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Success! 12 Nights in Bora Bora With Airline Miles & Hotel Points!

Success! 12 Nights in Bora Bora With Airline Miles & Hotel Points!

Million Mile SecretsSuccess! 12 Nights in Bora Bora With Airline Miles & Hotel Points!Million Mile Secrets Team

Welcome to the next installment of our Reader Success Series where Million Mile Secrets Readers share how they booked a trip with miles & points to get Big Travel with Small Money!

Rod and Amy are our newest reader success story to show folks it’s possible to travel without spending a lot of money.

Success 12 Nights In Bora Bora With Airline Miles Hotel Points
Here’s Rod Enjoying the Crystal Clear Waters of Bora Bora During His Trip!

A big thank you to Rod and Amy for sharing their story!

Please introduce yourself to everyone and tell us how long you’ve been involved in the miles & points hobby.

Rod and Amy.

We never traveled until our 10-year wedding anniversary back in 2001.  That is when we discovered the joys of travel.

From there, things progressed as we heard terms like “miles” and “points”.  My first taste of hotel points came from the Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card.

I started to do some research into this strange new world.  In 2011, curiosity turned into a full-blown obsession.  My official start date as a credit card fanatic would be around 2013.

Success 12 Nights In Bora Bora With Airline Miles Hotel Points
Points and Miles Got Us a Hammock in Front of This View at Mt. Otemanu

My first trip with miles and points was to Tahiti, but I still forked over some cash.  Then, I did a trip last year to the Maldives where I was able to score a $15,000 trip for $4,400.  March 2016 was the trip of all trips where our 12-day vacation took us to Bora Bora.  I’m now at the top of my game in this fun hobby!

What was the goal of your trip?

To get the total retail price as high as possible while keeping my out-of-pocket cost as close to zero as I could.

How long did you collect miles and points for your trip? 

I would say this trip is a year and a half worth of collecting.

Which points did you save to take your trip?

I used my American Airlines miles (from the Citi® / AAdvantage® Platinum Select® World Elite™ Mastercard®) to book round-trip First and Business Class tickets for 2 on American Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui from Fort Wayne, Indiana, to Papeete, Tahiti.

I booked prior to the devaluation so it cost me 125,000 American Airlines miles and ~$78 in taxes.  There are no options from Papeete to Bora Bora other than paying for a ticket on Air Tahiti Nui as they do not have a mileage program.  Those 2 tickets cost me ~$826.

Success 12 Nights In Bora Bora With Airline Miles Hotel Points
No Such Thing as a Bad View in Bora Bora!

In Bora Bora, we stayed at two separate IHG properties.  These points were earned on our Chase IHG credit card and from the various bonus promotions IHG has throughout the year.

We used one of IHG’s Ambassador buy one get one free night certificates.  And the Chase IHG anniversary free night certificate.

Success 12 Nights In Bora Bora With Airline Miles Hotel Points
This Is Where We Called Home for 10 Nights. We Weren’t Expecting So Much Space!

We spent 10 nights at the InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa and 2 nights at the InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora.

Our total was 410,000 IHG points.  We did have to fork over almost $1,000 as we did pay for one night on the BOGO free night.

On the return trip home, we had an overnight stay at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport.  I used my free night certificate earned from my Chase Hyatt credit card.  Now that is a price I can live with!

How did you search for and find the award flights?

American Airlines made it very easy to search for the flights.  They show Air Tahiti Nui on their site which is a major plus when searching!

A key point on attempting 2 Business Class award tickets on Air Tahiti Nui is to book as close as possible to 331 days out.  It was nerve-racking to put this trip together – and you have to be flexible on dates.

How did you find your hotel accommodations?

IHG has a very easy website to navigate and finding the hotels was a no-brainer.

Success 12 Nights In Bora Bora With Airline Miles Hotel Points
This Is Where the Water Taxi Dropped Us for Our Stay at the InterContinental Thalasso

Booking award nights at a popular destination is where things get tricky.  The key is to check their site over a long period of time and you can see patterns on how they offer award nights and how fast they disappear.

What was the most challenging part about planning your trip? How did you solve it?

The InterContinental Le Moana Bora Bora was super easy for award nights.

Most any day is available when booking a year out.  The InterContinental Bora Bora Resort Thalasso Spa is where things get difficult because, for the most part, it only has available award nights at 2 times during the year.

