HOW IT HAPPENED
Saison takes a novel approach to fine dining- it's all about openness, transparency, and freshness. It's also the only Michelin 3-Star that the guide itself calls, "Californian"-style cuisine. How cool is that? Joshua Skenes' novel approach to getting the kitchen close to the table, along with innovative prep techniques like Fire-In-The-Sky and an in-restaurant aging closet set Saison apart.
I target dining out in each of these restaurants for $100 each, with travel, taxi, and meal included. Thanks to United miles from Chase's MileagePlus Explorer, Hyatt free night certificates s from Chase's Hyatt card, and pre-loaded gift cards from Gift.ly's gift card service for Saison, I was able to pull the whole thing off for less than $95.
I signed up for Chase's MileagePlus Explorer card, a "beginner's" travel reward card yielding 30,000 United miles after I hit their spending minimum of $1,000 (I paid my rent with it). Normally, flights from Chicago to San Francisco run in the low $400 range if you buy a few weeks in advance. With the 30,000 miles, I was able to get a round trip from ORD to SFO for 25,000 miles and $11.60.
Even though United Airlines recently devalued their frequent flyer program, it's still (in my opinion) one of the easiest to use and with the best website- award flights don't require arcane navigation of telephone call centers and earning and using miles is intuitive. Keep in mind as well that reward cards aren't really worth much if you decide to carry a balance, so (not to sound like your mom) consider your financial position carefully before deciding to write an application.
Though I could have chosen to stay somewhere less expensive, I wanted to spend the next day in wine country at Hyatt's incredible Andaz Napa property. You're greeted with your choice of red wine, you can walk anywhere to Napa's (small) downtown, many of the rooms come with clawfoot tubs, and the beds are all-enveloping and awesome. Need I say more?
The Andaz can be expensive- in wine tasting's normal season, more than $370 per night.
Chase has another pretty great rewards card- the Chase Hyatt card- that offers a 2-free-night certificate at any Hyatt property anywhere in the world. I used one of my two free nights on the Andaz.
Joshua Skenes grew up in northern Florida, where fond memories of smoky campfires and fresh-caught game inspired him to recreate some of the best tastes and flavors in his locally-sourced restaurant. The kitchen is fully open to the customers seated in the restaurant, and Joshua makes full use of the high-end product available to him in California. My full review is available here.
Besides the two cards I mentioned, I needed help with the (above-average) bill, and ground transport.
1. I saved $20 from downtown SF to Napa using an Uber code a friend gave me. The one in that link is mine, and I'd be grateful if you end up using it.
$79-$59 = $20
2. I saved $413.40 from Chicago to SF using Chase's Mileageplus Explorer Card.
$425-$11.20 = $413.40
3. I saved $374 on a Friday night by using the Hyatt Chase card.
2. I saved $400 using a few gift.ly gift cards from a recent birthday.
$423-$23 = $400
GO MAKE THIS HAPPEN FOR YOURSELF:
If you have any questions at all, contact me here. Would love to talk about this with you!