Tripping Out

I admit that even a very internet savvy person like me sometimes clicks on the bait. I do this knowingly. I am not like a bass chasing a shiny floating object. Jut sometimes I want to consume virtual junk food. And speaking of food, how can someone resist “30 Things Personal Trainers Will Never Eat.” In case you were wondering, this includes boxed cereal, canned fruit in syrup, ramen, rice cakes, doughnuts (duh!) and delivery pizza (???).  Or, “25 Celebrities You Never Knew Had Famous Siblings.” First of all, aren’t famous and celebrity kind of the same thing? And how did they decide who was the ‘celebrity’ and who was the ‘sibling’? And further more, I knew all of them. Like, seriously, who did not know Warren Beatty is Shirley MacLaine’s brother? Charlie Sheen and Emilio Estavez. Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine. I will never get that five minutes of my life back and I got zero return on investment.

But then I saw this: “15 Tropical Getaways You Should Have On Your Bucket List.” I was pleased to note this list included several places I have been, including Virgin Gorda (definitely worth it) and Maui (worth it only if you enjoy a ten-hour flight followed by a six-hour time change, and if that’s the case, I recommend Greece instead). It also included Bora Bora, somewhere I definitely want to go before my bucket gets kicked. The accompanying visual showed the St. Regis Bora Bora, which happens to be a Marriott property. This piqued my interest because I am a Marriott loyalty program member and have a healthy number of points languishing in my account. So I hopped on over to to check it out.

The smartest thing to do when you are considering using hotel points is to look at the room prices first, so as not to squander them un-necessarily. Strategic points-manship requires maximizing their value, so best to use them for the more expensive rooms and just pay for the cheaper ones (the side benefit of which is it will still earn points and status credits). I selected dates for a theoretical seven-day trip to Bora Bora, plugged them into the Marriott search engine, and up popped the cash price for my bucket trip. One. Point. Three. Million. And change. I was pretty sure that was the result of some kind of error that appended three or four extra zeros, so I searched for just one night. $185,000. Then I went to look more closely at the St. Regis Bora Bora website to see what you get for your mega-bucks. Is food included? No. Are drinks included? No. Do you get a twelve-bathroom palace? No. Further, there is big banner at the top of the page that says: “Shared boat transfer from the airport to the resort for extra cost.”  

Suddenly it dawned on me. What currency are we talking about? Turns out the St. Regis Bora Bora quotes its rates in Pacific Francs, ten of which are worth just shy of one cent U.S., which brings the price down to a paltry $1050 a night. But wait. The St. Regis is a category 8 hotel, in Marriott lingo, which means it can be had for 70,000 points. Right now, Marriott has a promotion where you can buy points and get fifty percent more. As in, if you buy 100,000 points, you actually get 150,000. In other words, should I choose to, I can stay at the St. Regis for slightly less than $500 a night. And, if I buy them using my Marriott Rewards credit card, I get points for buying the points.

The bonus is I can say I spent $1.3 million on my vacation. Or maybe instead, I’ll go to the fire sale and buy a Russian oligarch’s repossessed yacht. Or maybe I’ll just charter a private plane and visit Paul McCartney in St. Barts. Either way, I vow to always remember the little people. Namaste.

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