I should have spent over $4,500 to stay in the hotels I fell asleep in during a wine-induced haze. But I spent less than $400. How? Take a looksie.
This is a series of Trip Reports where I’ll breakdown the costs associated with airfare and hotels and how I pay for a significant portion of it with miles and points, like I did recently to Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.
So how did I stay in some fancy schmancy hotels for less 8% of what they cost?
What it cost:
Park Hyatt Sydney:
4 nights – 2 free-night certificates + 60,000 Ultimate Rewards points = FREE
Waiheke Island, New Zealand AirBnb:
2 nights = $127/per person
Rydges Auckland hotel:
1 night – AMEX Membership Rewards = FREE
Intercontinental Hong Kong:
3 nights – 150,000 IHG points + I upgraded at check-in and paid $80/night =$240
Brush up on The Basics of Earning Miles and Points, so you know how travel hacking works. Obviously, I spent some time sleeping overnight on planes during this 2 week vacation, but that wasn’t a problem because I flew in business class like a boss. (Did that sound as badass as I wanted it to? Good.)
What it should have cost:
Sydney Park Hyatt: Park King (upgraded to City Harbour King due to my Hyatt Platinum status)
I used my 2 free night certificates I received after meeting the minimum spend on my Hyatt credit card. Plus, I transferred Ultimate Rewards Points to Hyatt for the remainder of the stay. Currently, this my most favorite hotel redemption so far. It was a spectacular hotel.
$941 AUD/night x 4 nights = $2,648.91 USD
Waiheke Island, New Zealand AirBnb: You know, a house.
This is sort of a no-brainer. $381 split between 3 wine-loving gals = bundles of New Zealand fun.
Rydges Auckland hotel: Standard Double Room
My friend used her American Express Membership Rewards points to stay in this hotel overnight before we took off on separate paths for the remainder of our vacations. Plus, it was one of the few hotel rooms that had 2 double beds. Bizarre, right?
$264 NZD/night x 1 night = $173.68 USD
Intercontinental Hong Kong: Harbour View Room
I used my IHG points that I accumulated through meeting the minimum spend on my Chase IHG credit card, as well as earning bonus points for being a Spire Elite (one of the statuses in their hotel program). In the end, I don’t regret paying cash to upgrade to a Harbour View room, but truth be told, I should have pushed the front desk staff more to get it for free. Even though I’m a Spire Elite (the highest status), I was just too nervous to come across as pushy. Oh well, lesson learned. In the end I only paid $240 for room that should have cost me over $1400. I’d call that a win!
$3,700 HKD/night x 3 nights = $1,430.37 USD
You can read more about my favorite credit cards to use and decide for yourself which programs make the most sense for you. For this 2 week vacation, I’d say I did pretty dang good for the hotels.
If I were backpacking through Southeast Asia, using my points probably wouldn’t make as much sense since rooms cost $15.
It’s all in how you want to work your points for your needs. Sometimes people feel an obligation to stay at the best hotel for the best points redemption value and sure, that’s great and all, but in the end it’s what you need at that time and if it wasn’t the very best value, so what? You still got a great deal most likely!
In an upcoming post I’ll share the travel costs I paid out of pocket and the grand total associated with that. You’ll probably be surprised.