Point Hacks NZPoint Hacks NZ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz The best frequent flyer deals & offers for New Zealand. Fri, 15 Dec 2017 03:55:46 +0000 en-NZ hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 3x Fly Buys points at Torpedo7 until 24 December https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-fly-buys-points-torpedo7/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-fly-buys-points-torpedo7/#respond Thu, 14 Dec 2017 19:00:06 +0000 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 19:00:06 +0000 To celebrate their new partnership, Fly Buys and Torpedo7 are running a bonus Fly Buys offer for members who make a purchase online or in-store until midnight 24 December 2017.

To earn 3x Fly Buys points, you only have to present your physical or app-based Fly Buys card to the cashier when you go to pay in-store. If you are shopping online then you’ll just need to enter your Fly Buys membership number before you check out.

Torpedo-7-1

Once you’re on the final check-out page, you’ll have the option to enter your Fly Buys membership number

This offer effectively works out to be a minimum ~1.9% rebate on purchases, based on Fly Buys having a value of 16.6 cents NZD where put towards domestic Air New Zealand flight redemption.

Note that while you will not earn Fly Buys points on gift card purchases, you will earn Fly Buys when paying with a gift card.

Torpedo-7-2


Guide to earning Fly Buys at Torpedo7

You can now earn 1 Fly Buys point for every $25 you spend at Torpedo7, either in-store or online.

Just show your physical or app-based Fly Buys card in-store, or enter your membership number online when you check out.

Online, the number of Fly Buys points you will earn when purchasing an individual item will be displayed next to the product listing, or on that item’s product page.

Torpedo-7-3

These pants will see you earn 15 Fly Buys points under the current promotion. That’s about $2.50 NZD in value where put towards a domestic Air New Zealand flight redemption.

To see the total number of points you’ll earn based on all items you plan to purchase, you’ll first need to click ‘Add to Cart’ to add the item(s) to your shopping cart, and then go to the shopping cart itself.

Torpedo-7-4

Given you can ‘click & collect’ for free, I would personally use this as a way to be sure of how many points I will earn on my purchase before heading to the store. If there is no Torpedo7 store near you, they offer the ability to collect your purchase from The Warehouse stores across the country.

Summing Up: Key points you should know

  • You’ll earn 1 Fly Buys points per $25 spent in-store or online
  • To earn Fly Buys points in-store, customers will need to present their physical membership card at the register. Just enter your number if purchasing online.

While the earn rate is nothing spectacular, it’s at least another option for you to earn points from everyday purchases.

Torpedo7 accept all major credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Amex, Diners) with no transaction fees, which provides a good opportunity to double dip and earn points through card spend too.

If you’re like me and use an American Express Platinum Edge to maximise flexibility with your points earn, you should first purchase a Torpedo7 Gift Card from any of the following supermarkets:

  • Countdown
  • Farro Fresh
  • FreshChoice
  • New World
  • Nosh
  • PAK’nSAVE
  • SuperValue

That way, you’ll earn 3 Membership Rewards points per $1 spent on your planned purchases, as opposed to only 1 point per $1 if using your Amex with Torpedo7 directly.

You can use your gift card in-store or online.

You can read more about using gift cards to maximum points earn here.

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-fly-buys-points-torpedo7/feed/ 0
4x Airpoints Dollars on fuel purchases today only at Z Fuel – Fly Buys still the better deal https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-airpoints-dollars-z-fuel/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-airpoints-dollars-z-fuel/#respond Thu, 14 Dec 2017 16:30:58 +0000 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 16:30:58 +0000 Air New Zealand are again running a bonus Airpoints Dollars offer for fuel purchases from Z stations.

Scan your Airpoints card when you fuel up at Z from 6am on Friday 15th December, to 6am Saturday 16th December, and you’ll earn quadruple Airpoints Dollars.

Z-fuel-promo-airpoints

This offer effectively works out to be a 4 cents per litre discount. This is still less than the 6 cents per litre discount you would receive if you swiped your Fly Buys card instead, and you’d also earn quadruple Fly Buys points under this promotion if at least 20L of fuel is purchased.


Guide to earning Airpoints Dollars with the Z partnership for fuel and in-store purchases

You can earn 1 Airpoints Dollar (or part thereof) for every 100 litres of fuel at Z, or 1 Airpoints Dollar (or part thereof) for every $50 you spend on the following:

Based on Airpoints Dollars being pegged to the New Zealand Dollar, the standard earn rate effectively works out to be a 1 cent per litre discount, and a 2% rebate on qualifying purchases.

The discount per litre is pretty abysmal, especially considering you can save 6 cents per litre just by using your Fly Buys card, and you’ll still earn Fly Buys points (we which we value at 16.6 cents each when redeeming on domestic Air New Zealand flights).

The increased savings using Fly Buys is likely be attributed to the fact that the rewards program is 25% owned by Z.

These types of tie-ups are aimed at changing consumer behaviour. You’ll think about where you’ll shop for fuel, and start to care less about discount dockets from supermarkets.

Key points of the partnership that you should know

  • 1 Airpoints Dollar per 100 litres earned on fuel (petrol and diesel) and/or,
  • 1 Airpoints Dollar per $50 spent on qualifying in-store purchases
  • To earn Airpoints Dollars, customers will need to present their Airpoints membership card at the cash register, or scan their card directly at the pump
  • There is no need to split your transactions to maximise earn, as you’ll earn ‘Airpoints Dollars part thereof’ according to your fill and/or spend
  • If you want to save money on fuel purchases, you’re better off opting to use your Fly Buys card

Remember that Airpoints members will also earn Airpoints Dollars if they’re using an Airpoints linked credit card, giving them the opportunity to get more bang for their buck.

The highest earning Airpoints card currently available is the American Express Airpoints Platinum, where you’ll earn 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $59 spent.

You can also collect points when you use a Z Gift Card to pay for qualifying items.

Pay for a Z Gift Card with an American Express Platinum Edge from any of the following supermarkets, and you’ll earn Membership Rewards that will be valued at the equivalent of 1 Airpoints Dollar per $59 spent:

  • Countdown
  • Farro Fresh
  • FreshChoice
  • New World
  • Nosh
  • PAK’nSAVE
  • SuperValue

Earning Airpoints Dollars with the Z Card

You can earn Airpoints Dollars through your business too. If you have your Airpoints number loaded on your Z Card account, they’ll add up your total fuel spend at the end of the month and you’ll earn Airpoints Dollars at the rate of 1 for every $200 (incl GST) spent.

The plus is that there is no need for you to swipe your Airpoints card in store – your Airpoints Dollars will be collected automatically.

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/earning-airpoints-dollars-z-fuel/feed/ 0
The St. Regis Singapore Executive Deluxe Room – Picture Review https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/st-regis-singapore-picture-review/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/st-regis-singapore-picture-review/#respond Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:00:23 +0000 Wed, 13 Dec 2017 19:00:23 +0000 In September 2017, the Point Hacks crew had a three-day team meetup in Singapore and most of us stayed at The St. Regis.

