Our $231 Luxury Bermuda Trip using Travel Rewards Points

We just took our summer vacation to New York City and Bermuda and it is a great example of how you can save thousands of dollars using travel rewards points.

We saved $5,500 off our luxury vacation, and only paid a net $104.79 for the hotel plus $126.50 on unavoidable flight taxes for a grand total of $231.29!

Andaz 5th Avenue in New York City Using Hyatt Points

Even though we’re the ‘Richmond Savers,’ Laura and I lived most of our lives on Long Island, NY, and the majority of our family is still up there. We drove up to NY on July 16th and Laura’s parents were kind enough to watch our daughters for 5 nights starting on the 17th so we could take a 5-night getaway to New York City and Bermuda.

We booked a one night stay at the Andaz 5th Avenue hotel in New York City for the 17th. The Andaz is Hyatt’s hip and trendy line of hotels, and this hotel is great: perfect location, incredible rooms with high ceilings, comfortable beds and the best upscale bathrooms I’ve ever seen. They offer completely free wine to hotel guests each evening, which is such a nice touch and a real money saver in NYC!

This was our second time staying at the Andaz 5th Avenue, and we just love the place. It is a hefty 25,000 Hyatt points per night (which we transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards), but the hotel makes us feel like luxury travelers, so we felt it was worth the splurge.

The regular rate on the hotel is $400+ per night, so this was easily a savings of $400 by using our Hyatt points.

Bermuda: Four Nights in Paradise

Brad & Laura BermudaThe next day we made our way to JFK airport to fly to Bermuda, and it couldn’t have gone more smoothly. We used our British Airways Avios points to book this American Airlines flight (since the two airlines are alliance partners) and it only cost us 15,000 Avios plus $63.25 each in unavoidable taxes and fees (30k Avios total plus $126.50).

Using British Airways Avios this way is one of the great sweet spots in travel rewards as this would have cost 35,000 American Airlines miles each for the exact same flight!

So instead of spending 70,000 AA miles, it cost us 30,000 Avios.

This exact deal is available using Avios from five east coast cities including NY, DC, Philadelphia, Charlotte and Miami. If you want to learn more, check out our new travel coaching video training series for a video on this sweet spot.

For your reference, you can earn Avios from the British Airways credit card, Chase Ultimate Rewards transfers, Amex Membership rewards transfers, and Starwood Preferred Guest transfers making them some of the easiest points to stockpile.

Another nice perk of using Avios on American Airlines is that you get “Priority AAccess” written on your boarding pass, so you’re able to zip through security with the other priority members and you are able to board the plane early as well. This can save a ton of time at a busy airport like JFK!

These flights easily would have cost us $400+ each, so after paying the taxes we saved about $700 by redeeming 30,000 Avios.

The Fairmont Hamilton Princess

Laura and I each opened up the Fairmont credit card, which, after meeting the minimum spending requirement, gave us each: 2 free nights at any Fairmont hotel in the world, $100 credit towards breakfast and $50 towards other food/drinks during the stay.

It also gave us Fairmont Premier elite status and one of the perks of Premier status is that you get one free suite upgrade per year. And we were able to apply this free suite upgrade to our free nights from the credit card, which was very surprising!

We booked at the luxurious Fairmont Hamilton Princess hotel, right on the harbor in Hamilton.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted at the Fairmont President’s Club desk and we were told our suite was in the newly renovated Poinciana Wing of the hotel only steps away from the completely new infinity pool overlooking Hamilton Harbor!

So we walk down to Room 106 and our jaws hit the floor when we opened the door – it was seriously like something out of HGTV’s dream home! I have never seen a nicer hotel room – it was perfect.

Fairmont Hamilton Princess Suite Bermuda

Picture from the Fairmont website of our exact room!!

On some level I can see how people would pay the regular rate of roughly $1,000 per night for a room like this, as you felt like royalty there. It was at least the size of two regular hotel rooms with top of the line furnishings, two big screen TVs, an L-shaped couch, a huge patio with lounge chairs and a table, and an amazing bathroom with a full soaking tub. Just incredible!

