weddings, wine, woods … and other words that begin with w. (part 1)

Our friends’ wedding was in San Jose, CA, the weekend after Michael came home from the deployment. We decided to extend the trip a few extra days, since Michael had some time off, and because we had spent a couple of days in wine country before and loved it.

I now think of this trip as a personal financial victory (except for the money we spent on food, because that doesn’t count).

Let’s break this down.

$210 // 2 nights at a boutique hotel, The Sainte Claire in San Jose, for the wedding. This included valet, breakfast, and a bottle of wine each night. I have to give credit here to Jess, who made me aware of this deal on Living Social Escapes.

{the hottie escort was free}

$468 // 7-day standard car (Chevy Malibu) rental from National, using  my AAA discount. For some reason, the standard car rental, only at National, was about $200 cheaper than any other week-long rental.  ::high five::

$25 // 1 night at the Napa Mariott. We used our points +$25 to get this night. It included access to the VIP concierge lounge. Yeah, so only rollers like us got to indulge in free brownies, lemon bars, bottled water, and breakfast. We felt pretty good about ourselves. Now that I think about it, anyone could have gone into the concierge lounge by going in after someone who had just swiped their card. But still. It was really exclusive.

$0 // 4 nights at the Hilton Sonoma Wine Country. Michael’s a Hilton Diamond member (again, no big deal). It was a really big deal. Free upgrade to a 1st floor pool-side room with a porch. Free breakfast. Free bottled waters (limit 2). 50% off our first glass of wine at the bar (for which Michael haggled). Respect from all.

{50% the cost. 100% the pleasure.}

$0 // 1-13oz frozen yogurt from Screamin’ Yogurt. This could have been the highlight of the trip. I guessed the weight of my frozen yogurt correctly and I got it free. Michael hugged me. It was an emotional moment.

$195 // 2 round-trip tickets: into SJC and out of SFO. The $195 was for one return ticket. Outbound tickets & other return ticket were purchased solely with points. 75,000 points. I can attribute these points to:

(1) my Singapore trip in 2010 for work

where I worked really hard to earn 25,000 miles,

(2) and shamelessly opening a United Mileage Plus credit card to get 50,000 points.

Because I had so many points (Premier level; again, no big deal), I was able to check 2 bags for free (Michael checked another for free because of his military status) and got an upgrade for both of us on our way home. As you can imagine, I felt really bad about being in first class when so many were in coach. Thankfully, we had our own first class walkway to our seats. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have been able to sleep after facing all of the… normal people.

{trying not to feel bad}

$50.76 // 7-day car parking at Westwind Airport Valet. This factors out to $7.25/day including tax, which is better than the economy lot. I had bought a Groupon ($16) for $32 worth of services, and then paid $34.76 on top of that for the week. This is a great company. They’re very close to the airport and they drive you to the airport in a limo. Then, when you get home after your trip at 8:00 in the morning on a Saturday, they pick you up in a limo. Of course, by this time, Michael and are used to this first class treatment… but not so used to it that we didn’t get a little giddy.

{tired and stinky, but feeling very important}

$89,490 // food and wine. But of course, I said that didn’t count.

So, folks, that adds up to $948.76 for the trip, plus food/wine/entertainment. For two people living large in California, that’s nothing to shake a first class ticket at! (as I always like to say.)

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