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Wizmanison's Kauai TR 2017 If anyone is interested in my TR for Kauai:

Found myself booking a last minute, 5 night, Labor Day weekend trip to Hawaii.

Stayed 5 nights at the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort. This hotel is absolutely stunning right from the entrance with several pools, a lazy river, a man made beach, as well as access to their private beach, tennis courts, spa and gym, as well as several other amenities.
Here are some pics of the above mentioned areas

A drone pic I took of the resort

Because I took advantage of the Hyatt to MLife back to Hyatt match I was able to get the Explorist benefits. They were very nice upgrading us to an ocean room, complementary valet, free kosher breakfast buffet (which was truly terrible), and so on...

As for the rental car, since I took part in that glitch several months ago with the Nordic Hertz Presidents Circle, I got upgraded to a beautiful SS Camaro Fifty edition convertible for the price of an economy car and could not be happier!
 Car Pics and heres a drone shot of us driving

As for flights... I booked through Korean Air with Delta for First class (only flight available since I booked last minute). After reading online about the aircraft Delta would be using I was not so excited as it was just a standard recliner and read that it would be a drop down entertainment system but was shocked to see the first class cabin look somewhat new, with a built in TV, and of course very comfortable. My wife's seat would not recline, her TV was glitchy, and they forgot our meal so I tweeted Delta and they offered 25k miles each or $200 voucher. Ended up getting 90k back in DL points by complaining via twitter and then sending in a complaint form online through their portal for both my wife and I.

Here are pics of the cabin

We spent the Friday & Saturday at the resort the whole time and Sunday through the rest of the trip, is when we explored the the wonderful Island and ended up barely spending any time at the resort! We rented snorkeling gear and stopped at several of the beaches as we drove throughout the Island over the course of the next few days:
 
Poipu Beach- Beautiful beach right by the resort that has a wonderful array of fish and is suitable for beginner snorkels

Waileu Beach- Great place for beginner snorkels as well. Crowded but very fun and a good place to bring kids.

Lawai Beach- Definitely felt as though this beach was for someone who has at least gone snorkeling a couple of times.  The waves were a bit stronger here but this where we sighted several massive sized turtles.

Ka’e Beach- Beautiful beach all the way at one of the ends of the island. Stunning views of the mountain side and ocean. Difficult to get a parking spot.

Polihale beach- was fine to drive with the Camaro... A bit annoying and bumpy but definitely doable. Besides that, it was an amazing sunset view and definitely a place to drive out to.

We of course visited the Queens Bath, Waimea canyon(absolutely stunning), Wailua River Water Falls, and other attractions throughout the island.

As for kosher food we brought from western kosher in LA, purchased a toaster oven from costco, and the typical groceries from the stores in the area.

Points breakdown:
Flights: 45k each Roundtrip with Delta First Class LAX-->LIH
Hotel: 25k (Category 6) each night at Grand Hyatt Kauai for a total of 5 nights
Car Rental: $125 for 3 days with a convertible class car

Minus the 90k I received from Delta and the 25k points from Hyatt for tweeting them a picture of a roach in our room.

P.S. First time writing one of these so sorry about any misformating or any other mistakes :) Also, I am in no way a photographer so keep that in mind (especially when you see the stills I attempted to take from the drone videos)!

October 31, 2017, 11:43:54 AM
5
Free $20-$30 GroundLink Credit for EVERY Visa Signature/Infinite Card You Have Last month, City National Bank updated the benefits of their Crystal Visa card to include a $30 credit to GroundLink. I decided to figure out how this all worked, and in doing so, I stumbled across these links:

GroundLink Visa Signature
GroundLink Visa Infinite

Once you enter your Visa Signature/Infinite card details into the corresponding link above, you then log into your GroundLink account, and the respective credit ($20 or $30 depending on card type) will be added to your balance. What I figured out but did not expect is that you can do this for every Visa Signature/Infinite card you have and load them all into the same account. I was able to do this 25 times before I ran out of credit cards and now have over $500 of GroundLink credit. All of my personal Visa Signature and Infinite cards worked (i.e. not business). All authorized user cards worked as long as they had unique card numbers. It did not matter that their cardholder names did not match the name on my GroundLink account.

