Maximizing SPG Points for Holiday Vacations

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This post is sponsored by the Amex SPG Stars program. All opinions shared are mine. Thanks for reading and supporting this site.

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.

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Hurray for affordable ski trips!

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!

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I love flying right into the mountain areas

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.

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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!

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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!

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View from the Sheraton Steamboat Lobby Bar

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).

Enjoying the Sheraton Steamboat beds

Enjoying the Sheraton Steamboat beds

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.

Comments

  1. Did this last year: five nights in Maui at the Sheraton, with fifth night free: awesome deal, great value, tons of fun. Another favorite is anyplace in Japan: rates are super high during New Year’s, but points make it doable.

  2. Would use the 5,000 spg points to make use of the best part of the SPG program and that is to get the 5th night free on point redemptions. Would use it at the Sheraton New York Times Square….Where me and my wife met.

  3. Just started a new job this year for traveling and so haven’t been in the hobby long and haven’t stayed at any SPG properties yet.

    I love the idea of doing a Colorado Ski Trip and Steamboat Springs at the Sheraton like you posted here looks amazing!

  4. My wife and I have always wanted to go to The Westin New York at Times Square for New Years Eve. I have found rates for 20,000 points per night or $1000/night cash. I feel like this is a great use for points!

  5. My favorite place to stay is the Grand Hyatt at Playa Del Carmen.Breaking my collarbone skiing a few years back, I decided to go south instead of north and try to do a beach vacation during Winter holidays.I hope mentioning Hyatt does not dis qualify me from winning SPG points

  6. Westin Moana Surfrider for the warm temperatures, awesome Platinum recognition, and awesome staff who recognize repeat guests.

  7. I’m not new to SPG but recently got the SPG Amex card. I used to stay at the Westin in San Francisco on business a few times a year and I’d burn the points at the un-glamourous but super functional and points frugal Four Points near the KC airport (MCI). I live about an hour South of KC so we’ve used this hotel a few times over the years prior to those 5am or 6am flights. Most recently was a 5am’ish flight out of MCI going to Paris in February 2015 with Winter weather. Works out great as many of the flight crews stay at this hotel. Jump in the 5am shuttle with the same crew your flying out with 🙂 It’s also a good place to leave your car as they offer airport parking and shuttle.

    We have a ton of IHG points but that doesn’t do us much good in Hawaii. We are planning to save up for the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keauhou Bay as a vacation spot that we can maximize our SPG points. The 5,000 points would really help.

  8. Easy. That’s the Westin Snowmass, near Aspen, CO. Reasonably priced with points, and right on the mountain. GREAT MOUNTAIN.

  9. Sheraton Kona (on the Big Island) over New Year’s – did that a few years ago with friends, using the 5th night free award! Would love to do that again soon.

  10. My wife and I would LOVE to go stay at the Le Parker Meridian in Palm Springs to celebrate our anniversary (we missed out earlier due to our work/school schedules). It’s a gorgeous hotel and has an incredible redemption value!

    Daniel F.

  11. I would love to stay at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa on the Big Island. Stay 4 nights and fifth night is free; thus, 5000 points would help. Thanks.

  12. We are booked on a cruise to Australia and New Zealand next year and would stay at the Sheraton Port Douglas as part of the adventure.

  13. I love the W in Paris, during the build up to Christmas. The food, the sights/sounds and of course the Christmas markets make it a magical time.

  14. Would love to give any of the SPG hotels in HI Islands a try…especially given today’s subzero temps where I live…

  15. last year, we did exactly what you did this year except we stayed at Westin Snowmass which was also on the mountain, and stretched it out to 5 days to get the 5th night free!

  16. Looking forward to redeeming my first SPG award night at the Moana Surfrider in Wakiki. 5,000 points would certainly help my family stay at the Sheraton Kona Resort on the Big Island, as we are eying that one also!

  17. Xmas/New Years trip it will have to be next year. With one kid graduated college and does not have much vacation time. Another two in college with spring break which is different then my high school child’s spring break. So, a ski trip with the family to Steamboat sounds awesome for next year !

  18. My wife and I love the Sheraton at Maui by Black Rock and also the Sheraton in Kauai. Any SPG property in Hawaii rocks. A great use of SPG points during the Holidays.

  19. We are planning a WDW trip this fall and I am tucking away spg points for Sheraton Suites at the Orlando airport just in case our best flight option ends up being a late night.

  20. My family stayed in Westin Maui during the Christmas holiday at the end of last year and it was great. My daughter will be graduating from high school in June and we plan to spend a week in Tokyo and Osaka.

  21. I helped my in-laws book a room at the St. Regis Bahia Beach in Puerto Rico using their SPG points and while the rooms were a pricey 30,000 points per night it sure beat paying $900-$1200 per night during their stay.

  22. We think we’re getting great value for the St Regis Osaka for use on our honeymoon. It’s a cat 5, so 12k/night. With 1 free night after redeeming 4 nights, it’s ending up costing us 48k Spg points for 5 nights….compared to the $425/night they normally charge. Great value! 🙂

  23. Hello and thank you for your insight on spg. My wife and I obtained the Amex spg cards and transferred the points to Alaska for two tickets on Emirates to Dubai. Trying to save points for 4 nights at a SPG property(?), Before we head out of Dubai.

  24. Only place I’ve stayed at on SPG points is the St Regis Princeville but want to try one of the Disney World hotels next! Thanks!

  25. We are already looking into our 2016 holiday plans and would love to take our 3 year old to the Westin Whistler to experience the snow.

  26. I would use SPG points to stay at the Westin Palace Madrid, fantastically located next to the Prado Museum and Retiro Park in the center of Madrid. The points cost is significantly lower than Euro prices at holiday time.

