Tuesday, February 26, 2008
The Loyalty Triple Pointer: The Bali Hop
The Laguna Resort and Spa, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia
Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel (12/2003)
March Madness Triple Pointer
Another Easter vacation break is coming up in March. When a spouse works in public schools in the USA, Easter week vacation is a given.
The combination of points and miles I currently have at my disposal had me looking at flights to Japan. I have transited through Tokyo more than a dozen times, however, I have never flown on a ticket allowing a free stopover. I am quite familiar with the Narita (NRT) airport.
Mexicana miles are my connection to Japan. Back in 2002, Kelley and I earned about 60,000 miles in our Mexicana Airlines accounts when the airline was a Star Alliance member. There was a 5th Anniversary of the Star Alliance promotion for 55,555 miles earned if a frequent flier flew 5 Star Alliance member airlines. I purchased 5 tickets from Lufthansa, United, Air Canada, British Midland, and Austrian Airlines. Each ticket consisted of four flight segments. For example: Lufthansa went Amsterdam-Frankfurt-Munich outbound and Munich-Frankfurt-Amsterdam on the return flights. We flew 20 flight segments and submitted one boarding pass from each ticket to four different airlines. We received the 55,555 mile bonus with Lufthansa Miles&More, Air Canada Aeroplan, ANA Mileage Plan, and Mexicana Frecuenta. Since 2002, I have added to the accounts through other activities and both Frecuenta accounts now have 100,000 miles.
Mexicana airline partner awards still include several of the Star Alliance airlines. A feature of Mexicana Frecuenta is the ability to purchase large amounts of miles. The price at $22/1,000 miles makes this a lower cost alternative than many other airlines. Japan Airlines is the newest airline partner of Mexicana. The low cost of miles and high value award tables seem to have prompted an awards table makeover for Mexicana Airline Partner tickets using miles.
As little as two years ago I could have traveled in First Class from the USA to nearly any country in the world for 100,000 Mexicana miles. Now I have the option of LOT Polish Business Class from New York to Warsaw for 80,000 miles; American Airlines USA–Europe for 90,000 miles, or the high value ticket routing of Tokyo-Sydney or Tokyo-London in First Class for 100,000 miles.
A Japan Airlines First Class award ticket using my Mexicana miles is what prompted me to look at the fares between California and Tokyo. And what I found prompted me to sign up for the American Airlines Platinum Challenge.
$753 all-in fare, Monterey – Tokyo, March travel, “W” booking class.
There is high value in one ticket bought and flown and American Airlines 50,000 mile Platinum status after the trip through February 2009.
Starwood Hotels Le Meridien Free Nights Promotion
This promotion is the biggest opportunity with Starwood Preferred Guest since 2003 when the Asia/Pacific Stay 5 earned a 50,000 points bonus. Another reason I was looking at a Japan Airlines award is the opportunity of a First Class Japan Airlines award to Bali, Indonesia. The interesting feature of Bali is the ability to hotel hop around the island while quickly qualifying for two promotions at low nightly rates.
The two Hyatt hotels, the Grand Hyatt Bali at Nusa Dua and the Bali Hyatt, and Starwood's Le Meridien Nirwana Golf and Spa Resort, Bali all have rates below $150.
Le Meridien Nirwana has rates as low as $95 for most nights in March. The Bali Hyatt was as low as $100 for most nights. There is a 21% tax and service fee.
Egypt has dirt cheap Le Meridien rates, Germany has European comforts at Le Meridien hotels in several cities in relaticely close proximity, and Bali has beach resort living.
Do the math: Le Meridien promotion awards 4 free nights at Le Meridien hotels for 7 Le Meridien stays by March 31, 2008. Starting at Le Meridien Bali and alternating nightly with Bali Hyatt means Day 1, 3, 5, 7 are at Le Meridien and days 2, 4, 6 at the Hyatt. 7 nights x $125 night = $875 for a week in Bali. Tokyo has two Le Meridien hotels and the rates are as low as $160/night all-in for some nights in March. Add $500 for 3 nights in Tokyo.
$1,400 for 10 hotel nights would earn Hyatt Platinum status (and free Clear Airport membership) and 4 free nights at a Le Meridien hotel to be used by March 31, 2009. Le Meridien Bora Bora is an eligible redemption hotel and this property will be reclassified as a Category 7 hotel next week for a nightly redemption rate of 30,000 points in low season and 35,000 points for high season.
The Hyatt lover loyalist could just bounce between the Hyatt hotels and quickly add up the Hyatt elite qualification stays with “Stays Count Double”. A two week Bali vacation could send you home with Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond elite status for under $2,000. The Stays Count Double promotion lasts through March 31, 2008.
The Loyalty Traveler Triple Pointer is American Airlines to Tokyo ($753 cost) and Platinum elite status through a challenge. Le Meridien Pacific Tokyo and Le Meridien Grand Pacific Tokyo and Le Meridien Bali for 7 stays and 4 free nights to come ($850 cost; future value about $2,000). 3 nights at the Bali Hyatt and Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum status with Stays Count Double promotion ($350 cost). $2,000 cost, plus a whole lot of added value for the Loyalty Traveler.
Loyalty Traveler sees the possibilities.
And if you don't have the miles for First Class to Bali, United members can fly between Tokyo and DPS, Bali airport for 40,000 United Mileage Plus miles. From the USA, Bali is a 60,000 mile economy award flight. Another option is 20,000 miles on United from Tokyo to Bangkok or Singapore, and then a second 20,000 mile award from that location to Bali. This earns an additional city for no additional miles.