The St. Regis Singapore is ranked #30 out of 319 hotels in Singapore on TripAdvisor, putting it in the top 10% of properties, which is quite good considering the quality of hotels around the city. However, there are higher-ranked hotels that tend to be cheaper, so it does pay to do your research.

Research & Booking

This hotel is a Category 6 Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) property, meaning that an Executive Deluxe Room (the standard/basic room) will set you back 20,000-25,000 Starpoints, depending on the season. Alternatively, outside of peak travel periods, you can usually pick up a room for around $350 SGD/ $379 NZD per night.

As we’ve written before, the best value Starpoint redemptions for hotels are where you get 3c per point value or more. For a Category 6 hotel, prices would have to be $600+ SGD/ $649 NZD for you to get that value, so we would usually suggest using cash and earning points for stays at The St. Regis Singapore unless room rates creep higher during peak periods.

The Room

The Executive Deluxe Room is large and beautiful with a functional design:

The room has handy, easy-to-use light and window controls.

My only complaint about the bed was that the quilt was too thick.

The room was a Bose sound system, a TV and a complimentary internet-equipped Handy mobile phone to use for the duration of your stay—just make sure you have it on silent as I got woken up by a notification of an advertisement.

You’ll get complimentary tea, French Press coffee and bottled water:

and we were lucky to receive a complimentary fruit plate due to Keith’s SPG Platinum status.

The bathroom was a standout, with gold finishes and heated mirrors all throughout:

and the ability to watch TV from the bath.

The shower was spacious but I did find the water pressure and temperature to be variable.

The St. Regis Singapore

Customer service was on-point at the property—never before had I had so many people greet me. Double-daily housekeeping was appreciated.

The butler service for pressing clothes and shoe shine is prompt.

There is good coverage of wifi with both download and upload speeds around the 10 Mbps mark.

Common areas are spacious, well-appointed and absorb noise well.

There is a pool on the second floor, which is about 25 metres in length, so you can do laps if you want but it is more designed for relaxation.

As expected, there is a gym, however, a welcome surprise was an indoor tennis court (not pictured).

Breakfast buffet

The buffet area provides lots of natural light and excellent Western and Asian options.

Around the hotel

The St. Regis is located at the Western end of Orchard Road, an easy, pedestrian-friendly ten-minute walk to start of shopping precinct and the underground Orchard Road MRT Station.

It takes 20-30 minutes to get to the airport by car.

Summing up: The St. Regis Singapore

This property is just gorgeous, where guests are well taken care of. The location is just off Orchard Road, which can be good to get a little out of the bustle but does add an extra few minutes on to transport.

Being a tax haven, Singapore attracts wealthy clientele, meaning it is definitely worth your while to explore alternatives as the luxury hotel market in the city is hotly contested.

Photos and supplementary text courtesy Steven Ang, Point Hacks Operations Manager

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/st-regis-singapore-picture-review/feed/ 0
Save an upfront 16% off hotel bookings with CheapTickets until 2 January 2018 https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/promo-codes-for-cheaper-hotel-bookings/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/promo-codes-for-cheaper-hotel-bookings/#respond Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:00:59 +0000 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:00:59 +0000 You can always save between 8 – 20% off your hotel bookings by using promo codes on CheapTickets, Orbitz, Expedia and Hotels.com.

While these codes cannot be used on bookings with most of the major hotel chains, they can be used with thousands of independent hotels around the world.

In this guide, we’ll look at the different promotions on offer, the relevant terms / exclusions for each, and the credit cards you can use that have low international transaction fees (as CheapTickets and Orbitz charge in US Dollars).

We’ll republish this guide each time new promo codes are released.

It’s usually a prerequisite to have an account with these sites if you want to use their promo codes, so if you don’t already, you can join up via these links:

Orbitz

Beach Resort

If you frequently stay at independent hotels, use Orbitz for most of your bookings, and you’re happy to use their mobile app, this offer works out to be the best available (even taking into account any international transaction fees).

The Orbucks you earn can be used on future hotel bookings, and you don’t require any minimum amount to redeem (e.g. if you only have 2 Orbucks, you can redeem them for a $2 USD discount off a future stay).

  • Promo Code: SNOWFLAKE
  • Discount: 15% + 5% back in ‘Orbucks’ if you use their mobile app
  • Valid until: 2 January 2018 4.59PM NZST
  • Travel finished by: 30 June 2018
  • You can see the full offer details and how to use the promo code through this link

You are limited to two redemptions of the promo code (they usually offer a new one each month), and up to a maximum saving of $150 USD per booking (excludes Orbucks earn). After those two bookings, this promo code will not be able to be used again, even if one or more of those bookings is cancelled.

Below is another Orbitz offer that we are aware of:

Save $25 USD on bookings via the Orbitz app

  • Promo Code: 25DOWNLOAD
  • Discount: $25 + 5% back in ‘Orbucks’ if you use their mobile app
  • Valid until: 31 December 2017
  • Travel finished by: 31 December 2017
  • Only available on bookings that are $100 or more, and for 2 or more nights. Limit one discount per hotel room, and one promotion code per booking.
  • You can see the full offer details and how to use the promo code through this link

CheapTickets

Hammock on the beach

CheapTickets usually have the best offer available if you want an upfront discount, and will be best for those who don’t travel or stay at independent hotels regularly.

  • Promo Code: MISTLETOE
  • Discount: 16%
  • Valid until: 2 January 2018 4.59PM NZST
  • Travel finished by: 30 June 2018
  • You can see the full offer details and how to use the promo code through this link

You are limited to two redemptions of the promo code (they usually offer a new one each month), and up to a maximum saving of $150 USD per booking. After those two bookings, this promo code will not be able to be used again, even if one or more of those bookings is cancelled.

Expedia

Bagan Myanmar

Although you won’t incur any international transaction fees when booking through Expedia, you’ll find that Orbitz and Cheaptickets still offer a greater discount overall. However like Orbitz, you can earn Expedia+ Points towards future bookings, once you have at least 140 points (which is equal to $1 NZD).

Mastercard Offer

This offer is exclusive to Mastercard credit card holders.

  • Promo Code: MASTERNZ12
  • Discount: 12% + at least 2.85-5.7% back in ‘Expedia+ Points’ if you use their mobile app, depending on whether you end up redeeming your Expedia+ points for normal hotels, or VIP Access hotels
  • Valid until: 31 December 2017
  • Travel finished by: 30 June 2018
  • No blackout dates, can be combined with special +VIP hotel offers, such as free nights, discounts, upgrades, and dining and spa credits (where available)
  • In a multiple-room booking, the discount will be applied to only one room.
  • You don’t need an account to use the promo code, but you must have an account to earn Expedia+ Points
  • You can see the full offer details, including excluded hotel chains, through this link

American Express Offer

This offer is exclusive to Amex credit card holders.

