Trip Introduction: The Caribbean Beach Coves of Curaçao, via American Airlines First Class


The Beach Coves of Curaçao are among the most interesting bays throughout the Caribbean. The island of Curaçao forms part of the ABC Islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao in the Southern Caribbean. The Southern Caribbean had previously escaped my travels in the years up to now. With a yearning to explore, we safely booked ourselves on a week long get away to Curaçao to explore the coves of this Caribbean Island.

This post is one chapter on our trip during the pandemic to Curaçao in the Southern Caribbean. This trip was enhanced through Marriott Bonvoy Elite Status and Hertz Gold Plus Rewards. For more information on how this trip was booked, please see our trip introduction here. For other parts of the trip, please see this index.

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Trip Introduction: The Caribbean Beach Coves of Curaçao via American Airlines First Class

Planning the Trip:

With the travelling future uncertain as a result of the pandemic, we didn’t really have a crystal ball in order to tell what the future of travel looked like. As a result of our successful during the pandemic trip to Oahu, Hawaii, United States of America in the fall, we decided that we would proactively plan for a trip in spring of 2022.

The availability of business class reward seats were never more dismal than during the pandemic. With a general lack of seats and frequencies of international flights, we turned our mind to revenue flights within the North American region.

With no particular destination in mind, and our will to use up our annual Marriott Bonvoy American Express Free Night Award Certificates, I ended up throwing at dart out at Google Flights and located some reasonably well priced First Class flights from Vancouver to Curaçao in the Dutch Caribbean. Having never seriously travelled through the Caribbean, aside from some quick trips to the Bahamas and a few Cruise Ship Stops in the Northern Caribbean, we booked ourselves to Curaçao.

Planning Flights:

Flights from Canada to Curaçao

Our flights would take us down on a milk run down on American Airlines Business Class Vancouver to Dallas Fort Worth, with an overnight stop. This was followed by a continuing American Airlines First Class Dallas – Miami then onwards American Airlines Business Class Miami to Curaçao.

For the return flight, we would travel American Airlines Business Class Curaçao – Miami. We had an overnight in Miami with a comfortable 17 hour layover. I had found us a routing on American Airlines Flagship Business Class on their Boeing 777-200 product across Miami to Los Angele with a full flat seat.

Unfortunately, with all things travel pandemic related, American Airlines would cancel our later connection from Los Angeles to Vancouver when they reduced service from Los Angeles – Vancouver down to once daily as opposed to twice daily. We were pro-actively re-booked us onto an Airbus 321neo. Although it was a plane I had yet to fly, we’d loose out on our wide body full flat seats in favour of a regular recliner seat. Our long layover in Miami would also shrink down to 11 hrs from a wonderful 17 hours.

All in, the flights were a very reasonable $1,401 CAD ($1,102 USD) per passenger. I booked directly with American Airlines and paid for these flights using the American Express Marriott Bonvoy Business Card. We earned three Marriott Bonvoy points per dollar for the travel related purchase.

Getting a Great Deal: A Return Business Class Ticket to the Caribbean for less than $1,500 Canadian

We would credit these flights to Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan and earn 150% elite qualifying miles and 150% Redeemable Miles eventually earning 13,022 Redeemable Qualifying Miles.

In the end, the routing ended up looking like this:

CUR-LAX-YVR (paid)

Flying Corner to Corner: Western Canada to Curacao

Planning Hotels:

As a result of terrible connection times, we required overnight in Dallas Fort Worth on the way down. I initially checked the well reported Grand Hyatt DFW in Dallas Fort Worth Airport. Unfortunately, the rates were well over $275 USD during our stay which would only have us at the property for 8 hours.

I ended up booking us at the Dallas / Fort Worth Airport Marriott. The Dallas / Fort Worth Airport Marriott was located a short drive away. We paid $151 USD for the room. We also received a Marriott Bonvoy Titanium Room Upgrade to a Suite and received double elite qualifying nights for this year’s status, thanks to the Spring Marriott Bonvoy promotion. It’s not much, but every qualifying night counts.

For our time in Curaçao, we had 7 nights at the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort. We picked this resort as it was a Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 property; one of the few in the Caribbean. The Marriott Bonvoy Category 5 property meant that we could use our annual Free Night Certificates that came with the American Express Marriott Bonvoy credit cards.

We would use 3 nights for free at this resort and we’d pay cash for the remaining 4 nights. Our rate was $181 USD for the remaining nights. We would be upgraded from the Partial Ocean View Room to a full Ocean View room courtesy of Marriott Bonvoy Titanium status. We would received double elite qualifying nights on the paid 4, and receive the regular single elite qualifying nights on the reward nights.

To get around Curaçao, we rented a car with Hertz. While I had thought about going without a car, I have found that the island stays frequently are easier with a vehicle. It would also allow us to escape off resort and avoid the resort food. I had also read that the taxi’s fees would generally add up quick with a rate of $25 USD on average to / from the airport or to town.

On our return trip, we had an overnight layover in Miami. Miami happens to have one of the better Marriott Bonvoy values in the Marriott system and we redeemed an American Express Marriott Bonvoy free night award at the JW Marriott Miami. The JW Marriott Miami is another Marriot Bonvoy category 5 property and is a city hotel in an area where everyone would prefer to be near to the beach. The paid rate here was over $420 USD a night during our redemption so we managed to get some outsized value out of this particular free certificate.  We would end up using a Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points to redeem against a 24 hr rental at Hertz at the Miami International Airport. The paid car rental rates were over $100 USD during our weekday stay, making a Hertz Gold Rewards 750 point redemption a much better value.

Our points and miles redemption summary:

In summary, we earned and redeemed:

  • Redemption: 3 Free Night Awards Certificates – Curacao Marriott Beach Resort
  • Redemption: 1 Free Night Award Certificate – JW Marriott Miami
  • Redemption: 750 Hertz Gold Plus Awards Points – 1 free rental day
  • Earned: 2,695 Points (1,540 Base + 1,155 Elite + 0 Extra) at Marriott Bonvoy points at Dallas / Forth Worth Marriott Airport
  • Earned: 18,564 Points (10,608 Base + 7,956 Elite + 0 Extra) Marriott Bonvoy points at Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort

It would end up being my first trip to the South Caribbean and my seventy third country visited. I would also end up passing a milestone one million lifetime miles flown on this trip; certainly, an achievement that I never imagined I would ever cross growing up. We would end up with 4 free nights courtesy of our credit cards between the Curaçao Marriott Beach Resort and the JW Marriott Miami valued at $963 USD; a great use of rewards.

I hope you’ll join us on second overseas trip while the pandemic was coming to an end.

If you have flown to the Carribiean, what tips do you use to add value to the trip ?

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