…You spend your wedding anniversary at a Holiday Inn Express that’s on IHG PointBreaks list. Yes, I really did do that. Originally, we had a reservation at Hotel Indigo at St. Petersburg (Fl). It looks like a nice hotel and has a unique flair to it. Did I mention that we have a lot of IHG points at the moment and don’t really need to conserve them?
Still, last summer, when I saw that Holiday Inn Express Palm Coast, I simply couldn’t resist booking it and canceling the Indigo hotel. The reason? Location, location, location. It’s only a few miles away from the quaint beach community and half an hour from St. Augustine. Many years ago we took my mom there for a day, and I have always wanted to go back.
The fact that the hotel is very basic didn’t really make a difference because we weren’t planning to be in our room all that much anyway. As long as it was clean (and it was), that’s all that mattered.
I mentioned previously that we treated some relatives to a getaway, and my cousin-in-law even wrote a trip report on hotel as well as the surrounding area. So what I’ll do in this post is concentrate on our visit to St. Augustine.
If you’ve always wanted to go to Spain, and can’t afford to go to Puerto Rico, St. Augustine will probably be your best bet for a tiny glimpse of that culture. And you don’t even have to leave Continental U.S.
I won’t go into its fascinating history since you can read it for yourself, so let me do a tour in photos.
St. Augustine lighthouse. We climbed all the way to the top. Man, those lighthouse keepers had to be in tip top shape. We were rewarded with this glorious view, so it was worth the trek. A short break at a local cafe with a photo of a fancy hot chocolate. The place was filled with young hipsters, so we felt out of place. My husband and I are dorks. Old governor’s house (restored) with a museum inside. I highly recommend you tour the exhibit because it walks you through history of the city and focuses on fascinating blend of cultures in the area. You can tour the city by horse carriage. As you can see, they take grooming of the horses very seriously around these parts. Fancy! One of many courtyards, typical of old Spain. Oh wait, we are in St. Augustine!
This is a photo of me in Fountain of Youth Archaeological park. I better stay young forever, or I will demand a refund of my admission price.
Affordable (points-wise ) hotels in the area
IHG: Actually, the place we stayed at isn’t a bad deal at all for 15,000 IHG points per night. It is located 30 minutes away, but the drive is very easy/scenic and traffic is almost non-existent. The room can fit 4 and comes with free (though somewhat mediocre) breakfast. Plus, you would be staying only 4 miles away from a sleepy beachside community.
Located about 6 miles away from historic center, but a decent value at 20,000 points per night, especially since the room rate includes free breakfast.
Costs 16,000 points per night, except in winter, when it’s 30,000 points. A good deal only if you purchased a package during Daily Getaways sale. It’s nice for larger families who prefer a resort community and vacation rentals, fully equipped with kitchen and other amenities.
Embracing the cheapness
While I don’t suggest you spend your anniversary in Holiday Inn Express (please, don’t!), often times the location can make up for the humble lodging choice. If you don’t plan to spend a lot of time in your hotel room, there is no point in blowing a ton of points, pun intended.
As you probably know, new IHG PointBreaks list will be finally released today, valid through May 31st. The cost is 5,000 points per night. Check and see if you can have a super cheap getaway with your spouse in your local area or plan a spring break vacation with the help of that program.
Years from now, you probably won’t remember the hotels you stayed at, but rather the expressions on your kids’ faces while you had fun together as a family.
If you don’t have any IHG points, you can transfer them from Chase Ultimate Rewards 1:1. Normally, it’s not a good value, but could make sense in this situation. There is a Cash+Points trick of buying them for 0.7 cents a piece, but there is a risk of IHG closing your account if they feel you are abusing it. Google it if this doesn’t scare you.
Through March 31st, you can apply for Chase IHG MasterCard and get 70,000 points after spending $1,000 in 3 months. First year annual fee is waived. After that it’s $49, but you get a free night at any IHG property. This is a great card and I’ve championed it pretty much from the start of this blog. It pays me commission.
Keep in mind, some have gotten an offer of 80,000 points+$50 statement credit when trying to make a reservation on IHG.com It doesn’t come up for most people, but is certainly worth a shot. I absolutely recommend you try several browsers before settling for the official offer.
Readers, have you gone cheap during your anniversary getaway? Was your spouse OK with it?
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.