“Forced” to adventure due to free night certs… On my mind


There was a time when I sort-of hated hotel free night certificates.  Often, expiration dates approached and I had no good use for them.  Sometimes I’d use the soon-to-expire free night at a near-airport hotel.  In those cases, I rarely got great value or a memorable stay.  Sometimes I gave away the free night to a family member or friend.  Sometimes, I gave away free nights to readers.

Paddleboarding in Grand Cayman. IHG free night certificates “forced” us into this adventure, and we loved it.

Near the end of 2019, I took a different approach.  I had three uncapped IHG free night certificates that were near expiration.  I searched for the best way to use those certificates for a last minute trip, and I picked the Kimpton Seafire resort in Grand Cayman.  We had a fantastic time!  If interested, read about my trip planning here: Assembling a cheap award to paradise, and my review here: Kimpton Seafire Grand Cayman. Bottom Line Review.

That trip to Grand Cayman changed my perspective.  Rather than thinking of expiring free night certificates as a burden, I decided to see them as a kick in the pants towards adventure. Rather than struggling to find an adequate use for my certificates, I now look for opportunities.  Where can we go to really enjoy those free nights?

For now, the pandemic has made international travel difficult, but there is plenty of adventure to be had in the United States.  In April, for example, I used a soon-to-expire Marriott 7 night certificate to stay at the best category 6 Marriott I could find in the United States: the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Tucson.  It was great!  See my full review here: Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Tucson. Bottom Line Review.  If it wasn’t for that expiring certificate, we wouldn’t have gone, and we would have lost out on a fantastic experience.

In addition to the pandemic making international travel difficult, it has led to many of us having far more free night certificates than usual.  Most chains have extended free night certificates a few times and so for those of us who get free night certificates each year from our credit cards, we have two or three sets of these certificates burning holes in our award wallets…

IHG 40K Free Night Certificates

My wife and I have four IHG 40K free night certificates.  These come from the old IHG Select card, which is no longer available new, but you can also get these annually from the IHG Premier card.  One of my certificates expires at the end of August.  Both of my wife’s certificates expire at around the end of this year.  What adventures will these certificates force us into?

Hotel Indigo Traverse City. Photo courtesy of IHG’s website.

I’ve long been interested in trying out the Hotel Indigo in Traverse City, Michigan.  I’d prefer to go in the summer, but for most of this summer the property is priced at 80K points per night.  My certificates will work only when the hotel is priced at 40K or less.  Fortunately, I found a couple of Sunday nights late in August when the property is available for exactly 40,000 points!  I booked one with my cert which expires end of August.  I also booked Monday night with 46,000 points so that we can have a two night stay up north.

With the short term problem solved adventure booked, I still need to find a great use for my wife’s certificates which expire at the end of this year.  Ideally, we’d stay at one of IHG’s Luxury & Lifestyle brands:

IHG categorizes the following brands as luxury and lifestyle: Six Senses, Regent, Intercontinental, Kimpton, and Hotel Indigo.  Neither Six Senses nor Regent hotels yet exist in the United States and so, for this year, we’ll probably stick to the other three brands.  Plus, it may be impossible to find those at 40K points per night.

Kimpton Vero Beach, Florida.  Photo courtesy of IHG’s website.

My wife and I like the Kimpton brand and so we’ll seek out good opportunities with Kimpton first.  We’ve been interested in trying the Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa in Florida, but unfortunately every night from October 1 to December 31 is priced higher than 40K points per night.

Kimpton Canary Hotel, Santa Barbara, California.  Photo courtesy of IHG’s website.

I’d be even more interested in trying out the Kimpton Canary Hotel in Santa Barbara, California (shown above), but no nights are currently available for 40K points or less on any dates I checked: August 1 to December 31.

I next looked at Portland, OR.  I’ve never been there, but I’d love to go.  There are a couple of nice looking Kimpton hotels there, and it’s not too hard to find availability for 40K points or less:

IHG Reader suggestions?

I haven’t yet settled on our IHG 40K adventure.  Are there IHG hotels, preferably within the United States, that you highly recommend?  Please comment below.

Hyatt Category 1-4 Certs

There are a number of ways to get Hyatt Category 1-4 certs.  The World of Hyatt card offers a category 1-4 cert each year upon renewal and again when you spend $15K within a calendar year.  Additionally, Hyatt offers these as a Milestone Reward (when you earn 30 elite qualifying nights within a calendar year); as Brand Explorer rewards (when you’ve stayed at 5 different brands); and sometimes as rewards for miscellaneous promotions.

I currently have six of these certs, with four expiring 12/31/21.  It’s time to plan an adventure!  Here are some of the Hyatt hotels & resorts that I have my eye on and which are bookable with Category 1-4 certs:

Lahaina Shores Beach Resort, Maui, Hawaii (Category 4)

This is a Destination brand resort with full kitchens in every room.  My understanding is that this resort doesn’t provide any elite benefits like breakfast, late checkout, etc., but come on, it’s in Maui and on the beach.  The full kitchen is a big perk in itself.  Other than the fact that I’m not eager to go to Hawaii right now (it sounds like Hawaii is overflowing with tourists, much more than usual), this looks like an incredible use of free night certificates.

