Millennials Willing to Give up Coffee, Carbs and Sex to Travel the World for Free

Millennials Willing to Give up Coffee, Carbs and Sex to Travel the World for Free

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Millennials are quick to get a bad rap, but the truth is they are likely to share one important quality with TPGers: a serious love for travel. This generation has single-handedly put solo travel on the map and fostered a wave of entrepreneurs who have turned their lust for seeing the world into successful careers as digital nomads.

And now, thanks to a recent study from Contiki — a travel company that specializes in adventures for said generation — we know just how important packing up and seeing the world is to this group of sightseeing-hungry spirits. And the results may (or may not) surprise you.

When Contiki asked 1,500 American travelers 18 to 36 years old what they would be “willing to give up for around six months if that meant you could travel the world for free,” 80% of those surveyed said the number one thing they’d relinquish is Netflix. (With so many quality IFE options these days, that’s not entirely surprising.)

In terms of all things edible, 77% said they could go without coffee, while 73% said they could forgo alcohol and 60% could do away with carbs. Here’s hoping their travel itineraries do not include a visit to coffee capitals such as Melbourne, the renowned wine regions of France or really anywhere in Italy.

The thing Millennials would have the hardest time parting with? Their phones. Of those surveyed, 57% said they would gladly abstain from sex for free travel, while only 41% would agree to power down their mobile devices in exchange for adventure. After all, as the kids say: Pics or it didn’t happen.

For those who can’t find someone to fund their trip around the world but still feel the call of the wild, here are a few starter posts for using points and miles to get you everywhere you want to go:

H/T: Travel + Leisure

Feature photo by Kay Nietfeld/picture alliance via Getty Images.

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October 19, 2018 at 01:01AM

Can You Get the Amex Airline Fee Credit Twice in One Year?

Can You Get the Amex Airline Fee Credit Twice in One Year?

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“Reader Questions” are answered twice a week by TPG Associate Editor Brendan Dorsey.

An important part of a premium credit card’s value proposition is its collection of travel credits that help offset a high annual fee. TPG reader Hassan wants to know if he can get airline credits from some of American Express’ cards multiple times…

Can I get the Amex airline credit again two times within first year of my memebership?

TPG Reader Hassan

A handful of American Express cards have what they call an “Airline Fee Credit” that covers incidentals like baggage fees and seat upgrades. However, we’ve found that purchasing airline gift cards directly from select airlines will trigger the credit too. While you must designate a single airline on which these credits apply upon opening a card (and can then change it every January moving forward), it can still be a great perk for those who regularly travel on one carrier.

These cards come with an annual airline credit:

But to address Hassan’s original question — can he maximize the first year with one of the cards by getting the airline credit twice and only having to pay one annual fee?

The good news is that yes, for the cards mentioned above, you should be able to earn two airline credits in your first year. Why? Because the credit is applied every calendar year and not card member year.

So in your first year let’s say you sign up for the Amex Platinum in August and use its $200 credit quickly after signing up. Once January hits, the credit should reset and you’ll be eligible for a new $200 credit that you can use until your annual fee comes again in August. This sweetens the first year with an eligible Amex card even more, since you’ll be getting two fee credits to go along with a welcome bonus, like the Amex Platinum’s 60,000 points after you use your new card to make $5,000 in purchases in your first three months.

Unfortunately this only works the first year you hold an eligible card; after that you’ll only enjoy one credit for every 12 months in a calendar year.


The American Express Hilton Honors Aspire card comes with a $250 annual airline credit. Image by The Points Guy Stuff.

By getting the credit twice in one year, you could hypothetically “profit” just by holding the right product. For instance the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card carries a $450 annual fee but a $250 annual credit. By using the credit once in 2018 and then again in early 2019, all within the first year of card membership, you could come out with $500 in credits, making for a net positive of $50. And that’s not including the $200 resort credit and any of the other benefits the card offers.

Thanks for the question, Hassan, and if you’re a TPG reader who’d like us to answer a question of your own, tweet us at @thepointsguy, message us on Facebook or email us at info@thepointsguy.com.

Featured image by The Points Guy staff.

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October 19, 2018 at 12:31AM

Marriott Updates Online Game, Multiple Instant Win Prizes Now Awarded

Marriott Updates Online Game, Multiple Instant Win Prizes Now Awarded

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Last week, Marriott Rewards launched an online game that celebrated its 29 combined SPG and Marriott brands with 29 daily chances to win prizes. Only, that isn’t how it worked. Despite Marriott’s insistence to TPG you could win daily, hundreds of TPG data points backed up that in practice you could only win one instant win prize that was as small as 50 Marriott Rewards points worth 45 cents. After winning any prize at all, you were done with the instant win prizes and your remaining 28 days of playing were just to rack up entries for the grand prize.