GroundLink does have a referral program by which both the referrer and referee receive a $25 credit, so you will want to do this too.

$25 referral link: https://goo.gl/HJ8wP4

The terms for these credits seem to indicate various restrictions such as not being to combine credits, having to use the specific credit card that the credit came from, etc., but as far as I can tell, none of this is actually enforced, and I have a single combined GroundLink credit in my account. I tried a test booking of over $100 on the website, and it allowed me to pay for my entire reservation with my credit balance.

For completeness’ sake, here is the full list of credit cards that I was able to confirm do work, but I’d be fairly surprised if anyone finds a personal Visa Signature/Infinite card that doesn’t:

Alliant Cashback
Bank of America Premium Rewards
Bank of America Travel Rewards
CapitalOne VentureOne Rewards
Chase Hyatt
Chase Sapphire Preferred
Chase Sapphire Reserve
Citi Costco Anywhere
City National Crystal
Club Carlson Premier Rewards
Fidelity Rewards
Merrill+
Priceline.com Rewards
U.S. Bank Cash+
I tried three business cards that did not work: Chase Ink Cash, Chase Ink Plus, and Club Carlson Business Rewards.

Originally Posted by http://milesbriefs.com/ and basically C&P for your benefit :)

January 31, 2018, 11:49:47 AM
3
Zelle promo: Earn $10 When You Send 3 payments of $20 each or more w/ in 60 days https://www.chase.com/personal/quickpay/offers/zelle-10-dollar

You’re just steps away from a $10 Bonus!

Enroll in this offer by 4/30/2018.
Send 3 payments of $20 each or more within 60 days of enrollment — that's it!

Terms:

Bonus/Account Information: To receive the bonus 1) Be enrolled in Chase QuickPay® with Zelle®; 2) Enroll in the offer by 4/30/18; AND 3) Send 3 successful completed payments from your enrolled Chase Liquid® or checking account of $20 each or more using Chase QuickPay® with Zelle® within 60 days of offer enrollment. Payments sent using the Zelle® app do not qualify. Payments received through Chase QuickPay with Zelle do not qualify. After you have completed all the above requirements, we’ll deposit the bonus in your account within 10 business days. One bonus per customer per calendar year. Bonus is considered miscellaneous income, and may be reportable to you and the IRS on Form 1099-MISC (or Form 1042-S, if applicable).

Chase QuickPay® with Zelle®: Both parties need a U.S. bank account; only one needs an eligible Chase account. Transfers between eligible Chase accounts and select participating Zelle member banks or Zelle app users are typically available within minutes (go to chase.com/quickpayView participating banks to view participating banks). Transfers between eligible Chase accounts and non Zelle member banks not using the Zelle app could take up to 5 business days. Enroll on the Chase Mobile® app or Chase OnlineSM. Limitations may apply. Message and data rates may apply. 

February 08, 2018, 09:42:08 AM
1
Wizmanison's MAUI TR 2018 Trip Report Maui

For anyone interested in the free downloadable PDF version of Maui Revealed, after extensively searching online I found this! It truly came in handy.


   Since it is not as easy to vacation during the week for us, it is when we have long weekends that we like to take advantage. After visiting Kauai for memorial day weekend in September of 2017 (TR Here) we loved it so much that we planned to visit all the islands, something that is not as hard to do when living in LA.

   Booking our flights about 2 weeks in advance we had a tough time finding availability through KE for their cheap 45k first class flights. When they also didn’t have availability for Y we looked through all our other options before we used MR. Since I have a ton of those and still have 50% back till end of March it made it an easy decision. I booked our way there LAX-OGG on AA for 11,750 each (after the 50% back) and then a hidden city flight, OGG-LAX-SAN, with UA for 9,310 (after the 50% back). So total for the flights were 21,060 a person.

