We’ve been checking almost daily for when Hilton would release the 2011 reward calendar for the Condrad Maldives Rangali Island Hotel. We had almost given up checking but checked about a week ago and the calendar was posted!
We booked 9 nights in March 2011 without any problem.
We now had to book the flights to Male, Maldives trying to use Delta Skymiles which can always be problematic. We called the partner desk and attempted several different routings – all to no avail.
We contemplated getting all the way to Tokyo or Dubai and then purchasing a ticket to get to Male. However, we weren’t having a lot of luck and were about to give up and try to go to Bali instead.
Then, two days ago, my wife decided to give the partner desk one more shot. Someone on flyertalk suggested getting to Moscow and then using Aeroflot to Male. My wife talked with the partner desk for a while but there was no availability at all with Aeroflot and so my wife tried a final time with Malaysian Airlines. The fantastic agent patiently tried several different combinations and after two hours was finally able to piece together Salt Lake >> Los Angeles >> Kuala Lumpur >> Male in business class on low miles!
We were afraid that the Hilton wouldn’t have the availability for these new travel dates but I called the Diamond Desk and once again there was no problem moving the 8 days to fit exactly with our frequent flier miles. I then logged on to Priority Club and booked a free night for 15000 priority club points for the first arrival night in Male.
The agent said that the tickets that we’ve booked normally cost $11,000 a piece. We did have to pay $500 a ticket in taxes and a $20 per ticket phone charge. The Delta partner desk agent swore out loud when she saw the fees. Swapping $1000 in fees for $22,000 in tickets and having nine nights paid for is a heck of a deal in my opinion.
There were some keys to making this happen. First, having the American Express Hilton Surpass card and doing a $40,000 spend last year gave us Diamond Status through March 2012. This will entitle us to complimentary room upgrades and free breakfast on the trip.
Second, credit card churning through the American Airlines Citi card. After reading about on Frugal Travel Guy’s page, I churned at least 6 cards to amass 150,000 American Airlines miles which was converted to 300,000 Hilton points.
Third, having a lot of flexibility and patience helped with the Delta tickets. We were able to get business class the whole way for 120,000 per ticket.
I simply can not wait until this trip. I found a youtube video showing the room.