Booked

Travel Talk

Booked: The Winter World Cup

Booked: The Winter World Cup


Greetings from the United Arab Emirates!

After nearly 4 and a half years because the remaining match of the final World Cup, I’m all set to affix followers from everywhere in the world in Qatar for the FIFA World Cup 2022.

This shall be my third time attending the world’s best sporting occasion, after totally having fun with my earlier experiences in Brazil in 2014 and Russia in 2018.

The planning course of for this journey was notably advanced, as I’ll be stationed within the UAE all through most the motion, and strategically repositioning to Qatar as wanted as a result of inflated value of lodging through the World Cup.  

The Trip

Just like most followers of the gorgeous sport, I’ve been counting down the times to the World Cup ever because the final one ended.

It’s an excellent interval of soccer fever – although uniquely happening within the winter this 12 months, quite than the summer time, and the primary version within the Arab world – and a time to revel with different followers from all corners of the globe.

This shall be my first time attending a World Cup with “skin in the game”, as I’ll be supporting Team Canada at our first World Cup in 36 years at our matches in opposition to Croatia and Morocco within the coming weeks.

Surely, I gained’t be the one Canadian in attendance, and I’ll be protecting a eager eye out for fellow followers – and certain some Prince of Travel readers – to cheer with.

Lusail Stadium, Doha

With hundreds of thousands of followers descending on the tiny nation of Qatar, flights and lodging have been comparatively tough to come back by at an affordable worth. Thus, I opted to make use of the close by metropolises of Dubai and Abu Dhabi as my dwelling bases for this journey. 

This is one more occasion when Miles & Points has unlocked unbelievable worth, offering me entry to premium flights and luxurious resorts at a fraction of the worth throughout a time when the price of all the things is in any other case inflated.

The Flights

As standard, I aimed to maximise my in-flight experiences as I used to be planning out my journey to the World Cup in Qatar.

Getting from the West Coast to the Middle East undoubtedly requires some long-haul flying, and I needed to make sure a snug trip alongside the best way, all whereas reviewing just a few new airline merchandise and making the most of some redemption candy spots.

This a part of the world is dwelling to among the world’s most famed airways, together with Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad Airways, so naturally, that’s the place I centered my efforts. 

For my outbound flights, I positioned myself from Vancouver to Chicago earlier than hopping on a direct enterprise class flight to Abu Dhabi with Etihad Airways on the Airbus A350-1000, booked utilizing 85,000 Aeroplan factors previous to the latest award chart devaluation.

Space on this route isn’t notably tough to come back by, particularly when reserving some time prematurely, and I used to be concerned with evaluating this new product in opposition to Etihad’s enterprise class product on the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Etihad Airways Airbus A350-1000 enterprise class

Coming dwelling, I saved a eager eye on any Qsuites availability from Doha to North American hubs, however since Qatar Airways had initially blocked off all premium award area through the World Cup, I needed to act rapidly if something fruitful grew to become obtainable.

Fortunately, Qatar Airways launched a late swath of Qsuites availability over the past month or so, and I managed to attain a flight from Doha to Seattle for simply 70,000 Qatar Airways Avios. 

70,000 Avios for Qsuites to the West Coast is a improbable deal

My companion Jessy shall be becoming a member of me for a part of the journey, and I used to be in a position to e book her on a handy Qsuites flight out of San Francisco, as effectively.

To get between Abu Dhabi and Doha’s secondary Doha International Airport (DIA), which is getting used to deal with the extra inflow of World Cup attendees, I took benefit of a lesser-known candy spot with Aeroplan.

Regional flights between the 2 cities could be booked for 7,500 or 15,000 Aeroplan factors in economic system and enterprise class, respectively, which gives unbelievable worth in comparison with the present astronomical money costs. 

By leveraging the worth that redeeming factors can provide in occasions like these, I’ll have squeezed nice worth out of my Aeroplan factors, even on a short-haul flight. 

The Hotels

The main purpose for basing myself out of the UAE through the World Cup is the sky-high worth of lodging in Qatar. To add insult to damage, lots of the obtainable choices don’t come near matching the worth level by way of the standard of lodging.

