Some Top Family Friendly Starwood Preferred Guest Hotel Redemptions

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To continue my “Maximizing SPG” series, I wanted to highlight a few of the family friendly SPG hotel redemption options that have caught my eye.  No doubt there are virtually endless fantastic SPG hotels around the world, but I want to focus on the ones that are both potentially great destinations for families a little closer to home (assuming home is in or near the US), and are a good value on points.  If you need to play “catch up” with the previous SPG posts in this series, here they are:

Maximizing SPG Points for Hotel Stays

Maximizing SPG Points for Flights

 

Ski Trips:

It is no shocker that nice hotels in ski towns are expensive during ski season (think $350 – $500 per night in some cases).  Heck, even not-so-nice hotels can be expensive during ski season.  Given my affinity for skiing and snowboarding, and my preference for nice hotels, I think that using SPG points to stay at ski resorts is a fantastic deal.  I have written several times about using 12,000 SPG points per night to stay at the Westin Beaver Creek Resort and Spa in Avon, Colorado (near Vail).  You will almost have enough points for three free nights during ski season if you get in on the SPG Amex 30K point sign-up deal (including the points earned from the spending to get the bonus points).

Last year I was even able to stay during ski season at that resort for 4,800 SPG points plus $90 per night.  I haven’t been able to get those cash and points rates again so far for this upcoming ski season at that resort (though I will keep looking), but I do see that cash and points rates are available for the soon-to-open Westin Snowmass Resort for the 2013 ski season, and the Sheraton Steamboat Resort.

Cash and points availability at the rate of $60 per night plus 4,000 SPG points per night are also available at the soon-to-open Wildwood Snowmass and Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas.  I have not stayed at any of those resorts personally (other than the Westin Beaver Creek), but they are all worth considering since cash and points stays are a heck of a deal during ski season.  I will be watching the Westin Snowmass Resort’s progress closely as it is just 15 minutes from Aspen with ski in/out access, and looks like a potential heck of a deal on cash and points!

If you want to spend a few more points for a night, the Westin Resort & Spa Whistler is 16,000 points per night during ski season.  This resort is an all-suites property, and is very close to Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.  It is very much on my “short list”!

Disney World:

There are a billion hotels in the Disney World area at all price points, but I vastly prefer staying on Disney property when you are traveling to Disney with young children.  There are many beautiful Disney resorts to pick from, but I have a strong pull toward the Swan (Westin) and Dolphin (Sheraton), in large part because you can earn and use SPG points at these hotels.

Best of all, they are on Disney property, so you get many extra benefits including “extra magic hours” so you can go to alternating parks before or after the normal operating hours on certain days of the week.  We stayed at the Swan in April 2011 with extended family and had a blast.  They are an easy walking distance from Epcot, and a short boat ride from Hollywood Studios.  There are frequent bus services to the other Disney parks.  These hotels are both 10,000 SPG points per night, but since they are a Category 4 hotel, remember to consider “Nights and Flights”!  Also, if you are staying for five nights, then you spend just 40,000 points for the five nights and effectively get each night for just 8,000 points!

Hawaii:

There are eleven SPG hotels and resorts on four Hawaiian Islands, and on a random search for a date this fall I saw several with points and cash availability.  Always compare all available options, but I recommend paying special attention any time a cash and points reservation is available.  Also, since many folks often spend several days in Hawaii, it can be a good time to consider staying five nights and only paying the points value for four nights using the “Fifth Night Free” option in Category 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 hotels.

New York City:

Hotels in NYC are extremely expensive – especially on week days.  However, NYC is a magical city that can be great for a family adventure.  My own family is heading there during the Holiday Season this year to take in all the Christmas sights and sounds with our kiddo!

Prices for even mid-range hotels in New York can rival what it costs for nice resorts during ski season!  Unfortunately, the number of points required for NYC hotels is often pretty steep, but there are some good deals to be found given how costly stays would be with cash.  Some of the less expensive points options are the soon-to-reopen Westin Grand Central at 12,000 points per night (used to be the New York Helmsley Hotel), the Element Times Square West at 12,000 points per night, and the Aloft Brooklyn at 7,000 points per night.  If you are willing to shell out 20,000 points per night, then the W Times Square seems to get consistently high marks, but I haven’t really found W’s to often be the most family-friendly of the SPG hotels.

