Living in central Florida definitely has some advantages. Sure, there is suffocating summer heat, hurricanes, lower wages and occasional snakes in the house. But the upside is: we are within short driving distance of many family-friendly hotels and resorts.
Our recent 2-night vacation/staycation at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa was everything I hoped for and more. Located only 1 hour and 40 minutes from our house, it seemed like another world, no airfare required.
So, let me share our experience in this long-winded trip report and hopefully, help you decide if this property is the right fit for your family. Spoiler alert! It most likely is.
Check-in and lobby
As soon as we pulled up to the resort, it was clear that this place was designed with families in mind. Look at the kids’ corner right by the check-in area:
Why don’t all hotels have something similar? The worst thing after you get off the plane is trying to check in while entertaining your bored and exhausted children. What’s nice is that sitting area in the lobby is located right across this enclosure, so one spouse can just relax there and watch the kids from a distance.
In fact, one day my husband was exhausted and wanted to take a nap before going to the pool. I just brought the kids to the play area and sat in the lobby with a magazine. Boom. No need to pay for Kids’ Club.
This particular Hyatt resort is located in a relatively secluded area, so it does feel very exclusive. I would describe it as upscale minus the pretentiousness. I really appreciated the fact that they had complimentary ice cold fruit-flavored water in the lobby. A nice touch. Also, every single employee at the resort was extremely friendly.
Some of you probably remember my dilemma on redeeming a complimentary suite upgrade that comes with Diamond status. In the end I decided to roll the dice and just book a regular room. Well, unfortunately, we didn’t score an upgrade due to visiting the property during Labor Day weekend.
However, they did give us a nice corner room and provided a rollaway free of charge. A weird thing: Hyatt website let me reserve a room with one king bed (the only type available at that point) even though I put in 2 adults and 2 kids in the reservation. We did bring a sleeping cot for my son, so things worked out. However, if you have 4 people, keep that in mind. There is no sofa bed in regular rooms, bookable on points.
Regardless, the room was fairly spacious and well designed:
We put my daughter on the left side of the bed, and my son at the front. It wasn’t horribly crowded, though obviously, I would have preferred a suite. We weren’t in the room a whole lot, so I wouldn’t hesitate to have this arrangement again as long as the stay wasn’t any longer than two nights. The size of the bathroom was pretty decent and counter space was plentiful. There is a refrigerator, a coffee maker, but no microwave.
Our king-size bed was extremely comfortable. I really liked the decor of the room, which I would describe as tropical, warm and stylish.
We also had a very nice view from the balcony.
I know it doesn’t look like it, but I’m actually smiling on the inside!
Few things I didn’t like about the room:
1) Carpeted floors. Why can’t all Florida resorts have tile or laminate? I don’t get it. It’s hot and humid here, which is ideal for growing mold.
2) The room had motion-sensor lights that would go off when someone would step on the floor in the middle of the night. Hate those!!! My husband thought they were pretty cool, though. And to be fair, the light was dimmed to the point that it wouldn’t bother most people. But if you are someone who wakes up a lot during the night to go to the bathroom, it may disturb others in the room.
None of those things are deal breakers, but they still warranted a mention.
The Club Lounge
We were actually located on the same floor as the lounge, and it literally took a few steps to get to it from our room. Super convenient! This was our first experience with Hyatt Club lounge, and I was very impressed. This was one of the perks of having a Diamond status and I can understand why people go out of their way to keep it year after year. Of course, I won’t be doing it, but I can still see the appeal.
Basically, a lounge is a poor man’s “all-inclusive.” At least it was for us. We had breakfast there, came to get snacks in the afternoon, and took advantage of evening spread which for us was dinner. During our two-night stay (with a check-out at 4 PM) we only spent $35 on food ordered by the pool. I should add that I didn’t find prices to be outrageous, and the portions were huge.
If you happen to have Diamond status and are planning to stay at this resort, you can just stop by Walmart on the way from the airport and pick up some snacks and sandwich material. In all likelihood, for the most part, the lounge access will take care of your food needs during the stay. Every morning my son would say: when are we going to lunch room?
During breakfast there were all kinds of freshly baked pastries (not shown), boiled eggs, fruit and smoked salmon:
There were several types of juices, Starbucks coffee, milk etc. Everything was top notch. I liked the fact that there was a TV to entertain kids while parents ate breakfast in peace. To be honest, I didn’t expect much from the lounge, but was pleasantly surprised.
During evening there were roast beef sandwiches, seafood salad, ribs, chicken, roasted veggies and all kinds of other good stuff. You also get wine and beer during happy hour. Then there was a dessert at 8 PM. Basically, other then getting lunch elsewhere (only fruit, snacks and peanuts are offered till 5 PM), you can just hit the lounge for two meals during the day. It’s also very nice to be able to grab cold bottled water before you go to the pool.