But on Thursday, something changed. The first clue was that the terms and conditions no longer include a sentence that you are limited to one instant win prize, which was always a bit incongruous with the seeming intent of the 29 day promotion. Now the terms state “Limit one (1) Instant Win Prize per person, per day.”

An even better sign that something has changed is that there are now multiple actual reports of Marriott Rewards members winning an instant-win prize for the second time a week into the 29-day game.

I played the game this morning and did not win a second instant win prize, but my husband played this evening and won 50 points after winning 3,000 points a few days ago. There is also now a growing list of TPG readers in the TPG Facebook Lounge who have now won an instant win prize for a second time. The most frequently dolled out prize is still 50 Marriott Rewards points, but that is far less eyebrow-raising of a prize if you can win multiple times until the game ends on Nov. 8.

It is safe to say that the Marriott Rewards 29 Ways to Stay game is back on, so try your luck once per day for a chance to instantly win prizes and rack up grand prize entries. Here’s a refresher on the available instant win prizes.

Prize Description Number Available Maximum ARV (USD) Odds of Winning
4-Night Stay at Four Points by Sheraton 6 $1,260 each (up to 35,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Autograph Collection 6 $3,060 each (up to 85,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Aloft Hotels 6 $1,260 each (up to 35,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at AC Hotels 6 $1,260 each (up to 35,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Renaissance Hotels 6 $2,160 each (up to 60,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Courtyard by Marriott 6 $1,800 each (up to 50,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Delta Hotels 6 $1,800 each (up to 50,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Design Hotels 6 $3,060 each (up to 85,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at EDITION 6 $3,060 each (up to 85,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Element Hotels 6 $1,260 each (up to 35,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Fairfield 6 $1,800 each (up to 50,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Gaylord Hotels 6 $1,260 each (up to 35,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at The Luxury Collection 6 $3,060 each (up to 85,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at JW Marriott 6 $2,160 each (up to 60,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Marriott Hotels 6 $2,160 each (up to 60,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Marriott Executive Apartments 6 $1,800 each (up to 50,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Le Meridien 6 $3,060 each (up to 85,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Marriott Vacation Club 6 $2,160 each (up to 60,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Moxy Hotels 6 $1,260 each (up to 35,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Protea Hotels 6 $900 each (up to 25,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Residence Inn 6 $1,800 each (up to 50,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at The Ritz-Carlton 6 $3,060 each (up to 85,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at SpringHill Suites 6 $1,800 each (up to 50,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Sheraton 6 $2,160 each (up to 60,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at St. Regis 6 $3,060 each (up to 85,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at TownePlace Suite 6 $1,260 each (up to 35,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Tribute Portfolio Hotels 6 $1,800 each (up to 50,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at W Hotels 6 $3,060 each (up to 85,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
4-Night Stay at Westin 6 $3,060 each (up to 85,000 bonus points per night) 1:26,000
50 Bonus Points 75,000 per day $0.45 each 1:2
500 Bonus Points 5,000 per day $4.50 each 1:26
1,000 Bonus Points 2,500 per day $9 each 1:52
2,000 Bonus Points 500 per day $18 each 1:310
3,000 Bonus Points 250 per day $27 each 1:615
4,000 Bonus Points 100 per day $36 each 1:1,552
5,000 Bonus Points 75 per day $45 each 1:1,940
10,000 Bonus Points 50 per day $90 each 1:2,821
20,000 Bonus Points 16 per day $180 each 1:9,698

We’d love to hear if you are now able to win additional Marriott instant win prizes.

Hat Tip: Doctor of Credit.

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October 19, 2018 at 12:15AM

Citizen Calls 911 Over Fake Halloween Plane Crash

Citizen Calls 911 Over Fake Halloween Plane Crash

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File this one under better safe than sorry.

A concerned citizen called 911 to report a plane crash after passing by Delbert Holsinger’s lifelike wrecked ultralight Halloween display.

The witness’ call prompted the fire department and the State Highway Patrol to respond to the front yard wreckage, erected by the 85-year-old at his home in Pickerington, Ohio, for the holiday. The ultralight is strategically placed around a tree with a skeleton and witch hanging out of the cockpit.

Call it his trained eye, but Holsinger doesn’t understand how someone could mistake the stunt for the real thing: “Anybody with any sense… can see what kind of shape it’s in,” he said. “They come through here 70 miles an hour so they don’t have much time to check it out.”

