In the middle of winter, after a busy – and cold – January, we wanted to escape – in the warmth – for a week with the kids! So we flew to the island of Puerto Rico… with the points and miles!
Booking our stay in Puerto Rico with points and miles
Usually, we always plan our vacations months in advance. This is what we did for our dream trip to the United Arab Emirates.
Here, it’s the opposite: the reservations were made 48 hours before departure!
Here is the “grocery list” made by Madame to Monsieur:
- Warmth + sunshine guaranteed
- Direct flight
- Little time difference
- Departure on Friday or Saturday
Airfare with Aeroplan Miles
Having at my disposal:
- American Express Membership Rewards points (instantly transferable to Aeroplan Miles or Delta Skymiles)
- and British Airways Executive Club Avios,
…I then turn to Flights Connections to list all the airports accessible from Montreal by direct flight, whether with Star Alliance (Aeroplan) or Oneworld (British Airways Executive Club) or Skyteam (Delta Skymiles).
Then, with these airports listed, I only have to search for availability.
To do this, I use the Chrome Award.Flights extension that I present in this article. My research looks like this:
This allows me, in only a few minutes, to have an overview of the availability for 3 seats (our youngest, Arthur, can still stay on our lap until he is 2 years old).
The availability was then for a flight to:
- Panama City
- San Juan
- Fort de France
I then made the same search for the return trip a week later, which eliminated Fort de France, leaving Panama City and San Juan.
After discussions – and analysis of available hotels with points – our choice is San Juan!
Here is the cost of the ticket per person: 40,000 Aeroplan Miles and $164.90.
The flight is direct and operated by Air Canada (not Air Canada Rouge), at reasonable times.
I check the public fare for this ticket to calculate the value of my Aeroplan Miles:
Hotels with Marriott Bonvoy points
Our goal was to rest with the children: not an all-inclusive …. but almost.
We spent 2 days discovering the old town of San Juan, then 5 days of“farniente” in a very beautiful complex.
In San Juan
In San Juan, there are many, many Marriott hotels available with points. Wishing to discover the old San Juan, we put aside the “beach” hotels or those near the airport.
We were left with 2 options:
The first one seemed rather old, so we opted for the second one, the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino, which had the merit of having a nice swimming pool, enough to please our kids after several hours of flight (and had the advantage of being cheaper in points)!
I had one certificate left in my account to use for a night at a hotel worth up to 25,000 points.
The second night was paid with 25,000 points. The cost per night in cash is really high at 320 USD taxes included…
On the other hand, I have a little complaint: in San Juan, most of the hotels charge a fee if you use points to pay for the room! Here, 15 USD per night!
For our 5-night stay, we turned to… St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort hotel in Puerto Rico, !
This hotel is classified in category 7.
One night cost 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points (vs. 1,400 US$ taxes included…) and for 5 nights it was
300,000 points 240,000 Marriott Bonvoy points since the fifth night is free (vs. US$7,000 taxes included… a price I would NEVER pay for a hotel!).
Our cost per night in this hotel was therefore 48,000 points, which is very reasonable considering the services offered!
In this hotel, a resort fee of 75 USD is applied, per night, for all reservations (paid or with points)!
This must be the highest resort fee ever paid, far exceeding the abusive 35-40 USD charged in Las Vegas for example.
I swallow the pill, telling myself that the opportunity was too good to visit
one of the most beautiful resorts in the Caribbean
The resort has just reopened in December 2018, after more than a year of renovations ($ 60 million …) following the passage of Hurricane Maria (September 20, 2017).
And that I would never have given myself without the points…!
And then I reassure myself that my Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Elite status will allow us to have free breakfasts every day, a saving of… almost 100 US$ per day!
3 articles will follow this one to present you the two hotels as well as our visit of the old San Juan.
Cards to collect points & miles
One way to earn Marriott Bonvoy points and Aeroplan miles is through credit card sign-up bonuses!
Aeroplan Miles Cards
There are many cards available to earn Aeroplan Miles directly or indirectly.
Directly, we will think of Aeroplan affiliated cards such as:
- TD® Aeroplan® Visa Infinite Card
- AeroplanPlusMD* American ExpressMD Gold Card
- The American Express® AeroplanPlus®* Platinum Card
Indirectly, we can think of American Express Membership Rewards cards:
Marriott Bonvoy points cards
To obtain Marriott Bonvoy points, think of the 2 American Express Marriott Bonvoy cards, each granting a welcome bonus in Marriott Bonvoy points:
As a couple, it is easy to earn more than 200,000 Marriott Bonvoy points by purchasing these two cards for each spouse!
Please note that it is also possible to transfer American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott Bonvoy points at a 1:1.2 (or 5:6 if you prefer) rate. The best card will be: