Last year I spent 1.2 million Virgin Atlantic miles for an all-inclusive week for two on Richard Branson’s Necker Island. The trip far exceeded my expectations (see: Is Necker Island really worth 1.2 million miles?). At the end of the trip we walked away with new friends from around the world, incredible memories, and a bit of swag: straw hats, flip-flops, a fish shaped Swiss corkscrew army knife, and a Necker Island rubber ducky.
Necker Island is just one of several Virgin Limited Edition properties (found here). And, just like Necker Island, most of these properties can be booked with Virgin Atlantic miles. And, while I don’t have proof, I’ve heard that each of these offers guests a rubber ducky designed for that particular property.
One of the things I love about points and miles is that it gives me the opportunity to do fun things that I would never have done otherwise. Would I have paid the required $30,000 for a week on Necker Island? No way. But miles I could do. And I did. I haven’t regretted it for a second.
Rubber Ducky Hunt
While Necker Island is the only Virgin Limited Edition property that Richard Branson calls home, I’m willing to bet that the other properties are pretty awesome too, even if Richard isn’t hanging around partying with the guests. So, my next goal is to visit each one (except for the few that can’t be paid for with miles). In the end, I hope to assemble a Virgin Limited Edition rubber ducky trophy case.
Getting Virgin Atlantic miles
Based on current award prices, I’ll need at least 1.73 million Virgin Atlantic miles to visit all of the remaining properties. Currently, I have 18,747 miles. In other words, I’m about one one-hundredth of the way there.
That sounds grim. But, in reality, I could book them all today if I wanted to. Virgin Atlantic Flying Club is the single most promiscuous airline loyalty program in that it partners with all of the major transferable points programs: Amex Membership Rewards, Chase Ultimate Rewards, Citi ThankYou Rewards, Diners Club, and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG). Between my wife and I, we have enough points to make it happen.
But, I value my Chase Ultimate Rewards, and SPG points too highly to use them this way. Instead, I’ll wait for Amex to offer their annual-ish 30% or better transfer bonus, and for Citi to offer their somewhat regular 25% bonus. In fact, Citi is offering that bonus now through March 2nd. So, I’ll examine my large stash of Citi ThankYou points and decide before March 2nd how many I want to transfer.
Additionally, there’s nothing stopping me from earning Virgin Atlantic miles the old fashioned way — through credit card signups. The ~75K miles after $12K spend offer continues to hang around, and I jumped on it recently. If I decide to get the same card again in a few months, I’ll give up on my thought of curing my 5/24 condition.
Finally, I could earn the miles by manufacturing spend. The Virgin Atlantic card isn’t a bad choice for doing so since it offers 1.5 miles per dollar, but I could do better. Through Feb 1, the Blue for Business Credit Card from American Express is offering 2X on all spend the first year, up to $50K spend. Plus, it offers a 30% annual relationship bonus. If my wife and I each get the card and each spend $50K, we should end up with 260,000 new Membership Rewards points. After a 30% transfer bonus, assuming one comes along, that would become 338,000 Virgin Atlantic miles. Or, I can find ways to use my Citi AT&T Access More card to manufacture spend at 3X. With a 25% transfer bonus, that’s like earning 3.75 Virgin Atlantic miles per dollar.
Rubber Ducky Destinations
Here are the Virgin Limited Edition properties that can be booked with Virgin Atlantic miles:
Ulusaba, South Africa
For two people, this property requires 500,000 miles for 3 nights, or 800,000 miles for 5 Nights. From Virgin Atlantic website: Stays are based on two people sharing an Elephant or Rock Cliff Room at Ulusaba and include transfers from the nearby airstrip, accommodation, all meals and drinks (including alcohol) and twice daily game drives.
Mont Rochelle, South Africa
For two people, this property requires 150,000 miles for 3 nights. From Virgin Atlantic website: Accommodation is bed and breakfast only and includes all taxes and the contents of the in-room minibar.
The Lodge, Switzerland
For two people, this property requires 380,000 miles for 3 nights. Summer season only. From Virgin Atlantic website: Stays are based on two people sharing one bedroom and include breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks including alcohol. Flying Club members will be upgraded on arrival subject to availability.
Mahali Mzuri, Kenya
For two people, this property requires 600,000 miles for 3 nights, or 800,000 miles for 5 Nights. From Virgin Atlantic website: Stays are based on two people sharing a tent at Mahali Mzuri and include accommodation, all taxes, all food and drink, transfers from the Mara North airstrip to the camp and laundry.
Kasbah Tamadot, Morocco
For two people, this property requires 250,000 miles for 3 nights. From Virgin Atlantic website: Stays are based on two people sharing a superior room and include breakfast. Flying Club members will be upgraded on arrival subject to availability.
Where I Won’t Go…
The following Limited Edition properties apparently aren’t bookable with miles…
The Roof Gardens
You can spend 125,000 miles for an “Annual High Flyer Membership at The Roof Gardens Private Members Club (usually £400),” but I won’t.
Necker Belle, Son Bunyola
There doesn’t appear to be a way to use miles for these: