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A Tale of Two Redemptions

Yesterday I described some of the family communication issues we had on our recent trip. Of course, we  had a lot of fun too! The weather was just about perfect the entire time, something you can’t always count on in November. While I plan to do a detailed post on activities, let me share some highlights of the places we stayed at. Hopefully, this information will be helpful when it comes to planning your own trip.

Off to Hyatt Regency Coconut Point resort we go (again)

I wrote about my back-and-forth on adding an extra night at a beachfront hotel on our way to the Keys. In the end I settled on Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa due to suite upgrade and free club lounge access. Most importantly, we went there because I knew my mom would love it. And she did!

The weather was absolutely gorgeous, and we were able to get a 2 PM check-out which allowed us to enjoy private island. Even though we only stayed one night, we sure got our money’s worth. I already wrote a detailed review of this property, so won’t repeat myself. I will only highlight things that were different this time around. For example, during our last stay we had a regular room. Not this time.

I was able to redeem a suite upgrade courtesy of my Hyatt Diamond status (obtained for free via match). We paid $110, plus 7,500 Hyatt points transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards program 1:1. Worth every penny/point. I thought they would charge us a resort fee since the rate  had a cash component, but that wasn’t the case. Nice!

Here are a few pictures of our suite:

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Living room with pull-out sleeper sofa (which my kids shared).

We also requested a rollaway bed for my mom, and she said it was comfortable. Living room had its own bathroom, which was handy, considering the fact that we had 5 people.
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Spacious master bedroom had a separate door with a lock (wink wink). I just love the decor of this
particular Hyatt!

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Our suite had an amazing view of  Estero Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. On the right side of the photo you can see their brand new 4-million-dollar waterpark.

Speaking of, when I booked the place,  I had no idea that the new waterpark would open on the day of our check-in. This was a very fortunate coincidence, and my kids were thrilled with the slides and the heated lazy river.

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Oh yeah, I went down the slides a few times too!

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Floating down the lazy river… Life is good.

A note to my reader Cheapblackdad, who is a self-proclaimed “lazy river” fanatic. You should seriously consider taking your family here. They will all love it, I’m sure of it. Besides, this resort is full of white people. It’s your duty to shake things up, my cheap black brother! 😉

I’ve said it before and will say it again: for 15,000 Hyatt points per night, this place is a bargain, especially during spring months when rates hover around $450 per night. Mark my words, it will become a category 5 (20,000 points per night) during next adjustment. I’m planning to take my family there at least one more time before that happens. It really is that good. We live less than two hours from this resort, and I just can’t help myself. Burn UR points, burn!

Love Florida Keys, but have mixed feelings on our “resort”

I will have a separate post on things we did when visiting Florida Keys. I think it’s an overall terrific destination for families. The views are incredible, weather is warm and there is plenty to do. And of course, don’t forget the famous overseas highway. It’s one of a kind.

Earlier this year I wrote a post on redeeming AAdvantage miles on Ocean Pointe Suites resort in Key Largo.  The price was a little over 20,000 miles per night, and in exchange we got a 2-bedroom/ 2-bath condo with an ocean view. The problem with individually owned units is that they are like a box of chocolates. And we got an old, gross, worn out piece of chocolate:

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This style was all the rage in the eighties! And I’m pretty sure that’s when they installed the carpet.

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Our “fancy” bedroom.

Look again at the pictures of Hyatt and imagine coming here afterwards. I didn’t take a photo, but our toilet was installed right next to a cabinet where it would be impossible to sit on it the way it was designed. Honestly, the decor itself and other quirks were not a deal breaker. It was the gross, nasty carpet.

Unfortunately, the resort (loosely used term) was sold out on the first night. But next day we were able to switch to a different unit few doors down the hallway, which was much better. Mind you, it still came with its own set of issues. The dishwasher kept popping out, and our mattress had a dip in it. Et cetera, et cetera. I will say that when I called, the maintenance guys came and fixed the dishwasher issue right away.

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Drinking my sorrows away.

But we made it work. We were mostly gone during the day, so the condo was just a place to sleep. Plus, I was happy with the fact that I didn’t have to spend precious cash and was able to utilize miles that were just sitting in my account and doing nothing.

You might be surprised when I say that I would consider staying at this place again. Why? It’s super convenient as a base to explore Florida Keys and many nearby attractions. It’s also only 1 hour and 20 minutes from Miami airport, which is very handy for those of you who have to fly. There were many families with young children, so we fit right in.

The resort also happens to have a terrific, brand new heated pool and a jacuzzi,  which we thoroughly enjoyed:

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There is a snack bar (opened during limited hours) where you can order food items and alcoholic drinks.

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A view at night.

There is also a small beach, but like most of them  in the Keys, it’s nothing to write home about. Plus, there is “jelly fish” warning sign posted by the water.

Believe it or not, my daughter said she liked this place more than a Hyatt and is begging us to return very soon. Her words: “Sometimes less fancy is better.” Go figure! Me? I’m starting to see that the statement “once you go Hyatt, you never go back” has its merit.

That said, I would definitely do things differently next time around. While you can only book regular units with miles, I was told it’s possible  to call and agree to pay extra for a recently remodeled condo. During November it can be as little as extra $30 per night, in the spring it will cost more. Pay it! I should have.

I gambled on the fact that I would end up with a decent unit and lost. We survived, obviously, and for 20,000 AA miles per night, I still think it’s a decent deal. But I could have saved myself a lot of stress and aggravation if I wasn’t so cheap.

