I’ve mentioned that I chose to redeem points for two rooms at beachfront Florida resorts while vacationing with my parents. And that’s how the idea for this post came about. The biggest problem with going this route is that the cost is usually astronomical.
Burning 80,000 hotel points for two rooms or one large suite per night is normally a deal breaker. After all, it can take up your entire credit card sign-up bonus/hard inquiry. And who wants to do that? If you have three kids, many hotels will usually have a provision for a rollaway at a nominal charge. But with four, five or six children? No way, Jose! Your only viable option will be paying for condo with cash.
But not always, so in this post, let me share some of my finds where the “juice” is worth the squeeze when it comes to large families. In fact, we stayed in two of them. If you have a family of four and want to bring in-laws who happen to be, ahem, high-maintenance, getting two separate, non-connecting rooms can be a lifesaver.
First, here is a reference to my post I wrote awhile back, which I recommend you read. In it, I focused on beachfront Florida hotels for a family of four, located within 2 hours of Disney. What I’ll do here is break it down further and list only Florida beach properties suitable for large families. I’m also going to disregard Disney proximity and try to focus on broader area. The idea is to find bargains where redeeming points for two rooms or a suite won’t break the bank. See this list of hotel bonuses for reference on most of the offers. I’m also assuming both spouses are able to each sign up for a card. Without further ado:
West coast of Florida
As I’ve mentioned before, beaches on this side are usually nicer. If you have small kids and are looking for calm, gentle waves, this will probably be your best bet. As you will see in a second, Wyndham program is the name of the game on this coast. Most beachfront properties in Hilton, Marriott and IHG chains run at 35,000 points per night or more. So, it makes no sense to burn points for two rooms. Suck it up and get a condo.
Update: This hotel is no longer a part of Wyndham chain.
This is the place where we took my parents for three nights. Excellent choice, thumbs up! I was a bit concerned after reading Trip Advisor reviews, but it was great. It’s a small, no-frills, family-friendly hotel with its own private beach, pool and complimentary lounge chairs. To me, it felt like a poor man’s Caribbean. The cost is 15,000 points per night, which is a bargain. The rooms go for $249 or more in peak season. They are decent size (two queen beds) and have laminate floors, perfect for a beachfront location.They do have connecting rooms available, but you might need to arrive early because they go fast.
There is a resort fee of $25 per night/per room, but we didn’t have to pay it since we booked on points. That alone saved us $150. This hotel is located away from hustle and bustle of main Clearwater beach area. You can take a trolley to the marina and there are several affordable restaurants (including Subway) across the street, plus convenience store. This one is a winner, folks! The water was calm and crystal clear, and my mom couldn’t get enough of it. I honestly wish we had one extra night at this place.
For 15,000 points per night, it’s a terrific deal even if you have to splurge on two rooms. But do bring noise machine or ear plugs. Music plays into late hours and there is some noise from traffic. Rooms bookable on points face the street, so if there is an option, consider paying extra for ocean view. I didn’t do it, but kind of wish I did because they sure looked nice. If you have small kids and like beach destinations with lots to do, book this hotel. It’s located about 1 hour 45 minutes from Disney.
A word of caution: Award availability at this property is kind of funky, so keep checking. It shows up and disappears without rhyme or reason. Calling Wyndham is unlikely to accomplish anything, as I’ve mentioned in this post.
The card to get: Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature. You get 45,000 points after spending $1,000 in 3 months. The annual fee of $69 is NOT waived. The link is working as of today, but make sure to pick the version with the annual fee. It does not pay me referral. If both spouses get this offer, you would have enough points for two rooms/three nights.
First, don’t be fooled by the name “resort.” The place looks extremely basic. I wondered if I should even include it on the list, so I recommend you read TripAdvisor reviews first. Still, it’s located right on the beach, and you can redeem 15,000 points for a gulfview room that goes for well over $200 in peak season. If you are not “fancy pants” type traveler, this hotel could fit the bill. It does not charge a resort fee. St. Pete beach is not as popular as Clearwater, but the water is usually nice and calm.
The card to get: Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature card.
This is where we planned to stay originally, but after I had to rebook my parents’ flights with new departure from Tampa, Clearwater made more sense, since it’s much closer. I wrote about this particular place and hope to visit it someday. The rooms have two double beds, but if you have four relatively small kids, you can just split them up and let them share a bed. The hotel does have connecting rooms.
The card to get: Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature card.
I will say upfront that I don’t consider this resort a bargain when you have to redeem points for two rooms. It’s a category 4, so the cost is 10,000 points per room/per night. That said, there is a scenario when it could make sense: if you want to stay 5 nights, since the cost will be a semi-reasonable 8,000 points per room. So, 16,000 points total in high season when the rates hover around $300 per night/per room isn’t too bad. Of course, Wyndham Garden Clearwater property is a much better deal. I would take 8,000 SPG points over 15,000 Wyndham points any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
The card to get: Starwood Preferred Guest from American Express. Through March 30, you can get a sign-up bonus of 35,000 points, highest offer ever. Read about it at the very top of this page. Assuming both spouses get this card and meet minimum spending requirements, they would have 38,000 points each. All you have to do is put $2,000 extra on each card, and you would have enough for a 5-night Spring Break vacation (in 2 rooms) in one of the nicest beaches in USA. SPG program has already announced category adjustments for year 2016, so you should be OK for next year.
