2013 Year End Review and 2014 plans!

 

Hi everyone!  I hope you all had a great holiday season and I want to wish you all a Happy New Year for 2014!

2013 Recap

Well 2013 was a busy travel year for us! I can’t believe all the trips we took this year! My wife still can’t believe how slow I get through airport security though (lol)!!I am going to recap our travels for the past year.

  • Orlando/The Villages in February
  • Atlanta in April
  • Minneapolis in April
  • Denver in May
  • Bali & Hong Kong in June
  • Boston in August
  • Ireland in September
  • Maui in November/December
  • Atlanta in December

We did not pay normal airfare for any of these flights! All were paid using miles and points and only a few had some minor taxes or fuel surcharges. I also have 1 sick day left for 2013 that I can/will roll over to 2014.

Also in 2013 I was hoping to obtain Starwood Platinum status by getting the 25 stays required.  However I am going to end the year with 15 stays (10 shy!).  It just didn’t work out the way I had planned. In Bali we ended up skipping Starwood altogether as the St Regis was so expensive for just a basic room and the W in Seminyak was a poor points redemption.  So we lost a few stays there. Also in Ireland I was hoping for a stay at the Westin and it was booked for the night we needed. It looks like I really want to hit SPG plat for 2014 I would need to move every hotel stay to SPG or mattress run and I am not sure I really want to do either of those so we shall see.

2014 Plans

So far in 2014 we have a busy scheduled planned out already! Most of my vacation days are already spoken for it appears. I think I have 1 day for wiggle room or emergency day off.  So here are the plans for our destinations for 2014:

 

  • Puerto Vallarta
  • Orlando/The Villages
  • Paris
  • Toronto
  • Koh Samui/Phuket/Bangkok (2 weeks!)
  • Puerto Rico

Hopefully I will be able to add in our annual Atlanta and Minneapolis trips in 2014 for weekend getaways as well. I do hold the Southwest companion pass for 2014 yet however Mrs. PointsPinnacle’s companion pass is expiring tomorrow (12-31-13). If we can squeeze anything else in there for 2014 we will try! I now have 31 days paid time off for 2014 so thats a good amount and I am thankful my employer is generous in that regard.

Once again I hope you all have a great 2014 and I hope you have safe and prosperous travels as well!  Please remember to be thankful for every breathe and go out and see the world and appreciate the beauty of the Earth!

What are your 2014 travel plans?!

-pointspinnacle

p.s.- You can subscribe to my posts below. You will simply get an email letting you know I have posted new content. Thanks!


 

Trip Report: Ireland (part 10) Aer Lingus Business Class DUB-BOS

 

Part 10

Aer Lingus Business class DUB-BOS

We concluded our trip in Ireland by flying home on Aer Lingus business class. Our inbound flight was DUB-BOS and then we connected on a separate Southwest flight from Boston to Milwaukee. We drove all the way from Galway to Dublin the morning of our flight and ran into quite a bit of traffic as we got closer to Dublin!!   We checked in for our flight as normal and received our boarding passes and lounge passes. We were running slightly late and I wanted to just get to the gate right away however after arriving we were treated to a delay and new flight time.  With about an hour delay we decided to check out the Aer Lingus lounge. The lounge was packed and thus just stopped in for a quick drink and bathroom break and about 10 minutes later we walked back to the gate. I didn’t take pictures since there were just too many people. There were some good views of the tarmac and gates from the upper floor of the lounge.

DSC03460
Outside the lounge

DSC03462
View from 2nd floor of the lounge
DSC03463 View from the boarding area

We were seated in 2A and 2C for this flight.

DSC03464 Getting settled in

DSC03466 Bubbly for two

DSC03467 Beautiful views on the climb out

DSC03468 One last look at the Ireland countryside from the air!

DSC03469Bye bye Ireland 🙁

DSC03470Whats on the menu?

DSC03471  DSC03472

 

DSC03476

DSC03475

DSC03477
Starter

DSC03478
The seafood platter and salad

DSC03479
The wifes 2nd course

DSC03480 Chicken stuffed with blue cheese

DSC03481
Chocolate marble cake

DSC03482
Sticky toffee pudding!! Wow this was good! My wife got this and I asked the flight attendant if there was any extras but alas they were all spoken for.

DSC03483
Forgot what this was!

The service on both of our Aer Lingus flights were quite good and they took care of everything needed.  I would certainly have no problem flying them again. In fact when we go to Ireland again I will be looking to book them again as long as I have the Avois points and the value is still there. The only downside is the seat is not very comfortable for sleeping but otherwise there is plenty of space I am 6’1″ and 215 and I found the seat comfortable otherwise for relaxing and watching the IFE.

PointsPinnacle Breakdown

Our flight home was only 25,000 Avios points and about $90 per ticket in BUSINESS CLASS!!  You can see the total for both of us below.