Holsinger’s 12-year-old neighbor Piper Johnson agrees: “I think it is actually funny that somebody did that because it’s just a decoration.”

Holsinger, an army veteran and retired Air National Guardsman who collects planes, got his inspiration for the decoration from his love for aviation. He had been storing the aircraft up until now in a trailer.

While first responders are surely relieved anytime fatalities are avoided, emergency or not, Holsinger did throw this spooky factoid out: “The guy who designed this aircraft here got killed demonstrating it for sale.”

Featured image courtesy of ABC 22/Fox 45 Dayton via Twitter.

H/T: Fox News

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October 19, 2018 at 12:00AM

Searching for Donald Trump in a Key New Jersey House Race

Searching for Donald Trump in a Key New Jersey House Race

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In these days of psychographic targeting, online fund-raising, and social-media trolling, there is something a bit old-fashioned about a local political rally of the sort that the Marriott in Hanover Township, which is located about half an hour’s drive west from the George Washington Bridge, hosted on Wednesday afternoon. Before Jay Webber, the Republican candidate for New Jersey’s Eleventh Congressional District, took the stage in one of the hotel ballrooms, his campaign volunteers were busy handing out pre-printed “Webber for Congress” placards, as well as a few handwritten signs, one of which said, “You cannot be with Nancy Pelosi on politics and be with Bob Menendez on ethics and be with the people of the 11th District.” (Menendez, a Democrat, is the Garden State’s senior senator. Earlier this year, federal prosecutors dropped corruption charges against him after a mistrial.)

The event, which featured an appearance from the departing House Speaker, Paul Ryan, had attracted about two hundred people, not bad for a workday afternoon. Many of the attendees were Caucasian, over fifty, and conservatively dressed. (Think blue blazers, tan pants, and sensible dresses.) The Eleventh District, which is centered in Morris County, is eighty-three per cent white; it has a median household income of about a hundred thousand dollars; and for the past thirty-odd years it has been solidly in the G.O.P. column. Since 1995, its representative on Capitol Hill has been Rodney Frelinghuysen, an old-school moderate Republican and the scion of a New Jersey political dynasty.

But the rise of Donald Trump, together with some demographic and redistricting changes, has altered the politics of the Eleventh. In 2016, Hillary Clinton came within a single percentage point of carrying the district, and the Democrats identified it as just the sort of affluent suburban district they have to win if they are to flip the twenty-three Republican seats they need to take over the House. There are several districts of this type in New Jersey, but the Eleventh has attracted the most attention.

Mikie Sherrill, a forty-six year old former Navy helicopter pilot and federal prosecutor, who lives in liberal Montclair, entered the race in May, 2017, and has garnered a great deal of media coverage as part of a new generation of female Democratic candidates. At the start of this year, Frelinghuysen, who chairs the powerful House Appropriations Committee, announced he wouldn’t run again, a decision widely interpreted as a repudiation of the G.O.P.’s direction under Trump. Since then, Sherrill has maintained a narrow lead in the polls over Webber, a Republican state assemblyman who is the same age as Sherrill and a good deal more conservative than Frelinghuysen. Although Trump’s presence hovers over the race like a dark cloud, thus far, he hasn’t played much of an active role in it, beyond tweeting out his support for Webber last month. In a televised debate last week, the two candidates sparred over issues like taxes, health care, and infrastructure investment. Trump and his many controversies didn’t feature prominently. Sherrill is running as a moderate pragmatist who can reach across party lines. Webber has embraced much of the Trump-G.O.P. agenda, such as the tax-cut bill and the effort to repeal Obamacare, but he has mostly kept his distance from Trump personally.

At some Republican events these days, MAGA caps can be seen everywhere. But at the Hanover Marriott I spotted just one. It was atop the head of Roland Straten, a tall retiree who told me he had twice run and lost as the G.O.P. candidate in an adjoining Democratic district. “The big questions are how many Republicans are not going to vote because they don’t like Trump, and how many people have moved into the district from New York,” Straten said. Before retiring, he ran his family’s firm, Associated Fire Protection, which has expanded across New Jersey. I asked him what he thought of Trump. “I’m not sure I would have done business with him,” Straten replied. “But he is the first President in my lifetime—and I am seventy-seven years old—who is actually doing what he said he’d do.”

I also spoke with a woman named Alison Deeb, who had been elected three times as a Republican councilwoman in Morristown. She noted that Webber, unlike Sherrill, was born and raised in the Eleventh District, and she was at pains to point out that he is a well-spoken family man with a law degree from Harvard. Referring to Trump, Deeb said, “His demeanor is literally the furthest from Jay Webber’s.” Then, echoing Straten, she added, “The problem is there are a lot of people who moved here from New York.”

