Thursday, August 22, 2013

Colorado...and Then Some

Well, it's getting close to Labor Day and as you know, much of the developed world takes (at least) the last week of August off for a final summer vacation before the kiddies start school in September.

As you've probably guessed, my travel-crazy family is no exception. Last August, we went to Japan and South Korea to visit my two great grandmothers. Later today, we're flying to Denver, Colorado.

This Friday night, my father's friends Ryan and Jessica are getting married right outside Denver. My father didn't set them up like he did his other friends Ben & Huyen, but this would be the third marriage resulting from this 2008 trip.

Plus given how many great mountain ranges we've seen this year (British Columbian Rockies, Argentine Andes, Idaho Foothills and German Alps), we had to go to Colorado to see their Rockies.

Also, my grandmother's coming with us, so she and I will get some quality time together while my parents are dancing the night away at the wedding reception.

After the wedding weekend, we'll stay for another week and turn it into a summer vacation, spent mostly at the Westin Beaver Creek for 5 nights (all on Starwood points).

As you may know, when you book with SPG points for 5 nights, you get the 5th night free. In addition, my father received a special Starwood gift for being a SPG Gold member where he would get 25% discount on any points redemption. He was able to stack the 5th Night Free and the 25% discount in a single award redemption, so we're getting 5 nights for the price of just 3 nights (only 36,000 vs. 60,000 SPG points normally)!

Further, since my father finally reached SPG Platinum status the other week, we'll get some nice benefits and possibly free upgrades. And for making Platinum, he received yet another Starwood gift for 35% points discount on any award redemption (for up to 5 nights through February 28, 2014). Not bad. Not bad at all.

As soon as we get back from Colorado, we're gonna hop across the Atlantic (and Mediterranean) to visit my other grandparents in Israel. September's a great time to be in the Holy Land. Plus, United non-stop flights from Newark to Tel Aviv were priced very reasonable ($1,150/person) and I'd still be able to fly as a lapchild.

Our original plan was to fly over there for Christmas/New Years, but by then, I'll be over 2 years old and have to pay full price for my own ticket. One last long haul as a (10% paying) lap child!

There are a few Starwood hotels in Israel, but none where my grandparents live so we'll just stay with them and save some sheckles. However, my father did book two rooms (using just 3,000 SPG points per night per room) at the Le Meridien Dead Sea for my parents and my grandparents to take me on a mini-trip. It will be my first time at the Dead Sea. Kind of excited.

Come October, Columbus Day Weekend should be a great time to head down South. Using our Citi Thank You credit cards that offer 5x bonuses for gas, grocery & drugstore spend, we were able to use 50,568 Thank You points to pay for our $336/person tickets ($672 in free flights that earn us United mileage and elite status credit). While we're down there, we'll get some delicious BBQ on Beale Street and watch the famous ducks march through the Peabody Hotel.

But since my father loves his new Starwood status (complimentary upgrades, free continental breakfast), we'll actually be staying at the Westin Memphis Beale Street (for 10,000 SPG points per night). No duckies there.

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