Tag Archives: SPG


Trip Report: London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale

After leaving Paris (read Trip Report: Holiday Inn Gare de l’Est, Paris and Trip Report: Hyatt Regency Paris Étoile), we headed to London as our next stop on our big winter trip.  We spent 3 nights at the London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale, a Category 7 hotel which I booked using 105,000 Marriott Rewards points (I transferred 35,000 points from my Starwood Preferred Guest account).

London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale. Photo from marriott.com

London Marriott Hotel Maida Vale. Photo from marriott.com

Location: The hotel is located in Northwest London, a short walk from the Kilburn Park Underground and Kilburn High Road Overground stations and about a 20-30 minute trip to central London via bus or train. It’s not far from Regents Park, the London Zoo, and Paddington Station. Continue reading


A Travel Hacker Wish List for Santa (Reader Ideas Needed)

Good afternoon everyone, here is the filler post of the weekend. Enjoy!

Usually this time of year, we look back at the predictions we made at the end of 2015 or early 2016 and see how many things we got right and how many things we got wrong. It is usually a little depressing to look back and see how much has changed (for the worse) over the last 12 months. I wanted to put a positive spin on the predictions this year and turn it into a Christmas wish list for Santa. If Santa had the power to make travel hacker lives better, what would you wish for?

Grant’s wish list (in no particular order):

  • I want Chase to create a “no 5/24 rule day” so everyone can be approved for the Chase credit card they really want (I have my eye on the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card).
  • I want the JPMorgan Chase Ritz Carlton Credit Card to change the $300 travel credit (incidentals only) to match the Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card $300 travel credit (paid airfare and hotels).

wish-list-clipart Continue reading


FTU Advanced Orange County (October 28-30) and Seattle (February 24-26)

Good morning everyone, I hope your weekend is going well.  We are only 1 week away from FTU Advanced in Orange County (October 28-30).  FTU stands for Frequent Traveler University and is a travel conference with your favorite travel bloggers from Boarding Area and beyond.  I will be attending the conference, but I am not presenting.  I am flying down from SFO on Friday night after work, so I won’t be able to attend the Friday night happy hour (someone, please drink for me).  I am staying at home, not at the host hotel (The Westin South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa), but I will be at the conference all day Saturday and Sunday.  I will be wearing my classic Travel with Grant shirt (much to the chagrin of Devil’s Advocate).  If you see me, don’t be afraid to say hello :)


Continue reading


Profiting from 2 Timeshare Presentations in Hawaii (Secret: Attend, but do not Buy!)

Full disclosure: I have only been to 3 timeshare presentations in my life (Hilton Elara in Las Vegas, Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in Maui, and Hilton Waikoloa Village in Kona), so I am no timeshare expert.  I am not married, so I go to the presentations by myself.  I have never gone to a presentation outside the US, but I have heard nightmare stories about timeshare presentations in Mexico lasting hours.  Proceed at your own risk!

Good morning everyone, greetings from my local Peet’s Coffee at the SF Ferry Building.  Between the pushy salespeople (usually a small sales team), lengthy presentations, and overpriced fees, timeshares get a bad rap in the travel community.  But, if you can sit through the presentation and leave without buying a timeshare, the sales presentation can be worth your time.  To illustrate this point, I want to tell you about my 2 timeshare presentations in Hawaii last week.

The first presentation was at the Westin Ka’anapali Ocean Resort Villas in Maui, Hawaii, where I was staying thanks to the targeted vacation package offer I received a few months back.  I wrote about the offer details here, but to recap, I received 6 days / 5 nights in a villa studio, 5,000 SPG points, and a 6 day Avis car rental for $798.  I value 5,000 SPG points at $100, the Avis car rental at $150, so that means the stay in the studio villa cost about ~$550 for 5 nights in Maui.  That’s a great deal if you ask me.  The property is very nice, I loved the $5 Mai Tais during happy hour (4-6pm and 8:30-10pm) and the pools were great.  Valet parking is only $12/day or $10/day for self parking.

5000-spg-points-westin-vacation-package Westin Ka'anapali Ocean Resort Villas

Continue reading


All Travel AMEX Offers: Renaissance, Westin, Red Lion, Aerolineas Argentinas & 8 More

Good morning everyone, I hope your week is off to a great start.  I wanted to give a big shout out to everyone who was able to make the Mountain View meetup this past Saturday.  I arrived at In N Out around 11:40am and left around 4:15pm.  What a long day of talking and sharing tips and tricks – thank you everyone!  Now, let’s get back to the deals.  American Express has loaded several new AMEX Offers, specifically into the travel category.  For easy access, log into your AMEX account, go down to the AMEX Offers section and click the Travel button to view all travel related AMEX Offers.

All Travel AMEX Offers

Here are the 4 best offers I spoted in my account:

  • Renaissance Hotels: $40 off $200
  • Westin Hotels & Resorts: $50 off $250
  • RLHC (Red Lion Hotel Chain) Family of Brands: 40% off your stay
  • Aerolineas Argentinas: $100 off $500

Continue reading