Webber is a Roman Catholic who opposes abortion. A priest introduced him as “a man we know and love” and asked God to give him perseverance. Then the candidate’s seven children recited the Pledge of Allegiance. When he started speaking, Webber concentrated on economic issues. He cited a new report from the World Economic Forum that says the American economy is the most competitive in the world, and he lauded the G.O.P. tax bill, which he claimed had reduced the taxes of an average family in the Eleventh District by six thousand dollars. (That estimate comes from the Republican-controlled House Ways and Means Committee, and it applies to married families with two kids. Sherrill frequently points out that many New Jersey households stand to lose out from the tax changes because of the capping of deductions for state and local taxes. This feature of the tax bill was a big reason why Frelinghusen and other New Jersey Republicans voted against it.)

The closest Webber came to bringing up Trump by name was when he noted that in the audience were some students from the Kushner Academy, a modern orthodox day school in Livingston, New Jersey, which was founded by Jared Kushner’s grandfather. Then Webber went on the attack, suggesting that allowing the Democrats to take control of Congress would lead to higher taxes, sanctuary cities, and socialized medicine. He also used the line on the handwritten sign about Pelosi and Menendez.

After Webber had finished speechifying, he introduced Ryan. During a television interview earlier in the day, Ryan had rebuked the President for calling Stormy Daniels “Horseface.” In his remarks on Webber’s behalf, he followed the candidate’s example and avoided mentioning Trump at all. Instead, he lashed out at the Democrats and Pelosi, saying they “want to move us so far left that we wouldn’t even recognize ourselves.” He also delivered a little spiel about the “green wave” of multimillion-dollar donations to Democratic candidates from billionaires like Michael Bloomberg and Tom Steyer, adding, “Montclair Mikie is getting all of this money, not from the district but from all over the country.”

Ryan was presumably aware of how ridiculous it sounded for a leader of the party of the Koch brothers and Sheldon Adelson to complain about donations from the ultra-wealthy. Not to mention the fact that the Congressional Leadership Fund, the super PAC aligned with the House Speaker, is on track to spend more than a hundred million dollars on Republican candidates this fall. He didn’t let it show, though, and his presence seemed to indicate a conviction (or at least a hope) that Webber could still win despite being heavily outspent in a race the Cook Report rates as leaning Democratic. Last week, a poll from Monmouth University showed Sherrill ahead forty-eight per cent to forty-four per cent. Her four-point lead was within the margin of error.

Trump visits New Jersey all the time to stay at his golf course in Bedminster, which is just a twenty-five-minute drive from Hanover (albeit in a different congressional district). As of now, however, there doesn’t appear to be any plan for him to campaign in the Eleventh District. In a brief press gaggle after the rally ended, I asked Webber why he hadn’t mentioned Trump in his speech. He said he had lauded the President’s policy agenda, which was true but also a way of avoiding the question. Another reporter asked Webber whether he wanted Trump to come and campaign for him. Vice-President Mike Pence has attended two fund-raisers for Webber, but of Trump there has been no sign. “If the President wants to come, I will welcome him,” Webber replied. That was another evasion, and the questioner followed up, saying, “But do you want him to come?” This time, Webber said, “I’ll welcome him if he comes to New Jersey.”

On Thursday, the Webber campaign announced that Trump will be getting more involved after all. On October 25th, he will hold a fund-raiser for Webber. The event will be held in Washington, D.C.

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October 19, 2018 at 12:00AM

Why I Hated My Stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

Why I Hated My Stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

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The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort sprawls across 22 acres and occupies one of the widest stretches of Waikiki Beach. With nearly 3,390 rooms, it’s also one of the largest hotels on Earth — and the biggest property under the Hilton umbrella.

With only two days to review the massive resort, I decided to get a head start by exploring the property the evening before check-in. In the dark, it took me more than 20 minutes to find the lobby, following encouraging signs telling me I was “just five minutes from my vacation!” Needless to say, the iconic Hilton is a daunting destination hotel — the kind that requires a map and instruction manual to navigate.

In This Post

Booking

I’m not currently pursuing any status with a hotel program, so we booked the $660 two-night stay through Hotels.com, with a Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card, which earns 10x miles per dollar spent on hotel reservations when booked through the special link at Hotels.com/Venture. You can also stack this with Hotels.com Rewards, which awards one free night per every 10 paid nights. Since the free night is based on the average price of the 10 nights, when combined with the 10x miles from the Venture Rewards, it effectively delivers a 20% return on this reservation. That’s one of the best credit card returns you can ask for when spending cash on hotels.

