Free upgrade to a giant suite at the Sheraton Lima? I’ll take it!

This post is the second in a series about my trip to Inti Fest 2013 in Peru.

  1. How I am going to Inti Fest in Peru in Business Class for only $65!
  2. Free upgrade to a giant suite at the Sheraton Lima? I’ll take it!

After almost missing my flight as usual in a dramatic fashion, I made it on my nonstorp LAN Peru flight from Miami to Lima. Mental note: always get there at least an hour before takeoff because many carriers “close” the flight an hour before even if you aren’t checking bags. The 767-300 plane had an upgraded business class section with completely lie flat seats which made the overnight flight much more pleasant.


I have found that it is much harder for me to get good rest with the “angled flat” than the completely flat that are 180 degrees. There was the usual assortment of video on demand and music that is pretty much standard these days. and a nice big screen to view it on. It even had a port to plug in your iphone and view pics, videos or music from there! I didn’t really take advantage of this though since it was an overnight flight and I wanted to sleep.  I took the Express Dinner option which gave me more time for sleep by skipping the 2nd course of the meal and bringing everything else out at one time.

Upon arrival in Lima, I found a taxi who offered to charge me 50 Peruvian Soles (~19 USD) to take me to the Sheraton in Central Lima. This in retrospect was definitely overpaying and 30 Soles would have been a fair price. Taxi drivers in Peru have no meters and instead everything is negotiated before you get in their car. The Sheraton Lima is definitely not in the best area since central Lima is far from the tourist area of Miraflores, but since I had been to Lima before I didn’t mind staying a little further away. One of the primary reasons was the great Points and Cash rate of $30 + 1600 Starpoints that was available. This would also be the first time I stayed at a Starwood property since I got Platinum Status last year by Mattress Running and I was anxious to see what kind of treatment I would get.

Since my flight got in at almost 6 AM, I was at the hotel by 7:30 AM and was hoping to push the limits of the platinum early check in benefit. I wasn’t disappointed and they checked me right away into a junior suite. The room was a bit dated and looked like it was last renovated circa 1982.  I was too tired to argue and knocked out for a few hours until about 12.  It was during this nap that I found out that the air conditioning was also functioning like it was from 1982.  I’m the type that has to be cold to sleep well, so this wouldn’t do at all.  Since it was now also noon, I was hoping another room would be available.

This brings up another point that I am finding to be more and more true.  When you have status, don’t be afraid to expect a high standard and ask for things.  The hotels put these programs in place to reward frequent visitors and it is OK to be a little picky about things because you really do have a choice in where you choose to stay. I explained to the nice woman at the front desk (who spoke great English by the way) that the A/C wasn’t working well and asked if I could have a different room.  She did a big of talking to what I assumed was the manager and came back with a smile and said she had found a very nice room for me due to the trouble.  As I took my luggage upstairs, I was greeted with the 18th floor Ollantay Suite, named after one of the first writings that explained the origins of the Inca people.

As I stepped into the room, I realized why the woman was smiling.  This was a pimping suite!

She also explained that since I had platinum status I would get the free buffet breakfast in the dining room for me and a guest (which was super amazing by the way) or I could eat in the club lounge on the 17th floor if I wanted more privacy for my breakfast.  They also had afternoon hors d’oeuvres in the lounge which worked perfect as an afternoon snack.

The room was a pretty incredible value for $30 a night!  This trip was off to a great start!

How I am going to Inti Fest in Peru in Business Class for only $65!

inti fest crowd


This is the first post in a series about my trip to Inti Fest 2013 in Peru.

For the last two years, my friend Diego has been trying to convince me to come to Asia Beach in Peru for the largest music festival in that country.  He is the type of guy that when he says “Trust me, it will be an amazing time”, he really means it.  As a festival that is described as “an ecological and cultural electronic music festival that celebrates music, appreciation of Peruvian culture and the environment,” it certainly sounded interesting.  Plus being able to get some of the best ceviche in the world while I was there didn’t hurt! I have been to Peru twice before and had explored Lima and Machu Picchu, but had never made it to the Asia Beach area one hour south of Lima where my friends from Miami claimed the great beach parties were. The DJ lineup for this festival was pretty nice as well.

