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So, We Missed our Flight to Aruba…

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were supposed to spend three nights in Aruba while celebrating our wedding anniversary. That didn’t materialize. Our flight from Orlando was set to leave at 11:00 AM, so I thought we had plenty of time to drop the kids off at school before heading to the airport.

And on a normal day, that would have been the case. But this was no normal day. When we approached I-4, the traffic was backed up for miles. Judging by the fact that there were several ambulances rushing to the interstate, there has been a bad accident. By the time we finally arrived to the airport, it was too late.

Southwest rep told me to talk to someone in customer service and see if they can put us on a flight the next day. So, I had  a decision to make. We would need to spend one night in Orlando and would have only two nights in Aruba. On top of everything, my husband had a mild cold. He was taking antibiotics, but I didn’t want to put him through this kind of stress. After all, the whole point of the trip was to relax.

Where should we go?

I decided to cut my losses and just cancel Aruba flight so we could spend  three nights in Florida instead. I only had 30 minutes left before flight departure, so quickly called Southwest and agent happily redeposited all of our points. Love, love, love Southwest! We have one year to use up $140 in credits from refund of  international taxes, which may or may not materialize.

There was also a matter of canceling our hotel reservation in Aruba. At that point the deadline has passed, but I called IHG and the agent got in touch with the property manager who refunded 45,000 points as a courtesy. I know I complain about IHG sometimes, but they really came through for me in this particular case. Thumbs up, IHG!

Now we had to decide where to stay in Florida. I didn’t want to use my Chase  Ultimate Rewards  because I’m saving them for flights or cruise. So, Hyatt option was out. I don’t have a lot of SPG points, so we circled back to IHG. Unfortunately, last-minute bookings are IHG’s achilles heel.

We wanted to go to St. Petersburg and stay in Hotel Indigo, where we’ve spent our previous anniversary. Unfortunately, it wasn’t available via points. So, my husband suggested Holiday Inn Sarasota Lido Beach. We’ve stayed there a couple of times with kids, so it would be fun to relax and enjoy it as a couple. Done!

I used my annual renewal certificate for one night and burned 70,000 points for  the other two nights. I should receive a 10% rebate later on. I’ve acquired the points for around $200 via various promos, not counting $49 I paid for annual fee on Chase IHG MasterCard. The  rate for three nights would have been $700, so we did alright. Yes, I burned a ton of points, but that’s what they are there for, right? Plus, my husband rarely voices an opinion when it comes to hotels.

Our wonderful weekend in Sarasota

Obviously, I was bummed that my special trip to Aruba went up in smoke. But I had a decision to make. I could be miserable for three nights, or I could make lemonade out of lemons. I chose the latter.

The weather was gorgeous, my husband was relieved that he didn’t have to fly with a cold, and we would have a relaxing local getaway with no pressure of sightseeing. Last but not least, I got all of my points refunded.

I was really hoping to get an upgrade to an oceanview room, but that too didn’t materialize. They did give us a deluxe room (with two queen beds), which was considerably bigger than the one we got last time.

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Obviously, unless you are into forest green color scheme and miss the eighties decor, the room is nothing to write home about. But it was clean and the beds were comfortable. That’s mostly what I look for in hotels. We also had a nice balcony where I enjoyed having my coffee while watching sleepy Lido beach community.

Be aware, this is an old hotel that has been recently remodeled. But as it goes with older properties, you can only do so much to cover up the age. It’s like when a lady is close to 50. She may do plastic surgery and use expensive skin creams, but she won’t look 25. Well, unless it’s Jennifer Lopez. I’ll have whatever she is drinking!

My favorite part of this hotel (aside from its location) is the restaurant at the top floor:

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Eating breakfast while enjoying this view? Priceless. Just a reminder: if you have kids under 12, they eat free at all Holiday Inn properties when you purchase an adult entree. The food here is pretty good, and the cost isn’t outrageous, about what you would expect to pay at an IHOP.

I was so happy that at least  the weather cooperated, and we had three wonderful, rain-free days.  We even got to swim in the ocean, though the water was a bit cold. The hotel also has a (barely) heated pool and we enjoyed it as well. It was  nice to just walk on the beach, while watching various birds:

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Aruba? We don’t need no stinking Aruba!

I never get tired of watching sunsets on Florida Gulf Coast:

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I recommend this hotel if you are a low-key traveler who is mostly interested in close proximity to one of the best beaches in Florida. The place isn’t fancy, but at 35,000 points per night it’s a good deal, especially during Spring Break. Using your annual renewal certificate from IHG credit card is a smokin’ deal during any season.

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Going to movies and eating out

As most couples with little kids, we don’t go to movies or eat out all that often. But not that weekend! We made sure to take advantage of our temporary freedom. When we are in a relatively large city, we  like to try out  exotic cuisines.  That’s why I was excited to find a Peruvian restaurant called El Ceviche, located not too far from the hotel. It was just a hole-in-the-wall diner in a  sketchy neighborhood. Those are usually the best kind.

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I ordered a Peruvian tamale, which was somewhat similar to what you would get in a Mexican restaurant, but a bit spicier. I thought it was interesting that they brought a complimentary appetizer which consisted of fried corn and a special dipping sauce:

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All in all, it was a wonderful weekend, one of the best anniversary getaways we’ve ever had. What more can you ask for?

We got home on Sunday around 4 PM. My husband was supposed to go to work the next day when I noticed that he had no clean dress pants. Oops! I told him it was a good thing we weren’t coming back from Aruba since the plane was supposed to land in the evening, and we wouldn’t get home till 10 PM. He said, half-jokingly: “Yup, that would not make me happy.”

