This is a free excerpt from Upgrade Unlocked: The Unconventional Guide to Luxury Travel on a Budget by Stephanie Zito.
Bora Bora is a dream destination smack in the middle of the South Pacific. The French Polynesian island is famous for its crystal waters in 50 shades of blue, and luxury accommodation in over-the-ocean bungalows that come complete with a private balcony stepping straight into the sea.
It’s a popular destination for honeymooners and just about anyone who likes to be pampered on an island while never being more than 10 steps away from tropical waters.
Bora Bora is exclusive and expensive because it is very hard to get to. There are limited flights to Bora Bora (only four per day), and they all originate in Tahiti.
Hotels are few and fancy, ranging from $400–$2,000 per night for the lowest standard rates.
The average cost for a week-long holiday in Bora Bora starts at around $11,000 for two. Getting to Bora Bora (BOB) from the west coast of the U.S. (most flights originate in Los Angeles (LAX) and fly via Tahiti (PPT) costs an average of $2,500 per person for a return economy class ticket or $4,500 for a return business class ticket, plus another $300 or more for the flight onward from Tahiti.
A typical over-the-water bungalow will run you at least $1,000 a night. If you were paying full price, you’d have to save an enormous amount for this kind of holiday.
Using points and miles, here’s how you could hack this holiday for $400 or less per person:
Fly business class on AirTahiti Nui from LAX to PPT for 125,000 American AAdvantage Miles + approximately $93 in taxes round trip. Book as far in advance as you can—the seats in the front of the plane aren’t easy to come by.
In Tahiti, catch the domestic AirTahiti flight to Bora Bora. You can’t redeem an award for this final segment, but you can pay the $300 fee with your Chase Sapphire Preferred card and earn double points for airfare with no foreign transaction fees.
Your over-water bungalow (paid for with points) awaits you at the Intercontinental Thalasso. This will cost 200,000 InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) points for a 4-night stay (50,000 points per night).
Pay for one of these nights with the 60,000 now 70,000 point signup bonus you receive from the IHG Reward Club Select MasterCard from Chase and cover the rest with points transferred from your Chase Ultimate Rewards account.
True, 200,000 points is a lot for a hotel stay. But Bora Bora is paradise, and sometimes it’s worth it to redeem a lot of points for paradise. Life is for spending, and so are miles & points.
Done. Time for Piña Coladas.
This was an excerpt from Upgrade Unlocked, written by Stephanie Zito. If you learned something from the post, you can purchase the whole guide and learn a lot more. Pricing begins at just $39.