  • Promo Code: AMEXNZ10
  • Discount: 10% + at least 2.85-5.7% back in ‘Expedia+ Points’ if you use their mobile app, depending on whether you end up redeeming your Expedia+ points for normal hotels, or VIP Access hotels
  • Valid until: 31 December 2017
  • Travel finished by: 30 June 2018
  • No blackout dates, can be combined with special +VIP hotel offers, such as free nights, discounts, upgrades, and dining and spa credits (where available)
  • In a multiple-room booking, the discount will be applied to only one room.
  • You don’t need an account to use the promo code, but you must have an account to earn Expedia+ Points
  • You can see the full offer details, including excluded hotel chains, through this link

Hotels.com

Pool by the beach

Hotels.com generally offer the least appealing offers out of the booking sites in this article. Using any of these promo codes will also cause you to miss out on earning any Welcome Rewards nights, so if you book regularly with Hotels.com, you’re generally better off sticking to the free nights rather than using promo codes.

On the plus side, there are lots of offers available, and you won’t incur any international transaction fees when booking through Hotels.com.

Mastercard Offer

This offer is exclusive to Mastercard credit card holders.

  • Promo Code: MASTERCARD – must book via this page
  • Discount: 8%
  • Valid until: 31 December 2017
  • Travel finished by: 31 March 2018
  • Only one Coupon per transaction may be used. In a multiple-room booking, the discount will be applied to only one room. Only for stays of up to 28 nights.

Visa Offer

This offer is exclusive to Visa credit card holders.

  • Promo Code: VISA8 – must book via this page
  • Discount: 8%
  • Valid until: 31 December 2017
  • Travel finished by: 31 March 2018
  • Only one Coupon per transaction may be used. In a multiple-room booking, the discount will be applied to only one room.

Key points that are common for all Hotels.com offers:

  • If you subscribe to their emails, you’ll receive an exclusive promo code every month or so.
  • Most major hotel chains are excluded, you can see the full list at this link.

Factors to consider when using these promo codes

As with any promotion, there are different factors you’ll need to consider before booking:

  • All of these offers are for stand-alone hotel bookings only, not in conjunction with any other product types (unless otherwise mentioned above).
  • The discounts will not apply to taxes/fees.
  • You must pay up front and not at the hotel (though the codes can still be used on refundable rates, it just means you’ll need to wait for a refund back to your credit card account if you choose to cancel).
  • CheapTickets and Orbitz charge in US Dollars, which means that you’ll incur international transaction fees with most credit cards, effectively reducing your ‘discount’ by up to 2.5% for the NZD amount, depending on your credit card (we have listed all the available rates in New Zealand below). Though in saying this, they still generally offer a better discount than the sites that don’t incur credit card fees.
  • Sometimes – and it’s less likely when the discounts are as large as some of those listed above – it can be better value to contact the hotel and enquire what deal they can offer, if you book direct. All hotels pay commission to these sites for each booking, and if you book direct instead, the hotel saves on these fees. While they may not offer a discount, they could offer a room upgrade or daily free breakfast (from my experience), and that could work out good value for longer stays. If they offer you something like this, make sure you get it in writing!

Minimising your international transaction fees

CheapTickets and Orbitz charge in US dollars, so you’ll more than likely incur an international transaction fee when booking through these sites with a credit card.

Most credit cards in New Zealand issued by the major banks charge on average about 2.5% on the NZD converted amount of international transactions. However, there are quite a few that are lower than this.

We have listed the different card providers below so you can compare. Remember that your credit card may have a reward program that provides a return on your spend (cashback, frequent flyer miles etc.), so make sure you factor this in when deciding which card to use.

E.g. the American Express Airpoints Platinum will see you earn 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $59 you spend on your Card, which will reduce the ‘currency fee’ to an effective 0.8%.

Note that we have not included the fees charged for any discontinued products.

Credit CardInternational Transaction Fee
Flight Centre Mastercard1.4%
Q Mastercard1.4%
Kiwibank1.85%
Countdown Onecard1.9%
Diners Club New Zealand2%
Gem Visa2%
Warehouse Money2%
ASB2.1%
BNZ2.25%
American Express2.5%
Westpac2.5%
TSB2.5%
The Cooperative Bank2.5%

Do you need help finding the best deals on hotels?

Hotel

While the offers above are simple to redeem, I do offer a service that helps you find the cheapest prices for hotel bookings, including liaising with hotels directly to see if they can offer better prices or stay offers when booking direct. This is especially useful for those who are short on time, but would still like to save money.

If you ever need help with a hotel booking, please feel free to contact me.

Summing Up

Saving money on your hotel stays isn’t hard – I’m always surprised to hear people say that they’ve paid full price for accommodation on their holidays.

CheapTickets is generally your best choice for up front discounts, and Orbitz is best where you make frequent bookings and can take advantage of the Orbucks earn. These sites however have a savings cap of $150 USD. If you’re booking expensive stays, it could be cheaper to use Expedia or Hotels.com.

Always do your comparisons and sums to make sure you’re getting the best deal on your booking. Prices can vary between sites, even in spite of promo code usage, and sometimes the best deal can be found by contacting the hotel directly.

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/promo-codes-for-cheaper-hotel-bookings/feed/ 0
Beginner’s guide: how and why to search by flexible dates https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/flexible-date-search-guide/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/flexible-date-search-guide/#respond Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:00:05 +0000 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 19:00:05 +0000 In this beginner’s guide, we look at four of the most frequent flyer programs for travellers in New Zealand, and how to save time by searching for award seats across multiple dates at the same time.

We’ve excluded Air New Zealand for obvious reasons – you can use your Airpoints Dollars on any seat that is available for sale. Takes the trouble out of trying to find award seats!

If you’re looking for Star Alliance award seats on Air New Zealand flights, typically booked via United or KrisFlyer, use United MileagePlus or ANA Mileage Club.

For more information on which website to use for specific airlines and frequent flyer programs, check out our comprehensive guide on how to search for frequent flyer award space.

Why to search by flexible dates

It’s pretty obvious, right?

Given you have flexibility in the date you can fly on—which, admittedly, is not always the case—and the fact that the availability of award seats fluctuates according to the time and day of the flight, you can save time by choosing the right website for your search and clicking the right buttons.

Qantas Frequent Flyer

When searching for a flight on Qantas, first you must login to your account, then select Use points – Classic Flight Awards only:

Click on the date selector and tick Flexible with dates:

You should be able to see results in monthly view:

Alternatives: use British Airways Executive Club, Asia Miles, AAdvantage or Japan Airlines Mileage Bank for oneworld partners; use Emirates Skywards to search for Emirates flights.

