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Now that I have both a kindergartener on a traditional school schedule and a husband with an 8-5 office job that has limited vacation days, I have pretty much joined the ranks of millions of other Americans who primarily plan vacations around school breaks, long weekends, and official holidays. You know, the times of year that generally cost the most! That is sort of a travel deal hunter’s worst nightmare, but if you know how to maximize your hotel points it doesn’t have to be a budget busting proposition.
One of my absolute favorite types of points are Starwood Preferred Guest Starpoints, and as such I have had the honor of being a Starwood Preferred Guest “Star” (aka Ambassador) the last few years where I go on a few trips a year to help highlight the benefits of the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express that we have had in our own wallets in some form or fashion for many years.
On this particular SPG Stars trip I was given SPG points with the instructions to highlight how valuable SPG points earned by the SPG Amex can be during the peak holiday season, which of course aligns 100% with the type of travel my family currently needs.
Using SPG Points During Peak Holiday Travel
I absolutely love Colorado and ski trips, so since I missed last ski season pregnant with Baby S, I was 100% sold on the idea of using SPG points to get back on the mountain. However, if you have ever priced a ski trip during Christmas – New Year’s time frame you know that hotels on or near the mountains are often at least $500/night, even for mid-range properties. Add taxes, resort fees, and a few nights of room rates at that level and you are easily at $2,000 or more before you can even strap on your snow boots. That is totally outside of my cash budget, but thankfully comfortably within my SPG points budget.
Since the SPG program makes award rooms available for when a standard room is available for sale with cash, you can often get rooms on points even during the very busiest travel weeks, such as the Christmas – New Year’s week at ski properties, especially if you are willing to plan ahead. I have done similar ski trips using SPG points to the Westin Whistler Resort, the St. Regis Aspen, and to the Westin Beaver Creek Resort and Spa and gotten tremendous value for my SPG points in the range of 3-5 cents in value per point!
Using SPG Points at the Sheraton Steamboat
Since I was itching to stay somewhere new, this time I booked a family ski trip to Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I had skied there as a child, but not in close to 30 years, so I was excited to get back to that mountain. The Sheraton Steamboat Resort is right on the mountain, and looked to be the perfect spot for our first family ski trip with all four of us. It didn’t hurt that there were nonstop flights operated right into Hayden about 20 miles from Steamboat!
I booked the trip a few months in advance, and had no problem getting standard room availability via the SPG website using 16,000 SPG points per night for a room with two beds rated for four people. This is a Category 5 property, so it is 12,000 or 16,000 points per night, depending if it is peak season. Well, the nights we visited surrounding New Year’s are certainly peak ski season, so we paid the 16,000 points per night rate instead of the roughly $500 going nightly paid rate. We only stayed 3 nights, but if we had stayed 5 nights on points then the 5th night would have been free as a perk of the SPG program, dropping the per night rate down to just 12,800 points per night.
If you want to do something similar, looking ahead to the 2016 holiday season, I see standard award availability every day from Christmas Eve – New Year’s Day for standard rooms with either a king bed or two queen beds at the Sheraton Steamboat. The paid rate for those nights is $500+ per night just as it was during our stay. That is a minimum return of over 3 cents per SPG point, which is not bad at all!
A Look at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort
While I have stayed at some pretty over-the-top luxurious SPG properties, including the ski-friendly St. Regis Aspen, I knew that was not going to be that sort of stay since we selected a Sheraton instead of a St. Regis. We were a family of four traveling with two small kids, so we didn’t need romantic or luxurious accommodations – we needed somewhere convenient to skiing and where we could afford things like room service breakfast or a quick evening cocktail without taking out a small loan. The Steamboat Sheraton fit that description perfectly!
The rooms weren’t huge or over-the-top, but there was room for all four of us, including a crib, in the standard room with two queens. The service we received, even when staff had to unfortunately help clean-up after our sick kid, was very gracious and welcoming.
The hotel also had amenities such as a ski valet in the ski shop on the basement level, a heated pool, several heated hot tubs, a game room, on-site restaurant, and a tremendous view of the mountain from the lobby/bar area! There is a $25 per night resort fee that includes access to those amenities as well as self-parking in the underground garage, basic internet access, two bottles of water daily, recreational equipment storage, morning lobby coffee, nightly S’mores, and some other discounts and perks.
You just can’t get any closer to the mountain than this!
The Best Part of Staying at the Sheraton Steamboat Resort
The Sheraton Steamboat Resort is a fine mid-range property in its own right, and if you are lucky enough to score an upgrade to one of their suites I imagine you are in for a real treat (we weren’t that lucky), but the best part of staying at the resort for me is the location. If you come here to hang out in your room you are doing it wrong (unless you are a 5 month old baby like Baby S).
You come here to be able to go from your room to the gondola or ski school in 3 minutes or less…and trust me I timed it since I went back and forth from the mountain to the room to nurse the little one many, many times.
Prior to my stay I don’t think even I realized how on the mountain the property really is, so here is a quick video to show just how close you are (plus get a peek at my own little ski bunny showing her stuff!).
I would absolutely happily return to the Sheraton Steamboat Resort for a family ski trip where we wanted to be right on the mountain. I would also certainly look to use SPG points earned via the Starwood Preferred Guest® Credit Card from American Express or similar to pay for the room and avoid the pricey peak ski season rates so we could bring the overall price of the ski trip back into the realm of doable!
Win 5,000 SPG Points:
Finally, because I want to “pay forward” some of the amazing opportunities we have had via the SPG Stars program, I am offering one randomly selected winner 5,000 SPG points to use however they wish. This giveaway is exclusively provided by Mommy Points, and is not sponsored or sanctioned by SPG, or the SPG Amex.
To enter to win simply tell me which SPG property you like to stay at to get maximum value around the holidays using your SPG points. A randomly selected winner will be chosen from all entries received before 11:59PM Central on Sunday January 17, 2016 (one entry per person, must be 18+, void where prohibited). You must have been a SPG member for at least 14 days in order to be able to receive the points, but I’m happy to allow those 14 days to elapse before sending you the points if you wish to sign up as a new member and subsequently win.
Editorial Note: The opinions expressed here are mine and not provided, reviewed, by any bank, card issuer, or other company unless otherwise stated.