55K ANA First Class Suites, 45K Business Class to Chile/Argentina and fountain-view suites in Macau (Best Redemptions of Party of 5)


We’re doing something a little different for the Saturday Selection this week. As regular readers will know, we’ve just returned from our “Party of 5” annual challenge and are feverishly trying to catch up both the blog and Instagram with all of the video, photos and news that we’ve accumulated. In that spirit, this week I’ve asked each FM team member to give me their favorite points/miles redemption during their “hosting” part of the challenge. Greg and I cheated and gave our favorites for both halves.

To learn how to watch all the videos from the Team SFO trip and the Team TYO trip, click here and follow the instructions below.

Before I dive in, let me explain this challenge to anyone new: If you’ve been following along, you know that the entire Frequent Miler team just embarked on a group trip where no one person knows the entire itinerary. As you may recall, this particular trip divides us into two teams with Greg as our referee. Team Tokyo has designed a five day surprise itinerary in Asia, (originating in Tokyo), while Team San Francisco has designed five days of mystery adventure in the Americas, (originating in San Francisco). Even though Greg is our judge in this contest, each team has tried to make great use of points and miles to build a trip our whole “family of 5” will love.

Not sure what this challenge is? Start at the beginning for a full explanation.

ANA Suites for 5 people for 55,000 Virgin Atlantic Miles each

a group of people sitting at a table in a plane
What? Who looks tired?!

Greg – “My favorite redemption overall was when I used 55,000 Virgin Atlantic miles per person to book ANA first class The Suite for everyone on the team.  This is a sweet-spot that we’ve been talking about forever and it was incredible to finally get a chance to book it, not just for myself, but for five people!  Sadly, Virgin Atlantic has raised the price on these awards since then (but it is still great value).  And the experience of being the only people in the entire first class cabin was amazing.  It was so much fun to dine together, do whiskey tastings together, etc. Some of the details about the in-flight catering and ground services (or lack thereof) didn’t live up to expectations, but it was still the most fun flight I’ve ever taken.”

Latam business class to Southern South America with a stopover for 45K Alaska miles 

LATAM Business Class
We were all very pleasantly surprised with the experience on Latam business

Nick – “While this award chart sweet spot would stand on its own for 45K miles one way, the thing that made it stand out for the purposes of our challenge was the ability to get to two different destinations on the same one-way ticket without it costing any additional miles. In addition, I was very pleasantly surprised by LATAM business class. The seat was quite comfortable, the service from my flight attendant was very warm and friendly, and the catering was surprisingly good. I slept well despite the fact that I woke up one time to my seatmate stepping over me (in this 2-2-2 configuration, the people with window seats do not have direct aisle access). I also liked the open cabin — the lack of a wall at the entry doors made the cabin feel brighter and more welcoming, though I imagine it could be a problem if one half of the cabin or the other might disturb your sleep.”

Greg – “From Team SFO, my favorite redemption by far was the 45K per person Alaska award for flying LATAM business class from LAX to Santiago Chile, stop-over, and then onward to Buenos Aires.  The value received there was incredible and we all loved the LATAM business class experience.”

10-bedroom Airbnb in the Phillipines

Airbnb Le Manoir des Bougainvilliers - Which set of stairs would you pick
Which set of stairs would you pick

 Carrie – “While it’s not a redemption, I think our Airbnb booking in Puerto Galera had some hidden benefits which are worth highlighting. Firstly, the Airbnb only cost us ~$35 per person per night, ($210 per night all together and with taxes and fees). But the win I wanted to highlight is how useful it was having a local Airbnb host to sort out the transit pieces which felt complicated to book on our own. In our preliminary research, the ferry schedule was not available online. All we could tell was that the ferries don’t run very late, so missing the ferry would be a disaster for our plans. Our Airbnb host helped arrange a driver for a competitive price. He picked us up directly at our hotel in Manila and took us straight to the ferry. He then gave us specific instructions for exactly which ferry to take so that we’d end up at the right port and at the right time to catch his “jeepney” connection from there. It cost $80 which, based on my research about the taxi options, was maybe ~$5 – $10 more than if we’d tried to hail cabs on our own. I was so grateful for local guidance on all of this. In my own travels, I’m fairly quick to take advantage of how Airbnb hosts can sort of double as local concierge.”

