Las Vegas: THEhotel American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 1

THEhotel is situated behind Mandalay Bay and is considered an all suites hotel. Normally, the rates for a standard suite is around $109, but because I stayed during New Years Eve weekend, I paid $209 which was still reasonable. I booked through the American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts program which gives me early noon check-in, complimentary room upgrade (if available), hotel amenity ($100 spa credit), $80 worth of breakfast credit ($40/per person), and guaranteed 4pm late checkout.

I arrived at the hotel around 4pm and the hotel was relatively empty at the check-in counter. I inquired about the complimentary suite upgrade and the clerk informed me that the hotel was sold out for the night.

Standard Suite at THEhotel

                     Standard Suite at THEhotel

View of the couch and decor

                   View of the couch and decor

View of the living room

                          View of the living room

Wetbar in the living room

                        Wetbar in the living room

Guest bathroom in the living room

              Guest bathroom in the living room

Two Double Beds

                     Two Double Queen Beds

View of the bedroom

                        View of the bedroom

Granite countertop w/ a his and hers sink

       Granite countertop w/ a his and hers sink

Shower and Tub

                               Shower and Tub

I must have stayed at THEhotel at least five times on an Fine Hotel & Resorts rate and not once have I ever been upgraded from a standard suite. The standard suite is pretty large in itself and you can definitely party it up in Vegas and entertain guests comfortably in the living room. There are two restrooms in the suite with one being in the foyer and the other in the bedroom. In addition, there is a wet-bar just in case you need to clean up after the party. Rumor has it THEhotel will be re-branded as the Delano Las Vegas in the future. I’m not sure if the Delano Las Vegas will be part of the American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts program when the changeover happens.

This review is a two part series in which I will review the spa and breakfast at THEhotel. Stay tuned…

American Airlines Tells Citi AAdvantage Cardholders To Keep The Extra Miles During A Technical Glitch

I wake up this morning to an email subject “FYI: Bonus Miles In Your Account” from American Airlines.

The e-mail reads as follows:

Dear Jamison,

Have you noticed a few extra American Airlines AAdvantage bonus miles in your AAdvantage account? As you might have guessed, we had a technical glitch.

A benefit of your eligible Citi/AAdvantage card is that you will earn 10% of the total AAdvantage miles you redeem. Last summer, we posted 1,800 more bonus miles to your AAdvantage account than the eligible 10,000 miles one can earn as part of this benefit.

While we have fixed the glitch, we think these extra bonus miles might come in handy someday, so we’ve decided to leave them with you! As always, for your latest mileage account balance, we encourage you to visit your AAdvantage account online at AA.com today.

We appreciate your continued support, and look forward to seeing you in the new year!

American Airlines Technical Glitch E-mail to Citi AA Cardholders

                                     American Airlines Technical Glitch E-mail to Citi AA Cardholders

I didn’t even realize that I had an extra 1,800 bonus AAdvantage miles in my account since it was buried under numerous AAdvantage activities on my mileage summary. I decided to look back and concluded that they posted the 10,000 mileage once, then 900 miles in July, and then once more another 900 miles in my August statement.

Having the Citi AA AAdvantage credit card along with being an Executive Platinum elite is definitely a perk and it’s why I will be aiming for top tier on American Airlines for many years to come. On the other hand, United Airlines is known to pull back bonus miles it accidentally credits to a customer’s MileagePlus account so this is a great PR move by American. Kudos to American for being honest and upfront with their customers.

Have you received a similar e-mail? I received an 1,800 extra bonus miles. How many did you get?

How To Book and Add Your AAdvantage # to a British Airways Avios Award Ticket

Today, I received a ticket to attend the San Francisco 49ers football playoff game this weekend against the Green Bay Packers. The game is being played this coming Saturday so I went ahead and looked for the lowest priced airfares for a Saturday departure and coming back Sunday morning. The lowest prices on Orbitz was $389.69 for LAX-SFO. Since this is a short distance flight, I decided to see if there was economy availability on British Airways using 9,000 Avios points and $5 cash. Since LAX-SFO is such a short distance, it only requires 4,500 Avios points each way.

