How I scored 4 nights in an overwater bungalow at a 5-star resort in French Polynesia for $319.87 total (including airfare)

It’s not enough that I travel to cool places — I need to get a great deal going there.

Growing up, I was obsessed with finding travel deals. As a kid, I would hang out at the local travel agency and read up on foreign destinations. I would also study the Sunday travel section and try to convince my parents that we needed to go places when the airfare was on sale (spoiler alert: they never gave in).

To quench my thirst for travel, on my 10th birthday my parents got me a subscription to Condé Nast Traveler. While it took me almost 15 years from that point to get a passport, reading the magazine gave me a ton of travel goals — and staying in an overwater bungalow was always near the top.

Finally, after capitalizing on some amazing deals, in a few weeks I’ll be able to make that dream come true in Moorea, French Polynesia. While you can sometimes spend over $10,000 for a trip like this (including air and hotel), using a number of travel hacks I was able to score the room and plane ticket for $319.87.

Airfare

Thanks to discount-carrier French Bee offering cheap, direct service between SFO and Tahiti (airport code: PPT), United now also offers direct flights between SFO and PPT at competitive prices.

The round-trip airfare for the flight on United was $618.57, but I used 49,665 Chase points which were obtained through a credit card sign-up to book it. This resulted in a total cost of $0 for the flights.

Total price paid so far: $0.

Hotel

After discovering a way to book Hilton hotels at 25% off, I decided to look into the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort and Spa, a beautiful property located a short boat ride away from Tahiti. Using the tricks in the previous link, I was able to find a cheaper fare than what was listed on the Hilton.com website, which qualified me for the 25% discount. While the room would normally go for at least ~$600/night before taxes, I was able to score a room for $359/night before taxes. With taxes, this came out to a total of $1,454.29 for 4 nights, which was already a steal.

But I wasn’t done yet — I’m far too cheap to spend that on a vacation for myself (and, plus, what’s the fun in going to Tahiti alone?). So, I messaged a friend who previously joined me on another killer deal I got (that time, to the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne) to see if he’d be interested. Luckily, he was.

This cut my total price paid to $727.14. But it gets better.

Because of my Hilton business credit card, I have Gold status which means that for each dollar that I spend at a Hilton property, I get 18 Hilton points. Additionally, by making the purchase on my Hilton business card, I receive an additional 12 Hilton points for every dollar spent.  Combining my Hilton Gold status with my Hilton business credit means that I get 30 Hilton points for every dollar spent on this stay. Because of this, I’ll receive 43,628 Hilton points for my stay (and although I normally redeem my Hilton points for more, at a conservative valuation of $0.006 per point, this comes out to $261.77 worth of Hilton points). This brought my total down to $465.37.

But it gets even better.

Hilton recently ran a promotion where for bookings between January 4, 2019 and May 5, 2019, you’ll receive an extra 2,000 points for each stay, which is a $12 value. Additionally, Hilton will be doing repairs on the pool during my stay and will give me a $66.75 property credit each day during that time, which comes out to $267 (but, for purposes of my calculations, I’m cutting that in half to $133.50, since I’ll be splitting the credit with my friend). I was aware of the pool closure when I booked and didn’t really care, since I plan on swimming in the ocean anyway.

Deducting the bonus points and resort credit, my total for the stay, including air and hotel, came out to a whopping $319.87.

Conclusion

This may be the best travel deal that I’ve ever snagged. While Moorea certainly won’t be cheap, as a Hilton Gold member I’ll get free breakfast (it’s actually served directly to my bungalow by a staff member in a boat!) and can use the resort credit towards a meal. So, I’m taking this concept of balling on a budget to a new level and can’t wait.

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