Posts Tagged With: Holiday Inn

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under

Trip Report: Two Weeks Down Under
Flight Review: Qantas B747-400 San Francisco – Sydney
Lounge Review: Qantas Business Class Lounge, Sydney
Flight Review: Qantas A330-300 Sydney – Auckland
Lodging Review: Holiday Inn Auckland Airport
Lodging Review: The Pavilions Hotel, Christchurch
Our Time in Christchurch
Lodging Review: Hilton Queenstown Resort & Spa
Our Time in Queenstown including Doubtful Sound Tour
Lodging Review: Avani Metropolis, Auckland
Our Time in Auckland
Lodging Review: Oceans Mooloolaba
Our Time on the Sunshine Coast
Lodging Review: Brisbane Marriott
Flight Review: Qantas B787-9 Brisbane – Los Angeles

Each year my friends and I try to take a two week vacation in the fall. We have a system that whoever had the birthday ending in 5 or 0 that year gets to pick the location. That’s served us well and covers 6 years out of any decade. This year the birthday girl decided on spending most of our time exploring New Zealand with a few days on the end on the beaches of Australia.

That decision was made late in 2018 so our first task was finding business class award space on the longhaul segments for two of us (one doesn’t mind flying coach). We were fine buying our positioning flights as long as we could lock in business class for those 14 hour flights!

I was looking for award space on American, Qantas and United as well as keeping an eye out for space on Air New Zealand. I knew that American was pretty stingy on longhaul award space in premium cabins but they look positively generous compared to what Air New Zealand typically opens up. As luck would have it I found three business class award seats from Brisbane (near the Australian beaches we wanted to visit) back to Los Angeles for the last Wednesday in October. That was perfect so we snagged those even though we didn’t have our outbound tickets yet. I used my miles for the birthday girl’s return ticket which cost 80,000 American AAdvantage miles + $81.83 for each ticket. However, thanks to my Citibank AAdvantage MasterCard I get a rebate of up to 10,000 miles each year so the net cost was 150K miles. I considered using 55,000 Alaska Mileage Plan miles per ticket instead but our friend who lives in Chicago was using her AA miles to get one of the tickets and I know that sometimes Alaska has access to one less award ticket than oneworld alliance airlines and I just wanted to make things easier by having the two of us on a single PNR. I bought a United domestic flight from LA to Denver to Memphis for my return flight and my Chicago friend bought a United ticket home as well. However, when United made the fall schedule adjustments, I would land in Denver too late to catch the afternoon flight back to Memphis so they re-routed me through Chicago. While I was stuck on a one-cabin plane for the Chicago-Memphis leg, at least I got to fly back with my friend as far as Chicago.

After buying the return flights we sweated for a couple of weeks until Qantas opened up two business class seats on their 747 from San Francisco to Sydney. The seats were available two weeks and one day before the return flight. That couldn’t have worked out any better for us. My friend from Chicago and I were even able to include positioning flights with the cost of our tickets: 80,000 American AAdvantage miles + $28.20 in fees

Long haul flights: the green line indicates my outbound flight while the blue is my return flight.

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Categories: Award Travel, Hilton, Hotel, IHG, New Zealand, Oceania, OneWorld, Other Hotels, Qantas | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Review: Holiday Inn Vail

My travel buddies and I needed a weekend getaway to escape the heat of our respective cities.  I read an article about fun things to do in Vail and as Colorado is a 2-3 hour flight for each of us, it made a nice, central place to meet up.

Knowing that lodging wouldn’t be nearly as hard to get in the summer as in the winter, I’d hoped to get a 2-bedroom condo at a reasonable price.  That way we’d each have our own bed and plenty of space.  It turns out that most of the condos can’t be rented for a single night.  I did have a travel agency track down one place but they wanted $300 for the one night.  No thanks.

I looked at what hotels were available on points and there weren’t a lot of reasonably-priced choices there either but I did find the Holiday Inn had a room that could sleep three adults.  The hotel is actually across I-70 from the resort but during the summer, there’s no charge for the parking deck at Lionshead so we were only a short drive away.

The valet greeted us promptly upon arrival. Leaving the car with the valet is really the only parking option but the price is cheaper in the summer than in the winter.  In the end, we were not charged at all.  I don’t know whether that’s due to my Platinum status, because we booked the room on points or if they just forgot.  But when I checked out there were no charges billed to the room.

Once inside we had a brief wait while other customers were being assisted but then were welcomed warmly and our room was assigned quickly.

hi-vail-hallway

Hallway to our room.  Carpet could use refreshing.

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Categories: Hotel, IHG, Lodging Review | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

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