If you wanted to go the redemption route at this property, you should be able to find rooms for as little as 50,000 Hilton Honors points per night, though a quick search revealed that most nights will cost you more. If you want to give your Honors account a boost, consider signing up for the Hilton Honors American Express Aspire Card, which is currently offering a welcome bonus of 150,000 Honors points after spending $4,000 within the first three months of account opening.

Location

At the edge of the Waikiki Beach neighborhood of Honolulu, the massive Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort was about 20 minutes by car from the airport and five minutes from the Hawaii Convention Center. In addition to five guest towers — one essentially an exclusive hotel within a hotel — the property was also home to a trio of Hilton Grand Vacations towers. Bordered by the Pacific, the Ala Wai Canal and bustling Ala Moana Boulevard, it’d be easy for travelers to spend an entire vacation wandering around the self-sufficient resort property.

Check-in

The large, open-air lobby wasn’t at the entrance of the property. Instead, guests must walk or drive deep into the resort complex to check in. There were an alarming number of specialized front desks (one for Hilton Honors members, another for “Pre Check-in” — whatever that is — and more), and they seemed to always have queues. The lobby also had a handful of concierges, an activities manager, a desk designated for Japanese travelers, a guest-services desk — you get the idea. Despite the surplus of signage, it was an utterly overwhelming and not at all relaxing place to start my Hilton Hawaiian vacation.

At the desk, I was told my room wasn’t ready (check-in was at 3pm, and I had arrived an hour early). But the desk agent was determined to find something available. With so much inventory, you would think that would be simple. But after waiting for quite a while I said I didn’t care if it was a comparable room. But she insisted, and the search continued.

Finally, she found a room in the Tapa Tower, one of three towers offering ocean views and convenient access to the property’s main shops, pools and restaurants. She tried to upsell me on a room in the Rainbow Tower (one of two oceanfront towers), but I declined. It was only one of many instances during which I saw hotel staff acting as sales agents.

I received two room keys, two towel cards (exchanged for towels and costing $10 if not returned upon checkout) and a DVD card. At this, my heart sank. Literally used to rent DVDs and video games from Redbox-like kiosks around the property, the DVD card was also used for “complimentary” access to certain resort activities. It was all folded into the $40 daily resort fee, which, the front-desk agent told me, had been steadily increasing.

Room

The Tapa Tower was a few minutes from the lobby desk. Everything at the Hilton Hawaiian Village felt far away.

Ears popping as I ascended the Tapa Tower (named for Polynesian barkcloth) to the 22nd floor, the age of the property was immediately evident in the elevators, which were dingy and plastered in advertisements for the property’s Waikiki Starlight Hawaiian Luau party.

When I opened my room, I found two double beds, a washed-out looking bench at the foot of one bed, a sickly yellowish wall color and a reading chair shoved in the corner with an ottoman and table too big for the space. Everything was drab, dated and uninspired.

The furniture was also beat up: dents and scrapes in the wood, vague stains on the straight-from-Office Max desk chair. A massive work desk with an adjustable leaf, a 37-inch flat-screen television and a PlayStation 3 occupied half the wall. There was also a spacious closet, an empty mini fridge and a coffeemaker.

In the bathroom, things weren’t much better. There were complimentary bath amenities, but they were cheap, and the soap left my hands feeling pasty. Fortunately, I had taken some bath products along from The Laylow.

The shower curtain was stained and too short for the length of the rod, and the tub was very shallow. No relaxing soaking baths here.

There were a lot of things I didn’t like about this room. The room felt like it hadn’t been fully refreshed since the Tapa Tower opened in 1982.

The only bedside and desk outlets were those around the base of the lamps (and they couldn’t accommodate my laptop charger) and were clearly a quick, cheap solution for a dated design. I ended up using inconvenient baseboard outlets instead. An alarm clock had a single USB charger, which took ages to charge anything. Another qualm? The carpet, which I can only describe as greasy.

I also found myself in a connecting room, so there was a locked door between me and very chatty travelers who used the blow-dryer for the entire duration of their stay. As if I weren’t feeling crowded enough already, I came home from dinner my first night to find a rollaway cot shoved into the foyer. Feeling confined, I called the front desk and asked them to, well, roll it back away. I was a single traveler with two beds — I certainly didn’t need a third.

I appreciated the relatively spacious balcony, or lanai, which did offer a nice ocean view off to the right, and plenty of people watching if I stared straight ahead. There was seating for two, and it was a relaxing place to observe the mayhem of the Hilton Hawaiian Village from a safe distance.

