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Middle Age Miles

Date Night in Beverly Hills – How We Did It

This article is part of our Trip Report, Date Night in Beverly Hills.

In all of our Trip & Event Reports on Middle Age Miles, we’ll fill you in on How We Did It – that is, how we planned our air travel, hotels, ground transportation and other activities to have a great and memorable travel experience for great value.  We use miles and points to reduce out-of-pocket cash costs, whenever we can do so and it makes sense from a value perspective.

Here’s How We Did It for Date Night in Beverly Hills:

Hotel – The Waldorf Astoria, Beverly Hills

For Date Night in Beverly Hills, we stayed at the new Waldorf Astoria.

Waldorf Astoria, Beverly Hills

Our quick “date night” trip was motivated by having a Hilton Free Weekend Night certificate.  We earned this certificate by spending $10,000 on the Citi Hilton Reserve Visa card during 2017.

Ever since we had received our certificate several months before, I’d had my eye on the brand new Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills that opened in June 2017.  It looked spectacular, and room rates were north of $700 even for base rooms.  When the hotel first opened, it did not make any “standard” rooms available for redemptions, and I even had a call with a Hilton Honors customer service representative to discuss the lack of availability.  A few months later, “standard” (95,000 point level) space opened up, and I began to look for an opportunity to visit the hotel on a weekend night.

I used the Hilton website to search the Waldorf’s available dates using the “Use Points” and “Use flexible dates” features, and I found availability for a few weekend nights in January and February.  By late January, our schedule and hotel availability lined up for the night of Saturday, February 3.  Booking the room was as simple as calling 1-800-HHONORS (1-800-446-6677) and providing our certificate number and preferred date.  The only type of room I could book was one with two queen beds, but I let the representative know that we preferred one king bed if possible.  Our actual booking was almost spur-of-the-moment, as we booked only one week in advance of our stay.

How You Can Do It

AmEx Hilton Honors Ascend

The Citi Hilton Reserve Visa card we used to earn our Free Weekend Night certificate is now defunct, and those accounts were converted to the AmEx Hilton Ascend card as of January 2018.  However, an annual Free Weekend Night certificate is still available on the AmEx Hilton Ascend card, with spend of $15,000 during a calendar year.

Hilton Free Weekend Night certificates are also available with the premium AmEx Hilton Aspire card.  The Aspire has an annual fee of $450, but it comes with an annual Hilton Free Weekend Night certificate, just for having the card and paying the annual fee, and you can earn another Free Weekend Night certificate by spending $60,000 on the Aspire card during a calendar year. In addition, the AmEx Hilton Honors Business Card also gives the ability to earn a Hilton Free Weekend Night Certificate by spending $15,000 on the card during a calendar year.

Although the official terms and conditions say that the Hilton Free Weekend Night certificate will be delivered within 8-12 weeks of hitting the purchase requirement, in our most recent experience the certificate was delivered approximately one week after we met the purchase requirement.

Hilton Free Weekend Night certificates may only be used on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.  Certificates expire one year after they are issued.  But they may be used at almost any hotel in the Hilton portfolio worldwide (including Hilton’s high-end brands such as Waldorf Astoria, Conrad and Curio), with only a few exceptions, so long as a standard room is available.  Full terms and conditions are available here.

Search for availability on the Hilton website, using the “Use Points” and “Use flexible dates” features.  If the website shows availability at the hotel’s “standard” rate of 95,000 Hilton Honors points, then a room may be booked using the Free Weekend Night certificate.  As of late March 2017, there was good availability for weekend nights at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills once you get a couple of months out, and also some availability within the first 1-2 months.  For example, during my recent search, all of the weekend nights for the weekends of June 22-24 and June 29-July 1 were available:

Choosing one of the available dates revealed availability for a Superior Two Queen Room with Terrace (pro tip: once you click through to your preferred date, be sure to check the box for “Show Accessible Rooms,” as sometimes the only rooms available for a certificate booking are accessible rooms):

As you can see, the lowest room rate for this night is $715, which in my experience is very typical for this luxury hotel, giving you exceptional value for your Free Weekend Night certificate.

