A Machu Picchu Anniversary: Introduction

Avianca Business Class New York (JFK) – Bogota – Lima
Sheraton Lima Convention Center
Avianca Business Class Lima – Cusco
Palacio del Inka & Cusco

I think a place as epic as Machu Picchu is on almost everyone’s list of places to visit before they die. For Joann and me, the list is pages long but I’d say the great Incan estate appears on the top half of that bucket list.

The idea of going somewhere for our anniversary first came up when I wrote about a very lucrative US Airways promotion. Basically, the targeted promotion stated that if you redeemed your US Airways Dividend Miles by March 31, 2014, you would receive 10-50% of them back. It really made us think.

I remembered a discussion we once had about the New7Wonders of the World and how any of them would be awesome places to visit.

After a few days of brainstorming and figuring out time off, we decided to go for Peru and Machu Picchu. Even though we’d be headed there during the rainy season, at least there would be fewer tourists and it would be an experience nonetheless.

Machu Picchu, Peru

By Pedro Szekely at http://www.flickr.com/photos/pedrosz/


The best way to make the most of this promotion was to travel in Business Class. Since most Business Class awards are around 100,000 round trip (according to the award chart), this would be great for us to maximize the mileage rebate that US Airways was offering.

With Dividend Miles, searching for Star Alliance award space is easy with Wandering Aramean Travel Tools (WATT). What Seth does over there is great. The specific tool I used was his Star Alliance Award Search. More or less it mimics the results that United.com will give you but in a more efficient way (i.e. +/- 2 days per search). For $15 a year, it is a must-have and a bargain compared to other tools out there.

Hotels for this trip were very easy. We are flush with Club Carlson points, due to Joann having the credit card, so we booked two nights at the end of our trip at the Radisson Miraflores in Lima. We’ll also be utilizing the best perk of the Club Carlson Visa – redeem at least two award nights and receive the last night of the stay FREE! So we are redeeming 38,000 Club Carlson points for two nights.

The rest of the hotels went to Starwood, another program that we need to whittle down. We are doing an overnight in Lima on the way to Cusco so we redeemed a measly 3,000 Starpoints at the Sheraton Lima Hotel & Convention Center. Not bad when the rate was $135.

While in Cusco and Sacred Valley, we’ll be staying at two Luxury Collection hotels by Starwood – Palacio del Inka and Tambo del Inka.

The Palacio del Inka is a Category 4 hotel where we used Cash & Points – 5,000 Starpoints + $75 per night.

The Tambo del Inka, which will be our base for exploring Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, is a Category 5 hotel. We used 12,000 Starpoints per night for this.

In the end, this is the routing we ended up with. We’ll be exploring Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley and, of course, Machu Picchu.

Not bad for 100,000 miles each in Business and receiving 30,000 of those back!

Our Routing to Lima & Cusco
Map generated by the Great Circle Mapper - copyright © Karl L. Swartz.

Final Tally & Some Tips for Club Carlson’s Promotions


These Club Carlson promotions have been some of the most fun promotions I’ve done in a long time. Both Joann and I got to check out a few hotels as part of a long weekend. We each got to do our first mattress run, too. And to top it off, we earned a boat load of points while we were at it!

As of today, all our stays are complete and all our bonus points have posted. All the points have been consolidated into my account since I have Silver elite status with Club Carlson. All in all, with the help of my Dad’s account and also Joann, we earned 264,311 points from this promotion. I can’t say I’ve ever earned that much from one promotion before! Club Carlson is really making a big splash as an up and coming hotel chain (at least in the frequent traveler community).

All my Club Carlson activity

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Hotel Review: Country Inn & Suites Waldorf, MD

Thanks to promotions like the Big Night Giveaway (Radisson) and the Stay 1 Get 1 (Country Inns & Suites), Club Carlson has put itself on my hotel map. With a promotion as easy as “Stay one night, earn xx,xxx points,” it’s hard for me not to jump right in. Couple, with that, the fact that we had to head down to Waldorf, MD for Joann’s goddaughter’s 4th birthday, and this promotion was just begging to be maxed out by me.

As fate would have it, I found a Country Inn & Suites right in Waldorf – a whopping 4.5 miles from Joann’s cousins’ house. So Joann booked a room for Friday night, and I, Saturday night. Simple enough, that would take care of each of our promotion bonuses.


Freshly baked Otis Spunkmeyer cookies. That’s all I really remember from check-in. That and a friendly front desk agent whom we informed of our separate but consecutive night stay plan.

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Hotel Review: Radisson Hotel Newark-Carteret

Earlier this week, I completed the stay requirement for the Radisson Big Night Giveaway by Club Carlson. I decided to stay at the Radisson Hotel Newark-Carteret because it was 10 minutes from my work and it was a reasonable rate under $100. This would be my first “mattress run” which is a hotel stay purely for elite qualification or, in this case, points. 50,000 bonus points to be exact! On top of the 50k bonus points, I also received:

  • 2,000 points for booking on clubarlson.com (or any of their sister sites like radisson.com) as a Silver Elite member
  • 20 points per dollar spent on the room
  • 25% bonus on the total spent on the room as a Silver Elite

Not too shabby; Club Carlson is looking like quite the up and coming hotel program!

So many points!

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