   While booking flights there seemed to be no availability for any of the hotels recommended in the Maui master thread, and it seemed that our only option at the time was the Ritz Carlton. Although, it wouldn’t have been the worst option considering I have several free nights there it seemed that people advised to stay away from that part of the island. Therefore, I set up alerts on hotelroomalerts.com for the Andazz, Marriot, Hilton, Hyatt regency, as well as others. A couple days later I happened to wake up in the middle of the night and for some reason thought it was a good idea to check the Hyatt app for availability. I saw that single days were available for most of our stay at the Hyatt Regency and I booked it! For the days that were missing I adjusted my hotel room alert and a couple days later the rest opened up. The Andaz only had one night available and although I wanted to stay there it wouldn’t have been worth the hassle to have to pack up all the stuff and stay there for such a short time. The Hyatt Regency was 20k UR a night for 4 nights. Totaling to 80k for the hotel stay.

   Now that flights and hotels were booked we looked into renting a car. Having Presidents Circle has been great in terms of upgrades and by sheer luck on our Kauai trip a SS Camaro happened to pull in when we were set to pick up our “corolla”. We didn’t want to take the chance this time so I booked with my friends Hertz Platinum status he earned through the black card and with the help of @davidrotts63 we got a great deal at $22.50 a day for a Corolla. Since we were traveling with my brother in law, Sister, and their newborn baby we decided we would chose the Wrangler over the Camaro for our upgrade. Without using Plat status the Wrangler would have been $1,100 for those 4 days while the Camaro was going for $315.
 
   Timing worked perfectly for this flight as a Grubhub promotion came out a week before our flight which allowed one to get $20 off $20. Although I had seen it when every blogger posted about it, I was so busy that I just set it aside for later and almost forgot about it when @davidrotts63 messaged me asking me about my experience with the promotion. Within 10 or so minutes, I had me, my wife, and my brother in law, get approximately 250 codes to use over the next two weeks before they expire. So for the days leading up to the flight I was ordering SO MUCH food for me, my family, friends (even though I had sent this deal out to them, with a dumbed down explanation explaining how to get unlimited codes, they only get like max 5-10  ::) ), and randoms in need. This deal was truly amazing because I was ably to try all these foods from restaurants around Los Angeles that I typically hesitated to try and would have never actually paid for. While still being able to enjoy massive meals every day, as well as stocking up our house in Snapples, we ordered take out food from restaurants all around LA to freeze the food and pack it in the polar bear cooler to reheat in Maui.

   Of course, something dramatic just HAD to happen. The night before the flight, we packed all our food and, thankfully, it was stored with my brother-in-law. Our bags and everything we needed was also packed and our alarm was set for 5AM, so I can do some work before our 8 AM flight, as well as every 10-20 minutes after that till 6:20, just incase. Apparently, I had put my phone into the wrong charger, which happened to not be plugged in, something that has never happened to me before, and my phone died in the middle of the night. Therefore, rendering my alarms useless and leaving me dead asleep till 6:58 when my wife woke me up shocked at the time. I typically wake up before my alarm but I guess we went to sleep late that night and were exhausted. My sister and brother in law, parents, and in laws all tried calling but my wife’s phone was on vibrate and I guess it was not enough to wake us up. Neither was the constant banging and knock on doors from my sister who came to try to wake us up. I guess, the way our home is positioned, the bedroom is all the way in the back and when our door is closed you would not be able to hear someone knocking. After giving up and thinking maybe we had already gone to the airport they left, luckily they had the food bag and were able to check it in. Within minutes of our 7AM wake up we were dressed and almost out the door when we noticed a knock on our door. My Mother in Law was asked to check on us and although we ordered an Uber we cancelled it and had her rush drive us to the airport. We, somehow, made it with 10-15 minutes to spare and boarded the plane!

   I attempted to take advantage of the several hundred dollars I got from the Groundlink promo but seems as though I could not get through the last part of the booking stage even though my account was active and credits were in the account. When calling in they were not even able to pull up my account… Then, after spending 15 minutes trying to get an Uber from the airport to the hotel, wanting to use some of the thousands of dollars I racked up from the VLO’s, no one accepted our drive request. So, we negotiated with a taxi driver to take us for the hour or so drive to the Hyatt Regency Maui for $80 with a CC. Traffic was pretty bad but we made it.
   
   We decided to reserve the car at the Hertz location at the Regency because it was substantially cheaper, but they did have much less options to choose from. ( I would highly advise one to look into if they will offer complimentary pickup from the airport. We did not know to ask for such a service but I vaguely remember hearing that they do this) We got to the hotel at around 1:30 and the room was not available until 4:00. They took down my number and texted me when it was available and gave me 4 complimentary drink coupons for the inconvenience. They were at 98.2% occupancy, so they couldn’t give me a suite, but they upgraded us to the highest floor with ocean and mountain balcony views.