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort (Category 4)

Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina
Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay Golf Resort, Spa and Marina.  Hyatt Category 4.

This looks like it would make for a great summer or fall adventure!

Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, near Orlando, Florida (Category 3)

Hyatt Resort: Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Sunset
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress Orlando Florida USA.

This one is only category 3, but we’ve been here many times and really enjoy it for escaping the Michigan winter.  If we choose this one it would be for mid to late December.  Returning to our old stomping ground doesn’t really seem like an adventure, though.

The Confidante Miami Beach (Category 4)

This one looks like it would be a great winter escape.

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort and Spa, New Mexico (Category 3)

Recent reviews of this one are mixed, with some very negative reviews, so we’ll probably pass on this one.

The Scottsdale Resort at McCormick Ranch (Category 3)

Given that we just did an Arizona adventure, it’s not too likely that we’ll do this one this year, but I put it on the list for others who may be interested.

Hyatt Reader suggestions?

I haven’t yet settled on our Hyatt category 1-4 adventure.  Are there Hyatt category 1-4 hotels or resorts, preferably within the United States, that you highly recommend?  Please comment below.

Marriott 35K Certs

Marriott offers a number of credit cards that award 35K and 50K free night certificates each year (details here).  Earlier this year, I was absolutely flooded with these certificates thanks to my wife and I having multiple Chase and Amex Marriott cards.  Since then, I’ve already used or applied a bunch of these certificates.  Many will be used at a family event where I booked multiple rooms for multiple nights, all with 35K certificates.  Now, I still have six 35K free night certificates expiring Jan 3, 2022 or within a few months afterwards.

Marriott Bonvoy Free Night Award Chart. Awards available for booking with 35K free night certificates are highlighted yellow.

35K Free Night Certificates can be used on up to category 5 properties except when they are peak priced; or up to category 6 in the unusual case where they are off-peak and available at PointSaver rates.

Inn at Bay Harbor, Michigan (Category 5)

The Inn at Bay Harbor is a long-time favorite of mine, but I probably won’t use my certificates here.  The best time to visit is in the summer where the hotel is almost always peak priced at 40K per night and therefore cannot be booked with 35K certs.  I imagine the fall would be pretty nice too, and I do see some availability at 35K per night (you have to look 2 nights at a time since they have a 2 night minimum stay), but we’re already planning to go a couple of times this summer using points with fifth night free stays.  Plus, it’s hardly an adventure to return here.

New Marriott Hotels

In order to find exciting new possibilities, I used Marriott’s hotel directory to filter to category 3, 4, and 5 hotels in the United States; luxury and premium brands only; and hotel type = new hotel.  This resulted in a list of 38 hotels.  Scanning through the list, I found the following hotels that look interesting to me. I’ve included Marriott’s one-sentence description of each:

  • The Barfield, Autograph Collection, Category 4. “Brand-new luxury hotel in downtown Amarillo with boutique guest rooms and upscale amenities.”
  • Epicurean Atlanta, Autograph Collection, Category 5. “Awaken Appetites Unknown.”
  • JW Marriott Charlotte, Category 5. “Luxury urban retreat with steakhouse, oyster bar, rooftop bar, pool and spa.”
  • The Industrialist Hotel, Pittsburgh, Autograph Collection, Category 5. “New boutique hotel with bold amenities and prime location near Market Square & Point Park University.”
  • The St. Clair Inn, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, Category 4
  • Le Méridien St. Louis Downtown, Category 5. “Discover Le Méridien St. Louis Downtown’s modern guest rooms, upscale event space and dining.”
  • ADERO Scottsdale, Autograph Collection. Category 5. “Welcoming guests May 14, 2021 onwards. Brand new Four-Diamond luxury resort & spa.”

Autograph Collection Hotels

Then, because I tend to find Autograph Collection hotels interesting, I filtered to all category 4 and 5 Autograph Collection hotels in the U.S.  Here are the ones I found interesting:

