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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:
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”!
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!
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.
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!
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