Showing posts with label Ritz-Carlton. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ritz-Carlton. Show all posts

June 25, 2017

Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card Comes Through Again

We're headed to Montreal over the summer and while we had planned to stay at the newly renovated Fairmont, it doesn't look like the hotel will be open in time for our trip.  I had speculatively booked a cash rate at the W which was running around $600 USD for both nights.

I posted a few weeks ago about the drama in securing the sign-up bonus on the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card.  We completed the minimum spend and the free nights posted a few days ago.

Fortunately, there was still avialability at the Ritz-Carlton Montreal and I was able to book our free nights.  Look at these cash rates!  That's nearly $1,500 USD for two nights with tax.

While I would never pay anywhere near that for a city hotel, I'm excited to check out the original Ritz-Carlton.  We are making our way through many of the great Ritz properties this year with stays in Georgetown, Kyoto, Hong Kong, and now Montreal.

The $450 annual fee for this card is steep but when you factor in the two $300 credits, 10,000 Marriott Rewards points, two free nights, and the ability to leverage the Visa Discount Air program to save on airfare, the card is a no brainer.

June 3, 2017

Amazing Service at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong

We're back from our week long trip to Kyoto and Hong Kong.  Per usual, I'll post the review segments in chronological order.  Before I get to the full review, I wanted to post about the unreal service at the Ritz in Hong Kong.

We only stayed one night and booked a paid reservation through Amex FHR.  I booked a standard room and figured we'd get an FHR upgrade to a room with a better view.  I had emailed the property to let them know that we were celebrating our 5th anniversary.  They emailed back and asked for a few pictures of the two of us and said they would ensure our stay was special.

I checked the Marriott up prior to departing the Conrad and noticed we had been upgraded to a Victoria Harbor view suite with club access.  What?

Upon check-in, they confirmed that we were upgraded to a suite and congratulated us on our anniversary.  After check-in formalities were complete, we were handed off to Piper in guest services who took us up to our room on the 110th floor.  We walked in and were blown away.

The hotel had a watermelon cake made special for us (it was really good) given Emily's gluten allergy.  They had printed pictures that we sent prior and taped them to the corner glass in the suite along with balloons and a sign.  They also found a wedding picture (presumably from Facebook) and had that printed along with a congratulatory note from the team.

The views from this suite were unbelievable.  Probably the best views of any city property I've stayed in.

In the club lounge, we were again congratulated on our anniversary and made to feel completely at home.  Same thing at Ozone, the hotel's rooftop bar on the 118th floor.

I can't wait to write this review.  Our stay was near perfect.  While we both appreciated the suite upgrade, extra space, and club access, it was the staff going above and beyond that really made it special.

Why You Should Keep Great Records of CC Signup Bonuses

The previous Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card signup bonus was incredible.  While the bonus has been cut from 3 free nights to 2 free nights, I still think there's a ton of value the card.  Yes, the annual fee is high at $450.  But you're getting $300/calendar year in airline incidental cards (which I value close to cash) as well as 10,000 Marriott Rewards points and the 2 free nights.

We have an upcoming trip to Montreal and I was hoping to stay at the newly remodeled Fairmont.  Unfortunately, it's opening a few weeks after our trip so needed to look elsewhere.   I currently have a paid reservation at the W but figured free would be better.

Emily had the Ritz-Carlton card three years ago.  My records of when we signup for cards, receive bonuses, and cancel are pretty solid.  You can receive the new cardmember bonus on Chase cards every 24 months.

Since this is a non 5/24 card, I figured it would be an easy approval.  And it was.  Until a week after she received the card, Chase sent a letter saying she was ineligible for the new cardmember bonus given that she's received a previous bonus in the past 24 months.

We secure messaged Chase from her account basically stating that the records seemed to be off and provided the date (from our records) of her previous signup bonus.  They they said they would look into it.  A week later, they wrote back to say the new cardmember bonus would be applied to the card.  Now all we need to do is complete the spend, receive the free nights, and book the Ritz in Montreal!

I'll report back once the free nights are in her account.  I suspect we won't have any issues but we'll see.  Yet another reason why keeping great records of credit card signup bonuses can pay off.

April 30, 2017

A Week in Japan: Planning & Booking II

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

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.

April 1, 2017

A Week in Japan: 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

January 15, 2017

Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card Cuts Bonus to Two Nights

Over the last few months, I've written several posts describing the value of the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card.  Start with my full review, then read on about the $300 annual travel credit, then read about the $100 off airfare benefit which has already saved me hundreds of dollars.

You can also read View From the Wing's thoughts on my review of the overall value of the card.

Unfortunately, Chase just cut the three night sign-up bonus down to two nights.  That's a big reduction (1/3) so like going from a 60,000 point bonus to 40,000 points.

Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong where we'll be staying in May
I don't think this fundamentally changes the value prop of the card though.  The benefits (forgetting the sign-up bonus for a second) are still worth more than the $450 annual fee.  You're earning:

  • 10,000 Marriott Rewards points
  • $300 travel credit (2x for one annual fee)
  • $100 off roundtrip domestic coach airfare for 2-5 people (unlimited uses)
  • $100 Global Entry/TSA Precheck reimbursement
On top of it, the two free nights.  So if you haven't signed up already, don't panic.  This card is still on Emily's list for 2017 and we'll likely pick it up towards the end of the year so we can use our free nights somewhere in 2018.

December 26, 2016

Tallying Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card Benefits

I've written several posts about Chase's new Ritz-Carlton Rewards card.  For those just catching up, you can read earlier posts:

I've reaped so much value from the card, I figured I'd add it all up.  I should note that the card carries a $450 annual fee which isn't waived for the first year.  So before you apply, know that you're in for $450.

I've had the card for a few months and had a chance to use many of the advertised benefits.  While I am still loving my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, the Ritz-Carlton Rewards card actually offers more value (at least for me) in terms of non spending bonuses/benefits. 

Here's a recap of what I've received in exchange for my hard earned $450:
  • 3 complimentary nights at the Ritz-Carlton Georgetown (~$1600 value)
  • $200 in airfare discounts
  • $300 in airline incidentals (first class upgrades)
  • 10,000 Marriott Rewards points (valued at ~$100)
  • Additional $300 in airline incidentals coming next week (2017)
That is $2,500 in "value" from carrying the card for just a few months.  While this is the cash value, these aren't the prices I would personally pay.  So let's go through that exercise:
  • I wouldn't pay $500+ a night for the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown but I would pay $250/night so let's knock that down to $750.  
  • The airfare discounts are real money.  
  • While upgrading to first class is a luxury, I would pay $50/segment/person for the privilege.  So we'll knock that down from $600 to $200.
  • The Marriott Rewards point value is real
Add it all up and you're looking $1,250 in exchange for a $450 annual fee.  Not bad at all.  I plan on booking 2-3 additional roundtrips for 2+ people in 2017 - that should result in $200-$300 in additional savings against the annual fee.  This card may just be a keeper!

December 10, 2016

Ritz-Carlton Rewards $300 Annual Airline Credit

While I love my Chase Sapphire Reserve card, I'm quickly falling for the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card as well.  If you're just joining us:

Read my complete review of the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card and my review of the $100 off airfare benefit.

Like the Chase Sapphire Reserve, Amex Platinum, Citi Prestige, and Amex Gold, the Ritz-Carlton card comes with a $300 annual airline credit.  By getting the card before the end of the year, you can actually receive the credit twice for one annual fee.  Once in 2016 and once in 2017.

My $450 annual fee has hit and I'm trying to get as much out of that fee as possible.  While some of the other cards offer more flexible credits, this one is a bit more restrictive.  You have to actually call/write into Chase to have a purchase credited (other credits are automatically reimbursed).  This means that purchasing gift cards is a challenge.  You can find the complete terms on Chase's website but my primary use is going to be for checked bag fees (dropping to zero airline status next year) and seat upgrades to economy plus and first class.

$100 Off Airfare With the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card

Last week, I shared my review of the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards card.  One of the great benefits of the $450 annual fee card is the ability to receive $100 off airfare when you book through the Visa Infinite portal.  The ticket must be a round-trip in domestic coach and is available for 2-5 tickets.  There's no limit on the number of times you can leverage this benefit and I plan to get A LOT out of this perk.

Booking through the portal was surprisingly easy and prices matched United's website exactly.  There's even a place to enter your frequent flyer details and Global Entry/PreCheck number.  Once I completed the booking, the reservation showed up in my United account immediately.  Here's how to take advantage of this benefit:

First, go to the Visa Discount Air Benefit portal.

Login with your name and Ritz-Carlton Rewards card number.  One thing to note is that in order to receive the benefit, the ticket must be charged to the card.  Obviously a small price to pay to receive $50 off each ticket.

Second, search for flights.  This is a pretty standard airline search engine and I'm confident all of you will be able to figure it out.  Going through the process the first time, I was in disbelief that this would actually work.  It seems too easy and too good to be true.

Third, select flights and add personal information for each ticket.

 Here's the exact same flight itinerary pricing on for the same price.

Book.  It was that easy and took less than 10 minutes included price checking on United.

This is an incredible benefit and since we will likely book 5-6 domestic coach roundtrip flight in 2017 we should be able to save $500 - $600.  I wasn't expecting the card to be a keeper, but combined with the $300 airline travel credit, the $450 annual fee is easily offset.  Will have more details on my experience redeeming the $300 travel credit in another post.

December 4, 2016

Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Card Review

Chase has had a Ritz-Carlton credit card product for years.  This year, they changed up the signup bonus from two free nights (and sometimes targeted 140,000 points) to there free nights after spending $5,000 in the first 3 months.

The card comes with a $450 annual fee and a $300 calendar year airline incidental credit.  So now is a great time to get the card since you can effectively get the rebate twice (in 2016 and 2017).  This will essentially offset the annual fee plus some.

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?