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Bits: 100% bonus buying United miles, a follow-up to our Conrad Maldives review

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News in brief:

Flash sale on buying United MileagePlus miles

The United Airlines programme, MileagePlus, can still offer good value on certain routings as my article on Brad’s round the world trip pointed out.

United miles are tricky to earn in the UK.  They are not an American Express Membership Rewards partner, their own credit card rarely has a sign-up bonus and they have a poor conversion rate from Starwood of 2:1.

For just four days, United is running a flash sale when you buy miles.  You can get a bonus of up to 100%.

At the time of writing the deal is not live so I can’t see the exact details, but the page you need to visit if you are interested is here.

United 350

The cheap way to stay in a paradise island resort ….

After reading our fantastic review of a stay at the Conrad Rangali resort in The Maldives on Friday, one HfP reader reminded me of this fantastic story which I wrote back in 2012.  It was actually one of the first articles ever published on the site.

I thought it was worth repeating for pure entertainment value.

We’ve all been there, I think.  You have enough points to stay in a luxury hotel, but you are worried about the cost of food, drink and other extras once you are there.  One FlyerTalker had it all worked out ….

After she [my wife] saw the video of the room, she was happy to stay in the Coral suite [of the InterContinental Thalasso Bora Bora, clearly not a cheap place].  The main reason she would have liked to stay in the Coral is because of the kitchen.  When we first planned this trip, we had to figure out a way to make it affordable.  The best way to do this was to stay in the coral suite for the kitchen.

I contacted the hotel and asked if those rooms had a kitchen.  I was told yes but they didn’t have any utensils in the kitchen.  I asked for specifics and they said they don’t carry anything in the kitchen.  So we decided to pay for the extra luggage on the Tahiti domestic flight.  The $100 we spent on extra luggage for one of our fares went from 44 lbs. to 110 lbs.

As time got closer, I decided that I wasn’t ok with staying in the Coral suite.  I wanted to stay in the OWB [over-water bungalow].  So here is what we did.  We purchased an electric burner from Best Buy.  We brought the burner, pans, cups, silverware, drink packets, a voltage converter, and 50 lbs of food.  We purchased box meals, chips, canned chicken/ham, peanut butter, jelly, tortillas, english muffins, mac/cheese, rice packets, turkey sausage links, soup, hot sauce, vegetarian food, protein powder, and other various items to be able to eat on the cheap while we there.  We ended up eating in for every meal except three while being there a week.  (Honey is not allowed)  We did purchase limes, cheese and loafs of bread from Tiare Market.  We spent less than $150 on food while we were there.  That includes the market and the few times we ate out.

I do have pictures of the outside of the Coral Suites but not the inside.  I also have a picture of all the food we were able to bring with us.  Feel free to PM me and I will send them to you.

Mind is well and truly boggled.

Comments (31)

This article is closed to new comments. Feel free to ask your question in the HfP forums.

  • John says:

    I’m not sure this tops bringing a stove and canned food halfway aroud the planet, but at university, the library would be open 24 hours during exam period, from April onwards. This provided the enterprising student with a way to save on rent and electricity.

    All you need is a rice cooker and to claim a corner where the security guards won’t bother you. Also, someone else cleans the toilets. Your stuff goes into storage paid with Tesco points and you use the rent saved to pay the taxes on a RTW redemption.

  • Susan says:

    I really do admire the ingenuity (and John’s). For me though good local food is an integral part of any holiday – I cannot imagine the point of going to Bora Bora and eating packet mac/cheese. Also, how on earth do two people on a beach holiday need 44lbs of luggage in the first place? Apologies for rant – must be getting old!

    • Kipto says:


    • Alan says:

      Couldn’t agree more. Eating is a massive part of any holiday for me. If I couldn’t afford to I’d rather go somewhere I could. Eating canned meat at the beach is not for me.

      • Worzel says:

        50lbs of food taken, circa $150 spent, I wonder whether the “OWB” fell into the sea, 🙂 .

      • Alan says:

        (different Alan, not replying to myself!)

