Next weekend, Jessica and I are headed to New York for a quick city break. It's been about five years since I last visited the Big Apple, and I'm quite excited to see what the city's been up to in the meantime. I presume not much 😉
Without even realizing it, I had booked this trip for the same weekend that the New York Times Travel Show would be hosted at the Jacob K. Javits Center in Manhattan, so that's an awesome coincidence. I'm curious to check out over 550 exhibitor booths and meet some people who are just as passionate about travel as me.
We're also planning to hit up a Broadway show, check out One World Trade Center, and spend a little time walking the neighbourhoods of Brooklyn. Hopefully the weather is cooperative – I'd hate to have to do all of that in the throes of a Bomb Cyclone!
This is one of the most spontaneous trips I've booked in recent memory, and it all comes down to the confluence of two outstanding promotions that took place in late October. Let me walk you through it...
We're flying with Porter Airlines, Toronto's nifty little airline that offers convenient links from Downtown Toronto's Billy Bishop Airport to over 20 destinations across the US and Canada.
Why Porter? Well, CIBC Aventura ran a promotion back in October that allowed members to redeem points for travel on Porter Airlines for as little as 8,000 points round-trip.
That's an extremely sweet deal no matter how you slice it. After all, a similar redemption on Aeroplan, or a regular Aventura points redemption, would begin at 15,000 points.
Since I had just recently opened an Aventura credit card and earned 15,000 points as a signup bonus, I quickly scraped together an extra 1,000 points to book two round-trip flights for myself and Jessica. However, the points redemption did not cover taxes and fees, which came in at about $120 per person.
Like I said, this trip was the result of a confluence of two spectacular deals. On the hotel side, I'm talking about Best Western Rewards's ongoing promotion that allows you to redeem just 10,000 points for a free night in any of their North American hotels. Some of their Best Western's top hotels go for 36,000 points a night, so this represents a gigantic 72% savings!
I say this is ongoing because you can redeem for stays until January 31. So if you want to cash in some of the points you earned from the MBNA Best Western Rewards MasterCard, you have about 10 days to get in on the action at the promotional rate!
For our two-night stay in Manhattan, I opted to book the Best Western Premier Herald Square. Now, Best Western hotels aren't exactly the pinnacle of luxury, but I have heard a few decent things about this hotel. Above all, its location seems excellent, with several places on our list – the Javits Center, Richard Rodgers Theatre, Times Square, MoMA, etc. – within a 20-minute walking distance.
Our total out-of-pocket costs for this trip came to the following:
- Taxes and fees for CIBC Aventura redemption, YTZ–EWR: $127
- Theatre tickets: the less said, the better...
In all seriousness, though, I can't wait to spend a jam-packed weekend trying to catch as much of New York's action as possible. There's no denying that it's one of the world's great cities, and it's been far too long since I've spent any meaningful amount of time there.
I really wish short-haul city breaks were more affordable for us North Americans. In this regard I look back fondly on my days living in Europe, when I had Ryanair and EasyJet's bargain-bin fares at my fingertips. However, I think this trip illustrates the usefulness of diversifying your points holdings – ordinarily, neither CIBC Aventura nor Best Western Rewards is the most lucrative points program, but they both delivered big time with their seasonal promotions, allowing me to put together a quick trip for outstanding value.