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Goods For Sale/Trade / Southwest Airlines Points Sale
« on: November 27, 2017, 12:33:29 PM »
I have three vouchers that add up to 20,000 points (5k, 5k, 10k). Looking for $270.

These can be deposited into any account and do not count towards any status qualification.

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Trip Reports / {Tznius Disclaimer} St. Lucia Marriage Proposal
« on: November 18, 2017, 05:44:11 PM »
www.youtube.com/watch?v=63ARdRDRPbg

Last year we took advantage of the amazing JetBlue promotion where they'd match your Virgin America point balance. We took a cheap flight from Long Beach to SFO and obtained 75k points each.

St Lucia (Christmas 2016)
Flight: JetBlue
Route: SAN-JFK-UVF









I booked an apartment through Airbnb just above the town of Soufrière. It was newly built and owned by a tour guide operator. I believe it was around $110-125, which is double the typical price due to the holiday. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/14671676?location=Soufriere%2C%20Saint%20Lucia&tier_override=0&s=YIxWJ34a




After unpacking our bags in Soufrière we headed down to the beach for the sunset. I spent a looooong time finding the perfect spot to propose. Searching through Google maps I was able to find a secluded spot with a great view. I typically make vacation videos so placing the cameras around to catch the proposal didn't give anything away  :)



Some highlights over the next five nights:

Lunch at Jade Mountain Resort. The place was completely empty! A lot of people will come for dinner, but we found that lunch was less than half the cost. It seems if you come right before dinner the place is typically empty, which was an amazing experience. You'll need to book in advance, but I get the impression that once you've come they have no problem allowing you back if you just want to use the bar.











The waiter asked me discreetly if we were on our honeymoon, and I mentioned that I had just proposed the night before. He pat me on the back and said, "Then I will make sure this is a very special lunch for you both!".  After finishing lunch he prepared a special desert for us both as if I had planned it all in advance! They also gave us each a free drink (they gave me a very nice cognac).





The meal after a generous tip came out to $113. The waiters are very well trained and ask if they can do a photo-shoot with your camera so that you can remember your visit. I have to say that I wasn't sure how they would treat non-guests but it was an amazing experience. The only awkward thing is that we went to take the photo below and peered over the ledge to see the property below and noticed two people naked on their balcony. So while the guests rooms are amazing, I'm not sure they are as private as they may seem!

Sugar Beach (Jalousie Beach) on Christmas. I would say it is worth spending two to three hours here. We had our Airbnb owner book us a drop off here and a pick up from Anse Chastanet Beach. I believe we took a golf cart down with the hotel. Usually they ask that you purchase a meal or what not, but they did not mention that to us. The beach is divided in two with about 20% being the "public side". The hotel wants you to pay for a day pass to use the day beds and umbrella. I think this was $50 per person. We tried to put our towel down on the non-public side, but a hotel employee tried to request us to leave (which you don't have to). Eventually we found that they are so persistent that it wasn't worth the trouble and moved our stuff under the shade of some trees. We brought a insulated bag full of local beers and snacks and had a great time otherwise.









We then negotiated a price for a water taxi that already had a tour group. I think it was ~$5-7 a person for the both of us. This avoids the need to have an expensive meal at the hotel in order to get the golf cart ride back up the hill where your taxi can pick you up from.



Anse Chastanet Beach







If you have snorkeling gear to bring.. then I'd bring it here. I'm not sure if it is worth renting gear as the amount you can see snorkeling in my opinion is rather limited, but it's the best beach for it in the area. We had a nice meal right next to the beach that wasn't expensive.





We made a quick stop in the downtown before having the driver take us home:


Horseback riding on the beach. This was on the other side of the island. It is a bit more expensive to do horseback riding here, but the views are incredible. I believe the helmets are optional, going back I'd probably opt not to use them. We thought going near the time of the sunset would be the best time as the air temp is cooler. While it was a more comfortable temp, the photos in the morning might have been a bit more spectacular. The only downside is that I think the horses are a bit tired late in the day. I'd advice early morning if possible.  http://www.atlanticridingstables.com/



Soufrière city tour:

Active "drive through" volcano


Botanical Garden
Local BBQ


Banana Plantation



Volcanic Mud Baths



I thought this was a tourist trap. It was packed and hot. I'd go for the sake of going, but try to research when this place is slow because it is busy with holidays and when cruise ships are docked. There is a fun waterfall near by for you to rise off at.