When you travel with kids, it’s wonderful to have a kitchen, washer and a dryer, not to mention, separate bedrooms. If you are a family of six, you may want to investigate this resort. But only if you are low-key, no-frills type travelers. This ain’t no Hyatt!

You can see this TripAdvisor page for more reviews of the resort. You’ll notice that they are all over the place because units vary in quality. Check resort’s website for specials. During off-season you can usually get a decent price on an upgraded unit, and may even be able to get a fourth night free if you have Citi Prestige.

This resort can also be booked with Ultimate Rewards points, and if you happen to have Chase Sapphire Reserve, you’ll get 1.5 cents per point. Unfortunately, the portal doesn’t seem to differentiate between regular and upgraded units. So, once again, you’ll have to call the property and arrange the upgrade via separate co-pay. Make sure to get an email with confirmation.

Also, be aware that some units have one full-size bed in the second bedroom instead of two twin-size beds. The condos are assigned on first-come, first-serve basis, so there is some risk that you won’t get your desired  unit if you arrive late. Overall, I’m giving this place one thumb up and one thumb down, my own patented type of rating.

Bottom line: if you can get a good deal AND  reserve a remodeled unit, consider staying here, especially if you have young kids. Every American family should visit Florida Keys at least once. Trust me. Bonus: it’s a lot cheaper than Caribbean.

Bottom line

While the two places couldn’t be more different, they both served their intended purpose. Hyatt was more of a destination-type redemption. The idea was to stay put and enjoy the facilities. Ocean Pointe Suites resort in Key Largo was more of a base, with a side benefit of a nice view, decent pool and a hot tub. While I would do things a bit differently next time, I still think it was an overall good choice for what we needed. There is a lot to do in Florida Keys, and the location was superb in that respect.

In the end, while neither place was free, both were deeply discounted since we were using points and traveling off-season. And you can’t beat that!

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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.

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11 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Redemptions

    • Nick, we did pass it on the way to Key West and it looked nice! I would definitely consider it if it was just my family traveling (as in, if my mom wasn’t with us). Obviously, a nice thing is that breakfast is included, which would make things easier for your wife. I know it has a small pool, not sure about a hot tub.
      A couple of issues you may want to consider:
      1) Depending on the season, a condo may be a better fit price-wise. Many rentals can be booked via UR portal. If you have CSR, this may be the way to go. Of course, quality can be hit or miss. I do think the rental at Ocean Pointe resort is a good fit for your family as long as you can confirm upgraded unit. Even regular condos can be decent. I forgot to take photos of our second unit, but it wasn’t bad at all. Of course, Hyatt has consistent quality you can depend on, and that’s worth something.
      2) Since Keys cover a large area, it’s nice to pick a place that’s central to what you want to do. If most of your activities are in Key West area, then Marathon may be a decent choice, since it’s a little over an hour of driving. For us, Key Largo area was a much better fit because I wanted to do a glass-bottom boat tour to Molasses reef from John Penencamp state park and Theater of The Seas park (highly recommended since you have small kids!) We did do a day trip to Key West, mostly for sunset celebration. My mom has been to Key West before, so I wasn’t under pressure to squeeze in a lot of sightseeing. A nice thing about Key Largo area is that is was closer to Bonita Springs and Miami airport.
      Anyway, sorry for the long rant, I know it wasn’t your question, just wanted to throw in a few suggestions. I’m sure Hyatt in Marathon is perfectly fine.

  1. @Nancy They did tell us we need wrist bands, though we went without them on the first day and it was fine. We didn’t have any trouble getting five of them, but we stayed in a suite, which allows five guests. So, I’m not sure how this works with regular rooms. I honestly doubt it will be an issue because all employees are super laid back. If I remember correctly, they don’t check anything on computer, but just write down information after they give out the bands. You have to get them in a towel hut right by the waterpark, not at check-in. I can’t imagine there would be any issues, but who knows?

  2. That’s exciting the waterpark is now open. I am afraid it will go up a category too. I’m glad you like the Keys. We stayed in Key West last time and it wasn’t our scene at all. We want to try the upper keys next time.

    • @Jennifer That watepark is terrific! We had so much fun there. I really wish we had a second night at a Hyatt, but by that point we already committed to the place in the Keys. Oh well, we did stay busy for five nights with so much to do down there. I think this Key Largo resort is located in a great spot. Winn Dixie is two minutes away, and there are few fast food places as well. Honestly, aside from few problems in the unit, we enjoyed it tremendously. Booking an upgraded, remodeled condo from the get-go should solve any potential problems. I plan to write a post about stuff we did, so stay tuned.

  3. You definitely scored with that waterpark which is worth the UR points in my book. That Hyatt sounds like a steal for 15,000 points per night.

    • @Stephanie We totally scored a deal! For basically less than $200 per night (all-in) we got a huge suite that fit five people. On top of it, we got free boat ride to a private island, use of waterpark and all the free food from the club lounge. We had dinner, desserts and breakfast the next day. I felt like an idiot packing up and leaving for our humble condo in the Keys. We should have just stayed in this place. I bet everyone would have been happier! But in all fairness, we did a lot of cool stuff in Florida Keys, and I’ll have a post on it at some point.
      P.S. I think I’m turning into a Hyatt snob. This hobby has corrupted me. 🙂

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