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Summer is in full swing! It’s time to soak up the sun and make some awesome memories. Think about it. When’s the last time you and your buddies got together for a good ol’ fashion road trip? Or a long weekend in a city you’ve never explored before? You deserve to get together with your favorite people and make the most of these warm, hazy days before the winter sends us back indoors.
A girl’s weekend or guy’s trip is a great way to have fun, relax, and connect. And, thanks to places like Extended Stay America, it’s totally easy and affordable. You’ll be able to find a destination that everyone can agree on too, thanks to the 625 hotels across the U.S. that they offer.
Another perk, especially with a small group, is that all their rooms are suites. No more feeling cramped in a small hotel room, that’s overpriced. Each room also comes with a fully equipped kitchen that includes a full fridge, microwave, and stove. Save money and cook or use the fridge to store your refreshing drinks.
Other comforts available are their FREE grab-and-go breakfast, pools and hot tubs at select hotels, as well as other amazing amenities to enjoy your stay.
So, grab your friends and get them on board; then, check out Extended Stay America’s map to find your destination. Once that’s done, if you feel a short vacay isn’t enough, you can save up to 31% off your booking the longer you stay!
Amex Canada has reached out to its membership with an interesting promotion. They’re offering a 50% bonus for transferring Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors points. The bonus will be applicable on all MR transfers to Hilton Honors, done between July 15, 2019 and August 31, 2019. Both, Amex Gold and Cobalt card members have reported getting this offer in email. For American Express Cobalt card members in particular this can be an excellent opportunity to redeem aspirational Hilton properties.
Membership Rewards: 50% bonus
The regular redemption rate for Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors is 1:1. But this promotion bumps that up to 1:1.5 points. Members can transfer in increments of 100 points with a minimum transfer requirement of 1,000 points for each transfer. So transferring 10K MR would yield 15K Hilton points. 50K would yield 75K Hilton points. And so on and so forth.
For Membership Rewards (Canada), Marriott and Hilton are the only two hotel transfer partners. Since Marriott transfer rate from MR is 1:1.2, the current Hilton promotion makes for an interesting comparison:
Hilton Cat-8 property requires 95K points per night, or ~63,334 MR points through this promotion. Marriott Cat-8 properties on the other hand, require 85K points (Standard rate), or ~70,834 MR points.
Hilton Cat-4 averages 30K points per night, or 20,000 MR points through this promotion. Marriott mid-tier Cat-4 properties on the other hand, require 25K points (Standard rate), or ~20,834 MR points.
Hilton Cat-1 requires 10K points per night, or ~6,667 MR points through this promotion. Marriott Cat-1 properties on the other hand, require 7500 points (Standard rate), or ~6,250 MR points.
Personal affinity to a brand aside, as things stand in Canadian Membership Rewards world, the current promotion does tip the scale in Hilton’s favor. With a redemption in mind, this promotion is a great way to use MR points towards a hotel redemption. Even if an account does not have a big MR balance, the accelerated earning categories of the American Express Cobalt card should make a redemption quite possible through this promotion. A cobalt fan-boy that I am, here is a quick recap on the card;
Current earning rates:
5x on Grocery and Dining (including restaurants, bars, cafe and food delivery)
2x on Travel and Transit (including flights, hotels, taxis, gas, ride sharing, and transit passes)
5x on Eats and Drinks (including restaurants, bars, cafe, grocery stores and food delivery) up to $30,000 annually*, 1x thereafter
2x on Travel and Transit (including flights, hotels, taxis, gas, ride sharing, and transit passes)
1x on all other purchases.
* For current card members, the limit starts at zero on August 20th and will reset again on card anniversary date.
Terms and Conditions of the Membership Rewards to Hilton Honors bonus promotion:
Membership Rewards point transfers must be made in increments of 100 points with a minimum transfer requirement of 1,000 points for each transfer. At the regular redemption rate, 1,000 Membership Rewards points = 1,000 Hilton Honors points. From 12:00:01 am ET on July 15, 2019 until 11:59:59 pm ET on August 31, 2019, when you transfer Membership Rewards points to Hilton you will receive 50% more Hilton Honors points on the total number of Membership Rewards points transferred. For example, if you transfer 1,000 Membership Rewards points to Hilton, you will be credited a total of 1,500 Hilton Honors points.
