label Conrad. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Conrad. Show all posts

April 30, 2017

A Week in Japan: Planning & Booking II

Introduction
Planning & Booking
Planning & Booking II
Star Alliance First Class Lounge LAX
Asiana First Class A380 LAX to Seoul (ICN)
Asiana First Class Lounge Seoul (ICN)
Asiana A330 Business Class Seoul (ICN) to Kyoto (KIX)
The Ritz-Carlton Kyoto
Cathay Pacific Business Class 777-300ER Kyoto (KIX) 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

For a variety of reasons, we shortened our upcoming trip by a few days.  Unfortunately that means no visit to Osaka or Tokyo but we'll still get 3 days in Kyoto and 3 days in Hong Kong.  All hotels remain the same - we just mixed it up a bit with the flights.  If you're interested in reading more about the initial booking process, please read the first planning and booking segment.

We swapped our United Polaris flight for Asiana's A380 first class service from LAX.  Instead of 130,000 United miles, this set us back 110,000 United and 105,000 Aeroplan miles.  Not the greatest use of an additional 75,000 miles but we'll be more comfortable.  In Seoul, we'll visit the Asiana First Class lounge for a shower before boarding an Asiana A330 in business class to Osaka (KIX).

After three nights in Kyoto, we'll take the train back to KIX and fly Cathay Pacific business class direct to Hong Kong.  Not as fancy as Cathay first but should be plenty fine for a 4 hour flight.  I booked this flight with 40,000 (total) British Airways miles - pretty good deal considering the length of the flight and better than Alaska's award chart by 5,000 total miles.

Everything else remains the same.  I should have the first segment up in the next month or so!

April 16, 2017

A Week in Japan: Planning & Booking

Introduction
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.

 Hotels:

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.


April 1, 2017

A Week in Japan: Introduction

Introduction
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.

We were in Tokyo last August and loved it.  We decided to go back on the flight home and started thinking about when and where.  We wanted to spend some additional time in Tokyo along with a visit to Kyoto.  We were able to snag flights on United's direct service from San Francisco to Osaka (closest international airport to Kyoto) and began planning from there.

I do want to give United's Polaris soft (hard product won't be installed on these planes for years) product so leaning towards keeping the direct flight.  For another 40,000 miles a piece we could fly Asiana first class through Seoul which would be more comfortable and more fun but take longer.

16,000+ miles of flying

November 13, 2016

Review: Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK Airport
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK
Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives Part One
Conrad Maldives Part Two
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200 Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

We boarded the seaplane and while we were both able to get window seats, we were towards the rear of the plane.  Given that we were the last to board and the plane was nearly full from a prior resort stop, the door was shut and we were floating towards the "runway" before we had buckled up.  We had a smooth takeoff and just amazing views of various islands while en route to Male.  I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.



Review: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Part Two

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK Airport
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK
Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives Part One
Conrad Maldives Part Two
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200 Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

This is the second part of my review of the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island.  You can find the first post here.

We were excited for our Whale Shark excursion the morning of our third day at the resort but it was not to be due to wind and rain.  The resort/dive team were extremely apologetic and we understood.  The last thing we wanted to do was head out on a boat for hours in wind and rain and not be able to get in the water.  We decided to make the best of it and figured this was a great reason to return to the Maldives!

After a great morning snorkel we showered and changed for breakfast and morning cocktails at the property's "underwater restaurant" Ithaa.  At $60++ per person for a glass of Champagne (Ruinart) and some canap├ęs, this wasn't a cheap morning.  But we figured it was a once in a lifetime kind of thing so why not.

Conrad Maldives Ithaa Undersea Restaurant

November 6, 2016

Review: Conrad Maldives Rangali Island

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK Airport
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK
Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives Part One
Conrad Maldives Part Two
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200 Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

The Maldives are kind of a "once in a lifetime" destination.  Without miles and points, we'd probably have gone once and called it a day.  But after an amazing trip last year, we decided to go back.  It's essentially half way around the world from Denver so we also decided to fly around the world both trips which will never get old.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
I've had a couple of months to reflect (sorry for the long delay on getting this portion of the trip report published) on our stay at the Conrad.  Many of you have asked for a comparison of this property vs. the Park Hyatt.

