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Advice: Thanksgiving Week Award Redemption

Advice: Thanksgiving Week Award Redemption

Old Jul 15, 13, 10:06 pm
  #1  
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Advice: Thanksgiving Week Award Redemption

All,

Have a brother who is trying to plan a honeymoon from approx. Nov 22-Dec 1 (most of which is Turkey week). Here is what we're working with:

60k UA miles (which will post to his account July 26th)
50k AA miles
40k US Airway miles
Flying out of SLC

His future father-in-law has generously offered his Marriott timeshare for the week, so we are just looking at flights for the two of them. In addition, I would be open to giving them 50k Chase UR points toward a UA redemption. Problem is, Thanksgiving is obviously quite popular and finding saver/milesaver awards to fit the Marriott properties that are open has been very tough. Their desire was to do somewhere tropical, specifically in the Caribbean like St. Thomas but I found nothing. Maui was an option on UA for 40k roundtrip/ea, but the Marriott was unavailable on any island that week.

So I started looking at more outside the box stuff, like southern Spain (Malaga area) where there was some Marriott availability. They could get into Madrid for 60k roundtrip, but would need transport to Costa del Sol. And of course the flights are 19hrs. Even BKK came up at one point, with even longer total flights times (24hrs). Problem was the good properties in Phuket were booked, only BKK was avail for the whole week.

They are really flexible, good sports about this. And they would be willing to evaluate other alternatives. I think "warm" or "sun" is really their preference, but hey, maybe they would even look at something with not the best weather, like Dublin?

So, where else should I be looking given the circumstances? Any way to get them to the Caribbean? Matching weather, low level awards, the Marriott property, and dates, has really been tough.

Thanks!
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Old Jul 15, 13, 10:15 pm
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As much as I love Malaga, it won't be that warm in November.

There are exotic and enjoyable destinations in Asia outside of Phuket and Bali. What are the other potential options?

I don't think you'd have much of a problem finding economy tickets to somewhere in the Caribbean, especially SJU, SXM, and the other big destinations.
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Old Jul 15, 13, 10:32 pm
  #3  
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Do they need to stay in a timeshare or can the gift be used at any Marriott property with availability? If the latter, try to think of nice business cities in warm places with good Marriotts.

Also, you obviously want to look at flights at less than peak Thanksgiving travel days such as the Saturday after Turkey Day or Turkey Day itself rather than the day before or Sunday. This is for USA domestic flights. As not many people go overseas during this period, if you can avoid domestic connections, availability should be good.
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Old Jul 15, 13, 10:37 pm
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Puerto Rico should be relatively affordable. Tons of capacity as well.
Wanna splurge a bit? I see plenty J saver awards on UA and US during Thanksgiving week.

Last edited by Dieuwer; Jul 15, 13 at 10:46 pm
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Old Jul 15, 13, 11:33 pm
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As far as other potential options, it's hard to say. The way the Marriott timeshare works is he has to place it in queue for exchange and see what the system gives him. So there's no way to see a list. It's a manual, hit-or-miss deal as I understand it. Unfortunately, the gift is not just for any Marriott hotel. And the earliest they can leave is Thurs the 21st, the latest they can come back is Mon Dec 2. So leaving the day after Thanksgiving or something like that won't work.

I am not seeing any economy saver awards to SJU, SXM, or STT. I do see the J availability to SJU as dieuwer2 pointed out, and that is a possibility.
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Old Jul 16, 13, 12:18 am
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There's some SXM availability in J around the 21st but not on it (18-19, 22-23). Plus the flights with availability leave from PHL, so that means LAX-SFO-PHL-SXM, which isn't a fun honeymoon. It would require an overnight in PHL too, but it's there...
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Old Jul 16, 13, 9:39 am
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I found some availability to Cabo San Lucas (SJD). Hadn't considered it previously, but it looks like a viable option. The outbound is a saver award, coming back is full pop, but the numbers work at 105k UA points for both of them roundtrip. Not the best use of miles per se, but it's an option.

I hear the beaches are not swim-able. Is that right? Too rocky or something? Anyone like SJD in Nov/Dec? Or hate it?

Thanks everyone!
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Old Jul 16, 13, 10:29 am
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Caution should be used booking with the US miles, as Dec 1 is a blackout date.

http://www.usairways.com/en-US/divid...koutdates.html
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Old Jul 16, 13, 1:28 pm
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Originally Posted by lex12 View Post
All,

So, where else should I be looking given the circumstances? Any way to get them to the Caribbean? Matching weather, low level awards, the Marriott property, and dates, has really been tough.

Thanks!
What about Bermuda, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama or Mexico proper (rather than Baja)? There are a lot of places on the Gulf of Mexico that aren't islands that are warm that time of year.
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Old Jul 16, 13, 1:31 pm
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http://www.united.com/web/en-US/cont...averaward.aspx
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Old Jul 16, 13, 2:10 pm
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That's an excellent time of year for a Spain trip. It might be 19 hours door-to-door, but for a ten day trip that's not the end of the world. The long-haul will likely be 8-10 hours. (Something like DFW-MAD or ORD-MAD.) Since you have 50k AA and 60k UA, your ideal itin would be two seats on AA one direction and two seats on UA the other direction.

We spent the first week of December in Seville two years ago and had no weather issues whatsoever. In fact, the weather was just about perfect. Based out of Malaga, you could do a variety of interesting cities/towns in southern Spain. I'd probably throw in 48 hours in Madrid as well. If your base camp is a 7-day timeshare, you might need two more nights...there's your Madrid bit.

Tons of Iberia flights between MAD and various southern Spanish cities. Also a fast train connecting Madrid and Malaga...that might be an easier option if you're spending a night or two in Madrid.

Of all the things you've listed, this one would be the most interesting and memorable honeymoon to me.
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Old Jul 17, 13, 1:05 am
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Thanks, everyone! Great suggestions, tips, and ideas. I will have Cabo as the path of least resistance and continue to keep Spain in mind. Costa Rica also looks promising, and hopefully rain will subside by late Nov there.
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Old Jul 17, 13, 1:28 am
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You can get out of Cabo on the 1st, but the routing won't get you home until the 2nd and is Air Canada first connecting in Vancouver

Since Spain's on your mind, how about Portugal as well. There are some decent Marriott options around Lisbon
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