You must be enrolled in Hilton Honors in order to participate in this offer, visit HiltonHonors.com/join to enroll. American Express is not responsible for availability, accommodations or any other rewards in the Hilton Honors program. Once you have transferred Membership Rewards points, they become subject to the Terms and Conditions of the Hilton Honors program and cannot be transferred back to your Membership Rewards program account. All Hampton by Hilton hotels in the Republic of China are excluded from the Hilton Honors program.
See Hilton Honors Terms and Conditions for details. This offer is non-transferable and may not be combined with other offers. American Express in its sole discretion reserves the right to alter and or terminate these offers at any time. Hilton Honors Bonus Points do not count towards elite tier qualification. Hilton Honors membership, earning and redemption of Points are subject to Terms & Conditions.
Miles and points aficionados love to get the best travel experience for the least amount of money spent. This hobby is all about being frugal and yet enjoying some of the most stunning travel experiences. It’s about getting the correct miles and points credit card to fulfill your wanderlust.
Business Credit Cards
Discussions centering around business credit cards are often dominated by the Chase Inks and Amex Platinums of the world. While these cards have a great rewards system, they also have annual fees. You can offset a lot of the annual fees if you travel frequently. But what if you travel moderately? You can still get a card that gives you some amazing return on business spend. Unlike the Chase ecosystem, this no annual fee credit card enables you transfer points to Amex’s airline and hotel partners.
Blue Business Plus Credit Card
The Blue Business Plus Credit Card from American Express comes packed with an impressive suite of benefits for everyday spend. For a card with no annual fee, it’s a fantastic proposition to keep long term. Here’s a run down of some of the great benefits that come with this card.
This card usually doesn’t offer a public sign up bonus. Currently, you can earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points for signing up for this card via referral. You’ll earn 10,000 Membership Rewards points after you spend $3,000 or more in the first three months of card membership. Referring yourself is a risky proposition though as Amex is cracking down on self-referrals by clawing back points.
For a lot of small businesses, the intro APR is a vital component of making spend related decisions. With this offer, you’ll get a 0% introductory APR for purchases and balance transfers for the first 12 months after you open your account.
2x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent (up to $50,000 spent)
1x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on purchases thereafter
This is my favorite part about the card. Its benefits are crystal clear and simple.
Employee cards also have no annual fee. Additional employee cards also earn Membership Rewards points.
Along with the above benefits, you also get Amex’s supplementary benefits like Car Rental and Damage Insurance, Baggage Insurance, Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty and Amex Offers. Benefits like Purchase Protection, Extended Warranty and Amex Offers have already helped me save over thousands of dollars when things have gone wrong.
If you’re familiar with the Chase ecosystem, you’ll know that merely having the Ink Business Unlimited or the Chase Freedom Card would not be sufficient. You’d need to have a card like the Chase Ink Preferred or the Chase Sapphire preferred in order to have the ability to transfer points to Chase’s travel partners.
Confirmation about the benefit from Amex
However, with the Blue Business Plus Card from American Express, you can still transfer your points to Amex’s travel partners, without having to carry a card that has an annual fee! Amex has a lucrative roster of points transfer partners:
Airline Transfer Partners
Flying Blue (KLM and Air France)
Hotel Transfer Partners
The Pundit’s Mantra
This card is a fantastic proposition if you’re looking to have a credit card that earns points rapidly on everyday spend. If you already another Membership Rewards earning card like the Amex Gold Card or the Amex Everyday card, this card adds serves as a great sidekick to still earn 2x Membership Rewards points per every dollar spent on all spending.
Which is your favorite no annual fee credit card? Let us know in the comments section.
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If you’ve flown commercially over the past few decades, there are probably two major aircraft manufacturers with which most travelers have become familiar: Boeing and Airbus. Boeing and Airbus control a whopping 88% of the narrowbody market. There are a few other notable aircraft manufacturers including Bombardier and Embraer. However, other than those four manufacturers, very few companies are building commercial aircraft. There are a few exceptions, most notably, Russia’s JSC Sukhoi Company.
Sukhoi’s main commercial aircraft in production is the Sukhoi Superjet series. This series is a narrowbody regional to short-haul passenger aircraft. It was built to compete with aircraft of similar size built by Bombardier (now Airbus) and Embraer. Since the Superjet’s first flight in 2008, just 127 aircraft have been delivered to airlines mainly based outside of the European Union and the Americas. However, there is one North American airline that operates Sukhoi’s Superjet 100. That airline is Interjet.