With no scarcity of luxurious resort choices in Dubai & Abu Dhabi, and to help the work of our recently-launched journey company, I’ll be embarking on a hotel-hopping journey as soon as once more.

Over the approaching weeks, you possibly can anticipate evaluations of the next properties:

  • St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort Abu Dhabi (60,000 Bonvoy factors)
  • Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi (25,000 World of Hyatt factors)
  • The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal (Free Night Award price 35,000 factors + 5,000 factors)
  • W Dubai Mina Seyahi (80,500 Bonvoy factors)
  • Le Méridien Dubai Mina Seyahi (Cash and factors price of 30,000 Bonvoy factors + 380 AED)
  • The Dubai EDITION (82,000 Bonvoy factors)
  • Andaz Dubai The Palm (23,000 World of Hyatt factors)
  • Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi (Cash and factors price of 35,000 Bonvoy factors + 560 AED)
  • W Abu Dhabi Yas Island (Free Night Award price 35,000 factors + 8,000 factors)
  • The Abu Dhabi EDITION (60,000 Bonvoy factors)
  • St. Regis Abu Dhabi (Free Night Award price 50,000 factors + 2,000 factors)

Perhaps in distinction to those high-end resort stays, I additionally booked three nights at a reasonably no-frills native condo in Doha for about $250 (USD) per evening, which was one of many many lodging sorts obtainable for visiting followers.

It’s all a part of the World Cup expertise, in fact, and I definitely don’t thoughts staying in an area neighbourhood in Doha to combine issues up a bit. After all, there shall be loads of alternatives to remain at Doha resorts sooner or later after they aren’t charging $5,000+ per evening. 😉 

4340 Umm Besher Barwa Madinatna Cluster G, the place I’ll be staying

Conclusion

After a four-year hiatus, the World Cup is about to start, and I’m teeming with pleasure to attend my third successive match. 

I’m very joyful to have been in a position to rating direct flights in enterprise class between North America and the Middle East, together with each a brand new airline product within the type of the Etihad Airways A350 and an outdated favorite onboard Qatar Airways Qsuites.

The proven fact that I’m attaining 10+ cents per level (cpp) from my intra-Gulf flights in comparison with the inflated money value for the time being is just the cherry on high. 

If any Prince of Travel readers are additionally in Qatar over the approaching weeks, and particularly for those who’re attending the Canada matches, be at liberty to drop me a line beneath and let’s see if we will organize a meetup! 





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Travel Talk

Booked: Sun, Sand, and Australian Lamb

Booked: Sun, Sand, and Australian Lamb


Greetings from the Gold Coast! After a unbelievable time with the Prince of Travel staff placing on the inaugural Travel Summit in Toronto, I high-tailed it to Brisbane by way of Vancouver for some stress-free time within the solar.

My spouse and I might be visiting family and friends in numerous components of the nation, and I’m excited to go to some new spots and overview some nice luxurious resorts on this journey. We had been final right here in January 2020, proper earlier than the world turned the other way up, so being right here once more feels fairly good.

I wound up scoring some nice offers on resorts and flights for this journey, so right here’s what the breakdown seems like.

The Trip

This might be my fourth journey to Australia. I first got here right here in 2007 on a working vacation, the place I stomached working in a slaughterhouse for 4 months to finance the remainder of my eight-month journey to Thailand, Nepal, India, and the UK.

I’ve familial ties to the nation, so there’s at all times an excellent motive to come back down and go to. My sister has been dwelling right here for 16 years, and my uncle, aunt, and cousins moved from Saskatchewan in 1997.

Over the years and visits, we’ve had the pleasure of assembly a lot of my aunt’s prolonged household, so coming right down to Australia at all times appears like a homecoming. I’m additionally wanting ahead to catching up with buddies and colleagues in Newcastle and Melbourne who lately made the transfer.

Melbourne, Australia

My spouse and I actually admire all that Australia has to supply. November generally is a dreary, moist month at our dwelling on Vancouver Island, so spending time within the sunshine on the ocean, on seashores, and in forests is a really welcome change.

Furthermore, we’ve got grown to very a lot admire the meals and wine scene in Australia, which we discover to be very a lot in keeping with our tastes. It’s additionally refreshing to be surrounded by the easygoing manner that Australians are identified for, and we’re certain to have many laughs over the following few weeks.

