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When I booked The Mills House Wyndham Grand for one night during my visit to Charleston in December, one element I completely forgot about was the “Wyndham go free PLUS” experience benefit that applies to stays in select destinations. The email from Wyndham with a discount code for Viator took me by surprise. I checked out the offerings, settled on a walking tour, and was able to book easily for almost 50% off using the code. Turned out to be a major win that I probably never would have considered had this perk not applied to my stay!
The Wyndham go free PLUS experience perk
The Wyndham “go Free PLUS” program isn’t all that widely discussed. For all but the highest tier of the Wyndham Rewards loyalty program, there’s really not much to write about. For Wyndham Gold or Platinum members, you get a $10 discount code toward a local experience, which is exactly what I received. In the case of “go Fast PLUS”, Wyndham’s name for a cash and points rate, this drops to a $5 voucher. Wyndham Blue level members receive only $5 no matter what type of award is booked.
While the code is a nice gesture, it’s really not a huge benefit. It’s just $10, and not necessarily $10 you would have spent anyway, which reduces the value even more. And you only get one code per stay, not per night. However, if you can use it for an experience or attraction you were otherwise interested in, it’s still something.
The Wyndham “go Free PLUS” experience benefit gets much better at the Diamond tier. The award at this level is two tickets to a local experience, which can be a major perk, depending on which participating city you are in. For Charleston, the benefit is two tickets to the South Carolina Aquarium. Similarly, Atlanta offers two tickets to the Georgia Aquarium. This is a value of at least $60 at either location, which you can get for a single night award stay! Every city is unique, and some international destinations even offer the perk.
The two free tickets benefit is only applicable to Go Free awards, not Go Fast. If you book a Go Fast award as a Diamond member, you will receive a $10 discount code. Definitely factor this in when booking award nights.
The Wyndham “go Free PLUS” experience Diamond benefits only apply to the following U.S. cities. I’ve listed each with their benefit (2 tickets each):
- Atlanta – Georgia Aquarium
- Boston – Hop on Hop off Trolley Tour
- Branson – Dutton Family Theater
- Charleston – South Carolina Aquarium
- Chicago – Famous Tastes of Chicago Food Tour
- Dallas – 3-Hour Small Group Sightseeing Tour
- Las Vegas – High Roller at the LINQ
- Los Angeles – Downtown Los Angeles Food Tour
- Nashville – Country Music Hall of Fame
- New Orleans – Airboat Ride
- New York – Pizza Walking Tour of Manhattan
- Niagara Falls – Guided Day Trip Niagara Falls Canadian Side from Toronto (this confuses me…shouldn’t you be staying in Niagara Falls?)
- Orlando – Indoor Skydiving Experience
- Pigeon Forge – Douglas Lake View Helicopter Tour
- San Antonio – Haunted Ghost Segway Tour
- San Diego – Surfing Lessons
The coolest to me are any of the food tours, as well as the airboat and helicopter rides in New Orleans and Pigeon Forge, respectively. The Wyndham “go free plus” experience Diamond benefit also applies to the following international cities. I’ve listed each with their benefit:
- Beijing – Jinshanling Great Wall Morning Hike
- Berlin – Sightseeing Dinner Cruise
- Dubai – Desert Morning Safari
- Hong Kong – Symphony of Lights Hong Kong Harbor Night Cruise
- Istanbul – Bosphorus Cruise and Istanbul’s Egyptian Bazar
- London – London Eye Champagne Experience
- Mexico City – Mezcal tasting and food experience
- Montreal – Professional Racing Simulation Experience
- Niagara Falls – Guided Day Trip Niagara Falls Canadian Side from Toronto (still confused…do you book in TO?)
- Shanghai – Private Chinese Wok Cooking Class
- Singapore – Singapore Zoo Breakfast with Orangutans
- Vancouver – Capilano Suspension Bridge Admission
With the exception of the Mezcal tasting, any of those experiences sound cool. My one comment is regarding the benefit in Hong Kong. Considering that Wyndham no longer has any properties in Hong Kong, I’m not sure how you can use this.
Considering some of the Diamond benefits can be valued anywhere from $60-$100 for two people, achieving Wyndham Diamond might be worth it to some. The difficulty is…you have to stay with Wyndham a *lot* to do that, which may not be desirable. Their portfolio consists of many, many budget properties, and there aren’t a lot of other great features about their program, aside from a flat award chart where nights cost 15,000 points. Spending 40 nights in a Super 8 doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.
My walking tour of Charleston
For my one night Charleston stay, I received the $10 voucher, which I applied toward a 2-hour walking tour that costs $22. For a small group tour, $22 already seems like a reasonable price. With the $10 off, though, I only paid $12, which is an excellent deal.
It was also great that I’d chosen that specific tour, as the departure point is literally half a block from The Mills House (SEE: The Mills House Charleston Review). All I had to do was walk down the street to a point across from the Circular Church. We began our tour in the church graveyard. Some of the graves here are the oldest in the city, dating from the late 1600s.
There were only 4 other people in the group, plus our tour guide, Jini. We slowly wound our way through the historic district of Charleston, stopping at the Power Magazine, St. Philip’s Church and the Dock Street Theater before heading south along the peninsula. Many places we passed were festively decorated for Christmas with evergreens and oranges.
The tour took us down church street past Broad Street, the widest one in the old city, as the name implies.
We stopped at the Heyward Washington house, one of a half dozen or so museum homes in Charleston. It was previously owned by Thomas Heyward, a signer of the Declaration of Independence. George Washington stayed here during a visit to South Carolina, thus the Heyward-Washington name. Jini suggested this home as one to definitely tour; I only wish I’d had the time.
We eventually meandered down to the harbor before turning north again and walking along Rainbow Row. This stretch of historic homes is where the revitalization of Charleston began back in the 1930s.
Our final stop was at the intersection of Broad Street and Meeting Street where we toured the inside of St. Michael’s Church. A lady was selling baskets across the street in front of the post office. These items are handmade by the Gullah, a people and culture that only exist along the coast of South Carolina and Georgia. Former African slaves developed a distinct Creole culture and ethnic identity, living relatively isolated from more than a nominal number of white plantation owners. Thus, a good amount of their original African culture and heritage has been preserved; however, due to more constant contact with modern culture, their identity and language are becoming hard to maintain. The fact that this entire culture exists here within the U.S. was a revelation to me.
The 2-hour tour stretched into 3 hours by the time we circled back to the departure point. Jini was an absolutely wonderful tour guide, and I am extremely glad I’d booked the tour. It gave me a some great insight info the history and culture of Charleston. This gem of the south is now one of my favorite cities in the country.
I would not have had this experience without the Wyndham go Free PLUS experience benefit. My original plan was to walk through the historic district on my own, and then head out to Fort Sumter if time allowed. I’m very glad I ended up booking this instead.
As only a $10 benefit per stay, the Wyndham go Free PLUS perk isn’t an enormous benefit. And it certainly wouldn’t go very far if you’re booking tours or events for a family, since you only get one certificate. But it is certainly a nice gesture by Wyndham, and something that is unique to their loyalty program. If you have a way to easily earn Wyndham Diamond, this perk could be far more valuable.
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