Velocity Frequent Flyer

When you search for a flight, you do not have the option of flexible date search:

However, although the results will not show for the surrounding dates, you can easily toggle between days:

Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer

KrisFlyer does not provide a flexible date search option:

However, you can scroll down to the bottom of the results to navigate to the day before and after:

Alternatives: use United MileagePlus or ANA Mileage Club for Star Alliance flights (note that KrisFlyer also now displays Star Alliance availability but it is day-by-day)

Cathay Pacific Asia Miles

Asia Miles provides the best overview of search results of the five programs in this guide. You can opt for fixed or flexible dates:

with results showing for three days each side of your selected date:

and it is easy to jump forward by week using the Change dates button:

Other tools

Independent aggregators like Award Nexus and ExpertFlyer offer a more complete overview of search results by month or week, respectively, but do charge a price for their services. If you tend to travel frequently and/or are time-poor, investing in a membership may be worth it to you.

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/flexible-date-search-guide/feed/ 0
Buy AA miles at 1.77 US cents each: best offer of past five months https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/aadvantage-purchase-miles-guide/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/aadvantage-purchase-miles-guide/#respond Tue, 12 Dec 2017 00:00:07 +0000 Tue, 12 Dec 2017 00:00:07 +0000 American Airlines are offering up to 120,000 bonus miles when buying AAdvantage miles until 4 January—this equates to around 1.77 US cents per mile at the best-value tier.

These offers run almost monthly and this one is the best of the past five months (see Offer history for details).

Buying AAdvantage miles makes the most sense when topping up your balance for a specific Business Class redemption on American Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Qantas or Fiji Airways.

The current AAdvantage purchase miles promotion

  • Bonus: 3,000 to 120,000 miles (tiered)
  • Discount: none
  • Valid until: 4 January
  • Best value redemptions: domestic Australian and Trans-Tasman Qantas Business Class, Fiji Airways Business to Fiji, Qantas/Cathay Pacific/Japan Airlines Business to Asia, and oneworld Business to Europe
  • Book awards online: for AA, Qantas, British Airways, and some others (full list)
  • Book awards over the phone: for other partners, you can only book over the phone and are charged a $75 USD booking fee
  • You can buy miles in this promotion through this link

This promotion yields the cheapest per mile price of ~1.77 USD cents per mile when buying exactly 150,000 miles (270,000 miles total including the bonus) for $4,786.88 USD.

Why purchase AAdvantage miles?

  1. For oneworld partner redemptions: American Airlines is a member of the oneworld alliance, so you can redeem AAdvantage miles across any oneworld airline, including all those who fly direct from New Zealand – Qantas, Cathay Pacific, LATAM, Malaysia Airlines, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways
  2. For other partner redemptions: American Airlines have other partner airlines that fly to New Zealand that you can redeem AAdvantage miles for, including Fiji Airways, Hawaiian Airlines and Air Tahiti Nui
  3. Very helpful award hold policy: with AA, it is possible to hold award bookings for up to five days (if booking more than two weeks from departure) or 24 hours (if booking closer), allowing you to pencil in plans and then confirm the ticket once you’ve bought or transferred the miles into your account. This policy makes it easy to make risk-free redemption holds while you re-confirm total costs of making your booking and buying the points
  4. More generous point promotions than Qantas and Air New Zealand: AAdvantage offers the option of purchasing miles outright at a fixed value, unlike Qantas Frequent Flyer and Air New Zealand Airpoints, where points purchases are both expensive and limited in the amount and circumstances in which you can buy

The best value AAdvantage redemptions for NZ travellers

Here are some of the better-priced and more readily-available awards for travellers from NZ:

Example RedemptionAAdvantage Miles requiredCost (USD) with latest promotion at highest bonus tier (150,000 miles)*
* All redemption prices are in USD, one way and do not included booking fees, taxes and other charges
Australia to/from New Zealand in Business Class with Qantas or LAN 25000$442.5
New Zealand to Fiji in Fiji Airways Business Class30000$531
New Zealand to Tahiti or Air Tahiti Nui Business Class30000$531
New Zealand Business Class to Asia Zone 1 (Brunei, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam)40000$708
New Zealand Business Class to Asia Zone 2 (Japan and Korea)40000$708
New Zealand Business Class to Hawaii on Hawaiian Airlines65000$1150.5
New Zealand Business Class to Contiguous 48 U.S. states80000$1416
New Zealand Business Class to Europe85000$1504.5

Factors to consider when purchasing AAdvantage miles

Just like any miles purchase deal, you’ll need to take into consideration the following factors:

  • The cost of the miles required for your intended route
  • The $75 USD phone booking fee for some partners
  • The USD:NZD exchange rate
  • The taxes that come along with the booking, which are most easily confirmed by American over the phone
  • The time taken to research award availability and make the booking
  • AAdvantage accounts less than 30 days old are not permitted to buy or gift miles, so register for an account now so you can take advantage of future promotions
  • AAdvantage usually lets you purchase or gift 100,000-150,000 miles (not including the bonus miles on offer) per year per account receiving the miles, so ensure you are buying into a deal when you have a redemption in mind OR you think it’s a really good one
  • Be sure to get to the checkout page to see the full cost of your purchase including all USD fees and taxes

Previous offers

The simplest way to track historical AAdvantage offers is with the US cents per mile cost for the best offer tier for that period:

  • 1.77c per mile in November 2017
  • 2.14c per mile in November 2017
  • 1.91c per mile in October 2017
  • 2.02c per mile in September 2017
  • 1.83c per mile in August 2017
  • 1.72c per mile in July 2017
  • 1.72c per mile in June 2017
  • 1.77c per mile in May 2017
  • 1.80c per mile in March 2017
  • 2.24c per mile in February 2017
  • 2.13c per mile in January 2017
  • 1.77c per mile in December 2016
  • 1.90c per mile in November 2016
  • 2.02c per mile in September 2016
  • 2.00c per mile in August 2016
  • 1.72c per mile in June 2016
  • 1.89c per mile in May 2016
  • 1.81c per mile in March 2016
  • 2.02c per mile in February 2016
  • 2.13c per mile in January 2016
  • 1.81c per mile in December 2015
  • 2.00c per mile in November 2015
  • 2.10c per mile in October 2015
  • 2.09c per mile in August 2015
  • 2.00c per mile in July 2015
  • 2.06c per mile in May/June 2015
  • 2.09c per mile in May 2015
  • 2.00c per mile in April 2015
  • 2.07c per mile in February 2015
  • 2.14c per mile in January 2015

Why purchasing AAdvantage miles is easier than earning them

The most common way to acquire AAdvantage miles for New Zealand travellers outside of flights would be to either:

Starwood Preferred Guest is also a points transfer partner, and they also run promotions for discount or bonus points a couple of times per year, which may also be worth taking advantage of.

Purchasing miles directly from American Airlines is usually the most cost-effective method if you have a specific flight you are targeting.

With most of these promotions I am usually quite risk-averse, and would only recommend purchasing miles for topping up an account or buying the full chunk of miles if you have a specific redemption in mind, but not to purchase speculatively. Your preferences may differ though!