  • Morrison House Old Town Alexandria, Autograph Collection, Category 5. “Charming 45-room hotel with on-site dining and intimate event spaces in Old Town Alexandria.”
  • WATERMARK Baton Rouge, Autograph Collection. Category 4. “High-end hotel with luxury accommodations located near Louisiana State University.”
  • Bohemian Hotel Celebration, Autograph Collection. Category 5. “A lakeside boutique hotel in Celebration, Florida, just moments from Walt Disney World®.”
  • The Siena Hotel, Autograph Collection (Chapel Hill, NC). Category 5. Note: My wife and I stayed here many years ago and loved it.
  • Grand Bohemian Hotel Charlotte, Autograph Collection, Category 5. “Boutique hotel in the heart of Uptown Charlotte with eclectic on-site restaurants and a rooftop bar.”
  • Metropolitan at The 9, Autograph Collection (Cleveland, OH). Category 5. Historic hotel in downtown Cleveland, with boutique rooms, exceptional dining and a rooftop bar.
  • Hotel LeVeque, Autograph Collection (Columbus, OH). Category 5. “Upscale hotel with glamorous rooms in the iconic LeVeque Tower near Palace Theatre and Ohio Theatre.”
  • The Adolphus, Autograph Collection (Dallas, TX). Category 5. “The Adolphus, Autograph Collection features boutique accommodations in the heart of downtown Dallas.”
  • Fenway Hotel, Autograph Collection. Category 5. “Jazz Age-era hotel in Dunedin, with boutique rooms, a rooftop bar, a restaurant and event venues.”
  • westdrift Manhattan Beach, Autograph Collection. Category 5. “4-star luxury hotel with great dining, modern rooms, golf, pool, gym and outstanding event venues.”
  • Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, Autograph Collection (Norfolk, VA). Category 4. “Downtown Norfolk’s Boutique Hotel and Glass Art Gallery – Come See Life in a New Light.”
  • The Camby, Autograph Collection, Category 5. “Luxury hotel with an on-site restaurant and 11 event rooms near Biltmore Fashion Park.”
  • Art Ovation Hotel, Autograph Collection. Category 5. “Enjoy interactive art installations and performances, onsite restaurant, rooftop bar and pool.”
  • The Davenport Lusso, Autograph Collection (Spokane, WA). Category 5. “Upscale, boutique hotel with an on-site Ale House and complimentary Wi-Fi near Riverfront Park.”
  • The Davenport Tower, Autograph Collection (Spokane, WA). Category 4. “Boutique hotel with room service, suite options and on-site restaurant in the Arts District.”
  • The Historic Davenport, Autograph Collection (Spokane, WA). Category 4. “Timeless elegance awaits at The Historic Davenport, Autograph Collection.”
  • Ambassador Hotel Tulsa, Autograph Collection. Category 5. “Luxury hotel in downtown Tulsa, free Wi-Fi and shuttle, pet-friendly rooms & suites, on-site dining.”
  • The Ben, Autograph Collection. Category 5. “Only Waterfront Full-service Hotel downtown. With a rooftop pool & bar. Steps from Clematis Street.”
  • The CURRENT Hotel, Autograph Collection. Category 4. “From business to pleasure and everything in between, the best part of Tampa Bay awaits.”
  • Williamsburg Lodge, Autograph Collection (Virginia). Category 5. “Luxury hotel with three golf courses, 10 event venues and free Wi-Fi near William & Mary College.”

Marriott Reader suggestions?

The list of potential Marriott hotels in the U.S. alone, is huge.  Have you been to any of the hotels listed above?  Do you recommend we go, or stay away?  Do you know of other exciting options that I missed?  Please comment below!

Send us on an adventure!

My wife and I will be doing lots of international travel next year, so we’d like to stay in the U.S. this year (plus, of course, that’s much easier right now due to the pandemic).  But, within the U.S., we’re happy to go anywhere.  Where do you think we should go?  Recommend things to us based on location (e.g. “near this national park”), activity (e.g. “go water rafting here…”), hotel, or really any other factor you think of.  Ideally we’d be able to make good use of some of the free night certificates described above.  Comment below, and tell us where to go!

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We enjoyed the Davenport in Spokane. One of the prettiest lobbies & ballrooms of any hotel I have ever seen. The Doge & Marie Antoinette ballrooms esp beautiful.

The Davenport was the first hotel w a/c & inventor of the Crab Louie, named for the owner Louis Davenport. You can still order the original salad at the Palm Court restaurant. Rich history commemorated throughout the stunning public areas. Bing Crosby performed there. Spend a coupla hrs to walk around & take in all the memorabalia.

Where all the glamor somewhat falls apart are the rooms themselves. I’ll lv it at “historic.” We had a jr suite upgrade, but the Circus Room #708 is the one to book if you’re not creeped out by painted circus animals circling your bed! It is the only surviving original guestroom. The layout is weird with 2 KS beds but ask the front desk to see it if you go, it’s one of a kind.

Nice 4th fl rooftop bar. Soft peanut brittle was invented at the hotel, & you can purchase at the lobby shop for gifts to take home. As for the other Marriott choices, Lussa is boutique and across from the Davenport. It is newer & certainly may be a better room option (though small), just make sure to chk out the Davenport public areas & restaurants/bars.

The Tower is one block over. No idea about its rooms, but its African themed lobby is interesting. The Grand is across town. It was built for the convention crowd with a Las Vegas bent. It’s nice enough but completely different from any of the other Marriotts described.

About 30 min to Coeur d’Alene ID. The resort can be booked with Choice or iPrefer points. Charming town, the lake reminds me of Lake Tahoe. Beautiful in the fall. If you are still feeling adventurous, the northern 4 hr drive to Whitefish MT on 2 thru Libby is not to be missed. One of the best road trips in the US.


