About Mike

Mike has a two year old, a four year old and an insatiable appetite for travel. Thankfully, miles and points help make family adventures much more affordable. When he’s not obsessing over his points balances, Mike is playing with his kids, enjoying the Arizona sunshine or watching hockey and football.

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Use Your American Express Platinum Card To Get Hamilton Tickets

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I feel like the resident American Express Platinum benefits correspondent here at OMAAT. I’ve written in the past about the great perks our family has received from the card.

Based on my past successes, I was pretty excited when I learned the Broadway show Hamilton was offering Amex Platinum and Centurion cardmembers the ability to purchase tickets for the next run of the show before the general public.

Unfortunately, by the time I was able to get through to the Platinum Concierge, I could only find seats for $849 each.

I’m looking forward to seeing the show eventually, but, I’m not prepared to pay that much per ticket. I know, however, some people are paying twice as much (or more) for a ticket these days. So, I thought it might still be useful to share my experience.

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Does Etihad’s New First Class Lounge Access Policy Make Sense?

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Ben wrote last week about Etihad’s new first class lounge in Abu Dhabi finally opening.

I’ve been paying particular attention to this opening because we’re flying Etihad to the Maldives.

Matthew at Live and Let’s Fly recently posted a review of the lounge. I’m excited to check out the lounge and see how it compares to other great first class lounges.

But according to Matthew, the access policy excludes passengers connecting from 3-cabin flights to 2-cabin flights:

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My Kids’ Favorite Part of Staying At Hyatt Hotels

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Before being status matched to Hyatt Diamond, I was a pretty loyal Starwood guy. On average, I’d guess 85% of my hotel stays were at Starwood properties.

That’s changed and I’m on track to requalify for Hyatt Diamond this year. The benefits are great and Hyatt has earned my loyalty. It’s safe to say the status match worked out as a win-win for both of us.

My favorite benefit of Diamond status is the confirmed suite upgrades. They are very useful for family travel since we all have a little more space to spread out. And they couldn’t be easier to use. There’s no need to bring along a laminated copy of the hotel’s loyalty terms.

My kids, however, have a much different reason to love Hyatt properties. The toys!

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How Do You Prepare Before Taking A Trip?

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As I’ve written about previously, my wife and I are celebrating our 10th anniversary in the Maldives next month.

And with the trip getting closer, I’ve become obsessive about reading reviews and anticipating all the little details.

TripAdvisor, BoardingArea blogs, FlyerTalk trip reports, YouTube videos and Instagram have all started to fill those little breaks in my workday.

From the food porn posted by the resort’s chef…

…to news that the new Etihad first class lounge in Abu Dhabi might finally open.

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When In Doubt, Feed The Phone Agent Individual Segments

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I’ve spent the better part of a week working on a trip to Bali. Finding award space that fits into two work schedules, two school schedules and our sitter’s schedule has been a bit of a challenge.

But, I finally found a set of days with award availability that should work for all parties involved. I was thrilled.

I called Alaska and gave the first agent I spoke with the dates and flights I was looking for and she almost immediately told me my outbound flight option only had one business class seat not the three I’d seen the night before.

I figured it was possible someone booked some of the seats. So, I said I’d check and call back later.

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Which Amazon Kindle Is Best For Travelers?

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Occasionally we like to highlight gadgets that make travel easier, or that enhance the travel experience.

One of those “no-brainer” items for us has been the Amazon Kindle — not only is it a great piece of technology, but turns out it’s much easier to avoid checking a bag when your travel companion can pack a small Kindle instead of eight books on a weekend trip.

In a quick poll of the group here at OMAAT, everyone has a Kindle of some sort. Travis and his family use a Kindle Fire, but everyone else has some type of Kindle E-reader in their travel bag.

Conveniently, we use a variety of devices as well.

Unlike some electronics, the Kindle isn’t a gimmicky item you use for three weeks and tire of. We’ve used ours extensively, and everyone here likes theirs as well. They’re lightweight, easy to read in the sunlight, and the novelty of being able to download a new book poolside hasn’t worn off yet.

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More Adele SPG Moments Available (This Time in LA)

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Adele’s concerts at the O2 have been well covered here at OMAAT. I wrote about them when they became available on the SPG Moments site. Ben posted about it being his favorite points redemption ever. And then Ben recently reviewed the show he attended.

I know some of you mentioned in the comments of those posts that you wished something was available in the US.

Well, you’re in luck. Adele’s August shows at the Staples Center have been posted on the SPG Moments website. Two tickets in the SPG Suite are 35,000 SPG points.

I’d move quickly if you’re interested in this. If the shows at the O2 are any measure, these tickets will go very fast. In fact, the August 6th show is already sold out.

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AT&T iPhone Users Can Now Use Wi-Fi Calling When Traveling Abroad

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Yesterday afternoon I received a text from AT&T advertising an update to their iPhone Wi-Fi Calling feature. They’ve expanded it to include some international calls.