If you have a stay booked at this property, you should know that Hilton has poured millions of dollars into renovating. For example, it spent over $20 million just a few years ago to refresh the Diamond Head Tower. So, the bottom line here is that your results may vary, and there’s a chance you could rest your head in a less dated space.

Food and Beverage

Hilton Hawaiian Village had 20 bars and restaurants, ranging from a nightly Polynesian luau to a poolside grill, an Italian restaurant to a New York-style delicatessen. There were even two Starbucks. Basically like being home in New York City.

During my stay, I dined at Tropics Bar & Grill (a beachfront spot recommended to me by a local Uber driver), tried the breakfast buffet at Rainbow Lanai, took myself out on a nice date at Bali Steak & Seafood, had drinks at the late-night Tapa Bar outside my tower, picked up a coffee at Lappert’s Hawaii and ordered lunch from a Mexican cantina. The quality of the food ranged so drastically, it’s almost impossible to believe these restaurants were managed by the same hotel.

The single best meal I had during my stay at the Hilton was also one of the best meals I had during my entire trip to Hawaii. Bali Steak & Seafood was also outrageously expensive. I did order one plate more than I probably needed (all in the name of journalism, of course) but still spent nearly $100 with tip. I know what you’re thinking, but no: That was with just one cocktail. The dish to order is the ahi tartare: a sensational plate of ahi tuna served on crisps made with dried tapioca and squid-ink pearls.

If you want a more casual experience, head to the Tropics Bar & Grill, which had a friendly, social mix of patrons, an excellent sampler with two types of poke and a ceviche, and a cucumber-and-pineapple mojito sweetened with agave. I also had a refreshing green smoothie bowl at Lanikai Juice Hawaii: an açai bowl and smoothie shop by the Tapa Pool.

Do not order the fish tacos at the Hau Tree Cantina. The catch of the day was so dry and tough I thought I’d mistakenly been given chicken tacos.

Unless you need a full breakfast at 5:30am, I’d also skip the Rainbow Lanai buffet, which was expensive ($29.95 for continental breakfast, $39.95 for the full breakfast, including an omelet station and hot plates). I took a peek before ordering and stuck with the cheaper option, which was mostly cereals, breads and an extensive miso-soup station with century eggs, pickled cucumbers, fried gluten, pickled ginger, tofu and preserved bamboo shoots (along with a few items I didn’t recognize).

Though not technically on Hilton property, guests should also consider dining at the nearby food truck — Gilligan’s Beach Shack — across from Duke Kahanamoku Beach. The truck serves excellent garlic shrimp, shoestring fries and grilled mahi that isn’t overcooked. You can sit on the beach and watch the sun set while you eat.

Amenities

The Hilton Hawaiian Village seemed to be making a major play for travelers who might be discouraged, either by price or by location, from booking a stay at the Disney Aulani Resort in Ko Olina.

Twice a week at sundown, for example, the resort hosted family-friendly movie nights with outdoor screenings on the Village Green (“Despicable Me 3,” “Ratatouille”). Every night, so-called “Polynesian warriors” lit torches around the property, and every Friday, there was a short fireworks display.

There were no adults-only pools. I asked multiple times, hoping the answer might change, because all six pools — including the Kalia Tower Pool by the gym and the Ali’I Tower Pool, exclusively for guests of that building — welcomed splashing, sometimes screaming, kids of all ages.

The Paradise Pool had the longest waterslide in Waikiki, and there was actually a shallow, tiered pool specifically for young children. Guests could also swim (or paddleboard around) the man-made saltwater lagoon.

Included with the resort fee were daily activities, though as a grown-up I found these extremely limited. I wanted to do morning yoga, but a sign-up sheet wasn’t available until five days after my departure. Instead, I took aerobics, which I would only recommend to someone with a strong positive mental attitude. A bizarre mix of dance, jogging and squats, the 45-minute-long class did get me sweating. But it also left me unsure whether or not I had taken a Silver Sneakers cardio class or a Zumba lesson. Guests could also take lei-making, hula and ukulele classes.

For adults, the Hilton Hawaiian Village had a large, modern gym equipped with LifeFitness machines, free weights and weight machines, along with a medley of specialty equipment. Located on the fourth floor of the Kalia Tower, the gym was a solid walk for most guests.

And there was never a time it was empty. Though I had no trouble finding a machine to use, I went first thing in the morning, around 5:30am, and there were already a handful of people wrapping up workouts. There was a second gym exclusively for Ali’l Tower guests.

