Proper Midwestern Breakfast at Hilton St. Louis Airport (free with HHonors Diamond status (also free))
You don’t appreciate how awesome exploring America is until you spend 1096 days on a tiny island where there is no potential of a road trip to drive to another prefecture/state. I just did my first road trip from St. Louis to Springfield, Illinois going a whopping 100 km/h! The vastness of the land and the endless non-tolled infrastructure is appreciated, the $2 gas is awesome as well.
Additionally the lack of bowing and taking off my shoes every location has saved me countless hours in pointless pleasantries. A simple “thanks” has replaced “arigatou gozaimasu” and “morin'” has replaced “Ohayō gozaimasu”. Out of the 26,304 hours spent in Japan I estimate I spend at least 1,000 hours avoiding eye contact and bowing. Yes very novel at first but only for the first 16,000 hours.
$15 Wifi! Waived at checkout with HHonors Diamond (gold as well?)
The best part is much better redemption for points. As in hotels you can drive to, staycations abound, no more reliance in airplanes just to change the scene. In the past 76 hours I have already started my redemption process towards my goal of spending all my points before the end of 2017.
First staycation to empty my Marriott Account. The Ritz Carlton Chicago which was under the Four Seasons Group until it recently reverted back to an actual Ritz. I had 45,000 points left in my Marriott account which I topped off with some UR points to redeem for a single night at 50k points for a tier 3 hotel.
The Ritz at Water Tower Place, Chicago
at $400 a night for 50k points we are getting 8/10 of a cent per point. Which is slightly better than the 0.7 cents the points guys says they are worth.
Second redemption is for a wedding I am going to in Florida. I had earned 50k IHG points by playing their Priceless Surprises sweepstakes. I was able to book the Melburne Oceanfront where the wedding will be for a mere 30k points for a single night.
Crowne Plaza Melbourne-Oceanfront
At a cost of $120 a night the redemption of 30K points gets you only 4/10 of a cent per point. Terrible redemption, but been sitting on these points for too long. In the past I was able to get a $400 room for 50k points at the Inter-Contential Tokyo for twice the redemption value of 8/10 of one cent, but don’t forget where the points came from, a free mail in sweepstakes.
Now the flights from ORD to MLB usually run $210 a piece on Delta. Now that Delta status matched me to our United Silver and Gold for Silver and Gold Medallion I get to sample the good life. I went ahead and used 30k Delta Sky Pesos for 2 tickets at a redemption of 1.4 cents per mile. This is better than the 1.2 the points guy gets. I moved 5k points from my AmEx MR points to top off my account and then instantly redeem for the trip. Do not for any reason transfer points without the intent to redeem them right away as devaluations happen randomly and you don’t want to convert a reserve currency into a worthless one.
More to come as I explore this vast country.