        This does seem a fairly extreme example here, I must say! (albeit an entertaining one).
        I’m not that much of a foodie so although I wouldn’t go to this extent I do quite like rooms that have cooking facilities – I’ve had a few of them recently after nice upgrades with Accor and Hilton and found it quite fun (and way cheaper) to go to the local supermarket and do some shopping and then cook in the room. I appreciate this doesn’t appeal to many but I quite enjoy seeing all the different items for sale when in a foreign country – couldn’t be bothered taking a load of food from home in my luggage though!

  • James Alexander says:

    Warning! United “sale” no different than what’s been on offer for months!!!
    Buy 10,000 – 29,000 miles | Get 50% bonus
    Buy 30,000 – 75,000 miles | Get 100% bonus

  • Leo says:

    I accept that I’m a killjoy etc. but I don’t get the whole “going to a 5* resort with a suitcase of food business”. I don’t think it’s big, clever or funny. Go somewhere you can a) afford b) relax and c) experience a bit of the local flavour. I just think it’s weird.

  • Anders says:

    Regarding The United miles sale:

    Can Star alliance Awards be booked online or only via a phone Call?

    • John Thr says:

      Should be able to book online – we did a great business class flight from Istanbul to Gatwick on Turkish earlier this year – Booked on UA for a nominal fee plus UA miles. PS The Business lounge is fantastic in Istanbul airport.

      • John Thr says:

        Sorry forgot to say – use LONDON not just LGW or LHR as some flights didn’t come up if you were too specific for the one you requested! Must be an odd way the Turkish Airline flights were loaded into UA booking engine?

      • Rob says:

        I am there in Feb and will report back!

    • anders says:

      Thanks. Tried setting up an account today, and yes United does offer quite a good way to see award availability for Star Alliance partners. It is however too expensive for my travel pattern even when buying these discounted points. I miss the old BMI diamond club days 🙂

  • Sebastian says:

    Just out of interest how much is an average lunch and dinner at the Conrad Maldives? I just ask so I know what type of budget I need to accumulate before attempting to book it.

    • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

      There are links to menus on the flyertalk thread.

    • Anon says:


      Michael here, Maldives article author.

      Presume you’ve read my review….?

      Because we didn’t eat breakfast/brunch until after our morning snorkel (ie 10:30-12) we actually never had lunch.

      Dinner depends on where you eat. For a main course; Rangali bar can be £20 for Pizza/burger, Mandhoo £30-35, Sunset Grill ~£40.

      Conrad actually have menus for you to browse, some with prices; click on the restaurant and download the PDF menu….. The Flyertalk Conrad Site site should give you more advice..

      ps My foodie confession is I took us out a wee multi pack of my fav oat/raisin bars to go with my 7am pre snorkel coffee, Was still ready for breakfast by the time we got there, being in the water for 90mins+ can do that. 🙂

      • Alan says:

        Haha in Scotland (and I think the North of England too) a wee snack after swimming is called a chitterybite – somehow I suspect the weather in the Maldives may not have made that term appropriate!

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    I’m sometimes guilty of grabbing some beers and snacks to enjoy in my room (especially if there’s a good view/balcony/outdoor area) rather than hitting a bar, but packing a portable kitchen is crazy.

    That said, I was recently wondering what I could possibly use a recent 96kg baggage allowance on.

    • Anon says:

      Came back BA Club World from Miami last week (top deck of a new A380 don’t you know), pair of us had 96kgs allowance each, I reckon we’d of needed porters and 2 taxis if we took 3 bags each!

      • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

        I’ve seen some people at First check-in trailed by porters laden with huge bags!

        Duty free allowance for beer coming back to the UK is 16 litres (!) so that could cover some of it…

  • Jtz says:

    The last Hilton I stayed in, I took aen extra bowl of fruit and fresh orange juice after breakfast with me to my room to have later…. This is allowed right?

    • CV3V says:

      Ofcourse! Same applies to the alcohol and nibbles in the executive lounges….

      • Anon says:

        Not true about most Exec Lounges, but if its just one beer/crisps most Hilton staff turn a blind eye so the Exec lounge is less busy.

    • Rob says:

      We normally make a sandwich lunch for the kids 🙂

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