Burning Hotel Points (and Certs) on Several Rooms per Night in Washington DC, NYC and Niagara Falls

One of the biggest challenges for big families is to utilize hotel points in an efficient manner. When you have to get two or three rooms per night, very often it’s simply cost prohibitive to do so. Sure, when you are doing  a road trip, you may not have e choice. Otherwise, condos and vacation rentals are much more preferable.

It’s a challenge  I can very much relate to because very often we travel with our in-laws and need two or three rooms. In fact, next year we are doing a trip together visiting New York, Niagara Falls, and now we’ve decided to add Washington DC. Can you believe that this plan has started out as a three-night getaway to New York? We can never do anything on a  small scale in this family (rolls eyes).

Anyway, we’ve decided to forego Amtrak option which I wrote about earlier. In fact, the plan is for my in-laws to drive the minivan, take the kids along, and my husband and I would fly to DC (technically Baltimore). Then, after our whirlwind tour is over, we will be flying home from Buffalo, NY and my in-laws will go to Michigan to do some more sightseeing. Our plane fares will be booked via Southwest Rapid Rewards points.

Obviously, a lot can change in one  year, but I love trip planning. So, let me share our tentative plans and some gems I’ve discovered along the way. Maybe  it will give you some ideas for this summer vacation.

Washington DC

 

This one was a no-brainer to me. Intercontinental Willard  It was built in 1850, and is way too fancy and classy for our clan. Which makes me want it even more! Rooms bookable on points have two queen beds.

ihg willard

But wait, it’s 55,000 points per night! Oh, we are not burning points here, no way. I hope we’ll be able to use our free night renewal certificates that come with Chase IHG credit card (read about it). Technically, you do have to pay $49 annual fee after the first year, but the card provides several other perks, like 10% rebate on redemptions, plus complimentary Platinum status. So, in this case, the word “free” is almost justified. IHG card is da bomb, in a good way.

We’ll be using four certificates on a two-night stay. It will be a bit cramped to fit seven of us in two rooms, but we’ll survive. Certainly better than burning 110,000 IHG points on a third room. I won’t be able to book anything till December because that’s when several of our cards will be renewed. If for some reason Willard hotel isn’t available (it better be), we’ll use our certs  on one of nearby IHG properties. The beauty of this chain is that you can find their hotels almost anywhere, and big cities usually have many options.

New York

After two nights in DC, we’ll drive to New York. Notice I didn’t say New York City. Why? Because the cost of hotels via points there  is extremely high. We’ll be spending three nights in the area, and  prefer to have three rooms. So, the hotel has to cost a  reasonable amount.

Fortunately, there is a property that appears to be a good fit. It’s not  technically in New York, but rather New Jersey. Introducing Holiday Inn Express and Suites Meadowlands Area

ihg meadowlands

It’s located only 10 miles from Times Square, and there is a bus stop near hotel, with plenty of departures throughout the day. My in-laws drove in NYC once and said they will never do it again, so this is a perfect solution.

Since we only plan to go to New York City  for one day, this hotel  is a great option. And it even comes with mediocre breakfast, always appreciated when you are traveling with small kids. After some sightseeing in the area,  we plan to head to Niagara Falls.

Niagara Falls, Ontario

This IMO is a terrific option if you can convince yourself to part with your super valuable SPG stash:  Four Points by Sheraton Niagara Falls Fallsview It costs 4,000 SPG points per night, 3,000 on weekends. That’s very reasonable, considering the fact that rates here run at 200 CAD during the summer. We’ll be there for three nights, two of them on a weekend, so the total cost will average out to 10,000 SPG points per night for three rooms. It’s a great deal, no?

In fact, I think it’s so good, I went ahead and redeemed my points right now. SPG program will let you book more than a year ahead, a plus for OCD planners like myself. I know approximately when this trip will occur, so  went ahead and got the rooms all taken care of. There is no penalty for canceling award reservations, so  no risk involved. And in case SPG program decides to quietly raise SPG rate on this hotel (it happens more often than you think), we’ll be protected.

This to me is the beauty of hotel points. They may not always make sense for large families, but flexibility and ability to plan ahead are definitely worth something. Read my post for more on this subject.

Well, those are my tentative plans. Did I inspire anyone?