Lunch at Mango Tree
A little more expensive, but great views, decent food, and a fun place to have a few drinks. You can ask ahead of time if you can swim in their pool.







On the way up to the airport to depart for Barbados we took a photo stop at Marigot Bay.


If we had more days we would have rented a car and explored some of the local towns as we didn't get much time in them otherwise.





Overall we really enjoyed Saint Lucia. Would we go back? Probably not. While you can go up north and see pigeon island, we felt staying in Soufrière was the way to go. The landscape of the island is amazing, but the beaches aren't worth the hassle. You end up spending a good chunk of money to get transportation to the beach, have limited food options, and Sugar Beach has a very large hill to climb if you don't buy a meal there. Airbnb provides a great alternatives to the resorts. I found very mixed reviews on anything that wasn't a high-end hotel. There are some great local BBQ places, but the food options are rather lacking unless you are up to paying for expensive meals at hotels and resorts. The cost of renting a car is a bit high and the taxis aren't that cheap. I'd opt for a few transfers and one or two days with a tour guide.

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Trip Reports / {Tznius Disclaimer} Barbados 2017 New Years w/ 4K Video
« on: November 18, 2017, 05:35:48 PM »


Last year we took advantage of the amazing JetBlue promotion where they'd match your Virgin America point balance. We took a cheap flight from Long Beach to SFO and obtained 75k points each.

Barbados
Flight: LIAT
Route: SLU-BGI

We found some cheap island hopper flights with LIAT. They were below $100 each. The SLU airport is in the north of Saint Lucia. The tiny airport made departing the country very easy. They have a small cafe for coffee and food and even a small duty free shop.





We hopped into a cab upon arrival to a district called Rockley. I spent some time talking with people who frequently go to Barbados and found that Rockley Beach area was a great place to stay. We spent a lot of time looking at hotels and once again the reviews for anything beyond high end were fairly mixed and prices were inflated for New Years. We ended up doing another Airbnb and were really happy with our choice. Upon meeting our hosts who were retired locals, the owner drove us to the super market and we were able to pick up supplies for the week. Really amazing hosts that we got to know well on a personal level.
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/5792972

Accra Beach
A short walk from our Airbnb. There is a tiki bar that rents out chairs and umbrellas. Included in the price was a voucher for food and drink you could use at their bar. There were some tiny waves you could have a little fun with. On a good day it would be a great place to take a surf lesson. Definitely worth a trip to visit.







Worthing Beach
Our favorite beach in Barbados. The beach here is fairly empty and lined with mostly houses and not many resorts. In a given hour you might see about 5-8 people walk by. There is a super market within a short walk if you want to grab a hot lunch there to bring with you to the beach.













Crane Beach
Our second favorite beach in Barbados. We took a taxi to The Crane Resort. It's a bit of a drive, but worth it. We had lunch overlooking the beach. I don't recall the price of lunch or drinks, but they did not seem to be inflated. The beach has some rough waves, which are great for bodyboarding/boogieboarding. I'd suggest asking the guys who rent out the boards if you can pay extra and rent some swim fins as you can catch some really fun waves if you have a set of fins. You could potentially surf here if you have some experience, but it's not the best place for surfing. You'll want to go to the other side of the island to catch some good waves. You can rent beach chairs with an umbrella, but be prepared to barter as I think you have to buy a day pass to use the hotel's chairs and have to walk further down the beach to get chairs rented out by locals. There is a place to cliff dive, but I suggest you only try it if you are an experienced swimmer due to the waves.








Catamaran Tour
http://sailcalabaza.com/
We headed up north of Bridgetown for a catamaran tour. The company provides you transportation to/from the boat, food, drink, and alcohol for around $95 a person if you choose not to hire the whole boat. The company we used is rated number one on tripadvisor and they seem to book quickly, so I'd book as far in advance as possible. The tour is a lot of fun. The staff on board a great and know how to give a good time. Swimming with turtles is very hit and miss. You may only have one or two turtles around, but a ton of tourists. If you have experience snorkeling you will find the experience more enjoyable as most people are floating above with life jackets. The ship wrecks are near by. They seem to be vessels that we sunk there on purpose at the end of their life.

































St. Lawrence Gap


This is a great area for bars and restaurants. We ended up going to Beach One for New Years, which had a set menu for around $150-200 pp. The food was really great and the view from the restaurant is beautiful.












Primos
Another restaurant with a great ocean view located in the gap.



Oistin's Friday Night Fish Fry
If you haven't had a $1 van ride in Barbados.. it's worth the experience. If you are lucky you will get stuffed into an overly packed van full of locals that has a sound system that rivals the best night club on the island. While the techno bass shakes every bone in your body you hold on tight as the van flies through the streets at unreal speeds. It was a blast just to get to Oistin's, unfortunately our van ride back was much more tame. Oistin's Friday night fish fry can get packed. It is very touristy, but still fun to do. The food does seem fairly over priced at $12-20, but the food is good. You can check it off your list and say you did it.








Flying back we took JetBlue from BGI-FLL


We asked for the cost to upgrade to the even more space seats at check-in and were upgraded for free. The priority pass lounge at the Barbados airport is decent, but I wouldn't go out of my way to get to the airport early in order to spend time there. When booking the return award flight they for some reason allowed us a 50 min connection in FLL to San Diego. I knew the chances were strong that we'd miss our connection, but decided not to get a later connecting flight knowing that the travel benefits of my Chase Sapphire Reserve would kick in. Sure enough we arrived 15 minutes late and even though JetBlue promised to have someone at FLL assist through customs/immigration and a ride to our next flight... no one was waiting for us at FLL.

The Chase Sapphire Reserved covered:
- Uber ride to and from FLL to our hotel in Miami
- $150 dinner (excluding alcohol)
- Our hotel stay at the Confidante (Hyatt Unbound Collection)
- Breakfast would have been covered by my hotel status, but my diamond status with Hyatt let us eat in the restaurant.
- $65 worth of toiletries from Walgreens

















On the FLL-SAN leg JetBlue upgraded us to the even more space seats:


4
Hey guys,
 
I wanted to do a trip report for a few reasons:

  • Planning a trip to Palawan was time intensive (it's not as easy destination to get to and there are not a lot of trip reports outside of El Nido).
  • Palawan has been rated the best island in the world by Travel & Leisure and Condé Nast. It has been on our radar for the last year or two.
  • Visiting a private island is a completely different experience than your typical resort or chain hotel.
  • All but the last day we were the only guests on the island. It was extremely peaceful and romantic.
  • The island was featured on VH1's Dating Naked. Hopefully we'll drop in some of the more interesting stories we've heard about the filming.


YouTube videos (sorry if you aren't into the music)(Mod: tznius disclosure for videos):
www.youtube.com/watch?v=FTFh-389c0w





I'll break it into a few parts:

  • Manila (Arriving, Hyatt City of Dreams, departing)
  • Traveling to NoaNoa Island
  • NoaNoa Island
Destination: NoaNoa Private Island Estate






Itinerary

  • San Diego - Manila (SAN-SFO-SIN-MNL w/ Singapore Airlines in F)
  • Explored Cebu (not covered in this report)
  • 1 night at the Hyatt City of Dreams in Manila
  • Flight to El Nido
  • 1 hour van to the port town of TayTay
  • 45 minute speedboat ride to NoaNoa Island
Hyatt City of Dreams Manila
Price: 8,000 points
From terminal 3 at NAIA we took an Uber to skip the 1 hour taxi que.
The Uber took ~15 minutes to arrive as it had to fight through the thick traffic.
At 6pm the 4.5 mile trip took 57 minutes, the car was a Hyundai Accent, and the total cost was 256 php ($5.50).
I was able to use the airport wifi to request the Uber, but later I picked up a sim card with Globe.




Checking each car for bombs and what not.




At the entrance of the hotel all guests and casino visitors must pass through at metal detector and all luggage is scanned through an x-ray machine.


We were brought up to the club lounge to check-in. They made an odd request to take our photo for their records.
I have to say the whole time I was referred to by Mr. Hartley, even by employees I had never met. They were very polite.
The club lounge is full of working girls. I mentioned this to the check-in agent in the lounge and he did his best to avoid the topic.


Club Level Room




Diamond welcome amenity (w/ the 1,000 points), letter, and birthday cake!


This Hyatt will give other hotels in Asia some competition for the largest buffet.
It's massive! What you'd expect from a casino and complimentary for Diamonds.
Check out the YouTube video later in this post for some footage.


Visiting the casino. Security ran over, NO PHOTO!
It's not a bad place to waste 30 mins of your day.




Uber Black Car/SUV (Mitsubishi Montero)
Price: 431 php ($9)
The 30 minute trip (4.75 miles) to the private hanger at the international airport.
As of March 15th the flights to El Nido now depart out of Terminal 4.


Yes that's a dog standing on the back of a motorcycle with it's own tiny helmet.

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