Orbitz LAX-SFO - $389.69

                         Orbitz LAX-SFO – $389.69

To my surprise, I found wide availability for my dates this coming weekend on British Airways.

Looking for availability

     Looking for availability

Wide availability for a Saturday Departure

            Wide availability for a Saturday departure

Found wide availability for Sunday departure

      Found wide availability for a Sunday departure

I was super excited to find out my Saturday morning departure and Sunday morning arrival in LAX was available.

Only 9,000 Avios points roundtrip from LAX-SFO

                                                     Only 9,000 Avios points + $5 taxes for a roundtrip from LAX-SFO

ERASE the pre-populated BA Executive Club Number

                                 ERASE the pre-populated BA Executive Club Number

This is the most important step when trying to add your American Airlines Frequent Flier number after your award has been ticketed. You MUST ERASE your BA Executive Club number or else it will be hard coded into the reservation and you will need to pick up the telephone to speak with American Airlines to change it.

Remember, your BA PNR is DIFFERENT from your AA PNR

                         Remember, your BA Booking Reference # is DIFFERENT from your AA Record Locator #

After you have successfully entered your credit card number and billing address, you will see your booking summary. Ignore the British Airways Reference number so it is of no use when dealing with American Airlines.

Go on AA.com and click on My Reservations

                                               Go on AA.com and click on My Reservations

After booking your British Airways Award ticket, it is issued almost immediately, so head on over to http://www.aa.com and click on My Reservations. You will need to continue without logging in.

You will need to enter everything in the fields EXCEPT your PNR

                                        You will need to enter everything in the fields EXCEPT your Record Locator

You will need to enter your First Name, Last Name, and Flight Number (gather from your booking summary). Enter the Airport and choose the departure date, then click Go.

avois9Click on Add/Edit Passenger Information

Enter your American Airlines AAdvantage Number

                                                 Enter your American Airlines AAdvantage Frequently Flier Number

After entering your AAdvantage number, you can hit submit. If you see your BA Executive number pre-populated, then you must not have followed my guide correctly. You will need to call American Airlines and have them erase the BA Executive number (it might take them a few tries on SABRE). If you are an elite, you will be able to choose preferred seating.

You can choose preferred seating if you are an Elite on American Airlines

                                 You can choose preferred seating if you are an Elite on American Airlines

I hope this guide will help you to successfully book your future British Airways Avios awards and take advantage of your American Airlines AAdvantage status. My next few guides will teach you some tips and tricks on how I book hotels and car rentals. I can’t wait to see my San Francisco 49ers win this Saturday!!









Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 3

This is a 3 part series which is a continuation from Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel American Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 1 & Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel American Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 2

The great thing about booking an American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts rate is that breakfast in the morning is taken care of as stated in the welcome letter.

Venetian Hotel – American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts Welcome Letter

In this case, breakfast for two is dined in the comfort of your own room. We ordered a pot of coffee, two orange juices, two iced waters, assorted pastries, and toast.

Venetian Hotel – Breakfast room service

Room service came within 30 minutes of ordering and the bill included taxes & gratuity, so you just need to sign your name but there is a tip line for additional gratuity if you wish. The iced waters were not brought, but we promptly shrugged it off since we were overloaded on liquids. The assorted pastries consisted of muffins and croissants. The pot of coffee came with milk and sugar in addition to a cup and saucer. The three slices of toast came in a basket with butter and assorted jams.

During checkout, I requested the $20 resort fee be waived since the internet was spotty and it was promptly removed. The $100 pre-fixe dinner charge was taken care of and all that was left on the remaining balance was the dinner tip. I stayed at THEhotel in Mandalay Bay the night after, so stay tuned for the full review. I will leave you with breathtaking pictures of the view from my Bella Suite at the Venetian.

Pool view from the Bella Suite

View of the Palazzo from my suite

Las Vegas Strip View from my suite

Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 2

This series is a continuation from Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel American Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 1

One of the benefits of booking a Vegas hotel on an American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts rate is the hotel amenity, which can be in the form of a $100 spa credit, $85 worth of lunch at Olives (Bellagio), complimentary lunch or dinner (Venetian & Four Seasons), or a $100 resort credit (Palazzo) which can be used on pretty much anything. In this case at the Venetian, I chose the complimentary dinner for 2 at Pinot Brasserie.

