Maximise your Avios, air miles and hotel points

One man’s tale of a week on points at a luxury resort whilst spending no money

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My article on the new Waldorf Astoria Maldives yesterday sparked a lot of reader interest.

One issue, of course, is that even if you can get a $2,000 + tax per night Beach Villa With Pool for free using your Hilton Honors points, you’re still on the hook for your flights, meals and, it turns out, the $370 + taxes return boat transfer from Male.

Most of our readers would be happy with that.  The focus of HFP is on maximising your travel experience for a moderate cost, not trying to get a low level travel experience for zero cost.  Of course, there is always one ….

My friend Nick reminded me of a classic article which I published way back in 2012.  If you ever find yourself thinking like this person, take a step back …..

Perhaps you’ve been in this situation.  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 ….

InterContinental Bora Bora

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] [with no kitchen].  So here is what we did. 

InterContinental Bora Bora

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.

InterContinental Bora Bora

Mind is well and truly boggled.

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Comments (148)

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

  • Polly says:

    Hilarious, but what a palaver. But if you have the nerve, then go for it…they got their luxury stay tho…

  • dgsupersonic says:

    Completely out of balance. Stay on a luxurious resort and feed on junk miserable food that you have to cook every single time. Go figure… The title of this article is misleading though. There was money spent on equipment and their canned junk food.

  • Andrew S says:

    Cooking for yourself (almost) every meal defeats the purpose of a luxury getaway in my books.

  • Callum says:

    I cook every meal for myself at home, I see no reason why I shouldn’t while abroad – especially when eating out is so absurdly expensive. If I was ever talked into visiting such a place I’d quite possibly do the same!

    I don’t think your mind would be quite so boggled if you considered that most people aren’t as wealthy as you are yet may still enjoy a luxury break in the Maldives though.

    • John says:

      That’s why I go to places where eating out is cheap. Isn’t the main point of going abroad to get/do things you can’t at home?

      • Andrew says:

        I work on a site that has a choice of two exceptionally good restaurants. A magnificent full English for £3.80, or a choice of two “specials” and vegetarian meals daily for £4.50.

        So I eat out every single working day, the food is so good, it would be stupid not to. My kitchen is rarely used for anything more than toast and cereal in the morning and maybe a sandwich or soup in the evening.

        So when it comes to holidays, I like to have a good breakfast, then I eat light for the rest of the day. Probably a boxed salad from a supermarket or similar in the evenings.

        That’s probably why I always drop about half a stone in weight on holidays…

      • Callum says:

        Some things… No one changes absolutely everything. For example, I wear clothes both at home and abroad.

    • Brian says:

      Part of the reason why my mind is (slightly) boggled is that there are so many other places than the Maldives where one could have an amazing, luxury break (in terms of location and accommodation), but still be able to get dirt-cheap food. Think of SE Asia, for instance. That’s why all this effort seems so unnecessary to me.

    • Ali says:

      I think its quite good x I may be able to strike a balance and eat at least 50 % of the times at the resort next time.some helpful ideas here 😉
      To be fair – we missed lunch every day as had free breakfast at Conrad – so that was 5 meals ‘saved’ but the dinner routinely costs 200 pounds so maybe in the future can do 3 nights at the suite and book a Europe mini break for that money 😉

  • Tariq says:

    This is a legendary story, it will never get old.

  • Mingus says:

    As a frequent adventurer, taking food is an essential component of many trips. I could happily have lived like this. Probably more comfortable than a tent on a mountain in a gale.

    • Anna says:

      +1. I’d rather stay somewhere nice and do some cooking than stay in a mediocre resort and eat out every day.

    • John says:

      Not much of an adventurer if you stay in the same room for a week and only go to the supermarket

      • Cat says:

        I imagine they went out for the occasional swim John!

        We go camping a lot and I’m really rather lucky that my OH is an incredible cook (even on a Trangia). We often go self-catering (especially places like The Seychelles, where the big chain hotels are mostly in less beautiful spots than small independent locally run businesses), although I will admit that I eat considerably less well when my OH isn’t there!

        I would be much more inclined towards minimising food costs at Rangali by ensuring I had Gold status for brunch, afternoon tea and manager’s drinks reception purposes, but if we were on a private island resort without easy access to restaurants outside the resort, with sky high food bills for every meal and no status freebies, I’d be tempted to do similar.

        • Alex says:

          How do you fly with a Trangia?? Can you take gas canisters on a flight?

        • EwanG says:

          @Alex – Trangia stoves run on meths (methylated spirits), should be pretty easy to pick up in most countries and it goes a long way.
          There can’t be many topics on here where mentions of Trangias pop up!!

        • Cat says:

          Ooh, have I achieved a HfP first do you think Ewan?
          We’ve never taken the Trangia LH, just around Europe, and we pick up meths there from a hardware store.
          LH self-catering trips are more likely to involve an Airbnb property with a proper kitchen.

      • Mingus says:

        @John: My point was more that if I am happy to pack and cook food when on a 7-day hike, I don’t see why I wouldn’t be happy to do the same on the food front to spend some R&R at a lux beach resort.

        • Cat says:

          My thoughts exactly Mingus!
          I’m doing the TMB this summer. I’m going with the HB option though, because the OH isn’t coming, and the French and the Italians (and probably the Swiss too) can cook better than I can in his absence!

  • Scott says:

    Hilarious! The local shops on BB are actually ok in terms of affordability, considering how remote it is. For a truly special experience though I recommend one of the other Polynesian islands eg Taha’a or Raiatea.

    • John says:

      Well they have to at least be affordable for the person who cleans your room.

      • u07ch says:

        FP isn’t Fiji. The average income in the Tahitian islands is around 1500 eur / month.

  • Terry S says:

    Ha ha that’s funny. I’ve been in CT & Franschhoek eating out & visiting wineries for 10 days so would quite like do that week with no food or drink (except water and a few tin of beans of course)!!…..might lose the stone I’ve put on……

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