Planning A Fall Trip To An Awesome Points Hotel

Filed Under: Hotels, Travel

In early July I wrote a post about 13 points hotels that I hope to stay at. Ford and I are planning fewer big trips for the coming year than in the past, given all else going on in life (I still plan on taking lots of review trips, but those are different).

We’ve canceled a couple of our immediate trips (including to Iceland, unfortunately), but we’re planning a trip for late fall, right around Thanksgiving. We’re trying to make this something we both enjoy — for me that means flying interesting airlines and staying at a cool points hotel.

We currently have one plan that’s booked, though we’re now considering changing that, so I’d love to hear what you guys would do.

What We Have Booked

We booked a six night stay at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives using points, which is an awesome deal.

As far as flights go, in one direction we booked Air France’s A380 and 787-9 business class from Miami to Male via Paris, and in the other direction we booked Etihad’s A380 and A330 business class from Male to New York via Abu Dhabi.

The thing is, this entire trip can easily be canceled.

On the one hand this trip sounds awesome and relaxing, and I think it would make an interesting review. On the other hand:

  • We’ve been to the Maldives several times before, and while a new resort sounds awesome, it’s ultimately more of the same
  • We’re much more nature people than city people in terms of where we like to travel to, but we’re also mostly “active” nature people; so generally we don’t like to just bake at the beach all day, but rather like to hike and whatever else
  • While we booked the room with points, the costs will still add up, between the transfer costs, room upgrade costs for some days, and the inflated costs of food & beverages at the property

Waldorf Astoria Maldives

So this is an awesome option, but I’m also someone who overthinks things, which is why I’ve come up with an alternative idea…

What We’re Considering Instead

I’ve been excited about Hyatt’s acquisition of Alila, which includes some great luxury properties. The property that interests me most is Alila Jabal Akhdar, located in Oman. This is a property that’s more than 6,000 feet above sea level, and it’s in the mountains of Oman.

Alila Jabal Akhdar


Alila Jabal Akhdar


Alila Jabal Akhdar

The property looks stunning, and I could redeem World of Hyatt points for a stay here. Ford and I love hiking and nature, so this seems like it could be fun.

We could also spend a couple of days in Muscat, as Ford has never been there before.

Perhaps equally intriguing is the flight options. I’m super excited about the fact that EgyptAir has a sub-$1,000 business class fare from Muscat to New York. The reason I’m so excited is because both flights would be operated by brand new planes, including the A220 and 787. Suffice to say I’d love to fly EgyptAir again, while Ford isn’t quite as enthusiastic as I am.

There are also some cool options for the way out:

  • Emirates has award availability on their 777-200LR from Fort Lauderdale to Dubai, which has their new(ish) 777 business class
  • Alternatively we could somehow get to Europe, and then we could fly from London to Bahrain to Muscat, with the longer flight on Gulf Air’s 787-9

Gulf Air’s 787-9 business class

Bottom Line

I’m writing this post partly because writing out this stuff helps me consider my own thought process, partly because I really love to hear what you guys think, and partly because I hope that some people can get ideas for their own travels from my overall strategies.

So I’m curious, which of the above trips would you guys book? Is there another awesome points hotel trip I should be considering for this fall, or any other awesome airlines I could review on either trip?

Comments
  1. Know you’ve been to both Oman and Maldives. I just visited both first time earlier this year. Between these two, I agree Oman definitely. We did a long day trip out of Muscat to forts and the ancient burial tombs. But I’m not really sure either fits the bill very well for the type of nature exploring you seem to enjoy.

  2. Go to Oman for sure. Weather will be great and you’ve been to Maldives a million times. Oman is great, Muscat is an interesting city, and there are a ton of great hikes and outdoor activities in Oman. Go for it. and enjoy.

  3. I’m voting Oman as well. I would like to see some posts about Hyatt’s new transfer partners.

    Side note – do you know anything about their new partnership with Lindblad Expeditions? Could be a unique way to see Antarctica.

  4. Definitely Oman. I visit frequently for long periods. You could also add on a stay down in Salalah in the Southern part of Oman where there are fabulous beaches. Try maybe the Anantara Baleed Hotel. You can hardly beat, as you know, WY business class!

