Happy Christmas! Head for Points returns on Thursday

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Happy Christmas to you and your family. I hope you enjoy a well deserved break, wherever in the world you are.

(Do please post below if your travels have taken you anywhere exciting this Christmas.  I am in London, Anika is with her newly acquired relatives!)

Head for Points is taking a two day break. We will be back on Thursday 27th with a review of my travel highlights and lowlights of 2018.

If you want something to read in the meantime, take a look under the ‘Favourite Articles‘ tab where you will find my pick of the most relevant pieces published in 2018, including our (to be updated next month) ‘Avios Redemption University‘ series and all of our credit card reviews.

Thank you for your support over the past year.

(And thanks to Charles who created the above image for me six years ago!)

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  1. OT: Hallmark Hotels: Book direct and receive two nights for the price of one on breaks throughout 2019!

  2. I’m in Santiago, Chile for Christmas.
    Thanks to HfP this trip is all in BA First by upgrading a cheap (£1999) CW seat using avios (70k + £0) using tips gleaned form here (sales, how to maximize avios using credit card churning, how avios seat availability changes over time).

    I never imagined I would ever fly First in my lifetime, and certainly never on the longest BA route (14 hours).

    So thanks and Merry Christmas!

  3. Rob,OT Having just checked out the Ceasers Palace Dubai.Is there a possibility of getting free nights there with the Wyndham Diamond status match?

  4. Yorkieflyer says:

    Merry Christmas to all from the Arabella hotel near Hermanus South Africa this and Protea Mossel Bay and Protea Franschhoek booked on Marriot points transferred from SPG credit card bonus for 6 nights , plus our BA 241 to Cape Town. Happy days

  5. Merry Christmas from InterContinental at Doral Miami!

    • Hi Denis, interested to hear about your stay at IC Doral as thinking of booking same.



  6. TGLoyalty says:

    Merry Xmas everyone!

    Wondering if anyone has any recommendation on a Madrid hotel for an overnighter.

    Either near the airport or in the city but close to a train stop so its easy to get to the airport around 9am on a weekday

    • Not Hilton Madrid airport

      • Loved Hilton Madrid Airport

        Each (experience) to their own.

        • Yes its a nice hotel but the service in the past was poor and trying to speak on the phone to resolve just ended getting hung up on several times…

    • I stayed at the Crowne Plaza Madrid Airport in August, and had a good time – the rooms are interesting (my room had a shower looking out onto the bedroom) but spacious and well appointed with a reasonable bar at a decent price.

      Hotel runs a frequent bus service to all (both?) terminals.

  7. Guesswho2000 says:

    Merry belated Xmas HfP, this year from YYC, and a much missed northern hemisphere winter! Although I’m not dealing well with the cold any more! Enjoy all!

  8. Merry Christmas and (almost) happy new year from Hoi An. Our travels have taken us far from Manchester and via all sorts of hotels, flights and experiences, virtually all of which I would recommend.
    – Manchester to Bangkok via Doha on Qatar Business Class. Used the Escape Plus Lounge, which is only for Qatar and Virgin Atlantic Business Class passengers (no paying guests, no lounge passes). It was better than the othe lounges I’ve been in at Manchester, but nothing special at all. Always a fantastic experience with Qatar, and Doha to Bangkok was in the new-ish Q-Suites, which are even better than expected. Service, food, entertainment and wine were all splendid.
    – Three nights at the Shanghai-La, Bangkok in a Club Room. Really well situated for exploring the city and lovely room with separate sitting room. Lovely to be back in this city, but be warned that you have to be at the main tourist attractions (Grand Palace, etc) as they open, because they get horribly busy by mid-morning (and I mean horribly busy!).
    – Lao Airlines flight (economy) from Bangkok to Luang Prabang in Laos. Wasn’t expecting much of this airline, but very pleasant staff, comfortable journey and they even managed to serve food and drinks to everyone in under 2 hours. As it was a ‘propellor plane’, it flew low enough to see the mountains poking through the clouds – lovely sight.
    – Four nights at Le Sen Boutique Hotel in Luang Prabang (http://le-sen-boutique.hotelsinluangprabang.com/en/) which was great. Nice small hotel with excellent service, lovely breakfasts, invigoratingly cool pool (!) and frequent 5 minute shuttle into the main town (only 10 minute walk anyway). Lots of things to see and do, lovely restaurants (e.g. Tamarind, Botanical Garden restaurant). Tried new experiences too … never ploughed a paddy field with a buffalo pulling the plough, planted rice, milked or washed a buffalo before …)
    – Another Lao Airlines flight on to Hanoi for a two night stay at the Silk Path Hotel (http://silkpathhotel.com). Supposed to be a 4 star, but possibly 3.5 in our book. No pool or club lounge and chaotic breakfast service. Ideal location, but Hanoi, while interesting, isn’t a place I’d like to spend much time.
    – Driven down to Halong Bay on Christmas Eve for two nights aboard the Jasmine Junk (http://heritage-line.com/cruise/jasmine/). Unfortunately, as we’d booked late, we could only get a Deluxe cabin (their standard), but the Junior Suites looked bigger (slightly) and may have been a better bet. There are lots of trips off the boat (optional) to visit caves, floating villages, try kayaking, etc and there’s also a spa providing massages, manicures, etc onboard. The food was excellent and, as someone with an anaphylactic reaction to fish and shellfish, I was taken very good care of and had separate dishes prepared when needed with no trouble at all. Staff couldn’t do enough to help. Nice place to celebrate Christmas!
    – Next flight was from Hanoi to Hue with Vietnam Airlines, the national carrier. Drinks service only, as flight just 75 minutes, but efficient service, comfy economy class for that sort of distance and easy disembarkation at the other end.
    – Two nights at the Saigon Morin Hotel in Hue (http://www.morinhotel.com.vn), a 118 year old, French colonial style hotel that, while a little faded in places, was lovely. Huge comfortable rooms, an amazing breakfast and centrally located but away from the backpacker hotel and bar area. Again, an interesting city, but not one I don’t return to in a hurry.
    – Drive south to Hoi An via the Hai Van Pass – 1500m, sedate journey, but views well worth it.
    – Accommodation in Hoi An is at the Almanity Hoi An Wellness Resort (https://almanityhoian.com/en/). Not usually the type of hotel we would book, but it’s great! Lovely room on the ground floor beside the pool, really fantastic breakfast buffet, nice bar (sipping a happy hour cocktail as I type!), close to everything you’d want to see / do. An additional bonus is a free 60 minute spa treatment for each person every day of their stay! My massage this afternoon was very relaxing (as is the cocktail!)

    Leaving tomorrow for Siem Reap (flying Da Nang to Siem Reap with Cambodia Angkor Air … let’s see what that’s like!) to stay at the Montra Nivesha Hotel (http://www.montranivesha.com) for four nights (Near Year at Angkor Wat!) before flight back to Bangkok on Friday with Tha Smile Airways (another first for me). We’ll spend the day in Bangkok before our 01:20 flight back on Qatar (yay, Business Class we’ll have missed you!!).

    Hope this hasn’t bored the pants off people, but HFP did ask about interesting travels over the festive season!

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