Making your booking

Bookings using your miles can be made online if looking to fly American, Hawaiian Airlines, Qantas or and a few other airline partners.

If not, they’ll have to be made over the phone with the (usually excellent) call centre for the region, which happens to be in Fiji.

From New Zealand, you can contact them on (09) 308 4014, selecting option 3 for award travel.

Be sure to check the taxes and fees that will be incurred with your booking as well. I find the easiest way to do this is simply to research availability online on the Qantas website and call AAdvantage to price up the booking.

Summing up

The appeal of AAdvantage has declined since their devaluation in March 2016, but Australia and New Zealand still do have some well-priced redemption opportunities available to use for cheaper premium cabin flights by buying miles and immediately redeeming them.

AAdvantage’s generous award hold policy makes the process much less risky, allowing you to hold an award, buy the miles and then call back to get it ticketed once they are added to your account.

Buying miles to redeem for flights in this way is still time-consuming, requiring you to research availability to death before you can book.

Whilst there aren’t many valuable deals for Economy travellers here, if you are keen for a Business or First Class bargain, you can still pick one up when buying AAdvantage miles.

You can purchase AAdvantage miles here.


Are you new to the purchasing points game?

If you’re new to the world of buying points/miles, I’ve written a full intro guide.

You can also access more comprehensive guides for buying points in each individual frequent flyer program below.

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/aadvantage-purchase-miles-guide/feed/ 0
Buy LifeMiles for cheap Star Alliance redemptions: 125% bonus https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/avianca-lifemiles-buying-miles-guide/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/avianca-lifemiles-buying-miles-guide/#comments Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:00:58 +0000 Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:00:58 +0000 Avianca’s frequent flyer program LifeMiles is offering a 125% bonus on miles purchased until 20 December, with the bonus in effect from just 1,000 miles.

This deal is not quite as good as their November offer, where we saw a 145% bonus.

Though with United’s MileagePlus devaluing their award chart earlier this month, LifeMiles has become an attractive alternative for premium travel on Star Alliance airlines, on some routes.

Why this guide is useful

LifeMiles is a primary way to get hold of Star Alliance Business and First Class award space, however, using the program comes with a range of gotchas to be aware of.

In this guide, we cover the tips and tricks to buying miles, researching award availability and how you can use the current bonus promotion to score cheap Business and First Class flights on the likes of Air New Zealand, Thai Airways, and Air China.

This guide is a beast! LifeMiles is for the more advanced points buyer who has some understanding of how to search for award seats with different airlines, and knows when they should and shouldn’t buy miles, and how willing they are to buy and hold miles to redeem in future.

Michael Kao, one of the Point Hacks Community’s longest standing members, is very familiar with the ins and outs of the LifeMiles program, and contributed to this article.

Current offer details

  • Current offer: 125% bonus for purchases from 101,000 miles (tiered)
  • Best value redemptions: cheap Star Alliance Business and First Class flight awards to North Asia with simple routings and minimal connections, plus no fuel surcharges
  • Book awards online or phone: online is recommended ($25 USD redemption fee) over phone ($85 USD)

To take advantage of this promotion, you need to buy miles by 20 December (US time).

You can buy a maximum of 450,000 miles (including the bonus) for $6,600 USD at a cost of ~1.47 USD cents per mile.

You must already have a LifeMiles account to take advantage of this promotion. If you haven’t already done so, you can sign up for a LifeMiles account here so you can be ready for the next one.

You can buy LifeMiles here →

Offer history

  • November 2017 (current offer): 1.47 US cents
  • November 2017: 1.35 US cents
  • May 2017: 1.47 US cents
  • February 2017: 1.47 US cents
  • December 2016: 1.47 US cents
  • November 2016: 1.375 US cents
  • September 2016: 1.43 US cents (first half of month), then decreased to 1.375 US cents (second half of month)
  • May 2016: 1.47 US cents
  • November 2015: 1.40 US cents
  • September 2015: 1.40 US cents

Sweet spots for New Zealand in the LifeMiles award chart

The best value redemption for Kiwis is North Asia (places such as Tokyo, Seoul, Beijing, Taipei and Hong Kong), for which you only need 50,000 miles one-way for Business Class or 62,000 miles for First Class.

For some reason, South Asia is priced dearer than North Asia for First Class at 75,000 miles one-way, however, Business Class is the same at 50,000.

You can access the full LifeMiles redemption chart here.

Advantages of LifeMiles

LifeMiles is the frequent flyer program of Avianca, the national airline of Colombia based in Bogotá. Most of us have likely never flown this airline and will be unlikely to fly it in the foreseeable future.

So, what relevance does it apply to us in New Zealand? Here is why it is one of the favourite programs in the frequent flyers community:

  • It is a member of Star Alliance, therefore you can use LifeMiles to redeem on reputable airlines such as our own Air NZ (conditional on award availability) Thai Airways, Air China, ANA, Lufthansa and United (just kidding)
  • Their redemption rates are fairly reasonable, comparable to many US programs
  • They do not impose fuel surcharges on award tickets, which can save you hundreds compared with many better-known programs in New Zealand such as Qantas Frequent Flyer and KrisFlyer (more on that later). You’ll usually pay under $100 (except when departing from the UK, where it costs around $300)
  • You can redeem awards online, making it simple to book awards (with some caveats)
  • It allows one-way redemptions at half the price of return awards, giving you more flexibility
  • It offers a miles and money option, meaning you only need 40% of the miles needed for the award and can pay the other 60% in cash

Redemption opportunities for travellers in New Zealand

The Star Alliance airlines that service New Zealand are:

  • Air China
  • Air New Zealand
  • Singapore Airlines
  • Thai Airways
  • United

Of this list, only Air New Zealand and Singapore (Wellington) service New Zealand cities other than Auckland, however both Air NZ and Singapore Airlines are notoriously tight at releasing their premium cabins as awards to their partners for flights to and from New Zealand.

The Star alliance partners that provide the most regular award availability are Thai Airways and Air China, who both fly out of Auckland, with Air China being the only option of the two to offer more than two business award seats per flight.

While this makes redemption options for direct award flights out of NZ difficult, fortunately two destinations Air NZ do release regular business award availability are to Sydney and Brisbane which will open up connection options to the same carriers plus many more Star Alliance airlines servicing Australia, inclusive of Air Canada, ANA, & Asiana.

Of these, Thai and Asiana are the most generous with their award seats in First and Business Class seats. So if you book early enough, you can pretty much book on any day you want, and often with multiple passengers.

Generally for Thai Airways, availability from New Zealand & Australia to Asia and Europe is wide open. If looking for first class you can usually connect through to Sydney and redeem First Class from Sydney to Tokyo, London, Paris, Frankfurt, Munich and Rome.

