I have been lucky enough to travel a lot of places on points and for the most part, I tend to get pretty good value for my points but the just other day, I made what I believe to be my best redemption yet.
From a CPM value point of view, it wasn’t my most lucrative, but based on the time of redemption and the location, I would say that it was far and away one of the best deals I have ever cashed in on.
My family and I have always wanted to go on vacation to Australia and the South Pacific but I was always hesitant because I had heard many horror stories about how difficult it was to redeem points to get there.
Well, it turns out the stories are true. They’re all true!
Australia, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands are an absolute nightmare to get to, especially during the time we want to go.
I have always wanted to see the New Year’s Eve fireworks off the Sydney Harbour Bridge so I thought I would fly us down in Business or First Class to celebrate the bringing in of 2018.
So far, I have managed to book from Calgary to Aukland (via Seattle, Los Angeles, and Hong Kong) on Cathay Pacific Business Class but I’m having a horrible time finding my way back home in the first week in January. I have faith that availability will release in 2-3 months … that or we move to Australia.
As if getting to the other side of the world wasn’t hard enough, I was then faced with the stark reality of how expensive it was going to be to stay in Sydney over the New Year.
For stays from December 28 – January 2, Kayak was telling me that almost all the hotels were booked except for some high-end hotels. Now, I can justify spending up to maybe $400 a night on a hotel on a once-in-a-lifetime experience but $600-1,200 a night? Oh my God … if I did that, the rest of the vacation would consist of eating soda crackers while sitting on a park bench.
This is where you would think to redeem points for a hotel stay but when I first started looking, everything was sold out. Below is what I saw when I searched for Marriott hotel redemptions in Sydney.
When I checked SPG properties for availability a month or so ago, there wasn’t a single room for any SPG property … even the ones far from downtown. For some reason, I decided to check again, expecting the same result BUT … miracles of all miracles.
The Sheraton on the Park was not only available on points but was it was at an incredibly low rate. The rate shown (9,600 SPG) is a bit of a misnomer because of SPG’s ongoing promotion whereby if you book 4 award nights, you get the 5th free. So in actuality, I am paying 12,000 SPG points for the first 4 nights and the 5th night is free. SPG simply spreads the number of points (48,000) over the number of nights (5) to get an average cost per night of 9,600 SPG.
When I first saw the availability, I was sure that the hotel was terrible and away from where we wanted to be. Turns out, the hotel is well regarded and it’s smack dab in the middle of the action.
If I were to pay for the most basic room at the Sheraton on the Park, my cost for 5 nights would be $4,369.60 AUD which is equivalent to $4,431.07 CAD.
If we take a look at the CPM redemption value, we get a whopping 9.23¢/point redemption ($4,431.07 / 48,000 SPG).
Now I will say that I have received more value for an airline redemption before but finding what feels to be a unicorn( a choice hotel in the middle of Sydney during New Year’s) is a huge win in my opinion.
I was so excited when I found this redemption that I was messaging everyone I knew … only a couple people really understood why I was so excited but I don’t care!
What you should try to take away from this is that even though your particular redemption may initially show no availability, be sure to check back because, on occasion, you do find these amazing gems. When you do, you really understand why we play this crazy game.