As I talked about last month, my 25th birthday is in January. I am fairly certain most of you are older than 25, so I will refrain from talking about how old i feel…
The original plan was to go to Vegas for my 25th, and that is still the plan but it has been moved back to Superbowl Weekend at the beginning of February due to scheduling conflict with Friends.
As I have talked about many times before, since the tickets are booked on Southwest, I was able to change them to the new dates FOR FREE online! I didn’t even have to call in or deal with any non-sense service charges!
People love to mock Southwest, but what other Airline lets you completely change your ticket without a fee?
Vancouver – Whistler
I still want to go somewhere for my Birthday and ever since the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, I have always wanted to go skiing and release my inner Picabo Street (hopefully she is still a skier…).
Anyways, after seeing the Vancouver Olympics on TV, I ended up going to Vancouver last Summer and took the Greyhound to Whistler for $35 round trip (great deal!). Even though there wasn’t snow on the ground, Whistler is just as big of a summer mountain biking destination as it is a Ski Resort. We took the Gondola up to the “summit” and the views were absolutely amazing.
Since Whistler was awesome during the Summer, I made a note to come back during the Winter to ski. Once Vegas got pushed back, I figured that we might as well still go somewhere President’s Day Weekend, so I took a look at Whistler.
Although there is a Westin at Whistler (costs 16,000 Starpoints a night or $348 a night), I am running low on United Miles, so I either wanted to use Southwest Points or British Airways Avios. Not to mention it is a 4.5 hour flight to Vancouver and then another 2 hour drive to Whistler!
Colorado – Beaver Creek
The next idea involved going to Colorado to ski. I was in Denver last year for the SMD3 and made it out to Boulder for a day and it was beautiful.
Luckily, there are also far more properties to use Points at in Colorado than at Whistler. My Friend just applied for the Hyatt Card, so we have 2 Free Night Certificates to burn.
There are quite a few Hyatt Ski Properties in Colorado but the nicest one seems to be the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek which goes a cool $570 a night. At that price, it would be an excellent use of our Free Night Certificates.
Since I still have Hyatt Diamond Status from SMD4, I figured I would just tag my Hyatt Number to the reservation and hopefully get bumped up / get some Diamond benefits.
If you don’t have any Free Night Certificates, this property goes for 22,000 Hyatt Points a night, which a steal considering you can transfer them over from Ultimate Rewards.
The Sheraton Beaver Creek is only 4,000 Starpoints & $60 a night, which is great deal considering the daily rate is $344!
Colorado – Aspen
Thanks to Dumb & Dumber, I decided to also look at Aspen. Although Aspen is outrageously expensive, since I wasn’t paying for the Flights or Hotels, I figured I might as well go all out!
In Aspen, there is a Hyatt Grand Aspen, which is a Hyatt Residence Club. I suspect that means it is a Time Share property, however the pictures that I saw look extremely picturesque and the interiors are full condos, which to me is way better than a Hotel Room.
Not surprisingly, the rate of the Hyatt Grand Aspen is $499 a night, which is probably loose change for the target clientele of Aspen.
That being said, there is a interesting discrepancy in the Daily Rate and how much it costs to use Points.
Since the Hyatt Grand Aspen is considered a “Hyatt Vacation Club”, the rates are extremely reasonable. It is only 12,000 Gold Passport Points for a Studio or 30,000 for a 3 Bedroom!
If anyone is interested, all the Hyatt Vacation Club properties are below. There are quite a few in Colorado, and as you can see from above, they are really cheap in terms of Points but really nice in terms of location and interior!
If you really have Points to blow, then I’d recommend the St. Regis Aspen.
I don’t know which is worse, the $783 a night or 30,000 Starpoints!
If I hadn’t have used my 2 SPG Free Night Certificates for a stay at the St. Regis Washington D.C, I definitely would have used them at the St. Regis Aspen!
In the end, although there was availability on flights to Denver, none of them were direct to Beaver Creek or Aspen (which would have been the best option). Normally this wouldn’t have been an issue, but since we would leave Chicago in the evening on Friday, January 18, we wouldn’t get into Denver until 11PM. It is then a 2.5 hour drive to Beaver Creek or 4 hour drive to Aspen! Probably not the safest thing to do at 11PM in snow…
Also not surprisingly, Aspen and Vail have some of the highest lift ticket prices in the Country, at almost $100 a day. That isn’t terrible considering the Hotel & Airfare would be free, but something to consider.
Quebec – Mont Tremblant
I looked into a few other places like Park City, Utah, but the flights didn’t work out. As I was Googling to see what other Ski Properties Starwood and Hyatt had in North America, I came across Mont Tremblant in Quebec.
I went to Montreal this past July and absolutely loved it (you can read about it here). On Wikitravel, I remember reading about Mont Tremblant but it was during the Summer, so we didn’t venture out there.
For those of you not familiar with Mont Tremblant, it is 90 minutes outside of Montreal and was built by the same Resort Company who built Whistler. From the photos I saw online, it looks like they basically copied the layout of a Swiss Ski Village in the Alps and dropped it in Mont Tremblant.
Not to mention because of the heavy French influence, although it is only a 2 hour flight from Chicago, hopefully it will feel like we are skiing somewhere exotic in Europe.
There is a Westin in Mont Tremblant that looks really nice, so that is where we will be staying.
There was no Cash & Points availability, but it is only 12,000 Starpoints a night which isn’t terrible. Certainly better than paying $284 a night out of pocket! I have around 35,000 Starpoints from signing up for the Starwood AMEX. Although it is hard to justify spending 24,000 Starpoints for 2 nights, at the end of the day, that is what Miles & Points are for!
For Friday night, our Flight gets in fairly late, so we are just going to stay at a Sheraton Airport Hotel in Montreal.
For Flights, similar to when I went to Montreal this past Summer, we will be using British Airways Avios to fly on American Airlines for 15,000 Avios a person.
I don’t what the deal is with the Chicago – Montreal route, but you can always find availability. 15,000 Avios a person is a absolute steal because the normal cost of a paid seat on this flight is really expensive. When I went in July, it was $1,200 and now it is $708!
Even better, as I talked about yesterday, I received 12,000 Avios from transferring my long lost 12,000 BMI Miles, so almost 1 of these tickets is now paid for.
Another nice thing about going to Montreal is that the Flight is only 2 hours or so, so you don’t feel jet lagged.
Hopefully this little ski summary either gave you some ideas for skiing this Winter, or inspired you for next Winter.
Although normally waiting this late to book results in nothing being available, from what I saw, there are still quite a few Hotels with Point availability. Flights might be a little harder to find, but if you are flexible, you should be able to find something.
Skiing as a whole is definitely expensive, just the lift tickets will set you back close to $100 a day. However if you can minimize the 2 main expenses of Travel, the Hotel and Airfare, you can make an extremely expensive weekend trip into something far more reasonable.
As you can see from the prices that I posted above, in our case, the total for this entire weekend trip to Montreal would be close to $2,086 not including ski passes if we paid out of pocket…
- Montreal Airport Hotel: $100
- 2 Flights to Montreal: $1,416
- 2 Nights At Westin Mont Tremblant: $570
There is no way I could afford or justify spending $2,086 on a 3 day ski weekend, however with Miles & Points, I will be spending only $57.72 on the taxes for each of the Award Ticket. Everything else is paid with Miles & Points!
I am really excited to visit Mont Tremblant, and hopefully next year I will plan it earlier in advance so I can visit either Aspen, Beaver Creek, or Whistler!
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