 While waiting we picked up our car a couple hours early. They automatically upgraded our corolla to a Chrysler 300 but we asked for a Jeep and they gave it to us. They only had a two door jeep available and it did not seem to be a newer version of the car. Overall, it was just not the most ideal car for 4 people and a baby so as we were driving towards Costco to restock on some stuff and purchase a toaster oven (probably best to avoid this more expensive option as it only stays on for like 2 hours before shutting off) we went to the airport Hertz and said the car was having problems and we didn’t feel comfortable driving it, they took the car not asking us to pay for any gas, and although they did not have much available to give (since it was a busy weekend) they traded the Jeep for the Infiniti Q70. This car was much more comfortable, roomy, and was just overall great! With a new car, a new tank of gas, and everyone not feeling cramped, we drove back to the hotel to settle in.

   The hotel itself was really nice. Here are some day drone pics and here are some sunset shots of the hotel and areas surrounding it! And here are the, not so well taken, room pics.It seemed like a condensed and not as nice version of the GH Kaui but I thought the pools and beaches were better. There were talking birds, Penguins, Swans, Flamingos, and some other stunning animals and garden areas. The hotel was nice enough to give us a crib, microwave, and an extra fridge for no charge. We went to sleep relatively early after touring the hotel at night. They had a laundry room, macy's, and other shops.

   The next day we spent some time by the pool and with a couple hours before shabbat we stopped by some of the West side, of the island, sites. Here are the few we visited as well as some sites that we were advised to visit:
 
   Olivine Pools - Was like a 5 minute hike to get to the really nice lookout. As it was a bit cold and windy outside we did not venture down to swim in the pools but, nonetheless, glad we came out to see it. Surrounding the olivine pools, and pretty much most of Maui, there was beautiful views of the mountain sides and ocean. Sent out my drone and got pictures of the lovely heart shaped pool.

         Nakalele Blowhole- We stopped off at a lookout because we needed to do something and happened to be we could see the blowhole from there. For us, at least, we didn’t think it was anything special that we needed to stop and hike down to see it up close.

   Honokohau Bay- Not entirely sure why people advised to stop here as it was a beach with rocks leading up to it. Stayed there for a max of 5 minutes before we decided to leave. So definitely skip-able.

   Honolua Bay/Park- This was a really nice visit and definitely a must see if you are on this side. We parked at what seemed like the main entrance of Honolua Park and walked through a pathway with lots of beautiful trees for about 10 minutes till you get to the beach. While walking on the path,  about halfway to your left, you’ll notice a a vine that has been knotted and looks as if its sole purpose is for you to swing on it like Tarzan. We spent like 10 minutes just having fun on that before getting to the beach. Since it rained, heavily the day and morning before our arrival the water was murky and we truly could not see any fish. But, if coming here when it has not rained during or prior to your stay I would highly recommend a visit as it is known as a good snorkeling spot.

   Kapalua Bay Beach- This was on our list, but shabbat was nearing in so we decided to skip it. From the pictures it just seemed like another beach stretched across several hotels. We decided to skip it this time but it does not look like, from the pictures at least, as if we missed anything special.

   After returning from what must have been close to a 2-3 hours of driving through scenic roads and stopping at these sites we returned to the hotel and handed the car to valet. Valet was actually super convenient and complimentary (although I’ am not sure if thats standard). Without it I would have had to self park (which you also have to pay for, I believe, and is a short, but not so short for the lazy, walk to the hotel.) The rest of the night we relaxed and enjoyed the free GrubHub food. We prepared for shabbat with our toaster oven and loads of free GrubHub food.

   We slept in Saturday morning as we planned to be at the resort all day. We walked along the boardwalk and visited the other hotels. But, returned to the Hyatt Regency. Towards sunset we saw several whales jumping out the water very close by! That night we went out to downtown Lahaina which was a nice thing to do as opposed to sitting in a hotel room. Its simply local shops and restaurants stretched over several blocks.

