View of Paris

This trip has been a long time in the making. We had been talking about going to France for a few year, but I decided to throw in a week in UAE for two reasons. First, after flying first class on Singapore Airlines, I wanted to see how Etihad First Class Apartments compared. Second, I wanted to book a stay at Al Maha outside of Dubai before the price went up from 60,000 to 85,000 Marriott points per night. These reasons are hard to explain to people at work when they ask about where I’m going in October since I try to avoid talking about churning. Anyway, here’s how I booked the trip. I’ll post more on itinerary specifics once we’re back (though I have to admit I’m behind on this as I’m still working through posts for Singapore, Maldives, Peru, and Croatia…)

Our Itinerary

Here’s how we decided to break out our time in France and UAE:

  • Day 1: Overnight flight to France
  • Days 2-3: Alsace
  • Days 4-7: Paris
  • Days 8-10: Normandy
  • Days 11-12: Al Maha
  • Days 13-14: Dubai
  • Day 15: Abu Dhabi
  • Day 16: Fly home

Flights

I was able to book two of our flights in Etihad First Class Apartments using American Airlines miles. On the way to France, we took advantage of Air France Air & Rail, so our award ticket included an economy flight to CDG and the train from CDG to Strasbourg.

Etihad First Class Apartments
I can’t wait to shower in the sky! Twice!
  • Flight 1: Boston to Strasbourg on Air France’s Air & Rail package which includes and economy flight to CDG and a train to Strasbourg
    • 27,000 Amex points and $66.64 per person worth $3,346.70
      • I needed 67,500 Flying Blue points to book these two economy tickets, so I transferred 54,000 American Express points during the 25% more promotion.
  • Flight 2: Paris to Abu Dhabi on Etihad First Class Apartments
    • 62,500 American Airlines miles and $109.16 per person worth $4,446.28 per person
  • Flight 3: Abu Dhabi to JFK on Etihad First Class Apartments
    • 115,000 American Airlines miles and $49.43 per person worth $9,740.01
    • I only ended up spending 110,000 miles per person thanks to the 10% rebate benefit from the Barclays Aviator Red card. Sadly, this benefit is no longer.
  • Flight 4: JFK to Boston on American Airlines
    • 6,000 American Airlines miles and $5.10 per person worth $97.30

Total cash: $461.66
Total miles: 411,000
Total value: $35,260.58

Hotels

This is a long trip with multiple locations so I had a lot of hotels to book. Staying at the Park Hyatt Paris was a given, but choosing hotels in the smaller towns required more research.

Al Maha Suite
Bedouin Suite here we come
  • Night 1: Hotel Le Chambard in Kaysersberg
    • 19,758 Chase points worth $296.37
  • Night 2: Hotel Sofitel Strasbourg Grande Ile
    • 16,086 Chase points worth $241.29
  • Nights 3-6: Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme
    • 120,000 Hyatt points and $45 worth $3099.89
  • Nights 7-8: Manoir de Cleronde in Blay
    • 40,881 Chase points worth $613.22
  • Night 9: Flying CDG to AUH (no hotel)
  • Nights 10-11: Al Maha Desert Resort and Spa
    • 120,000 Marriott points and $12 worth $3,829.90
      • Now 70,000-100,000 points per night
  • Nights 12-13: Ritz-Carlton Dubai
    • 120,000 Marriott points and $12 worth $1045.86
      • Now 70,000-100,000 points per night
  • Night 14: St. Regis Abu Dhabi
    • Free night certificate from Chase Marriott Bonvoy Premier Plus (worth 35,000 points) and $5 worth $248.14

Total cash: $74.00
Total points: 436,725
Total value: $9,374.67

Final Thoughts

When planning our upcoming vacation to France and UAE, I used 847,725 points and miles and paid $535.66 for a trip valued at about $44,635. This trip almost gives our honeymoon a run for its money! By using points and miles, our trip is much cheaper than paying for flights and hotels out of pocket, and our accommodations are nicer than we would be willing to pay for otherwise.

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