I clicked your link to the Kimpton Seafire post and it brought back some wonderful memories! Very much enjoyed reading that and seeing the photos.


For IHG certs, InterContinental Los Angeles ($34.10 amenity fee per day). Another is Intercontinental Monterey ( very very limited availability, no fees, possible free valet parking). Overseas, InterContinental Seoul Parnas and InterContinental COEX.


It’s not quite in the US, but Spirit Ridge in BC looks interesting. It’s a Hyatt Category 3, and all the rooms include a kitchen. https://www.hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/canada/spirit-ridge/ylwub


Hi Greg, I know you love Big Sur, but these are 2 great hotels that I have stayed at many times in Carmel / Monterey:

IHG 40K: InterContinental the Clement Monterey (2 minute walk to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and right on Cannery Row)

Hyatt 15K: Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel And Spa On Del Monte Golf Course (great central location to all things in Monterey)


I found ample 40k avail for the IC Monterey, I am tagging a couple nights on to the end of a Ventana Big Sur stay early next yr & flying out of Monterey, thx!


That sounds like a great trip. Have fun in Big Sur and Monterey 🙂


Greg-totally agree on the Kimpton Seafire. One of our best IHG redemptions for a free night and we were upgraded to a HUGE suite with wraparound balcony for our anniversary plus they sent some treats to the room. HUGE value.

Points Adventure

There have been times when I had so many FNCs that it became a chore to maximize them. But generally I take great joy in putting them to good use – especially the uncapped ones. Coming out of Covid, I’m more excited than ever to use them! Just hope Bora Bora and Maldives will be open 🙂

For the IHG 40k cert, I’m using mine at the IC Los Angeles. It’s the tallest building west of the Mississippi. The lobby on the 71st floor is awesome – reminiscent of the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur. The Kimpton Everly is pretty good too and often below 40k. The best Kimpton in LA, La Peer, is sadly always above 40k. There’s a zillion things to do in LA, as long as there isn’t a Covid closure.

I second the Hyatt Residence Club in Sedona for the cat4 cert. The whole area is absolutely gorgeous, I could stay for weeks. Sedona Rouge is a better deal at 15k Wyndham, but when you have Hyatt certs, this is a great option. I have the same feeling as you about the Maui beach hotel though.

Enjoy the thrill and the pampering!


Greg, it is always welcome to come to Portland, OR. We stayed 2 nights at RiverPlace for our 10th anniversary (instead of staying at Cancun) couple months ago because we do not want to go somewhere local. I cannot say it is the best hotel, but it was a cozy place to stay.
If you come to Portland in summer time, you should not miss farmers market and grep some fruits (especially cherries) and the rose garden. You may like to have some sandwiches with view of Portland at Pittock Mansion. And don’t forget local beers and wines.
I know you been many great places, but you may enjoy here too. 🙂


I stayed one night at the Camby in Phoenix. I liked the decor and restaurant. It’s located in a cool suburb. But it’s still a suburb. Need a car to visit the Phoenix Cactus Garden, which is awesome.


You have until yr end to use your wife’s 2 IHG certs, so I also recommend the IC Houston for use, post-summer. It is technically in the Medical Center complex (really fringe) but is also very near the museum district. There are parks & some of the leafiest & loveliest parts of Houston in the area.

The IC Houston is 3 years old with a light refined style. We used our own Ambassador/IHG new mbr certs here & were upgraded to an Exec Suite. There is a Club IC on the 18th fl not yet opened cos of Covid but would’ve been otherwise available as Ambassador. Fresh fruit & bottled water were in our suite upon arrival.

The new Cullen Sculpture Garden & Hockney-Van Gogh at the Museum of Fine Arts nearby is interesting to view as is a drive to the NASA Space Center for a tram tour.

We tagged on 2 nights at the St Regis Houston, near the Galleria, to also kill some Marriott FNCs. Property is dated & needs attention, but the suite upgrade & full breakfast were appreciated. Not otherwise any big deal but nice to be close to great shopping & restaurants.

We stopped at the Hyatt Centric Woodlands Cat 3 after to use 2 more FNCs. We’ve stayed here sev times & really like its convenience anchoring an urban shopping village.

You could also drive an hr south from Houston to Galveston but most good redemptions there now are Hilton. My 2 fav Wyndham Rewards props, Tremont House & Hotel Galvez, are currently independent but will be Tribute props, just don’t know when. I am looking forward to an easier booking process with Marriott than Wyndham offered.


I always prefer Autograph Collection hotels when I travel and so I’ll focus my recommendations with what I know.

I just stayed at the Adolphus a few months ago and it is a top notch choice.

I do suggest you consider alternatives to two of your other choices:

1. Instead of the Morrison House, consider The Alexandrian, also a category 5 Autograph Property. It is located right on King Street, just down from the Waterfront. There is great walking, shops and restaurants all around downtown Alexandria and you are close enough to walk to the George Washington Masonic Memorial. As a bonus, since you seem to be a Kimpton fan, the Alexandrian was a Kimpton hotel called the Hotel Monaco, Alexandria until about 2015. I stayed there both before and since the changeover and the hotel retains the Kimpton vibe and a solid breakfast at the restaurant as well as an afternoon complimentary wine hour in the lobby, although I don’t know if COVID cancelled that.

