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Redeem hotel points for a last-minute winter getaway at these luxury hotels

by Staff

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With winter already here, you might think you’re too late to book that much-needed winter getaway. But we have news for you: It’s never too late. While hotel rates might be soaring during this popular time of year, there are still plenty of rooms available with your hotel points. So, whether you’re looking to bake in the sun, explore a city or hit the slopes, you can embark on your desired vacation — last minute — without breaking the bank.

For many popular hotels, the key to finding availability requires some flexibility. Fortunately, this might mean just shifting your dates just a day or two in either direction. You also might find that airfare is less expensive by leaving a day or two before a school break and returning a few days after a long weekend holiday.

Although there are many opportunities to redeem your hotel points, here are a few options that we found during the peak winter timeframe.

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Hyatt Ziva Cancun aerial view in the morning, in Cancun, Mexico.

With a plethora of point-friendly opportunities throughout Cancun, it’s incredibly easy to find an amazing resort for your family. With white sand and blue waters, your entire family will be thanking you for this spur-of-the-moment vacation. But there’s no better place to stay — on points — than the Hyatt Ziva Cancun.

Although scoring a room on points can be hard to come by at this particular property during peak dates, there’s still availability at this top-notch all-inclusive resort during spring break. Located at the end of the peninsula on Punta Cancun, you’ll be welcomed with water on three sides of the resort and two distinct pool areas.

At 45,000 points per night for double occupancy, you can use your World of Hyatt points to truly stay for free (however, the hotel charges an additional fee for the third and fourth guests per night). With food, drinks and even a kids’ club included, you can leave your wallet behind.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to visit Cancun but use fewer World of Hyatt points, there are a few other properties to consider. For those looking for a quieter property, you can use your points at the Andaz Mayakoba Resort Riviera Maya. Or if you’d prefer a property surrounded by more nightlife, the Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort is also a great option.

And remember, you don’t have to have a rich World of Hyatt points balance, as points transfer from both Chase Ultimate Rewards® and Bilt Rewards at a 1-to-1 ratio.

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An empty tropical beach in the Caribbean.

This brand-new all-suites property is just a quick walk to the beach on a quieter — and more secluded — strip of sand, right between Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. There’s also a massive outdoor pool, a kids’ pool and a playground.

Unlike most other resorts around the island, all guests receive complimentary breakfast, including a full made-to-order omelet bar. Not having to worry about breakfast is one of my favorite ways to save during a family vacation as the cost can truly add up in no time.

There’s plenty of award availability at 80,000 Hilton Honors points per night. And if you have Hilton status, you’ll receive your fifth night free when redeeming points. This even includes low-level Silver status that you receive simply by having the no-annual-fee Hilton Honors American Express Card. To add to the money-saving vacation, resort fees are waived when redeeming points through the Hilton Honors program.

Located right on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman, the Kimpton Seafire Resort and Spa is one of the nicest properties you’ll find in the IHG Rewards program. And fortunately, there’s still availability this winter — as long as you have some flexibility.

Despite being a peak time of year — and rates ranging between $1,200 and $2,200 per night — the hotel costs just 70,000 points per night. And if you have the IHG One Rewards Premier Credit Card, you’ll receive your fourth night free on all reward redemptions. Additionally, the annual free nights earned from the credit card can be redeemed at this property, you just need to use points from your account to top off the award, which requires an additional 30,000 points per night.

And if you don’t have a plethora of IHG Reward points to cover the cost, you can always look into purchasing IHG Reward points. While we don’t typically recommend purchasing points for most programs, IHG is sometimes the exception, especially during a promotion that gives you bonus points.

The major downside of this resort is that there’s an $80 per night resort fee and there’s no way to get the fee waived. However, the resort fee does include a decent amount of amenities, such as kayaks, standing paddle boards, water tricycle, floating rafts, sailboats, snorkeling gear, daily fitness classes and even complimentary valet parking for your rental car.

Now, if you don’t need to stay at such a luxurious resort but still want to use your IHG Reward points, there’s also the Holiday Inn Resort Grand Cayman just a few minutes away. At just 25,000 points per night with no resort fee, you can still enjoy the island vibe at a significantly reduced cost. Although from firsthand experience, the Kimpton Seafire property — along with the beach — is significantly superior.

If you are craving warm weather but prefer to stay Stateside, South Florida is a great option. You’ll also find plenty of flights into Ft. Lauderdale airport, where Ft. Lauderdale Beach is just a short 10- to 15-minute ride away. And with many restaurants and shops nearby, there’s no need to worry about a rental car.

Fortunately, the W Fort Lauderdale is still boasting availability this winter. With your Marriott Reward points in hand, it’ll cost you around 283,000 points for a five-night stay, with your fifth night free when redeeming points. Although, the number of points required might differ slightly depending on your specific dates of travel.

Additionally, if you have a Marriott Rewards credit card, you might be able to redeem one of your free night certificates at this property, depending on the Marriott credit card you have and the nightly points rate.

For an easy and simple last-minute getaway, this is a great option.


The Hythe Vail, a Luxury Collection Resort

If you’re a ski bunny — or just looking for a snowy getaway — a mountain town is an ideal location for your last-minute winter vacation.

Despite limited availability among many hotels on the mountain, we found a great option in Vail at The Hythe. As part of Marriott’s luxury collection, you can use your Marriott Bonvoy points for your stay. And if you have flexibility, we even found reduced PointSaver award availability sprinkled in throughout the winter.

During Presidents’ Day weekend, for a five-night stay, it’ll cost 430,000 Marriott Reward points — or an average of 86,000 points per night, since your fifth night is free when using points. While this might seem like a boatload of points, this five-night stay would otherwise cost over $7,000.

With easy access to the Eagle Bahn Gondola, you can strap on your skis and be on the mountain in no time. And after a long day on the slopes, you can relax in the heated outdoor pool or hot tub with the Rocky Mountains in the background.


The pool at the Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina.

If you’re looking for for a last-minute vacation during spring break, you are in luck. The Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa and Marina in San Diego doesn’t typically boast much award availability throughout the year, but if you act quickly, you can snag a room with your points this winter.

At just Category 3 in the World of Hyatt award chart, this is quite a steal at just 9,000 to 15,000 points per night. If you have the World of Hyatt Credit Card, you can even use your Category 1-4 free night certificate — an annual benefit you receive simply by being a card holder.

Located right on the San Diego coast, you’ll have direct access to many water activities while being a quick drive into the heart of the city. The resort also offers an on-site pool and waterslides. And similar to all other Hyatt properties, the resort fee is waived when redeeming World of Hyatt points.

Despite already being in the thick of winter, there’s still time to book a getaway, even if you’re looking to travel during peak dates. You might be pleasantly surprised to see that a real winter break vacation is feasible, all with your hotel points.

Looking for a new travel credit card? Check out CNN Underscored Money’s list of the best credit cards currently available.

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