Friday, January 10, 2014

Giving Travel As Gifts

I don't know how else to put it. My father's side of the family is pretty weird. But then again, maybe all families are like mine, and I just don't know about it.

Similar to my father who can't bear to let a Long Weekend go without traveling somewhere, my aunt is also a big fan of weekend trips, especially with my grandmother.

Together, my aunt and grandmother have been to several countries in Europe as well as most of the states in the U.S. So last week, when it was about 4° F outside in New York, my aunt decided she HAD to get to somewhere decently warm for Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend and wanted to take my grandmother.

Neither of them, however, wanted to spend too much time en route to their destination, so they didn't want too long a flight, nor did they want to spend that much money on just a weekend trip. By this time (less than 2 weeks away), flights to the Caribbean Islands or Mexico were comically overpriced.

As an alternative, I recommended Phoenix/Scottsdale where my parents and I spent a wonderful 5 days last October. In fact, I told them to stay at the very same resort that we did, The Phoenician (a Luxury Collection property within the Starwood Hotel portfolio). Click here, here and here for our reviews of the property.

My aunt, also a Starwood Preferred Guest member, wanted to spend 3 nights there, which would have cost $506/night on top of the overpriced airfare. Instead, she wanted to use her SPG points (12,000 pt/night, which is a very respectable 4.2 cents/pt redemption value), but she didn't have enough points to cover the full 3 nights there.

Fortunately, my father recently did an assessment of his frequent flyer miles and hotel loyalty points. He could spare 36,000 SPG points easily, so he went online and booked 3 award nights for them. Then he called the hotel front desk directly (not Starwood) and had them add my aunt's name to the reservation as the 2nd guest.

This way, my aunt could check into the room without my father there, and she could still benefit from his SPG Platinum status (a waiver for the $29/day resort fee, free wifi, late 4PM checkout and best of breakfasts each morning).

Of course, my father will "try to make it to The Phoenician to check in, but will likely be delayed due to work in Austin," where we'll all be that weekend. Since we'll be staying at the Starwood's Westin Hotel in Austin, Texas those same nights, we couldn't very well call Starwood (who can see all our upcoming reservations) to add my aunt's name, since the representative would have likely noticed that our Westin Austin reservation overlapped with the Phoenician reservation. Clearly, my father couldn't be in two cities at the same time...

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