~$53,000 Around-the-World Honeymoon for ~$6,700! Part 3: Booking Hotels

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~$53,000 Around-the-World Honeymoon for ~$6,700! Part 3: Booking Hotels

Million Mile Secrets~$53,000 Around-the-World Honeymoon for ~$6,700! Part 3: Booking HotelsMillion Mile Secrets Team

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One of the best ways to use miles & points is to make unforgettable memories with loved ones.  And even better if you include once-in-a-lifetime experiences most folks normally wouldn’t be able to afford.

Million Mile Secrets team member Keith recently returned from a 25,000 mile around-the-world honeymoon to Amsterdam, Cape Town, Dubai, Bali, and Singapore.  I’ll let him tell you about it!

Keith:   Thanks Daraius!  My wife Liz and I built up hundreds of thousands of miles from credit card sign-up bonuses and bank promotions that we used to visit 5 countries on an around-the-world honeymoon.

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 3 Booking Hotels
My Wife and I Used Starwood Points and Platinum Status for a Stay in an Upgraded Suite at the Beautiful St. Regis Bali

Due to work commitments, we only had 17 days to circle the globe.  This might not seem like enough time for such a trip.  But, I’ll explain how we made the most of our time and enjoyed a romantic dinner at one of Amsterdam’s top restaurants, rest and relaxation in Bali, a beautiful hike and Afternoon Tea in Cape Town, cultural experiences in Dubai, and much more!

I’m happy to share how I paid ~$6,700 for a trip with a retail cost of ~$53,000!

Around-the-World Honeymoon Trip Series:

Using Hotel Elite Status to Our Advantage

Prior to our honeymoon planning, I used sites like Orbitz, Expedia, and Priceline to book the cheapest hotel stay.  But, after earning Starwood Gold status with the The Platinum Card from American Express, my wife and I became loyal to Starwood hotels.

And, having the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express and Starwood Preferred Guest® Business Credit Card from American Express cards earned us nights and stays that made it easier to earn Starwood Platinum status before our honeymoon trip.

When we stayed at Starwood hotels during our honeymoon, Platinum status got us great perks like:

  • 2 free drinks
  • Discounts on dining
  • Extra bonus points
  • Late check-out at 4:00 pm
  • Lounge access
  • Room upgrades
53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 3 Booking Hotels
Platinum Status Saved Us 15% on Dinner at the Dulang Restaurant at the St. Regis Bali! The Indonesian Tasting Menu Was Amazing!

The added benefits of elite status can really make a long trip much more enjoyable.  And, it can mean savings of hundreds of dollars!

Paid Hotel Stays vs. Free Award Nights

Just like using miles for free or cheap airfare, redeeming points for free hotel stays saved us a lot of money out-of-pocket.

But, similar to our flight bookings, sometimes the value for booking hotels with points is too low.  So, we paid cash for certain hotel stays.

With the exception of our 5-night stay in Cape Town and two 1-night stays in Amsterdam and Singapore, we stayed at Starwood hotels during our honeymoon.

I’ll tell you how we booked the 7 hotels for our honeymoon!

1 Night at Andaz Amsterdam Using Chase Ultimate Rewards Points

Our original plan for staying in Amsterdam was to use the free anniversary night from Chase IHG Rewards Club Select Credit Card to stay at the magnificent InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam.  Unfortunately, there were no rooms available.

Instead, we transferred 25,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to Hyatt to book a 1-night stay at the Andaz Amsterdam.  Rooms that night cost ~$398.  So, using points for an award night was a nice way to save.

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 3 Booking Hotels
The Lobby of the Andaz Amsterdam Was Very Unique! We Plan on Staying Here Again for Our Next Visit to Amsterdam!

Our flight to Amsterdam arrived early in the morning.  The hotel staff was very friendly and let us check-in at 8:00 am.  It was great to put our bags down and start exploring the city right away.

Later in the series, I’ll tell you about our romantic dinner in Amsterdam.

5 Nights at Belmond Mount Nelson, Cape Town Using Cash

According to TripAdvisor, the Belmond Mount Nelson is one of the top 10 hotels in Cape Town.  We would agree!

We chose this hotel instead of one that accepted points because of its history, great location, and romantic setting.

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 3 Booking Hotels
Although We Couldn’t Use Points, the Belmond Mount Nelson in Cape Town Had an Amazing Location With Excellent Amenities!

The hotel cost us ~$382 per night, which included transportation from the airport and an amazing breakfast everyday.  I paid for the stay with the Chase Sapphire Preferred, which earned me 2X Chase Ultimate Reward points for travel.

The hotel was great in acknowledging our honeymoon.

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 3 Booking Hotels
The Hotel Arranged Roses on Our Bed, Which Was a Romantic Touch for Our Honeymoon

1 Night at Grosvenor House, Dubai Using Starwood Points

Flying Emirates between Cape Town and Bali allowed us to stay 1 night in Dubai, where there are many Starwood hotels.  We chose the Grosvenor House, which is located in the Dubai Marina and is connected to the popular Buddha Bar.

