Natty Gal is back this week after a delightful stay at two properties on Mexico’s Riviera Maya. The bulk of our week was spent at El Presidente on Cozumel and, boy, is this property over the top! We’re not ones to repeat travel experiences but I’m already planning to go back. For our last day, we traveled back to Playa del Carmen and stayed at the Grand Hyatt. Being back on the mainland made it much less stressful to catch our late AM flight from Cancun the next day. Below is a brief review of the properties and the overview of how we used points to fund the trip.
Continue reading “A Point Stay to Paradise: El Presidente Cozumel and Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen”
Earlier this month I spent a long weekend at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek resort in Colorado. This free stay was earned as a part of a promotion on the Chase Hyatt Card. After a low $1,000 spend in 3 months, you receive 2 free nights at any Hyatt property, valid for use within one year. The card has a $75 annual fee which is waived the first year and also offers Hyatt Gold Passport Platinum status and an annual free night on your card member anniversary good at Category 1-4 properties.
Wanting to get the biggest bang for my buck on the two unrestricted free nights, I looked up Category 7 Hyatt properties in the US and narrowed the trip down to Beaver Creek or NYC. With friends in Breckenridge and never having done the Rocky Mountain ski thing, Beaver Creek is the property that won out! A stay here definitely feels “1%-er” with prices to match at most shops and dining venues. Below is a brief review of the property’s high and low-lights.
- Location: The Hyatt is situated slope-side right at the base of the Buckaroo lift and a short distance from the Centennial lift. Views from the rooms, the main lobby and outdoor bars are spectacular!
- Rooms: The room had a great slope-side view and subtle, lodge-style décor. A fireplace was a nice touch despite it’s very weak flame. As a nice bonus, reception waived the $50/day resort fee for Platinum status – the $50/day parking fee, not so much. Plenty of outlets and hanging space/coat hooks for a wide variety of ski and winter gear. Keurig coffee maker with a very full allotment of coffees, teas, cocoas, etc. was much appreciated. Yummy toffee at turn-down.
- Ski Valet: Whether you bring your own or arrange equipment rentals through Gorsuch, the ski valet is a wonderful service that allows you to retrieve your pre-warmed boots and gear right at the base of the lift. Bins provide storage for your shoes, odds and ends and any layers you may want to keep nearby. Best of all – no schlepping equipment at the start or end of your day!
- Slopes: Miles and miles of stunning and relatively uncongested skiing. Nice mix of terrain, good signage. Can ski to Bachelor Gulch resort or take shuttles to other nearby resorts.
|Beaver Creek Village
- Activities: So much to do! Village shopping and dining right outside the door, spa services, pool and hot-tubs, ski school for kids and adults, S’mores happy hour, nightly live entertainment, Thursday Night Lights ski down and fireworks show, other outdoor winter activities (skating, tubing, snow-shoeing, snowmobiling, etc.), wine and craft beer dinners.
- Staff: Very friendly and greet you by name, particularly those in the public areas (reception, lobby, bars, valet). Concerned with your stay.
- The “Blow Me Away” Factor: While hard-pressed to find much to complain about, especially given the free stay, the devil IS in the details. One morning there were no cups by the water decanter in the lobby. Bar snacks/bowls of nuts in the lobby bar would have been a nice touch.
- Rooms: The tissue holder was empty when we checked in. Not a huge deal but should be automatic at this level of property. Also requested more creamer and while some was brought, it wasn’t a lot. Don’t see how it could have hurt to “overdo” on that note.
Good to Know:
- The Hyatt BC and Beaver Creek in general is a family-oriented resort. There will be kids around in all public areas. If you do not want to be around children, this is NOT the place for you. If you do have kids, the staff does an AMAZING job and they are all but guaranteed a good time.
|S’mores Happy Hour
- Hand-in-hand with the above, this is NOT a wild night-life destination. Days were spent on the slopes followed by a nice dinner, nightcap at one of the bars in town or at the hotel and time in the hot-tub. If you need a 3 AM last call, go elsewhere.
- If you plan to ski for 3 or more days OR if you live near other Epic resorts and plan to ski there, it is far more cost-effective to get a season pass than to pay the daily lift fees ($150-180).
- Check out local events/competitions that may be going on while you are there. The Burton US Open was in Vail while I was there and being right on the half-pipe was an experience to remember!
- A stand-out dining destination was Splendido at the Chateau, reachable by the complimentary Hyatt shuttle bus, both food and service were worth the mention!
|Splendido at the Chateau
My flirtation with amateur travel hacking started with a weekend trip to Niagara Falls. We stayed at a Hilton property and decided to join the Hilton HHonors travel reward program. With my husband traveling a great deal for work at the time, we quickly saw points start to accumulate.
In typical rookie fashion, we used our new reward point wealth for local weekend trips, spending them on free stays at Hampton Inns. When, a year later, we booked a bigger trip to France and needed a hotel in Paris we realized the error of this approach.
In our mid-West locale, Hampton Inns pretty much all run below $150 per night, sometimes significantly so. However in Paris (and most other major cities in Europe and the US) a well-located downtown property can run anywhere from $300 to well over $800 per night.
Luckily we were able to secure a 5-night reward stay at the now-defunct Paris Hilton complete with a balcony view of the Eiffel Tower and Executive Lounge access with daily breakfast and unlimited champagne pours!
Lesson Learned: Only redeem points on high-end properties!
Which brings us to the Conrad Koh Samui – our most recent and best “bang for the buck” hotel reward stay. Located on Samui Island Thailand, the Conrad is at the top of the Hilton chain. This stunning property consists of spacious, private villas nestled on a cliff over-looking the Gulf of Thailand. Each villa features a 10-meter infinity edge pool, an over-sized soaking tub, rain and multi-head shower and the latest and greatest in in-room technology. And the best part – these villas normally go for $1200 per night!
While it’s unlikely we ever would have ponied up $4800 of our own money for this stay, by budgeting our award points wisely, we were able to enjoy a luxurious and relaxing experience that was the perfect ending to a couple of weeks in Thailand.