SPG Resorts:

Also don’t discount SPG Resorts that are located in some cities that aren’t quite as popular as destinations like Orlando or Hawaii.  For example, last year my family stayed at the Westin La Cantera Resort and Spa in San Antonio, and we had a great experience.  There was a large pool complex, a nature trail, a very nice restaurant, a Kid’s Club, and they have some festive themed activities around the holidays including an ice skating rink.  Jetting off to Whistler or Hawaii is fantastic, but I realize that some families need to keep vacations a bit closer to home, and Westin Resorts throughout the US are a great way to do that while still having a fantastic vacation.  The Westin La Cantera is a Category 4 hotel that is available for 10,000 points per night, or 4,000 points plus $60 per night on cash and points.

I’m sure I have just scratched the surface on some solid family friendly SPG redemptions, so I would love to hear about your favorites as well!

 

Disclosure:  I do receive a commission if you are approved for a credit card using one of my affiliate links.  As always, your support is greatly appreciated. 

Comments

  1. Another weak post my mommy points. I really wish boardingarea via mobile devices shows who the writers are instead of just showing titles.

    Mommy points posts are becoming more like spam.

  2. I am still curious how you get around the 2 people to a room on award nights issue. This is the major reason that I do not stay with SPG.

  3. The Sheraton NY just north of Times Square was recently redone. I stayed there in June on the Club floor (44th?) and was very happy. The club lounge serves a really nice breakfast (buffet) and has a really nice 270° view including Central Park. The location isn’t bad as it’s close to Times Square and Central Park. It’s 12,000 points per night.

  4. I thought that the 2 person rule generally referred to adults only. However, I did run into this problem on a DC property where 2 people really meant only 2 people. I would call the hotel directly to make sure what their policy is. I have had to do this with IHG as well.

  5. Katherine: splitting hairs, the policy is 2 adults per award stay. Properties about kids in the room vary from property to property. It may be wise to call ahead, especially if you are unsure if you’ll get a room with the proper number of beds and need a rollaway or similar. It’s also in an obscure place, but on each property’s page on the starwood site, there is a link at the top “announcements”. Very frequently there is a family or child policy there.

    I just booked the St. Regis in Deer Valley for Cash and Points on their opening weekend (pretty sure C&P evaporates after that…). Their policy, as an example, is:
    “Family Plan Policy
    Children 17 and under sleep free in existing room bedding. Rollaways, child rollaways and cribs may incur extra charges.”

    As a side note, the price for the perfectly acceptable hampton inn (just stayed there for work) just down the road is substantially under the cash portion of cash and points at the St.R. Obviously it’s not ski-in, ski-out and not a St. Regis, but can be had for cheap. If budget it tight, don’t lock too tightly into points!

    Stayed with free resort nights in Aspen last year, at the St. Regis there *just* as renovations were finishing up (they were behind schedule and even other platinums were getting moved to other hotels while we were there). My wife and I don’t have kids, but the Snowmass area seemed very family-friendly so those suggestions look to be spot on. The Westin seemed to get much better reviews pre-branding, so well worth aiming for that one I think. Seeing the property from the outside it looked like a good option. There may also be more affordable food choices than in Aspen, where dining tends to be decidedly upscale/expensive, and a lot of the more affordable options are bar menus, so less family-friendly.

  6. @yawn, sorry the post didn’t meet your needs. It would be nice to decipher post authors on the mobile view.

