The premise is that there are two types of people: maximizers and satisficers. Maximizers are those who obsess about every single decision, making sure they get the most value out of everything. Satisficers have certain standards, but once they make their choice, they are not worried about the possibility that there might be something better.
A lot has changed since I’ve published that post. In the last four years the banks have tightened approval criteria, and accumulating miles and points via easy method of switching credit cards has become much harder.
In view of this new reality, my mindset has also shifted somewhat from being a satisficer to more of a maximizer. I’m a little more picky about CPP (cents per point) or CPM (cents per mile) value I’m getting on hotels or flights because my ability to replenish these currencies in the future isn’t a guarantee.
I also try to make the best possible use of uncapped hotel certificates that fit in with my existing plans (that last part is important). Not long ago, I finally got my free weekend night from Amex Hilton Aspire card upgrade that I’ve written about few months ago.
Let me walk you through my (agonizing!) thought process on squeezing the most value out of that stupid thing. It’s definitely an overkill, but let’s face it, we are all a little obsessive in this hobby, aren’t we?
Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego
Next year we are planning a whirlwind family trip to Hawaii and Japan. One of our stops will be in San Diego, just a brief overnight between the flights. We are supposed to land in the evening after dark, and leave for Oahu at 7:50 AM the following morning. My original plan was to redeem the free certificate on one of Hilton hotels located close to the airport. It made sense to keep it simple.
But then I started having second thoughts. The more I looked at Hotel Del Coronado, the more I wanted to stay there instead. The property has a storied past, and even hosted legends like Marylin Monroe and various dignitaries. What can I say? I’m a sucker for old historic hotels.
Screenshot taken form Hotel Del Coronado website
But the biggest reason I wanted to stay there, I kid you not, is the antique elevator in the main building. It has an attendant inside at all times who operates it for hotel guests. That just fascinated the heck out of me. I have a thing for old elevators, and have seen some really crazy ones during our travels in Europe. Like this “chicken coop” type in Rome that probably predates Benito Mussolini:
There was also one in Warsaw with no doors, but sadly I don’t have a picture of it.
Anyway, the standard room in this property costs 95,000 Hilton points per night, not something I would ever consider paying during an airport layover. So I thought, why not use the cert? Except, we would only be going to Hotel Del Coronado to sleep, that’s it. We would not be able to use pools or any other amenities.
I probably wouldn’t have time to even walk on the beach. So what’s the point? I don’t think my husband would understand if I told him that I chose that hotel just so we could have some dude to operate an elevator for us.
In addition, the property is located around 30 minutes from the airport. While not terrible, it matters when a flight leaves at 7:50 AM. I also read a less than flattering review of this property on Travel Codex blog, which sealed the deal. As much as I prefer to take advantage of airport layovers to see something cool, in this case it makes sense to keep things simple.
After some research, I went ahead and used Wyndham points on Ramada San Diego Airport. I paid 15,000 points for one-bedroom suite and requested a rollaway for an extra $15, so the kids don’t have to share a bed. While not exactly a bargain, it’s a pretty good deal for expensive San Diego. The hotel has a free airport shuttle and some sort of mediocre breakfast in the morning. Some rooms have a view of the bay.
I started looking for other ways to maximize my Aspire weekend certificate, which brought me to Los Angeles.
Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills
My husband and I have never been to Los Angeles aside from airport layovers (which don’t count). Though I did see a glimpse of Hollywood sign from the plane once! Next year we are planning on overnighting in Los Angeles after our flight from Japan.
Originally I was going to use my certificates from IHG credit card in order to book Crowne Plaza LAX (35,000 IHG points per night). We were going to reserve three rooms (we will have seven people total), and my sister-in-law was planning to keep the kids.
And then it occurred to me that maybe I should use my weekend night from Aspire on Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. We are supposed to land at 11:00 AM and won’t leave for Florida till 3 PM the following day. This would give us a chance to relax and really enjoy the property. Well, as much as you can enjoy it considering the jet lag. The drive to the hotel from LAX is 25 minutes according to Google Maps, so not too bad.
The room has a terrace, a soaking tub and all kinds of fancy amenities. The property also has a rooftop pool/hot tub, with a view of Los Angeles and surrounding hills. The price for a standard room is $750 per night, and I would never consider paying it. But the weekend night cert? Sign me up.
Screenshot taken from Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills website
I’m sure the dining prices are high, but we’ll survive. It helps that we will get a $60 allowance for room service due to being Diamond. Hopefully, this will cover a few pieces of toast for breakfast. We may get upgraded, but it’s not a big deal either way.
I went ahead and reserved a room with two queen beds and put 2 adults+2 children on the reservation, just in case. I always do that because you never know if the kids will need to join us due to change in plans. Checkout isn’t until noon, so we may be able to do something touristy in the morning.
Of course, I had to make sure my sister-in-law is OK with this plan, and she was. So, I went from dreading flying from Tokyo to Los Angeles to kind of looking forward to it. My in-laws want to stay near the airport, but I’m glad to not have to deal with airplane noise at night. If we had an early flight in the morning, then it would be a totally different story.
Obviously, these are first-world dilemmas here. Even if I used the cert on a cheap airport hotel, it would be absolutely fine. There is nothing wrong with being a “satisficer”. Using miles and points to save real cash is smart and practical. Most of the time, I try to be a satisficer.
But in this case, I feel like I can have my cake and eat it too. We needed to stay somewhere in Los Angeles anyway, so why not make it Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills? It’s certainly worth a 25-minute Uber ride plus a hotel certificate that expires in a few months.
Readers, how are you maximizing your Hilton Amex Aspire weekend night?
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.