Overall, it was great.  I plan on publishing a more complete comparison of the Park Hyatt vs. The Conrad but the main difference was size and weather.  We had perfect weather last year while we had 2+ days of rain this time around.  The Park Hyatt is much smaller both in terms of rooms, dining options, and overall space on the island.  While there was a ton to do at the Conrad, in some ways, there was too much to do.  There are over a half dozen dining options, multiple bars, beaches, etc...along with almost a dozen room types.  On the plus side, the size really means there is something for everyone and there was more diversity in the nationality and age of the guests at the Conrad vs. the Park Hyatt.

Now on to the review.  I'm going to break this review up into two parts given the amount there is to review.  I'll try to focus chronologically so you'll get dining and activities in both parts.

November 5, 2016

Save $70 at Conrad & Waldorf Astoria Hotels

If you've been reading ATRP, you know that I'm a huge fan of American Express Amex Offers.  Over the last few years, I've saved over $2,500 by leveraging Amex Offers to obtain statement credits on stuff I was going to buy anyway.

20% off a Waldorf Astoria or Conrad stay
 The concept is simple - login to your American Express account online, scroll down to the bottom and you'll see the available offers. Scroll through the offers that make sense for you, and click "Add to Card."  Meet the spend requirements at that merchant and you'll receive the statement credit a few days later.
Recent Amex offer savings
Amex is out with a targeted offer that will provide a $70 statement credit after spending $350 at Conrad or Waldorf Astoria properties through 3/31/17.  We have an upcoming stay at a Conrad which will cost around $800 in total for three nights.  By splitting the charges on two Amex cards with the offer, we should be able to save $140 on the stay!

October 15, 2016

Review: Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Sheraton JFK Airport
Lufthansa Business Class Lounge JFK
Turkish Airlines Business Class 777-300ER New York (JFK) to Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Istanbul Arrivals Lounge
St. Regis Istanbul
Turkish Airlines CIP Lounge Istanbul
Turkish Airlines Business Class A330-300 Istanbul to Male
Transfer from Male to Conrad Maldives
Conrad Maldives
Transfer from Conrad Maldives to Male
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-200 Male to Singapore
Crowne Plaza Changi Airport Singapore
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Business Class Lounge to Singapore
Singapore Airlines Business Class 777-300ER Singapore to Tokyo (HND)
Andaz Tokyo
ANA Suite Lounge Tokyo (NRT)
ANA First Class 777-300ER Tokyo (NRT) to San Francisco

After a great overnight flight on Turkish Airlines, a Conrad associate helped us check in for our Trans Maldivian seaplane ride to the Conrad.  Bags were weighed (we were not) and tagged and we were given boarding passes for the 30 minute flight.  We were then shown to a waiting Conrad minivan which took us to the seaplane terminal.

Trans Maldivian Airways check-in counter

September 10, 2016

I Earned How Many Points at the Conrad Maldives?

Hilton's HHonors program seems to be especially lucrative on the surface.  When you consider that as a base member, you're earning 10x points (vs. 2x at Starwood) per dollar spent on rooms, you can earn a lot of points quickly.

Earning HHonors Points
On top of that you can earn an additional 5x points if you choose "Points and Points" as your "My Way" option.  Gold status (easily obtained with several credit cards) will add another 25% on top.  Frequent bonuses (like the current 2x bonus) add to the bounty.

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island
I knew that we'd be earning a ton of points in the Maldives.  I was planning to put all of our incidental spend on the Hilton Reserve card which earns an additional 10x points on Hilton portfolio spend.  I had read mixed reports that the seaplane journey (1120 USD) would earn points but was hopeful.

We've returned from our trip (review forthcoming) and points have posted to my HHonors account.  I expected that I would earn 40x in total on $2,100 in total spend.  It was WAY more than that.  I earned 140,516 points during my stay.

