After my mega fail with Costa Rica trip, I have been itching to do a short getaway with just my husband. Due to circumstances, we couldn’t really leave for more that one night, so a local Florida beach was the most logical choice.
Originally, I was looking into paying cash for a non-chain hotel in Bradenton, the area closest to where we live. However, I’ve discovered that despite it being off-season, the lowest rate for an oceanview room on the weekend was close to $180 after taxes and stupid resort fees. And it didn’t even include breakfast.
But then I remembered that I had Hilton points and that there was a property I wanted to stay at anyway. Introducing DoubleTree Beach Resort by Hilton Hotel Tampa Bay – North Redington Beach
It’s located 1.5 hours form my house, admittedly a bit far for a one-night getaway. But! We wouldn’t have to spend cash and would get free breakfast due to my husband’s Diamond status via Amex Aspire card.
I was delighted to discover that the special rate for one night in an OCEANFRONT room was 38,000 Hilton points. I could get a room in the back for 32,000 points with the hopes of a complimentary upgrade. But paying 6,000 points to guarantee an ocean view is well worth it in my book. Done.
Of course, I had to get my husband on board. Fortunately, like character Moto Moto in movie “Madagascar”, his response was “The answer is always Yes, unless No is required.”
So, I booked the getaway, and the following night we got into his Ford Mustang and put the remix of the song Sugar (the video is simultaneously awesome and disturbing!) on full blast. Yes, we are now officially a lame middle-aged couple.
I honestly wasn’t expecting a whole lot. This is DoubleTree, not Waldorf Astoria. But the hotel far exceeded my expectations. They’ve just remodeled rooms, and it shows. Here are some photos of our unit:
The room was extremely clean and queen-size beds were comfortable, with high-quality linens to boot. The floor was vinyl, which I love when staying in hotels. Carpet grosses me out, such a terrible idea because you know most people don’t take their shoes off. And when beachfront hotels have carpet in the rooms, that’s the height of stupidity IMO. Full disclosure: I’m a bit of a germaphobe.
If you are staying with kids and need to use an air mattress, there is plenty of room for it. I liked the fact that coffee/fridge nook is located by the entrance, so if you are an early riser, there will be less disturbance to other people in the room.
To sum it all up: while you won’t find luxury here, you will get a well-designed (and newly remodeled) room with all the amenities one needs for a pleasant stay. Plus, how can you beat this view from the balcony?
I just love listening to ocean waves, it has a calming effect on my jittery personality. If you are looking for a fancy pool complex with slides, this isn’t a place for that. The hotel has one heated pool (see picture above), but it’s relatively small and probably gets packed during high season. The emphasis is solely on the beach, and I approve this message.
The beach is gorgeous, and the water was clear during our stay. This is what makes living in Florida and braving heat/hurricanes/snakes etc. worth it to me. I should also mention that every staff member was extremely friendly and happy to be there. I guess with a view like that it’s hard to be grumpy, right?
I thought this redemption was an excellent value, and I would not hesitate to stay in this hotel again.
Diamond status and Amex Aspire perks
As mentioned earlier, I booked an oceanview room right off the bat. In the request section I put that I would like to have a high-floor room, and it was granted upon check-in due to Diamond status. We were told that continental breakfast is free, and for $5 extra per person, we could have the hot section as well.
I’m not crazy about these silly surcharges for elites, and can’t understand why chains won’t take a cue from Hyatt and just give folks the “works.” How much does it really cost to make an omelet? Nevertheless, it wasn’t a huge upcharge, so we upgraded to hot section and got bacon, Eggs Benedict and fresh waffles. Everything was delicious.
I was told that kids 5 and under eat free, and those under 10 pay $8.95 for the full buffet. Regular price is $17.95, kind of steep. There is an option to order a la carte, which is what I would do for my kids. Or maybe even bring two small boxes of cereal and give the waiter an extra tip to make up for my obnoxiousness.
My kids hardly eat anything for breakfast, so I ain’t paying $8.95 and certainly not $17.95. I wish Hilton would take a cue from Hyatt here as well and cover kids’ breakfast, but I guess you can’t really complain when top-tier status can be achieved just by applying for Aspire credit card.
This hotel is classified as a resort, so I was able to use a portion of my husband’s Amex Aspire $250 credit towards dinner and breakfast. Apparently, every Friday (weather permitting) the resort hires a hula dancer to entertain diners on the beach. Live music is provided as well.
This is a very nice touch, and our waitress has mentioned that during high season there are usually 10-20 kids joining in the fun. I know mine would have a ball, for sure. So, if you can work in a Friday night stay, I recommend dining at their beachfront cafe in the evening.
Other Hilton options in Clearwater area
If you are looking to burn Hilton points on a beachfront hotel, you have two other choices in Clearwater. Full disclosure: I haven’t stayed in either one, but am familiar with the area.
Standard rooms have two double beds, so it will probably be a dealbreaker for most families. However, the hotel is close to all the action, so if you want to stay as centrally as possible, this a good option. The property is classified as a resort, and Clearwater beach is right there.
I’ve vacationed with my family in a hotel located right next to this property, and I like that area a lot. It’s not next to Clearwater beach, yet only a short drive away. This location to me is ideal, but everybody has different preferences.
I like the fact that this hotel has a pool, a hot tub and a fire pit. And of course, like all Hampton properties, breakfast is included, a big plus for families. Standard rooms come with two queen beds.
There are several potential downsides. If you like long walks on the beach, this isn’t the place. The beach is a man-made cove, with boats passing by regularly. It’s very pretty, don’t get me wrong, just not everyone’s cup of tea. Here is a photo of our trip from few years ago to give you an idea on what I’m talking about.
You also won’t have uninterrupted views of the gulf even if you get an ocean view like you would in a DoubleTree resort. Be aware that most weekends have a minimum stay of 2-3 nights. Lastly, the property isn’t classified as a Hilton resort, so you won’t be able to use your Aspire $250 credit here.
All three properties run at 60k points per night during spring months when demand is through the roof. If somebody asked for my opinion on the best option for families, I would have to go with Hampton Inn and Suites. It’s tucked away from the hustle and bustle, and has lots of amenities my kids would love.
For a couple’s getaway and those who prefer a more laid-back atmosphere and chill vibes, DoubleTree is tough to beat. It does take 25 minutes to reach Clearwater from Redington beach, so keep that in mind. I’m not a huge fan of staying right next to Clearwater Beach (too many people), but I know many folks like it. So once again, do your research and decide for yourself.
Regardless of the hotel you pick, Clearwater is a great option for a short after-Disney beach break. The water is calm, the sand is soft, and it’s only 1.5-2 hours from Magic Kingdom. Tampa airport is the best option since it’s served by Southwest and all major carriers.
If you are looking to collect Hilton points, I recommend Hilton Honors American Express Aspire card (my personal referral link). You will get 150k points after spending $4k in three months, plus a free weekend night.
Do make sure that you can utilize at least some of the perks to make up for $450 annual fee. See related post. The offers on the other Amex Hilton co-branded cards are currently down, so I recommend you hold off applying for now.
This overnight stay was so much fun, and the ability to use my points/Aspire credit to cover the charges made it that much sweeter. I was prepared to pay cash, so I can honestly say that my crazy hobby has saved me actual money (this time).
And of course, the chance to have one-on-one time with my best friend was priceless. After all these years together, my husband and I still enjoy each other’s company.
This isn’t something I take for granted, especially after watching many other marriages fall apart. Speaking of, today is our 21st wedding anniversary (we were both teenagers).
While we love doing things with kids, we also treasure our alone time, away from the madness and pressures of life. On to planning the next getaway!
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.