On of my major uses for miles and points are family ski trips, and that is the topic of one of the reader questions I received this week. If you have Hyatt or SPG points, then in the US you have a good number of great hotels on or near ski mountains to choose from. However, this reader adds to the complexity of the issue by being a bit low on Hyatt and SPG points for the moment. I like to stretch my brain a little, so I’ve done my best to give her some ideas on how to potentially use Club Carlson and stretch their other points for a family ski trip. See her question, and my answer below (and please feel free to chime in with your own suggestions)!
I have a ski vacation question….we want our family of four to ski, but I’m having difficulty finding a place where I can use hotel points, or at least the few I have. Right now on the hotel side, we have 85K Club Carlson points, 25K Starwood points, and 18K+35K remaining Marriott points. Additionally, we have 45K+ Ultimate Reward points that can be transferred. I’m also about to do apply for some cards for my husband and am trying to decide what to add for him.
I know this family is from the Houston area, but they didn’t specify what part of the country they want to go skiing in, so I decided to just check out a few of the top spots out west. From their couple of emails I have learned they they seem to want to use their Club Carlson points. The good news is that since they have the Club Carlson Premier Rewards Visa Signature, they will get their second award night free. The bad news is there aren’t a ton of Club Carlson hotels in popular ski areas, but there are a couple of options they could at least consider with Club Carlson, along with some other (better) options using some of their other points.
Country Inn & Suites by Carlson Greeley, Colorado:
This hotel is 28,000 Club Carlson points per night, so with the “last night free” award benefit from the credit card, this family would have enough for the four nights they want with their current 85,000 point balance. Club Carlson does not have a large number of hotels in Colorado, but if you are willing to drive 90 minutes+ each way to get to a slope, this hotel is a possibility. I have done that in my college years, but personally wouldn’t want to do it with a family.
Country Inn & Suites Denver Airport:
This hotel is also 28,000 points per night and would also require about 90 minutes plus of driving each direction to get to the closest ski slopes. Again, this would not be very pleasant, but this hotel could be a good one for positioning on the first and/or last night of the trip near the airport.
Country Inn & Suites Billings Montana:
You can stay about an hour from Red Lodge Resort in Montana for 38,000 points per night. This is closer in than the Colorado options, but it is still pretty far. Again, could be good if they wanted to use it on the way to/from a ski mountain.
Salt Lake City:
There are a few Club Carlson hotel options in Salt Lake City and several ski resort options under an hour from the city, so this could be a better option than some of the other Club Carlson locations.
Starwood Preferred Guest:
Even though this family only has about 25,000 SPG points, this could still be a viable option for a ski trip if they can find cash and points availability at some of the lower category SPG hotels that are located near ski resorts. That isn’t easy, but it is not impossible.
Sheraton Steamboat Resort:
Cash and points are available for 6,000 points + $110 USD per night, so it would still require some financial outlay, but the location is very good as a ski in/ski out at Steamboat.
Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas, Avon/Vail Valley:
Finding cash and points availability here can be rough during ski season, but if you can get it it will just cost 5,000 points + $75 per night. Otherwise, it is 10k SPG points per night, so with a little extra spending on their SPG Amex, this family is within reach of at least three nights paid for fully on points at this hotel located near Beaver Creek ski resort even without relying on cash and points availability.
While this family does not have Hyatt points that I know of, they do have over 45,000 Ultimate Reward points they could use. Since they have limited points, I am skipping over the Hyatt hotels like the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek that require more points per night.
Hyatt Escala Lodge at Park City:
This ski in/ski out Hyatt hotel is just 15,000 points per night, so this family already has enough for three nights if they transfer their Ultimate Rewards points from their Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card, Ink Plus® Business Card, or Ink Bold® Business Card. to Hyatt Gold Passport. They could then use some of their Club Carlson points to stay in Salt Lake City at the beginning or end of their trip.
Assuming this family is happy with the idea of a Utah ski vacation, that may be their best bet given the points that they have. I haven’t yet stayed at the Hyatt Escala Lodge, but I very much want to. I have heard very good things, and it is a great value on points. Club Carlson points are good, but they aren’t great for ski trips in the United States…at least as far as I can see.
What would you do in this family’s shoes?
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