The Age-Old Question: Hotel Points or Vacation Rentals for Family Vacation?

The other day, my reader Audrey emailed me letting me know about this new product from Sky Auction. Basically, it’s designed in a  way that makes it very easy to see and compare various vacation rentals as well as availability and price. Check it out here You go to their main page and do a  search by selecting your destination first:

sky auction search

I was quite excited, so started playing around with various destinations. I was mostly curious about pricing during high season because that’s when most families vacation. So, I put in the week starting December 24th 2016, and selected Disney area. Here are just a  few options that popped up:

sky auctionAs you can see, one of the resorts doesn’t have any availability during Christmas week. In fact, only three places turned up anything around that time period. Orbit One Vacation Villas resort does have availability, but the price jumps to $905 for seven nights. Still, that’s not bad for a two-bedroom unit with three (!) bathrooms. It sure beats sharing one hotel room.

As always, the caveat is that rates are usually non-refundable, and you can only book the unit for 7 nights. Audrey did mention that you can sometimes book shorter stays by going to their bidding section, but prices are usually not as good.  So, you need to be sure of your plans and consider buying travel insurance.

However, it could be worth it even if you are only planning on staying 5 nights because  in all likelihood, you’ll come out ahead. This is especially true if you are traveling off-season. Take the kids out of school a bit early, arrive on the 18th of December, and the same unit can be yours for only $399 for 7 nights.

I was curious to see what kind of beachfront condos they have on the East coast of Florida. BTW, there is very little availability when it comes to West coast in the Sunshine state. I put in the dates for next March (Spring Break) and to my surprise, there were several places available. Here is one that caught my eye:

sky auction daytona

It’s located across the street from the beach, there are several pools and even a hot tub. Daytona Beach does get busy and unclassy in the spring, but this looks like a family resort, so you should be fine. Obviously, paying $1,200 for a week is not cheap, but could make sense if you have a large family. This one will fit up to 6 and has a full kitchen.

You don’t have to have Sky Auction account just to browse, but in order to book, you’ll have to register (for free) on this page The charge should be coded  as “travel,” so you might  be able to use your sign-up bonus from Barclaycard Arrival Plus or Capital One Venture Rewards cards (read about both here) You can always try calling the bank and see if they let you redeem your points for this charge, since it’s definitely travel-related.

There is no right or wrong answer

So, why would you ever use hotel points if you can do so much better by booking vacation rentals? I’ve written a post on this subject before which I recommend you read if you are new around here Paid vacation rentals vs. rooms bookable on points, plus opportunity cost My position has not changed since I wrote it. There are many factors that go into this decision. Those are: length of stay, size of your savings account, amount of hotel points you have on-hand, you preferences  and your need for flexibility.

I’ve said before that I’m very much an opportunist when it comes to travel. I’m not loyal to any chain or one way of doing things. Sometimes I book vacation rentals through a site like VRBO or SkyAuction, other times I use my stash of hotel points if the rates are fairly reasonable. Recently, I even burned AAdvantage miles on a 2-bedroom condo in Florida Keys.

My goal is to conserve cash if at all possible because we have very little when it comes to savings. Plus, I can always get a new credit card that offers hotel points, but it’s not that easy for me to go and make a $1,000 since I’m a stay-at-home mom. For others, situation may be completely different. They might have hardly any hotel points but decent savings, and like to travel off-peak when they can take advantage of amazing deals offered by sites like Sky Auction.

Recently, I’ve written a post on using hotel points on two rooms for a beachfront Florida vacation. Do I think it’s the most cost-effective way of doing things? Heck no! You will almost always do better by getting a condo rather than burning points on two units each night. But for someone who has very little savings, good credit score and just wants to add a short beach getaway after Disney trip, this could be an option. To me, this hobby is all about choices.

Dia from TheDealMommy blog is currently vacationing in Gran Canaria, Spain. The cost for a 2-bedroom condo? Only $600 for 7 nights since it’s currently off-season in that part of Europe. AMAZING. Sure, they had to burn 160K AAdvantage miles+ award taxes on 4 roundtrip tickets. Still, they are spending their Spring Break in freakin Spain, y’all!

Think outside the box

What I hope to do with my blog is  encourage you not to get hung up on only one way of doing things. Try to evaluate each trip individually, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to travel. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I’m very opinionated. It would be silly for me to deny it, so I’m not even going to pretend. The reason I started this blog was because I disagreed with the mainstream miles and points advice when it comes to regular family’s needs.

That said, it’s important not to cross the line of giving an opinion and imposing it on someone. In the past, I’ve made statements which I now  regret. The last thing I want is to talk down to my readers and make them feel bad about their choices. And no, I don’t think other bloggers are idiots for giving a different advice. In the end, we all write from our own perspective. It’s not right or wrong, it’s simply one  way of doing things. There are many paths to affordable travel, you don’t always have to stick to just one.

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14 thoughts on “The Age-Old Question: Hotel Points or Vacation Rentals for Family Vacation?