Inti Fest Lineup 2013

But as those who know me would say, I only like doing things when I get a deal so when I looked around at the Wandering Aramean’s page to compare different frequent flyer options I saw that one of my favorites, British Airways was the best choice with a rate of 50,000 Avios points for business class.  Since it is almost a 5+ hour flight from Miami, I definitely wanted business class if possible.  United Airlines was a hefty 20,000 miles more so I wanted to get the flight with Avios if possible.  Remember that you can book using Avios on any Oneworld carrier which means that I could use them for American Airlines and LAN Peru flights, both of which service this route.

The problem was, as happens often, was that there was no availability when I went to book around a month before!  However, I know if you can be flexible, the airlines often release more frequent flyer seats when it gets close to the travel dates.  It is better to put a frequent flyer in a seat than have it go empty. So I actually thought I wasn’t going to be able to go, but I kept checking periodically to see if they released any seats.  Low and behold, as I checked a week before the festival, I saw a bunch of seats pop up.  But the only ones that worked to attend the festival were leaving a little bit earlier than I had planned, just three days from when I saw them! But if you have some flexibility then these last minute trips can be some of the most rewarding.  When I checked on British Airways site, this is what I found!

Miami to Lima using British Airways Miles for Int Fest Peru


So for 50,000 Avios Points plus $65, I was on my way! I still had a few Avios left over from my 100,000 Visa I got with them, but transferred some from the 264,000 I got into my Ultimate Rewards Sears shopping adventure. And just like that, I was booked!  Awesome music, great ceviche, seeing a part of Peru I have never seen before, and spending time with friends: what can be better than that?

Lima, Peru Airport Lounges

After missing my flight in Santiago (mental note, always check in 24 hours ahead of time), I ended up with a 12 hour layover in Lima from 12 AM to 12 PM. I wasn’t sure until I arrived in Lima if I would be able to make an earlier connection so I didn’t arrange a hotel or hostel ahead of time. I also would have needed to go through immigration and security again if I had left the airport so I decided to check out the lounges and camp out until I my flight left. When I had been in Lima previously, I had used the “VIP Club” lounge which while a bit crowded had a good food selection.  I had noticed another lounge called the “Sumaq VIP Lounge” but had assumed that it for for a different airline than LAN which I was flying.  This time I decided to ask and found out that like Santiago, you can use either lounge when flying business class with LAN.  As I walked into the lounge, I could already tell it was a bit nicer than the VIP Club lounge with plush furniture and a glass cabinet showing off some silver items which really gave it an upscale feel.

Sumaq Lounge Lima

There was also a very nice wood paneled bar with many different liquors on offer and an accommodating bartender ready to chat the night away if needed.

Sumaq Lounge Lima

Since I had been in the airport all day the day before and arrived after midnight, I was happy to see that they not only offered showers for your use but also had a rest area room with these comfortable looking chaises where you could get a bit of rest if needed.

Sumaq Lounge Lima

The food was typical if a bit lighter than the VIP club room.  In the morning they had hard boiled eggs, cereals, toast and jellies.  They had the requisite fancy coffee maker for your latte or expresso needs and even a fresh squeezed orange just machine that would cut and squeeze you a class when you fed it the supplied oranges.  The internet was shared with the other VIP lounge and in typical Peruvian fashion it was quite slow with 380K down and 100K up.  I certainly would get frustrated trying to send any large files here!

Having a shower and then napping for a few hours made my long layover much more enjoyable and made me refreshed and ready to tackle the 7 hour flight back to Miami.  Particularly for overnight layovers, I would recommend the Sumaq lounge instead of the VIP lounge in Lima.