Author Topic: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start  (Read 30354 times)

Offline CZ60

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jul 2014
  • Posts: 431
  • Total likes: 38
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
I said I'd post it on the weekend so I'm a few days late. We are still working on the pics but I figured if I don't get started with something I'll delay into perpetuity. Having this up might push me a little harder to get the rest out.

The planning:

Dw and I got extremely lucky with this trip. The night before we found out about the new St. Regis we were looking at possible winter vacation options (we were looking at a list of Park Hyatt's as we are diamond through Feb via a status match). dw stumbled upon the Park Hyatt Maldives and begged me to go. We looked into the flight times to the Maldives and I simply wasn't willing to go that far. We were close to booking hyatt beaver creek to go skiing for a few days but we decided weíd sleep on it that night and get back to it the next night. The very next day, someone in my office told me (before Dan posted on DDMS but he presumably saw on FT DDF) about the St. Regis Maldives accepting points reservations for dirt cheap. I didn't quite have enough SPG points for 4 nights (5th free) and was on the phone with dw discussing how to get more quickly when my boss overheard the conversation and offered to book the trip for me using his points (to be repaid later). By the time I secured enough points, the rates were raised to what they are now. It pays to have a good boss.

We booked 5 nights in an overwater villa for 130,000 points (about a $12,500 value for the dates we were going). I briefly considered a garden villa so I can do C+P with my own account and not rely on my boss. Dw quickly knocked sense into me and my boss urged me to use his account to book and get the OWV.

We stalked pictures of the hotel on IG and made bowls of popcorn to read other peopleís TR on TripAdvisor (really). It would be a huge underestimation to say we were looking forward to this. The place looked incredible in the pre-opening website photos and even better on IG. Jan 19th just couldnít come soon enough. Iíve never stayed somewhere nearly as nice so I had no idea what to expect (dw has stayed at various Four Seasons before we got married) and it was better than we both expected. A tall task to live up to because we were looking forward to this vacation for 5 months!

When looking for flights, I admittedly made a HUGE mistake. We were pretty limited since we only had chase UR points (no Amex MR at all and no spg left after this trip) but we had plenty of time to get some signup bonuses and figure something else out. We didnít do that, and in our ďOMG I canít believe weíre goingĒ hype, we wanted to book rather quickly. If I could go back, I would but I canít so I wonít.

Anyway we ended up using the chase portal for 1.5 in Y (I WAS A N00B AT THE TIME! And quite possibly still amÖ) but the silver lining is that we got the flight times and days we wanted. We booked a multi-destination ticket on the way to MLE with a 40hr stop in DXB, and had a 2hr stop in DXB on the way back to JFK. The dollar amount was about $1,000 so we used about 67,000 Chase points. We were booked in fare class X which earns 50% on Alaska so at least we got around 7,000 alaska miles out of this (combined with the 10k from the Virgin merger, we each have 17k without really doing anything). Most of you will say youíd rather pay the cash then use 65k points for that, and Iíd agree with you. Unfortunately, I donít swim in green so I wanted to save the cash I was going to use on this trip for whatever we wanted to do when we got there. I view my points as travel savings accounts so I use them when I actually get to go away.

Complete side note about my failed attempts to get J so feel free to skip if uninterested: After coming to grips that I was going to fly all the way there in economy, I panicked and tried to explore getting out of it. I wanted to cancel (I would have gladly paid a fee to have the points redeposited if it were an option) but they would only give me $800 each worth of flights on Emirates that we would have had to use by August of 2017 Ė and you canít use the credit to book for others. Since I plan on going to BOB in June (how many go to Maldives and BOB, let alone in the same year!), I did not envision us using the Emirates credit by the deadline. What I wanted to do was use JAL to book the flights to DXB in J using spg (I would have signed up for 2 cards and bought the remaining points at the 1.7c sale). Anyway, I spent a few nights on the phone trying to get this done but I ultimately failed. At least I triedÖ.

Anyway, here is the itinierary:
JFK-DXB Monday 10:40 am
DXB- MLE Wednesday 2:45 am
MLE-DXB-JFK Tuesday 9:15 am connection at 3pm
In Dubai, we stayed at the Park Hyatt with a DSU giving us an amazing suite. More on that and the rest of Dubai in the next installmentÖ
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 05:15:46 PM by CZ60 »

Offline Dan

  • Administrator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime 50K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 62722
  • Total likes: 10235
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 16442
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: CLE
  • Programs: UA Global Services, AA Lifetime Plat, DL Dirt, SPG Plat, Hyatt Diamond, Fairmont Lifetime Plat, Hilton Diamond, Priority Club Plat, Avis Chairman, National EE, Hertz PC
Glitch was first on DDF, then DDMS after a few days of letting DDF'ers get in while the getting was good, and then FT and other blogs.
At least AFAIK.
Save your time, I don't answer PM. Post it in the forum and a dedicated DDF'er will get back to you as soon as possible.

