Anyway, one of huge problems I have as an avid participant in this hobby is just relaxing and not obsessing about every mile and point redemption. It’s a personal challenge to get a mind-blowing value on everything. Cough PointBreaks hotels cough.
I suspect I’m not the only one who suffers from this affliction. If you looked inside my head, you would see multiple numbers, cost/benefit ratio analysis, etc. Remember the movie “Beautiful mind”? It’s like that, only it would be titled “OK-looking mind.”
Let’s take my last redemption. My daughter was begging us to take her to the beach before the end of summer and I finally caved. I settled on Clearwater, Fl. It’s far enough from our house that we can’t just go there for a day trip, but close enough to spend one night. Plus, I’ve never been there before and wanted to check out the Hyatt Clearwater Regency without actually staying there.
I had a choice of using SPG, IHG or Choice points. I quickly eliminated SPG, since the only hotel in the area that interested me costs 10,000 points. I value that amount at $150, and that is too much to pay during a hurricane season. During Spring Break or holidays, it would be a great deal, but not in August.
So, it came down to IHG and Choice programs. Currently, I have a lot of IHG points, so we could really stay anywhere my heart desired and not feel guilty about it.
The place that interested me was Holiday Inn and Suites S-Harbourside I’ve written about this resort before as the one being on my wish list. It has a lot of amenities for kids and is located only a short walk from the beach. The refundable rate was $129 (plus tax) or 25,000 points per night.
However, I do get a rebate of 10% on my redemptions through my Chase IHG card, so the true cost would have been 22,500 points. Since I value IHG points at 50 cents a piece, it would have been a respectable, though not a spectacular, redemption.
On to Choice program. I only had 8,000 points left in my account, since I burned most of them for the Niagara Falls vacation. I found Clarion Inn and Suites located about 6 miles from Clearwater beach. The cost was 8,000 points, and I could redeem that amount for a suite with a living room.
Obviously, the word “suite” is an exaggeration when referring to a motel, but still, the rate was $99 (before tax). Plus, it included a full breakfast, like eggs, pancakes, etc. Since I paid $34 for 8,000 Choice points through Daily Getaways promotion, it was a “spectacular” redemption in my book. Also, I hate having odd amounts of points, so always look for ways to burn them. It’s a compulsion.
Since I am a Cheap White Momma, you can guess which hotel I picked. We ended up shacking up in Clarion Inn, driving to the beach and doing some other fun stuff (a post is coming up in a few weeks). The hotel had sleep-number beds, which I’ve always wanted to try. I like, I like!
The kids had a ton of fun and got to swim in the motel’s pool and play in a toddler area till they were exhausted. Children don’t care about fancy lodging. In fact, my daughter cried when we left, and said she wanted to live in that motel. Umm, no.
Should you stay in that place while vacationing in Clearwater?
Heck no! Well, unless you are a semi-local, like us. If you only get to have one or two vacations per year, get something nicer. I strongly recommend staying at a beachfront property if playing at the beach is your goal, especially if you have small kids. Thankfully, hotel points bonuses and promotions (like IHG “Into the nights”) can help you do it on a budget.
As I mentioned earlier, we live in Florida and usually stay at a beach a few times per year. This was a quick getaway, where I didn’t want to spend any money and just wanted to use up my remaining Choice points. I have no regrets about staying in Clarion, but this wasn’t my vacation of the year.
Leana is the founder of Miles For Family. She enjoys beach vacations and visiting her family in Europe. Originally from Belarus, Leana resides in central Florida with her husband and two children.