We love to hear stories from our readers about how our passion for collecting miles and points has affected their lives. Honeymoon plans in the works, a gift to their parents, a vacation to Srinagar or Singapore or just that premium airline seat that they secured on redemption. We’ve heard many such stories, and this year, we will try and bring more of these stories to you.
Continuing from last week’s success story of how hotel points can help achieve a memorable time with family, this week I want to share with you Lov’s story. Hotel points don’t just come handy for a quick staycation in the city but are valuable when planning a longer vacation with the family to exotic places. Here is how Lov earned himself an anniversary getaway worth USD 7,700/INR 5,50,000 for next to nothing.
“A harmless search on the Internet introduced me to LiveFromALounge in 2015, and since then I got hooked to earning miles and points. Through all these years, I have been a regular reader and the website has helped me change the way I spend my money and sign up for the most rewarding credit cards in India. As a result, over the years I, along with my family have managed to experience fantastic luxury vacations which I would never have dreamed of spending on.
In 2017, when Ajay wrote about the opportunity to get the SPG Platinum status by staying 18 nights in 3 months, I planned my summer holiday with my family to Thailand for seven days and booked all three rooms under my SPG membership. That way I completed 21 nights. On top of this, I stacked a bunch of ongoing hotel promotions that were offering 2x & 3x elite night credits and earned my Platinum status in no time.
After that, I started to put all my business and vacation stays at Marriott hotels. By August 2018, I had earned 50,000 SPG points, which on the merger of the two loyalty programs converted to 150,000 Marriott Rewards points. I then purchased another 30,000 SPG points, so that I could get a total of 240,000 Marriott Rewards points.
My initial plan was to use the 240,000 points to book a four nights stay at the beach villa at The St. Regis Maldives. Marriott Rewards (now BONVOY) has a redemption feature, by way of which I would get the 5th night free. So essentially I would pay for the Maldives stay for four nights with points and get five nights.
Unfortunately, there was no availability for the beach villas during my dates, which also happened to be my anniversary. Then one day, I found availability for the overwater villa that was priced at 80,000 Marriott Rewards points per night. I immediately booked three nights just in time for our 15th wedding anniversary, and we were all set to celebrate our special day in the Maldives in 2019.
The St.Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort Experience
Upon our arrival at Male, once we got out of the airport, we were greeted by two St. Regis attendants, where one of them offered to carry our bags and requested us to hand over the passports so that he could complete the check-in formalities and hand over the bags to the seaplane operator. The second attendant then escorted us. We were flattered by the level of luxury.
There was a Bentley waiting for us to drive us to the St. Regis Lounge. We were offered refreshments and were told that the seaplane should depart in the next 30 mins. We grabbed some coffee along with sandwiches, and we were ready to board the seaplane. It was terrific flying in a seaplane for an astounding kick-start to our journey, and we also loved watching the little islands on our way to the St. Regis resort.
Once we arrived at the jetty, we were warmly greeted by the staff of the hotel. Our butler, Saddam, introduced himself and said that he would take care of us for the rest of our stay. Yes, the St. Regis assigns personal butlers to its guests! We were offered cold towels and chilled coconut water which was a good refreshment considering the heat of the Maldives.
While they got the room ready for us, our butler showed us around the island and told us about all the facilities this private island had to offer. Once we walked into our overwater villa, we were spellbound. My wife and I together exclaimed WOW! Our villa had a separate living room, and the bedroom had a cosy king-size bed, a humongous walk-in wardrobe and an over-sized bathroom. The bathroom had a bathtub which overlooked the crystal-clear ocean. The room featured an open deck with a plunge pool, sun beds and a hammock. Here are some pictures.
Dining on a private island
The St. Regis has multiple restaurants and bars. Few restaurants are operational only during lunch-time, and a few serve dinner. As a Platinum guest, I chose complimentary breakfast as my welcome amenity. For the next three days, we enjoyed a lazy breakfast every morning at the all-day dining restaurant named Alba. The chef pampered my wife, who is a vegetarian by customising dishes to her preference. He flipped out hot dosas, vegetarian sushi rolls and wok-tossed oriental dishes.
At lunchtime, we would relish tacos and pizzas at the two beachside restaurants. The resort has a fine dining restaurant named Orental. Orental serves Asia and Indian cuisine and has uninterrupted views of the ocean.
My favourite though was Cargo, another beachfront dining option that offers Middle-Eastern cuisine. We tried the six-course menu and since this a favorite restaurant among guests, I’m happy I had made a prior reservation.
We treated ourselves to the spa sessions. Since I had paid nothing for the stay, paying USD 60/ INR 4300 plus taxes for 3 hours of hydrotherapy, jacuzzi, steam and sauna did not hurt me one bit. As a Platinum member, I was offered a special couple package at USD 125/ INR 9,000 plus taxes per person. It was a special Maldivian massage that was worth the premium I paid.
The Anniversary Celebration
Finally, the special day arrived. It was a bright and sunny day for snorkelling. We got an opportunity to swim and explore the diverse marine life and the coral reef around the island. It was beautiful and an experience we will remember forever.
When we came back to our room, we were amazed to see the room decorated with rose petals along with a cake and a bottle of champagne. A foam bath had been set up with a sweet message on the television screen. Then later in the evening, our butler had set up a romantic dinner on the deck of our villa. We had dinner under the stars.
We had a beautiful vacation and like the saying goes “Happy Wife = Happy Life.”
The good part is, the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli, Maldives, is currently going for 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points per night, and 240,000 Marriott Bonvoy points for five nights until March 5, 2019. Then, the property will cost 85,000 points per night after that. You can still book stays using the Points Advance feature and get your points together at least a fortnight before your check-in date. Read this post, for all the details.
If you don’t have enough MR, You can always transfer from American Express Membership Rewards points to Marriott Rewards, which in India, is a 1:1 ratio. Also, if you would like to learn about travel strategies and how to enjoy amazing vacations at a budget price, join us next Mileage Mentor MasterClass in Delhi (pre-booking link).
For sharing his story, we are sending Lov an INR 1,000 Gift Card. Also, we would love to hear more from you, our readers. Tell us about your success stories with scoring a great redemption, a fantastic hotel deal and everything in between, please share it with us, on ajay @ livefromalounge.com and shipra @ livefromalounge.com and we will pick the best stories and publish them for everyone to read. Also, you get a prize to share your stories from our side as well.