Asiana from Sydney is also fairly accessible for availability to its hub in Seoul and onto the US. You can fly in Business Class all the way to the US for 80,000 miles one-way. You can arrive into Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago or New York, all usually with good availability.

If you are willing to position yourself from Auckland to a more frequented Star Alliance hub such as Bangkok (Thai) Tokyo (Air NZ) or Beijing (Air China) your opportunities to various destinations will open up widely.

Limitations of LifeMiles

According to Michael:

LifeMiles is a strange beast. I have a love and hate relationship with it. In some ways, it is great for cheap luxury travel, but at the same time, its limitations can really make you go mad.

Its biggest limitation is its routing rules of no longer than eight-hour layovers, although the previous rule of not allowing mixed cabin redemptions has now been lifted, making it much easier to join together a Business and a First Class flight as you need.

One other issue is that while New Zealand is home to Air New Zealand, a major Star Alliance airline, they are shocking with releasing award availability to their partners, including LifeMiles.

On top of that, LifeMiles’s website is very temperamental, and sometimes it just crashes without reason.

Also, LifeMiles will not book any awards that cannot be booked online with their search engine. If you cannot see it on their website, even though it can be seen on the United or ANA website, LifeMiles will not book it for you.

Finally, for any booking cancellations or changes, you will need to be deal with the LifeMiles infamous customer service. Refunds can take anywhere up to seven days, and being South American there can be language barriers all round.

Take all that into account before jumping in.

Share miles promotions

LifeMiles also runs 100% bonuses on shared miles a couple of times a year. The regular cost of sharing miles is 15 USD per 1000 miles.

Normally you shouldn’t do it; the value just isn’t there. But during a promotion, you can share miles and earn the bonus, effectively ‘buy’ miles at 1.5 cents each.

An example:

  1. if you transfer 10,000 miles to someone else, they will receive 20,000 miles in their account at a cost of $150 to transfer
  2. You can transfer back the 20,000 miles to your account and get 40,000 miles by paying another $300
  3. You earn another 30,000 miles in the process for a cost of $450 in total, i.e. 1.5 cents per mile

The maximum amount of miles you can transfer is 75,000 per year (meaning you can get 150,000 with the bonus), but these miles do not count towards the 150,000 limit on purchased miles, so effectively you could buy 150,000 miles and share them, creating a total of 300,000.

To share miles, the accounts don’t have to be pre-existing. So you can create as many accounts as you like and keep on transferring, but that’s not recommended as there is no point of keeping hundreds of thousands of miles without any specific use in mind.

How to search availability and make a booking

You can easily search award availability on the LifeMiles website.

To search:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Then click on Enjoy > Air Ticket, and it will direct you to the search engine page where you can input dates and routings
  3. If there is a flight available on the date you picked, it will show you which flight/s are available. Click the one that you want
  4. If no flights are available on the date you want, it will show you three days before and after your selected date and other classes. You can see if there are other flights on other dates and classes if you are flexible
  5. Alternatively, you can look up award availability on a monthly calendar on the United website. Whatever is available to United as a saver award should be available to LifeMiles
  6. At the bottom of the same page, you will see the option of ‘Flexible Payment’. This is the miles and cash option mentioned above. You can keep on clicking on ‘More Money’ and you will see that the more you click on it, the fewer miles you will need for the redemption but the more cash will be required
  7. After you have decided on the amount of miles and cash you want to pay, click Continue and it will show you the taxes and fees needed, plus the cash component you chose to pay. You can still change the amount of cash and miles on this page
  8. If you are happy, click Continue, and it will take you to input the passenger’s information
  9. Once finished, click Continue and it will take you to payment page where you put in your credit card detail and submit payment, and your e-ticket will be emailed to you within 48 hours

Double-check your credit card details are correct before you submit the payment, and make sure you have contacted your credit card company that you are making a purchase in Colombia. If the credit card gets declined, your reservation will remain in the system for three days until it is ticketed, or will return to the award inventory if not ticketed.

LifeMiles award changes and cancellations

All bookings can be changed or cancelled up to 24 hours prior to departure.

To change or cancel an award ticket, you need to call LifeMiles customer service. As there is no office in New Zealand or Australia, we recommend calling the US one on +1 800 284 2622.

To change an award ticket, there is a fee of 150 USD and the origin and destination must be the exact same airports. So, for example, if your destination is Tokyo Narita, you can’t change it to Tokyo Haneda.

In February 2017, LifeMiles increased the cancellation and redeposit miles charge for travel between two regions to $200 USD but kept the fee for travel within a region at $50 USD.

If you do want to follow up on a refund, the Bogotá office is the best to call on +57 1 401 3434.

Summing up

Overall, Lifemiles represents a cheap option for Star Alliance redemptions. Alongside United’s MileagePlus, LifeMiles is one of the two primary options for miles purchases within Star Alliance.

There are many tricks and gotchas with LifeMiles, however due to its lack of fuel surcharges and cheap miles while on sale, there are bargains to be had as long as you are aware of its limitations.

Michael sums up as follows:

It is most useful for simple itinerary with minimal connections. It’s not the sole frequent flyer program I use, but I use it to integrate with others to help planning my itinerary.

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/avianca-lifemiles-buying-miles-guide/feed/ 2
Why to not get too excited about Emirates’ new First Class product https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/new-emirates-777-first-class/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/new-emirates-777-first-class/#respond Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:00:49 +0000 Mon, 11 Dec 2017 19:00:49 +0000 It’s not so easy to redeem frequent flyer points for travel on Emirates, so we’re really lucky in New Zealand to be able to use our Qantas Points for good-value redemptions in Emirates First and Business Class.

Last week, Emirates debuted their new First Class seat on two European routes and it is certainly a great product, but very few will be lucky enough to experience it.

The new First Class product

The new First Class Suites on the Boeing 777-300ER and are set up in a 1-1-1 configuration (like Cathay Pacific’s 777 First Class).

The new suite

In this upgrade, Emirates offer the following changes:

  • Floor-to-ceiling walls
  • More space for each individual suite, achieved by reducing the number of Suites from eight to six
  • A hatch for food and drinks to be delivered when the suite door is closed
  • Video calls with cabin crew in the galley to request food, drinks and assistance
  • Virtual windows for centre seats which simulate being next to a window by transmitting real-time images from external cameras
  • Mood lighting
  • Curtains

Here is a two-minute promotional video from the inaugural flight:

Unlike the airline’s A380 aircraft, this product does not feature an onboard shower nor a bar.

Onboard bar on the A380

The new Business Class product

Emirates has really missed the mark in not upgrading its terrible 2-3-2 configuration in its 777 Business Class to providing direct-aisle access to all passengers like on its A380s.

Squeezed in on the new 777-300ER…

…with much more space on the A380

Whilst there have been cosmetic changes to make the seat more modern, there are other airlines like Qatar Airways, Etihad, Cathay Pacific, Singapore Airlines and Delta, who are leading the pack in modernising their Business Class products.