   Sunday was our Road to Hana day. We woke up at 6:30 and left by 7:30. We stopped at Krispy Kreme and Costco for gas and then entered from Paia. In order are the stops we made:

Hana Sites in order:

Eucalyptus Trees-

If memory serves me right, in the first 15-30 Mins of really getting on the RTH you will see on your left massive rainbow eucalyptus trees. I thought I added it to my itinerary, so perhaps I would stop at another one like this later, but apparently I added the one in Kona so it did not register in my map and I didn’t realize till it was too late.

Here is the Google Maps Location based off my picture from my phone I took while driving past.

Lower Puohokamoa Falls Trail-

I accidentally drove right past this one by accident but after looking online it seems this might have been fenced off to the public anyways.

Twin Falls Maui Waterfall-

This was our first stop. It was like a 5 minute walk to see the waterfalls. It was pretty nice and there were several people jumping from the waterfall and swimming at the bottom but nothing breathtaking so to say...

Ching’s Pond-

We walked right past this site and ventured into some pathway we thought was Ching’s pond. We walked for about 15 minutes before giving up on this trail and walked back. As we walked by to the car we heard someone jumping off a ledge into a pond. Which turned out to be Ching’s pond which was only a minute away from where our car was! Either way it looked to crazy of a jump for us to do so we drove onward. But for those who are interested, its simply the ledge on the turn of the RTH.

Upper Waikani Falls-

Was really nice and was able to take cool drone shots and photos!

West Wailua Iki Falls-

I seemed to have only seen this site by slowly driving by the bridge that it was running under. Seeing the pictures now online I probably should have stopped at this seemingly beautiful waterfall.

Makapipi Falls-

Drove right past this one as well :/.

Nahiku Rd-   

Driving down Nahiku Rd. was really bumpy and besides for myself everyone in my car was urging me to turn around. It only got worse when I apparently made a right turn and not left (as the left was closed off) and I drove into narrower and bumpier roads. Only figured on the way back that I took the wrong turn!

Wainapanapa State Park/ Pa’lloa Bay/ Black Sand Beach-

All names for Black Sand Beach. We started walking down the stairs and entered a cool little cave. Upon exiting it suddenly started pouring heavy rain! We waited for it to slow a little and we took some pictures at the beach and took some sand as a souvenir. Rain got even harder and we ran back to the car all soaking wet!

Kaihlulu Beach (Red Sand Beach)-

This trail was not so long but a bit dangerous. But, I likely only feel that way because I had to do it barefoot since I did not bring proper hiking shoes and my other shoes were all muddy and had me slipping from the rain. So, as you can imagine, my feet were in pain walking on jagged rocks, narrow wet pathways, and such... But, it was worth it to see the beautiful Red Sand Beach. We were there for only a short time but it was very cool to see.

Wailua Falls-

 Was a really pretty and massive waterfall with space to pull over to the side to get a nice view and picture.

Seven Sacred Pools at Ohe’o-

I believe we passed by this beautiful site and saw it while driving but the rest of the car did not want to make any more stops or walk any more trails as they were drained. This was quite unfortunate for me as these ‘pools’ looked quite stunning!

Falls of Makahiku-

There seemed to be a trail to go see this site, which looks really nice from this google photo! But, I did not have the pleasure of visiting it.

Completing the rest of the RTH-

The rest of the RTH was so beautiful in its own way. With amazing views of mountains, animals, and endless fields as well as ocean views this ending to the RTH truly made it all come together so perfectly. Some pics, a panorama, and drone pics.


Some pics and drone pics taken of the scenic drive through Hana

Since we were driving by the airport and the car was making a bit of noise in one of the tires, so I made the decision to stop by Hertz and see what they can upgrade us to this time. As expected, they gave us the Escalade Extended Edition! The car was super nice, new, and simply massive! It had all the newest technology like the arm rest console was a wireless charger for my iPhone, it had a projector for directions and speedometer, and countless other unnecessary things. What was great is that we got a completely clean car with a new full tank of gas for free ( after our previous Infiniti was dirty from the days trip and depleted of gas) as well as an extended drop off time till Monday at midnight ( our original return was 4:00) and they allowed us to return the car to the airport as opposed to returning it at the hotel, where we picked it up! This saved us a costly drive from the hotel to the airport. We drove back to the hotel, happy as ever, with a smooth and comfortable ride.

