never wrote a TR before but after always reading and hearing everyone else's, i'm giving it a crack... i will need some time to get pictures up as i have never done it before... here's where i give a shoutout to stmark http://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=72422.0 because he says This is my first time Posting a tr so I apologize if the wording isn't write or my points were not used to the best of their ability. However, they were my points and I used them how my wife and I wanted to used them so I don't really care if you don't approve or think there were better redemptions out there- my trip my points my experiences.
i loved that line and got the motivation to write this right then
was looking for a warm destination to go with family for mid winter vacation... with a relatively newborn, a long trip to hawaii even with a stopover for shabbos in LA was scratched even though i found plenty of availability with the stop and flexible airline and time options... even some premium space on some if not all the flights but i am going to have to wait till next time. a lack of passports for some of the kids made planning a warm getaway more complicated but when i realized i can get some good award space to USVI, i decided to go for it...
booking rooms with points proved to be a minor challenge when the ritz on St Thomas showed no availability, but after calling the frenchmen's reef marriott as an alternate even when they showed no space, the rep was very helpful and suggested i try the westin st john villas.
so i called the westin and told the rep that i wanted to come with the family but didnt went to be stuck in a small room and needed a bigger room. i dont have status and i had many marriott points which i could transfer so when he said he can confirm an upgrade, i topped my spg account off, booked four night at 20k a night and ended up with a 3 br villa with private pool. i realized afterwards that i could of stayed till fri with 5th night free but it ended up not being such a big deal. $40/nite resort fee. total 80,000 spg (40k converted from 120 marriott) + $160
now, i needed to make sure i had flights and get the food in order and bathing suits packed
i booked avios jfk-stt on aa sun morning returning thu afternoon... 20,000/pp r/t x 5 plus an infant (2,000) total cost (102,000 ba and $79 taxes) i realized after spending time on DDMS that i could add the lap child for free so i called ba and got the 2,000 avios back and taxes credited back to cc. i then called aa direct and asked to add the lap child. before i knew it, she was back on the reservation and we were ready to go... both flights were not so full and we had plenty of space to stretch. business/first on the way there was lie flat which i could have had but ultimately, the short flight made it not worth getting upset about.
we bought some chopped meats, steaks, hot dogs, cereal, cheese, breads, rolls, froze a couple milks, pre-prepared baby chicken, made some pasta on sat night and packed it all up with a george foreman and a sandwich maker... lots of snacks, tuna etc... there wasnt going to be any kosher there and the chabad shliach on st thomas has a small but expensive menu and some of us are picky eaters so adding my aa account number to the reservation which linked my cc, i was able to check 2 bags free, each containing some of the food secured by the clothes. we also took a lot of the snacks etc... in the carry ons and kids backpacks.
reg domestic aa product. no wifi. no individual screens. no meals. kids travel well and we were prepared with projects, books, games and snacks and before we knew it, we were landing...
westin has a lounge in the airport where we were able to check in to the hotel having prepaid for ferry transportation to st john. i am a big fan of saving money but for the hassle of shlepping through st thomas with suitcases, infant in infant seat, 3 kids, carry ons and more, i decided that that $120/pp ($90/child) r/t bus to direct ferry to island provided by westin was well worth it. otherwise, i would have had to take a taxi to the port, taken a local ferry service to st john, then another taxi to resort and it all seemed extra stressful. not having to touch my suitcases from the baggage claim to my room was freedom.
bus to ferry was short and uneventful.
we loaded onto the ferry quickly and a couple minutes later we were sailing... a few seamen give a little guide/tour but it was very loud and hard to hear. they spoke without microphones which i found strange given that there were speakers... we were a little tired having woken up quite early to get to airport so we just relaxed and took in the views. we passed the ritz and some other islands along the way, were able to see st croix in the distance and about half hour later, we were docking at the westin.
greeted warmly by the staff, with cups of rum and punch (or just punch for the kids), we were handed a portfolio which included the resort map and room keys together with bottled water and whisked away to the waiting golf carts which would later prove to be costly...