    @Katherine, some good suggestions in the comments section on that. I do recommend checking with the hotel about children – especially if you are going to need something like a rollaway bed. I do not believe the intent of the rule is to keep children out of the rooms, but to avoid having a ton of adults crash in one room. That is just my guess. I am sure there are properties out there that strictly enforce the rule (esp perhaps in Europe), but I think there are many more where it won’t be an issue. I know I am not concerned about it with my young child as it has never been an issue.
    @Mike P, thanks for that info!
    @Dan, I agree that checking with the individual property is the safest route. I have never had an issue with staying on a C and P rate with my family.
    @Matt, thanks for sharing your experiences. I agree that if you don’t need additional bedding, it is rarely going to be an issue. Always good to check with the specific hotel though. Glad to hear that you think that Snowmass looks to be a good possible choice for families!
    @Amnesiac, thanks for the helpful feedback. 😉

  7. I agree that spg is almost worthless if you have 2 kids. Some but not all hotel allows one child but not 2 at an extra fee.

    I think this would be a great family oriented post if you compared spg with mariott or priority where you can clearly add 2 children to your award reservation.

    My 2 cents…

  8. Let me through out the following regarding family travel to expensive destinations like New York (even though it doesn’t fall under the “miles and points” rubric): consider vacation apartment rental. For under $200 you can generally rent a two bedroom apartment with kitchen, refrigerator, washer & drier, etc. Apartments are generally very well kitted out in terms of entertainment options (cable, free internet) and some even supply children’s toys and cribs.
    .
    Especially for families with slightly older children, this compares extremely favorably to the cost of even just one hotel room, let alone two. There are plenty of apartments that can sleep six, making it possible to vacation with grandparents, parents, and children in New York for about $35 per night per person — less than the cost of a hostel bed.
    .
    We’ve done this in Europe and liked it so much that we converted the garden floor of our brownstone to a vacation rental. As an example of what’s available, we sleep up to 6 people (two bedrooms and a fold-out couch in the living room) in 1100 square feet, starting at under $200 per night and (as we have children ourselves) offer toys and optional baby-sitting. There are literally thousands of apartments like ours. Look on homeaway.com.
    .
    Yes, you forego earning or spending points (although many apartments offer a “7th night free” or similar promotion), but the cost savings and increase in comfort can be amazing.

  9. @Andras, good suggestion for a post. I’ve never had a hotel scrutinize how many folks were in the room (of course I’ve never shared with an inordinate number of folks), but I am curious as to whether this is a common problem for people, or whether it is the rare exception. I know it does happen, but it just doesn’t very common in my own travels. I have heard more stories about that in Europe than in the US. Or perhaps I have been lucky….. Also, when I search for cash and points (or any) reservations with SPG it asks me for the number of adults – it doesn’t even ask for the number of children. I tell it honestly that there are two adults and then continue on my way.
    @Larry in NYC, apartments/houses can be great alternatives for families. I haven’t rented a NYC apartment from anyone yet for a vacation, but I have rented two houses this summer as an alternative to hotels in other locations. Very much agree that it can sometimes be a good option – especially when with extended family like I was this summer. Thanks!

  10. @Mommypoints: Just came back from 5 weeks in SE Asia with two adults, two children. I found that hotels were very strict with their additional-people-in-the-room rules and in many cases we had to get two rooms, or a special “family room” (at a cost similar to two rooms) even if we were willing to use the existing bedding in a regular room.

    • @LarryinNYC, it would make sense if it is more a problem for international travel that I have not encountered the issue with my daughter since she hasn’t come along further than Canada. I would expect it to be tougher overseas, but it has just been a total non-issue for us in the US (so far – knock on wood). Was your experience in SE Asia at a variety of hotel chains, or with any one in particular?

  11. @Yawn, i truly agree, so many bloggers out there that do not really know a thing about aviation, miles or hotel points. I started reading a handful of blogs, then i see this is the Dad, dad of a blogger or 2 filling in with empty content,i value my time and the little intelligence i have to make it brief i am an x airline pilot who flew for a major int for many years,l do know a few things here and there about aviation , airlines, and frequent flyers . Mommy points, deal mommy,miles mamma , a new girl in the air, just another points traveller, heels first ,deal kids, deal hubby, to name a few ,now we need grandma and grandpapa points , strange names, no useful content, most flying and staying at your hotels at your expense from your credit card apps affiliate links . The blogs i still read and enjoy are , the points guy,view from the wing, online travel review,one mile at a time,hack my trip-scottrick, travel by points, frequent miler, free frequent flyer miles and million mile secrets. These i rate as neutral,sometimes worth reading- , Delta points, miles pints & martinis, deals we like, frugal travel guy. Really watch out for many bloggers who load you with unuseful and empty content and push cards just for cashing in.

