How we saved $75K on our Maldives family vacation – World Travel Adventurers

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In our latest travel savings report, we share how our family saved $74,823.42 on a three-week luxury vacation including two weeks in the Maldives and a week in California to start off the trip. We stayed at two of the best resorts in the Maldives for 7 nights each and saved thousands by using points and free award nights. We flew Qatar Airways Qsuites with miles and saved nearly $24,000 on that flight alone! We flew home in business class on Etihad and United Polaris by redeeming Air Canada Aeroplan miles and saved almost $28,000 on that itinerary. Here’s the breakdown of how we saved nearly $75K on travel to California and the Maldives thanks to traveling with points, miles and reward programs.

Conrad Maldives

Maldives is one of the most beautiful places in the world

Flying to Los Angeles with Southwest Airlines

We started off our trip by visiting friends in Los Angeles prior to departing for the Maldives. We had planned to visit LA anyway and originally planned to make it 2 separate trips. However, when we found availability for 4 people in Qatar Airways Qsuites out of San Francisco but could find nothing from the East Coast (where we live) for 4 people, we decided to merge our two vacations into one.

We flew Southwest Airlines from Baltimore to Los Angeles using Southwest Rapid Rewards points and travel funds. Our kids flew free (except for the mandatory $5.60 in taxes/fees) since we both have the Companion Pass (learn how to earn it without even flying Southwest Airlines) which means our kids fly free with us whether we book our flight with points or dollars. We redeemed 12,813 Rapid Rewards points for my flight and used $190.98 in travel funds for Bertaut’s flight.  We paid $16.8 in taxes and fees (Bertaut’s travel funds covered his taxes & fees) for our family of four to fly to Los Angeles. We saved $747.12 on this flight, which would have cost $190.98 per person.

Southwest Airlines Savings

We only paid $16 for our BWI – LAX thanks to Rapid Rewards points and vouchers!

To earn Southwest points quickly, we recommend opening a Southwest credit card or two.  You can only earn one sign-up bonus on a personal Southwest credit card every 24 months, so make sure you’re eligible before opening one.  You can open both a business card and a personal card to earn points faster. See the current offer on our favorite Southwest personal card and business card here and scroll down to Chase Personal Cards and Chase Business Cards to see more options.

Southwest Airlines BWI to LAX Airfare Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Airfare – 4 People $763.92 $16.80 + 12,812 SWA Miles + Travel Funds $747.12

Staying at Hyatt House Los Angeles free with award nights

We split our stay in Los Angeles between our friend’s home and the Hyatt House Los Angeles/LAX/Manhattan Beach. We redeemed 2 award nights at the Hyatt House and received a complimentary upgrade to a 2-bedroom suite as a Hyatt Globalist. Our suite would have cost $557.51 for the 2 nights, but we paid $0 since Hyatt waives resort fees on award stays. We saved an additional $40 on parking, which is free on award stays for Hyatt Globalists.

Hyatt House El Segundo

The 2-bedroom suite at Hyatt House was an excellent value

Hyatt House Los Angeles/LAX/Manhattan Beach Hotel Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Hotel $547.51 $0 + Hyatt Category 1- 4 Award Certificates $547.51
Parking $40 $0 (Due to booking on award stays as Hyatt Globalists $40

Flying to San Francisco with Southwest Airlines

After a fun visit in Los Angeles, we flew to San Francisco for a few days in wine country before departing for the Maldives. We once again flew Southwest Airlines using our Rapid Reward points, travel funds and Companion Passes. This flight would have cost $108.98 per person, but we paid just $16.80 in taxes and fees, redeemed 7,303 Rapid Rewards points for my flight and used $108.98 in travel funds for Bertaut’s ticket. We saved $419.12 on this flight by leveraging our points, companion passes and vouchers.

Southwest Airlines LAX to SFO Airfare Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Airfare – 4 People $435.92 $16.80 + 7,303 SWA Miles + Travel Funds $419.12

Staying at Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country with Hyatt award nights

We stayed 2 nights at the Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country for free by redeeming Hyatt award nights. We each have the World of Hyatt credit card (see current offer here). Our Hyatt cards come with an annual free night certificate valid for use at any Hyatt Category 1-4 property. Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country is a Hyatt Category 4 hotel.

