Catch The Points Guy Recap Week 2: Madrid

by on October 5, 2012 · 14 comments

in Catch The Points Guy, Chase, Credit Cards, Ultimate Rewards

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For the second week of “Catch The Points Guy” on the Chase Sapphire Facebook page, I headed to one of my favorite international destinations: Madrid.

Calle de Alcalá with a view of the Metropolis Building in Madrid.

As you’ll see in the posts over on the campaign page, to get from Miami to Madrid, I transferred Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my British Airways Executive Club account and booked a last-minute one-way Club World (business class) ticket – which ordinarily would have cost around $5,000! – using 65,000 points and $480.77 in taxes, fees and carrier charges.*

I flew from Miami to London Heathrow on the upper deck of a British Airways 747 and used my layover at Heathrow to take a quick shower at the airline’s huge lounge at Terminal 5 before taking the two-hour flight to Madrid, where I arrived well rested and ready to watch the Euro Cup soccer…uh, I mean futbol…finals.

The Westin Palace Madrid.

When deciding where to stay, I found I could redeem 21,306 Ultimate Rewards points to stay at the Westin Palace Madrid, which is one of my favorite hotels in the city, and where a standard room was going for $267 a night. Though Starwood isn’t a transfer partner of Ultimate Rewards, I redeemed points directly through the Chase travel portal and since Chase Sapphire Preferred cardholders get a 20% discount, so each of my points was worth 1.25 cents. Note: Since Starwood only counts days booked directly through them for points and elite status, I didn’t earn either on my stay.

Museo del Prado

Some of the things I love about this particular hotel is how centrally it’s located and the fact that it’s near major museums like El Prado and the Reina Sofia, which I try to visit every time I’m in the city. Even better, my rate included breakfast in the Opera restaurant, with its gorgeous stained-glass dome, and which is one of the most spectacular hotel restaurants I’ve ever visited.

I happened to be in the city for the Euro Cup final, so I went with my friend Lori to a local bar called La Manduca to watch the game with a rowdy crowd that went into a joyful frenzy when Spain won. It was the perfect Madrid evening.

The wild crowd at La Manduca for the Euro Cup final!

The other days I spent in the city included a visit to leafy Buen Retiro park and rowing in its small lake, enjoying a hearty plate of huevos rotos (“broken eggs” scrambled with chorizo, tomato and potato in a skillet) and visiting a “Ham Museum” where I picked up some slices of my favorite jamon Serrano.

Delicious plate of ham at Museo del Jamon.

Some of my other top spots in Madrid include an adorable little museum called the Museo Sorolla to look at the small but brilliant collection of Impressionist paintings – it only takes about 30 minutes to go through in details, so it’s perfect for a little dose of culture.

I head to a restaurant called Lateral to snack on their delicious tostas and pinchos, La Finca de Susana near the Puerta del Sol for an upscale lunch or dinner of nouvelle Spanish cuisine in their beautiful dining room; and I go for drinks either at Ole Lola in the Tribunal barrio which is filled with buzzing nightlife, or the rooftop of Mercado San Anton in Chueca – the perfect spot for a nightcap.

Puerta de Alcalá

I love Madrid, and when I’m there, it’s hard to imagine leaving, but after a few days, it was time to head to my next “Catch The Points Guy” destination. Check the Chase Sapphire Preferred Facebook page next week to find out where I was headed.

Note: I was compensated by Chase for my participation in this campaign, but all opinions expressed are completely my own.

*Avios redemption levels, taxes, fees and carrier charges cited at time of publication subject to change.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Josh MacDonald

    last time I was in Spain I had to smuggle back some bellota, ended up bringing it out to the NoVA wineries and enjoying there

  • John

    21,000 pts for 1 nt at the Westin seems like a horrible redemption, plus no Starwood stay credit. Are you advocating we do this? Also, did Chase pay for this room and the BA flt? I thought you were originally booked on a Swiss flt?

  • Joe

    What about the return trip? I presume most CSP customers would be looking to get back home. Odd promotion.

  • Bandave

    The Euro Cup final was 2 months ago. Forget this silly promotion and get back to your normal informative blog posts.