Bermuda: A Wonderfully Expensive Vacation Destination

We loved Bermuda – it is such a beautiful country, and we’ve never felt safer or more welcome in a foreign nation. Bermuda is unbelievably expensive though! We seriously couldn’t believe people could afford vacationing there if they were paying for their airfare and hotel.

Some examples:

  • The buffet breakfast at the Fairmont was $29 plus tip! That means most couples in that restaurant were paying about $70 just for breakfast. $70 for breakfast!?!
  • The cheapest glass of wine we could find in a restaurant was about $12 plus tip, so about $15.
  • You would be hard pressed to find an entrée at any restaurant in Hamilton for under $20. We had a delicious Thai dinner one night, but Pad Thai which normally costs about $10 in Richmond was $26! And if you didn’t want to spend that much, you had no options other than not eating, which wasn’t exactly plausible.

Checking Out: How Easy Can it Be?

The staff at the Fairmont was top-notch in every respect, and they made the entire checkout process with all of our “free certificates” a breeze!

Our bill should have been:

  • $4,000 approximately for four nights in the suite
  • $169.60 for resort fees and gratuities (unavoidable)
  • $195.30 for breakfast
  • $139.89 for assorted food and drinks and transportation
  • Total of: $4,504.79

Our Fairmont credit card bonus certificates got us the $4,000 room plus another $300 in food and drinks taken off the bill so after all the discounts our final bill was: $204.79!

And of course we put that charge on the Barclaycard Arrival Plus™ World Elite MasterCard® so it actually cost us a net $104.79 since we were able to redeem $100 in statement credits against that expense.

To Review: It was $126.50 for the flight taxes and fees and $104.79 net out of pocket for the hotel so in total we paid $231.29 for this trip!

Our final savings tally for the trip:

  • $400 at the Andaz 5th Avenue
  • $700 on the flights to Bermuda
  • $4,300 from the Fairmont credit cards
  • $100 Barclaycard Arrival redemption
  • Total savings: $5,500!

A few months prior to our departure, our close friends Kevin and Julie decided to join us on the trip and they were able to open up two Fairmont credit cards and book four nights at the Fairmont Hamilton Princess. That saved them approximately $4,300 on the trip! This brings our total savings on the trip between the four of us to nearly ten thousand dollars.

Most importantly, we had a blast spending four days in paradise with our friends and this travel rewards strategy took an impossible trip and not only made it possible, but made it downright inexpensive.

Frog & Onion Brewery Bermuda

Enjoying local beers at the Frog & Onion Pub and Brewing Co.

If you’re interested in getting started with travel rewards, sign up for our completely free (no gimmicks) travel rewards coaching program below and I’ll help you get started with your own personalized strategy:

Comment Disclaimer:

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    • says

      Thanks Michelle — it was an amazing trip! This concept is so much fun, and now that our kids are getting older and we’ve accumulated points for so long we’re finally able to spend them :)

    • says

      Thanks Holly!!

      Yeah, it is hard to believe how expensive everything was there. We’d seriously look around and say, “do you believe people are spending $70+ in actual cash for this breakfast??” It almost becomes like funny money when you’re just charging things to the room, but when checkout time comes that plate of eggs and bacon really did cost $70 for those people!

    • says

      Thanks Amanda — it was great that our friends were able to join us!! That definitely made the trip that much better :)

      Bermuda is wonderful, so definitely keep this strategy in mind for that trip in the future as there aren’t any other real ways I know of to save so much money there.

  1. Alexi says

    Great write up Brad.

    Was the food pretty british or is there a local island cuisine?

    Regardless, that was a very high roller trip for a Mustachian. The room in particular was very impressive.

    Smarts trump bucks every time and you proved it!


    • says

      Hey Alexi — good to hear from you!

      You should definitely check out the Fairmont cards when you can plan a trip for you and your wife to take advantage of a real luxury hotel like that. I was looking at the one in Quebec City for a while…

      There were a lot of pub-style restaurants for certain, and a lot of seafood, but Hamilton in general was fairly diverse and cosmopolitan with the restaurant selection. We had great Asian fusion one night, Italian another, a local restaurant off the beaten path, etc.

      haha, ‘high roller for a Mustachian’ indeed! It was crazy to be in such a nice room; I can see how people get used to that kind of thing! It of course would never impact our baseline happiness, but I can’t say it was unpleasant to be in such luxury :)

  2. Prob8 says

    Welcome back and thanks for the description on how something like this can be accomplished. Amazing.

