Tweaking Parents’ $48K Trip: How 1 Hotel Cancellation Will Become 2 Roundtrips to Europe

EmiratesFirstClass

My parents are sitting in this First Class Emirates cabin right now.

Earlier I wrote about how I booked $48,000 Worth of Luxury Travel for 654K Miles/Points and $2.5K in Fees for their trip to Dallas, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur, Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat, Hanoi, Saigon, and Hong Kong.

World map

This blog post is an update on hotel changes I made and why I made them.

In short, by spending an extra $805 on hotels I was able to:

  • Decrease amount of needed points by almost 30%
  • Reduce number of needed sign-up bonuses by 3
  • Leverage a hotel promo for a 40% discount
  • Earn $350 hotel credit for future stays
  • Save enough points to earn 2 roundtrips to Europe
  • Save enough points to earn a 7-night Marriott stay
  • Have 256K miles/points leftover for future trips

Good travel plans are never set in stone, they morph and evolve as circumstances change.
This is especially true with hotel points because cancellations are allowed up to 24 hours prior to arrival.

Below, until the final summary, I only discuss the hotel changes I made.
To read the full trip breakdown feel free to check out the original post.

March 23rd, 2015

NovotelKualaLumpur

Hotel Change: Novotel Kuala Lumpur City Centre

Hotel Cost at Retail: $78.33 (1 night)

Hotel Points Earned: 1 of 3 of mom’s stays for 8K Accor promo

Hotel update: My parents will stay at the DoubleTree by Hilton hotel while I sleep at the Novotel Kuala Lumpur City Centre, a brisk 30-minute walk away. Why a different hotel? To earn $350 in hotel credits from the Accorhotels Stay 3, Earn 8K promo both my dad and mom each need 3 paid stays, 6 total. En route from the airport I’ll check into Novotel before accompanying my parents to their hotel. Ninety-nine percent of the time you can check into hotels under other people’s reservations as long as your name is listed as the second guest, but my mom will be waiting in the taxi in case the front desk requires her ID. As you’ll see in the final breakdown, this Accor promo allowed me to book several hotels at a 40% discount.

March 24th – 25th, 2015

intercontinental-phnom-penh_170320110225211386

Hotel Change: InterContinental Phnom Penh

Hotel Cost at Retail: $449.62 (2 nights)

Hotel Cost with Points: 10,000 IHG points

Hotel summary: The InterContinental Phnom Penh, a well-reviewed five-star in Cambodia’s capital, normally costs 25,000 points per night. During the most recent IHG PointsBreak list it was a steal for only 5,000 per night. I booked two nights for my parents’ trip as well as another 12 nights in both Phnom Penh and southern Japan. I haven’t yet decided in which hotel I’ll stay in May.

March 29th – 30th, 2015

MGalleryHanoi

Hotel Change: Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi MGallery Collection

Hotel Cost at Retail: $399.63 (2 nights)

Points Earned: 2 of 3 of mom’s stays / 1 of 2 dad’s stays for 8K Accor promo

Hotel summary: This is a classic example of why travel promotions exist. I had already booked two completely free nights at the perfectly nice Hilton Garden Inn for only 20,000 HHonors points. However, the Accor promo woo’d me into believing that spending $399 to earn 8K points ($175) would save me money, which it clearly didn’t. Still, this gorgeous hotel was 40% off and my mom deserves to be pampered as she may not be able to travel as often as in the past due to her post-stroke condition.

April 17th – April 19th, 2015

SofitelSaigon

Hotel Change: Sofitel Saigon Plaza Hotel

Hotel Cost at Retail: $402.81 (3 nights)

Points Earned: 3 of 3 of mom’s stays / 3 of 3 dad’s stays for 8K Accor promo

Hotel summary: The Park Hyatt Saigon where I originally planned to redeem three free night certificiates is closed for remodeling in April. Talk about bad timing. The Park Hyatt Saigon is one of the classiest Hyatts in Asia. Instead I booked the Sofitel Saigon Plaza to finish my parents’ Accorhotel promo paid stays.

April 20th – 22nd, 2015

HyattHongKong

Hotel Change: Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui

Hotel Cost at Retail: $849.09 (3 nights)

Hotel Cost with Points: 3 Hyatt Free Night Certificates (3 nights)

Hotel summary: Besides the famous harbour view and a heated rooftop pool, this Hyatt booking also saved my parents 120K points from the JW Marriott Hong Kong I cancelled. Burning so many points for only three nights felt unnatural, but only recently did I realize the root of that uneasiness: I had forgotten about Marriott’s INCREDIBLE RewardsPlus Hotel + Air Packages. Basically, Marriott bundles 7-night stays with miles bonuses. In my parents’ case, their current 120K Marriott points combined with the Chase Ritz-Carlton credit card 140K sign-up bonus (not currently available) will earn my parents a 7-night stay AND 132K United miles. That’s insane value! I’ll visit 5 island nations for 45K United miles. I’ve flown to Europe several times for 60K. Hotel + Air packages are the way to use Marriott points.