This Diamond perk definitely enhanced our stay, not to mention, saved us a ton of money. Even my husband was impressed. I told him not to get used to it and his response was : “I know Holiday Inn is our lot in life.” You bet it is!
The pool area is the best part of this resort, hands down. There are several pools to choose from, and one is adults-only. As a result, the area never felt super crowded even though we were vacationing during a major holiday.
At night they have a dive-in movie at the main pool and my kids absolutely loved the experience. Be aware, the water is pretty cold. Personally, I would just watch the movie while sitting in one of many lounge chairs by the pool. My son started coughing the next day, so I regretted letting him go in. I think they need to make sure the water is warm for dive-in movies.
Right now they have two water slides: one for adults and older kids, and one for tots. Not surpassingly, my kids couldn’t get enough of it.
In November they are planning to open a big waterpark with a lazy river. Apparently, construction is ahead of schedule according to front desk, so it may get completed a bit sooner. The area is fenced off, but there is an artist’s rendering depicting what’s ahead:
Even without the new waterpark this place is jam packed with activities geared to families. But this new addition will take it to another level. You can also visit a nearby sister property that has a lazy river, but access is limited. We were not allowed to go there since that resort was full during holidays.
There was so much going on at this resort during Labor Day weekend, we barely scratched the surface. There was a bounce house, various competitions and even a magic show. We almost didn’t go to the last one, and it would have been a mistake. The magician was very good, but his personality is what really stood out.
He had a really quirky, politically incorrect sense of humor. Just the way I like it! For example, at one point during the show he said: Thanks to all the black folks who came out to support me! But there wasn’t even one non-caucasian person in the room. Nervous laughter followed, but it became clear that the guy was just making light of the fact that 99% percent of guests were white. Totally like miles and points hobby.
He did give me permission to use the photo
One of my favorite things at the resort was a fire pit. In the evening the staff would give out marshmallows and sticks so children (and adults) could roast them by the fire. So much fun! My kids went nuts when they saw it. They hugged each other and started to jump up and down. I’ve never seen them do it before, and this particular memory just warms my heart.
As a Diamond member, my husband got free spa access for himself and other adults staying in the room. Normally, it costs $25 per person, so I was thrilled because I was actually planning on paying it. I asked if instead of my husband I could bring my cousin-in-law, and they said it would be no problem.
So, we left the kids with the guys and had a gals-only escape, which was very relaxing. We swam in the warm pool, used sauna and steam room and just kicked back, away from the craziness that occurs when children get over-excited during vacation.
The spa attendant told us we were not allowed to go naked into the co-ed pool area. No problem, lady, my cousin-in-law and I are not that close. Our bathing suits stayed on the entire time.
Moms, leave kids with your husbands and treat yourself to a spa experience at this resort. I definitely think it’s worth $25, especially if you spend a few hours relaxing away from the noise. It seems early afternoons are best if you want this place all to yourself.
The resort doesn’t have direct beach access, but there is a boat that runs hourly to/from secluded private island. We were vacationing with relatives, so we settled on a time and set out on our adventure. Basically, you follow a boardwalk (about half a mile) that takes you to a pier.
There you’ll see an attendant who will put your names on the list. Be aware, if you vacation during unusually busy time, the boat may be full by the time you reach the pier. And unfortunately, there is no way to know this ahead of time, something I think the resort should fix. It’s a long, hot walk, and people with small children may not want to hang out for more than an hour waiting for the next boat. We didn’t have this issue, though, and got to the island on schedule.
My husband really doesn’t like being in the sun, so he went to the dock early in order to get back to the resort. This is where the attendant seriously dropped the ball. He waited to give out boat tickets till the last second. So, guess who got left behind? It was us. I didn’t mind so much, but my husband was furious. In retrospect, it really wasn’t a big deal, but be aware of this potential nuisance. When you get ready to leave, ask the attendant to make sure you have your tickets set aside. Otherwise, someone walking up to the dock at the last minute may get on the boat ahead of you.
Fortunately, private island is worth the trip. The area is kept clean and there are many shells on the beach if you are into this sort of thing. The water was pretty clear at the time of our visit, but this will vary depending on the weather. The resort provides complimentary covered lounges, but there are no food items or drinks available, so make sure to bring a cooler.
My kids enjoyed playing in the sand with their cousins.
To me, the fact that this resort is not directly on the beach is not a negative at all. The boat ride is a neat experience, and you might even see dolphins on the way. The island isn’t crowded and there are plenty of umbrellas for everyone.
How you can vacation here without going broke
The resort occasionally offers deals, especially during slow season like September (aside from Labor Day weekend). I saw rates of around $200 per night. There is an offer of “stay three nights, get fourth one free” that is valid for stays throughout the end of 2016. If you find a decent rate, it could be the way to go.