Rollout and award availability

Emirates started flying the new products on 1 December to Geneva and Brussels using newly-delivered Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. Leading up to the flights, there was no First Class award availability to be found and still none has been released, which is disappointing for frequent flyer enthusiasts.

The airline does not plan on installing this product on any of its existing A380s or 777s nor any of those aircraft that are on order, which make up the vast majority of its fleet.

Rather, it will be on at most nine new Boeing 777-300ER planes to be delivered by 2019.

Summing up

Emirates’ new product really is beautiful and a great upgrade to its already competitive A380 and 777 First Class Suites, however, the reality of the situation is that there aren’t and won’t be many planes featuring the new product. Furthermore, even on those flights, award availability, at least far as we can tell now, is severely restricted.

In the meantime, you may be best focussing on trying to redeem your Qantas Points for travel on one of the A380 or older 777 planes, and here’s to hoping they upgrade their Business Class product in the coming months or years, especially on the 777 with its dated layout.

What is your take on Emirates’ new First and Business Class products? If you are interested, when do you plan to try them out?

Supplementary images courtesy Emirates.

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/new-emirates-777-first-class/feed/ 0
Virgin Australia A330 Business Class Review – Brisbane to Perth https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/virgin-australia-a330-business-class-review-brisbane-to-perth/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/virgin-australia-a330-business-class-review-brisbane-to-perth/#respond Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:00:28 +0000 Mon, 11 Dec 2017 00:00:28 +0000 Following from my previous review of using Qantas to get to New Zealand, we decided to use Virgin Australia to get back to Perth. We definitely didn’t have enough Velocity Frequent Flyer points to fly everyone back, so some creativity was required.

The backstory first: I was fortunate to have $500 in travel credit with Virgin Australia after a previous overnight Business Class flight from Perth to Melbourne was downgraded from an Airbus A330 with the new seats to a Boeing 737 with recliner chairs.

Breakfast

Light breakfast on the Boeing 737 red-eye flight from Perth to Melbourne in 2015

This was just after they had launched ‘The Business’ in 2015, so I don’t think they are that generous now. My initial compensation was 30,000 Velocity points + $250 travel credit, but after difficulties with my Velocity account, they just gave me $500 instead.

My dad and I would be flying back to Perth first, so armed with this, I decided to buy full-price, flexible Economy Class tickets from Wellington to Perth via Brisbane and take advantage of the reduced upgrade rate of 9,900 points to Business Class per leg.

Knowing that upgrades book into reward seat inventory, I first made sure there was availability for our upgrades, then booked the flexi-Economy tickets for about $770 per person. We then immediately spent four lots of 9,900 points to upgrade both flights to Business Class for two people, at a final cost of 39,600 points.

Points cost

The aircraft: Airbus A330

Virgin Australia has six A330s, each fitted with 20 ‘The Business’ seats. These planes are most commonly seen on the Perth to Sydney/Melbourne/Brisbane routes, although that will decrease later in 2017 when some of them are redirected to Perth – Abu Dhabi and possibly Australia – Hong Kong/China routes.

The seats themselves are in the popular reverse herringbone layout over five rows. Middle seats have a retractable privacy divider. For the nitty gritty on the rest of the seat features, see our Virgin Australia A330 Business Class overview.

Pre-flight in Wellington

Our journey began at Wellington International Airport, where the friendly Air New Zealand agent checked in my family with great humour.

Virgin Australia Wellington Check-In

We were given Express Path passes and directed to the Air New Zealand Lounge. There was a reasonable buffet spread and I fixed myself a light lunch.

Express Path and Black Bean Beef

Express Path pass / Black bean beef with rice, mushroom soup, finger sandwiches

Our first flight, VA107 from Wellington to Brisbane on a Boeing 737, was uneventful. The main meal was a chicken satay which was very delicious; I could have easily devoured another.

Chicken Satay

Upon arrival in Brisbane, we couldn’t use our Express Path passes because we were declaring food at Customs. But we promptly retrieved our bags and re-checked them at the Domestic Transfer counter before catching the transfer bus to the Domestic Terminal.

Brisbane Priority Check-in

Pre-flight in Brisbane

Unburdened by our check-in bags, we headed straight for the Premium Entry.

Premium Entry

Directly to the right was a private security lane, and within minutes we were up the escalator into the VA Brisbane Lounge.

Premium Entry 1

An impressive entrance!

Like most of VA’s other lounges, this is light and airy.

Premium Entry 2

It wasn’t too busy on a Friday night. Being a weeknight, they did have some hot supper out, which was a welcome break from the usual salads.

Lounge Buffet

A pumpkin soup and a risotto on offer

Onboard

I took the middle seat 2D, with my dad adjacent in 2G. We were promptly served drinks by the charismatic cabin crew.

Since we boarded early, I asked for (and received) a cheeky ramekin of crisps from ‘The Pantry’ menu to munch on before takeoff.

Chips

The Business cabin was quite empty on this flight, with only about six seats taken out of twenty. We lucked out with our upgrade!

Empty Business Cabin

Dining

Hot towels were passed out just before the starters were served. Here was the menu for the flight:

Onboard Menu

Starters commenced with the king prawns and corn salsa. I’d had this dish on a previous flight, but this time the chipotle sauce was very hot!

Prawns

While I don’t normally like the taste of salmon or trout, I decided to try this since it sounded more interesting than the chicken. And I was right – the quality and presentation of that dish beat anything I’ve ever had on Qantas (or Cathay Pacific), in my opinion.

image alt text

Just WOW!

Unfortunately, my dad was not expecting this level of dining and had eaten too much in the lounge. He passed me his main of the corn-fed chicken breast, which I took a few bites of.

Corn-fed Chicken

We finished off the meal with a rich flourless chocolate cake. The crème fraîche tasted a bit sour to me, but it was still a yummy dessert.

Rich flourless chocolate cake

You might be able to tell from my previous reviews that I love to focus on food. Once again, Virgin Australia blew me away with their catering on the Perth – East Coast flights.

Now full to the brim and with three hours still left to kill (the Brisbane – Perth route is one of the longest domestic ones, topping out at 5½ hrs), I reclined my seat into a bed, snuggled into the comfortable doona, and had a lazy nap the rest of the way to Perth.

Laying Down

Laying down for a comfy snooze at a spare seat by the window

Summing up

As this was my fifth Virgin Australia flight in ‘The Business’, I’ve become very familiar with the service flow and dining. However, each time, I’m constantly reminded by just how good everything is.

I really feel they pull out all the stops for their Airbus A330 routes. It is an exceptionally enjoyable and great value experience, either by upgrading or redeeming points outright.

The cabin crew on all the flights have been really good as well, so no complaints there.

I will be sad to see the frequency of these services decrease on domestic routes this year, so it is definitely worth it to try and book on the remaining available Airbus A330 flights.

Supplementary images courtesy Virgin Australia.