Offline BarryLincoln

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jan 2014
  • Posts: 1237
  • Total likes: 97
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 3
    • View Profile
  • Location: New Jersey
  • Programs: SPG Platinum, National Executive, Hertz Five Star
Great start.  Look forward to reading more!!!
« Last Edit: January 31, 2017, 07:04:23 PM by BarryLincoln »

Offline davidmal

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 7815
  • Total likes: 580
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 208
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Photos or it never happened.
-DMC
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it ~Ferris Bueller"

Offline CZ60

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jul 2014
  • Posts: 431
  • Total likes: 38
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Glitch was first on DDF, then DDMS after a few days of letting DDF'ers get in while the getting was good, and then FT and other blogs.
At least AFAIK.

This was pre my DDF days so if that's true, *y'all get all the credit*. (It was definitely on FT before DDMS though)

Offline mochjas

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Oct 2015
  • Posts: 9159
  • Total likes: 836
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 123
    • View Profile
  • Programs: Hyatt Globalist, Hilton Diamond, Marriott Titanium Elite, AA EX PLAT, Jetblue Mosaic, Qatar Gold, United Silver
Definitely was broken here first by a lot

Offline CZ60

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jul 2014
  • Posts: 431
  • Total likes: 38
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Updated  :)

Offline davidmal

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Presidential Platinum Elite
  • *********
  • Join Date: Dec 2013
  • Posts: 7815
  • Total likes: 580
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 208
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Waiting for this since mocha burger....
lets have the photos
-DMC
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it ~Ferris Bueller"

Offline CZ60

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jul 2014
  • Posts: 431
  • Total likes: 38
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Waiting for this since mocha burger....
lets have the photos
Ha!

They'll be worth the wait

Offline E-MAN

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Dec 2012
  • Posts: 1515
  • Total likes: 3
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Wow! can't wait for the rest

Offline sruliL

  • Dansdeals Gold Elite
  • ***
  • Join Date: Jun 2016
  • Posts: 214
  • Total likes: 5
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
  • Location: Greater New York Area
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2017, 06:59:18 PM »
Nice, can't wait for the pics.
Life's not about doing things good, its about doing good things.

Offline Yuey

  • Dansdeals Gold Elite
  • ***
  • Join Date: May 2013
  • Posts: 108
  • Total likes: 24
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
  • Location: Miami Beach/5 Towns
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2017, 07:16:42 PM »
Sounds awesome! Can't  wait to hear more and about Dubai

Offline damaxer91

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Posts: 3181
  • Total likes: 61
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
  • Gender: Male
    • View Profile
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #12 on: February 01, 2017, 12:51:21 PM »
All the way to the Maldives in Coach. That's legit Mesiras Nefesh

Offline AsherO

  • Global Moderator
  • Dansdeals Lifetime 20K Presidential Platinum Elite
  • **********
  • Join Date: May 2008
  • Posts: 28074
  • Total likes: 4892
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 77
    • View Profile
  • Location: NYC
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #13 on: February 01, 2017, 01:02:23 PM »
All the way to the Maldives in Coach. That's legit Mesiras Nefesh

The way back erases the memories (says the guy who always travels in the back), or does it?

Offline CZ60

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jul 2014
  • Posts: 431
  • Total likes: 38
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #14 on: February 01, 2017, 01:12:04 PM »
The way back erases the memories (says the guy who always travels in the back), or does it?

I'm still on a high.

I binged big bang theory and watched 4 movies while drinking a few beers (taking bathroom breaks)

I would've done the same in J just laying down

F would've been a totally different story but G-d Willing, next time :)

Dubai coming soon.. it's all written up, just organizing pics on flickr

Offline CZ60

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jul 2014
  • Posts: 431
  • Total likes: 38
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #15 on: February 01, 2017, 11:29:29 PM »
JFK- DXB
If youíre ever going to fly coach (I know, blasphemy), emirates is the way to do it. Itís just feels more comfortable than other airlines, the seats (feel like they) recline just a bit more, the ambience is nicer, the staff is nice and responsive, etc. We donít really eat airline food though they had a turkey sandwich for snack that was pretty good, except that it only included one(!) slice of turkey. I know Mr. Broadway shaved their portions but compared to this, Mr. B gives you whole animals.