Suites at the Grand Hyatt Macau

House party in Macao
“Watcha gonna do, with that junk…”

Stephen – “My favorite redemption was for the Grand Suite Fountain View Twin at the Grand Hyatt Macau. It was a nice, spacious suite with excellent views of the fountains at the Wynn Palace across the road. My Globalist status meant we also got access to the excellent Club Lounge. We were able to book directly into this suite using 21,000 points; the cash price for that night was $560.94. Just before our stay we ended up needing to book an extra room (more about that in the Bottom Line Review to come). We booked a standard room for $149.49 (the cash pricing was lower close-in than it had been ahead of time). I emailed the hotel asking for an upgrade to a Grand Suite Fountain View Twin room which they confirmed. Seeing as it was less than 48 hours before our stay, it was too late to be able to cancel the suite booked with points and rebook using the same method.”

Greg – “From Team Tokyo, my favorite redemption matches Stephen’s at the Grand Hyatt Macau.  I love that Hyatt lets you book directly into suites in multiple different ways and Stephen took advantage of two of them for that night: one room was booked directly into a standard suite with points and the other was a cheap paid rate with 6,000 points for the upgrade.”

Carrie – “My favorite redemption was the Four Seasons Macau, booked through Amex Fine Hotels and Resorts. Because of the FHR booking, we received breakfast for 4 (2 per room) and $100 food and beverage credit (per room). It’s not always the case at places like the Four Seasons that $100 credit would be enough to cover the fifth breakfast we needed, but in this case, the breakfast was only ~$50 or so.  The reason I’m highlighting this is because the breakfast had so many interesting options that it became a whole experience in and of itself. We legitimately had fun eating breakfast at the Four Seasons Macau! And since Four Seasons’ can’t really be booked with points, it was a novel experience for me.”

 Tim – “While the Philippines Airbnb was more Instagrammable, I agree everyone else that the Grand Hyatt Macau was actually my favorite of Team TYO’s redemptions. Just a marvelous hotel with above and beyond service, great views of the Wynn fountains and the airport runway…and an excellent club lounge to boot. Like Nick and Greg, I actually preferred it by a significant margin over the Four Seasons Macau that we stayed at the previous night. Macau was a frustrating time for Team TYO, but they should be proud of this one.”

5-Course Private gourmet meal with wine pairings in Buenos Aires for less than $60 each (full post coming soon)

a group of people posing for a photo
Dinner in Buenos Aires

Tim – “Nick and I had two main goals with the activities for our section of the challenge. First, like an actual family, we wanted to tailor them towards our FM friends, with each team member getting one or two that were geared specifically to them. Secondly, we wanted to eschew the traditional tourist routes and try to engage with at least one or two unique aspects of the people and places we visited. For Greg’s activity, we arranged a private, 5-course gourmet dinner with a lovely couple on our first night in Buenos Aires (BA). We were hosted by Ignacio and Josefina for several hours in their BA flat, with course after course of incredible food, each one paired with a different Argentinian wine. We talked until the wee hours of morning sharing stories and learned a ton about Argentina, as well as our hosts’ perspective on their complex and beautiful country. It was magical and Greg was thrilled at the end. An added plus is that we got 40% off of this dinner by booking it through Viator and then stacking a 10% off coupon with 30% back from Capital One Shopping. What would have been over $95pp ended up costing us around $58 each…an absolute steal for the experience.”

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I have a question about ANA miles. I had to cancel a trip to Japan (COVID), then rebooked for a r/t on LH, which also needed to be cancelled (COVID). So I have miles that are coming up to expiration date next summer. Do I need to complete my trip by that date, or just BOOK the trip (use the miles) by that date? And what happens if for some reason I need to cancel that booked trip? Thanks for any input!


Obviously you guys have great content, kudos for that.

A nice addition would be seeing how you offset the carbon for each trip?

(Lets be honest, these are pleasure cruises)

Looking at these forest fires i’m not sure how much longer denial will really serve us?

Peace & love

(yes i fly occasionally and drive sometimes, but i’d be happy to live on pb&js if it meant a safer world for everyone. Not being holier than thou by any means, but I think we need to start being more aware & responsible in this regard, particularly if we have a large audience)


I usually expect preachy sanctimonious sermons in churches


Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and I’m sure (honestly!) that the folks at Frequent Miler appreciate you sharing yours. However, just to be clear:

Not being holier than thou by any means, 

your comment is pretty much the definition of “holier than thou”.