How I scored 4 nights in an overwater bungalow at a 5-star resort in Tahiti 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 insist to my parents that we needed to go places when the airfare was obviously on sale (spoiler alert: they never gave in).

To quench my thirst for travel, for my 10th birthday, my parents got me a subscription to Condé Nast Traveler. While it took almost 15 years from that point for me to get a passport, reading the magazine gave me a ton of travel goals — and staying 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 has joined suit in offering the same direct flight at competitive prices.

The round-trip airfare for the flight 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 the main airline in 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 ~$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 is already a steal for this type of room.

But I wasn’t done yet — I’m far too cheap to spend that on a vacation 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 spent at a Hilton property, I get 18 points for every dollar that I spent at a Hilton property. Additionally, if I make the purchase on my Hilton business card, I receive an additional 12 points for every dollar spent at Hilton property. Because of this, I’ll receive 43,628 points for my stay (at a valuation of $0.006 per point, this comes out to $261.77 worth of points). Since Hilton points are pretty much redeemable at face-value (meaning that your redemption will almost always be at the $0.006/point rate, similar to Delta with their points being pegged at $0.01/point), 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 be $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.

New York Trip Deal (Business Class): $1,400 direct, round-trip from New York to Paris, France on La Compagnie

La Compagnie is a French, all-business class airline that offers direct flights between Newark Liberty (EWR) and Paris (ORY). The airline flights a  Boeing 757 aircraft that are equipped with with 74 business class seats that convert to angled flat beds.

La Compagnie is offering an amazing deal — $1,400 round-trip between EWR to Paris with open availability between January and April.

Sample travel dates include:

  • January 14-23
  • February 12-22
  • March 21-30
  • April 4-12
  • And many more

To support Josh Trips, search for travel on Google Flights and book using this link:

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How to save 25% on almost every Hilton booking

If you’re paying full price for a room in the Hilton portfolio (which includes Waldorf Astoria and Conrad), you’re likely paying too much.

That’s because Hilton has a Price Match Guarantee: if you can find the same room for a lower price than what is listed on Hilton.com, Hilton will not only match the lower price, but will beat it by 25%.

The way it used to work was that you’d first need to book the hotel, and then you’d need to send Hilton proof of the lower-price offering. From there, Hilton would review the proof you submitted and then send you its determination as to whether you qualified for the discounted rate. Because you’d often need to book a non-refundable hotel room first, this system wasn’t ideal.

But earlier this year, Hilton began allowing customers to call in advance and get approval on the spot before booking the hotel room. Since discovering this, I’ve booked a number of Hilton stays (and have looked into dozens more) and have almost always found a room that’s cheaper than Hilton.com.

Below is a step-by-step guide on how to get a your hotel room for 25% off:

Step 1: Go to TripAdvisor.com and look up the Hilton property you’d like to stay at

Most people know that TripAdvisor is a great site for looking up hotel reviews, but it now also wants to be the website you use to book your stay. When looking up hotels on TripAdvisor, you’ll see a list of almost a dozen websites (sometimes all at different prices), and the list almost always will include the price you’d pay at Hilton.com.

Step 2: Find a room that has a lower price than what’s listed for Hilton.com

Remember: all it takes is one website where the price is lower than what’s listed on Hilton.com.

Usually, you’ll find that almost every price will match what’s on Hilton.com, but in my experience the last few months, there’s usually one or two random sites listed through TripAdvisor that have a lower price.

Note that the room you book needs to be the exact same as the room you’d be booking through Hilton.com (as an example, if the lower price you find is for a room with a king bed and the only price listed on Hilton.com is for a twin bed, you wouldn’t be able to qualify for this promotion).

Step 3: Call Hilton and ask for the price match + 25% discount

This step is the hardest — you’ll need to call Hilton at 1-800-445-8667, tell them that you’d like to book a room, and that you’ve found a lower price listed on another site.

My impression is that Hilton doesn’t like giving this discount out, so they take around 30-45 minutes to check the website, get internal approval, and offer you a lower rate, which you need to book right then, on the call.