HHonors Earnings

I've yet to receive the points from the spend on my Reserve card but expect that to be 21,000 points.  Add that to the 140,000+ points earned and I nearly earned enough points to return to the property for a couple of nights (190,000).  I still can't quite figure out the math but I can confirm that I earned points (at least from HHonors) for the seaplane expenditure.  That's a nice return on what is a mandatory (and very expensive) 30 minute ride to the resort.

I value Hilton Honors points at around .7 cents per point meaning the total rebate I received was around $1,130.  On $2,100 in spend.  Maybe I should consider a full time move to the Conrad?

August 6, 2016

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

Introduction
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
Hotels:

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

July 31, 2016

Introduction Part Two: I'm Going Going, Back Back to Maldives, Maldives

Introduction
Introduction Part Two
Planning & Booking
Renaissance Newark Airport Hotel
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class New York (JFK) to 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)

I've updated the post below based on changes made to our itinerary.  I'll post the Planning & Booking section in the next week or so.

I've eluded to our upcoming RTW adventures in posts about the brand new Houston Centurion lounge as well as getting the most out of Hyatt Gold Passport points.  We're leaving next month and the trip is almost complete so figured I'd provide a bit more of a teaser in the form of an introductory post.

We were in the Maldives last year and just loved it.  There is something completely magical about the remoteness of it all.  There's no denying the fact that it's an incredibly challenging to get there.  Especially from the US.  But once you are there, it's the most beautiful place on earth (at least that I've seen).  So we set out to return later this summer.  While we loved the Park Hyattgetting there is more of a challenge than other resorts.
Our 23,000+ mile RTW itinerary (courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper)

July 3, 2016

Introduction: I'm Going Going, Back Back to Maldives, Maldives

Introduction
Planning & Booking
American Express Centurion Lounge Houston IAH
Turkish Airlines 777-300ER Business Class Houston to 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

I've eluded to our upcoming RTW adventures in posts about the brand new Houston Centurion lounge as well as getting the most out of Hyatt Gold Passport points.  We're leaving next month and the trip is almost complete so figured I'd provide a bit more of a teaser in the form of an introductory post.

We were in the Maldives last year and just loved it.  There is something completely magical about the remoteness of it all.  There's no denying the fact that it's an incredibly challenging to get there.  Especially from the US.  But once you are there, it's the most beautiful place on earth (at least that I've seen).  So we set out to return later this summer.  While we loved the Park Hyatt, getting there is more of a challenge than other resorts.

24,000 miles RTW - map courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper

May 28, 2016

Where Should I Stay in Tokyo?

I'm headed to Tokyo later this year for a couple of nights.  I've been looking forward to visiting the city for a long time and certainly want to get the most out of the trip especially considering it's only two nights.  The trouble is, there are too many good hotel options!  I've essentially narrowed down my search to four properties.  The trouble is, putting the points puzzle together has been a bit of a challenge.

Here are my options in order of preference:

1)  Andaz Tokyo Toranomon Hills
2)  Park Hyatt Tokyo
3)  Conrad Tokyo
4)  Ritz Carlton Tokyo

So I'd love to stay at the Andaz Tokyo.  Prepaid cash rates are $500 USD/night AI.  Award stays are available at 25,000 points/night (no points + cash availability at the moment) but I am short on Hyatt points.  I could book one night with cash and one night with points but would prefer to save the cash if possible.  And I generally don't recommend booking prepaid rates especially a few months out.

The Park Hyatt Tokyo is my number two choice.  Cash rates are going for $646 USD/night so that is a no-go.  At 30,000 points per night, that's a lot of Chase Ultimate Rewards points.  Points + cash is available but at 15,000 points and $326 USD/night.  So I think the Park Hyatt is out.

The Conrad Tokyo is available at 80,000 points per night but I'm short by 75,000 points.  I could buy the points which would cost me around $375 USD but the point (get it) is to use points and save cash when possible.  Emily could pick up the Hilton HHonors Reserve Card and we could use a combination of one of those nights and points to book the 2 night stay.  So that's a legitimate low cost (only $95 annual fee for the card) option.