East coast of Florida
The biggest advantage to this area is its proximity to Disney, especially if you focus on places like Daytona and Melbourne. You can be at the beach in less than 1.5 hours after leaving Lake Buena Vista.
We stayed here with my parents and I think this place is terrific for families. I will say upfront that it’s not a spectacular bargain at 44,000 points per night, especially when you take into account the demise of BOGO benefit of Club Carlson co-branded card. That’s what I used last year for this particular vacation, so it meant getting 2 huge suites for a total of 44,000 points per night, a super deal.
Still, it could make sense to redeem your points here now if you plan to stay during holidays or spring. Rate hovers around $200 or more per night in peak season. Trip Advisor reviews are mostly excellent. As Gold members (status comes free with co-branded credit card), we got a welcome amenity in each suite. It was a nice touch and provided a free breakfast next morning.
For those with large families, there is another advantage: For a nominal fee (around $20-30 extra per night), you can upgrade to a family suite that includes bunk beds (fits up to 6), but only if it’s available at the time of booking. You will have to redeem points for a regular suite that fits 4 and contact the property to arrange an upgrade.
So, there is a potential to fit 6 in one suite for a very small surcharge. Be aware, the double pull-out sofa isn’t very comfortable and would only be suitable for young kids. My children who are 5 and 7 didn’t complain, though. There is a coffee maker and a small fridge, but no microwave in regular suites. Family suites do have them. See this Trip Advisor page for photos of a family suite.
If you want to stretch your sign-up bonus, you can also use 10,000 points per night for a significant discount, getting almost 0.5 cents per point:
If you are visiting in the summer, this is the way to go because rates are usually quite reasonable at $110 per night all-in. So, using 10,000 points will give you a nice discount on top of it. This place is a bit shabby, and I didn’t like having carpet in the room, though, apparently, some do have tile. Still, the suites are huge, master bedroom has a door so you can take a nap, and all of them face the ocean. They also have two laundry rooms, which is a lifesaver for families. See TheDealMommy review of this place as well as one on Fishing4deals
If I had to describe this hotel in one paragraph, it would go like this: Imagine your old aunty getting a spacious beachfront condo in a quiet corner of Florida. She loves the eighties’ decor and even remodeled this place few years ago so it would remind her of the good old days. There are no plastic pink flamingos or crystal balls by the pool, but they would fit right in.
It doesn’t bother me in the least, but won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. I do think it’s a terrific place for family. The pool is heated, and there is even a hot tub. But mostly, it’s about the views, folks. A huge plus is that it’s located only a little over an hour from Orlando airport.
The card to get: US Bank Club Carlson Visa Signature. You will receive 85,000 points after spending $2,500 in 3 months, enough for 2 nights at this property. Annual fee of $75 is NOT waived. If you choose to hang on to this card like I did, you will get 40,000 points each year after paying an annual fee of $75. That would almost be enough for 1 night at this property at its current award rate. Pay a surcharge of $30, and you can potentially accommodate your family of 6 for around $105 all-in. Not bad during Spring Break.
The cost is 25,000 points per night. In exchange, you get an oceanfront room with two queens and a free breakfast. You would have to get two rooms if you have a large family (8 total), but it could make sense in this case. If you happen to have a Chase IHG co-branded credit card, the cost will come down to 22,500 points per room due to 10% rebate, a grand total of 45,000 total per night.
Yes, it’s a lot, but you will be getting two bathrooms and a complimentary breakfast. The property does have connecting rooms. I you got a ton of points from latest IHG promos and are not sure what to do with them, consider redeeming them here. Daytona Beach is located only 1 hour from St. Augustine, which I recommend you visit at some point.
The card to get: Chase IHG MasterCard.
Costs 12,000 points per night and comes with free breakfast. The rooms fit up to 6, but it would probably feel quite cramped. Sure, 12,000 points isn’t exactly cheap, but it could make sense to redeem them at this place during holidays and high season. The rooms go for at least $200 per night in March. Nancy who runs a blog Savingforadream wrote a review of this property with lots of photos.
The card to get: Chase Sapphire Preferred. Read about it in this page. You get 55,000 points after spending $4,000 in 3 months. The points transfer 1:1 to Hyatt Gold passport program. So, once you factor in minimum spending, you would have enough points to cover almost 5 nights at this property.
The cost is 40,000 points per night; 30,000 in the off-season. All rooms are suites (fit up to 6) and face the ocean. Once again, it’s probably worth considering during high season like Spring Break.
The card to get: Citi Hilton HHonors Visa Signature card. Currently, it comes with 75,000 points bonus, the highest ever. Once you factor in minimum spending, you should have enough points for 2 nights at this property. Also consider Hilton HHonors Surpass from American Express.
This is another terrific Wyndham bargain at only 15,000 points per night. The resort is located about 30 minutes from Fort Lauderdale airport. Rooms have two queen beds, there is a pool, a hot tub and more! Rates in the spring can run as high as $350 per night. Seems like a very nice choice for family, and I hope to check it out in-person one of these days.
The card to get: Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature
Once again, the cost is 15,000 points per room (has two doubles). I’ll be honest, I don’t really like Miami, so this place isn’t my cup of tea. That said, the rooms here go for up to $500 per night in high season, so if Miami beach appeals to your family of 6 or 8, it would be very hard to beat the value. Even when redeeming points for two rooms, you are getting one heck of a deal.
The card to get: Wyndham Rewards Visa Signature
Phew! This was one beast of a post, but I hope you found it beneficial. Readers, did I inspire any of you to burn your hotel points?
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