In all likelihood, however, most of you will want to visit this resort during Spring Break. And that is when rates are at their highest. Here is an example during March:
By the time you add a resort fee, you are looking at paying $500 per night. Even if you utilize “fourth night free” benefit through Citi Prestige, it would run you $1,500. But there is a better way. You can simply redeem 15,000 Hyatt points per night transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards program on 1:1 basis. You can do it if you have eligible cards like Chase Sapphire Preferred, Chase Ink Plus or Chase Sapphire Reserve.
I just recently highlighted some of the best uses of UR points when it comes to family travel, and this property was on the list. Just one bonus from CSR can cover 7 nights at this property once you factor in minimum spending requirements.
You can do Points+Cash reservation and pay 7,500 points+$100 per night. It’s a good way to stretch your UR stash, but keep in mind that you’ll pay 12% tax on cash portion and will most likely have to fork over $25 resort fee. Your tax will be covered, and they don’t charge resort fee on points-only reservations. Let’s say you are using points from Chase Sapphire Reserve bonus. If you choose to book through travel portal, you could get a room that goes for $225 all-in.
In this case transferring 15,000 points to Hyatt is clearly the way to go. And yes, I do believe this resort is worth $225 (all-in) per night in high season. But your situation and budget might differ from mine. Obviously, my husband’s Diamond status sweetened the deal considerably. But I liked this place so much, we’ll probably end up coming here again after the status expires. Naturally, it will be during Spring Break. I’m cheap, but I recognize good value when I see it.
You can also sign up for Chase Hyatt Signature Visa that comes with 2 complimentary nights. Conventional hobby wisdom says that it’s wasteful to use those on a lowly Category 4 property. But I never really paid much attention to conventional wisdom. If I sign up for this card in my husband’s name, we will probably burn our certificates at this particular Hyatt.
Since I’m willing to transfer UR points that would otherwise get me at least $150 in cash, the bonus by that logic is worth at least $300. Plus, you get extra 5,000 Hyatt points you can redeem on Category 1 property or just use them for restaurant purchases at the resort (5,000 points=$25 credit).
My husband’s relatives were vacationing here via Hyatt co-branded card’s annual renewal certificates for the second year in a row. I honestly can’t think of a better Category 4 family resort deal for only $75 per night (all-in). Well, maybe Andaz Peninsula Papagayo, but then you would have to fly to Costa Rica, plus regular rooms have two double beds. Those are the only kind bookable via certificates.
Standard rooms at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa come with one king or two queen beds, and have a maximum occupancy of 4.
But what if you have more than 4 people in the family? You have several options:
1) If you have Diamond status, you can simply apply a guaranteed upgrade as long as Points+Cash option is available. You can also book paid rate and apply it that way. Don’t have Diamond status? You can still book a suite here for 24,000 Hyatt points per night, but 3-night minimum stay is required. See my post for more on these options
2) You can book a regular rate and pay 6,000 points per night to upgrade to a suite. I recommend you first call Hyatt and see what rate is eligible. Note the terms for this option: “When redeeming Regency Club® or Grand Club® upgrades or suite upgrades at a resort property, you must pay a minimum of the Standard Rate deluxe room (such as partial ocean view, ocean view, slope view, etc).”
3) If you have a total of 5 in the family (including a small child), you may get away with just booking a regular room with two queen beds. Actually, this is something a person at the front desk has suggested to me when I inquired about options for large families. She said nobody would care as long as you brought your own bedding with you. So, drop by Walmart and get a gym mat for the unlucky third child, and you’ll be all set.
Obviously, I can’t vouch that you won’t have any issues, so do this one at your own risk. Note that they give resort bands to everyone, but I haven’t see anyone check for them. I took mine off the second day, and nobody approached me to question whether I was a paying guest.
Suites come with two queen beds and one queen size pull-out sofa, and have a maximum occupancy of 6. Some have one king size bed and a sleeper sofa, and I was told they can add a single rollaway at no charge.
Airports that serve the area:
The closest one is Fort Myers (code RSW), but you can also consider flying to Naples, Punta Gorda (served by Allegiant Air) or even Fort Lauderdale (1 hour 45 minutes of driving time). This resort is located about 3 hours from Disney World. You could possibly drive here after visiting Magic Kingdom and then fly home from Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Yes, it’s worth it.
If you’ve been following my blog for few years, you probably know that I rarely (as in never) go gaga for hotels or write such detailed posts on them. However, I feel this particular property is a true gem for families on a budget who also happen to have a good stash of UR points. If you can’t afford to fly to Caribbean, consider driving to this resort instead or visiting it after a Disney vacation. Yes, it’s a bit out of the way, but that’s why it’s still a Category 4 (for now). Thumbs up, way up!
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Leana is the owner and 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.