Having flown almost entirely on aircraft built in either the Americas and western Europe, I decided to give Interjet’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 a try on a relatively short hop from Los Cabos (SJD) to Toluca/Mexico City (TLC).
Here’s what it’s like to fly on Russia’s latest passenger jet.
Interjet Sukhoi Superjet 100 at Los Cabos Airport (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)Exterior of Interjet’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)
Interjet operates as a low-cost carrier which meant that even though I had booked just 36 or so hours in advance, I was able to book my flight for around $120 USD one-way. I did upgrade to Interjet’s Priority fare which cost just under $30 USD.
Unlike other low-cost carriers, Interjet still allows passengers to bring a carry-on bag on board and select a seat free of charge. Additionally, Interjet offers snacks on some flights at no additional charge.
While the airline is technically a low-cost carrier, many of the airline’s fares are closer to those offered by legacy carriers. If you’ve ever flown on WestJet prior to the airline’s transition to a full-service carrier, the service offered by Interjet is quite similar to that offered by WestJet.
I arrived at San Jose-Los Cabos International Airport’s Terminal 1 around an hour prior to boarding. I printed my boarding pass at a kiosk and proceeded to the domestic security checkpoint. There wasn’t a line and the checkpoint was well staffed allowing me to pass through security in a matter of minutes.
Interjet Los Cabos Airport Check-In (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)Los Cabos International Airport Domestic Terminal (Image by Max Prosperi/Travel Update)
Once airside, Cabo’s domestic terminal boasts a surprising number of retail and dining options. While devastating, the damage caused by Hurricane Odile in 2014 allowed local residents, resorts, and the airport to update and renovate many structures in the area. That being said, Los Cabos International Airport seems to be one of the more passenger-friendly airports in Mexico.
The VIP Lounge and Boarding Experience
With Priority Pass Select, I was able to pop-in to the VIP Lounge in Terminal 1. After a barista-made cappuccino and a pastry, I made my way down to the gate.
VIP Lounge at Los Cabos Airport (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)A barista made cappuccino at the Los Cabos domestic VIP Lounge. (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)
Boarding began a little early. Additionally, not a single announcement was made until most passengers had already lined up to board. Though I paid extra for priority boarding, no priority line was available and the gate agents boarded all groups at once. Surprisingly, the boarding process went smoothly even though the agents essentially created a free-for-all.
I did manage to get on board before the majority of passengers. The Interjet crew was welcoming and professional from the moment I stepped onboard the aircraft.
What It’s Like To Fly Interjet
Before I dive into the specifics of the aircraft, here’s a glimpse into the in-flight experience on Interjet. Given the short flight time, there really isn’t much to cover.
I was seated in 2A which is one of Interjet’s premium or “Priority” seats. Only two of the premium seats ended up occupied for the flight. This surprised me as the upgrade was extremely inexpensive for the flight with Interjet charging just under $30 USD for Priority. However, with just one other passenger seated in the first two rows, I ended up with an empty seat next to me.
Interjet Priority seating on a Sukhoi Superjet 100 (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)Interjet Priority seating (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)
Once the aircraft leveled off at cruising altitude, the flight attendants came by to serve beverages. Given the short flight time, snacks were not available for purchase. Basic beverages were available free of charge including coffee, water, and soft drinks. Since I didn’t inquire about purchasing any premium beverages, I can’t say whether or not they were even offered on the flight. I didn’t see any flight attendants using a credit card reader nor did I see any passengers consuming drinks like wine or spirits however, it was a little early in the morning to start drinking.
Interjet In-Flight Amenities
Unfortunately, there were no power outlets onboard. Additionally, Interjet doesn’t offer WiFi on any of their aircraft either. This meant that the only in-flight entertainment, aside from the nonstop ads displayed on the video monitors, was the view outside the window.
For once, I didn’t mind not having power outlets or WiFi as the flight was quite short and I had music downloaded on my phone to pass the time.
Upon landing, the crew thanked passengers for flying with Interjet with one of the pilots standing at the door to the flight deck also thanking passengers. While not the best flight to gauge the on-board service offered by Interjet, the flight was quick and the crew was both friendly and efficient.
Given the price I paid for the flight and the efficient service combined with 34 inches of legroom, I would fly Interjet again without hesitation.