  5. Oman all the way! Jabal Akhdar is a fabulous property in a truly spectacular location. I’d return in a heartbeat

  6. I’ve stayed in this hotel and it’s gorgeous, though activities are aggressively priced (think of your recent Japan trip)

  7. I personally love Oman, so I would definitely go with that option. I also would love to see a review of Egyptair’s 787 and A220 business class, especially since there aren’t many of them on the internet yet.

    To get to Oman, I would first go to London and then try their 787 business class to Bahrain. Gulf Air also operates some A320s with lie-flat seats in business class from Bahrain to Muscat, which would also make for an interesting review. To get to London, you could try Corsair’s A330 business class to Paris and then fly to London, take the Tui flight to Amsterdam in premium economy, take Eurowings’ A330 business class to Dusseldorf, or take Air Transat’s A330 (or A310) business class via Toronto.

  8. @Tiffany,
    Wouldn’t Salalah be risky given its close proximity to Yemen and the ongoing conflict there?

    Also, I’m rooting for Oman. Jabal Akthar is amazing, especially if you go there during the winter.

  9. Have you been to Myanmar? I think that would be equally exotic. What about parts of China like Chengdu (chance to hug a panda), or Tibet? Luxury hotels in China tend to be very well priced compare to the West. Namibia in Africa could also be very interesting. There is no Singita there so price point would be a lot lower. Nepal is wonderful and definitely a lot of places to hike! I’m sure you can find points hotels in these countries/ locations.

    I don’t see why it has to be a choice between Oman and Maldives. Go to both. Neither of you are tied down to 9to5 jobs.

  10. Oman seems to be the better choice of the two. If staying at Jabal Akhtar, visiting Nizwa is a must! As a couple already mentioned Salalah is also a great place for a day or two.

    @Chandan Bhat from what I’ve heard Salalah isn’t unsafe, at least in that sense. Friend of mine went there (despite having initial doubts in concern to the conflicts in Yemen) but he told me everything was fine, he never felt uncomfortable/unsafe.

  11. Kerala has been on my list. Many flight options through the Gulf. I don’t know about international chain hotel options on the beaches of Western Ghats.

  12. I live in Oman…plenty of great points hotel…Alila ..Al Bustan Palace and the new W Muscat. I go to Maldives alot and also love it and see the appeal and I got a booking at the Waldorf next year as well. But if you are coming from the US I would say Oman as you get to sample a new culture …let me know if you need any additional tips on restaurants etc

  13. Oman for sure. The culture is unbelievable. You’ll get something out of the trip beyond luxury travel, hotels, flights, etc.

  14. Oman – just because of the location.

    But another thought: would you need a boat or an air transfer from Male to WA? If so, what is the cost involved?

  15. @lucky

    What you need to learn (nothing but love), is if your SO isn’t as excited about a flight… simply book it and claim your finger slipped. It’s worked dozens of times for me 🙂

  16. My best friend just invited me to join her in Oman, so Oman has my vote as much as I would enjoy a review of the WA Maldives!

  17. Oman for sure.
    While there also try the Al Bustan palace in Muscat a Ritz Carlton hotel if you haven’t been there already. Beautiful hotel with very scenic location. Salalah has nice beaches and is very safe. We did not have the best experience at the Anantara resort.

  18. Salalah my favorite especially at the Hilton which was a steal at 10K points. Enjoyed it thoroughly. The breakfast was wonderful.

  19. Salalah my favorite especially at the Hilton which was a steal at 10K points. Enjoyed it thoroughly. The breakfast was wonderful.

  20. I stayed 3 nights at the WA Maldives for Labor Day — an amazing property that deserves a review (since that is the point of the blog, and since you ultimately are looking for clicks). It far surpasses the Conrad Maldives, even though that is a great resort.

    One point, the transfer is a big scam. For two people roundtrip from airport is $1700+ for a 35min ride in a yacht with no food or drink. They don’t offer this, but you can make a self-transfer with a boat company in Male that is $650 RT for up to 4 people, and that can make it more economical.

  21. @Lucky: Please stay here (Jabal). I have to say this is one of my favorite hotels I’ve ever been to hands down. My iPhone wallpaper is a picture of the sunset while sipping champagne here. You won’t be disappointed. Also if you have a day or two in Muscat try the Chedi. You will need to rent a 4×4 to get to the Alila Jabal but it’s so worth it. I would return here in a heartbeat.

