Another installment in my “First World Problems” series…
As most of you already know, very soon we’ll be having my mom visiting us here in US. Obviously, I don’t want her to fly from Belarus and spend all of her time in a tiny central Florida town in the middle of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong, country living has its perks, but that’s not what Eastern Europeans come to Florida for. It’s all about the beach, at least for my mom.
We are planning to take her to Florida Keys for five nights. However, that area is not known for great beaches. The place we are staying at is located near tiny seaweed-filled body of water, apparently, not great for swimming. So, I’ve decided that I need to splurge my hotel points on one night at an actual beach, so my mom can get her fix. But where should we go?
I had a choice of either using Wyndham points or Hyatt currency. IHG properties I was interested in cost 35,000 points per night or more, and that’s too expensive considering the fact that we would need two rooms. The hotel’s location would also have to be on the way to Key Largo or at least, not involve a crazy long detour.
My first inclination was to take my mom to Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa (see review). After all, we could do Cash+Points reservation and get a suite. We would also be able to hit club lounge for free food. My mom would get her money’s worth, I guarantee it.
There was one problem. Hyatt is not a beachfront property. It’s not a deal breaker to me, but like I said, my mom is a beach fanatic. This resort property offers boat shuttle to its own private island, but who knows what the weather would be like during our stay. Reluctantly, I decided to scrap the Hyatt idea.
Here are Wyndham properties that caught my eye:
It looks like a posh property, and the rates run at $380 per night, even during off-season. The location is only a short walk from famous South Beach.
It’s a beachfront property located about 30 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale. The rate was $159 per night, less than half of Shelbourne place. Both hotels have decent reviews and both cost 15,000 Wyndham points per night.
Judging by price, the first one seems like a no-brainer, right? Not to me. The thing is, they can attach whatever sticker rate they want, I don’t value a beachfront hotel room at more than $165 per night all-in. That’s the most we’ve ever paid for one, and we got a suite. Overwater bungalow? Now that’s a different story.
My husband doesn’t like Miami, plus the resort in Deerfield beach appears to be low-key, our kind of place. We are not “posh” type people.
Winner: Wyndham Deerfield Beach resort.
I went ahead and redeemed 30,000 Wyndham points on two rooms facing the city. Everything was set and I made peace with my decision.
And then I changed my mind as I usually do.
I went ahead and canceled Wyndham reservation and booked Hyatt Coconut Point resort instead.
Here is why:
1) Free food! We have five people total, so the savings will be substantial. We’ll be able to take advantage of evening snacks in the club lounge (a.k.a. dinner), evening desserts and the following morning we’ll have a wonderful breakfast. All free.
2) This is the year when I have a free suite upgrade certificate. It’s a “use it or lose it” kind of thing. If I decide to bring my mom here in the future, we will have to reserve two rooms at a cost of 30,000 points per night. Right now I can do it for $100+7,500 points, transferred from Chase UR program. Plus, we’ll get 1,000 Hyatt points back due to Diamond status.
BTW, the rate for our Hyatt suite is $600 per night all-in, though obviously, I would never pay that much. But you can see how this is an excellent value proposition, especially when you factor in free food.
3) The suite (with two bathrooms) has a separate bedroom area and faces the Gulf of Mexico. My plan is to let my mom share sofa sleeper with my daughter. Alternatively, I will ask the resort to bring a rollaway like we did last time. It’s definitely suitable for an adult. I would hate for my mom to sleep on a rollaway for a whole week, but one night isn’t a deal breaker. She is a simple gal who grew up without plumbing or running water. Deal with it, mom! You like, you like.
4) Wyndham Deerfield resort is located three hours from our house and we would not be able to get there till sunset. So, my mom wouldn’t be swimming in the ocean that day anyway. I figured when we get to Hyatt, we’ll enjoy pools in the evening. Then the next day we’ll request late checkout and spend few hours on the private island.
5) West coast of Florida has nicer beaches compared to ones on the east coast.
Enjoying private island owned by Hyatt
6) We really liked our stay in Hyatt, and I know for a fact my mom will love it. Deerfield resort is probably fine as well, but I don’t know it with 100% certainty.
7) I’m thinking about bringing my parents again in 2018 and using Wyndham currency for several Cash+Points stays. I’m seriously looking at this beachfront property in Fort Myers. It runs at $85+3,000 points per night/per room.
Even though cash co-pay would be fairly high on two rooms, it’s still a good deal during high season. We may even get a suite. If things go according to the plan, I’ll be able to reserve the place in April of 2017, not too long from now. I’m looking at possibly staying there for 5 nights, which would require 30,000 points for two rooms.
Sometimes it makes sense to pay actual $ in order to stretch your points stash. Getting a beachfront condo in Florida during March would be expensive, plus, we prefer to have two separate rooms anyway. So I think I better hold on to my Wyndham points for now.
As always, canceling Wyndham reservation required three phone calls and 45 minutes of my time, but I was finally able to get it done. Hyatt reservation process was also not without quirks. But that’s a story for another post. It’s nuts how much time/energy actually goes into this hobby.
Burning Ultimate Rewards like there is no tomorrow
Few times per year I book a short 1-night getaway for me and my husband. I recommend it to all married couples with children because it’s a serious relationship booster (when we don’t get into an argument, that is). But in all seriousness, I think it’s important to get away from kids now and again in order to have an adult conversation. So, I was looking at doing something at the end of December.
Unfortunately, all IHG properties I was considering cost 30,000-35,000 points per night. With credit card rebate it’s less, but it’s still a significant amount. Plus, I’m actually starting to run out of IHG points. I have been able to acquire them for around 0.3 cents apiece, but who knows how things will be with future promotions.
I decided to look into Hyatt since like I said in another post, we currently have Diamond status and all the perks that come with it. The most logical choice for a short getaway was Hyatt Regency Sarasota It’s located only one hour from our house and has beautiful views of the bay. The cost is 12,000 Hyatt points per night or $75+6,000 points. Originally, I redeemed a suite upgrade so we could take the kids there in January. However, we have so many plans that particular weekend, I went ahead and canceled.
So, I thought, maybe we should go there for a couple getaway instead. For 12,000 UR points transferred to Hyatt, we’ll get a nice place to stay, plus a possible upgrade. Regular rooms during the time of our visit go for $300 per night, so redemption value is decent. Breakfast at this place runs at $20 per person, and we won’t have to worry about paying it.
Cost-wise, it comes very close to the price of IHG property, factoring in savings on food. Most importantly, Hyatt in Sarasota looks upscale and I’m excited to try it out. Isn’t it the whole reason we collect points? To enjoy ourselves? So, this is where we are going for one night unless I find a spectacular deal elsewhere.
But I’m not changing any of my other plans due to Diamond status!!! I think.
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.