  1. If you are vacationing outside the US or Canada, your hand may be forced if you need a standard hotel room for more than 3 people, depending on local laws, bedding configuration, and hotel policies. If it is not allowed or practical to put a family of 4 in a standard room, you usually have to burn a ton of points for 2 rooms or a single larger room size i.e. suite. That can be a deal breaker, if not due to the amount of points required, then for the opportunity cost because you could possibly get more outsized value for your points at a hotel somewhere else. Example: The Hotel du Louvre in Paris and the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach are both cat 5 Hyatt properties costing 20K points/night. A family of 4 would have to book two rooms at the Paris property, effectively doubling the price of an equivalent stay in Clearwater even though they are the same category. Both are expensive hotels but you clearly get more value for your points at Clearwater (although – granted – the Louvre is not next door). In Paris, with good planning, you can easily rent a nice apartment for a week that sleeps 4 at around 1000 euro or less, depending on your standards, location, and time of year. Vacation rentals typically include a kitchen and washer/dryer which are ideal for families since you can save money eating some meals (like breakfast) in the rental and you can save baggage fees packing less clothes (laundry is also handy for kids that are messy eaters or like to play in the dirt). We travel both ways, depending on the challenges of our destination and points balances.

    P.S. I like the new look, but the font (size?) was easier to read on the old site. On the new site, the text can look quite small, depending on the device you are using to view it.

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    • @Erik As usual, I agree with you. It’s funny you’ve mentioned Hyatt Clearwater. We are actually going there this summer, and I’m looking forward to it. I think it can be a good deal on points in high season, though we are using certs. The area is super busy, but there is lots to do. If you ever go, make sure to take your kids on Captain Memo’s Pirate cruise. So much fun!
      I totally agree that most families will do better using their certificates or points at that place rather than burning them on two rooms in France. Utilizing hotel points in Europe to me makes the most sense when it comes to one-night stays, and even then local places will often provide better value, not to mention fit 4 people in one room. Of course, one exception is IHG PointBreaks.
      Thanks for commenting about the font. I played with it and made it bigger. If you can, let me know if it’s easier to read. Thanks!

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      • I actually faced this dilemma…I got the Hyatt card a while back when it had a statement credit bonus or something else that was better than average. The place where I intended to use it overseas…wouldn’t work due to the occupancy of 3 situation. Well, I could stay at that hotel but for only one night with my family and I found a better alternative due to my newly comp’d Hilton Diamond status and HHonors bonus points. The 2 free night certs expire sometime in mid-summer…what to do? You had mentioned this Hyatt before and it seemed nice with good cert value, so…we’ll be checking out this hotel as a beach side trip from a visit to Orlando. We saw “Winter” last year and Captain Memo sounds like something fun to do with the kids. Thanks for the tips!

        BTW…I’m no web designer, but I have worked with people who have played in that space. It’s my understanding that serif fonts (think Times New Roman) are best for printed material, while sans serif fonts (such as Arial) are best for the web. The reason is that screen resolution is much lower than printed material and because serif fonts are more decorative, it takes your eyes a few milliseconds longer to recognize the letters. I think the last couple of fonts that you have tried are serif and your old one (from looking at a post on the Wayback machine) was sans serif. If you want to know more, check out this site: https://www.typewolf.com/open-source-web-fonts . You can see that the sans serif fonts are visually cleaner and often have the word “Sans” in the name.

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    • @Erik Thank you so much for your tips on fonts! I did look up this info but unfortunately, right now I don’t have anything that goes by Sans Serif. I did change it to PT Serif, which might be what you are talking about. It still doesn’t look quite right, so I may have to mess with it some more! Argh… I definitely want to make it easy for readers to follow the text, this is very important.
      On Clearwater stay: I really think your family will enjoy it. Be prepared, the area around hotel is a zoo when it comes to traffic. My advice is to park the car and just use the Jolly trolley. I believe it goes to Clearwater Aquarium, plus, it’s a fun experience. Seriously, the less you drive, the better. Just utilize the restaurants nearby, there are many choices. The good news is, this hotel is near Marina and the cruise I’ve mentioned. Plus, the beach, let’s not forget the beach! You will have to cross the road, but it’s not too bad. Basically, be prepared for a very busy, congested beach town. We just went there, though we stayed in Wyndham. Almost changed my future plans because the thought of so many people makes my husband go crazy. But he actually said we can use our Hyatt certs there because there is lots for kids to do. But we are definitely parking our car and not driving anywhere while staying in Hyatt. Overall, I do think it’s a good use of certs for family, especially as an add-on to Disney vacation. The drive isn’t too bad, about 1 hour 45 minutes.

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      • This PT font looks much better. Maybe if you increased the line spacing a tiny amount and decreased the size by 1 point, then it would look right. Some fonts tend to look bigger than others, possibly it will be that way with PT compared to the font that you were previously using.

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    • @Erik Thank you once again for your feedback! Unfortunately, I don’t have a lot of customization options with this font. It’s either small or this size, nothing in-between. You brought up a valid point that it needs to be easily viewable on iPad, so for now, I’ll keep it as is. I’ll mess around with it some more and see if I can make it look more presentable. Thanks!

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  2. Pingback: Burning Hotel Points (and Certs) on Several Rooms per Night in Washington DC, NYC and Niagara Falls | Miles For Family

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