Recently, I spent eleven wonderful days in Chile and Argentina. From the alien landscapes of the Atacama Desert in northern Chile to the culinary and oenological delights of Mendoza, the capital of Argentina’s wine country, it was about as restful, gorgeous and delightful as a vacation can be.
Savings and Costs:
- My roundtrip, off-peak, economy-class ticket from New York to Santiago, Chila, via Miami was 40,000 American Airlines miles and $59 in taxes. As I had previously posted, here, the monetary cost would have been $850. I also checked dates further into 2016 and the $850 price seemed to be near the average, with tickets ranging in cost from around $500-$1,400.
- The flight from Santiago to Calama on LAN was cheap, only $100, making it pointless to use miles. I earned AA miles on the trip, however, since LAN is a member of oneworld and I was able to use my AA number.
- The roundtrip, economy flight on LAN from Santiago to Mendoza was the real corker – expensive and no award space available, it seemed, ever. The ticket was $435, a fact made even worse due to the flight literally taking 35 minutes. Had I firmed down plans earlier, the price would have been a much more palatable $200, but, at least I also earned American miles and had an incredible view of the Andes.
I saved around $850 and spent $594 on plane tickets, so realized savings were around 58%, which is much lower than my usual goal of 95%. Still, $850 is definitely a sum worth saving.
Hotels and Hostels:
- San Pedro de Atacama – In San Pedro de Atacama, there were zero hotels or hostels with loyalty programs, so I stayed at the Hostel El Anexo, a.k.a The Big Whatever. Secluded location? Yes. No wifi past 1pm for whatever reason? Also, yes. Comfortable bed? Si. Cold showers? Si, si. It was wack and dusty, and I don’t recommend this inn.
- Santiago – The Bellavista Hostel was actually fantastic, with hot water, a decently springy bed and a private room for $30. The hostel is in Santiago’s bohemian quarter, which features Pablo Neruda’s house, San Cristobal Hill and much interesting graffiti.
- Mendoza – In Mendoza, I spent 4 nights at the Sheraton Mendoza and 1 night at the Park Hyatt Mendoza. I tried to get a suite upgrade at the Sheraton via my SPG Gold status and by spending additional points to book a Club Floor room, but, unfortunately, the hotel was at capacity, so, no suite.
The front desk gave me and my friend free, full breakfast in the lounge everyday as consolation, which was decent of them. I used 18,000 SPG points for the reservation at the Category 2 hotel. The Park Hyatt, booked through my dad’s Hyatt Gold Passport account, upgraded us to a City View Twin room, and was just a truly excellent property, with gigantic bathroom amenities, excellent restaurants (big, delicious shoutout to Q Grill!) and a beautiful physical location right on the main plaza.
This Park Hyatt was also a welcome reminder of the immense quality of Hyatt’s top brand after a bizarre and partially-refunded stay at the Park Hyatt Toronto in September. The Park Hyatt Mendoza, a Category 2 hotel, was 8,000 points for the one night.
While Chile has prices similar to America, Argentina is generally wildly inexpensive, and the hotel prices reflect that. Right now, the Sheraton is asking between $185-$411 for a Club Floor room and the Park Hyatt is asking $152 for a City View Twin room. As a comparison, the Andaz Napa, in Napa Valley, California, is starting around $350 per night for the base room this summer.
I spent 26,000 points across two loyalty accounts and saved:
4 x ($185-$411) = $740 – $1644
1 x $152 = $152
Therefore, total hotel savings are between $892-$1796. Subtracting the total hostel costs of (3($25) + $30), or $105, drops the savings to $787-$1691, which is still awesome.
Flights – $850
Hotels – $787-$1691
I saved between $1637- $2541.