I’ve freely admitted before that I happen to be the most indecisive person in the universe. I work and re-work my plans multiple times. And so it goes with the upcoming visit of my parents in March of 2016. Originally, we planned to just vacation in Florida. Then I’ve decided to take them to Puerto Rico as well. So, I was working on getting everything booked and even got us a fancy Wyndham property (yes, they do exist!) Here is how the latest Skype conversation with my mom went:
“So, mom (I’m speaking in Russian, of course), here is how your trip will go. First, you will spend one night in Orlando. Then, the next day, we will be flying to Puerto Rico for 3 nights. We will be doing LOTS of excursions there. After we come back, we will be going to Clearwater, Florida for two nights. And last, but not least, we will spend 1 night in our house, after which you and dad will be flying back home. Well, technically, you’ll be spending 1 night in Moscow first. Anyway, you like, you like?”
Cue the look on her face:
Image courtesy of num_skyman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
No, it’s not actually my mom. I’ve just been looking for an excuse to bring back this stock photo image. But you get the idea. That’s a lot of travel for a 7-day trip, especially considering the fact that they are not spring chickens, and will have to deal with jet lag.
My mom is usually game to do anything, but this itinerary was a bit overwhelming even for her. Her words, and I quote: “But I just wanted to relax on the beach…” Not to mention, it would mean a lot of unpacking for us, and that’s no fun with small kids. I do have enough points to make this trip a reality, but in the end, it just didn’t seem like a wise move. So, it was decided that we will stay in Florida as originally planned. Well, till I change my mind again, that is.
So, here is my tentative (final?) plan. Hopefully, it will give you inspiration for your own Spring Break vacation. My mom requested that we spend the whole 7 nights at the beach, so I had to stick to water properties only. We already had reservations in Radisson Oceanfront Melbourne made while BOGO benefit was alive. My in-laws also have Club Carlson card and will be joining us for 2 nights. Unexpectedly, 3 out of 4 Club Carlson accounts in our family got free night e-certificate. Guess who didn’t receive it? Yours truly!
Not to worry. I emailed US Bank, but two weeks later there was no response. So, I contacted them via phone, and after about 1 hour wait was told to expect a call on this matter. Never heard back, but just the other day I received a letter saying that 1 free night certificate will be deposited in my account within few weeks. Hooray! Squeaky wheel just got 44,000 Club Carlson points saved. If you have a US Bank Club Carlson Visa and never received this certificate, call and request it. Even if you have to contact them twice, it’s probably worth.
Anyway, I have already redeemed the other 3 certificates, and when I get mine, I’ll just swap my points’ reservation and use the e-cert instead. When all is said and done, we will have 5 nights in both rooms covered courtesy of Club Carlson and US Bank. Not too shabby!
Five nights down, two to go. My parents are flying back from Fort Myers, so I decided to stay around this part of Florida. And Wyndham program happens to have an oceanfront hotel in the area. Introducing Wyndham Garden Fort Myers Beach
This actually used to be a Holiday Inn and I even remember it listed on IHG website, back when it was called Priority Club. Confused yet? I planned to check it out, but then it disappeared and, apparently, got reincarnated as a Wyndham property. And so I got my second chance. The rooms have two double beds, so it would be very tight for 4 people. Fortunately, we will be redeeming points for two rooms, and will be splitting up the kids. This is a very basic, motel-type property which has been recently remodeled. I’m OK with that, and I know my parents won’t care.
Here is an interesting thing I’ve noticed about this hotel: You can use “Go Fast” award rate to reserve a beach view room (it says that it will fit 4, but double check). It’s not bookable when you use “Go Free” award which costs 15,000 points per night.
In March, this type of room runs at $360, so using merely 3,000 points to get discounted rate is a very good deal. Of course, I’m not saying I would ever pay $360 for a motel room, beachfront or not. I’m simply giving an example how leveraging miles and points hobby can make the price more palatable for a middle-class family. If you have some Wyndham points and not sure what to do with them, this option is certainly something to consider.
Just a reminder, you can still apply for Wyndham Visa Signature that comes with a 45,000 points sign-up bonus after spending $1,000 in 3 months. The annual fee of $69 is not waived. You can read my post for more on this card and Wyndham program in general. Here is a non-affiliate link. Note that “T and C” says that you will get 15,000 points upon renewal and paying annual fee. I’ve noticed that the language on Wyndham and Barclay’s websites has changed and states that you will now only get 6,000 points. I don’t know if this offer is changing or it’s just a fluke, but it’s something to be aware of. I would take a screenshot if you plan on renewing it.
I’v written before that I got Chase Hyatt Visa with the idea of taking my parents to Hyatt Regency Clearwater. Well, it looks like we will be spending 2 nights there in the summer without my parents. I’m sure my kids won’t mind at all. Honestly, since we live right here in Florida, it’s a shame not to capitalize on it. Thankfully, hotel points help me keep our beach getaways very affordable.
And what about Puerto Rico? Well, it’s still on the agenda, but it looks like only my mom will be going there now. We plan to bring her back to US next November, and her visit will last for about two weeks (don’t tell my husband!) I’m really hoping to utilize Spirit program where roundtrip tickets from Fort Lauderdale cost only 5,000 miles per person in the off-season as long as you have their co-branded card. That would make for a spectacular deal! Who knows, we may even get to stay at that fancy Wyndham property on points. So many choices, The Hobby is driving me crazy…
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.