The Ritz Carlton Tokyo is available at 70,000 points per night.  We do have the points in our separate accounts (Marriott lets you pool points from spouse accounts) but it's my number four choice and I'd much prefer to stay at the Andaz.

I realize this in the scheme of things, this is not a significant life challenge.  That said, I'm usually pretty decisive but am struggling with this one.  I'm generally leaning towards waiting on points + cash availability opening up at the Andaz or using 50,000 total points (which I should have in a couple of months) and booking two award nights there.  I know there are other options (Westin, Grand Hyatt, Hilton, etc...) but for my first time in the city, I'd love to stay somewhere really great.

What would be your decision?  Am I missing anywhere that you'd reccomend?

May 21, 2016

Why Buying Points at the Margin is a Good Idea

I'm working on another trip to The Maldives and unfortunately was a bit short of points to lock in the hotel (the most important part of any Maldives trip).  Especially given the challenge of finding hotel award availability along with flight awards, locking in the hotel portion when it matches with flight availability is key.

While we loved our stay at the Park Hyatt during the last visit, we wanted something a bit closer to Male to maximize our time.  There are only a handful of point redemptions at the moment and the Conrad was essentially our only other option that met our requirements.


Conrad Maldives

September 26, 2015

Review: Conrad Hong Kong

Introduction
Planning & Booking
Qantas First Class Lounge LAX
Cathay Pacific 777-300 ER First Class Los Angeles to Hong Kong
The Pier Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge
Le Meridien Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa
Thai Airways 747-400 First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Conrad Hong Kong
Singapore Airlines SilverKris Lounge Hong Kong
Air India 787-8 Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana First Class Lounge Seoul
Asiana A380 First Class Seoul to Los Angeles

We arrived at the Conrad around 9PM tired and ready to crash.  We were checked in promptly and the hotel benefits were recapped while keys were made.  Given my Hilton Honors Gold Status, we were provided executive lounge access (score!) and free premium internet.


June 20, 2015

Brothers in Asia: Planning & Booking

Introduction
Planning & Booking
Sheraton Gateway LAX
Cathay Pacific 777-300 ER First Class Los Angeles to Hong Kong
The Wing Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Le Meridien Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa
Thai Airways 747-400 First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Conrad Hong Kong
Air India 787-8 Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana A380 First Class Seoul to Los Angeles

Booking this trip was actually more difficult than expected.  Finding availability from the west coast to Asia over the weekend proved to be difficult.  I was able to find availability on Monday so we decided to spend the weekend in San Diego and Los Angeles visiting family before taking off for Hong Kong Monday morning.

Hotels:

We needed an overnight at LAX and I originally booked the Hilton LAX for around $150 AI.  I checked last week and found the Sheraton Gateway LAX (stayed here in 2013) was selling for $130 AI.  We'll spend Sunday night there before heading to LAX early Monday morning.

Bangkok is a challenging hotel city given the extremely low cost (comparatively speaking) of luxury hotels.  It typically doesn't make sense to redeem points given the price and this trip was no exception.  I booked an Executive Deluxe room at the Le Meridien (also stayed here in 2012) for $150 USD per night.  The rate includes breakfast and evening cocktails/appetizers which made the rate even better.  


Le Meridien Bangkok Lobby

In Hong Kong, I booked the Conrad for 80,000 points per night.  As a HHonors Gold member, we should receive access to the executive lounge (with complimentary breakfast) which is supposed to be one of the best in the system.  Given that cash rates were selling for $500USD+ I got a great value for the last of my Hilton Honors points (at one point last year, I had over 700,000).

Total Hotel Costs:  240,000 HHonors Points and $430

Flights:

I've become a huge Cathay Pacific fan so I was excited to grab two first class seats on Cathay's morning service from LAX to Hong Kong.  We'll then continue on Cathay's regional business class service to Bangkok after a few hours relaxing in one of Cathay's first class lounges.  At 67,500 American Advantage miles and $68 in taxes and fees for each ticket, this is one of the best mileage redemptions out there.  I was able to find space using the British Airways website.  Once I found space, I called AA to book the ticket.


