Currently, I’m out-of-town. I won’t be able to respond to any comments or emails till this weekend. Sorry!
I’ve mentioned quite a few times that if you need to have 2 or 3 hotel rooms, and are staying in one location for three nights or longer, vacation rentals will be a better bet. But by now you probably know that I don’t always follow my own advice.
So, awhile back we’ve redeemed IHG points for 3 rooms in Holiday Inn Express Saint Simons Island, at 15,000 points each. It’s just a short drive away from Jekyll island, GA. That’s my father-in-law playing with our kids on a beach. The cold was actually a neat break from the usual Florida heat.
A side note: We saw beachfront Holiday Inn resort, which was being built while we were on Jekyll Island. It looked like a really nice place for summer family vacation. I checked and the rate is 25,000 points per night, some rooms will fit 5.
Back to my story. We spent 3 nights at HI Express, and used points for the first two. There were a total of 7 people, and for various boring reasons, two rooms just wouldn’t cut it. What the heck, you may say? How can this possibly be a good value? That’s 45,000 points per night. Actually, I have no regrets, and let me show you why you should at least consider going this route as well.
If you are traveling with in-laws or relatives, having a separate place to get away can be an amazing gift. I love my parents, but it was the best decision I made when we used Choice points for 2 rooms in Niagara Falls. My mom has no concept of personal space (it’s a Russian thing).
2) Saving Money
If you are points-rich and dollars-poor, it may be enough incentive to go that route. We have quite a nice balance in IHG program, spread between several accounts. Even though we used 45,000 points per room, we got a 10% rebate due to having a co-branded IHG MasterCard, so the real cost was 40,500 points per night. I value that amount at $200. Even though it’s not a bargain per se, there are perks. Which brings me to my next point.
This particular hotel included full breakfast buffet. While not outstanding, it fed 7 people each morning and nobody had to cook or worry about making coffee. Even if you go to McDonalds, you’ll most likely end up spending at least $25 for 7 people. So that already brings down the cost to $175.
While we didn’t use it, the hotel had a pool, which is a nice amenity to have when traveling with kids. Some properties are a destination onto itself, and come with free kids’ club etc.
This is very important for family. When booking through VRBO or another vacation rental site, the cancellation policy is usually very strict. In the case of our Holiday Inn Express, we could have cancelled our reservation without penalty on the day of arrival.
We’ve had to scrap our plans quite a few times due to one of my kids (or both) suddenly having a fever. That’s why I prefer to burn hotel points whenever possible.
5) Hotel Promotions
I’ve mentioned that we booked this hotel via paid rate for the last night of the trip. Why? Because it allowed us to complete IHG “Into the nights” promo on all three accounts. That saved us money because I didn’t have to do any mattress runs.
A reminder: You can still register for “Set your sights” promo on IHG.com and see what your targeted offer is.
6) Vacation rentals are like a box of chocolates
As in, you never know what you are gonna get. Few years ago, we rented a place near New Orleans by going through VRBO. It looked unique and was located right by the lake. Just typical Louisiana house on stilts, how neat! The price was right, few reviews were good, what could go wrong?
Well, when we got there, we found out that it was located right by the railroad track, and every night (3 times) a train went by and conductor honked the horn. The entire house shook while that happened and everyone was awakened. That is if you fell asleep after the last encounter. Amazingly, it didn’t bother the kids one bit. After 3 nights, we were like zombies due to sleep deprivation.
Of course, you can get a shocker when staying in a hotel. However, if you pick a place that has a good number of reviews, you can usually spot a problem (aka train) from a mile away.
Just a quick plug for New Orleans. It’s authentic, raw, kind of dirty, yet absolutely incredible. The architecture, the smells, the sounds, all unique and all distinctly New Orleans. It’s a large town, but doesn’t feel like it. Residents are friendly beyond belief. When we took a tour by horse carriage, my son dropped his shoe. A guy stopped his car and ran to hand it back to me.
7) Burn points just because!
If you like a particular hotel, just burn those points. So what if opportunity cost is high? Not everything needs to be about CPM or CPP value. That’s me talking to myself.
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.