We’re getting over the jet lag by spending a while in Queensland alongside the Gold Coast and in Brisbane. From there, we’ll cease in Newcastle and Canberra to meet up with family and friends, benefiting from Virgin Australia lounges and intra-Australian flights booked with Aeroplan factors. 

My household has raved about Tasmania for years now, and I’m very eager to spend three nights on the island to expertise it for myself this time. We have a fast cease in Melbourne to satisfy up with two members of the Prince of Travel staff, earlier than heading inland to fruit and wine nation for per week, which is the place my household lives.

The tail finish of our journey might be spent in Sydney, which is the departure level for our return to Canada. My sister and two nieces are becoming a member of us for the return flights, which I’m certain might be a blast.

There’s a number of transferring round on this journey, however there are additionally a number of individuals whom we’re wanting ahead to seeing after so lengthy. For our subsequent journey, we plan to gradual issues down a bit by visiting different components of the nation and leveraging the worth in car relocations to cowl extra floor by car.

The Flights

The long-haul flights for our journey had been a few of the finest offers I’ve ever been capable of rating with Aeroplan. 

For our outbound flights, we flew from Toronto to Brisbane by way of Vancouver for the excellent value of 47,300 Aeroplan factors per individual. We booked a Premium Economy (Flexible) fare again in February 2022, after which immediately confirmed much-needed Air Canada Signature Class seats by making use of 13 eUpgrades every to the reserving. 

I don’t know if I’ll ever have the ability to rating such an excellent deal to Australia once more, however it was additionally an excellent reminder to verify the premium financial system fares while you’re looking for flights. In this case, it was round 20,000 factors much less per individual than the Economy (Latitude) fare, about half the value of what the identical flights would value on the decrease finish of dynamic pricing, and a whole lot of hundreds of factors lower than what it often prices with excessive dynamic pricing on this extremely wanted flight.

The solely enchancment I can consider could be utilizing a Priority Reward to chop the fee by 50%, which might make it much more ridiculous. 

We’ll be getting round Australia utilizing a mix of short-haul Aeroplan and Avios redemptions on Virgin Australia and Qantas, respectively. I’m excited to take a look at Virgin Australia lounges in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney, which I now take pleasure in complimentary entry to with my Aeroplan Elite Status.

Virgin Australia Lounge, Melbourne

Rachel from the Prince of Travel staff identified that I may redeem Avios for flights that weren’t listed on the British Airways web site. For our regional flight from Albury to Sydney on QantasHyperlink, I discovered award availability on the American Airlines web site, after which referred to as British Airways to ebook. 

As we had been reserving 5 passengers, we wound up saving a whole lot of {dollars}, and the fee to every passenger was solely 6,000 Avios and round $36 AUD in taxes and charges. Cash costs for a similar flights had been round $180 AUD, so I take into account that to be nice worth, regardless that we redeemed for a short-haul financial system flight.

We even have flights from Hobart to Melbourne booked on Avios, once more for 6,000 Avios plus round $36 AUD taxes and charges per individual.

To get dwelling, I made three separate bookings to accommodate all passengers with eUpgrades. My older niece and I’ll fly from Sydney to Victoria by way of Vancouver, whereas my spouse, youthful niece, and sister will fly from Sydney to Victoria by way of Brisbane and Vancouver.

We booked this fashion as there have been solely so many eUpgrade seats accessible on every long-haul flight. My spouse enjoys Aeroplan 50K standing, so she is booked with my niece on one reserving.

If you will discover house, utilizing eUpgrades may be one of many least expensive methods to get to or from Australia in enterprise class

I nominated my sister as my eUpgrade nominee so she may use the eUpgrades from my account. This is a perk that’s reserved for Super Elites, and I’m glad that I used to be capable of benefit from it so I may deal with my household to Signature Class.

It value every of us round 65,000 Aeroplan factors and 13 eUpgrades. While it wasn’t fairly pretty much as good of a deal as our outbound flights, we’re nonetheless getting nice worth on the coveted direct flights between Australia and Vancouver, and it’s at all times nice to make use of the “Latitude Attitude“.