That night, everyone was pretty exhausted, so we just hung out and ate in the room before calling it a night.

I wanted to wake up early morning and make the trip to the Haleakala Crater but no one wanted to wake up that early and I didn’t want to make the trip alone :(. So for the rest of Monday we didn’t really plan anything but to enjoy the resort and beach. We did just that and snorkeled at the beach of the Hyatt Regency. Earlier in the day I found a turtle and followed it quite deep until I lost it. But, no one else had the pleasure of seeing the turtle. Therefore, around sunset time when we saw several turtle heads popping out in the shallow waters of the beach there was no hesitation from anyone to jump into the now colder waters! We swam with a couple really big turtles (excuse the crappy pictures!) around us and it was amazing! As for the other fish you see when snorkeling, there was nothing that amazing but that might be because I only had just came back from snorkeling at places like Maldives, Thailand, and Bali… (Trip report coming soon!).

We also spent a good chunk of our last day at the Westin resort (about a 10 minute walk down the boardwalk from the Hyatt Regency). They also have nice pools and a really fun adult slide!

Running out of GrubHub food we made a trip to Walmart before our 12:00am flight. We bought several kosher items (mostly junk food) and sat down at one of the tables and ate there. After that we went to Hertz, waived our platinum status booklet they gave us and instructed us to do upon arrival, and someone drove us, with the Escalade, to the airport to drop us off.

With no PP lounges we hung out for about an hour before the flight at the gate awaiting our return flight to Los Angeles! 

Points breakdown:
Flights: 21,060 MR each Roundtrip LAX-->OGG
Hotel: 20k (Category 5) each night at Hyatt Regency Maui for a total of 4 nights
Car Rental: $115 for 5 days with originally booking a Corolla then switching from Jeep to Infiniti Q70 to Escalade.

March 25, 2018, 03:09:18 PM
1
$5 of Bubly Sparkling Water Use code GETBUBLY to get $5 off Bubly products at amazon.com/bubly. There are 9.99 options as well as $7 options that can easily be seen through this link .
April 04, 2018, 02:48:43 PM
2
Around the World in 23 days, A Honeymoon TR by Wizmanison Although this trip was not 'technically' a RTW trip or a honeymoon (as we have been on several 'honeymoon' trips before and after this trip) the title seemed fitting. Like most people a trip to the Maldives or Bora Bora was always high on my bucket list. Having recently getting married and with the sale that was going on, I thought what better excuse to make a trip to the Maldives! When beginning to plan I noticed that most of the TR’s I read were lacking some information either intentionally or not. Therefore, I will try to make this TR as transparent and detailed filled as I can! I will try to include prices for everything I remember as well as any information I uncovered from my countless pages of reading. Thank you to all those who contributed, whether I read your TR or not it really does help others a when planning.

I apologize in advance if I make any grammar mistakes, input any unreliable or false information, bad photos or anything else that might offend you. No intentions to do any of the above but if it happens SORRY!

Breakdown of Costs:

Flights:
LAX-JFK = $572 ($286 each paid for with B6 Travel Credit)
JFK-AUH w/ Cai RT = 208k MR (104k ANA each) + $205 YQ               
CAI-MLE = 50,066 UR 
MLE-SR MLE= 64k Arrival + points + $735
MLE-SIN= 37k UR (18.5k SIN each) +$100 YQ
SIN-DPS=15k (7.5k SIN each) +$50 YQ
DPS-USM= 25k (12.5k SIN each) +$40 YQ
USM-URT-DMK= $138 ($69 each)
BKK-HKT=$104 ($52 each)
HKT-CNX= $228 ($114 each)
CNX-BKK= 26k UR (13k each)
BKK-AUH= 36,000 AA (18k each) +$50 YQ
JFK-LAX= $408( $204 each paid in AA travel credit)

Hotels:
Le Meridian Egypt: 3k spg
SR MLE: 234k spg (5 nights @ 46.8k)
Andaz Singapore: Free Night Cert
GH Bali: 36k (3 nights @ 12k) - 20k (for complaining)= 16k
Conrad Koh Samui: 190k (2 nights @ 95k)  (Received Be My Guest Cert for complaint)
Bangkok Thong Ta Resort Suvarnabhumi: $22
Le Meridian Chiang Mai: 24k (3 nights @ 8k)
Hyatt Regency Dubai: 8k
Park Hyatt Dubai: Free Night Cert