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/virgin-australia-a330-business-class-review-brisbane-to-perth/feed/ 0
W Hotel Punta de Mita Ocean Front Haven—Picture Review https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/w-hotel-punta-de-mita-picture-review/ https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/w-hotel-punta-de-mita-picture-review/#respond Sun, 10 Dec 2017 19:00:35 +0000 Sun, 10 Dec 2017 19:00:35 +0000 After a trip to the US, my partner and I wanted to go somewhere special to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary. Our brief was five days of sand, sun, relaxation and easy accessibility from LA, where we were flying out of back to Sydney.

We hadn’t been to Mexico, so we decided to try the W Punta de Mita as it was only three hours by plane from LA and we were travelling outside the high season but knew the temperature should be above 30°C.

Research & Booking

Punta de Mita is a luxury resort area near Puerto Vallarta on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. The W Hotel Punta de Mita is ranked #6 out of 11 hotels in the area on TripAdvisor, facing tough competition with properties such as The St. Regis and Four Seasons also vying for business.

Originally, I had booked five nights in a Spectacular Jungle Escape room using an SPG member flexible cash rate which averaged $370 USD per night. As an SPG category 6 ‘specialty’ resort, you could also use 21,500 Starpoints per night for the same room. A month before arrival, I had accumulated enough Starpoints to book four nights at 86,000 points in total and receive the fifth night free.

Although the Spectacular Jungle Escape looked amazing, considering we were spending five nights at the W, I really wanted a suite upgrade. Thankfully, I had just ticked over 50 nights stay this calendar year at Starwood properties and was rewarded with a choice of bonuses.

I opted for the 10 Suite Night Award upgrades and applied five nights to this booking instead of playing the Platinum upgrade lottery at check-in. A week before arrival, an email confirmed the upgrade to an Ocean Front Haven. I priced it online for the dates of our stay and it totalled $6,500 USD, providing a redemption value of 7.6 US cents per point—woohoo!

The Room: Ocean Front Haven

There are just six of the 96m² Ocean Front Havens at the W, which look out to the Pacific Ocean. The suite has a split-level open-plan layout—the king-sized W signature bed is on the upper level and the sunken living room and ensuite on the lower level.

Ocean Front Havens

Ocean Front Havens

Ocean Front Havens

Floor-to-ceiling windows slide open to your private plunge pool, day bed and colourful rocking chairs—the perfect spot to watch the sunset over the beach.

Ocean Front Havens

Ocean Front Havens

Soon after arrival, we received welcome margaritas, guacamole and tortilla chips.

Accompanying the room are a fully-stocked mini-bar, tunes playing out of the Bose Bluetooth speaker, coffee served from the Nespresso capsule machine, and an oversized 75-inch flat-screen TV with Netflix streaming.

Ocean Front Havens Mini Bar

Ocean Front Havens

Ocean Front Havens Mini Bar

Nespresso

In the bathroom, there is a double vanity with black granite countertops, and a glass-enclosed rainforest shower and freestanding spa overlooking the private plunge pool and beach.

Ocean Front Havens

Ocean Front Havens

Ocean Front Havens

Full-size Bliss bath amenities are included.

Ocean Front Havens

The Hotel

On arrival, you are greeted at the entrance with margaritas, cold towels and then driven down to the lobby in an electric tuk-tuk.

The lobby is spectacular.

The mosaic tile feature, Huichol Sunway, extends from the lobby, down into the Living Room bar, outside and up an elevated platform, running alongside the pool out to the beach.

Food & Service

There are two restaurants: Spice Market, serving up Asian-inspired dishes, and Venazu, which is pure Mexican cuisine.

Breakfast is served at Venazu and includes an extensive buffet, mimosas, made-to-order eggs, quesadillas or chilaquiles (breakfast nachos!).

Venazu

If you are an SPG Platinum member, make sure you select the breakfast as your welcome gift, as it is valued at $55 AUD per person per breakfast—it saved us $1,375 AUD across our stay.

Stop by the fun-named ‘Chevycheria’ for some freshly-prepared ceviche.

Whilst researching this trip, I reached out to an Instagram friend, Nick at Journey Connected, for some suggestions on what to do in Punta de Mita.

What I didn’t realise is that he had tipped off the hotel of our anniversary, so one evening when were dining in the hotel, we were presented with a Happy Anniversary dessert plate.

Swimming Pool, Beach & Amenities

The WET Deck features cabanas and sun lounges that frame the resort’s only public pool. Funky tunes are played through the speakers and on weekends a live DJ performs.

Staff greeted us on arrival and assisted us in finding a spot, also providing towels and complimentary water.

Each day we were brought complimentary margaritas and tortilla chips because of my Platinum status, and each hour the staff would also walk around handing out complimentary cocktails.

At dusk, the views are spectacular.

The large FIT gym has modern equipment and overlooks the jungle.

A range of treatments is available from the AWAY Spa.

The resort wifi had excellent coverage throughout and speeds were consistently strong.

Around the hotel in Punta de Mita & Puerto Vallarta

The resort is located a 40-minute drive from Licenciado Gustavo Díaz Ordaz International Airport in Puerto Vallarta (PVR), which has around 10 daily flights to/from LA and three to/from SFO.

I had read of some issues with taxis in Punta de Mita and Puerto Vallarta, so I booked the hotel’s W WHEELS airport transfer for $110 AUD one-way so there were no dramas on arrival.

It was absolute pandemonium in the arrivals hall at the airport with all the taxi and transfer operators clamouring for your business, so I was glad I had arranged a transfer before arrival.

The W Punta de Mita is in a gated compound along with a couple of luxury apartment complexes.

As such, there isn’t anything within walking distance. Punta de Mita town is 15 minutes away by car and the town itself is quite small.

Tuna Blanca restaurant came highly recommended by an Instagram friend, so we went there on the night of our actual wedding anniversary and we were presented with an enormous decorated dessert surfboard with a firecracker to celebrate.

We also did a day trip to the Hidden Beach on the Islas Marietas.

Puerto Vallarta is a popular beach tourism destination, catering to both a Mexican market as well as inbound tourists from the US and Canada. It has a full range of accommodation options and much more nightlife than Punta de Mita. Puerto Vallarta is a well-known gay tourist destination.

Other W Hotel reviews

My take—W Hotel Punta de Mita

I absolutely loved the W Punta de Mita!

Every staff interaction was genuinely friendly, the food was sensational, the funky styling worked with the beach vibe and the suite was well-appointed and spacious. I can’t wait to go back!

I’d recommend this property for special occasions and if you want to focus on relaxing within a resort, perhaps venturing on a day trip or two, without feeling guilty for not exploring nearby towns, which don’t offer much in the way of authentic Mexican culture—check out our Mexican destination guide if that is what you are after.

]]>
https://www.pointhacks.co.nz/reviews/w-hotel-punta-de-mita-picture-review/feed/ 0