We just got back from a spring break trip to Wilmington, North Carolina to see some of Carolyn’s family. The trip was a good idea and we had a great time visiting family as well as seeing some of the sights in Wilmington.
We did have a bit of trickiness in picking out our lodging for the stay though, and I thought it might be somewhat instructive to walk through my through processes in case you ever have a similar problem
Back in early 2015 when Club Carlson did a major devaluation, eliminating the Bonus Night Award, we looked to burn through our stash of Club Carlson points. We spent 75,000 points on a “premium” award at the Radisson Blu Rome and made a few stays at the Category 1 Country Inn and Suites in Greenfield, Indiana
(SEE: Family Travel for Real Life 3 (#FT4RL) live-blog #1: Panning for Gold with low level hotel redemptions)
With our leftover points, we decided to head to Wilmington, North Carolina for Spring Break 2016. There is a Country Inn and Suites in Wilmington that is a Category 3 (28,000 points / night). Since you couldn’t book two Bonus Award nights back to back, we booked Saturday / Sunday and then Monday / Tuesday. What many families would do is to book two nights in the husband’s name (one free) and then the next two nights in the wife’s name (one free). That didn’t work for us because we already are booking 2 rooms, one in my name and one in Carolyn’s name (SEE: Why we’re a 2 rental car family), so we had to leave Monday night open
Filling the Monday gap
I looked at a few different options
1. Use my 2 remaining Club Carlson e-certificates for our 2 rooms on Monday night. Since the alternative seems to be lighting them on fire that was definitely a possibility. I was hesitant to do that becaues even though I’m not sure free hotel nights are a good idea, I did like at least the possibility of using those on more expensive hotels than a Cat 3 Country Inn and Suites.
2. I could pay cash for 2 rooms on Monday night at the Country Inn and Suites. With tax, this was looking to run me about $200 total.
3. I looked at different hotel promotions. IHG often has promotions where for a small number of stays you can really get a bunch of points. For instance, on their fall 2015 Accelerate promotion, I ended up with 45,160 points for 2 nights stay ($185). If there had been something similar going on currently, I’d have considered paying for a stay there. Unfortunately, to complete my spring 2016 IHG promotion (confusingly ALSO named Accelerate), I needed 5 stays, and I didn’t see any way I was going to get 4 more stays this spring.
4. I could have used 40,000 IHG points to book 2 rooms at a Holiday Inn Express. Even though I finally ended up with all my points from the IHG Priceless Surprises promotion, I wasn’t keen on spending that many points when they could be put to better use on Point Breaks
So what did I do?
I was definitely feeling a bit of analysis paralysis and it was coming down to the last few days before the trip and I still had nothing booked. After looking at Award Mapper, one of my Top 10 miles and points tools, I decided to look at a few Best Westerns. There were some that were at 20,000 points / night on Award Mapper, but after clicking through, I found the Best Western Plus University Inn was actually only 12,000 points / night. We have about 50,000 Best Western points left over from a credit card signup bonus and I didn’t really see any appreciably better uses for them, so that’s what we ended up booking.
Miles and Points can be an awesome opportunity, though sometimes having TOO many options makes things tricky. I hope this was helpful to you if/when you are looking to book hotel nights!
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