The Hilton Hawaiian Village also had a Mandara Spa and over 140,000 square feet of shopping space. For guests who weren’t all that interested in actually exploring Oahu, Hilton made it easy enough to shop, eat and play without stepping off the resort grounds or spending a single dollar elsewhere.

Overall Impression

Staying at the Hilton Hawaiian Village left me exhausted. Part of that, I suspect, was something to do with the fact that this property wasn’t all that interested in catering to travelers such as myself. Instead, the resort went to great lengths to appeal to traveling families.

With that said, if you’re looking for a place to keep kids occupied, I wouldn’t rule out the Disney Aulani Resort, which seems to do the job Hilton is trying to do, but better. (The per-night room rate at the Hilton may be cheaper, but nothing else is inexpensive.) If you’re a couple on a romantic holiday, don’t expect to find any quiet corners for canoodling here. And if you’re a solo traveler, well, good luck to you.

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October 18, 2018 at 11:46PM

American Airlines Adding Ability to Book Awards Through the AA App

American Airlines Adding Ability to Book Awards Through the AA App

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American Airlines has slowly but surely been making it easier to use your AAdvantage miles. Recently, the airline added the ability to search and book Malaysia Airlines and Fiji Airways award flights on its website — rather than requiring members to search on a partner website and book by calling an AAgent.

Now, American Airlines is rolling out the ability to allow AAdvantage members to book award flights directly through the American Airlines mobile app. Unfortunately, this will be a gradual process beginning on Thursday. According to an American Airlines spokesperson, the new feature will be “available to all users by the end of next week” — presumably meaning by Oct. 26. If you’re excited about this new feature, you’ll want to upgrade your American Airlines app as soon as you see an option to do so.

Thankfully, this new feature isn’t just limited to American Airlines award flights; you’ll have to ability to book award flights for all of the partner airlines that are currently searchable and bookable on American Airlines’ website. Currently, this includes the following partners:

  • Alaska Airways
  • British Airways
  • Fiji Airways
  • Finnair
  • Hawaiian Airlines
  • Iberia
  • Malaysia Airlines
  • Qantas Airways
  • Royal Jordanian Airlines

Being able to book AA award flights on the app isn’t a game changer. After all, members could already book award flights through a web browser on their phone. However, it’s nice to see American Airlines make the process a bit simpler and mobile-friendly through this new app feature.

That said, we can be assured by this new development that American Airlines is indeed working to make booking awards with AAdvantage miles even easier. Hopefully soon we will see the ability to book even more partners on AA.com. Perhaps the sudden appearance — and just as sudden disappearance — of Cathay Pacific, LATAM, Qatar Airways and Sri Lankan awards on AA’s website was foreshadowing the next partners to be added to online booking.

Featured image via Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images.

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October 18, 2018 at 11:36PM

Here We Go Again

Here We Go Again

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RFPAnother City Council has set in motion a process to shop its contract for Destination Marketing to other agencies besides the incumbent DMO. Before June 30th, the City clearly expects to receive several bids to perform the services of a Destination Marketing Organization

As if there are several experienced DMOs just hangin’ around on the sidelines in Stillwater OK waiting for such a chance.

In the interest of attempting to prove ROI, the City acknowledges that such proof is difficult for destinations nationwide; that DMOs (especially in smaller markets) are often unable to categorically prove their impact. Of course, on the other side, no one can disprove a DMO’s efficacy. 

So, pardon me for the spoiler alert…but, this is what is going to happen in Stillwater. The bidder with the boldest presentation will turn the Council’s head. If it is Visit Stillwater, good on them. If it’s not, the Council will have been hoodwinked by a masterful presentation with no underlying substance…because no challenger will possess the database of potential clients that the incumbent does. And, no other agency will have in place the long-term relationships with those clients whose future destination decisions can collectively run in the millions of dollars. Period. Game over. DMOs are sole-source providers like virtually no other.

This is another reason why practitioners of Destination Marketing would be wise to attend Destinations International’s Advocacy Summit in fabulous Philadelphia, November 7-9. 

Because it’s all about the presentation.

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October 18, 2018 at 11:33PM

Not so Fast: Ethiopian to Reopen Los Angeles-to-Addis Ababa Route

Not so Fast: Ethiopian to Reopen Los Angeles-to-Addis Ababa Route

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Just a day after news broke that Ethiopian Airlines was ending its fifth freedom route between Los Angeles (LAX) and Addis Ababa (ADD) via Dublin (DUB), the airline has decided to reopen the route.

