My luxury Costa Rican honeymoon on points — TPG staff success story

Nov 6, 2019

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We’ve been bringing you our TPG U.K. staff success and mistake stories to help you maximise your travel.

This week, our expert on all things Spain, Lori Zaino, tells us about how her careful planning to earn points saved her loads of money on her luxury Central American honeymoon.

“I wanted my honeymoon to be a relaxing, exotic getaway, so my husband and I decided to escape the cold European winter for the sunshine-filled beaches of Central America and Mexico.

Spain’s marriage policy (we live in Madrid) states that after you officially sign your marriage papers, you get 15 days off work for a honeymoon. My husband is a teacher (and I can work from anywhere), so we signed our marriage papers in the beginning of December and combining his 15 days off with his Christmas break, we had almost a month off to fly over the Atlantic on off-peak dates.

We started in the romantic glass villas at Oxygen in Uvita in Costa Rica. We then headed to the Manuel Antonio nature reserve to spend the night in the famous Costa Verde hotel, where we slept in a vintage 727 aircraft perched in the jungle, complete with some pretty chatty neighbours (monkeys!), which I reviewed here.

Then we enjoyed the ultimate relaxation on Belize’s tiny island of Caye Caulkner and then on to the rustic beach huts of the coastal village of Hopkins. Most of the hotels we booked using Hotels.com, taking advantage of some of the free nights we’d earned from its reward programme.

I wanted to use my points to fly us there in style. For more than a year, I made dinner reservations using the Fork dinner reservations app to eat out in Madrid to earn 250 Iberia Avios each time I made a booking. Unfortunately, this promotion isn’t currently active, but the Fork app has told me it will soon return. In total, I earned almost 11,000 Avios doing this. I also took advantage of shopping bonus promotions, for instance, buying skincare from Kiehl’s as gifts for friends who came to my wedding and earned 12 points per dollar when I used Iberia’s shopping portal.

Then, I transferred Amex Membership Rewards to Iberia to bulk up my account of Iberia Avios. Because we were able to fly during Iberia’s off-peak dates (11 December), we got to fly in business class on Iberia’s A330 nonstop from Madrid (MAD) to San Jose (SJO) for 36,150 Iberia Avios each.

(Photo by Lori Zaino/The Points Guy)

Then, we flew back to Madrid on 7 January on American Airlines in business class from Dallas nonstop on a 777 for 57,500 AA miles per person. I’d been bulking up my AAdvantage miles for a while, flying between Spain and the U.S. For all the in-between flights, I used some United miles and paid cash for others.

My husband and I were able to fly in style to enjoy almost a month-long honeymoon and come back to Europe with great tans — thanks to some serious dedication to dining out, maximising off-peak dates and transferring credit card points.”

If you’d like your own travel stories shared on TPG U.K., we would love to hear them!

Featured photo by Lori Zaino/The Points Guy

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