Breakdown by Currency:

TOTAL UR: 177,066
TOTAL AA: 36,000
TOTAL MR: 208,000
TOTAL SPG: 261,000
TOTAL HILTON: 190,000
TOTAL Arrival +: 64,000
TOTAL CASH: 1,672 (Most of which were paid with CSR/Ritz travel credits and Arrival + points)
VOUCHERS/CREDITS USED: 2 Hyatt Free nights (50k Hyatt), AA GC ($408), B6 Credit ($572)...

TOTAL POINTS/MILES USED: 936,066

FLIGHT ROUTE:



TRIP PLANNING:

For those that just want a summary of what and how I booked and not the super detailed trip report that will follow, here you go:

   
I happened to book 5 nights at the SR MLE in May of 2017, around the time when all the bloggers were writing about the reduced price for the SR MLE. Since I was able to cancel until December I thought why not just hold the dates just incase. So for 234,000 SPG points I booked the 5 nights in the Maldives. I was busy at the time planning my Summer trip and pushed off the idea of planning the MLE trip.
   
It was only till about late October - Mid November that I started getting realistic about making a trip out of this booking. I seriously thought of just cancelling the 5 nights but after speaking to several people about how amazing their trip was I had to at least try to plan a trip. So I started reading and slowly kept on adding a list of possible stops to this trip to the other side of the globe. My thought process was more or less if I am already flying all the way out there I might as well make the most of it.

We used travel credit from price matching our flights as well as family members flights and other credits we got from complaints to book LAX-JFK for $286 each.
 
After looking at several options it seemed most feasible to make AUH the hub and use ANA to book the roundtrip from JFK-AUH.  I planned to book side by side Etihad Apartment suites for our longest flights and EY was showing availability for 149k MR—> ANA eacH. So I transferred hoping to book. But, when it came too booking ANA was not able too see availability :(. So we booked just Business class. Since these RT flights offer a free stopover, I chose Egypt. Mostly because other places were either to far, not interesting enough, or we had to little time to explore that destination.

We then used 50k Merrill points for two flights from CAI-MLE. But, for reasons you’ll read later we actually ended up using 50k UR.

MLE-SIN (Singapore) costed us 18.5 UR—> SIN plus $50 YQ each (CSR credit).

I then waitlisted a bunch of SIN-DPS (Bali) flights on SIN. A couple weeks before departure they cleared up and I booked it for 7,500 UR—> SIN and like $25 YQ each (CSR credit).
   
It was pretty hard finding a DPS-USM (Koh Samui, Thailand) flight for our dates but we finally found the option to book DPS-USM with a stopover in SIN. How it would work is we would fly DPS-SIN on Singapore airlines and then SIN-USM on silk air. It cost 12.5 UR—> SIN and $20 in taxes each (CSR credit). This flight had us getting into Singapore at like 1:30 AM and the next flight to Koh Samui was only leaving at 8:30 am. I chose this flight because I wanted to get into Koh Samui and enjoy the Conrad the most I could for the short time we were there (2 nights). So we went into one of the PP lounges and slept there.

For the next flights, besides AUH-JFK, I booked them all days before travel as I started to get really busy the weeks before the trip and even during the trip. It was really hard to find flights from USM to anywhere else in Thailand that didn’t leave early morning. And, like I said I wanted to enjoy my time at the Conrad KS. I looked at every option to literally every airport in Thailand and even other routings out of Thailand and back in but could not find anything. And for the flights I did find they either had no availability or only 1 seat available, or were ridiculously expensive. Thinking I struck gold, I booked a flight from USM to BKK on Expedia only to see after paying that it was for dates 3 months out! This was because when I translated google flights to Expedia, it inverted the month and day with the google translation. I immediately called in and with enough HUCA they refunded me. They claimed that these flights were non refundable because flight was within a week and these carriers don’t offer 24 hour refund. I escalated to manager and they gave me a “one time exception” refund. So, with all other options exhausted we ended up taking a ferry from USM-DonSak Pier for $9 each. And then transportation to URT, other known as Surat Thani Airport in Thailand, for $8 each. I then took a flight from URT-DMK for $52 each person (CSR credit) on Air Asia.