As reported by Routes Online, Ethiopian reopened reservations for the LAX-DUB-ADD route for travel on and after Dec. 16, 2018. As of that date, Ethiopian will resume with 4x weekly LAX-DUB-ADD service using its Boeing 787-8 aircraft.

However, when the route reopens in December, Ethiopian will not have local traffic rights on the Dublin to Los Angeles sector. The flight will operate on the following schedule:

  • ET504 Addis Ababa (ADD) 1am Departure ⇒ Dublin (DUB) 6:30am; 7:30am Departure ⇒ Los Angeles (LAX) 10:15am Arrival
  • ET505 Los Angeles (LAX) 11:30pm Departure ⇒ Dublin (DUB) 5:30pm (+1) Arrival; 6:30pm (+1) Departure ⇒ Addis Ababa (ADD) 5:20am (+2) Arrival

The LAX-ADD route is best known among AvGeeks for its stop in Dublin with pickup privileges, which allows passengers to travel between California and Ireland on one of TPG‘s favorite fifth freedom routes (No. 8 on this list). The unique transatlantic Dreamliner route was a popular option for traveling in lie-flat business class on a Star Alliance partner.

Featured image by Alberto Riva / The Points Guy.

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October 18, 2018 at 11:31PM

Deal Alert: West Coast to Taipei From $490 Round-Trip

Deal Alert: West Coast to Taipei From $490 Round-Trip

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Want to see the latest flight deals as soon as they’re published? Follow The Points Guy on Facebook and Twitter, and subscribe to text message alerts from our deals feed, @tpg_alerts.

Airfare deals are typically only available on limited dates. We recommend you use Google Flights to find dates to fly, then book through an online travel agency such as Orbitz or Expedia, which allows you to cancel flights without penalty by 11pm Eastern Time within one day of booking. However, if you’re using The Platinum Card® from American Express, you’ll need to book directly with the airline or through the Amex Travel portal to get 5x MR points. Remember: Fares may disappear quickly, so book right away and take advantage of Orbitz or Expedia’s courtesy cancellation if you’re unable to get the time away from work or family.

Flights from Los Angeles (LAX), San Fransisco (SFO), Denver (DEN), Portland (PDX), Las Vegas (LAS), San Diego (SAN) and Seattle (SEA) to Taipei (TPE) are available starting from $490 round-trip on mainline carriers. All flights include a checked bag, carry-on bag and seat assignment. One of these fares include an extended layover in Shanghai, but here’s a guide on how to make the most of your time while you’re in the city.

If you’re looking for something interesting to do while there, check out Get Your Guide’s list of best activities in Taipei to maximize your time while on vacation.

To search, head to Google Flights and enter your origin and destination cities. Scroll through the calendar function to find dates and prices that work for you. Finally, click through to book directly with the airline or through an OTA like Priceline, Orbitz or Expedia.

Airlines: Air Canada, United, China Eastern
Routes: LAX/SFO/DEN/PDX/LAS/SAN/SEA to TPE
Cost: $490+ round-trip in economy
Travel Dates: October 2018 – April 2019
Pay With: The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on airfare booked directly with the airline), Citi ThankYou Premier CardChase Sapphire ReserveAmerican Express® Gold CardCiti Prestige (3x on airfare plus excellent trip delay insurance) or Chase Sapphire Preferred (2x on travel)
Booking Link: PricelineOrbitzExpedia or directly with the airline

Here are a few examples of what you can book:

San Fransisco (SFO) to Taipei (TPE) for $490 round-trip nonstop on United:

Denver (DEN) to Taipei (TPE) for $521 round-trip on Air Canada via Priceline:

Portland (PDX) to Taipei (TPE) for $532 round-trip on Air Canada via Priceline:

Las Vegas (LAS) to Taipei (TPE) for $535 round-trip on United:

Seattle (SEA) to Taipei (TPE) for $544 round-trip on Air Canada via Priceline:

San Diego (SAN) to Taipei (TPE) for $547 round-trip on United:

 

Los Angeles (LAX) to Taipei (TPE) for $566 round-trip on China Eastern via Expedia:

Maximize Your Purchase

Don’t forget to use a credit card that earns additional points on airfare purchases, such as The Platinum Card® from American Express (5x on flights booked directly with airlines or American Express Travel), Chase Sapphire ReserveAmerican Express® Gold CardCiti ThankYou PremierCiti Prestige (3x on airfare) or the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card (2x on all travel purchases). Check out this post for more on maximizing airfare purchases.

H/T: Scott’s Cheap Flights

Featured image by Prisma by Dukas/UIG via Getty Images

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October 18, 2018 at 11:16PM