Inside Interjet’s Sukhoi Superjet 100
Interjet’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 is configured in a 2-3 configuration with 93 seats. Interjet offers 34 inch pitch across their entire fleet including on the SSJ100. This means that all passengers receive premium economy legroom in standard economy class.
Interjet Sukhoi Superjet Legroom (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)
The Sukhoi Superjet features small monitors throughout the cabin. The content is obviously dependent on the airline. Interjet chose to display ads nonstop throughout the flight with the audio from the ads played over the cabin PA system.
The Superjet 100 is quite similar to both the Embraer E-Jet series and the Airbus A220. The cabin felt very airy but was already starting to show signs of wear-and-tear. Again, that’s something that’s up to the airline to control. The wear-and-tear is not a result of any flaws with the Superjet 100 but rather shoddy maintenance on Interjet’s part.
The seats were standard though not all that comfortable. Interjet went with a drab creme colored leather upholstery with a navy blue stripe down the middle of the seat. The creme colored seats combined with the bright white LED lighting and lack of in-flight amenities made the cabin feel a lot like an operating room or doctor’s office. It was quite industrial and sterile. Again, I wasn’t looking to get any sleep or unwind on such a short flight so the overlit, bright, and sterile cabin wasn’t a big deal.
Additionally, the overhead bins were not especially small nor were they exceptionally large. They were standard overhead bins like those found on the Embraer E-175 or E-190. Most fares come with a free checked bag so the overhead bins didn’t really get used all that much on my flight.
My Experience In-Flight
As for aircraft performance from a passenger’s perspective, I felt like I was flying aboard an Embraer 175. The engines weren’t any louder or quieter than on similarly sized aircraft. The windows weren’t any larger than those found on a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320. (They were, however, smaller than the massive windows found on the Embraer E-Jets.)
View of the San Jose-Cabo Area on takeoff from Los Cabos Airport (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)
The only aspect of the flight that was different from what I’m used to was landing. Upon landing, the pilots immediately applied the brake and reverse thrusters, as is standard protocol.
However, the force that resulted from the braking and application of the reverse thrusters was extremely intense. The brakes were also quite loud. As the aircraft came to a stop, there was a metal-on-metal sound coming from below the cabin. Of course, this could just be a result of how the pilots carried out the landing procedures and not necessarily reflective of the Sukhoi Superjet. Nonetheless, the landing was quite intense compared to most other flights I’ve taken.
Interjet Sukhoi Superjet 100 Flight Deck (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)
For the most part, the Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a typical narrowbody passenger jet. It closely resembles the Airbus A220 and Embraer E-Jet series. Other than the flight deck and passenger service unit (overhead panel with vents, lighting, etc.), there weren’t any noticeable differences from other aircraft I’ve flown on.
The passenger service unit found on Interjet’s Sukhoi Superjet 100. (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)Rows 1 and 2 on Interjet’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 (Image by Max Prosperi/TravelUpdate)
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking to for unique Russian aviation experience, the Sukhoi Superjet is not the aircraft for that. If (like me) you were expecting an experience similar to that offered by some of the Tupelov or Antonov passenger aircraft still in service, you’re out of luck.
The Sukhoi Superjet is a modern, spacious, and comfortable passenger aircraft and nothing more. At its core, the Sukhoi Superjet is a well-built Russian version of the Embraer E175.
When visiting a new city or country, I like to combine historical, cultural and culinary experiences into an itinerary that provides a rich flavor of wherever we are visiting. It’s always nice to find places that combine more than one of these features. In the case of Café Tortoni, you get all three.
Café Tortoni is a quintessential “porteño café”. Established in 1858, it is the oldest café is Buenos Aires. Little is known about its origins, other than the fact it was opened by a French immigrant who borrowed the name from a café in Paris where the elites of arts and culture in the French capital would meet. The choice of name foreshadowed the role Café would play within Argentina as well.
The café fronts Avenida de Mayo, the main avenue of Buenos Aires, and is only a few blocks from the Plaza de Mayo. It’s easy to pop by during the middle of a day of sightseeing, which is exactly what we did.
What a Stunning Interior
The Gran Café Tortoni remains locked in another century. I was immediately struck by the stately interior and beautiful glass ceiling. Everything is covered in dark paneling. There are photos, paintings and drawings from through the decades adorning the walls.
Near the back of the café is a display of busts. Even farther back there is a small library and billiard tables, in keeping with its roots as a gathering place. La Peña, a group dedicated to furthering and protecting arts and culture, met in the basement of the cafe during the early part of the 1900s.