We spent like less then 12 hours in Bangkok, pretty much just in the markets as my wife wanted some purses and stuff and we got a massage. Stayed at a $20 hotel found on Orbitz since we were only in the room for like 2 hours and it offered a shuttle to the airport. Our flight was at 6:20 am. We flew from BKK-HKT for $52 each person (CSR credit) on Bangkok Airways.
   
We arrived in Phuket at 7:45am and went to do the Phi Phi Island tour. Came back to airport at around 6:30 for our 7:20 flight to Chiang Mai. We flew AirAsia HKT-CNX, booked a day or two before, for $114 each (CSR/Ritz Credit) and arrived at 9:15pm Thursday night.
   
Stayed in CNX for 3 nights before heading back to BKK for a flight to AUH. We flew Thai Airways CNX-BKK from 3:20pm-4:35pm for 13k UR or $98 each.

With a unforeseen SUPER tight connection it was only by a matter of pure YMMV that I made it to the next flight: BKK-AUH 6:05pm-10:05pm. We flew business for this route as it was a longer flight at around 7 hours and I had been driving my wife crazy with all the intra Thailand flights. It was also a great price! Since I have so many AA points it was easy to spend 40k miles, each, for biz class. With the Citi 10% bonus it ended up being 36k and $25 in taxes each (CSR/Ritz Credit).

After taking forever in customs in AUH for reasons that I never found out (I was like the only one in line and the man left with my passport for like 30 minutes somewhere) and going through a whole ordeal with the rental car we got to Dubai and spent 2 nights there before returning for our flight back to AUH-JFK with Etihad to complete our RT. We left at 10:15 and arrived in JFK at 3:50.

Purposely giving us like a 5 hour layover, our flight from JFK-LAX with AA for $204 each, booked with AA gift cards, courtesy of plat and biz plat travel credit, was from 9:15-1:06am. We did this so we could land, see some friends & family briefly and finally eat  freshly made food!

So all in all we took about 16 flights and a ferry ride over a 3 week 2 day period. We spent approx. 60-66 hours in flights and visited about 3 Continents, 7 Countries, 8 States/Cities, and 11 Islands.

Detailed Trip Report in the works. Have written some of it, but adding pictures on DDF is relatively new to me and seemingly time consuming. Will be posting Egypt TR in the coming days as soon as I finish figuring out the pics.

June 11, 2018, 06:09:35 PM
14
Re: Cancun, Mexico Master Thread
Any recent knowledge if these two are ok to eat in?

https://cancunkoshercenter.com/menu
http://www.redheifergrill.com/Menu

Can I assume that the prices here http://www.redheifergrill.com/Menu are in pesos and not dollars even though they have the $ symbol?

Both were open and were kosher whilst I was there a couple months ago.

Cancun kosher center is Dag Dag. Do not get the nachos as it’s simply cheese sprinkled over chips and put in the microwave. Pizza is actually pretty good but I found both restaurants to be pretty pricey. Like many people here I happened to get the bad end of Red Heifer but many do have a good experience there.

July 09, 2018, 10:07:51 AM
1
South Africa Master Thread
I'm leaving Kruger in about an hour or so on the way back to joberg is there a shorter way to do the panorama drive? I'd like to make it back before the restaurants close (8ish)
Just made this (Panorama Route - Wiz https://goo.gl/maps/fBR7UxWCrus) on google maps for you of places that I was told to visit or had read about for stops on or near the panoramic route.

I just visited most of them when I was there a month or so ago and will hopefully provide more detail in the trip report. IMO 3 Rondavels View Point was by far the best stop.

July 31, 2018, 04:32:33 AM
1
Re: Where Are You Posting From Now?
POIDH

Sorry if the pics suck. First time really using a camera thats not my iPhone...







August 08, 2018, 06:20:36 PM
1
LAX-JFK RT 11k DL for Sept-Oct Seems DL is running a sale where roundtrip tickets are pricing out to be 11k + $11.20 in YQ.




August 13, 2018, 01:29:03 PM
3