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Final Breakdown of Miles/Points Vs. Retail

This breakdown is for two people, mom and pops.

Final Flight Breakdown

Denver (DEN) to Dallas (DFW): 7K Membership Rewards points + $11.20 vs. $584.20
Denver (DEN) to Dubai (DXB): 200K Alaska Airlines miles + $82.60 vs. $37,048.00
Dubai (DXB) to Kuala Lumpur (KUL): (included in above calculations)
Kuala Lumpur (KUL) to Phnom Penh (PNH): 7K Membership Rewards points + $37.04 vs. $206.66
Phnom Penh (PNH) to Siem Reap (REP): $90
Siem Reap (REP) to Hanoi (HAN): $190
Saigon (SGN) to Hong Kong (HKG): 10K Membership Rewards + $79 vs. $1,366
Hong Kong (HKG) to Denver (DEN)[Economy]: 70K American Airlines miles + $101.60 vs. $3,295.60
OR: Hong Kong (HKG) to Denver (DEN)[First]: 140K American Airlines miles + $101.60 vs. $26,385.60

Flight Total Costs in Retail: $42,780.46 (or $65,870.46 with HKG-DEN in First)
Flight Total Costs with Miles/Points: 294K + $591.44 (or 364K + $591.44 HKG-DEN in First)
Flight Total Miles Earned: A few Delta Skymiles from the REP to HAN flights

Final Hotel Breakdown

Denver (Holiday Inn DFW)[1 nights]: $271.28 (IHG Into the Sights promo for 100K)
Dubai (Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah)[1 night]: 80K Hilton HHonors points vs. $560.83
Dubai (Royal Radisson Hotel)[2 nights]: 70K Club Carlson points vs. $625.40
Kuala Lumpur (Holiday Inn)[2 nights]: $271.28 (IHG Into the Sights promo for 100K)
Kuala Lumpur (DoubleTree by Hilton)[1 night]: 10K Hilton HHonors points vs. $140.46
Kuala Lumpur (Novotel Kuala Lumpur City Centre)[1 night]: $78.33
Phnom Penh (InterContinental)[2 nights]: 10K IHG points vs. $449.62
Siem Reap (Le Meridien Angkor)[3 nights]: 10K Starwood Preferred Guest points vs. $405.84
Hanoi (Hotel de l’Opera Hanoi MGallery Collection)[2 nights]: $399.63
Saigon (Sofitel Saigon Plaza)[3 nights]: $402.81
Hong Kong (Hyatt Regency Hong Kong Tsim Sha Tsui)[3 nights]: 3 Hyatt Free Night Certs vs. $849.09

Hotel Total Costs in Retail: $4,454.57
Hotel Total Costs with Points: 180K points + 3 free night certs + $1,423.33
Hotel Total Points Earned: 120K IHG points + 16K Accor ($350.22 in future stays)

Final Flight and Hotel Breakdown

Flight and Hotel Total Costs in Retail: $47,235.03 (Or $70,325.03 with HKG-DEN in First)
Flight and Hotel Total Costs with Points: 474K miles/points + $3,339.77 out-of-pocket
Hotel Total Points Earned: 120K IHG points + 16K Accor ($350.22 in future stays)

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How many credit card sign-up bonuses for this trip?

16 sign-up bonuses…with 256,000 miles/points leftover.

Below are the credit card sign-up bonuses that funded this $47K (potentially $71K) worth of travel:

  • 50K American Express Mercedes-Benz Platinum: $75 unavoidable fee
  • 75K American Express Hilton HHonors Surpass: $75 in unavoidable fees
  • 70K Chase IHG: No fee
  • 25K American Express Starwood Preferred Guest: No fee
  • 25K Bank of America Alaska Airlines (x8): $600 in unavoidable fees
  • 2 Free Nights + 1 Annual Free Night Chase Hyatt: No fee; 3 free night certs
  • 100K Citibank AAdvantage Executive (x2): $500 in fees; avoidable but paid
  • 85K US Bank Club Carlson: $75 unavoidable fee; 2-for-1 redemption benefit

Total Credit Card Fees Paid: $1,325

Ok, let’s adjust my calculations for this trip….

  • 474,000 miles/points
  • $2,014.77 out-of-pocket expenses
  • $1,325 credit card fees paid

Flight and Hotel Total Costs with Miles/Points: 474K miles/points + $3,339.77

If we subtract the $1,500 minimum value of the 120K IHG Points earned….
And the $350 Accorhotel credit for future stays earned during the promotion….
And the future 7-night Marriott stay and 132K United miles with the Hotel + Air Package….
And take into consideration the free Hilton buffett breakfasts with Gold Status….
And the free private chauffeur service to and from the airport….
And the free Priority Pass and AAdmirals airport lounge access….
And other tangibles and intangibles that could be debated….

I’d argue that this trip’s true cost was a bit of time, a bit of knowledge,
and the 474,000 easily earned miles/points using MileMethod.

True, $3,339.77 spent is $3,339.77 spent, but this experience is truly, “once-in-a-lifetime.”

Either way, $47,235.03 worth of travel for $3,339.77 is just insane.


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