BA
Our email receipt confirmation

There are so many ways to earn British Airways Avios points and this trip being 50,000 Avios points per person is such a great deal.  Dublin to Boston is JUST under 3000 miles which is a sweet spot for the BA award chart.  There is so much value out of redeeming these shorter flights using Avios.

Let me recap some of the ways I have received Avios points in the past year or so:

  • Chase British Airways card (I received 100,000 Avios)
  • American Express Premier Gold Rewards Business card (I received 75,000 Membership Rewards points which can be transferred into Avios points)
  • American Express Platinum card (I received 100,000 Membership rewards points which can be transferred into Avios)

So with 3 cards I easily earned about 300,000 Avios points. AMEX membership rewards runs a lot of transfer bonuses to Avios points. I transferred about 75,000 to Avios in 2013 with the 35% transfer bonus. I could take 6 business class trips on Aer Lingus Boston-Dub with 300,000 Avios!!!!! This is taking points to the pinnacle!!

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed our trip to Ireland and learned how to potentially redeem points for a similar trip if you want to visit Ireland!

Ireland was a blast and we can’t wait to return!!!

-pointspinnacle


 

 

 

Trip Report: Ireland (part 9) Food and Drink of Ireland

 

Part 9

Food & Drink of Ireland

So this post is just going to cover some of our favorite eating establishments and pubs while in Ireland.

O’Neils

We loved O’Neils! We had our latest night in Ireland at O’Neils and stayed till bar close. It can get a bit crowed and tough to find a seat. We got lucky after walking upstairs and found a table after some people just left.  They have really good portions of food and the food is hearty Irish food-Shepards pie, stew, bangers and mash, lots of meats and potato dishes. They also did a great job making my wife’s Irish coffee (hand whipping the cream right there at the bar)!  They played live music most of the night in the area upstairs where we were sitting so it was great to hear traditional Irish music and have a great meal and some beers!

DSC02845 How many drinks have you had young lady?!

DSC02847 Stew Continue reading

Trip Report: Ireland (part 8) Radisson Blu Galway

 

Part 8

Radisson Blu Galway

The last two nights of our Ireland adventure was spent at the Radisson Blu Galway.  Now this was a great overall stay and perhaps my favorite Radisson Blu thus far.  The front desk was extremely professional and courteous. At checkin we were told that we can be their guests for complimentary breakfast and that we were upgraded to an executive level room with lounge access (simply from being a gold member which can be gotten from the Club Carlson credit card).

The room was the biggest room we stayed in during our trip and it was well appointed!  In many other properties this would be categorized as some sort of suite or Jr suite. The room also had a very large balcony for some extra outdoor space. The bathroom was also large. It had double sinks and a generous shower and separate tub. This was our most comfortable room and the bed and bathroom were really relaxing.

IMG_0782 IMG_0784

IMG_0783

Continue reading

Trip Report: Ireland (part 7) Radisson Blu Limerick, Cliffs of Moher, Doolin Cave and Galway

 

Part 7

Radisson Blu Limerick, Cliffs of Moher, Doolin Cave and Galway

Radisson Blu Limerick

We packed up and checked out of what was our worst hotel stay in Ireland. A quick overnight in Limerick at the Radisson Blu which was about half way between Killarney and the Cliffs of Moher. I actually totally forgot to book a room for this night prior to departure! I only realized it on our first or second night in Dublin. We were driving to this property after a somewhat late night in Killarney at the Danny Mann’s! We had a blast but it was a long drive after a big night and it was around midnight.

When we arrived the exterior of the property is good. Looks like your standard hotel and it was in good shape. There was a wedding reception going  on this night so there were quite a bit of people going in and out the property and having a smoke outside. We were checked in OK however the rooms are just terrible. Frankly I wished we stopped in Sligo or managed just to drive all the way to Galway and got a room at the Radisson’s there instead.  I didn’t bother getting any pictures of this place (as it was late and I was tired and my camera battery was low) however in hindsight I wish I would have. I was afraid to even step on the nasty carpet barefoot. There were no North American adapters on the property to charge our electronics.  So of course my battery is on next to nothing as we are going to the Cliffs of Moher the next day. I called the front desk and the phone didn’t work-I tried several times.  I had to actually get dressed again and go back down to the lobby to ask for an adapter and they looked at me like I am crazy. However the Radisson Blu Dublin and Cork both were able to provide adapters. Basically the rooms are in MAJOR need of a refresh!! When we checked out we asked since we are gold can we stop in for a quick complimentary breakfast and that idea was rejected like a weak shot attempt against Dikembe Mutumbo!!  We then thought lets check out the buffet, maybe its worth paying!? Negative, the food looked horrible and we just left ASAP. I will never stay there again.