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11 thoughts on “Burning Hotel Points (and Certs) on Several Rooms per Night in Washington DC, NYC and Niagara Falls

  1. What are you planning on doing your one day in the city? We are going in a few weeks and also have only one day in the city. I am thinking of just trying to do one or two special things. We are traveling with young kids and my parents so I don’t want it to be too exhausting. I can take them to zoos and parks at home, so I want them to experience something they can’t anywhere else. Any ideas?

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    • Jennifer, I’m not sure what we are going to do, to be honest. The trip is too far away at this point. My sister-in-law is THE planner in the family, so I’m sure she will have a schedule for every hour of the day. I would like to do a double-decker bus tour because I know the kids would love it. I know it’s corny, but oh well.

      Personally, I will be plotting my escape for the day so I can tour MET by myself. I really hope to spend at least a few hours there. We won’t be visiting Statue of Liberty (I don’t think), but that’s something you may want to consider. Don’t stress too much because you can always come back at some point in the future.
      Maybe other readers will offer more suggestions.

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    • We did NYC with young kids (ages 3 and 5 at the time). If you have only 1 day and the weather is nice, then my answer would be Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History. Central Park has a lot of interesting areas for kids and adults to explore, even a small zoo. The museum located is across the street from Central Park, go see the dinos, the big whale, and cruise through the other highlights according to your interest. Note that the museum is free, although they have it setup to look like a paid ticket with admission prices (which are actually “recommended donations” – you can donate whatever you want or nothing to get a ticket). If you want to check out the famous Shake Shack, there is a location on 77th street at the left rear corner of the museum. If you stay in Midtown, you can easily walk around the iconic sights: Times Square, Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station, etc. Alternatively, I think there is a 4 hour Manhattan double-decker bus tour (and if you do a bus tour, you want the open deck because otherwise you can’t see anything).

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  2. Going to Michigan for sightseeing? That’s not something I hear very often. I used to live there and sure, there are points of interest like any other state, but it’s a very flat state with lots of pine trees and lakes (the “great” ones plus many smaller ones). Where do they plan to visit? Maybe I can give some recommendations. If they are driving through Ontario to enter Michigan via Detroit or Port Huron, the city of London is about halfway and is a nice stopping point. They have some good restaurants and there is a nice little “Heart of London” walking tour app for iOS and Android if they want to stretch their legs. If they like wine, there are a bunch of good wineries immediately west of Niagara Falls along route 81 and there are also some located along the shore of Lake Erie starting around Port Stanley to the US border. Point Pelee is also along that shore route and it is the southernmost point of Canada.

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    • @Erik Yeah, my sister in law likes to go off the beaten path. Not sure if Michigan qualifies to be called that, ha!
      I don’t really know where exactly they will be going, to be honest. But I’ll probably take you up on that offer as soon as she finalizes her plans. A lot can change, and we may not even end up doing this trip. I hope it works out, though. Either way, I thought it might give some readers inspiration.

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  3. We drove from Dallas-Boston last summer via DC, NYC and Niagara on the return. 2 cars, 5 kids. We stayed at Country Inn and Suites in Newark. 2 queens and pullout sofa. Drove to Penn Station and took train into City. Kids loved taking ferry to Statue of Liberty. Buy tickets now if you plan to visit 9/11 Museum too. Then we took subway to Times Square, and walked to Rockefeller Plaza. So fun 🙂 Have a great time!

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    • @Family6travels That sounds like a fun trip! Thanks for your suggestions. I really look forward to seeing NYC with my kids. It’s been awhile since we have visited the area. Too long, really. I do like DC as well. I haven’t been there since I was an exchange student, a 16 year old kid. Wow, time flies…
      I looked at Club Carlson properties. near Newark. While nothing was a good fit points-wise, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay in a Country Inn and Suites property. I like that chain, but their footprint isn’t great.

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  4. Yes. You’ve inspired me. I need to get in on the IHG/SPG thing. Eventually……

    Which should I do first?

    You post so much about it but because I don’t have either of these memberships, it’s hard to take in the info and relate. I’m a hands-on learner. So I’ll just have to apply soon and get in on the game. 🙂

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  5. Pingback: A Mega Fail with My SPG Transfer to Avios | Miles For Family

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