2. Instead if the Art Ovation, which is less impressive than the website would make you think, stay at The Sarasota Modern, which is Tribute Portfolio vice Autograph, but still a category 5. My wife and I like it much better. As a Titanium, you’ll get free breakfast off the menu and can probably get an upgrade to one of those great large suites on the top floor with a Tub and Shower out on the balcony (you still have an indoor shower if you prefer). It’s a great hotel with a nice relaxing pool and you can still walk a couple blocks over to view the artwork in the lobby and “gallery” at Art Ovation.


If you stay in dt Dallas, I would combine an Adolphus historical stay with either the Hall Arts Hotel (stunning & new build, bookable with HH points – Curio) or the new Kimpton Pittman in a new entertainment area just outside dt & butting up to Deep Ellum (easily bookable with IHG FNCs).


I’d be especially interested to know what Nick plans to do with his free night certs now that he has young kids. For me with two young kids, getting a suite with some kind of real separation is basically a necessity (i.e., not “junior suites”), but free night certs can’t be upgraded to suites at booking time (at least for Hyatt). Taking an adult only trip is the only real solution I can think of, but I’d rather not do that just to use up the certs.


I burned 4 Hyatt FNCs back in the fall in Missouri. Not sure I would go there in the stifling hot & humid summer, but def worth a trip when it cools off.

The Hotel Kansas City is dt and a completely renovated gem. It is beautiful with a colorful history as a social club with famous & notorious members. If you stay, ask for a tour. As they say, they don’t make em like they used to and you will never see fixtures and detail quite like you will here. Cat 4. Plenty to do in the nearby entertainment district or take a short drive north to the cute town of Weston, I recommend Green Dirt Farm to eat. Is also a creamery & their cheese is to die for.

From there you can drive 30 min NE to The Elms Hotel & Spa in Excelsior Springs. I have been wanting to check it out because of its recent reno, impressive exterior, & history (Truman found out he won prez election night there). It is a Cat 2, and I am certain you would want all the upgrades available as a Globalist. The Suites look pretty good, though, but mainly about the grounds and the hot springs in the area. And for Wabash BBQ in an old train depot, specialty is burnt ends. Maybe only 1 night there, but I am still really curious and plan to make it there sometime this year, would love if someone has been there and can report. Previously was a Hilton, and they had already dumped a ton of money into the reno before Hyatt took over.

Or drive sev hours from KC (like we did) to St Louis. The Last Hotel is a Cat 3 dt but again is steeped in history as a previous shoe mfg facility! Newly renovated and so pretty & cool, reminded me a lot of the Eliza Jane in NO – both are Unbound Coll with identical floor plans from what I could tell. That brand reminds me a lot of the 21c hotel brand in that there are touches all over the property with a nod to their former use (OK City was an auto plant, and the faucets are steering wheels for instance). The City Museum is just around the corner and there really are no words for that place! One of a kind, and you could spend sev days there. Icing on the cake was 5k points awarded for not having valet during covid!


Also in St. Louis is an Autograph Collection Marriott Cat. 5… the Hotel St. Louis gets great reviews and is in a bit nicer location than the Last Hotel. Have reservations for later this summer.


Thanks for the tip! Looked it up, Magnolia looks interesting, too


Just used two of our IHG chase free night certificates at Kimpton Shorebreak in Huntington beach and had a great experience.


I think a couple of other readers mentioned it but the Grand Hyatt Manchester in San Diego is a great use. Great view of the water, walking distance to old town San Diego. Great food and great weather. Location wise, I prefer it to the Andaz which is right downtown but the Andaz is also a Cat 4.

Since you mentioned Portland. The Hyatt House in Portland is great. It’s near the Willamette river so you can walk along it and it’s also close to Portland downtown. I think there a couple hotels that are in some of the rougher parts of Portland so you have to watch out for that. The only downside is that paid rates are usually low in Portland so not sure if you’ll get good value.There’s a brand new Hyatt Centric closer to downtown too.

I think Hyatt at Olive 8 in Seattle is the one dropping to Cat 4? That’s a really great hotel with great Globalist a la carte breakfast and coffee (no lounge and no buffet). For views, on the kitty corner, there’s the Hyatt Regency that’s still only a couple of years old. They have a great lounge.

You should also look into the Joie de Vivre Waterfront Hotel in Oakland. I’ve never been since I’m local but it is on the Bay.

A bit more off the beaten path, as a addon destination, the Irvine/Laguna portion of Orange county has great food, isn’t crowded and has great beaches and tidepools, and some cool hikes. Hyatt Regency Newport And Hyatt Regency John Wayne aren’t spectacular but both quite decent.You can combo it with a visit to Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach or Alila Marea.