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 3 Booking Hotels
Our Room at the Grosvenor House in Dubai Was on a High Floor and Had a Great View of the Dubai Marina

We used 20,000 Starwood points for a free night, which saved us ~$402.

Later in the series, I’ll tell you about our very memorable 24 hours in Dubai.

5 Nights at St. Regis Bali

After a quick trip to Dubai and a long flight to Bali, we chose the St. Regis Bali to rest and relax in the Nusa Dua region of Bali.

The hotel has a beautiful beach, 4 excellent restaurants, and several pools.  The amenities at this hotel are endless with things like St. Regis butler service, live music, a nightly fire show, and a spa.  It was definitely a 5-star experience!

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 3 Booking Hotels
The St. Regis Bali Was a Great Hotel to Relax With Their Many Pools, Private Beach, and Terrific Amenities!

To book our stay, we took advantage of Starwood’s 5th night free perk.  We paid 30,000 Starwood points per night for 4 nights or 120,000 Starwood points total and got the 5th night free.  You can’t book with points online, so we had to call to make our reservation.

With Platinum status, we were upgraded to an Orchid Suite at check-in.  This suite normally costs ~$150 per night more than the basic suite at the hotel.  And, because we couldn’t check-in to the next hotel until 3:00 pm, we took advantage of late check-out and spent some extra time on the beach.

The cash cost of a stay in the same room would have been ~$4,205.  So, using points was an enormous savings!

1 Night at W Retreat & Spa, Seminyak

To experience a different and more lively part of Bali, we stayed 1 night at the W Retreat & Spa, Seminyak.  This hotel is category 7, so a free night costs 30,000 Starwood points.  The cash cost of the room was ~$388, which we decided to pay and save our points for a more expensive room night sometime in the future.

Because we registered for the Starwood Triple Up promotion, we earned 6X Starwood points for our paid stay.  And, I paid for the stay with the AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest card to earn an additional 2X Starwood points!

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 3 Booking Hotels
We Watched an Amazing Sunset at the W Retreat & Spa, Seminyak!

Our experience at the hotel was very positive, but completely different than our time at the St. Regis Bali.  The W Retreat & Spa was very modern.  And, there are many restaurants and shopping areas within walking distance of the hotel.

1 Night at Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

All of our friends who have visited Singapore recommended we stay at the Marina Bay Sands hotel.  The hotel has an infinity pool on the 57th floor, which offers spectacular views of the city.  And, it’s a great way to cool off from the Singapore heat.

53,000 Around The World Honeymoon For 6,700 Part 3 Booking Hotels
On Our First Night in Singapore We Relaxed by the 57th Floor Infinity Pool at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Watched the Sunset

This hotel is not a Starwood hotel and doesn’t accept points.  So, we paid ~$437 for a 1-night stay.  We tried to stay 2 nights, but the 2,500 room hotel was sold out for a week after we checked-out.

1 Night at The Westin Singapore

For our last night in Singapore, we used 20,000 Starwood points for a free night at The Westin Singapore.  Using points saved us ~$278.

Platinum status at this hotel got us a room upgrade to the top floor (48th floor).  And, we had access to the Executive Club Lounge for an evening reception with complimentary food and drinks.

This hotel was well located in Singapore’s financial district, which was close to many of the tourist attractions we visited.  I’ll tell you more about what we did in Singapore later in the series!

Bottom Line

My wife and I used perks from the AMEX Platinum card and AMEX Starwood Preferred Guest cards (personal and small business) to help us earn Platinum status, which was very valuable for our honeymoon.  We received many perks like late check-out, room upgrades, and discounted dining.

Combining hotel points and promotions can be a great way to save money.  We used Starwood’s 5th night free program at the St. Regis Bali, which saved us ~$4,205!

In the next part of the series, I’ll explain how we made our time at airports more enjoyable!

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  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
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  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises 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

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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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Agree with Anthony. Starpoint are so hard to get that 20.000 for a room is a lot. But Anthony, why you don’t use those certificates for the Park Hyatt Dubai? Never been there but usually Park Hyatt are nicer that Grand Hyatt. I stayed in the Conrad Dubai and Waldorf The Palm using hilton points+cash… very nice properties :0)

*400 cheeseburgers for $20…

Personally I would have saved my points during 1-day stopovers. Not sure if the purpose was to save money, experience first class hotels or just to showcase what you can do with miles… but I’ve found that if I’m stopping in a major city, the hotel is partly inconsequential to my stay unless I just wanted to relax the whole day and had no plans to visit the city.

Starpoints are valuable and Dubai has plenty of comfortable hotels for cheap. My fiancee and I are using our anniversary certificates from the Hyatt Chase cards for two nights at the Grand Hyatt in Dubai. I couldn’t figure any way to use those certificates, so they came in handy. But we plan to be out in the city, so we won’t really have a chance to experience any hotel we stay in… value is relative. I mean 20k Starpoints for a $400 room seems great, but in a city like Dubai, it’s almost like getting $400 cheeseburgers for $20. I can only really eat two of them, so I could have saved $18 and eaten just as well.