We received a complimentary upgrade at check-in to an Executive Queen room with a private patio just off the pool. This room would have cost $279.35 per night of our stay, but we paid $0 once again by redeeming Hyatt award nights from our credit card. We also received free parking and free breakfast for our family of four as Hyatt Globalists which saved us another $150. We saved $718.59 total on our stay at Hyatt Sonoma Wine Country. While there, we were able to enjoy wineries and take the kids on their first hot air balloon ride with Sonoma Ballooning.

Hyatt Regency Sonoma Wine Country Hotel Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Hotel $568.59 $0 + Hyatt Category 1- 4 Award Certificates $568.59
Breakfast – 2 Adults + 2 Children $120 $0 (Due to Hyatt Globalists Status) $120
Parking $40 $0 (Due to booking on award stays as Hyatt Globalists $40

Flying Qatar Qsuites with American AAdvantage miles

After our week in California, it was time to depart for the Maldives. We flew Qatar Airways Qsuites, which is their business class cabin that feels like a first class cabin, from San Francisco to Doha. Read our Qsuites review for all the details on the world’s best business class. It is perfect for families with its quad configuration allowing you to face and interact with each other during the flight.Qatar Airways A350 Qsuites SFO - DOH Review

We paid just $7.65 plus 70,000 American AAdvantage miles per person for a one-way flight from San Francisco to Doha. We would have paid the same number of miles (70K AA miles) to fly all the way to the Maldives in Qsuites with taxes around $20 per person from SFO. Unfortunately we could not find availability for 4 people for the route all the way to the Maldives, so we booked it to Doha since that was the bulk of our journey. We then used miles and credits to get from Doha to Male, which we’ll cover next. This flight would have cost our family of four $23,893! Instead, we paid $30.60 plus 280,000 American AAdvantage miles total for this one-way flight.

@worldtraveladventurers Our family’s 15 hour flight in Qsuites! #qsuiteqatarairways#qatarairways#qsuites#travelvlogs#luxuryfamilytravel#luxurytravel#businessclasstravel# ♬ original sound – Luxury Family Travel Creators

If you don’t have a stash of AA miles, the easiest way to earn them quickly is with Barclay’s AAdvantage®Aviator® Red World Elite MasterCard®. We earned 60K AA miles as a sign-up bonus after paying a $99 annual fee and making a single purchase, even a pack of gum. That’s the fastest and easiest way to earn AA miles that we’ve ever seen. We recommend utilizing 2-player mode, so both you and your spouse or travel companion can earn 60k AA miles each with this offer.

Another option to earn AA miles is through Citi’s co-branded AAdvantage credit cards. See current offers here and scroll down to Citi to find the AAdvantage cards. A third option would be to transfer Marriott BonVoy points to American Airlines, which transfer at a 3:1 ratio (3 Marriott BonVoy points transfer to one American AAdvantage mile). There are several Marriott BonVoy credit cards to choose from including both personal and business cards. See current offers here under both American Express and Chase Personal Cards.

Qatar Airways SFO to DOH Airfare Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Airfare – 4 People $23,893 $30.60 + 280,000 AA Miles $23,862.40

Flying Qatar Airways to Male

So this is where things got a little tricky in our journey to Male. Bertaut ended up booking himself with our daughter on one airline and I flew with our son on Qatar Airways from Doha to Male. For our flight we used 42,138 Citi ThankYou points and paid $142.37 in taxes & fees per person. While we usually advise transferring the points versus using them through travel portals, we had earned 50,000 Citi ThankYou points through a banking offer which made those points ineligible to be transferred. While this wasn’t one of our most valuable redemption we’ve done, it was still a good opportunity to make use of our Citi ThankYou points all the while saving money. The tickets would have cost $564 each but we ended up saving $843.26 on our two tickets.

Qatar Airways DOH two MLE Airfare Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Airfare – 2 People $1128 $284.74 + 84,276 Citi ThankYou Miles $843.26

Flying SriLankan Air Business Class to Male

Bertaut flew with our daughter from Doha to Male on Sri Lankan Air in Business Class. He used 30,000 American Airlines miles + $22.65 per person for the business class flights. The cost for 2 Business Class tickets for this itinerary was $2,884. We saved $2,838.7 and enjoyed delicious SriLankan food and excellent service.

SriLankan Airlines Business Class

We were very pleased with the food and service of SriLankan Airlines.