Might want to modify that comment to what I think you meant re: Grand Hyatt and distance to Old Town. I think you wanted to say walking distance to the Gas Lamp District, downtown. To walk to Old Town from the Grand Hyatt would be a roughly 1-1/2 hour walk each way. Of course, it’s only a 15 min drive. Or, better yet, grab the trolley in front of the Hyatt and take that. Good comments though.


My husband currently has both the regular and premiere IHG cards and is sitting on 4 free nights. When booking the free nigths, how can you tell which one is for the 40k free night vs. the lower value free night?


I live in CA. The 35K certs for Marriott are useless in CA. However, I’m able to find great value with the 50K Marriott Certs looking for off peak times. I used two 50K certs to book off peak nights for the Sunday to Tuesday of Memorial day weekend at the Santa Barbara Ritz Carlton. If you had 50K Certs available, an idea for a trip / article would be to plan a trip from LA to SF using your Certs and points if needed. In addition to the Santa Barbara Ritz Carlton, the Half Moon Bay Ritz also has off peak nights at 50k. You could use a hyatt Certs in monterey, santa cruz or go past SF our use a cert at the hyatt regency wine country. Obviously you’d have to plan your trip to use your globalist category 1-7 cert at Ventana.

Parts Unknown

We’ve got 2 IHG certs to burn before August & decided on Denver, the Kimpton Born Hotel next month. Would’ve loved the Kimpton in Santa Barbara, but it’s never going to go for <40k/night. (There's a Hilton resort there that gets meh reviews but the location is great, maybe worth a visit)


We stayed in both the Born and the Hotel Indigo around the corner in Janurary 2020, tbh really enjoyed hotel indigo more.

Parts Unknown

Indigo not available on my dates, oh well. We’re just going to get out of the Phoenix heat and hit up the food & beer scene.


I’ve stayed at the 9 in Cleveland a couple times and it is an excellent hotel – definitely good for a trip for two given the bathroom setup in the standard rooms. They have an excellent rooftop bar and a good restaurant as well.

If you can find a night that’s not peak-priced, it’s an excellent use of a Marriott FNA. They’ve priced almost every weekend night at peak through the end of the year.


For Cleveland, the Kimpton Schofield is right across the street and the Hyatt Regency Arcade is just a couple blocks away. All great properties.


Fly into DFW. The Hotel Vin is a new Autograph Collection sev miles from the airport. Cat 5 & very nice. Good suite upgrades. Steps from charming Grapevine Main St with lots of restaurants & shops. Hotel has an attached Food Hall, probs nicest ever seen. Right off the Vintage Railroad you can take into Ft Worth.

If you drive, from Hotel Vin about 30 min to the Ft Worth stockyards. This area has really been spruced up. Hotel Dover is brand new, Cat 4 Autograph Coll. I have not stayed here yet, but intend to soon to visit the new John Wayne Experience museum a few miles away. It is by far the nicest looking lodging at least in the area. Stockyards has plenty to do & lots of live music. Eat at the (old) new Original Mexican Eats Cafe.

If you want to then stay downtown Dt Worth, the Sinclair is very pretty, Cat 5. Walking distance to Sundance Square with again plenty to do, shop, & dine. My fav is Reata restaurant.


The Hyatt Regency Grand Reserve in Puerto Rico is a category 4 and a gorgeous property.


Completely agree. Stayed here for 4 nights and loved it. Great beaches and pool, beautiful property. A little isolated but if you have a car some very good food options within a 1/2 hour of driving. Plus very close to El Yunque rainforest, a must do PR activity.


Always a fan of Kimptons, so a couple of notes on location: Monaco Philadelphia is right next to Independence Hall & Liberty Bell if American History is your thing. Brice Hotel in Savannah was great and a couple of blocks outside the main tourist area meaning you can take advantage, but it’s quieter.

The more active urban settings are tough right now. Seattle & Portland are ghost towns with many boarded up buildings and lots of work from home people staying away. We were going to use a night at the Riverplace, this December, but are rethinking that – even 6+ mos out.

We will be using a night at the Shorebreak in Huntington Beach this summer, so we will see how it goes.


For those interested in an Arizona adventure (I know Greg says not this year), the Hyatt Residence Club in Sedona is a great choice. We have used certs there multiple times. The studio units are good, and we have been upgraded to one bedroom units more than once. Average price (with taxes & fees) is often $350-400. Great hiking and beautiful scenery!


We’re going to try out the IC in DC at the Wharf in a few weeks, and also there are two Kimpton hotels in Philly which we really like.

Dina Lapoint

Gild Hall in NYC is a great quirky hotel, decent location. I enjoyed my visits there.


With the June change to a variable award chart for Hyatt, will the certs still be usable at peak category 4s?


We used our IHG at the Kimpton in Huntington Beach. We used our Hyatt 1-4 in Santa Barbara. Marriott 35K certs are completely hopeless but we used one in Kona.