    • @elle, I agree that you should only read the blogs that are useful for you, as everyone only has so much available time. Read what works for you and skip the rest. I’m pretty sure that most of the blogs and blog authors are out to share about the knowledge and experiences they have, but not everyone knows everything about everything. If the content on a given site isn’t helpful info for you, that’s okay, there are plenty of other options out there. Sorry this post wasn’t helpful for you.
      @Dan, thanks for sharing. Of course, even two folks don’t necessarily want to share the same bed. Sounds like they were as accommodating as possible so that is good news! I went with the Swan instead of the Dolphin, so I can’t give a fair comparison since I only stayed at one of them. I have read that same feedback though both have a bunch of convention traffic – also keep in mind that the Swan has queen beds while the Dolphin has doubles if you want two beds in the room. There is a long thread on FT comparing the two. The consensus is usually Swan, but not always. Reading through it may help you decide. http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/starwood-preferred-guest/829707-disney-orlando-dolphin-swan-2007-present-master-thread-8.html

  12. @Andras – I actually did run into an issue on a IHG(Priority club) property in PA where I had to list only 2 people on the reservation to book an award night probably because the hotel policy was 2 people per room but calling the hotel they said children were fine. The downside was when we got there we got put into a room with 1 bed althogh we asked for 2 and had to get a rollaway(their last one). The hotel was full and room type was not guaranteed and they probably saw 2 people on the reservation and figured they could get away with it. We could have had a problem if no rollaway so a potential danger if you only list 2 people. On the plus side they threw me a few points for my trouble and this was really an exception to my experience with IHG and children on the reservation.

  13. @mommy – What is your opinion of the Swan and Dolphin? They get pretty mixed reviews on trip advisor and I have heard others say to stick with the Swan because the Dolphin gets lots of conventions. Thoughts?

  14. @mommypoints: no chains at all. In Burma (which is where it was really enforced) there aren’t any chains. In other countries we preferred to stay in cheaper local hotels. But we were pretty much always asked the ages of the girls.
    .
    The only chain we stayed in was Park Plaza in Bangkok, to pick up the 50,000 point Club Carlson bonuses. They were actually the easiest about this, mostly because they messed up our request for an extra bed in the room and so we were all “forced” to sleep in a king sized bed plus half-length couch. We actually came out ahead — they wanted $30 per night for the extra bed they failed to provide, which was half-again the cost of the room.
    .
    The only compensation I asked for (in addition, of course, to not paying for the non-present extra bed) was that they post one night of the stay to my account and one to my wife’s, so we both collected the bonus.
    .
    Aside from the bed screw-up, by the way, the Park Plaza (Soi 18) is a very nice hotel, and good value at about $65 per night. When we passed through Bangkok a couple of weeks later, however, we used a better-located, more typical budget hotel for $20 per room per night.
    .
    This will be an issue when I try to redeem the 270,000 CC points I have. 5 nights in Paris sounds great, but 2.5 nights (if we need to get two rooms) — not as great.

  15. Here is my experience during the past 10 years with my kids passing the magic 12 yrs old mark.

    Most US Hotels consider 17 years and under child
    Most Hotels abroad consider only 11 years and under child
    Asian standard hotels rooms especially in Asia (China, Thailand) by law are maximum occupancy of 3.
    Hotels in the US like Marriott Wailea in Maui for example has no problem with 2 adults and 2 kids…

    SPG: Most if not all rooms are only 2 adult with maximum occupancy of 3 but lot of them has only 2 maximum occupancy

    Marriott brands like: Springhill and Residence inn are ideal for families (US Mostly)

    Club Carlson Country Inn & Suites are great for Central American etc.

    Hilton will allow you only 2 adults 1 child but charges for extra bed unless the child is small enough to sleep with parents.