A number of distinguished politicians and artists have visited the café over the years, adding to its status as a piece of Buenos Aires history. Last year the cafe hit their 160-year mark. For a country that isn’t especially old, this is impressive. Besides the food and beverages served at the cafe, the Cafe Tortoni menu also contains some information on the history of the cafe.
Black tie service
The waiters at the Café Tortoni are dressed sharply in black suits with bow ties. Even though the place really isn’t upscale, at least based on the prices and clientele, the waiters give it more of an upscale ambiance. They probably also silently judge you if you walk in wearing a T-shirt and shorts.
I’d originally only intended to grab a cup of coffee here with my daughter to check the place out, but we’d gotten a later start and it was getting on lunch time. We decided to order food as well. She went with pizza, while I chose a burger.
I wouldn’t go out of my way to eat at Café Tortoni for the food. It was fine, but nothing noteworthy. You can find plenty of other excellent options in Buenos Aires. A visit to this cafe is more for the history and ambiance.
There are certainly better places to enjoy a fresh empanada, or even a submarino or café con leche, and places where you’ll pay a bit less. Prices aren’t bad, but given the popularity of the establishment, it is a premium over similar fare you can find at other establishments.
But a visit to Café Tortoni is entirely worth it. If you have the chance while in Buenos Aires, pay the oldest café in the city a visit!
Dublin Airport is my home airport and as I frequently pass through there. I thought I knew all there was to know. Imagine my surprise when I found out there was an area I didn’t know about called the South Gates.
My reason for not knowing is that I had been doing quite a lot of flying from Terminal 1. The South Gates are attached to Terminal 2 and are primarily used by Aer Lingus, though I also saw Norwegian there when I passed through.
A Mystery At The Boarding Gate
Waiting for gate information to be provided to you is quite frustrating, but nothing can be done except to wait. Eventually my flight was assigned to Gate 335, which I knew was a bus gate.
When I arrived, both my Aer Lingus flight to Manchester and a Norwegian flight to Hamilton were listed on the screen for the same gate and both were boarding. This made no sense. How could two flights be using one gate? I had never come across something like this before.
There Are South Gates?!
A staff member was only allowing the Hamilton passengers onto the buses, which was confusing everyone else arriving for the Manchester flight. Eventually we were allowed to get on the buses too, and we headed off, not to an aircraft, but to more gates. Surprised? You bet!
The South Gates are separate from the terminal and are labelled A, B, C, D and E inside. Plenty of seating is provided and there are toilets along with normal looking boarding gates. When it’s time to go, your boarding pass is scanned and you walk over to your aircraft. Probably not the best in an Irish winter, but it serves its purpose.
According to the Dublin Airport press release, the South Gates were opened in December 2017. It mentions that a shuttle bus goes every two minutes to those gates, but that wasn’t really my experience. There is probably no need for one that frequently all the time.
Aer Lingus flights to and from certain UK destinations use these gates, as do other airlines such as Norwegian as I mentioned. The majority of passengers would probably never use them.
Have you used the South Gates at Dublin Airport? What did you think of the experience? Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.
First Air and Canadian North have decided to merge their operations into a unified airline. They’re calling it ‘Canadian North’, with headquarters located in Ottawa (YOW).
First Air is an airline in Canada that connects over 30 northern communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, and the Northwest Territories, with major centers in Ottawa, Montreal, Winnipeg and Edmonton. Canadian North, on the other hand, serves communities in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, with southern gateways in Edmonton and Ottawa.
First Air route map (Source: First Air)
Canadian North route map (Source: Canadian North)
Given the high cost of operation in the region, overlapping route map, flight schedules and combined aircraft capacity far exceeding the demand, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the airlines have decided to merge. They share a common goal to serve the northern communities in Canada. As a result, this merger is sure to help in running an efficient and sustainable airline operation. As with any airline merger, this is an ongoing process. It will unfold over the next few months. In the mean time, here is what we know so far:
For now, both airlines will continue to operate as two separate companies, serving as two separate brands.
The new airline will operate under the name ‘Canadian North’. The logo will feature First Air’s distinctive Inukshuk symbol with a red and white color palette.
Canadian North’s popular Aurora Rewards loyalty program will be expanded to all scheduled flights operated by First Air. For this reason, customers of both airlines can earn Aurora Rewards points and Aeroplan Miles. They can redeem these awards for free flights.