With Wi-Fi Calling enabled on an iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6S or 6S Plus, you can now make and receive calls while traveling abroad without incurring additional long distance charges as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. Here’s the text from AT&T:

An important distinction here is the fact calls must be to or from a U.S. numbers to avoid any additional airtime charges.

The way I initially read the language about incoming calls, it appeared they could come from any number.

I tried chatting with AT&T last night to clarify the incoming call situation. They were not very informed about the feature and thought it had something to do with “facebook massager calling.”

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US Paid Time Off Policies Are Absolutely Miserable

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I’ll do my best to not make this a full-on rant. But, I’m sure I’m not alone in being frustrated by paid time off policies in the US.

I work for a small business and my boss is probably more obsessed with travel than I am. So, I’m fortunate that my coworkers and I get 6 weeks of paid time off. The only rule we have is we can’t be gone during our busy season (which is a 4-5 month window each year).

As great as my work schedule is, I can never take full advantage of it because my wife works in the corporate world with a miserable leave policy. This year, all of her vacation time was accounted for by mid-January. In 2014 and 2015, we didn’t even make it into the calendar year before she was out of leave. And that’s after ‘buying’ an extra week off.

I appreciate that miles and points help us travel a lot more than most people. But, I’m green with envy when I hear about a cheap/mistake fare and know we can’t jump on it. And there have been plenty of times where a rare award pops up. But, we can’t take advantage of it because she doesn’t have any vacation days left.

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Review: VIP Lounge Los Cabos Airport

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We arrived at the airport an hour and a half before departure. After checking in, dropping off our bags and clearing security, we had roughly 30 minutes until our flight was supposed to board.

The terminal was packed and there seemed to be quite bit of confusion in the gate area. About half of the flights leaving were reassigned to new gates and there was definitely a shortage of seating.

People also seemed quite excited to take a picture with one of the Duck Dynasty guys. Somehow we managed to survive without that selfie.

Thankfully, the Priority Pass membership that came with my Citi Prestige card includes guests and gave us all access to the VIP Lounge.

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Review: Final Thoughts On The Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

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About halfway through our trip at the Ziva Los Cabos, I had a thought I couldn’t shake for the rest of the trip:

I don’t think this is a “Family Resort.”

It might sound like a silly nuance. But the more I thought about it the clearer it became. The Zilara brand is Hyatt’s adults only all-inclusive. And the Ziva is Hyatt’s all-inclusive where kids are permitted. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.

— No car seats for the kids on transfers to and from the airport
— Freezing cold kids water park
— Very loud live music played past 9pm
— It’s a poor value for 3 year-olds (they’re charged full price but can’t take advantage of the Kidz Club until age 4)
— A family of four is better off booking two rooms because it’s the same price (using points)

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Review: Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos Restaurants And Bars

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There are a lot of options when it comes to food and drinks at the Ziva Los Cabos. We did our best to cover them all but there are some gaps in the information below.

Overall, I’ll say the food was leaps and bounds better than the other all-inclusive resorts we’ve stayed at in the past. It isn’t five star dining like Al Maha. But, the quality is very good. Hyatt has definitely raised the bar.

One Diamond benefit at the Ziva is the ability to make reservations. We did this most nights but it was probably unnecessary since we were usually the first ones in any given restaurant (an advantage to living on the same schedule as a 2 and 4 year-old). If we were eating later in the evening or when the resort was busier with corporate groups, I think we would have found this to be a very valuable benefit.

I’m going to try to keep the commentary to a minimum and let the images of the menus and food speak for themselves. I apologize that some of the photos aren’t great. Many of the restaurants were dark and my phone didn’t do my any favors. If you have questions about anything, let me know in the comments.

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Review: Zen Spa, Pools And Other Activities At Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos

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With a week at the resort, we had plenty of time to cover all the Ziva had to offer. Here’s a rundown of the various activities that are offered.

As mentioned previously, we took advantage of a $100 spa credit for having the Hyatt Credit Card. To be more precise, my wife took advantage of the credit.

She booked an 80 minute relaxing massage about halfway through our stay. The price was $144 before the credit. You can check out the rest of the spa services on the Zen Spa website.

My wife was impressed by the facilities. Here are some pictures she took while she was there.

While the facilities were nice, my wife had an issue with the “relaxing” description of her massage. She said it was the most intense massage she’s ever had. In fact, she took some ibuprofen that night because she was sore from the experience.

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Review: Hyatt Ziva Los Cabos Ocean View Double Room

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As I mentioned in the introduction, our drive from the airport was arranged by the hotel but contracted to TransCabo. They didn’t have car seats for our girls. But, the short ride from the airport was quick and painless.

Upon our arrival at the Ziva, we were greeted by the bell staff who took our luggage while we went to the premium check-in area due to my new Diamond status.

The open-air lobby really is stunning and provides a fantastic first impression of the property.

Shantal assisted us with check-in and informed us we’d been upgraded to an ocean view room because of my status. She reviewed the other Diamond benefits of the property, which included:

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