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Travel Tuesday Top 10: Caribbean Hotels Where You Can Use Points This Winter

by on January 15, 2013 · 9 comments

in Carlson, Hilton, Hyatt, IHG Rewards, Marriott, Ritz-Carlton, Starwood, Top 10

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As temperatures continue to drop across North America, I thought it would be a good time to put together a list of the top hotels across the Caribbean where you can use points to stay and spend some time thawing out, so for today’s Travel Tuesday Top 10, here are the top points hotels in the Caribbean. These are not the top 10 fancy resorts, it’s just a broad swatch across the various brands and islands to give you a wide range of choices. Sometimes when you’re going to a sunny destination, all you really need is a roof over your head at the end of a great day at the beach, so here’s my list in no particular order.

Just note: we quote room rates below, but many of these resorts also charge resort fees in the range of $25-50 per day on top of room rates and point requirements, so be sure to budget for that.

The St. Regis Bahia has rooms available for paid, points and cash & points rates.

The St. Regis Bahia has rooms available for paid, points and cash & points rates.

1. St. Regis Bahia Beach Resort: Everyone is waiting for Cuba to open up to American tourism again, but until that happens don’t forget about Puerto Rico, just a short flight away from the east coast. The megaresorts of San Juan and the busy paths of the El Yunque rainforest can be infested with tourists, but you can hole up at this top-tier Starwood luxury property away from the crowds in the quiet Bahia Beach development 45 minutes outside San Juan. Rates in February start at $559 a night, 30,000 Starpoints or 15,000 Starpoints and $275 using Cash & Points.
TripAdvisor rating: 4

The Hilton Barbados is the only points option on the island - but also a great choice.

The Hilton Barbados is the only points option on the island – but also a great choice.

2. Hilton Barbados: Though it’s not one of the most luxurious hotels in the Caribbean, or even on Barbados, the Hilton here is still a great choice because it’s one of the only points options on this charming island and sits in a central location near the capital town of Bridgetown but still has access to two beaches and is a short drive to other fun activities like spelunking in Harrison’s Cave or going for a rum tasting at the Mount Gay Distillery. Just like Aruba, it’s so far south that it gets lots of sun and you generally don’t have to worry about hurricanes. Rates in February start at $349 a night or 50,000 HHonors points. TripAdvisor rating: 4

The main pool at the overlooks Seven Mile Beach

The main pool at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman overlooks the ocean and Seven Mile Beach.

3. Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman: Located on Grand Cayman’s tony Seven Mile Beach, this is one of the top luxury properties not just on the island, but in the entire Caribbean thanks to signature Ritz-Carlton service and amenities such as a signature restaurant from Chef Eric Ripert, a La Prairie Spa and golf course designed by Greg Norman. Rates in February start at $659 or 50,000 points a night, but also note that there’s a $50 resort fee per day.
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5

Rooms go for just 22,000 points at the Hyatt Regency Aruba.

Rooms go for just 22,000 points at the Hyatt Regency Aruba.

4. Hyatt Regency Aruba Resort and Casino: Hyatt only had two Caribbean hotels, but the one in Curacao recently exited the brand, leaving this resort on Aruba, but generally this hotel gets good reviews. Aruba is known for its year-round good weather, so it’s a safe choice and sunshine won’t be dependent on the dates you end up choosing. Room rates are high, but if you have the Hyatt Visa and are looking for a sunny place to use your two free sign-up bonus nights, this could be a good choice, netting you well over $1,000 in value since rates in March start at $565, or 22,000 points for a standard room or 27,000 points for a Regency Club room.
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5

The Intercontinental Santo Domingo has rooms for $127 a night.

The Intercontinental Santo Domingo has rooms for $127 a night.

5. Holiday Inn Santo Domingo and InterContinental V Centenario Santo Domingo
While most people go to the Dominican Republic just for the beaches of Punta Cana, Santo Domingo is an interesting place to visit with a lot to see and do, so if you’re looking for a Caribbean vacation that’s not just about the beach, either of these Priority Club hotels could be a good property for you to consider. Although the Holiday Inn has less frills and is ostensibly a business hotel, it’s brand new and sparklingly clean, not to mention higher-rated on TripAdvisor, while the InterContinental can be a great value thanks to its occasional appearance on Priority Club’s PointBreaks list where rooms go for just 5,000 points a night. Rates in February at the Intercontinental start at $127 or 30,000 points, while rates at the Holiday Inn start at $171 or 25,000 points per night.
Holiday Inn TripAdvisor rating: 4; Intercontinental TripAdvisor rating: 3.5

Curacao is the C in the Caribbean's famous ABC islands.