  22. Agree about Salalah, but it’s best experienced in that brief period when the desert becomes an oasis, literally, during the monsoon; fantastic. But even outside that period it’s still great. Muscat is fun year ‘round.
    Why you keep going to The Maldives is beyond weird, when there are hundreds of other resorts (… as resorts appear to be your ‘thing’) not yet visited.

  23. Good luck with Egypt Air hope its as good as last time you went with them
    A bit of trivia Egypt Air has a slogan the Egyptian people gave them will share it with you
    “Egypt Air we don’t care”
    I have lived in Egypt for over 30 years part time and unfortunately have to agree a plus is new aircraft so you will be more comfortable let’s hope the pilot’s have had training…….

  24. Oman. Alila Jabal Akhdar is amazing…

    Maldives if you done a few times it’s really the same thing different hotel..

  25. I think you HAVE to review the Waldorf Astoria Maldives. No one reviews hotels like you and this will be a common points hotel that many many will want to see a good detailed review of it. Maybe not as a “leisure” trip but I think you at lease need to do it as a “business” trip this year.

  26. Lucky, let’s look at it this way: you have a (perfectly reasonable) phobia of hydrogen hydroxide. Do you want to spend six days in a resort designed for old people and honeymooners, all the time hovering mere feet above this dreaded compound? Think of the nightmares!

    Instead, you have an opportunity to embrace your burgeoning love of adventure travel. Hiking, climbing, exploring — all possible while returning to a luxury property for rest and respite.

    In other words, I am TEAM OMAN.

    If you snorkled, if you played pinochle, if you enjoyed cavorting with reef sharks, then I would consider the Maldives. But you don’t. You’re miserable just thinking about it.

    Move it or lose it, my young man. Jabal Akhdar (and Muscat) or bust!

  27. None of the above Go for Hyatt’s Ventana glamping resort in Big Sur, California. Fall weather still hood, summer hordes gone. Stunning area.

  28. +1 Jabal Akhdar + Salah. Not a single one of these basic-assed Boarding Area blogger bitches has reviewed it. You got to keep your edge.

  29. Sounds like a nice trip! I just flew EgyptAir’s new 787 Business from Cairo to DC and was pleasantly surprised. Lounge in Cairo leaves a lot to be desired.

  30. I was just at Alila Jabal Akhdar a few weeks ago, as well as down in Salalah at the Anantara there (there’s apparently an Alila slated to open down that way in a few years too).

    Alila Jabal Akhdar hands down is one of the best resorts I’ve been to anywhere in the world, probably in my all time top 3 – might even be the best, even better than the ones in the Maldives I’ve been to. Great thing about Alila that’s not really apparent when booking on Hyatt’s website: all rates apparently include dinner and breakfast, so not like you have to rack up much additional spend on food there either (there’s also a complimentary tea service mid-afternoon with finger food).

    I would recommend renting a car and driving there if you can – roads in and out of there are fantastic and the drive up the mountain is incredible, though recommend getting there before dusk as the final stretch into the resort at dusk isn’t as well light.

    Same can’t really be said for the Anantara, it was ok – recommend getting a villa as the hotel is primarily villas from my understanding vs standard hotel rooms. Beds are super comfortable, food and service is hit and miss. There really isn’t any other high-end resort in town yet, both Crowne Plaza and Hilton there looked dated.

    Salalah is incredibly safe, we had a car and drove around – infrastructure there is fantastic. The Salalah airport is also excellent and surprisingly well built and efficient. The Oman Air lounge there in the international section is a Priority Pass Lounge and is massive and well stocked for the rather small amount of international flights and passengers the airport receives.

    For Muscat, we stayed at the W which was quite nice and very new, more “central” though Ritz Carlton Al Bustan is near “old” Muscat and some of the palaces. And if you do wind up going to Muscat definitely go to Wadi Shab for a hike and swim back to the waterfall – nothing like it anywhere else in the world!

    Would recommend trying Turkish 787 Business Class possibly into Dubai, Oman Air E175 between Dubai and Salalah was a great ride as well and had a proper biz class.

  31. Oman for sure. Take a car for some epic drives. The anantara is very nice, but far from perfect. Great breakfast but average dinner. The drive there is spectacular. Not much around except nearby hikes, but lots of stunning spots reachable by car. Roads very quiet away from Muscat.

    http://toseethe.world/?paged=2&cat=50

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