We ended up getting a little delayed on the way to DXB due to a sick passenger so we arrived at around 10am instead of 8am on Tuesday. The 12 hours it took really flew by (pun definitely intended) as we slept for about half and spent the other half watching movies. Their entertainment system is the best of any airline Iíve taken (though I remember taking AA in J from London to NY last pesach and they had a pretty good selection as well).

The DXB airport is massive. Let me rephrase: The DXB airport is gorgeous and MASSIVE. Huge ceilings, marble everywhere. Itís a work of art. (I apologize to everyone, we didnít take many pics of the airport as we were tired and werenít thinking straight. We intended to on the way back but as youíll see later, that wasnít possible). The one interesting thing about our flight is that almost every passenger was en route somewhere else on a connecting flight. I counted a total of 7 other people collecting their baggage with us. Letís not forget, this is an A380 which likely had 400+ people on it.

The employees in the airport all either were in a police uniform or were wearing the traditional white garb with the black ring(?) on their head. We learned that only 13% of the population in Dubai are natives. However, only natives are allowed to get govt positions so all of the airport workers were dressed the part. When you get out into the city, itís a lot harder to find people that dress that way. You see them around but itís closer to the 13% figure than anything else.

Getting through the airport was no issue. I will say it again to beat it into the ground, having Israeli stamps on your passport means nothing. We were admitted without a whisper of an issue. Our food also made it through without issue (though it was opened and checked and repackaged by the TSA - I guess they werenít really that hungry for deep frozen POM meals).

We took a taxi (Not a black car!!! Ė note that they try to scam you into getting into a black car and from what Iíve read, they are like 5-10x the price) from the airport to the Park Hyatt, around 10 min for ~$10, and were checked in and given our suite right away. We were given the option of 1,000 Hyatt points or an "amenity" from their list -some sort of champagne/fruit drink and other misc things. We were given a huge fruit bowl in our room and had free breakfast as diamond members. The suite was beautiful and huge. It was also in a great location in the main building of the hotel .Most of the rooms are in adjacent buildings- some so far you need a golf cart to take you there from the lobby area.

Airport


If you zoom in, you can see the natives with the garb


Some funny money


The suite










The pool


Some of the grounds


Views from brekkie






Burj zoomed in



Dubai Day 1:
On our first day we took some time to freshen up and enjoy the view from our suite before taking a taxi to the Dubai mall to try to zip line (dw saw videos online and wanted to do it.) Turns out the zip line wasn't open for the season yet Ė was told another month Ė so we spent a few hours walking around the mall, which is huge and beautiful, before our fountain lake ride at 5:45 pm. We booked the ride through At the Top (the Burj Khalifa website) and were given a 15 minute boat ride through the fountain during the water and light show (~$15pp). We stayed in the Burj Khalifa area for another half hour before we called it quits for the night. We were both dead tired.
I should point out that choosing to leave at around 6:30 from the Burj area was a terrible idea. The traffic was murder. Whereas it took us 15 min to get there, it took us 50 minutes to get back. Avoid rush hour in Dubai.

The mall


The Burj Khalifa


Its really so big




They light it up at night. It's still intimidating but with a christmas feel to it


The light show


Dubai Day 2:
We woke up early and headed down to breakfast at around 6:30AM. Seeing breakfasts at hotels like this makes me wish I could eat anything and everything. They had about 6 dishes of hot food including sausages and eggs and the works. We kept it simple and stuck with fruit and coffee. It was like going to a Syrian Bar Mitzvah with the amount of food they had. We sat outside facing the little dock that outside of the hotel and had a view of the Burj Khalifa as well. The reason the pictures from the hotel of the Burj are not so clear is because there is a lot of pollution in Dubai. I havenít really been to many places with high pollution but that was my guess, confirmed by the few taxi drivers we took, and later confirmed by some fake news sources online.
We then went to the Mall of the Emirates to check out Ski Dubai. We bought "Ski Dubai Experience" tickets which gave us 2 hours of skiing, snow park access (with a mini zip lining, a kids park area, and ďgiant snowballĒ ride) and a penguin experience. The skiing was not bad for an indoor slope- we did the ďblueĒ slope which wasnít all that long but still fun. We skiied for about an hour before we had our penguin experience. The penguins were by far our favorite part of the Dubai trip. Ski Dubai has around 30 penguins that they are doing research on and we were given the chance to meet and play with 3 of them (2 Gentoo penguins and 1 King penguin). We were not allowed to touch the Gentoos but we watched them do tricks and run around between us. We were then given a chance to play with and pet a king penguin on a turn by turn basis. There was a photographer taking pictures which would be for sale at the end. (No cell phones or cameras allowed inside so we actually bought a picture for around $35 to remember the experience).

