On Friday, my cousin Timmy and I are going to Brazil again. Very excited! My last trip to Brazil was during the World Cup 2 years ago, which prompted a series of reports here, here, here, here, here, and here, hope I’m not missing anything.
I’ve been to Brazil muitas vezes. This is going to be my first time in Sao Paulo and Salvador, second time in Iguassu, and umpteenth time in Rio, but who’s counting! Here is my flights line-up. I used 88,000 ANA miles and 25,000 Delta miles, which got me a round-trip in TAM business class with 1 stopover and 1 open jaw and two domestic Brazil flights on GOL. Alas, it appears, TAM doesn’t offer business class on domestic flights in Brazil.
- JFK–SP in business on TAM — ANA miles
- SP–Iguassu in coach on TAM — ANA miles
- Iguassu–Salvador in coach on GOL — Delta miles
- Salvador–Rio in coach on GOL — Delta miles
- Rio–JFK in business on TAM — ANA miles
ANA has been good to me! After booking two roundtrip business class awards to Brazil and Europe I’m left with exactly ZERO ANA Mileage Club miles, and with no easy ways to replenish them (damn you AMEX!). In the coming days, I am going to argue that the ANA Mileage Club program might be the best frequent flyer program for North America right now, but I digress.
My Vacation Rental Stays
No hotel points this time around. As vacation rentals become more and more popular, more players com into the fold, which inevitably leads to competition and lower prices. I love that! I started staying at vacation rentals in the 90-s, when it was a bit uncommon for a single or “coupled” travelers. Back then, vacation rentals were designed for families and for long stays. I remember the owners being very suspicious of my intentions when I tried to book a 3-4 day stay, even though they did usually get over it, money is money.
Nowadays, there is no problem booking an apartment for a very short stay. You will normally pay more, as you are still responsible for cleaning or whatever other fees they can throw down your way, but more often than not, it still makes good financial sense. I usually prefer vacation rentals to rewards hotel stays when I can get some exceptional benefits for the fraction of cost.
How much is a fraction?
The pics below are stock apartment photos, of course. We’ll see if they do justice to the real things.
This 2-bedroom apartment in a modern condominium building with two pools, a gym and a sauna cost us $239 for 2 days, or $60 per person per day. It’s in Brooklyn, which is close to the financial center Marumbi, where Grand Hyatt and Hilton are located — and the building is actually just half-a-mile from the Hyatt. I did consider Hilton (being Diamond wouldn’t hurt, probably), but it wanted 80,000 points for my days. Thanks, but no, thanks! Brooklyn might not be the first choice for visiting Sao Paulo, but we are only going to be there for a couple of days anyway,
This 3-bedroom house has its own swimming pool with a Jacuzzi, another Jacuzzi in a master bedroom, and a beautiful modern layout all around. We are staying in Iguassu for 4 days and the house has cost us $326 total or $41 per person per day. Alas, no room service (which I use, well, almost never, anyway).
This 2-bedroom apartment with a private pool and ocean view is located in the historic center of Salvador. It looks gorgeous in the photos and it is going to cost us (because we still need to pay 50% to the owner) $327 for 4 days or $41 per person per day. This is the only property that charges extra for the electricity, but the owner assured us it would be a small change.
Rio de Janeiro
This 2-bedroom apartment with a balcony, Jacuzzi and an outdoor pool is in Aprador, which is smack dab in between Ipanema and Copacabana. This is the best location in Rio, IMHO, as it gives you an easy access to both world-famous neighborhoods, as well as buses and the metro station to explore other areas of Rio. The apartment comes with a killer view, from what I can see, and it’s cost us $624 for 4 days, or $75 per person per day, which makes it the highest lodging expense during our trip to Brazil, LOL.
Well, jokes aside, my lodging expenses come to $758 or $54 a day. I’d rather avoid them altogether, but, you know what — I’ll save my points for another day when there are no easy, wonderful, and cheap alternatives.