My family and I haven’t traveled for Thanksgiving before. While I do enjoy family gatherings, Thanksgiving has never been a “big” holiday in my family, so I was eager to explore possibilities and make the most of the extended holiday weekend.
I’ve always been attracted to the idea of traveling during Thanksgiving, but I’ve historically shied away from actually jumping the gun.
I’m not necessarily intimidated by a busy airport and chaotic travel day; what’s really prevented me from considering it all together was the impression that I’d be facing exorbitant prices.
This month flew by, and considering that we didn’t have any traditional Thanksgiving plans to speak of, I opened up Google Flights in my browser on a quiet evening last night when the kids fell asleep. That alone can be a dangerous step, right? Thank goodness wine wasn’t involved.
My search criteria was simple:
a. somewhere warm
b. something reasonable from EWR (no thanks to holiday traffic to JFK or LGA).
To my surprise, I saw a decently-priced nonstop United flight from EWR to NAS populate. While I don’t necessarily love the Bahamas, the first thing that popped into my head was the new Grand Hyatt Baha Mar that Mommy Points recently visited with her family. Her review was solid, and I was instantly sold.
The Grand Hyatt Baha Mar is currently the largest property in the Hyatt portfolio, and I’ll be the first to admit that I have been eying the Grand Hyatt Baha Mar since its inception.
When the hotel was first introduced, it was marketed as a category 4 property, bookable for just 15,000 points a night – which is an incredible redemption.
Of course the deal was too good to truly last, and it did increase a category, but it’s still a great deal on points – 20,000 per night. Since I often strive to get at least 2 cents value with my Hyatt points, I decided that booking the cash rate would be a better value.
Even at the last minute, room rates for Thanksgiving weekend were surprisingly reasonable. I found a $227.50 rate, and booked the 4 nights using my Citi Prestige, utilizing the 4th night free benefit.
Keep in mind that although the nightly rate is $227.50, the resort tacks on a hefty resort fee ($129 total for 4 nights), and a mandatory “service charge”. Pfft. With the 4th night free benefit changes that took affect over the summer, Citi only credits the room rate, and no longer reimburses for resort fees and/or taxes.
Granted $1060.09 is steep for a 4 night hotel stay, at least we will get free breakfast and lounge access with my World of Hyatt Globalist status. Quite honestly, I’m counting on that to cover the majority of our food and beverage consumption at the resort. Plus, Hyatt just announced a Double Points promotion and the extra points will be a nice little return.
As far as flights, I had about $950 in United Travel Bank credit to play with from various credit cards from 2016 that I used towards our 4 tickets: $250 from the Citi Prestige, $200 from my Business Platinum® Card from American Express OPEN, $300 from the Chase Sapphire Reserve, and $200 from my husband’s AmEx Platinum. With the new year around the corner, that $950 will replenish in no time.
For the return, I booked 4 JetBlue award tickets for 8,000 points a piece. I’ll be getting a rebate of 3,200 points back after the fact thanks to my JetBlue Plus Card.
This definitely was an impulsive booking, but I am excited that I was able to string together several benefits and programs to make it affordable… even at the last minute. Plus, my family and I can make new holiday memories; if it all goes smoothly, this may be the start of a yearly tradition.
Have you ever booked a last-minute getaway that ended up being affordable? Where did you go? Did your miles and points help?