    While your vacation sounds great, I’m actually more jealous of the fact that the grandparents were willing to babysit for so long. I can barely get one night out of them!

    Thanks again for helping me save money on our last vacation.

    • says

      Thanks — glad you liked the article!

      Laura’s parents are fantastic — they seriously would keep the girls indefinitely, so it makes it really easy for us to sneak away for a handful of days.

      Glad to have helped and look forward to helping more in the future :)

  3. says

    Sounds like you guys had a great time. I’ve considered staying at the Hyatt properties in NYC even though I live here…haha…a staycation I guess! Bermuda sounds nice, plus it’s a very quick flight from NYC. But, what else is there to do there…beach/golf? And no restaurants anywhere near the resort?

    • says

      Staycation sounds good to me!! The Andaz is a great choice, or there’s a new Park Hyatt which is their top-tier Hyatt and should be amazing!

      Bermda was great and it was like a 90 minute flight from JFK which was great. Tons of golf, great beaches, amazing diving, nice little towns and we were right near the main city of Hamilton so it was a short walk to lots of restaurants. If you stayed at the other Fairmont — the Southampton — you’d be a little further away from everything, but they have a nice beach there.

  4. says

    I always forget about Fairmonts, but that sounds like a smoking deal. We felt exactly that same way at the Grand Hyatt in Kauai, like you kind of want to giggle about how nice everything is and how cheap your getting it. I love hearing about your travel stories. We’ll have to put Bermuda on our list.

    • says

      Yeah, it really was amazing! Fairmont does a great job of making you feel important, right down to every interaction I had with their customer service reps on the phone.

      I hear you about wanting to giggle — the whole thing was just ridiculous honestly, and when we walked out of there paying $204 we knew we paid the least of anyone who has ever stayed there which was wild :) Definitely go to Bermuda if you can do this Fairmont set of cards and you’ll love the trip!

  5. Pat Thomasson says

    Great write up Brad. Thanks for all the detail. Your advice has been great and this post was very timely once again.

    • says

      Thanks Pat — glad you enjoyed it!! These Fairmont cards are good to keep in mind for a future luxury vacation :)

      I hope this article shows this concept really works for regular people like us! Our friends were able to do this nearly at the last minute and they still did it with relative ease. Just amazing stuff..

    • says

      Nice — they really are convenient! I like that you can book one-way flights too, as that lets you position yourself for other rewards, etc. They can be frustrating on longer trips, but they are fantastic for shorter flights!

  6. Jeff Wise says

    Very inspiring, Brad and a great write-up! Wish Bermuda was closer to the West coast so that it wouldn’t take so many Avios.

    • says

      Thanks Jeff, I’m glad you enjoyed the article! As you know from our discussions, I’m not some big travel guru — just a regular guy who wants to travel for as little out-of-pocket cost as possible. I write these articles so people can see that this is real, legitimate, and fairly easy to do :)

  7. says

    This is so amazing! Glad to hear about the Fairmont Credit Card. How can you tell on the website whether there is a “suite upgrade” available during your stay? Thanks!

    • says

      Hey Joe,

      Not sure you can find it on the website really; Fairmont was pretty low-tech when I spoke with them, but man was their customer service GREAT!! I spoke with them on the phone numerous times and they bent over backwards to help.

      I would just have them look first for nights where you can use your Visa Free Night Certificates and then nights where the Suite Upgrade Certificates for your elite status are available.

      You’re going to really like the hotel!

  8. says

    Sorry, one follow-up question! If both of you each signed up for a Fairmont CC, how did you turn the combined 4 free nights into one booking? Or did you each make separate 2-night bookings and each got the suite upgrade? Thanks again!

    • says

      Love the questions Joe:

      We did it all over the phone and again the Fairmont reps were just so incredibly helpful. They were able to just do it all for us on the back end after we explained what we wanted to do.

      This is a real luxury chain and their customer service reps back that up. Best I’ve dealt with by far!

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