Start at the Ambassador Hotel dt OK City – historical, interesting, & redone. Autograph Coll Cat 5. Tour the bombing memorial & museum. Esp the outdoor chairs lit at night, you’ll never forget. Exceptionally well done, & you feel in a small way you were a part of that awful day.

Several hrs due west by interstate to Amarillo. Didn’t know about the new AColl until I read your post but looks good, thx! You are an outdoor guy so a visit to the Palo Duro Canyon is a must. It is the second largest canyon in NAmerica, the Grand Canyon of Texas. Even if you choose not to eat there (but actually pretty good), pay a visit to the Big Texan Steak Ranch.

Another sev hrs west on the interstate lands you at the Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort. You are Globalist who does promos so guessing you also have some FNCs to kill. 12k point/nt rooms & you would easily score a suite with awesome mountain views. If not head to Santa Fe & La Posada. Cat 6 Marriott, but using points w SNA for a Casita Suite is well worth it. Or Casitas at the Hilton with an upgrade or lots of points.


Sorry just now saw where you passed on the Hyatt Tamaya. Another option about an hour NE from it towards SF is Hilton Buffalo Thunder. Super nice, relatively new with own art collection. Close to the Santa Fe outdoor opera, a summer must-do.

Yusuf Hakim

Some of my suggestions have already been suggested. All for hyatt, san Diego, andaz and grand hyatt, hyatt regency hill county. Others not suggested yet, andaz Savanah Georgia, hyatt regency Sarasota.

Trent Peng

I can’t comment on Hyatt FNs as I always reserve them for Japan or Europe (I did use one this year for the Scottsdale resort though). And with Marriott points devalued this much, it’s hard to come up with a 35K Marriott FN recommendation. One place that comes to mind is Gaylord Texan Resort in Dallas (technically, Grapevine, TX). It’s an all-indoor resort with beautiful fountains, a faux Riverwalk, lots of kid-friendly activities, several restaurants, nice rooms with balconies, and a shuttle taking you to the waterpark next door. I’d gladly take my 35K FN there. Oh and it’s close to the DFW airport too.

Last edited 1 year ago by Trent Peng

I was there for a conference, the hotel itself is huge and amazing although I seem to remember the area around it being pretty dead. I don’t think we ever left the hotel although that might have had something to do with the company sending us to Dallas in February…


Not exactly a luxury resort, but the hyatt place in Moab, UT is a cat 2 with cash rates frequently at $350+/night. I had a nice stay there about a month ago.

Separately, I was hoping to stay at the Inn at Bay Harbor this August. I was looking in mid March, and it was already totally booked for my travel dates! This year is crazy.


That’s so silly. You could buy points for a stay at a cat 2 for about half that!


I agree! I used points, not cash when I stayed there.


Yeah, what about Hilton? I imagine you’ve got to have some Hilton certs and they were extended till 8/31 and I have not heard yet from Hilton about another extension. I hope it’s coming and I really hope they can push it a year out – not just till the end of the year like Marriott did.

Bud Cann

Greg, we stayed at Celebration Bohemian several years ago prior to checking in to timeshare. My most vivid memory is watching an osprey catch a fish in the lake, then seeing a bald eagle take it away in mid air! Neat little community, started as Disney planned community.


Been to the Hyatt Chesapeake Resort many times. Its very nice. Great spa. Nearby you can go sailing, on a fishing charter, or visit St. Michaels, which is a cute little town. Annapolis is also on the way if you are driving from either DCA or BWI. You could also combine with a day or two in Washington, DC if you fly in/out of DCA.

Love these posts with suggestions I might not have thought of!


I stayed at the Kimpton Hotel Arras in Asheville, NC for my birthday and could not have been happier or more impressed with my stay. The hotel is incredibly nice and even the base rooms are lovely. It’s also positioned in a prime location in downtown, close walking distance to a ton of restaurants, bars, breweries, shops, and art. If you’re able to get an upgrade to one of the rooms on a high floor, the hotel has unobstructed views to the mountains surrounding Asheville. It’s by far the tallest building in the area. Additionally, there are condos on top of the hotel, and a restaurant / bar on the ground floor, so the lobby of the hotel always feels occupied and safe. Would highly recommend. Only downside is that parking at the hotel is valet only, so be prepared to spend a good bit to park your car.


Yes, but this hotel has recently been pricing out at six million points a night (give or take). If you want to use a cert in Asheville (as I did a month or so ago), it’s the Holiday Inn Asheville Wild West for you.


Hyatt Place Asheville 12k points/nt


Actually, that’s true and that weekend it was pricing at $390 or something, so would have been a great use of a Hyatt cert.

What I meant was that if you want to use an IHG cert in Asheville, it’s the Holiday Inn for you.


That’s good to hear. They were 80,000 (!) last month.

For a small consideration, I will be willing not to speak the words “Asheville” and “August” within hearing of my phone — at which point the points cost would increase to some astronomical level.

Nick @ PFD

We just booked some Hyatt certificates at the Hyatt Place Asheville. It’s a very nice category 3 where the cash rate often gets above $400. According to Flyertalk, it’s becoming a Hilton DoubleTree in July and I’m said to see it leave Hyatt.