Even this “standard” room at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is over 500 square feet, with an 84 square foot terrace:

A “certificate” reservation can’t be made online; rather, just call Hilton at 1-800-HHONORS (1-800-446-6677) and give the rep your certificate number and preferred date. If you prefer a king bed instead of two queens, or if the only available room is an accessible room and you don’t need one, just have the representative note this on your reservation and the hotel should do its best to accommodate you.

We also paid for all of our incidental charges with our Amex Hilton Ascend card, which earns 12 Hilton Honors points per dollar on charges from hotels in the Hilton portfolio, including Waldorf Astoria.  This is effectively a 6% rebate on Hilton charges (using Middle Age Miles’ valuation of 0.5 cents per Hilton Honors point) for using the Ascend card, in addition to the regular points earning for Hilton stays (20 Hilton Honors points per dollar for Diamond members).  Between the regular Hilton Honors earning and the earning from the Ascend card, we earned 32 Hilton Honors points per dollar for our incidentals at the Waldorf Astoria, or roughly a rebate of 16%.

Air Travel – AA, using Ritz Carlton Visa benefit

We were on a fairly short clock for our air travel, as our plans fell into place only a week before our trip, and we also had limited flexibility with our flight times.  Fortunately, flight tickets on American, where Philly and I both have Executive Platinum status this year, were fairly reasonable.

We booked non-stop flights in economy, using the Visa Infinite $100 discount benefit of our Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa card.

We preferred to pay net $222 each for our flights, rather than look for mileage tickets, because (1) the cash fare was considerably less than I would have valued 25,000 AA miles (25,000 * 0.0125 = $312.50); (2) we wanted to earn EQMs and EQDs on our flights for elite status qualification; and (3) the $100 discount outweighed the value of using credit card points to cover the fares.  The downside of using the $100 Visa Infinite discount is that it requires payment with the Ritz Carlton Visa card, which earns only 2x Marriott Rewards points per dollar (that is, about 1.5 cents of value per dollar (2 * 0.75 cpp)), compared to the 5x AmEx Membership Rewards points I could have earned by paying with my AmEx Personal Platinum card (that is, about 8 cents of value per dollar (5 * 1.6 cpp)).

How You Can Do It

Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa

The Visa Infinite $100 discount is one of the most valuable credit card benefits out there. It comes with the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa card (and also with the rarely-seen City National Bank Crystal Visa Infinite card).  In a nutshell, the discount is $100 off a paid fare for 2-5 passengers, traveling together, on a US lower-48 domestic itinerary.

There is no limit on the number of times the discount can be used.  Bookings must be made through the Visa Discount Air Benefit portal.  As noted above, fares must be paid using the Chase Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa card, which earns 2x Marriott Rewards points on airfare (1.5 cents of value per dollar spent, using our valuation of 0.75 cents per Marriott Reward point).  Airline tickets purchased using this discount portal earn qualifying and redeemable miles at the airlines’ normal rates. The portal supports all major US carriers (American, Delta, United, Alaska, JetBlue) other than Southwest.

We have had success with Authorized Users on our Ritz-Carlton card using the discount benefit, although it’s unclear whether this is expressly allowed under the benefit terms.  It probably helps that AU cards have the same number as the primary cardholder.

Purchasing flights through the Visa Discount Air Benefit portal is as simple as going to the portal and entering departure and destination cities along with your dates of travel.

Given that the portal searches multiple airlines, it may be worth researching flights on the airlines’ websites before you go to the portal, to help narrow down your choices and to check fares to make sure the portal price matches what the airline is advertising.  In my experience, the fares on the portal have indeed matched the fares on the airlines’ websites.

$100 off on airfare for two is a very sweet deal indeed!

Ground Transportation

Ground transportation on this trip was very simple – taxi from LAX to the Waldorf Astoria, and Uber back from the hotel to LAX.  The taxi ride was approximately $50, and the Uber return was approximately $40, both including tip.

 

 

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