Archive | June 2013

Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay Stay Through Priceline

I’ve had a busy couple months and decided recently that I wanted a short getaway. Luckily, when you live in Florida that’s not too hard to do. My boyfriend and I decided to spend a weekend in Tampa to relax. I booked one night using Hilton HHonors points, but we decided the Wednesday before the weekend we were going that we wanted to drive over Friday night and go to the Florida Aquarium on Saturday morning. Since we didn’t really care where we wound up, I decided to try Priceline.com out. I figured I would try for a 4 star hotel and see what we got!

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Hyatt Diamond Challenge for Two Nights in a Suite! [Expired?]

Edit: it now looks as though the Hyatt credit card no longer offers two nights in a suite to Diamond members. This may no longer be an option.

One of my friends is currently planning her honeymoon in Hawaii. She has begun applying for some key credit cards to help cut costs (I might be partly to blame for that…). In the process she applied for a Hyatt Diamond Challenge in order to get two free nights in a suite!

I’ve touched briefly on this subject before as it was part of my initial plan for Japan (and has now transferred to my initial plan for Australia – Park Hyatt Sydney potentially?). She used two cards in order to get two free Hilton nights, Hilton Gold status, and therefore temporary Hyatt Diamond status to get two free Hyatt nights in a suite! Here’s how…

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Barcelona – Flight Home on Delta, Chase Ink Lounge Club Passes Used

Continuing the Paris/Barcelona Trip Report, if you missed it you can read from the start here: Paris and Barcelona Part 1. To read from the start of the Barcelona segment, see my posts on Air France and Atenea Aparthotel and Castle Montjuic and the Magic Fountains , Montserrat and La Rambla/Gothic Quarter, and La Sagrada Família, Casa Milà, Güell Park.

On our last day in Barcelona we woke up early to head to the airport and caught Aerobus from Placa Espanya for €5,90 each. We made it to the airport with plenty of time. I had googled “flying while sick” since our ears hurt so badly from the mountain altitude change and found recommendations for antihistamines and special ear plugs called “earPlanes”. The ear plugs have a ceramic filter that helps to gradually adjust pressurization. We stopped in a pharmacy in the airport that had them. They were €11,75 and it definitely seemed like either that or the antihistamine greatly helped, compared to how much our ears hurt from the descent in the cable car earlier that weekend. So if they are a scam, I fell for it and will fall for it again if I get sick before a flight in the future!

Going through security in Barcelona was interesting. I brought back Coke bottles for a friend who is a collector. If you were wondering, security doesn’t really like bottles in suitcases (makes sense) and I had to pull them out to prove they were empty. After security, we headed to Sala VIP Miro in Terminal 1 in BCN. As I have a Chase Ink Bold (part of the trip to Japan plan) it gave me a Lounge Club Membership, with two free passes. If you’re looking for how to sign up, I used the info Million Mile Secrets provides here to do so. Consensus online seems to be that the two free visits qualifies as you and a guest or you twice. So I took my friend in. If you do not have a free visit it is $27 to use the LoungeClub Membership without. You can view a list of the qualifying lounges here. This was my first time in a lounge and it was pretty nice (although nothing special by any means compared to what others have blogged about). I doubt I would pay $27 but I will definitely take advantage of free lounge passes in the future. They had showers, comfy chairs, alcohol, and a selection of snacks and breakfast pastries as it was 10am.

BCN Sala VIP Miro Lounge

BCN Sala VIP Miro Lounge

The lounge also had a nice open window to look out into the airport.

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Barcelona – La Sagrada Família, Casa Milà, Güell Park

Continuing the Paris/Barcelona Trip Report, if you missed it you can read from the start here: Paris and Barcelona Part 1. To read from the start of the Barcelona segment, see my posts on Air France and Atenea Aparthotel and Castle Montjuic and the Magic Fountains and Montserrat and La Rambla/Gothic Quarter.

We arrived at La Sagrada Família about a half hour after it opened and there was still a long line, even in the rain. We probably waited about forty five minutes in line outside in the rain. I enjoyed it though as there was a race going on through the streets of Barcelona and as a runner (a very slow one) I enjoyed watching.

La Sagrada Família has been under construction since 1882. It is an ongoing project. It was pretty inside, very different.

La Sagrada Família

The stained glass was gorgeous, and the architecture was very impressive as well.

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Barcelona – Montserrat and La Rambla/Gothic Quarter

Continuing the Paris/Barcelona Trip Report, if you missed it you can read from the start here: Paris and Barcelona Part 1. To read from the start of the Barcelona segment, see my posts on Air France and Atenea Aparthotel and Castle Montjuic and the Magic Fountains.

For our first full day in Spain we decided to head out on a day trip to Montserrat, a Benedictine monastery in the mountains. The trip by train from Barcelona took about an hour. We purchased the TransMontserrat ticket for 26,60€ which included the train, a cable car ride, funicular rides and admission to the audiovisual gallery of the monastery. There was also a TotMontserrat option which included lunch and the museum but we decided against it. When we woke up the morning of the trip and looked at the forecast it said rain the entire weekend. Since it wasn’t pouring we decided to go on Saturday in case Sunday was worse! We arrived at Montserrat in a very cold rain and already sick, which was not overly pleasant. The views were entirely worth it though. With the rain and clouds, there was incredible fog in the mountains. It was almost magical.

There are two options to get up to Montserrat. One is a cable car ride, the other – for the less adventurous, is a train. My friend and I chose the cable car and it was awesome!

Cable Car up to Montserrat

Cable Car up to Montserrat

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Rookie Misplay #4 – American Express Starwood Preferred Guest Card App

In my latest app-o-rama, I applied for the American Express Starwood Preferred Guest card. I have a good history with American Express and wasn’t too worried about approval. The SPG card seems to have a standard offer across the board – so I wasn’t concerned with that either. Instead, I spent my time researching the other cards and deciding the odds of approval/best methods to get the points I need from those. Turns out I should have paid attention to this one!

The standard Starwood offer (which seems to go up to 30k every summer – I decided not to wait, but you may want to) is 25,000 Starpoints. 10,000 after your first purchase, then 15,000 after $5,000 within the first six months – pictured below.

SPG card offer from the American Express website.

SPG card offer from the American Express website.

Since I had seen this several times and wasn’t too concerned with the card application I didn’t notice that this is only the offer if you are not logged in to your American Express account. This is the standard offer for new cardmembers. Turns out that means existing American Express cardholders may not qualify!! A quick search on a Flyertalk thread reveals that you have to LOG OUT or use a different browser and enter your information as a new customer before applying for American Express cards!

By using my normal browser/existing customer information, I got the offer listed below. It shows 10,000 points – but no 15,000 after minimum spend!

Reduced offer from American Express Website.

Reduced offer from American Express Website.

I called to confirm after receiving my card and the only offer on the card is the 10,000 Starpoints. By not researching enough, and worrying about other cards more I missed out on 15,000 Starpoints. Sad, but not the end of the world. It equates to $118 if you use Vanilla Reloads for spending. I filed a claim with Amex, and they will get back to me within two billing cycles (seems ridiculous!). I’m not expecting a positive outcome based on the result of this similar situation reported on Flyertalk.

Rookie lesson learned. Don’t rush applications to get them in quickly. Make sure you research EVERY card, even the ones that seem easy!