You may have noticed a lack of posts for the last week or so. The reason I wasn’t posting is we were in Hawaii! Yes, the long awaited trip was fantastic. I’ll post a trip report over several days in the coming week(s). I’m finally getting back on East Coast time so I’ll be awake enough to put one together.
And after taking such a lovely vacation, I want more. I’ve turned my attention to our trip to Disney that we have planned for this April. Originally, I was planning on using Starwood Hotel points to book a room at the Disney Swan resort. However, I have reconsidered that. Disney is running a promotion (that ends today) where you can book some of their hotels for 30% off.
Here’s why I reconsidered my hotel strategy. When redeeming points, I want to get at least a 2 cent return for each point redeemed. We are planning on staying in Disney for 5 nights. The only option to redeem points at the Disney Swan was the free night option (cash and points was not available). Since we were staying for 5 nights, I could do the redeem 4 nights and get the 5th night free option. Each free night would cost me 10,000 points. So I would have to spend a total of 40,000 points for the stay. Now you could say that that means I’d have to get at least $800 worth of value out of the stay. But you can redeem 40,000 Starwood Hotel points for 50,000 airline points (Starwood gives you a bonus 5,000 points for every 20,000 points you transfer to an airline). So I want to get at least $1,000 worth of value out of the stay. Plus I’d really like to do better than $1,000 in value because I value Starwood points more than other points.
Technically, I would have done better that that with booking at the Swan. A night at the Disney Swan resort was running about $240 (not including taxes/fees). Since we were staying 5 nights, that would be nearly $1,250 in value. But I needed to look at the alternatives. With Disney’s promotion, I could book a night at one of the moderate hotels for about $140-$150/night. And since it was a hotel run by Disney (unlike the Swan, which is on Disney property but run by Westin), I could also take the Disney Express to the hotel from the airport (so I won’t have to pay for transportation from the airport to/from the hotel). Plus I still had a credit with Hotels.com from this promotion last year where you got a free night if you booked one night through them. With all that taken into consideration, the hotel stay would only cost us $660 in total. We’ll be staying at the Disney Coronado Springs Resort, which both a friend and Mousesavers.com recommended.
Every time I plan a trip, I look at the alternatives. That’s why it’s not possible to give people a one size fits all strategy for booking a trip. In general, I try to minimize out of pocket expenses. However, in this case, it made more sense to pay money for the hotel stay than to use points.