SriLankan Airlines DOH to CMB to MLE Airfare Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Airfare – 2 People $2,884 $45.30 + 60,000 AA Miles $2,838.70

Staying at Conrad Maldives with Hilton points and award nights

After arriving in Male, we took a seaplane ride to our first hotel, the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island. The seaplane transfer was charged directly to the hotel and cost $590 per adult and half price for the kids. We were not able to use points for this flight but were able to offset the cost with our $250 resort credits that come with our Amex® Hilton Aspire Cards. We also received an additional $200 in credits from our Hilton Credit cards due to booking stays at a Conrad property.

We stayed 7 nights at the Conrad Maldives for next to nothing. We paid $12 per night in eco taxes since there were four of us. If we had been just two people, we would have paid $0 per night. As Hilton Diamond members, we received a complimentary upgrade to a Deluxe Beach Pool Villa for the duration of our stay.

As Hilton Diamond members we also received free breakfast daily, which would have cost $55.44 per adult after taxes and fees per day. Kids eat free with a paying adult. We saved $776.16 on breakfast during our week there.

We saved hundreds more on the daily happy hour where we enjoyed free champagne, cocktails, soft drinks, and canapés. However, since there’s not a way to put a specific value on this savings, we won’t add it on to our savings report. I estimate that it was worth at least $100/day for our family, possibly even twice that considering how expensive alcohol is in the Maldives and they kept refilling our glasses throughout the happy hour.

Conrad Maldives Deluxe Beach Villa

Conrad Maldives Deluxe Beach Pool Villa

Our Deluxe Beach Pool Villa would have cost us $9,570.40 for 7 nights at the time of our visit. We redeemed 95K Hilton points per night and got the 5th night free with Hilton’s 5th night free promo on consecutive award stays. So we redeemed 380K Hilton points for 5 nights.

In addition to redeeming Hilton Honors points, we redeemed two Hilton free award nights from our Hilton credit cards. Currently there’s an offer to receive a free award night with several of Hilton’s American Express cards for the welcome bonus in addition to Hilton points. See current offer here under American Express and decide between 2 personal cards, one with no annual fee and one with a $95 annual fee, and a business card with a $95 annual fee. We recommend the business card if you don’t want to take one of your 5/24 slots.

Make sure to read our Conrad Maldives review for more details and photos of this beautiful property. It’s one of the best Hilton properties in the world and makes for an extremely valuable redemption for free award nights or points. Rooms can easily exceed $3,000 per night during high season at this hotel, so we were very happy with our redemption.

Conrad Maldives Underwater Restaurant

Discovering Conrad Maldive’s underwater restaurant Ithaa

Conrad Maldives Rangali Island Hotel Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Hotel $9,570.40 $84 + 380,000 Hilton Honors Points + 2 Award Nights $9,486.40
Sea Plane Transfer – 4 people $1,770 $1,070 $700
Breakfast – 2 Adults + 2 Children $776.16 $0 (Due to Hilton Diamond Status) $776.16

Staying at Park Hyatt Maldives with points and an award night

Next we spent a week at the Park Hyatt Maldives. We partnered with the hotel for part of our stay and then extended our stay  4 additional nights with points and a free award night. We booked a standard beach villa for 30K Hyatt points per night. Since we had an occupancy of 4 people, we had to pay an additional $160 USD per night after taxes and gratuities for having exceeded the maximum occupancy of 3 people for that villa.

We received a complimentary upgrade to a Beach Pool Villa as Hyatt Globalists, stretching even more value out of our points. The Beach Pool Villa would have cost $5,806.40 for 4 nights. We also received free breakfast as Hyatt Globalists and a daily sundowner cocktail with canapés. The breakfast buffet with 2 a la carte menu items is just shy of $50 after the taxes and fees per adult and half price for kids, so we saved $591.36 on breakfast for the 4 award nights.

Park Hyatt Maldives Park Pool Villa

Park Hyatt Maldives Beach Pool Villa

Bertaut earned a milestone award night after completing 60 nights at Hyatt properties in one year. This award night can be used at any Hyatt Category 1-7 hotel, so we redeemed it at the Park Hyatt Maldives. Rates at this hotel can be as high as $2,500 a night for the standard beach villa, so it offers an exceptional value for redeeming Hyatt points.

