This past weekend I got to spend a hot and sunny weekend in at one of Starwood’s amazing properties known as The Phoenician Resort and Spa, in Scottsdale, to attend First2Board’s annual Sessions summit. This year was hosted by an amazing consortium of travel bloggers, sharing their trip reports from Antarctica, to Thailand, to Dubai, and every point in between. I left the conference with some great ideas on taking trips, and leveraging points and miles, to help me get there. If you haven’t attended one of these, it’s a great idea to plan on attending next time, because not only are they educational, but it is an awesome vacation and fun filled!
You Paid How Much????
Jonathan Koo , of Wanderlusty, pointed out an awesome gem in North Africa. Le Meridian in Marrakesh apparently was only 3,333 points a night in February! This is an awesome property, and using points to stay there for almost free is a great deal. This is something I will for sure keep that in mind, as Marrakesh is on my bucket list. He also shared his experience on his latest adventure to Kazakhstan, which was very interesting. I still cant believe the internet was faster there, than anywhere else he has been.
Stacey Segal at Explorations Guru, shared her ideas on what to do in Thailand, and the properties to stay there, to get the best value. An expert on Starwood, she shared some of the best values on Starwood properties, and hidden secrets in the program that you can totally take advantage of! She also shared some bargain airfares in business class that took her to those places and beyond.
I also enjoyed the offline conversations during dinner and poolside about gaining the most points and miles from credit cards, and other various ways to get more and more points. One of my favorite conversations during Saturday nights dinner, was learning about Air Canada’s Aeroplan mileage program sweet spots, and the ability to redeem those miles on Lufthansa First Class for only 62,500 miles. I will definitely explore this option because you just can’t beat Lufthansa’s First Class service.
An attendee shared a tip on calling British Airways to redeem Avios ; Use an alternate worldwide call center to avoid the long hold times when calling the U.S. based number. This is useful when redeeming late night from the west coast, and you need that Alaska Airlines flight using Avios points.
There was also a really helpful Q&A session, featuring some of the best experts in cheap travel, which answered a lot of questions about mistake fares, how to find and book them, visa tips on traveling, and much much more!!
Too Many Secrets!
However, at the end of the day, it was all about getting together with great people, great food, and talking what we love passionately –traveling, and how to get there on the cheap! If you haven’t attended one, I would do so next time for a a few reasons. First, they are smaller, and more intimate. This allows you to learn more , and network yourself with people, who can show you tips on the best way to travel. You may even pick up a tip or two about something that you will NOT read online. Secondly, you get to make so many new friends, and social contacts, who will help you out when you need to book that mistake fare, and have never done so! Thirdly , you just get to have so much fun doing activities with friends, and enjoying great food alongside. Finally, we never leave a place without making a difference in the community. This year is no different, as First2Board helped a local charity raise money to help disadvantaged folks. See you at the next one!!