Dreams with a deadline. That’s one definition of goals that I’ve found revelatory. Last year I vowed to visit Tokyo at least twice in 2017, and I’m happy to report that Labor Day weekend marked my third visit to Tokyo this year.

This trip was only for a weekend. And like I’ve said before, a weekend in Tokyo is . . . better than a weekend in Chino Hills. It’s a Dionysian lovefest of food, flavor, and . . . karaoke.

Michelle and I were in Tokyo, technically, to celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary. But the truth is, we look for any opportunity to go.

To keep this post from seeming redundant (I’ve posted two articles on Tokyo recently—here and here), I’ll briefly review the ANA Intercontinental Tokyo and touch on the value of the IHG Mastercard and United Airlines’ GPUs.

Before we delve into the nitty gritty, here’s a short video to set the mood. This is what we saw when we arrived:

And this is the tuna sashimi bowl we ate at Ichiban (our favorite sushi restaurant):img_7170

To be fully transparent, we each ate our own bowl. And then we returned the next morning for two more.

This was our first time staying at the ANA Intercontinental.

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Photo credit: ANA Intercontinental website.
ANA Intercontinental
Photo credit: Where is FatBoy
It is located in Ark Hills, whose name came from an acronym, “ARK,” because the hotel is located at the intersection of the Akasaka, Roppongi, and Kasumigaseki districts.

What you need to know is that, like most of the Intercontinental properties in which we’ve stayed, it is opulent, amenity-rich, and service-centric.

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Waiting for us in our room were two boxes of Godiva chocolate cookies and a lovely card, wishing us a “Happy Anniversary.”
However, the location is probably best for those conducting business in that part of Tokyo or for those interested in going to one of the many nightclubs located in Roppongi. Since we prefer to spend most of our time in Shibuya and Shinjuku, the ANA Intercontinental is a little bit out of the way. A taxi is only ten minutes to Shibuya, but we primarily take the subway, which requires approximately 30 minutes.

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There’s a great bar at the top of the Intercontinental with a stunning view. (Because we were granted Platinum status via the IHG Mastercard, we were given two free drink cards to apply at one of the hotel’s many bars.
Of course, we knew the ANA Intercontinental was not on the frontlines of the action we typically seek, but it would’ve cost us $700 to stay at the Hyatt Shinjuku; the ANA Intercontinental would’ve cost the same, except that we were able to apply two perks of the IHG Rewards Club.

  1. The IHG Rewards Club MasterCard awards its card holders with an Anniversary Free Night Certificate (this is awarded once each year, typically after the card holder pays the $49 annual fee). (This is not an affiliate link.)
  2. The IHG Rewards Club often offers ways to grow your point balance, as I did this year via Accelerate. Essentially, I stayed at a Holiday Inn in Paris, and I stayed at two different Holiday Inn Express properties in Jakarta. By doing so, I earned 40,000 bonus points, which brought me close enough to reach the 50,000 point price tag of the ANA Intercontinental.

To be clear, though, I rarely charge anything to my IHG Rewards Club MasterCard (unless Accelerate is providing me with an attractive incentive). I simply keep it for the Anniversary Free Night Certificate. It can also come in handy during the Accelerate promotions.

So we stayed at the ANA Intercontinental because, essentially, it saved us $651 (assuming the $49 annual fee is what one equates to the cost of the Anniversary Free Night Certificate).

And now, to Shibuya for food . . .

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And karaoke!



And just like that, after two nights in the greatest big city we’ve ever known, it was time to depart.

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(If we paid full-fare to enjoy lie-flat seats, we’d be in the poor house. Instead, we employ a variety of strategies. On this trip, we applied an instrument known to United Airlines’ frequent fliers as GPUs. By applying four GPUs, we were able to buy two round-trip Economy Class tickets and have them upgraded to Polaris, United’s Business/First product. More on this in future posts.)

Tokyo, you’ll be missed. But we’ll see you again in November!img_3372


Details:

Sushi: Go to Tsukiji Market (via the Ginza line or the Hibiya line), and go to Ichiban. If you get lost, show somebody this: 築地すし一番 4丁目場外市場店. (Here’s the location via Google Maps.)

Hotel: ANA Intercontinental Hotel

Flights:
United Airlines 787-900 LAX-NRT Business Class
United Airlines 787-900 NRT-LAX Business Class

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

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