  27. Aloft Cancun would be my pick! It’s a category 2 and looks like a great location. Probably not much chance of a white Christmas there but I’m happy with a sandy Christmas 🙂

  28. Planning a trip to the Westin in Whistler during spring break. Great rooms with kitchens help cut costs while hitting the slopes! Thanks for the chance to win!

  29. Either the aloft cleveland or the westin Pittsburgh. If I do the westin it would be to attend the Pittsburgh knit and crochet festival.

  30. I would use the 5000 points towards an amazing stay at the Westin Riverfront in Beaver Creek (Avon) for a ski vacation. Thanks!

  31. I would probably use the points for the Westin in New York-Times Square. I love New York! Looks like you had a blast on your ski trip 🙂

  32. I would use the 5000 points to help take my 75 yr old Mom on a birthday trip to Phoenix for a stay at the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort and Spa. She deserves some pampering after just hitting 10 cancer free years!

  33. We’ve heard you write about the Westin Kierland in Arizona so many times, that we are finally checking it out for one night during our son’s spring break. I wish we could stay there longer…..

  34. Love using points at the Westin Snowmass each spring just before the resort closes. It’s not crowded and the are very accommodating to elites.

  35. Planning a trip to Germany so my young kids can meet their aunt and uncle for the 1st time! Maybe Sheraton Carlton Hotel Nuernberg or Sheraton Munich Arabellapark Hotel.

  36. I would use the points at the Great Northern Hotel in London during New Years Eve. Looks like a beautiful property and London is a great town. My partner and I wanted to go this past NYE but we didn’t have the time off.

  37. Thanks for the article! My favorite use of SPG points is Disneys Dolphin hotel…… Use points to save over 300.00( and more) per night!

  38. We just got back from cancun Mexico- westin lagunamar – and used our SPG points for a suite. We took my 21 month old and my stepson who is 9 years old. The suite was a terrific option… Spacious and a gorgeous ocean view. The resort was kid friendly… Plenty of activities planned each day including a mini-putt, toddler room, playground and so forth. We left on a direct flight the day after Christmas and spent the week there using our SPG points. We already requested that same week off from work so we can go back the same time next year.

    Best,

    Renée

  39. Stayed at the WDW Swan last year over the holidays and loved it! I’d also love to try one of the Sheratons in Hawaii. Since I live in Colorado, I’d really rather get AWAY from the cold over the holidays, thank you!

  40. Love your info We are traveling to Barcelona Spain and would really like to stay at The Meridian in Barcelona but are short a few points. Thanks!!

  41. St. Regis Dana Point, CA during summer break. The beach it sits near is beautiful. The cash price is about $800/night or 16,000 points/night (no cash & points option during the summer).

  42. St. Regis Bora Bora would be the ultimate! By the way I love your down to earth blog. It is so non-pretentious and helpful.

  43. We are in a similar situation with our kiddos! My husband and I haven’t done much holiday travel, but I did just surprise him with an overnight getaway locally to a 5 star SPG hotel and I would totally do it again for our anniversary coming up! It was the Nines in Portland. New to your site – thanks for your tips!

  44. For me I would use them at the Westin in Princeville Kauai. We love to stay there but the cost is so high compared to some other options on Kauai when paying cash! But those 5000 points would help us out so much during our summer vacation. Yeah we deal with Texas schools and being limited to the school schedule. I used to be able to stay there for 12K points and they raised it during my dates to 20k a night!!

  45. I’d love to use your gift of 5,000 points to stay at the St Regis Bora Bora. My husband & I honeymooned on that island almost 25 years ago. Certainly time to go back. Thanks for the contest!!!

  46. The kids and I would stay at the Westin Palace in Madrid while my husband finishes his pilgrimage on the El Camino de Santiago this fall!

  47. I would like to stay at the Westin Palace in Madrid. My folks live in Spain, so I usually do airbnb when I visit, but one day I’d love to treat us to a fabulous stay at the Westin Palace. It’s one of the best hotels in town.

  48. Unfortunately, my life doesn’t allow for vacations between Christmas and New Year’s – but I’m quite sure I can find an SPG hotel to stay at some other time of the year if I win the points!

  49. I am itching to get to NYC this spring. Would love to stay at the Parker Meridian. Love the breakfast there at Norma’s!

  50. I would love to take my 4 year old and 9 month old to the Swan or Dolphin for our first trip to Disney World as a family of four.

  51. We stayed at the Four Points in Punta Cana Village. Used their free shuttle and loved to pick a different beach to lounge at daily. All included!

  52. New to Starwood, hubby just got the credit card. Staying at the Seattle W in June to celebrate our anniversary. Looking forward to trying some different hotels!

  53. A staycation within our SoCal area is always a good value because of all the fun places within a reasonable driving distance! Especially if booking a Club level to receive access to their food and beverages…a nice convenience for a family!

  54. Stayed at The Le Meridien Chiang Mai, Thailand during peak season in December where a standard room costs over $160+ and a free night costs only 3,000/4,000 SPG points, great value plus the location can’t be beat! Will go back again.

  55. I stayed at the Westin Osaka – Japan for 5 nights for 40,000 points. The paid value would’ve cost me $1,500 for the stay, but I was able to redeem points for the whole stay. That’s a value of $0.0375 cents per point.

  56. My favorite SPG property is Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas. Full kitchen, double shower heads, ski locker, 0 resort fee…… all of the factores lead to a great ski trip for a family with kids.

  57. Just new to the miles/points. Currently saving SPG points up for the family to vacation at the Sheraton in Key West next year for my daughter’s 16th birthday. She wants to go spend time at the Dolphin Research Center and see the local marine habits in different parts of the Florida Keys. That is the career she wants to go into and thinks it would be a opportunity for her.

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