Introduction to a Trip Around the World on Points

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One of our biggest trips of 2014 was to go literally around the world for my husband’s 40th birthday.  It was a big trip in every sense of the word, and it was a pretty epic adventure for the two of us.  So epic I haven’t yet tackled the task of writing about it even though it happened many months ago, and I have written tons of trip reports for adventures that happened after that one.  However, with two of the hotels we stayed at on the trip on the verge of increasing in category via the Hyatt Gold Passport annual category reorganization, it’s time to try and tackle putting words around this epic trip.

I’m clearly not Ben from One Mile at a Time, so don’t expect a full detailed report on every one of our flights around the world as we took full advantage of our mostly lie-flat business class seats….by sleeping.  We didn’t take this trip with the primary goal of reviewing different business class flights, we took it to celebrate a huge milestone together.  However, I am happy to share some of the more memorable aspects of the flights, or at least for the ones where I was still awake.

Resting on Singapore Airlines

Resting on Singapore Airlines

Perhaps even more importantly, I’ll share some of the things we did on our main stops in Amsterdam and in The Maldives, and of course have reviews of both of those hotels, as well as the hotel in Singapore.

Exploring Amsterdam

Exploring Amsterdam

Using United Miles to Get to the Maldives:

I wrote a detailed post about the planning of our trip here, but in summary we used 120,000 United miles each (pre-2014 devaluation) to fly the the route listed below.  We routed to Male via Europe and back home via Asia.  I have read that sort of routing is harder to pull off with United these days, but it may still be possible.  That same business class ticket now to the Maldives (priced as Central Asia) using Star Alliance partners would cost 160,000 United miles.

Turkish Airlines Business Class

Turkish Airlines Business Class

When booking the trip we searched for award availability segment by segment instead of just putting in Houston – Male – Houston in order to find the flights we wanted at the stopover points we were after.  This means we had to call United and feed them the segments we wanted as we could not get the itinerary we wanted to price online.  We also had to book a few segments in economy at first and then move up to business as we saw availability open up.  We had waited listed our last segment from LAX – Houston in domestic first, but that one never cleared.  The rest of the segments were in business class, which was often the highest class of service on the flights we were on.

EVA Air

EVA Air

Outbound:

Hosuton – Amsterdam in United BusinessFirst

Stopover in Amsterdam

Amsterdam – Istanbul on Turkish Business

Istanbul – Male in Turkish Business

The hotel booked our flights from Male to Kooddoo and back – read View From the Wing’s post on this process here

Return:

Male to Singapore in Singapore Business

Singapore to Taipei on EVA Business (Royal Laurel Class)

Taipei to Los Angeles on EVA Business (Royal Laurel Class)

Los Angeles to Houston in United Economy

Around-the-world-trip

Routing via Great Circle Mapper

Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht:

This hotel is currently a Category 5 for 20,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night, but it will be going to a Category 6 at 25,000 points per night effective January 22nd.  We actually booked the stay on a paid rate so we could use a confirmed Diamond Suite Upgrade as we were hosting a few people for a birthday gathering in Amsterdam.  We tried to switch to a points + cash rate once those were introduced, but it never worked out. 

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Stay tuned for a full review, but we loved this hotel and would absolutely stay here again on a stay in Amsterdam.

Park Hyatt Maldives, Hadahaa:

The main attraction on the trip was a stay at the Park Hyatt Malidves, Hadahaa.  This hotel is on its own private island with white sand beaches, amazing crystal-clear blue waters, and all of the rooms are not really rooms, but they are their own villa.  This is the type of destination that you see in movies, but don’t think you will ever actually get to visit.  Without points we would have never been around the world in business class seats, much less get to stay on our own private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

Park Hyatt Maldives

Park Hyatt Maldives

When we booked the hotel it was 22,000 Hyatt Gold Passport points per night as a Category 6, but since then the price of a Category 6 went up to 25,000 points per night.  As of January 22nd, this hotel will go to a top tier Category 7 hotel for 30,000 points per night.  I’m not happy to see it going up in price, but with the paid rates often around $1,000 per night, it probably warrants being in the exclusive company of the top Park Hyatts that can be found at the Category 7 level.