In response I started to sing lyrics from a corny song by Jennifer Lopez, called “Ain’t your mama”:

Me: I ain’t  gonna do your laundry, I ain’t your mama.

My husband: I’m so glad I married you!

Me: Say what?

Him: I just love how feisty you are.

So, to all of you ladies who are labeled as “difficult.” There are guys who are into this sort of thing! Marrying my husband all those years ago was the best deal I ever made.

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Author: Leana

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.

17 thoughts on “So, We Missed our Flight to Aruba…

    • Thanks! I’ll check, but if I remember correctly, the option wasn’t available. Originally, I paid taxes with Southwest gift card, so maybe that had something to do with it? To be honest, this whole process was really hectic (calling from the airport etc.), so maybe I messed up. I just wanted to get 40K points back and time was running out. I’ll call Southwest and see what’s up.

    • Just wanted to follow up. I did call and Southwest rep said that refund isn’t possible. We have a credit and have to use it up by July 6th. As in, we have to fly by that date. Probably won’t happen, but I’m tempted by these super cheap fares from Tampa to Havana, Cuba! Really tempted.

  1. So glad it worked out and you were able to get a refund on your points. I think I would’ve been in tears, but I’m with your hubby, I don’t like traveling when sick. Nice to hear that everything turned out ok. Happy Anniversary!!!!

    • Thanks, Stephanie! I did feel like crying, to be honest. But I just put on my tough “Russian” persona and told myself to get over it. 🙂 Plus, we had such a good time. We’ll try to get to Aruba or another Caribbean island in a few years.

    • @Cynthia Thank you! I agree. We couldn’t believe how relaxing this trip was. Every couple should do it now and again. Honestly, I wish we could go by ourselves more often but alas, it’s not that easy.

    • @Nancy This is one of my favorite spots in Florida! The beach is very clean and water crystal clear. If you are OK with older accommodations and ridiculous color scheme, I highly recommend it. It costs $15 to add a rollaway for a third child, and as you can see on the photo, deluxe rooms are fairly big.

  2. Awww… it truly hurts my heart that you missed your flight because of traffic! But yay for points making travel so affordable and flexible (especially Southwest–thank goodness when you really had a catastrophe you had booked with them)! And it truly, it looks like a lovely way to have spent an anniversary.

    One of the real downsides of miles and points is that they allow us to aim so high… hear me out… a three night getaway to Aruba, even from Florida, is something middle-class non-point-hobbyists would probably never consider, because it’s too much expense and hassle for too short a time. Points can take care of the expense (kind of, because even, or perhaps especially the most amazing redemptions carry significant costs), but the hassle remains.

    I’m not saying it’s not worth it, I have planned some crazy but unforgettable trips in very short time periods myself. And I live in Germany, where many people’s idea of vacation is staying put in one location for weeks. But I think I’m also a good deal younger than you, or at the very least much less mature, since I have no kids :-P, and I know how much energy those whirlwind trips take from ME. And a special anniversary kid-free trip, particularly with a sickly husband, should offer plenty of relaxation and quality time. And you clearly had just that–that’s not just making lemonade of lemons, that is a true win! Go you.

    P.S. The insane churning of my brain is full of glee, as I got three instant approvals yesterday. Arrival, Flexperks Amex gold (got a targeted 30k for $1000 offer, right when I need to build them up) and BofA Travel Rewards ($200 bonus, 1.5% cash back toward travel on all purchases, AND one of the few cards that does not require an authorized user to have an SSN–I’m excited beyond reason that my husband will finally have a point-earning card with his name on it). I used your link for the two non-targeted offers. 🙂 Thank you and keep the good posts coming!

    • @Debra Congrats on your approvals! Nicely done, my friend. And thank you so much for supporting the site. I’m truly honored when folks go out of their way to find those darn cards on the affiliate site.
      You are absolutely right. It was an ambitious plan compared to our prior anniversary getaways. My husband likes slow-paced travel, and I’m the opposite. I’m restless and get bored easily. He has more of a European mindset! 🙂
      I actually offered to scrap the trip after he got sick, but he insisted we go. He just wanted to make me happy.
      In hindsight, things worked out for the best. Looking at photos, how can I complain?

  3. 1.Your camera game is strong. Those are some sharp pictures! Did you guys invest in a nice camera or is that a cell phone camera?
    2.This is nightmare fuel. I have never missed a flight but I have had multiple close calls.
    3. We may be switching out Hawaii trip to an Aruba trip.
    4. Florida beaches are a solid replacement for Caribbean islands!

    • @Cheapblackdad My husband took a bulky Nikon D80 (I think that’s the name). So yeah, it was an expensive camera. My sister-in-law gave it to us as a gift a while back. I’ll tell him you liked the photos, he’ll be happy!
      Yeah, we’ve never missed the flight before, so this was a nightmare, indeed. We actually almost got in an accident, too. So it could have been much worse. I think we forget sometimes that travel involves a lot of stress. It’s not all rainbows and unicorns.
      Thank goodness we got the points back, so our loss will be limited to taxes if we don’t end up using that Southwest credit (looks likely). Unfortunately, it’s in our names, so I can’t even give it away to readers.
      I’ve heard good things about Aruba, so I’m certain you guys will enjoy it if you end up going that route. The kids won’t care, I’m sure. Jet lag will be almost non-existent compared to Hawaii, so that’s another plus. I do love Hawaii, I’m not going to lie. But as you can see, we haven’t yet made it there with kids. In fact, it will probably be few years till I even consider it. It’s a long, difficult flight that usually involves one or two connections.
      Oh, and I agree, Florida beaches are nothing to sneeze at! 😉

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