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How to get 90% off a $45,000 trip to the Maldives

Next up we’ll be sharing how we got amazing deal on our upcoming trip to the Maldives, where we’re staying at the Park Hyatt Hadahaa and St Regis Maldives Vommuli, and arriving via Qatar Airlines Qsuites.

Hotel Deals

St Regis Maldives

The St Regis Maldives is one of the most unique and luxurious hotels in the world, and its price tag reflects that. The hotel normally charges $2,000-$4,000 per night for an overwater villa, a room that sits directly on top of the crystal blue Maldivian ocean. For those using points, this is typically one of the most expensive points destinations in the world - it normally costs nearly 200K Marriott points per night to book one of these overwater villas. But due to the Marriott/SPG merger, and a temporary glitch in the SPG system, we were able to score the same room for less than half the normal number of points (85K points) per night.

How did we do it? Marriott recently went through a Massive IT integration with the SPG system in August, and we knew to keep our eye on Marriott’s website for good deals and potential error rates on the day of the integration. We kept our eye out on ultra-luxury properties like the St Regis Maldives, since these hotels do not have standard rooms and don’t fall into Marriott’s normal level system. Surely enough, we spotted a points rate that was 80% less than the property had been charging for the same room just the day before. Apparently this was an error, as it was fixed within a few hours. People who booked the same room just a few hours later had to spend about 250% as many points in order to book the same villa. (Still a fantastic deal, which will only last through the end of 2018, when Marriott will create a new category for these new ultra-luxe properties).

Finally, by leveraging Marriott’s 5th night free policy for points bookings. So, all in all, we spent 340K points for 5 nights at the hotel, or about 69K points per night. (This is about the equivalent of a nice Westin in the US.) Just a few days earlier, this booking would have cost 1.2 million points. Just a few hours later and this booking would cost 730,000 points. Those who booked this same villa in cash would be spending $24,000 for 5 nights around this date range.

Park Hyatt Hadahaa

The Park Hyatt Hadahaa, one of the best hotels in Hyatt’s portfolio, is a consistently good deal for points. The hotel is categorized as a Hyatt Category 5, so it only costs 25K points per night - about 1/3 the points spend required from other chain-affiliated hotels in the region. Rather than just spend 5 nights at the St Regis, we figured we should spend a few nights beforehand acclimating to the time change, so we booked the Park Hyatt for the 4 nights before our St Regis stay. This hotel normally goes for $600-700 per night, so this is a consistently great use of points, for those who weren’t able to grab the St Regis error fare.

Flight Deals

Getting the Deal

We paid $2,000 each for our business class flights on AA & Qatar from San Francisco to Male, Maldives. Normally this itinerary would cost about $10,600 per person if we purchased it using the best available cash rate via American.

We were able to score this great deal by buying 250,000 miles for $4k during AA’s best-ever mileage sale, and using them in one of the most advantageous ways to use AA miles: by booking business class on Qatar using American miles. So, by buying miles and using them for the flight rather than paying for the flight directly, we saved 80%+ over the best available ‘business saver’ cash rate for our flights.

Qatar Product

Qatar is currently renovating their business class product and has a highly variable product. Some airplanes (777-200s) have an outdated 2-2-2 business class configuration. Some (A350-900s) have a lovely reverse herringbone configuration that is at par with other top-notch business class products in the world. And some, (A350-1000s and 777-300s) are retrofitted with Qatar Qsuites - enclosed suites that are widely considered the best business class product in the world by far. We knew we wanted Qsuites, especially given that the points cost would be the same as a regular old business class.

The only problem was that even 4 months in advance, not a single flight with Qsuites had availability during our dates. So, we took a gamble and bet that Qatar would bring Qsuites to the JFK flight first, given the importance of the New York market. We signed up for seatmap alerts on Expertflyer.com (an invaluable resource), and lo and behold, 2 weeks before our departure, we received notice that 3/4 of our flights had been changed to Qsuites.

That’s a quick rundown on how we scored 90% off of our upcoming trip. Keep your eye out over the next week for reviews of our experiences along the way, including:

AA LAX-JFK Business Class

Qatar JFK-Doha Qsuites

LAX Oneworld Lounge Review

LAX KAL Lounge Review

LAX Flagship Lounge review

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