One of the great things about miles and points is being able to use them for special occasions. Birthday trips, visiting family, honeymoons, anniversaries – all things that we can use miles and points for to drastically reduce the out-of-pocket cost. So, of course, when it was time for the planning of our 10th anniversary trip, I turned to my miles and points to get it done!
Planning Our 10th Anniversary Trip
First, I cannot believe it has been 10 years! My wife is the best in the world and it has been a thrill to be married to her for this long and I am looking forward to many more round number anniversaries with her!
Narrowing Down The Anniversary Trip Options
Obviously, as we started planning our 10th anniversary trip, I first asked her what she would like to do. We have many miles across multiple programs and points in various hotel programs as well. Since we would be going on the trip from Europe, there were a lot of open avenues for us and it was really just open to whatever she wanted to do.
Destination … The A380?!
The first idea she had was kind of…interesting, for her. My wife really does not like flying! She has flown business and first several times (as well as coach) and while she readily admits that the first class/business class experience makes the flight easier, she still is not a fan of flying that much.
So, when her first idea was to go to Dubai with the primary objective of then flying Etihad’s First Apartment, I was kind of taken back – and then I started laughing. I couldn’t believe that she wanted to fly and that it was the first part of our travel plans that she was desiring. Of course, Dubai would be just for a bit so she could see the tourist spots (business class/first class Etihad passengers get complimentary cars from around the UAE to Abu Dhabi airport so that was not an issue) and then take the A380 to London for the rest of the time.
But, since we were looking at June as our window of time, we decided to skip the whole UAE part of it because of the heat. If we did it just for the plane, that would really be taking a serious cut into our time of when we could actually enjoy visiting someplace. So, we ended up passing on that – yeah, it was hard to put that one down! 🙂
Picking The City and Hotels
After that, she really was completely open about any city in Europe. We threw out a bunch of cities and she really did not have a preference at the time. So, I went to my hotel accounts!
Elite Status In Play
Since it was our anniversary and I was going to use points, I thought it would be nice to stay in a hotel that I have top tier status with and have someplace really nice to enjoy during our downtime (traveling without the kids is a rarity so just relaxing would be great!). My first plan was to stay at a Hyatt and use a Diamond Suite Upgrade for a suite. There were a few on my list, including the Park Hyatt Vienna, the Park Hyatt Zurich, and the Park Hyatt Milan. Paris was on the list as well but the hotel were really booked pretty solid in June.
I also considered that I still have my free night certificate from Club Carlson. I wanted to extract the greatest value possible, so the Mayfair in London was definitely on the list (I know some people had issues booking that with this certificate but I had booked it with one without a problem). We put a pin in the Club Carlson option as a possibility.
Starwood hotels were on the list and, thanks to the many of you who use our personal referral links, we had plenty of SPG points. I am only Gold with them but I wasn’t going to throw them out just because of that! There are plenty of fine hotels in Europe under the Starwood umbrella so this was another option.
Finally, Hilton was also a consideration. Having recently become Diamond with them as well and having a bunch of Hilton points, they were an attractive option given the great Hilton footprint around the world.
So, what to do! Plenty of options available with hotels! We narrowed down the list and ended up choosing … Rome! We had never been there before and it was a short hop for us (something my wife liked the idea of). The downside? My favorite chain, Hyatt, does not have a single presence there. 🙁 🙂 No problem!
We wanted to take advantage of some different areas and different hotels for a varied experience. So, we plan on splitting our time in Rome between the St. Regis Rome and the Rome Cavalieri (a Waldorf Hotel) hotel. The St. Regis came in at a great deal of 20,000 points per night – the cash cost would have been $500 per night. For the Rome Cavalieri, the point cost was 80,000 points per night (or 32,000 points and $150) for a room that would cost $370 in cash.
The tough part on value was seeing that the Westin Rome was actually costing upward of $850 during that same period! It made me want to book there just for that! Of course, the G-Rough, a new Starwood property, also was looking good. Thanks to points, now I keep going back and forth – help me out in the comments and tell me which hotels in Rome are your favorite!
As for the Club Carlson, with such great hotels available through SPG and Hilton, I just ignored using the free night in Rome and will use it for something else later.
The flights were a bit interesting. Unfortunately, when using miles, it can be pricey to fly to certain places around Europe. The taxes on some of the tickets (for airport fees, etc) can really kill the value of using miles. It is often a much better option to just pay cash for tickets. Fortunately, a great fare sale opened up with Aegean and we grabbed our tickets with cash for just a bit more than the taxes/fees would have been if we redeemed miles.
Obviously, I am most looking forward to just spending time with my wife for our 10th anniversary trip. But, it was a lot of fun to plan one of these trips again for the two of us and having miles and points made the decision so much more difficult than if we had been paying for the trip with cash!
The real fun is the destination but miles and points can open more doors to more destinations than if we did not have them so I am very thankful for them!
Any ideas on the best hotel in Rome with points? What did/will you do for an anniversary trip with miles and points?