Redeeming Aeroplan for Canadian North and First Air
Perhaps the best kept Aeroplan secret, in terms of value, is the ability to redeem Aeroplan miles for a First Air or Canadian North flight. Cash prices to these remote northern locations can run into thousands of dollars. The ability to book using Aeroplan short-haul rates is pretty awesome. 25,000 round trip Or 15,000 round-trip if starting from Ottawa (YOW) or Montreal (YUL).
Searching for flight availability on either airlines is not available on Aeroplan website. You will need to call Aeroplan to search and book these award flights. You must book a round trip. One-way awards don’t apply. Don’t expect every agent to know how the process works. First, start by telling them what you are trying to book. If they seem unsure, hang up and call again. Here’s why;
Canadian North is fully integrated with the Aeroplan system. Soon, agents will be able to search and confirm your dates over the phone and on the go. Booking Aeroplan awards on First Air however, is a bit more complicated. You need to submit a few dates (or range of dates) to the agents. Next, they will have to call First Air and confirm availability manually. You must call back within 48 hours to check if your dates were confirmed by First Air. Expect this process to a bit so time. With that in mind, try to be flexible with dates and take what you get in a given month.
The good news here is First Air flights will be integrated into the Canadian North’s current system. This will make it possible for Aeroplan agents to search and book tickets across the network without the need for manual check with the airline.
Airline consolidation and mergers are almost never good news for consumers. In most cases, they result in higher air fares due to lack of competition. However, this merger was approved by the federal ministry under strict conditions, including ‘no increase to passenger fares for seven years, on average, by more than any increases in operating costs’. Aeroplan members can look forward to easier booking process on First Air flight routes once they have been incorporated into the current Canadian North system.
The integration news has been updated on both airlines’ websites and would be a good place to keep tabs, for those interested – First Air and Canadian North
When I was planning my trip to the Netherlands, visiting the Dutch windmills was very high on my list.
I couldn’t put my fingers on why. Maybe it’s because I know very little about how windmills work. Maybe it’s more superficial, that I like the look of windmills as a backdrop in a rustic landscape. Or perhaps the reasons run deeper; that they remind me of the ingenuity of humankind to harness the power of nature to solve problems. Regardless, I knew the idyllic setting would make for a good place to ponder on the dichotomy of life.
Whatever the reason, I knew I had to visit the windmills. What was important to me was that we went out there to explore. We visited a less crowded wind (water) mill before visiting the more popular Zaanse Schans. The windmills are quaint and unique, just as I thought they would be.
Exploring the Windmills
View from a windmill.
1/3 of the Netherlands actually lie below sea level (yes, this includes the Schiphol airport). Through an intricate system (in the building of dykes and the use of windmills, the latter of which is largely replaced by electric pumping stations), lands were reclaimed for use.
Zaanse Schans. Trekked over to visit one of the mills with our guide. Also, we got photo-bombed in a group pic.
We decided to visit Het Jonge Schaap (a sawmill)
This is where the action is at.
Behind the scenes of how all the action happens.
Work in Progress. Reminds me of a synchronicity.
A picturesque afternoon.
If you find yourself in the Netherlands and you are looking for something relaxing to do, a stroll through Zaanse Schans is certainly a good way to spend an afternoon.
Have you visited the windmills, in the Netherlands or elsewhere? What have you found most interesting about them?
After a three-night stay in the Detroit metro area this past week, I found myself at exactly 40 elite nights year to date with Hyatt. I’ve been (mostly) all-in with them this year, doing my best to stay on track to hit Hyatt Globalist before 2019 comes to a close. Fueled by the new World of Hyatt credit card, I’ve banked a significant number of nights from card spend alone.
Hyatt made changes to their program that broke the benefits received at each tier into a few more levels that they call “Milestone Rewards”. Rather than award all the goodies when members hit Explorist and Globalist status levels, Hyatt now awards perks at 20 nights, 30 nights, 40 nights, 50 nights, and 60 nights. The awards at 20 & 30 simply broke up the free night and club upgrade awards that used to be awarded with Explorist. Ditto for Globalist suite upgrades and free night at 50 & 60 nights. The 40-night Hyatt Milestone Reward is entirely new.
Which 40-Night Hyatt Milestone Reward Should I Take?