    Hyatt policies are very similar to Hilton’s.

    • @Andras, thanks for that info. I am actually working on a post now sharing some of these things to lookout for when traveling with families, so I will be sure to include your experiences. Much appreciated!

  16. Can you explain more about the Disney vacation/process? I’m planning on taking the wife and baby in April, and also would like to invite both our parents as a gift.

    In your experience, what is the best way to do this, as far as airlines and hotels, and using miles/points, etc? Maybe write another post? It would be so great if you could.

    Thanks!

    • @Andrew, it would be a good post, but the short answer is there are a million options. Subscribe to the MouseSavers newsletter for discounts on tickets via Undercover Tourist. We stayed at the Swan and used Southwest points to get there last time. Depending on where you live, Avios may or may not be a good option as well. Some of the Disney resorts can be good for large groups as you can have a kitchen to help save on some expenses.

  17. First of all let me say that I love mommypoints blog. Gary at View From the Wing is also a fave and folks have mentioned a number of others. But WRT to Gary for example, the many posts on aspirational international travel, which I anjoy and also aspire to, are not as practical FOR ME with a 7, 5 and 4 year old at this point.

    Mommypoints OTOH distinguishes herself with family friendly advice. And she was all over the USAirways Grand Slam in a way that was very helpful TO ME.

    @andras Within the US we have yet to have any trouble putting all 5 of us (2 adults and 3 kids) in a room though I know those days will soon come to an end. Now we don’t advise the front desk and we travel with a decent twin size air mattress for one of the kids (they take turns) and where possible we shoot for a suites type property (Doubletree Suites NYC at Times Square and Sheraton Suites at Symphony Hall San Diego come to mind from trips over the last couple of years) but we’ve had good luck at Starwood, Marriott and Hilton. The one time we’ve booked an actual upgraded suite was the Hyatt Manchester San Diego and work picked up part of the tab as it was a combo work trip/family vacation.

  18. Re: SPG points and NYC Hotels – We used SPG points to stay in NYC for 3 days after Christmas. I called SPG to get the reservation because I couldn’t find anything online for a room with 2 beds (2 adults and a tween). It’s my recollection that the only hotel we could book for points was W Times Square because there were 3 of us. We stayed there – it was awesome! Great view of Times Square from the 47th floor. My tween really enjoyed staying in a cool and modern hotel. It was very expensive from a points standpoint, but it was a fun splurge.

    We don’t often use our points for hotels because renting apartments in many destinations is really the way to go for families to have some space, free internet, and a place to prep a cheap breakfast or space to spread out with carry out food and TV after a long day of sight seeing.

  19. I read you frequently, Mommy Points, and I’m glad that someone has tackled the family travel blog niche. Please don’t forget that many of your readers have kids older than your adorable little girl, and many of us have more than one child. To quote a friend of mine: “One is like none, 2 are like a million” or the classic problem of 2 hands, 3 kids.
    My children are both now teenagers…a boy and a girl. we need 3 beds when we travel and everything is x4… plane tickets, admissions, dinners, etc. Even things like… the plane has a row of 3 seats, do we sit 2 and 2, or 3 across and 1 aisle, etc. Travel x4 (or more) is challenging, and I’d love to hear your take on solving it.

    • JP, I hear ya. I am way better at sharing the experience we have currently as a young family w one kid, but I will try to do better for the older and larger families. With teens I would likely go 2/2 and put the kids together on the plane. Three beds you are looking at an Embassy Suite style hotel with doubles then a couch in the living room or get two rooms or rent an apt. Of course all families are different though. I will work on adding stuff like that in the future. 😉

  20. Thanks MommyP! Looking forward to your sage advice on family group travel.
    Our current split up on a plane is 2 and 2, but one adult and one teen- because otherwise the kids would fight with EACH OTHER and the grownup would be out of “give them ‘the look'” range.

    • @JP, that is why it all depends on the family. 😉 Some families the teens would much rather be into their books, movies, iPads, etc and enjoy some time a little separate from mom and dad. Other times, they would kill each other. All depends!

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