By the time we fly dwelling, Air Canada ought to have restored the total Signature Class expertise, full with welcome drinks, scorching towel service, and improved amenity kits. I’ll be giving a full overview of the gentle product, as we’ve reviewed the laborious merchandise many occasions prior to now.

This would be the first time my sister and nieces can have turned left upon boarding, and I’m notably intrigued to get some enter from a 9-year-old about lounges and premium cabins. 

In sum, I used a complete of round 471,000 Aeroplan factors, which features a complete of seven one-way flights between Canada and Australia in Air Canada Signature Class, in addition to 5 intra-Australian flights with Virgin Australia (together with stopovers). Furthermore, I redeemed 54,000 Avios for our regional flights from Hobart to Melbourne and from Albury to Sydney.

I ought to word that eUpgrade house on flights to or from Australia is more and more troublesome to come back by. We booked these flights earlier than Australia had reopened its borders, and I think about that since then, Air Canada isn’t having any points promoting the seats to prospects paying money.

If you’re trying to head from North America to Australia and discover that Air Canada Signature Class flights are both insanely costly or don’t have eUpgrade house, take a look at taking the great distance round both by way of Asia or the Middle East. 

The Hotels

We’re staying in some nice properties on this journey, and I’m wanting ahead to experiencing fairly the vary of manufacturers and types.

We’ll be working off the jet lag on the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa in Surfers Paradise. We booked on a journey agent charge one evening, and used 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy factors for the second.

We wound up confirming an Executive Suite utilizing Suite Night Awards, which is the third highest suite accessible on the resort (under Residential and Presidential Suites). 

JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa

From there, we head again to Brisbane for a keep in a Fabulous Suite, once more confirmed prematurely utilizing a Suite Night Award, on the W Brisbane, for which we redeemed 40,000 Bonvoy factors. Personally, I’ve by no means had a fantastic expertise at a W resort, so I’m hoping that this relatively-new property adjustments that streak.

We’ll cap off our keep in Queensland with an evening at The Westin Brisbane, booked on a journey agent charge. Since we’ve got an early flight the following morning, I’m not too fussed about “suite-talking” my manner into a greater room, however I actually wouldn’t be upset if we get fortunate.

After visits with family and friends in Newcastle and Canberra, we’ll spend a number of nights at The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel in Hobart, Tasmania. We have a mix of journey agent charge and Free Night Awards at this property, which was a steal at solely 37,000 factors per evening.

This resort seems completely dreamy, and since each expertise I’ve had at Luxury Collection Hotels has been nice, I anticipate this to be no completely different.

The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Hobart

I’m mulling choices for an evening in Melbourne, however presently I’ve one evening booked on the Melbourne Marriott Hotel on a journey agent charge. I’m undecided if we’ll hold that or ebook one thing else with factors, in order that plan could very nicely change.

After staying per week with my sister and her household, we’ll cap off our Australian resorts with stays on the Sydney Harbour Marriott Hotel at Circular Quay and the Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection. We booked each of those stays for 39,000 factors every, which wound up being a reasonably unusual redemption when in comparison with our factors valuations.

Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection

Our final evening in Australia might be on the airport, because the passengers connecting via Brisbane have an early morning departure.

Of the resort stays we’ve got booked, the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa, the W Brisbane, The Tasman, and Pier One Sydney Harbour take part in Marriott STARS or Marriott Luminous. My opinions might be extra in depth at these properties, as we’re capable of supply money bookings at these resorts via our entry to luxurious resort applications.

Conclusion

I’m delighted to be spending a number of weeks in Australia catching up with household and buddies, in addition to visiting some new locations. It’s good to spend a while within the solar, particularly when it’s fairly wet and dreary again at dwelling.

There are some nice resorts that I’m wanting ahead to reviewing, specifically the JW Marriott Gold Coast Resort & Spa, the W Brisbane, The Tasman, a Luxury Collection Hotel, and Pier One Sydney Harbour, Autograph Collection. 

Of course, there are a lot of different locations to go to and resorts to overview on this nation. Since I’ll seemingly be coming right here yearly, as will different members of the Prince of Travel staff, there might be loads of alternatives to increase our attain. 





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