spreadsheets and suitcases

organization + travel = family fun

Bits & Pieces: Southwest Hawaii news, IHG and SPG card changes

Holy cannoli, things have been crazy lately.  My trip planning took a bit of a back seat, though I did manage to book some tickets from Paris to Seville on Transavia, which is a European low-cost carrier affiliated with Air France/KLM.  More on that in another post- especially as they’ve already made an unfavorable schedule change…I refused the change via email and they said they’ll be contacting me (during THEIR business hours, in the Netherlands) to discuss the alternatives.  Anyway…on to the good stuff! Read the rest of this entry »

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Bits & Pieces: more SPG drama, a good Amex Offer, new Citi Costco card

  • Previously on Merger Drama 2016Marriott and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) were going to merge, then the Chinese company Anbang submitted a superior bid, then Marriot counter-bid, leaving us all in suspense as to whether Anbang could (or should) increase their offer?  Well, they did!  And then, they didn’t!  So as of right now, Marriott emerges victorious.  Should be official later this year.
  • I got this good Amex Offer in my account: 10% cash back when using my Amex (this is my SPG card) to pay my wireless bill online. cell offer

According to the fine print (always read it!), the statement credit should appear within 90 days of 6/30/16, so it’s not an instant statement credit like other Amex Offers.  Also, it’s limited to $30 total that you can get back.  Make sure you don’t use a third-party vendor, as it might not trigger the credit…use the provider site directly.  This is a good offer, since we always pay the phone bill online with a CC for the points/miles 🙂

  • We also received some information about the TrueEarnings Costco Amex’s upcoming conversion to Citibank.  I was all ready to cancel the card and just use other Visas that we already own for our Costco visits.  But…they’ve improved the terms, to include 2% back at Costco, which we can’t beat with any other no-annual-fee card.  So we’ll be accepting the new card.  This post from blogger One Mile at at Time sums it up quite nicely.
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Bits & Pieces: IllumiNations live stream & Marriott/SPG merger

  • !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Disney Parks Blog is having another live stream event TODAY!  IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, the evening finale at Epcot, will be watchable on the Blog starting at 8:50p EST, or 2:50p HST.  As I have stated repeatedly, this is my favorite fireworks show at Disney World, so I will definitely be tuning in.
  • In travel-related news: Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG) and Marriott were all set to merge later this year, merrily making plans for Marriott to take over the program, while SPG cardholders like me had started to worry that our points might be devalued sometime next year.  Last weekend, a Chinese hotel company upset the apple cart and came in with a higher buyout bid, which SPG had to consider.  They had only a certain amount of time to accept the higher bid.  Then Marriott came back this past weekend with a hugely improved offer.  Now SPG must reconsider both, and the Chinese company can even counter again if it chooses.  A bit of drama going on here.  For more business-sy details, see this article on Forbes.com.
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The Junk Drawer: bits of pieces of a bunch of different stuff

This is appropriate post, since I’m right in the middle of moving house and have a bunch of stuff that needs a new home.  For now…they go in the junk drawer.  Or in my case, “junk box.”  My fellow island dwellers know that bugs get into everything, and a bunch of loose items in a drawer is irresistible to roaches.  So I keep my extra screwdriver, birthday candles, and take-out menus in a clear plastic shoebox.   Anyway, since I’m up to be elbows in moving boxes, no time for a good write-up.  Here’s my “junk drawer post” of varying travel/organization/Disney items.

united hawaii promo

  • Alaska Airlines is offering a checked bag promo, 1000 Alaska MileagePlan miles if you Self-Tag at homeYAY…..maybe?  While our Alaska Airlines flights to Orlando are within the promo period, the rules stipulate that you must credit the flight to Alaska to get the bag bonus.  We always credit our flights on Alaska to American Airlines, as they are more valuable to us.  But now that I think about it, we can probably have my little guy credit his flight to Alaska and get a miles bonus for him!  My kids have their frequent flyer numbers and earn miles for flying, but we don’t redeem their miles for family travel- mom and dad do the heavy lifting there.  Let those miles accumulate and they’ll have a nice stash to use for trips to Grandma’s, study abroad, etc.  What I’m saying is, he has plenty of time to earn more American miles before he’ll have a need to redeem them, so crediting this one flight to Alaska makes sense if it earns him some miles.  YAY, YES!
  • Disney has released its Free Dining Promo for 2015.  Our trip fits neatly outside of the eligible dates, sigh.  Not that we would have been able to take advantage of it anyway- as has been the case the last 2 years, the Free Dining Promo cannot be used with the Standard (Little Mermaid) Rooms at the Art of Animation Resort.  Oh well- at least it eliminates the worrying over how to get the biggest value out of each and every snack/meal credit.

That’s all for now!  Heigh ho, heigh ho, it’s back to packing I go!

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United MileagePlus bonus miles for stays in Hawaii Marriotts

Earn 10K bonus United miles for stays of at least 4 nights, or 15k miles for stays of 5 nights or more at any of the 5 Hawaii Marriott  properties. Plus, you get a $50 dining credit for booking the offer.

I loathe the word “staycation,” but this offer seems tailor-made for such a situation.  It applies to reservations through December 15, 2014, so you may be able to use it during Fall Break from the public schools, depending on availability.  This year Fall Break is Oct 6-10 for my daughter’s school- make sure to check your specific school calendar if applicable.

The always popular Ihilani in Ko Olina is on the list of participating properties, though no one would be surprised to hear that I would much prefer the property next door, which unfortunately is not part of this offer.

OK, here is sample of the cost of a 5-night stay at the aforementioned JW Marriott Ihilani in October during Fall Break.  The average cost per night is $356, so the total for the 5 nights (room rate only, not including taxes/fees) is $1780 as shown here.

Fancy hotel...

Fancy hotel…

The Rate details specify the restaurants available for the dining credit (including room service), and other bits and pieces of info.  No doubling up with any Kama’aina rate, for example.

ihilani sample2

…but can you eat breakfast with Minnie Mouse?

You can’t see it behind the Rate details window, but the standard room rate (not associated with this offer) is around $245/night.  This rate wouldn’t include the bonus miles or dining credit.

Keep in mind that most bigger hotels in Hawaii charge some sort of resort fee in the neighborhood of $30/night, and parking is outrageous at $35/night.  Sometimes Wi-Fi is included in the resort fee.  Man, they really get you with those fees.  Still, a weeklong vacation for under $2000 is pretty good if you’re not traveling off-island.

Finally, if you are already have elite status with Marriott Rewards and United MileagePlus, they have a nice reciprocal agreement called RewardsPlus, which could be very beneficial in terms of points/miles for a stay like this one.

Hope someone can take advantage of the offer!

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