Trip report: A week in Barbados on points. Diversification matters.

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Trip report: A week in Barbados on points. Diversification matters
Trip report: Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados by Club Carlson
Trip report: Concorde Museum in Barbados BGI airport
Trip report: Harrison’s Caves Barbados
Trip report: Diving with Barbados Blue Padi Divers
Trip report: Airlines Executive Lounge Barbados BGI airport
Trip report: Final thoughts the island of Barbados – would I go back?

welcome to barbados bgi renespoints blog

I have always wanted to go to Barbados. I tried to get there on an NCL nightmare cruise, but that did not go so well as I posted about on my friend Chris Elliotts blog a while back. I wanted to see the Concorde and I now finally have, but more on that later on in a post of its own.

arrive Barbados BGI airport renes points blog

This was my 28th anniversary trip with my wife so I wanted it to be really nice and special. But, being a points enthusiast, I also wanted it to be 1st class for free. Well, we all know points travel is never free but costs as little as possible for as nice a trip as possible and I did this. Here is how:

cost to buy sbn to bgi

Getting value from my $kyRubles

I searched and searched for LEVEL 1 award tickets in business class on Delta a long way out. I found LEVEL 1 on the way back so I booked that as a one-way. For the way down I found only LEVEL 2 but I also had an expiring voucher for Lisa so I booked that paid one-way in 1st class and then for myself in LEVEL 2. You see my wife has a rule – if it is over 3 hours she wants business class or higher. I like this rule. But my rule is I will not spend more than LEVEL 2 awards flying Delta. I made them both work. So my costs to fly were almost nothing. That is value from Delta SkyMiles to me vs paying cash. Since I am a Diamond Medallion (Platinum can do this also), I did keep checking to see if the award price went down but it only went up! 🙁

As a side note before we go on, this time of year and this route for Delta is not the best. The 737-800 they fly is old with overhead IFE. There are few elites flying this and both ways coach was booked maybe 50%. On the return half of 1st class was filled with crew and I was the ONLY Diamond on the jet. This would be a simple upgrade for most elites I would think and if not you could get 3 seats in coach to yourself and that is almost as good (if not better). Lastly the flight times are bad for this ATL-BGI. You depart so early it is hard to get to ATL. Then you land so late it is hard to get home from ATL. Delta should have this flight depart ATL at 4 PM and return from BGI at 8 AM. I doubt they will do this as they would have to overnight the crews, but as a flyer it would be much better.

cost to stay on points low level club carlson radisson barbados renes points blog

We stayed at the Radisson Aquatica Resort Barbados and I will have a post on that coming up, but it cost me almost nothing. I used Club Carlson points (no, unfortunately, not pre-devaluation) at 44k per night and 3 of my free night certs when US BANK gave them out for decimating the buy one night get one night free perk from the credit card. But If you, and your wife / +1, each got a Club Carlson card today, spent $2500 each to get the 85k bonus points, paid the non-waived $75 fee for the card, you can also stay 4 nights “free”. Get a biz card too and you are set for 6 days for $225 in card fees. A little more creative spending or combining of CC points and you have a week at the hotel (off peak as 66k / night at peak levels). Anyway it cost me 3 free night certs and 176k CC points.

capital one spark cards

I took care of my diving with my Capital One Spark points. They have two cards right now offering 50k points after spend. It would have cost us, with our own gear, almost $600 to do 3 days of 2 tank dives but it cost me nothing thanks to this card alone. Again, I hope you are starting to see the value of diversification and spreading out your spending and points to get max value and reduce costs as much as possible for everything.

rent a car with skymiles

Uh, NOOOOOO! Delta $113 per day?

I did not, as I talked about yesterday, do something bat crazy stupid and spend Delta $kyRubles to pay for my car rental at 11,300 per day (or $113 at one cent per SkyMile). I could have used points from say my Chase Sapphire card to pay for the car and even had the perks of VISA coverage spending my Ultimate rewards points to rent it but I decided to just pay for the car with my CNB Visa card to earn some 3x points back as well as the perks of my card for auto insurance on the island. So this I did pay for myself and with discounts got it down to $50 per day.

delta 737-800 about to depart barbados renes points blog

I really did not want to go home!

I have to tell you we really enjoyed our trip to Barbados as you will see in this trip report. I want to visit all the islands of the Caribbean and this one was unique in so many ways.

sunset in barbados renes points blog

We enjoyed a relaxed week in warm sunshine and clear blue waters, amazing sunsets with rum punch and used a big bucket of points to get real value for our trip. That, to me, is the right way to travel on points! – René

 

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7 comments

  1. We loved Barbados. Stayed at the Hilton for half the trip and then rented a place a bit farther south. Did you go to St. Nicholas Abbey? It was really cool and my kids loved the sugar cane. Also my wife loved the ice cream in particular Ponce de la Creme.

  2. @Robert – The Hilton looked nice as well and with my new Diamond status match may have to consider a quick trip back before that ends 😉 . We drove past a sugar cane plant and almost went in to see but did not look tourist friendly.

  3. What outfit did you do your diving with?

    I’m looking at a potential Barbados dive trip for 2016 winter / 2017 spring, and always appreciate insight into the local dive shops.

    TIA!

  4. @rene – I’m glad you got to visit my island. I just returned from there on Wednesday; had a slight family emergency that really wasn’t after getting there. I did the pay with miles…I know…I know… but the ticket was $568 two days before travel and I used 55K and $18 cash. Routing was DCA-ATL-BGI-JFK-DCA. Out on Saturday and back on Wednesday. As a DM, I upgraded all but the DCA-ATL leg but since I picked up the ticket on Thursday it’s not unusual to miss that upgrade. So mostly first plus I received the MQMs. Thoughts??? You are right, planes are old with the overhead IFE system and limited wi-fi due to the overwater portion.

    BTW, for those thinking of going down, a window seat on the left side of the plane going down is preferred for viewing some of the islands as you fly down plus a good portion of Barbados as you land. (can you spot volcano island of Montserrat?) Same thing on the return to see Barbados as you clime out and view of sunset as you head north due to afternoon departure.

    Looking forward to reading the rest of your report. Hopefully you made it to the Oistins fish Fry…

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