Thinking ahead (and best use of my points and miles)

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Miles/Points' started by bjcleaver, Jul 20, 2012.  |  Print Topic

  1. bjcleaver

    bjcleaver Silver Member

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    I'm hoping to go on a nice vacation with my wife for our 10 year anniversary next summer/fall. We've managed to accumulate a good amount of miles and points over the last few years and I'm trying to figure out strategies for using them effectively for the trip. (We've hardly made any redemptions over the last few years except for a few random domestic hotel stays and flights.)

    We're thinking about Italy for our trip, probably a mix of Amalfi Coast-like areas and a city or two. We live in Los Angeles and would have about 10 days total, including travel time.

    Our miles and points situation looks like this:

    American: ~600,000 miles jointly (400k/200k)
    Delta: ~85,000
    (Nothing else over 50k on any other airline)
    Hilton: ~79,000
    Hyatt: ~37,000 (plus two free night awards)
    Starwood: ~250,000
    Chase UR: ~180,000
    Amex MR: ~260,000

    I realize this is a fat mess of points and transfer options are abundant, which is what is making things more complicated for me. It would be great if the trip was fully funded by points for our flights and hotel stays. And we'd prefer top notch accommodations.

    Any thoughts as to how I should be thinking about this?
     
  2. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Well, you can use points.com to pool some of the smaller points into larger through trades if you so desire. (I did that to pool my AA and DL points into UA before my round-the-world)

    Starwood's particularly strong in some places in Italy, especially Venice (Danieli, for example). You probably don't have enough Hyatt for anything interesting.

    Your Delta points can be used on Alitalia for intra-Italy flights, but you'll probably want to use American points for the long haul.
     
  3. desamo

    desamo Gold Member

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    Oh, and one of the places I've always wanted to stay is Palazzo Sasso, which is going to be renamed to Palazzo Avino.

    http://avino.manss.com/Palazzo-Avino

    So if you could stay there, I'm sure it'd be awesome. :)
     
  4. Steven Schwartz
    Original Member

    Steven Schwartz Gold Member

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    Not sure how much help you are looking for so everyone's answers have to be pretty generic. You could provide approximate dates, approximate number of days you wish to be in Italy, etc - and get much more specific help. That said, I agree that using your AA miles (and for the 10th anniversary, at least Business Class!) is your best bet. Rome is an obvious starting point and you will have good Starwood options there. We were disappointed with the Hotel Eden - the smallest room we have ever had as a Starwood Platinum and the ONLY hotel in Europe in which we did not receive a suite upgrade.

    Amalfi is a bit different and not a good place to use most hotel points. Decide how much time you want to spend there, if you want to add any city or cities other than Rome and it will fall in place. Both Venice and Florence have Starwood hotels and the Fall might be a good time to snag Cash and Point availability. If I were choosing between cities, I would take Florence over Venice - Florence is one of the most wonderful cities in the world and much easier to get to than Venice. In terms of Amalfi, I would suggest you check out www.luxurylink.com. Not cheap but great hotels at great prices and they usually include a bunch of freebies. Pick a nice place and use it as your home in Amalfi.

    Good luck and Happy Anniversary!
     
  5. bjcleaver

    bjcleaver Silver Member

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    Thanks for the replies so far. I realize I'm not being very specific because we're not locked into any one idea and time frames are still open. Italy seems likely and September 2013 would be the goal (miss the summer heat.) And I'd imagine we'd have about 10 days total including travel, so maybe 8 days in Italy?

    From what I've seen so far it's pretty hard to use hotel points in Amalfi. Sardina seems to have some Starwood Luxury Collection properties, but I don't know much about that area other than it seems harder to get to!

    I've used Luxury Link for nights at the Terranea resort in Palos Verdes which has worked out well. I'll check out what they have for Europe, although I'm likely too far out at this point. I'm also hoping to not spend much on hotels out of pocket so that I can spend money on food. :)

    I know that we need to decide what we want to do and then make points work for us. But I guess I was also looking for some advice on things I could do with my points since I've never used a massive amount to fund a trip before. It seems that I'm fairly well covered in major cities with SPG, Hyatt, etc. I know that Chase UR can transfer to Hyatt, which would open up some options there. I have no idea how to use my Amex points wisely and since I'm AA miles rich, I don't know that Amex points help me much since it seems they are best for flights? I don't think booking a hotel in Amalfi through Amex travel and paying with points would be the best use.

    Sorry for being so open ended. If I were booking a week in Hawaii it would be much easier. :)
     
  6. traveler
    Original Member

    traveler Gold Member

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    Hawaii would be easier but Italy could be much more rewarding.
    Have you been to Italy?
    Europe?
    With only 8 days I would make it at most 2 locations.
    Is hotel luxury or location more important?
    It is a long flight from L.A. so fly Business Class or 1st!
     
  7. bjcleaver

    bjcleaver Silver Member

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    Business or 1st for sure! Those AA miles will finally pay off. Need to start exploring options on American and/or partners.

    Have never been to Italy, which is why this is new territory. I agree that two location is probably the max - we don't want to be running all over the country. Explore a city (or two max) for a few days, then perhaps relax somewhere sea side?

    Hotel luxury is important, but probably less so in the cities as we'll be out of the room a lot. However, the cities are where I'm sure I can do well with St. Regis and Park Hyatt. Luxury would be nice for the "relaxing" portion.
     
  8. daninstl

    daninstl Gold Member

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    You have plenty of AA miles for travel in 1st to Europe. I would suggest flying over and taking a cruise in the Med. You'll hit a bunch of cities for about the same price as good hotels/flights. You might even be able to use the AMEX points along that line somehow (not sure). I just wish I had that many Starwood points (Wow). Forget about the Delta points and save them for Hawaii or something later.

    We are flying US Air to Rome this Winter and doing a Med. Cruise to Genoa, Provance, Barcalona, Tunis and Sicily for WAY less than the hotels, trains, etc. plus it includes the food.
     

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