Monday, April 20, 2015

Last Minute Switch

As you may have read earlier last week, my father wanted to use our IHG Free Night Award certificates he and my mother received for renewing each of their Chase IHG credit cards.

So when Cancun had an Intercontinental Presidente ($250 per night), we thought we'd use them to save some money on our Mexico trip. And while we could have used 25,000 IHG points instead, we thought we might as well use the expiring certificates and save the points (which we wouldn't let expire). Saving $500 cash for a nice, high end hotel was a pretty good return on the $98 in total annual fees (two IHG cards at $49 annual fee each).

However, my father had been to Cancun multiple times (March 2000 during college, July 2011 Babymoon, December 2012 Family Christmas). So while he was looking forward to relaxing on the sugary white beaches and staring into the crystal blue ocean, he also knew Cancun's hotel zone was like visiting South Florida with all the U.S. commercialism there. Plus, after our 2 nights at the Intercontinental Cancun, we'd be staying another 5 nights there in Cancun at the Westin Resort across the street.

So when he realized that the nearby island of Cozumel also had an Intercontinental Presidente Hotel, he thought it might be a better idea to spend the first few nights there instead of the sister resort in Cancun. First he did some research on Flyertalk and TripAdvisor to make sure it was worth the effort to switch. He found this 2008 post:
1.- Both Intercontinentals are managed by Grupo Presidente, the master franchiser of Intercontinentals in Mexico.
2.- In terms of hotel product, the hotel in Cozumel is very superior, possibly the best Intercontinental resort in Mexico.
3.- The beach is fine in both places. In Cancun it is possibly the best and safest (child friendly) beach in the market, and in Cozumel it is perfectly fine too. The Cozumel beach will offer more privacy and is better for snorkeling.
4.- Air access: you will get more direct flight options into Cancun. The weakness of Cozumel are it's air options, you may fly into Cancun and transfer to Cozumel via land transfer (into Playa del Carmen), plus ferry into Cozumel, plus another land transfer to the hotel (in the southern part of the island). There is also an "air bridge" service from Cancun Airport to the Cozumel Airport... I think its call Maya Air (small aircraft). Anyways: book your air in advance.
5.- The rooms are better in Intercontinental Cozumel than Cancun... (except for the suites which are great in both). When they refurbished the Cancun hotel, they neglected the rooms.
While that post was somewhat dated, more recent reviews on Flyertalk and TripAdvisor also confirmed that the Cozumel location seemed to be well worth the switch. FYI, the IHG website charges 30,000 IHG points for a free night at Cozumel vs 25,000 IHG points for Cancun, so clearly IHG values Cozumel a bit more than their Cancun property.

So my father called up IHG on Saturday and asked to switch our reservation from IC Cancun to IC Cozumel. Fortunately, we were still within the free cancellation period for our original reservations (by 1 day!), and the Cozumel property had award availability for both nights. Perfect!

Now, to figure out how to get from Cancun to Cozumel...

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