Page 1: Venetian American Pre-fixe dinner menu

Page 2: Venetian American Express Pre-fixe dinner menu

For the three course pre-fixe dinner, I chose the Onion Soup Gratinee, Market fish (Salmon), and Ice Cream

Onion Soup Gratinee

Blackened Salmon with pesto cous cous

Cinnamon Espresso & Chocolate Ice Cream

My friend ordered the Caesar Salad, Roasted Chicken, and Croissant Pudding.

Caesar salad w/ serrano ham & white anchovy

Roasted Chicken w/ Mushroom fricasse

Croissant Pudding

Overall, the food at Pinot Brasserie was top notch and everything tasted like a French Brasserie in Paris. It was tough to get a reservation at Pinot Brasserie because the main dining room was fully rented and booked for a private event. The host told me that they were fully committed, but I voiced my concern that I wanted to use my Amex FHR dinner voucher for tonight and a reservation time magically appeared.

Part 3 of this series finale will be posted in tomorrow’s blog which will conclude with the American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts complimentary breakfast and I will sum up my experiences at the Venetian.

Las Vegas: Venetian Hotel American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts Review Part 1

I started off New Years weekend in Las Vegas by checking in yesterday afternoon to the Venetian Hotel. I booked the Venetian Hotel using the American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts rate, which offers invited guest check-in, complimentary noon check-in, room upgrade if available, one time complimentary lunch or dinner for up to 2 people, room service breakfast for two, and 4pm late checkout.

Venetian Gondola Ride – Photo Credit: usatravelwithus.com

I promptly arrived at noon and fully utilized the “Invited Guest Check-in” desk which bypasses the long regular snake line. I originally booked a $209 standard 1 King bed, but asked the agent if I could switch it to two queen beds. In addition, I asked if there were any complimentary upgrades available. Without checking her computer, she informed me that we were sold out, but I pressed the question further asking if she could kindly check. She made a phone call to her supervisor and I overheard her saying that the guest is booked under Amex and she promptly upgraded me to a 2 queen beds with a strip view. The agent informed me that she was doing me a favor and upgraded me twice. In the end, I was given a Bella Suite with a beautiful strip view.

              Venetian Hotel – Bella Suite with two queen beds

                            Bella Suite – Sunken Living Room

                                  Bella Suite with a Strip View

The agent informed me that there was a $20 resort fee on top of that which includes pool access, gym, newspaper, and wi-fi internet. She told me that the wi-fi was spotty and that if it didn’t work in the room, she would gladly waive the resort fee. The wifi internet was blazing fast in the room, but it stopped working for 15 minutes and kept disconnecting my devices. With a phone call to the front desk complaining about the wifi connection resulted in having the resort fee waived. Apparently this is a huge problem with the hotel, but it was a non-issue during the rest of the stay after my brief 15 minute disconnection.

                       Bathroom shower with a tub

                        His and hers bathroom sinks

After settling into the beautiful suite with a spectacular view, I decided to make dinner reservations at Pinot Brasserie, which hosted a pre-fixe menu for the American Express complimentary dinner. I am saving the restaurant review for Part 2 of this series which will be posted tomorrow. I want to leave with one final picture:

          Venetian Hotel Ground Rules for New Years Weekend

Top 5 Travel Essentials

Since I’m a frequent road warrior, I tend to know what to pack and don’t need to pack the night before the trip. I can put together a bag for a 2 day or 1 week trip in less than 15 minutes. For domestic and international travel, I only use a carry on bag and a small personal laptop bag. Here are my top 5 necessities while traveling domestically and overseas in no particular order:

 

1. A great durable and long lasting suitcase for a road warrior. I just bought a new 20″ Hartmann hardside carry on luggage from Macy’s for $269.99. It was well worth the money since Hartmann has lifetime warranty and has a prestigious heritage brand.