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Before heading on the trip, we paid extra secured an over-water villa to celebrate Josh’s birthday in an amazing way, but once we got there we actually found that wasn’t our favorite type of villa, at least for the time of year we were there.  In the end we stayed at the standard Park Villa, the Beach Villa with private pool, and the Over Water Villa.  I will share the pros and cons of all of those villa types in my post on the resort, as well as suggestions on when to visit, and how to have a great time without spending more than necessary (though The Maldives is never going to be a super cheap destination, even on points).

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Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Singapore:

We had plans to head into Singapore for the day on the way home, eat at hawker stations, and see some of the major sights during our one-day layover, but that didn’t pan out to be possible as we were pretty beat by this point in the journey.  Instead, we ended up booking a day room on arrival at the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport and we passed out.  I’m sad we missed actually seeing Singapore on this trip, but we made the right call for our situation at the time.  The airport hotel was very convenient and quite nice, so I’ll share some details and tips in case you find yourself in a similar situation at Changi in the future.

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Crowne Plaza Changi Airport in Singapore

While I may change this up a little as we go, I think I’m going to break the trip report into the following parts:

Introduction to a Trip Around the World (this post)

Highlights from Business Class Flights Around the World

Review of Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht

Highlights from Two Days in Amsterdam

Review of Three Park Hyatt Maldives Villas

Food and Activities at Park Hyatt Maldives on a Budget

Review of Crowne Plaza Changi

If there is something else you know you have lots of questions on let me know and I’ll do my best to include that info in the series.  This was a really special and unique trip for the two of us, and one we never thought would have been possible until we learned about the amazing opportunities that miles and points can present.  I don’t see us repeating a trip like this in any near future, so I’m looking forward to reliving it by sharing it with all of you!

Comments

  1. This looks great.

    Really interested in Amsterdam and Maldives. Think the former would work for kids at the Andaz in a suite?

    As for the Maldives, I love you are breaking up the review into pieces and comparing whether it is worth it to spend extra for the over-the-water villa.

  2. Summer,

    You started my whole points and credit card schemes back in 2012! I attended FTU in New Jersey where you were a speaker. Since then my life and that of my family has been transformed. This trip for you and hubby was a pivotal moment. I am now approaching my 20 year anniversary. Since 2012, I have put together many family trips and I thank you for that. Now I am looking forward to a big trip with my bride of 20 years and your guidance is so appreciated. I love your blog and appreciate your honest assessments of the places you have been. Keep up the good work! If you or your readers are interested in cross country RV trips… please visit.. http://www.travelpod.com/members/evotech Many of these trips do not involve points, but the family fun factor is huge!

    Ed

  3. What are your thoughts of young kids on the Maldives? Planning a big trip and figuring out if the Maldives or a place like Malta or Lisbon would be better.

  4. Let me echo the above comments Summer. Ran into you in NYC one winter when we were both looking at Christmas windows with our families and staying at the Andaz NYC. We are now looking at going to the Maldives for our 20 year wedding anniversary and trying to decide whether to take the (will be 10 year old) with us or not. I’d be interested in your thoughts of a pre-teen on such a trip.

    Cheers Askia

  5. Awesome Summer! I think I am going to plan something like this to surprise my wife for the 10th anniversary.. around the world with stop in Maldives…
    but one question… why is Mr. Mommy Points looking so grumpy laying down in the fantastic Singapore Business? I would be grinning ear to ear! 🙂

  6. Looking forward to this trip report… especially the evaluation of the different rooms in the Maldives and Amsterdam. I love exploring new places, but also love to have a comfortable (even luxurious) room to return to at the end of the day. I’m a sucker for little touches in rooms, so I love the Andaz properties where you often get to try out local non-alcoholic drinks and snacks in the room with the complimentary minibar.
    I’d also love to hear about the logistics of getting a day room in Singapore. I think this is one of those easy (hopefully) boring things that I had just never heard of until getting into this hobby. I can totally understand why you guys passed out in the room. We had a trip at Thanksgiving where we connected in Vienna on our way to Copenhagen. Great, we thought, a whole day in Vienna to explore before we move on to Copenhagen. We did persist with the plan, but were literally falling asleep in churches and coffee shops all day. With two little-ish kids (6,8) this was pretty tricky. I’m glad we did see the city rather than a hotel room, but honestly, stepping off the plane after flying transatlantic coach, I’d have preferred to curl up on the floor in the airport and take a nap over going out to see the city!

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