Dubai & Mauritius 2014: St. Regis Mauritius

We were the first ones through immigration thanks to disembarking first. After collecting our bags, which took a little longer than I hoped, we met the St. Regis representative. I read in advance that St. Regis transfers were a little more costly than taxis (roughly $100), but much more comfortable.  The hotel offered either:

  • Luxury Coach – 5500 MUR (~$150)
  • Audi Q7 or Range Rover – 8000 MUR (~$220)

We chose the Luxury Coach (described as a minivan via email), but we were upgraded to the Range Rover at no additional charge.  I saw the Q7 on property, in fact we were “upgraded” to it on the way back to the airport, but I never saw a van, so I’m skeptical whether or not it actually exists or whether they are just happy to take an extra $70 from some people who don’t know better…

St. Regis Mauritius Range Rover

St. Regis Mauritius Range Rover

The ride to the St. Regis Mauritius Resort took just over an hour and the sun set toward the end of the drive–most of which was through the middle of the island and not terrible picturesque, though the last 20 minutes or so were mostly along the water.  Our driver, I forget his name but he’s pictured here in the right of the frame was awesome.  As we found out on the ride back, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a smooth ride, and this was great.  Not only that, but he gave us a great history of Mauritius and lots of info on the island.  The hotel also provided a complimentary hot spot in the car which was nice given that data pricing is outrageous there.

Mauritius Sunset

Mauritius Sunset

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Dubai & Mauritius 2014: St. Regis New York City

We flew to New York the day before our departure to Duabi for a few reasons, but mostly because with a morning departure out of New York, we didn’t want to mis-connect on a separate ticket.  US Airways has excellent award availability on the DCA-LGA route with more daily frequencies than you can count, and at 4500 British Airways Avios per person, it’s a great deal.

NYC

NYC

I tried to book an Uber when we landed at LGA, but he wanted us to walk about 2 miles to him, and with 2 weeks of luggage that wasn’t happening, so we hopped into a cab and quickly (for New York, anyways) arrived in Manhattan at the St.Regis.

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Dubai and Mauritius 2014: Preview

We just got back from our last (I think?) intercontinental trip of 2014 where we visited the UAE and Mauritius.

Mauritius

Mauritius

I’ll have a full report coming in the next few days (week, max!), but I wanted to briefly preview what’s upcoming as well as their associated costs. [Read more…]

Why is nobody talking about the Diners Club card?

Recently (as in this month) Diners Club re-launched consumer credit cards in the United States for new applications.  This is big news as Diners Club used to be a major player in the points game and has been closed to new applications for several years as the program has bounced from bank to bank.

My shiny new Diners Club card

My shiny new Diners Club card

They offer a flexible point program with several transfer partners.  Those partners are (via Flyertalk and 1:1 unless otherwise noted):

OneWorld: British Airways
SkyTeam: Delta Airlines, Korean Air.
Star Alliance: Air Canada, Eva Airways, SAS, South African Airways, Thai Airways.
Independent: Alaska Airlines, El Al Airlines, (50:1), Frontier Airlines, Hawaiian Airlines, Iceland Air, Southwest Airlines (1500:1200), Virgin Atlantic.
Hotels: Best Western (1250:3300), Choice (1250:2400), Hilton (1250:2000), Hyatt (1250:750), Intercontinental Hotel Group (1250:1500), Marriott (1250:1500), Starwood (1250:750).
Rail: Amtrak.

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Maldives Trip 2013-2014! Overview and Preview

Here’s what you can look forward to on this trip report [assuming all goes according to plan]:

Chauffeur + Washington Dulles Airport

Dulles to Abu Dhabi Etihad Diamond First

St. Regis Abu Dhabi Nation Towers

Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Saadiyat Island

Abu Dhabi to Male Etihad Pearl Business

Conrad Lounge & Seaplane

Conrad Maldives

Male to Hong Kong Cathay Pacific Business Class

W Hong Kong

Hong Kong Airport and Cathay Pacific Lounge(s)

Hong Kong to New York Cathay Pacific First Class

JFK Airport and AA Flagship Lounge

New York to DC American First Class
We’re enjoying our first morning in Abu Dhabi right now, and I have to say, I was very impressed with our first flight on Etihad!
Etihad Diamond First Class

Etihad Diamond First Class

Mallorca Next Summer!