  • Wondering

    Why did you redeem Chase points at 1.25 cents a point? That seems like a terrible redemption, with no stay benefit or points…

  • arcticbull

    All the redemptions were dreadful. Really, Chase->BA and $500YQ? For J class? Why on earth didn’t you send them to United to redeem on Lufthansa in First with no YQ? It’s the same number of points! And you get Caviar and the insane First Class Terminal! My last experience in BA F was pretty bad, so I’m in no rush to try their J product.

    And redeeming Starwood via Chase? With no stay credit or miles earned? That’s what Hyatt is for! You could have stayed at a Park for the same number of points. You may have done even better if you’d just used the points for a 1cpm statement credit and earned 6SPG per dollar.

    This post makes my head hurt.

    Not to mention why are there 6 comments but you’re only showing 1? Are the others negative too? They must be. Sad.

  • Swest2004

    I would love help on trip planning to Madrid, well actually San Sabastian for a wedding in July. I have great credit but am not good on the points game. I am doing base research for flying out of LAX or San Diego, CA. I am trying to find which airlines to target, credit card points programs, and transfers. I would be able to spend 5k in three months or more if necessary since I have my own business. Can you recommend a strategy?

  • Claire Newmar

    This perverted man molested my young nephew and is NOT to be trusted!

  • jg

    Agree on the crap redemptions. However in Brian’s defense there is no Hyatt property in Madrid anymore. The Hilton property is way out by the airport. And we have to remember that this trip was funded and paid for by Chase, so it is not like these costs came out of his pocket.

  • Xpertflyertrial10

    I know you’re shilling for Chase but if you’re trying to show us “how to get the most out of our points” you’re doing visitors of that facebook page a GIGANTIC disservice by what you showed here.

  • arcticbull

    You know he picked where he went right? Maybe he should have chosen somewhere with a Hyatt. He isn’t doing Chase any favors with this article as it’s not showing the strengths of the card at all. You know, BA for short-hauls, UA for premium First/Business partner redemptions with no YQ, and Hyatt for hotels. Or even KE for First out to ICN, something no other card will get you! There’s so much goodness here, and this article includes absolutely none of it.

    Also you can’t transfer from Chase->HH, but Priority Club and Marriott/Ritz are options (although a really bad ones).

  • arcticbull

    I would check how much the hotel costs, but if it’s a lot, get an SPG Amex and redeem via Cash & Points for your hotel stay.

    Then for your flight, it will depend on whether you want to do Y, J or F for the flight, but you can get 50K points on first purchase with the United Explorer card (that will get you a Y award, almost, which is 55K). To upgrade to J you can snag the Sapphire Preferred for another 40K (total 90K, 100K is a J award). You can buy 5K United miles per month by buying Ultimate Rewards for 5K/$125 per month.

    Alternate plan: Snag the both American Airlines cards, the Citi Visa + Amex. That will net you 100K total miles, which you can then redeem for BA J (or possibly AA J, but I’d stick to BA even though it’s a few bucks more) round trip. There’s a FlyerTalk post explaining how to get both at once, which you’d need to read before proceeding. Making the minimum spend (6K in 4 months) will basically allow you to fly F one way, J the other (50K one way in J, 62.5K each way in F). You can buy up the delta between J and F with the discount AA mile sale, or possibly transfer any unnecessary SPG points 1:1.25 to AA.

    So, if you want to fly Y, I’d take the UA option. If you want to fly J, take the 2xAA option, and F, well, there’s nothing quite like Lufthansa First, so I’d go back up to the first option for F.

    Good luck, and enjoy your time in Madrid!

  • Red G.

    I always just leave my points alone and stay at an “hospedaje” near the Atocha Station for under $50 a night. After all, I go to Madrid for the sightseeing and experience, not the hotel room.

  • Red G.

    Go to Google and type “expedia lax to mad” then pick the result that says “Flights from Los Angeles to Madrid – Low Cost Flights – Expedia.” This’ll give you a list of coach fares from low to high. If low enough, fly cash. If not, consult your mileage programs.

    Hope this helps!

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