Success 12 Nights In Bora Bora With Airline Miles Hotel Points
Early Evening View of Mt. Otemanu From Our Thalasso Bungalow

What I mean by that is you have to literally be on your computer after midnight when the next day’s inventory comes out (from what I can tell they offer 2 rooms) almost a year in advance.  The only other time I saw award nights become available is about a week prior to the actual day of the stay.

Give us a few recommendations or tips for what to do at your destination.  Parks, restaurants, hidden gems, etc.

Everyone needs to have at least one meal at Bloody Mary’s.  It is a great place to get a feel of island life.  Come early and stay late.  This is island time so do not expect the service to be fast.  Relax and enjoy!

Success 12 Nights In Bora Bora With Airline Miles Hotel Points
The Sunsets at Matira Beach Are a Must-See in Bora Bora

Another great restaurant is a little place called Lucky House.  Great food, cold drinks, friendly staff, and a fair price is what you will get here.  It is another place to kick back and just chill.

Success 12 Nights In Bora Bora With Airline Miles Hotel Points
We Loved the Daily String Ray Feeding at Our Hotel

The sting ray feeding at the Thalasso was our favorite thing to do every day at 2:00 pm.  They give you food so you actually feed them yourself.

What did you learn about yourself on the trip?

Amy and I have been thinking about retiring and moving to the beach in about 6 years.

This extended vacation confirmed we are more than ready to lounge around and do nothing but enjoy everything that beach life has to offer!

What would you say to folks looking to plan a similar trip?  Or to those who haven’t taken a miles & points trip yet!

Book your trips as far out as possible if you are trying to book an extremely popular place like Bora Bora with miles or points.  Award flights and award nights are limited so the early bird gets the worm when it comes to rewards.

If you are new to miles and points my advice is to take all of this in baby steps.  There is a learning curve to collecting and booking miles and points.

The Chicago Seminar is a great place to meet up and gain knowledge on this hobby.  I am glad I went last October and I might go again this year.

Travel blogs like Million Mile Secrets keep you up-to-date on all of the latest changes to the game.  Miles and points reduced this trip from its retail price of ~$35,389 down to ~$2,045 – so it is possible to travel like you have never traveled before!

Safe travels everyone!

If you’d like to be considered for our reader success story series, please send me a note!  Emily and I would love to hear about how you travel with miles and points!

If you liked this post, why don’t you join the 25,000+ readers who have signed-up to receive free blog posts via email (only 1 email per day!) or in an RSS reader …because then you’ll never miss another update!

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

  • Earn 50,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $625 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred® named a 'Best Travel Credit Card' by MONEY® Magazine, 2016-2017
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Earn 5,000 bonus points after you add the first authorized user and make a purchase in the first 3 months from account opening
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 50,000 points are worth $625 toward travel.
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards

More Info

Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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After midnight in what time zone?

I stayed at Thalasso two years ago on IHG points. Signed up for Ambassador a few months earlier and we even got upgraded to sapphire 🙂 Used AA miles for round trip to Tahiti/Papeete, so only expenses were food and excursions. It isn't cheap, but prepare and have fun. You can buy drinks and snacks from the main island, get there with the free boat shuttle.

Already have enough points to either go back or maybe try out Maldives? They do have a Holiday Inn there as well.

Good luck to all, everything is possible if we really believe it and work towards it.

Checking the Intercontinental Thalasso, there is only one single night available for award stays, and that's at the end of this January (a couple of weeks out) - other than that, the entire year shows no availability. Tough hotel to snag an award stay at.

I know, I have been looking to pull off another run, but ever since I did this trip I noticed that the 2 rooms per day no longer pop up.

I'm not going anywhere and have to eat crackers and tuna that I've brought with me. Seriously? That is also part of the vacation--not just the destination, etc. People who nickel and dime really hurt their experience. I say that for staying at flea bag hotels, flying with 4 connections just to save $ (and not take into account the time it takes, possible delays, headaches, etc.) or eating canned tuna or not eating at all. Doesn't sound like much of a vacation to me.

great report and success story! Once in a lifetime opportunity even if you have to scrimp of food/activities..

Just think only few of us can go there (i haven't been able to due to schedule/cost etc.).

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