After all our ski adventures we headed back to the hotel for lunch then checked out (we had 4pm checkout with our diamond status) and were picked up by Arabian Adventures at 3:15 for a desert safari (~$100pp). The first stop of the safari is a falcon demonstration, where they teach you about how the falcons hunt and show us how itís done. You get a chance to hold the falcon and take pictures with it after. We then get into Toyota 4x4s for dune bashing, which was A LOT of fun. Unfortunately I didnt take many pictures or videos during the dune bashing, but I probably would have dropped and broken my phone/camera if I had done so. It was veryyy bumpy. At some point, you literally feel like youíre going to die but itís worth the thrill. We stopped on the top of a sand dune for pictures at sunset then went to the camp for dinner (you're at the camp for 2 hours during which they serve non-kosher dinner but we didn't eat and did other activities during this time). We were able to go sand boarding (eh) and camel riding (good for the pics) then dressed up as UAE arabs and took pictures (similar to penguin, would have had to pay but figured it wasn't worth it this time). When we finished with that we sat on some pillows and relaxed looking at the stars. There is no sight like seeing the stars while sitting in the desert (that is until a few days later in the Maldives). There was a belly dancing show as well as some hooka on the side.  Overall the desert experience was Ö interesting. Reminiscent of Bedouin tents in Israel but fun nonetheless. We were taken back to the hotel at around 9:15 and used the beautiful spa facilities (no cost) to shower and get ready for the flight to MLE. We then had dinner and relaxed at the outdoor lounge area of the hotel until 11:30. They took some time to find our Pom meals since they stored them in a different freezer than the whatís normally allowed for guests but we still got to the airport with time to spare.

(Once I learn how to post videos, I will upload a ski video so you can see the slope, and some others that are nice and worthwhile)

The giant ball that you roll down a hill in. Fun but made me pretty dizzy


Gazelle


We were able to hold this guy later




Few sights such as seeing the sun disappear in the desert








Sand Boarding - meh


Camel Riding


The Merhaba lounge (priority pass) near gate B21 in DXB aws *awful*. Overcrowded, noisy (all of DXB is noisy), and just unpleasant. I donít travel often so Iíve only been to probably 7-8 lounges but this one ranks as the worst by far. I didnít check for alcohol which I probably should have to help me get through it. I kid you not when I say we probably would have been more comfortable sitting on the lousy chairs by the gate. For the free water and banana that I took, it wasnít worth going near it. Itís also impossible to find. Everyone tells you its by gate B21. No one tells you its on the second floor! And to get to the second floor, you have to go back to where the elevators are in the middle of the terminal and take a different elevator than the one you were just on to go upstairs. It took us at least 15 minutes to find the darn thing.

We boarded our plane (777) to MLE, slept through the flight, and landed at 8am in MLE

To be continued....

Offline Luvtotravel

  • Dansdeals Presidential Platinum Elite
  • ********
  • Join Date: Dec 2012
  • Posts: 2761
  • Total likes: 68
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 6
    • View Profile
  • Location: Ny
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #16 on: February 01, 2017, 11:44:55 PM »
nice appetizer... looking forward to the main course!
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline cholent

  • Dansdeals Lifetime Platinum Elite
  • *******
  • Join Date: Aug 2014
  • Posts: 2424
  • Total likes: 336
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 0
    • View Profile
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #17 on: February 01, 2017, 11:53:07 PM »
Enjoying this TR! Keep it coming!
Don't ask stupid questions and you won't get stupid answers

Offline SrulyS

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite + Lifetime Silver Elite
  • *****
  • Join Date: Dec 2015
  • Posts: 602
  • Total likes: 62
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 2
    • View Profile
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #18 on: February 02, 2017, 12:57:58 AM »
Nice TR. I like your style.


It's kinda cool how the shape of the tower makes it look like you are zooming in as you scroll down the page.

Offline CZ60

  • Dansdeals Platinum Elite
  • ****
  • Join Date: Jul 2014
  • Posts: 431
  • Total likes: 38
  • DansDeals.com Hat Tips 1
    • View Profile
  • Location: New York
Re: The first DDFer to go to St. Regis Maldives, with a little Dubai to start
« Reply #19 on: February 02, 2017, 09:35:49 AM »
nice appetizer... looking forward to the main course!
Enjoying this TR! Keep it coming!
Nice TR. I like your style.


It's kinda cool how the shape of the tower makes it look like you are zooming in as you scroll down the page.

Thanks everyone! Yeah, the Burj is in a league of it's own

Part 3 is all written up as well but the pictures are whats slowing it down. And they're also the only thing anyone reallllly cares about  :P