We saved $5,806.40 by redeeming points and a milestone award at Park Hyatt Maldives plus nearly $600 on breakfast as Hyatt Globalists. That’s not even counting what we saved by partnering with the hotel for part of our stay and the daily sundowner cocktails and mocktails for the kids. Read our Park Hyatt Maldives review for more details, photos, and video of this phenomenal resort.

We’ve traveled across the world 3 times to this resort, so that tells you how much we love it. We’ve thoroughly covered every aspect of this resort. Read our review from our first stay here, our second stay here, activities not to miss, overwater villa review, beach villa review, beach pool villa review, details on the incredible breakfast, spa treatments, and romantic dinner on the beach.

In case you don’t have enough Hyatt points, you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards instantly to World of Hyatt at a 1:1 ratio. Our top picks to earn Chase Ultimate Rewards are the Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, the Ink Business Preferred® Credit Card, or the Chase Sapphire Reserve, which is an excellent premium travel reward credit card. The Reserve comes with a higher annual fee but has many perks to offset the fee.

You could also pair one of the Sapphire cards with other Chase cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited®, Chase Freedom Flex, Ink Business Unlimited® Credit Card, or Ink Business Cash® Credit Card. You can combine the rewards on those cards with your Ultimate Rewards and transfer those points to Hyatt as well. Learn more about each of those cards here under Chase Personal Cards and Chase Business Cards.

Park Hyatt Maldives Floating Breakfast

Park Hyatt Maldives is one of our favorite resorts

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa Hotel Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Hotel $5,806.40 $0 + 90,000 Hyatt Miles + One Category 1 – 7 Award Night $5,806.40
Breakfast – 2 Adults + 2 Children $1,200 $608.64 because of additional occupancy charge + taxes $591.36

Flying home with Air Canada Aeroplan miles

We used Air Canada Aeroplan miles to return home from the Maldives. We booked an itinerary that included flights on Etihad Business Class from Male to Abu Dhabi, Etihad Business from Abu Dhabi to Brussels, and United Polaris Business Class from Brussels to Newark.

We redeemed 100K Aeroplan miles each for this one-way itinerary and paid $167 in taxes and fees each. Our return back to the US would have cost $28,594.40; instead we paid $668 plus 400K Aeroplan miles for our family of four. We saved $27,926.40 on this redemption and were able to fly two highly rated business class products.

Review Etihad Airways Business Class

Flying Etihad Business Class home from the Maldives

Since Air Canada Aeroplan is a transfer partner of several transferable currencies, it is fairly easy to accumulate miles. You can transfer points to Aeroplan from the following programs at these ratios:  American Express Membership Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio), Chase Ultimate Rewards (1:1 transfer ratio), Capitol One miles (1:1 transfer ratio), and Marriott BonVoy (3:1 transfer ratio with a 5,000 mile bonus for every 60,000 points transferred).

Some of our favorite travel reward credit cards (see current offers) can earn you a valuable welcome offer that you could transfer to Aeroplan. Our top picks include the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card, Chase Ink Business Preferred® Credit CardThe Platinum Card® from American Express, The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, and the American Express® Gold Card.

Etihad MLE to AUH to IAD Airfare Savings

Category Retail Cost What We Actually Paid Savings
Airfare – 4 People $28,594.40 $668 + 400,000 Air Canada Aeroplan Miles $27,926.40

Getting $2,833.40 from EU 261 Compensation

During our return home, our flight from Brussels was cancelled. We were not able to be rebooked until 24 hours later. Since the cancellation was not caused by “extraordinary circumstances”, we were eligible for EU 261 compensation. We filed for EU 261 compensation by emailing United customer service since the flight was departing out of the EU. We received 600 Euros each, which totaled $2,833.40 in USD for our family of four. We received the checks from United Airlines and this sum covered a huge portion of our out of pocket costs for this trip.

Final thoughts on our Maldives savings report

In summary, we saved a total of $74,823.82 by redeeming points, miles, & award nights on this vacation. We saved $77,656.82 when you add in the compensation from EU 261. We saved even more that we didn’t even calculate into that total on additional perks like free happy hour and welcome gifts (bottles of sparking wine, chocolates, fruit) due to having elite status. The Maldives is one of the most beautiful and sought after destinations in the world. It can be extremely expensive to visit, but mastering the art of award travel can significantly brings those costs down. We hope our savings report has inspired you to make your dream vacation a reality with the help of points and miles!

*Editorial Disclosure-The editorial content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuers. Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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