                        13″ MacBook Air

2. A 13″ MacBook Air laptop for its beautiful aesthetics and super long battery life. I love my 13″ Macbook Air because of its superior 7 hour battery life for watching movies on the airplane. When I’m not watching videos, it can provide me with 8-9 hours of battery life when I’m using wi-fi on the plane. I suggest replacing your Macbook Air every year when the new model comes out because if you’re like me, you’re constantly recharging your laptop and battery life decreases with every charge.

                      Louis Vuitton Wallet

3. I can’t leave home without my wallet, but not just any wallet. It’s always a good investment to buy a durable and long lasting wallet. I used to buy Salvatore Ferragamo wallets and I’ve gone through 3 of them in the past 3 years before buying my first Louis Vuitton wallet earlier this year. After heavy usage for the past year, my Louis Vuitton wallet still looks brand new with no frayed edges. Even though I love Salvatore Ferragamo, the wallets I had would have the edges frayed out over time resulting in a beat up wallet.

              Durex Condom

4. You never know when you will need one and when you do, it will come in handy. For men and women, this is self-explanatory so never leave home without one.

          Portable USB Charger

5. I never leave home without a Concept Green Portable USB Charger. This is such a lifesaver for me because you never know when your USB electronics start to go into the red zone. I am a heavy iPhone 5 user and even though the battery life is amazing, I still carry the portable usb charger whenever I’m on the go.

 

 

 

Turkish Airlines: Los Angeles – Esfahan, Iran. $601. Roundtrip, including all Taxes

This is a very good sale to Esfahan, Iran. Turkish airlines is a member of the Star Alliance and an United Airlines partner. This fare is booked in W coach fare class and will earn 100% with United Airlines. This is an unbelievable mileage/vacation run deal to Iran since it provides 16,526 elite qualifying miles for a low price of $601, which turns out to be 3.6cpm (cents per mile).

Esfahan, Iran – Photo credit – Iran GashtTour Travel & Tour Agency

Sample Date:
February 19th – March 4th, 2013

Fare availability:
Valid for travel from January 1st – March 31st, 2013. Use the ITA Matrix Software calendar to find more dates. Bookable on Turkishairlines.com

Routing:
LAX – IST (Istanbul) – IFN (Esfahan) – IST – LAX

TKfare

itairan

Visa Requirements:
A visa to Iran is required for US Citizens

Upcoming Trip to Las Vegas this New Years Weekend

This is an annual tradition for me to get away and spend New Years in Las Vegas with friends. I’m going with two of my best friends from college and I’ve planned a three nights stay utilizing a combination of AAdvantage Miles and American Express Fine Hotel & Resorts program.

vegas

For Saturday, I booked a $209 Fine Hotel & Resorts rate at the Venetian Hotel, which includes room service breakfast for 2, a complimentary lunch or dinner (amenity benefit), noon check-in, late checkout, and a complimentary upgrade if available. I’ve attached my Priority Club Platinum membership number by calling the hotel in advance to utilize the “Invited Guest Check-in” priority line. On Sunday evening, I booked a standard suite at Mandalay Bay’s THEhotel (all suites property) on a $200 Fine Hotel & Resorts rate, which includes a complimentary upgrade if available, noon check-in, $100 spa credit, $80 worth of breakfast vouchers, and a late checkout. For Monday, I am staying at the Westin Lake Las Vegas on 10,800 American Airlines AAdvantage Miles, which is a superb value since rates on New Years are sky-high in Las Vegas. I value AA miles to be 2cpm (cents per mile) and since I have a mid 6 figure AAdvantage miles balance, I will gladly spend the miles. The Westin Lake Las Vegas is going for $256, which I gladly will pay in miles. I used http://www.useaamiles.com to book my hotel using AAdvantage miles and since I am an American Airlines Executive Platinum member, I get discount prices. In addition, I called the hotel in advance and asked the front desk agent to add my Starwood Preferred Guest Platinum number to my reservation. It’s a gamble to see if they will honor elite benefits on a 3rd party stay, but it’s Las Vegas after all! Stay tuned……