Cliffs of Moher

Well what a crappy day to see the Cliffs of Moher!!! The only bad day in 8-9 days in Ireland and it had to be here where we were outside the whole time basically. It was very rainy and very windy! The entire car ride up there it was grey skies and about 15 minutes before we got to the cliffs it started to downpour. We tried to wait it out in the car and sit in the parking lot for about 20 minutes but we finally decided to just make a run for it!

Now another negative to this visit is it was very crowded.  Partly because the rain pushed more people to be in the visitor center so when you walked in to the visitor center it was swamped-the gift shop and the cafe facilitates were tough. It was hard to get anything to eat and we were starving since we didn’t have any breakfast.

Eventually we made it outside in the still nasty conditions.

DSC03403Cliffs Of Moher entrance. Can you tell I’m freezing?!

DSC03404Probably the last place you want to wear a hat haha. Our hats almost flew off a few times! Continue reading

Trip Report: Ireland (part 6) City of Cobh and Ring of Kerry

 

Part 6                     

More Ireland!! City Cobh and Ring of Kerry!

Cobh

Since we stayed in Cork we decided to take a quick visit over to Cobh for the day. It turned out Cobh was one of favorite parts of Ireland.  Its a small town right on the southern coast of Ireland. In the early 1900’s Cobh was called Queenstown and Queenstown was the very last port of call of the RMS Titanic.

We parked by a church which turned out to be St. Coleman’s Cathedral. This is one the tallest and most picturesque churches I have seen personally.  A wedding had just ended and the church was beautiful so we went inside for a minute to check it out.

DSC03184 DSC03186 DSC03187 DSC03188 Continue reading

Trip Report: MAUI Teaser!

 

MAUI!!! Just a Taste!

Hi everyone! We went to Maui over Thanksgiving and I am wanting to get that report online here ASAP but I wanted to post some pics to wet the appetite!

DSC03547View from our room’s balcony at the Andaz!

DSC03582View from the lobby. Three pools!!

DSC03585Standing in the flowers! haha In front of the Andaz entrance.

DSC03528The living room in one of the Villa’s! I asked if I could have this room but I was rejected! 🙁

DSC03641

DSC03976snorkeling Molokini

Full Maui Trip Report coming soon!

-pointspinnacle


 

Trip Report: Ireland (part 5) Rental Car, Powerscourt, Glendalough, and Blarney Castle

Part 5

Moving around Ireland

When planning our trip we decided that we needed to rent a car and go wherever we want, when we want.  However we were both fairly nervous to drive on the right side of the car and on the wrong side of the road!!! I rented the vehicle through Nova car hire. One of the hardest thing to do is rent a car and get the best deals. The reason I chose Nova is because their basic coverage on the vehicle is substantial when compared to other agencies. I was really nervous we could get into some sort of accident and didn’t want a nightmare situation to arise while on vacation.

We had a very capable Hyundai “something or other” (not a model sold in the states). I actually liked the cars handling and it was great for navigating the VERY winding roads. WHATEVER YOU DO PLEASE ADD THE GPS TO YOUR VEHICLE IF YOUR VISITING IRELAND AND PLAN ON DRIVING AROUND!  I cannot stress this enough. If we didn’t pay for the GPS option the trip would have been a disaster and there would have been a lot of stress in fighting.

DSC02964All smiles in the drivers seat due to the GPS.

DSC03292The wife getting a chance to drive.

Continue reading

Trip Report: Ireland (part 4) Radisson Blu Dublin

Part 4

Radisson Blu Dublin

So for nights two and three in Dublin we stayed at the Radisson Blu Dublin.  This was all part of the master plan for Ireland! Stringing together 2 night stays at Radisson’s around Ireland and taking full advantage of the Club Carlson Credit card!  One of the main features of the card is getting the last night free on award redemptions. So redeem points for one night and get the next night free.

This property is very sleek and modern.  The location is not quite as good as the Westbury but it is not a bad location at all. Very close to St. Patricks Cathedral and 5-10 minute walk to Grafton Street. This is obviously a newer construction property as there is pretty much no wear and tear to be seen. Being Club Carlson gold members (due to having the credit card) we were upgraded to a business class room (#518).

IMG_0706Room entrance

IMG_0707Shower

Continue reading

Found 4 more AA admirals club passes! Giveaway time!

Hi everyone!

Found 4 more AA lounge passes expiring 12-31. Going to give them away! Two winners with two passes each!!!

To win:

  • Follow me on twitter @pointspinnacle
  • #pointspinnacleAAprize
  • Tweet whatever you want! Say hi, say your holiday plans, whatever!

Contest ends Sunday at 9pm central time. You must have your tweets in by then and be following. I will mail them Monday or Tuesday. Will pick 2 random winners!

good luck and have a good weekend!!!

-pointspinnacle