We stay there the last few years for camp drop offs for the kids. Cert would be a good value. Easy walk to downtown and great rooftop bar. Enjoy.


That Hyatt is pretty decent although if you have IHG points, the Kimpton that the post below mentioned has a better location and looks much nicer. Cost being equal, I’d go with the Kimpton.


Hotel Indigo and Kimpton in San Diego


Any Hilton suggestions?


We had a bunch of collected certs and used them at the Waldorf Astoria Los Cabos Pedregal last week. Availability is not always great, but we were able to piece together a 3 day stay for 2 rooms. Like Greg, this was a vacation we took because we had the certificates (Los Cabos was never on my radar). But wow, this was by far the nicest hotel I have ever stayed in. What an experience!


Wow, that hotel looks amazing. Definitely putting it on my radar for a future visit. Thanks!

Parts Unknown

Cliffrose in Springdale Utah, right at the entrance to Zion. Get a canyon view room, insist on it.


If you haven’t been, the Morrison House in Alexandria is a favorite of ours. Lovely property and great location in a quaint city.
Also, the Historic Davenport in Spokane is another great choice.


Will be very helpful if u add links to the hotel websites.

Looked at Confidante, great location but looks a bit dated. Wonder how Globalist friendly it is. Anyone been here recently?

Pittsburgh looks very doable from Ann Arbor


Been to the Confidante. Rooms are quirky art deco but the restaurant and pool area was very nice. Would stay again.


Links for sure. (maybe he doesn’t want his readers to fill up all the great options too quickly.) 🙂


I always stay at the Confidante when in Miami. I love it. Globalist get great free breakfast.


I’ve booked nights at the IC San Diego for 40k. Great hotel and location. There are also Kimptons here.

Hyatt- Manchester Hyatt in San Diego is another great hotel. I’m also going to give the Hyatt Place in downtown St Pete, FL a try. Fun city.


Not sure if you’ve been in the past few years, but downtown Pittsburgh is a really fun getaway and would be an easy drive for you. Stay at the Kimpton (a bunch of summer nights priced at ~35K) or Marriott Autograph Collection. FWIW, I’ll put my money where my mouth is – we’re booked for a weekend in August.

Some other Kimptons I can vouch for with potential nights under 40K – Kimpton Marlowe in Cambridge/Boston (potentially some other good Boston certificate uses as well, this is just the one I know!) and the Kimpton Monaco in Chicago (which is not my favorite hotel in the city but it is excellent for free).


They upgraded the Kimpton Monaco in Chicago, and it’s now really nice! I’m here now. 🙂


IHG Kimpton Van Zandt, Austin, TX. Located within a very short walking distance of 6th Street, the famed entertainment district. Also the Texas State Capitol. Largest and most impressive state capital complex in the USA. The Texas State History Museum, a very impressive educational experience replete with its own IMAX theatre. Ladybird Lake runs behind the hotel, with inexpensive kayak rentals for a fish eye view of the downtown cityscape and the health conscious population enjoying its wide walkways. A rental car can give your visit many new dimensions. Sunset dinner and drinks at the Oasis Restaurant on Lake Travis, Hill County winery tours, Enchanted Rock State Park in historic Fredericksburg, the fresh peach capital of the South. The list experiences is very long.

Hyatt Hill County Resort, San Antonio, TX.
A somewhat older property, but very relaxed with large, comfortable suites and many onsite amenities and amusements across a large acreage. Shuttles to Sea World and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. An Uber or rental car will have you in downtown SA in a few short minutes for daylong, nightlong adventures to the Riverwalk, Alamo, Tower of the Americas, Hemisphere Plaza, La Villita, The Pearl entertainment district, San Antonio Art Museum and so much more.


LOVED the Kimpton Van Zandt and the location was excellent for walking around Austin.

Zack Wojo

You could spend a weekend in Chicago, check out the limited time Marvel exhibit at Museum of Science and Industry, and use a cat 1-4 Hyatt cert at Chicago Athletic Association or the Thompson. Both fantastic value.


CAA is probably my favorite hotel that I have ever stayed at. The history, the quality of the drinks and food, the vibe, and the location right across from Millennium Park are all unbeatable. Not the biggest rooms, but everything else is top notch.


Agreed. Great use of a cat 4 cert.

Or come to LEX for the Horse and Bourbon DO Oct 8 weekend. New cat 5 Marriott and cat 4 Residence Inn right downtown. Cash rates $250 and up. Horse races and farm tours, bourbon distillery visits, and days of points/miles talk.

Top Ten Smithsonian trip.


Wait, what is this Horse and Bourbon thing on Oct 8?


I visited a friend who was staying at the CAA a few years ago when I happened to be in Chicago for the day, and I had no idea it was part of Hyatt’s Unbound Collection! Such a fun place with a great location. Will probably be using a lot of my future Cat 1-4 certs there now.


Had no idea about this CAA, looking for a weekend there now