We’re only a couple of weeks into 2013, and we’ve already seen two huge deals hit the world of Points and Miles. First there was the 100,00 point American Express Platinum card offer, which was quickly followed by the Explore Cruise and Travel 40%-off-any-hotel-stay bonanza. I dove in on both deals.
The hotel madness felt a little like shopping a really hot sale on Gilt. I knew I didn’t have the luxury of time: I needed to book as many stays as I could as quickly as I could, then sort everything out later. Since the stays were fully cancelable and refundable, I was on a “book first, ask questions later” mission.
One of the vacations I booked was a 3-night stay this fall at the Andaz San Diego. I got two connecting rooms, because my kids never sleep (when my kids were really little, I moved out of the house and slept in a tent in the backyard for a couple of weeks because I couldn’t take it anymore, but that is another story). I have never stayed at the Andaz San Diego before, but I’ve heard great things about Andaz properties so I was excited to try it.
This is a luxury property and comes with a luxury price tag to match. The full price for our two rooms (for three nights) was $1,750. I paid $990 because of the sale, but that still is a very expensive long weekend (especially when you are used to getting rooms for free using points)!
Bird and I are staying at the Andaz Fifth Avenue on our upcoming trip to NYC: four nights cost 88,000 Hyatt points, but since hotel rooms in Manhattan are crazy expensive, I felt like this was a solid points redemption. (Our NYC stay would have cost $1250 if I had paid cash).
I was beginning to have second thoughts about this splurge, but I wanted to do my due diligence before I canceled the reservation.
Today, I sat down to do some research on the Andaz, as well as the other properties I booked during the sale. When I read the descriptive paragraph on the hotel’s site; it actually sounded perfect:
Introducing the sophisticated Andaz San Diego, a boldly progressive addition to the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. With its sleek style and fresh attitude, this chic new destination flies in the face of typical hotels in downtown San Diego, California.
However, as I read on, I realized that maybe it wasn’t perfect for our family:
On weekends, the temperature climbs even higher as our Ivy Rooftop pool turns into a sultry hotspot, complete with bottle service and premium liquors. Dance through the night as DJs spin at our iconic four-story Ivy Nightclub.
Hmm. Sure enough, reading a few reviews on Trip Advisor confirmed that weekends at the Andaz San Diego are “pulsing with bass” and that it was “like trying to sleep under the table at a nightclub.” Umm…no thanks.
With a little more research, I discovered the Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Airport. As the name implies, every room at this property is a suite. Perfect for my dynamic no-sleep duo. There are rolling lawns, a bike/walking path, and a swimming pool with a big patio area. Rooms feature kitchens, and many rooms are bay view, some with balconies.
I also realized that this trip is not a hotel-centered vacation. We’ve gotta hit the Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Sea World, Legoland, and the Beach. Plus, we’ve got good friends in San Diego. We’re looking forward to spending time with them. We’re not going to have time for all of that as it is…no way we’re going to be hanging around at the hotel. So while the Andaz San Diego might be perfect for a weekend trip with friends, it is not the right fit for our action-packed family vacation.
Another bonus about the Homewood Suites is that I can use our stash of Hilton points to pay for our stay. Josh got 2 Citi HHonors cards using the double-browser trick, which gave him 100,000 Hilton points, plus the American Express HHonors Surpass, which gave him 60,000 points. We’ve been using these cards at far-flung CVS stores to buy Vanilla reloads (Josh had success on a recent business trip to Kentucky), so we’ve been able to get 6x Hilton points for paying our rent and other bills we can’t normally pay with credit cards. As a result, we’ve got enough Hilton points to fund several hotel stays, and this seems like a perfect place to start.
Bottom line: just because a hotel is a luxury hotel, it doesn’t mean it is always the best choice for your stay. Although I love a good five-star, sometimes a clean and comfortable three-star is even better.