Airlines

Miles and Points Strategy for Mendoza

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In a few weeks I’ll be taking my first trip to South America and I’m super excited. The destination and particulars of this trip were chosen based on the friend I’ll be traveling with.

She prefers Europe, I prefer Asia. Our site-seeing preferences vary as well. But we both value eating really good food (we normed on what “good” is), drinking really good wine, and sitting around looking at beautiful mountains. And while we might want to do other things, if that’s all we do, we’ll both be happy. Mendoza fit the bill beautifully.

The next step was figuring out what points we needed.

British Airways, LAN, and American Airlines were the major airlines on that route and we had Hyatt, IHG, and Starwood properties as lodging options.

Upon further research, I set my heart on staying at the Park Hyatt Mendoza, which is a bargain 8,000 points a night for a regular room or 12,000 points a night for a suite.

courtesy of Park Hyatt Mendoza

We then had 5 months to get our points in order.

I had British Airways Avios miles from the last AMEX transfer and 100,000 credit card sign up bonus, plenty of Starwood points, but only 3,500 Hyatt points. My friend had points from her American Express Premier Rewards Gold card  and a some Starwood points.

The 100,000 British Airways offer hadn’t come back yet so we both signed up for the Chase Sapphire card with the 50,000 bonus after $3K in spend. All additional credit card spend was focused on our Gold Rewards cards.

When the 50% transfer bonus came out we transferred my friend’s AMEX points to my British Airways account, topping me up to the 200,000 Avios miles needed for two LAN business class tickets to Santiago. As one of the few routes that British Airways doesn’t charge a fuel surcharge for and only $90 in taxes, it’s a good value!

She then partially reimbursed me for my “loaned” Avios miles by converting her Sapphire points into Hyatt points, enough for 3 nights in a Park Hyatt Suite(which goes for $500+ a night) and 2 nights in a club room at the Grand Hyatt Santiago (only 10,000 points a night vs $350+).

We debated whether to use points for the segments to/from Miami and Santiago/Mendoza, but decided the flights were too inexpensive to justify points.

To make our connections in the US, we have to overnight in Miami on both the outbound and return. We will be checking out the brand new Element by Westin for only 4,000 Starwood points a night since the local Hilton had bedbug reports on Tripadvisor.

This trip will hardly be free, especially since the Park Hyatt Spa is extremely affordable and we’ve heard the food and wine is amazing, but it won’t cost us more than a long weekend somewhere.

So as you identify possible travel companions, know that it is possible (when there’s good credit card sign up bonuses) to pull together enough points to make it happen in a short amount of time! But don’t forget to first identify your preferred airlines and hotels you’re likely to use, so you collect the right points and miles.

Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

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Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world. www.twitter.com/klatravel

2 Comments

  1. D

    April 25, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    My partner and I just spent three nights at the Park Hyatt. It is a lovely hotel. We did find a vaguely snooty attitude on the part of the front desk staff including the concierge though. We had a rental car and drove to one of the larger wineries-Zuccardi, where we had an amazing lunch, and a wonderful tour of the winery, with a tasting. I can also recommend driving up into the mountains, if you have the opportunity, amazing landscapes, the Andes in this part of S. America are quite desert like and you can catch glimpses of Aconcagua, the highest mountain in the Americas. And, enjoy LAN business class, it is a pretty decent business class experience. The LAN lounge in Santiago is pretty nice too, excellent snacks in the evening. Enjoy your time in S. America.

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