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Back in 1998, I came to the United States to visit my then boyfriend (now husband) with nothing but a small backpack and a $100. We were both only 19 years old at the time. Due to a worsening relationship between the United States and my country of Belarus, we decided to get married. So, I bought a wedding dress in a second-hand store and we got rings at a local Walmart.
My husband never planned any trips in his life, so for our honeymoon he chose a beachfront apartment where he frequently went with his family. A place he knew and loved. He ended up spending all of his remaining savings to book it, and off we went. We were broke, young and very happy. I remember how thrilled we were to open wedding cards with money in them because it meant we could afford to go out to eat.
Over the years, we went there quite a few times, usually with my in-laws. But then my son was born, and I started focusing more on accumulating hotel points and leveraging certificates. We kept talking about going back to Chalet Laun, our special place, but there were always certs that needed to be used up. So, not wanting to spend cash, I kept putting it off.
Ironically, we ended up going back to Chalet Laun last December, despite the fact that I had a bunch of hotel certificates at the time. Due to Covid pandemic, I didn’t feel comfortable taking my family to a traditional hotel, since none of us were yet vaccinated.
But going to a beachfront apartment with outside entrance and zero amenities seemed relatively safe. Plus, we live only 1.5 hours away from Manasota Key.
I reached out to the owner via email , and she replied quickly. She remembered my family and insisted on giving me a $200 discount. It certainly wasn’t expecting it and was prepared to pay $800 for three nights, the going rate. It didn’t seem bad, considering the fact that we were staying during a holiday week. The $600 rate all-in for a 2-bedroom apartment facing the ocean was a steal.
We ordered Uber Eats contactless delivery and brought our own groceries. Most of the time, there were only a few people on the beach.
And that’s basically all we did: wake up, hang out at the beach, rinse and repeat.
The other day my kids have asked me when we will go back to Chalet Laun. So I got on my iPad and typed in the website address, but it came up blank. Hmm…
I went to their Facebook page and it was removed. After doing a quick internet search, I’ve discovered that the owners have recently sold the apartment complex for close to two million dollars. In fact, there was a bidding war, and they got more than the listing price. I certainly don’t blame them for cashing out.
Since the complex was constructed in the sixties, I have a feeling that it will be torn down, and the new developer will build a soulless condominium in its place. Either way, I doubt we will ever get to stay there for $200 per night all-in during a holiday week.
I’m certainly grateful that we got to visit it one last time, but I wish we would have done it more often over the last decade. It was our special place, and I took it for granted. I’ve certainly enjoyed staying in hotels and resorts for “free”via points, but I don’t feel emotional attachment to any of those places. Not like this one.
I’m hoping we can find another beachfront apartment in Florida where we can go as a family each and every year. Some things are worth spending money on, even if you have points.
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.