Over the years, one of my goals on this blog has been highlighting points bargains that will accommodate large families. While many fancy hotels may give you spectacular CPP (cents per point) value, they don’t really work if you have 5, 6 or more people in your traveling party.
Fortunately, there are properties where you can seriously stretch your points, and today I want to highlight one of them: Holiday Inn Club Vacations Sunset Cove Resort
Before I get you guys too excited, let me list some of the issues with redeeming points on this resort. First and foremost, availability during high season (spring and most major holidays) is virtually non-existent. In fact, I don’t think the resort releases any award units during that time frame.
That said, if you are willing to travel during low season (late summer and fall), you will have a decent shot at finding availability as long as you book early. But be aware that 2-night minimum stay is required. That means that you won’t be able to use your annual certificates that come with IHG co-branded credit cards. So, you will need to shell out actual points.
Also, the award calendar stinks, so I recommend always checking individual dates. Right now I’m seeing availability in late summer and early fall of 2020. Of course, that’s the middle of the hurricane season, so keep that in mind.
The resort is located on a residential canal, about 10-minute easy drive from a beautiful beach. We went to the restaurant called Sunset Grille to watch, you’ve guessed it, a sunset, and I recommend it. See Tripadvisor reviews.
I thought the location of the resort was fine, but if you insist on being right on the beach, then you may want to look elsewhere. I should also add that the resort provides a free beach shuttle (limited hours) that drops you off and picks you up. We drove our car, so I can’t comment on it.
On to Marco island itself. Honestly, I found it a bit bland and vanilla for my taste. There is nothing wrong with it, but it just doesn’t have a lot of character. It’s a very affluent location, where everything is nice and tidy. It’s just not my cup of tea.
However, the island feels very safe and there are beautiful beaches to enjoy. So I can’t really complain. I’ve lived in Florida for over 20 years, and this was actually my first time on the island. Would I go back? For 35k IHG points per night (31.5 points after rebate via my co-branded credit card), absolutely!
You can take a cruise to surrounding islands, and spot dolphins along the way, though we didn’t get a chance to do it on this trip.
If you are vacationing in Miami and want to visit Florida Gulf Coast for few nights, Marco island is ideal. It will take you about two hours one-way to reach it, and I strongly recommend driving US-41 for scenic views along the way.
Of course, first you have to survive getting out of Miami which has the worst/most aggressive drivers in Florida, possibly the US. Yes, I said it! If you disagree, you obviously haven’t driven in Miami.
Photos of our unit
There were seven of us, and there was plenty of room for everyone. The unit was very nice, with upgraded kitchen, furniture and comfortable beds. It was also spotless. No complaints whatsoever.
There was also a huge screened porch with a view of the canal.
The master bedroom has a king bed and a huge bathroom with a soaking tub:
The bedroom my husband and I shared had a king bed, and the kids had one with two twins.
The pool and hot tub
When you travel with kids, this is the most important piece of the puzzle. I’m happy to say that the kids enjoyed the pool area. Then again, they’ve never “met” a pool they didn’t like.
The hot tub was really nice, and I enjoyed hanging out there both days. Do keep in mind that pool area is closed after dark due to city ordinance, which is a big negative in my book.
I wasn’t blown away by Marco Island, though I thoroughly enjoyed the stay at this resort. I have never “met” a beach I didn’t like, and watching a sunset by the water with your toes in the sand is always a treat.
It was a wonderful excuse to relax and spend time with extended family. While I wouldn’t pay $350 per night the resort commands during low season, 35k IHG points is an absolute steal. Recommended. If you are looking to redeem IHG points on a hotel near Disney, see my review of Holiday Inn Club Vacations Orlando-Orange Lake resort
P.S. New IHG PointBreaks list (valid through January 31st 2020) was released yesterday.
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.