Cathay All Day

While not the best redemption in the world, I'm sitting on a ton of United miles so decided to redeem 35,000 United miles (and $21) each to fly Thai's 747 first class service to Hong Kong.  Cash tickets go for about $650 (on Thai, Cathay, and Emirates) which is a great deal but still would have cost us a lot of money for a really short flight.  Booking online was really simple and I had plenty of miles in my account for both of us.

I'm really excited about our flights home.  For 130,000 United miles each (and $42 in taxes) we confirmed Air India's 787 Dreamliner service from Hong Kong to Seoul Incheon.  I don't know anyone that's flown Air India so I'm looking forward to what should be a unique experience.  In Seoul, we'll connect to Asiana's flagship A380 first class service to LAX.  The product is similar to the 777 which we flew last year.  I was able to book both of us online using a combination of miles from my account and Emily's.

I booked my positioning flights (to San Diego and home from LAX) on United for $350 in cash.

Total Fight Costs:  465,000 American/United miles and $612 in taxes and fees

Summary:

For about $1,000 and 700,000 points and miles, I was able to put together a week long trip to Bangkok and Hong Kong.  That's 6 total hotel nights, 30 hours of first class flying, and another 8 hours of business class flying for two people.  We're off on Monday - follow along as we head to Asia!

June 14, 2015

Brothers in Asia: Introduction

Introduction
Planning & Booking
Sheraton Gateway LAX
Cathay Pacific 777-300 ER First Class Los Angeles to Hong Kong
The Wing Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge
Cathay Pacific A330 Business Class Hong Kong to Bangkok
Le Meridien Bangkok
Thai Airways First Class Lounge & Spa
Thai Airways 747-400 First Class Bangkok to Hong Kong
Conrad Hong Kong
Air India 787-8 Business Class Hong Kong to Seoul
Asiana A380 First Class Seoul to Los Angeles

I have one more post to write about our trip to Europe which I will try to complete this week.  Next weekend, I'm mixing it up travel companion wise and taking my brother Jonathan (who lives in San Diego) to Asia for the week.  He turned 30 late last year and has never flow international first class or been to Asia and we both figured this would be a good time to check both of his list.  Emily and I have now flown 11 international first class segments together - it is going to be fun to show someone else the ropes.

There are so many places to see in Asia it is sometimes hard to decide where to go.  I wanted to head to cities that I had been to previously but also places that I considered my favorites.  So naturally Bangkok and Hong Kong fir the bill.  Once we had destinations picked out, I set about finding award flights for both of us.  With enough miles to go roundtrip on either Star Alliance or OneWorld carriers, we had plenty of flexibility.  But it was actually tricky to find an outbound flight leaving on Sunday from LAX to Asia so we settled on a Monday morning outbound.  That will give us a couple of days in Bangkok and 3 days in Hong Kong.


Our routing courtesy of the Great Circle Mapper

This actually worked out great as I will get a couple of days in San Diego and LA visiting family before overnighting in LA and leaving the next morning.  I was able to secure a couple of first class seats on Cathay Pacific's direct service from LAX to Hong Kong.  A great first experience for my brother as Cathay's first class is one of my favorite products.  We'll also make sure to check out the Qantas OneWorld First Class lounge at LAX which is supposed to be spectacular.

After our flight from LAX, we have a few hours to clean up and chill at The Wing.  Cathay's new first class lounge (The Pier) is slated to open prior to our departure so I hope to check that out as well.  After a quick hop to Bangkok, we'll start our adventure at the Le Meridien Bangkok.  Emily and I stayed here during our honeymoon and loved the hotel.  I'm excited to see what's changed over the past few years.

The bar at The Wing Hong Kong

Getting back to Hong Kong was hard.  Well it was easy but there are lots of fun ways to fly.  We could have paid cash (~$650 each) to fly Emirates first class and shower at 35,000 feet.  But I decided to forego the cash, use miles, and fly Thai's 747 first class service which will get us an hour long massage in the Royal Orchid Spa prior to departure.

In Hong Kong, I've previously stayed at the W and Grand Hyatt and wanted to check out something different.  So we have three nights booked at the Conrad Hong Kong.