Also, I’ve had a Hilton representative deny my lower fare + 25% off claim, only to call back and have it approved, so be ready to put in some leg work here.

Step 4: Book and get ready for you trip!

Have you used the Hilton Price Match Guarantee? Let me know in the comments.

United is kicking customers out of its new Premium Plus cabin without telling them

Recently, I wrote about United’s new Premium Plus cabin which has, to this point, only been available on a limited basis (i.e., you get the fancy seat, but not the increase in service, meals, or products that typically accompanies Premium Economy).

As mentioned in that blog post, if you were a Gold premier member, you could book into the Premium Plus cabin directly at purchase. The caveat was that no one knew when United would start charging for these seats and what would happen if you booked into that cabin.

Well, that question has been answered.

As of December 3rd, United is now charging for Premium Plus for flights that take place after March 30, 2019. On my end, I had 2 flights that I booked in this Premium Plus class without paying: one between SF/LA and Auckland, New Zealand in February 2019 and another between SF and Hong Kong in September 2019.

Today, I checked my reservations and found that for my February flight to New Zealand, I’ll still be in Premium Plus, but for my trip to Hong Kong, I was moved to Economy Plus.

I don’t agree with United’s move here. On my end, when I booked my flight to Hong Kong, I booked it in a 2-4-2 setup, and they allowed me to secure this reservation. They then switched my seat to the 3-4-3 setup, which I did not agree to pay for.

I reached out to United on Twitter, asking them to move me back to my originally selected seat for the Hong Kong flights, but was told that they wouldn’t. United also initially would not give me a refund, but they eventually budged “as a goodwill gesture.”

I still love the product, though, and am excited to fly it again in February.

Qatar Airways offering up to 4 free nights at The Ritz-Carlton Doha with round-trip purchase

One of the coolest Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales this year is with Qatar Airways, who is offering up to 4 complimentary nights at the Ritz-Carlton Doha for round-trip airfare purchase on their website.

To number of nights you get depends on the class of service:

  • Up to 2 nights for economy tickets
  • Up to 3 nights for business class tickets
  • Up to 4 nights for first class tickets

Depending on the routing, you could parlay this into a chance to try out Qatar’s QSuite product (I recently wrote a blog post about how I scored one of these suites for 36,000 miles).

Tickets must be purchased by December 2, 2018 and travel must be complete by March 31, 2019.

If you can’t make these dates works for you, don’t despair, as hotel prices in Doha are surprisingly reasonable (especially when compared to the UAE). A night at the The Ritz-Carlton Doha typically costs around $200/night which, while not cheap, is a bargain compared to other properties.

Will you be taking advantage of this promotion? If so, let me know in the comments!

Black Friday deal: buy $100 hotels.com gift cards for only $80

I’m not a big Black Friday shopper — in fact, this may be the first Black Friday where I’ve purchased anything in years.

That said, there’s a great deal at BJ’s where you can purchase $100 gift cards for hotels.com for only $80/piece. You can find the deal by clicking this link.

This equates to an automatic 20% savings on any hotel that you book through the site. This is in addition to the 10% discount you get by being a hotels.com rewards member (after 10 stays, you get 10% of the value you spent towards all of those stays towards a future reservation). Additionally, if you have a Capital One Venture card, you get an additional 10% off purchases booked on hotels.com, meaning that you can get as much as 40% off any booking through the site by taking advantage of these deals.

Although I wasn’t a BJ’s member before, it only cost $10 for an annual online membership.

Los Angeles Trip Deal: $448 direct, round-trip from LAX to Tokyo, Japan on United, ANA

An amazing Black Friday deal from ANA and United Airlines! Unlike many of the Black Friday sales, this deal will earn your full premier qualifying mileage with United. There is currently wide-open avaialibility between January and October 2019.

Sample travel dates include:

  • January 24-31
  • February 6-14
  • March 13-24
  • May 8-15
  • And many more

To support Josh Trips, search for travel on Google Flights and book using this link:

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