This isn’t just me bragging about accomplishing one of the goals I just discussed, there are 2 real pieces of information int his post that may help you…  but I’m also pretty pumped about the trip!  Can’t wait for the St. Regis Mallorca!

Life could be worse...

Life could be worse…

First… the details:
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My Hitlist: Five Goals & Plans

As I discuss in the Beginner’s Guide, I think it’s very important to regularly take stock of your travel goals and align your earning strategy in such a way that you achieve those travel goals as fast as possible.  That means always thinking 1-2 steps ahead of your next trip, and planning anywhere from a few months to a couple years out.

So rather than lecture you, I figured I’d show you a few examples of my planning… maybe some of you have even been some of these places or experienced some of these and can offer some advice?

Goal #1: Amanpulo

Do I really need to keep talking?

Do I really need to keep talking?

Why: Do I really need to explain why after that picture?  Amanpulo is a private island resort in the Philippines which certainly rivals places like the Maldives or Tahiti for postcard-ness, and, of course, offers the renowned Aman service.

My Plan: This is a tough one because Amans don’t have any loyalty program that I’m aware of, so you can’t use hotel points on the stay.  And it’s expensive.  This is one instance in which it might be advantageous to use a fixed value currency which can be redeemed for any travel related expense–including non-chains.

The best such program is from the Barclaycard Arrival credit card, which earns 2 points on all spending and also earns a 10% rebate on all redemptions.  So for every 100,000 points you redeem, they give you 10,000 points back… not a bad deal!  Given that the flights will likely be [nearly] free, I could live with splurging on a few nights lodging costs.

So really my plan is simply to try and build up a small stash of Barclay Arrival points until I feel comfortable with the amount I’ll be able to offset.

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Croatia Trip 2013: St. Regis Rome

Apologies for the long delay between posts.  I’ve had a super busy September and getting things done has been a challenge. 

Dulles Airport
IAD-MUC
MUC Airport
MUC-SPU
Le Meridien Split
SPU-FCO
St. Regis Rome

I enjoyed the taxi ride to the hotel since I’d never been to Rome before, but despite having lived in Rome for ~6 months, Cara couldn’t tell me much about what we were passing and our taxi driver wasn’t the most sociable fellow.

Taxi window tourism...

Taxi window tourism…

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Croatia Trip 2013: SPU-FCO

Dulles Airport
IAD-MUC
MUC Airport
MUC-SPU
Le Meridien Split
SPU-FCO

One of the difficulties in leaving out of Split is that many the flights depart in the afternoon.  This is great if you want to get in a last day of sun (and we definitely did), but not so great if you want to connect to a flight to North America–most of which leave anytime from late morning to early/mid afternoon from Europe.

So we could’ve connected to Frankfurt or Munich and then just waited til the next day to head out on Lufthansa, but we decided to tack on a quick mini-trip to one of the cities served by Croatia Airlines out of SPU.  We chose Rome since Cara studied abroad there which Croatia Airlines serves with a Q400 prop plane very late in the afternoon (which was also important).
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Bali Trip Report: St. Regis Bali

Bali & Singapore 2013:
Preview & Cost
Dulles Airport
Lufthansa First Class IAD-FRA
Frankfurt Airport
Thai Airways First Class FRA-BKK
Bangkok Airport

St. Regis Bali

Honestly, it would’ve been really tough for the St. Regis Bali to live up to the hype and praise heaped upon it on TripAdvisor, on the SPG reviews, and elsewhere.  So I was almost afraid for my report, because I felt like it wasn’t really fair.  It absolutely blew my [ridiculously high] expectations out of the water.  I’ve never in my life enjoyed a hotel stay on anywhere near this level–and I’ve stayed at some great properties.

Paradise

Paradise

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