After exploring all that Hong Kong has to offer, we'll head home on Air India (can't wait for this one) to Seoul followed by Asiana's A380 suites service to LAX.  I'm really excited to fly Asiana again - our last trip was awesome.  It will be Jonathan's first time on the A380 (also first time on the 747) which should be fun for both of us.

I am really looking forward to this trip - will post the Planning & Booking segment prior to our departure.  Thanks for following along!!

August 24, 2014

Review: Conrad Singapore

Sheraton JFK Hilton JFK Conrad New York
Exploring Bali
Exploring Singapore
Singapore Airlines The Private Room
Singapore Airlines A380 Suites Class Singapore to Los Angeles

As we cleared immigration, our bags were already rounding the carousel.  We grabbed the bags, hit the ATM, and were in a cab on our way into Singapore in a matter of minutes.  We arrived during this day which made it easy to find the somewhat hidden Conrad which is located in the middle of a sprawling group of office skyscrapers.

View from our room

We stayed at the Conrad during our last trip to Singapore and really enjoyed our stay.  The location is ideal in that it's close to public transportation and the Marina Bay area where we spent most of our time.

I had emailed the property prior to our stay to ask if there was availability on the club floor.  I received a response basically saying "if there's availability we'll upgrade you."  Upon check-in, there was no availability but we were (thanks to our Hilton Honors Gold status) upgraded to a room on the "business" floor that provided complimentary breakfast by the pool vs. the restaurant/lounge.

Conrad Singapore exterior

Our room was standard Conrad fare.  Modern but slightly boring from a decor standpoint.  We did receive a complimentary fruit amenity, waters refreshed daily, and truffles during turndown.  Of course, the highlight was the Conrad bear and rubber ducky which lives quite the life on the edge of our tub at home.

Who doesn't love the Merlion?

Gorgeous Singapore skyline

Other than our room and breakfast, we didn't spend a ton of time at the hotel but we did enjoy our stay and recommend this hotel (especially if using HHonors points) as the location is ideal.  If you can score an upgrade to gain access to the lounge, you are in for a treat as it is one of the best hotel lounges in the world.

July 10, 2014

Why You Should Register for Hotel Promotions

Almost every major loyalty hotel program offers some sort of quarterly bonus program.  In some cases (IHG, Hilton) they offer more than one bonus per quarter.  The trick is that you have to register for these promotions by entering your loyalty program number (or username) and password.  The promotions can range from double points on all states to free nights towards elite status and more.

You can find out about these promotions via email or checking blogs.  Typically I am pretty lazy on this front and just sign-up for the bonuses where I know I have an upcoming stay.  For some reason, I registered for this Hilton promotion (actually offered for all of 2014) offering 2,000 bonus HHonors points for each stay at a Conrad or Waldorf Astoria.

I actually stayed at the New York Waldorf in May so must have registered after because I didn't receive any points for that stay.  I did however receive 2,000 points for my one night stay at the Conrad New York.  The points don't provide a ton of value - maybe $10 but still better than nothing.  I have an upcoming stay tonight at the Conrad Singapore for two nights so in theory should receive an additional 4,000 points for that stay.  We'll see if they post.

Anyway...always sign-up for these promotions if you travel frequently.  Especially if you travel for business.  You never know when you'll receive a little surprise in your loyalty account.


July 4, 2014

Review: Conrad New York

Introduction
Sheraton JFK Hilton JFK Conrad New York
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 A380 First Class Suite Singapore to Los Angeles

After making several changes to our hotel reservation for our New York overnight, we decided to spend the night in the city.  Our flight from Denver was scheduled to land around 10PM and our departure to Seoul wasn't until 1PM.  So we decided a morning in the city would be much better than staying out by the airport.  I was able to book a discounted premium room with a river view for (standard rooms normally go for 70,000 HHonors points) for 68,000 points a few days before departure.

I used to stay at this property when traveling on business (it was an Embassy Suites) before it was converted Hilton’s premium Conrad brand.  So I was interested to see what they had done with the place since my last stay a few years ago.

Conrad New York Atrium