Hyatt offers you a choice of three different options when you reach the 40-night milestone:
5,000 Hyatt points
A $100 Hyatt gift card
10,000 points off of a FIND experience
Now….each of these options is actually fairly decent, which is why this is actually a debate and not a simple choice. The value of the gift certificate is easy to calculate, so I’ll start there. A $100 gift card is not a shabby bonus for hitting 40 nights. However, we’ll also need to add in the bonus for what I’ll earn from the stay using the certificate. Assuming $90 is actually applied toward the room rate and adding in the Explorist earning bonus, the gift card option is worth ~$110.
Now let’s consider the points. Generally, I peg Hyatt points as being worth 1.7 cents each. I pretty much won’t ever let go of them for less than 1.5 cents each. That puts the baseline value at $75-85, which is less than the value of the gift card. However, I have had many instances where I have received 2-3 cents per point in value, which is like getting $100-150 for 5,000 points. So, in general, the Hyatt points are worth slightly less than the $100 gift card option, but they have the potential to be worth more. Also, I generally avoid paying for Hyatt hotels with cash, which makes points the slightly more desirable pick.
The FIND experience option is intriguing. The general redemption rate for using Hyatt points for FIND experiences is 1.4 cents per point. Therefore, this option is actually worth ~$140, which is better than either of the other two. But this assumes that there is a FIND experience that I am actually interested in and would consider paying for.
In a nutshell, everything boils down to these three things:
The FIND experience offers the most value if you’re looking to use points for one anyway.
The $100 gift card is the better of the remaining options if you pay for Hyatt stays even semi-frequently
The points are the easy choice if you do not have an easy use case for the other two.
None of the options are losers. Hyatt offers three reasonable options, all of which have their appeal. I’ll most likely take the points, but I see value in taking any of the 40-night Hyatt milestone reward options.
Which of the 40-night Hyatt milestone reward options would you take?
Qatar Airways rewards their Privilege Club customers with some great award travel bargains.
A special edition of Qatar Airways “Easy Deals” is now live, celebrating that Qatar Airways – for the 5th time – has been named by Skytrax as “Best Airline in the world”. Easy Deals are usually only bookable during a 15-day window for a travel period of 2 months. However this time you can book these deals until July 31, 2019 and the travel period stretches from now until November 30, 2019.
Qatar Airways has also increased their selection of destinations for this special edition of Easy Deals, offering a wide variety of options in both Economy and Business Class. No need to worry that you won’t find anywhere interesting!
What is Easy Deals?
Every two weeks, Qatar Airways launches a new edition of Easy Deals, offering the chance to book Qmiles award flights to select destinations at a discount that can reach 50%. The destinations vary from edition to edition. However the booking window is usually 15 days long, and you will be able to travel during a period of two months. Sometimes that 2 month period starts immediately. Occasionally the 2-month window takes place in the future.
These deals are only available on Qatar Airways own flights, and for Qatar Privilege Club Loyalty program members spending Qmiles. The discounts only apply between Doha and the selected destination so, unless you live in Doha, you’ll need to combine two discounted destinations for maximum benefit.
Up to 50% discount!
All destinations are discounted by 30-50% in this edition. If you fancy bringing your partner or friend, both of you could travel for what would normally be the cost of one award. If you want to travel more frequently on your own, you can for instance fly Business Class to both Phuket and Hanoi with a 50% discount. See the full range of destinations and discounts, by clicking here!
There is an especially large selection of potential destinations in Business Class, with a 50% discount available. This makes a great occasion for trying out Qatar Airways’ award-winning Business Class, the best in the world according to Skytrax. Choose your aircraft appropriately and you’ll be enjoying a QSuite business class seat.
You can see the full list of destinations available below (note that there are 2 sets of travel dates, with different destinations and discounts available).
7th July to 31st August:
1st September to 30th November:
The discounts apply per leg, between the origin/destination and Doha. So, for example, if you booked Philadelphia to Hanoi in Business Class during the first set of travel dates, your actual discount would average out at about 38%. That’s because you would save 30% on the Philadelphia-Doha leg, and 50% on the Doha to Hanoi leg.
If you don’t have enough Qmiles there is always the option to ‘buy’ Qmiles or you could opt for a Qmiles + Cash option if you have 50% of the required Qmiles.
To take advantage of this offer, use the discount code SKYTRAX19 when booking online.
Terms and Conditions
You can read the terms and conditions of this offer, on Qatar Airways’ Campaign page, by clicking on this link. Not a Privilege Club member yet? You can sign up here.