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Background

There were a number of places I wanted to visit in the USA and it seemed that 2007 was the perfect time to do it. With the US Dollar at record lows again the Pound Sterling, it made even more sense to make sure I headed over the pond. With limited vacation time from work, I would not be able to visit all the places I wanted, but it's always good to leave something for next time! The key places I intended to visit and couldn't on this trip were Chicago and Alaska. Due to the limited vacation time, I decided to split this trip into two parts, an initial 10 day holiday to New York, Boston, Hawaii and San Francisco in June and a second trip later in the year in September to Las Vegas, perhaps the absolute top of my wish list, Las Vegas!

Part 1

Planning - Flights

In terms of getting to the USA and back it always makes sense for me to take British Airways - they have a good network and usually have relatively good availability for planning 6 months out as I did. Having played around with several bookings, I settled on a "miles for upgrade" tickets - that's booked tickets in World Traveller Plus with a very good value 25k miles upgrade to Club World. These would take me to New York JFK and would hopefully be my first experience of BA's new generation Club World product, and back on my beloved day flight from Boston.

Internally, there was only one option I considered to get to Hawaii, and that was a YUP run on American Airlines (AA). This is an economy fare with a guaranteed upgrade and earns oodles of Tier Points in the BA frequent flyer programme due to the length of the flights - I won't go into it here, but it is very rewarding. This would take me from Boston to Honolulu (via LAX) and back via San Francisco with a stopover in that great city. The only other short flight in part one is an evening hop on AA up to Boston from La Guardia.

Planning - Hotels

My natural gut reaction to book IC hotels took over and I automatically booked the IC Barclay in NYC. My early pinning down of this was good as the price at the time was over $400 for the cheapest room, and subsequently to my booking at the historic rate of 30k PC points, this is one of the hotels which now cost 40k points per night (a 25% increase!).

Apart from this, and having had an entirely acceptable experience in the Hilton Kuala Lumpur in March, I decided to give some Hiltons a try. This was a no brainer at Boston Logan airport where on a short stopover (arriving after 10pm, departing at 8am) the situation of the hotel actually in the airport allows critical transfer time to be turned into extra zzzz's! In San Francisco, I was pondering the Crowne Plaza Union Square, but when I spotted the Hilton on O'Farrell St. at a very reasonable price, I jumped at the chance.

In Hawaii I prevaricated for a long time before eventually plumping for the Hilton Waikiki Prince Kuhio, a relative newcomer to the Hilton brand. This was cheaper than the Hawaiian Village and other major brand hotels in Waikiki and the hotel looked good on the website. Two factors swung my decision Hilton's way - firstly I'm a recently "comped" Gold Hhonors status through the Amex Platinum charge card programme and secondly at 1k bmi miles per night that's a total of 6k bmi miles plus a double Hilton points promotion until the end of July. I had to take advantage of these excellent offers (the bmi one is a very good value permanent promotion).

Part 2

Planning - Flights

Another MFU was going to get me to the USA for the second part of my holiday, this time a simple return to LAX, a similar trip to my previous visit to the West Coast a couple of years before. A couple of simple add-on's to get me from Las Vegas to San Diego and then back to LAX were tacked on for very few dollars indeed. And, the latter would provide me with my first prop-job experience.

Planning - Hotels

I took advantage of a great deal on the Bellagio website to stay at this hotel for the first 3 nights in Vegas, thereafter joining a friend of mine who had booked a room at the Wynn. In San Diego, I decided to put value-for-money ahead of luxury and stayed at the Hampton Inn Downtown, a basic but clean and new property.