Curacao is the C in the Caribbean’s famous ABC islands.

6. Curacao Marriott Beach Resort and Emerald Casino: With its own private beachfront that includes a reef for snorkeling and sheltered swimming, this resort is a prime destination on sunny, dry Curacao, part of the famed ABC’s of the Caribbean. Hot weather, a cool Dutch colonial influence, this isn’t your run-of-the-mill overcrowded resort destination, making it a great choice if you want to explore a bit deeper into the Caribbean than islands close to the US. Rates in February start at $209 or 30,000 Marriott Rewards points.
TripAdvisor rating: 4

The manicured grounds of the Westin St. John

The manicured grounds of the Westin St. John Resort and Villas.

7. Westin St. John Resort and Villas: If the St. Regis Bahia Beach is too rich for your blood, the St. John Westin could be a good  choice for you. It’s one of the only points hotels in the US Virgin Islands, which means you don’t have to bring your passport, go through customs or change currency – making it good for a quick weekend getaway. For sample dates in March, the lowest standard rates are $540 or 16,000 Starpoints. Cash & Points becomes available in April, bringing it down to 4,800 points + $90, which is a great deal.
TripAdvisor rating: 4

The welcoming entrance oef the Radisson Blue St.

The welcoming entrance oef the Radisson Blue St. Martin.

8. Radisson Blu Resort, Marina and Spa St. Martin: I’ve had St. Martin on my list for a while because the airport is amazing for plane watching and you never know which celebrities you’ll run into. The resort also has a great spa that offers outdoor massages, a white sand beach and Club Carlson’s signature amenities like free WiFi. If you haven’t already, sign up for Club Carlson membership and be sure to status match before your stay to maximize your points earning. Rates in February start at $335 per night or 50,000 Gold Points.
TripAdvisor rating: 4.5

Hilton's Rose Hall has a deluxe La Prairie Spa.

Hilton’s Rose Hall has a deluxe La Prairie Spa.

9. Rose Hall: The only all-inclusive Hilton property in the Caribbean, this historic Jamaica estate on Montego Bay is a classic, and now that Jamaica has regained some of its erstwhile caché, it’s bringing visitors back in numbers the island hasn’t seen in decades. The hotel is upscale but has fun touches like Jamaica’s largest water park for the kids and a Soothe Spa with a full menu of treatments for the adults. Rates start at $369 per night or 60,000 points in February.
TripAdvisor rank: 4.5

The family friendly Ocean Suites at the Renaissance Aruba

The family friendly Ocean Suites at the Renaissance Aruba.

10. Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino: Though not super high-end this resort has over 415 guestrooms and tons of features like nine restaurants, a full casino, and its own private beach with boat transfer on Renaissance Island. The Marina building of this hotel is adult-exclusive resort (ages 18 and up), making it great for a  quiet, grown-up getaway, while families can still stay in the other section. So whether you want beach, pool, family time, romance, or to roam the streets of the capital, Oranjestad, this hotel is a good one-stop shop for you. Rates in February start at $336 per night or 25,000 points since it’s a Category 5 hotel.
TripAdvisor rating: 4

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Raffles

    Good post. I’d suggest the Fairmont on Barbados as being a far, far better option than the Hilton. And possibly the best use of the free nights that come with the Fairmont credit card.

  • ZJ

    The Aruba Renaissance itself is a fine property; I stayed at the Marriott Vacation Club next door but frequented the Renaissance’s offerings (casino, shops). I would note, though, that the beach at this grouping of Marriott properties (last I was there a Ritz-Carlton was being built as well), is rather poor for a Caribbean destination. The people of Aruba were nice, and the island offers some of the best dining options of any place I’ve ever visited, but the beach–at least on this part of the island–had us feeling like we were on the Gulf Coast and not in the Caribbean. Small, crowded, and much of it blocked off to guests. Just my $.02!

  • CJ

    we just booked Intercontinental on Cozumel and are using up our Delta miles to get there. We looked at Rose Hall as Hilton is our usual hotel but we are going on an adult vacation vs a full kid waterpark vacation. The reviews looked promising.

  • riverchica

    We’re headed to St. Marten for 6 nights in March using Avios and Club Carlson points. And the Club Carlson credit card drops the points needed since it offers a free night on award bookings. Fantastic value.

  • Jkoenig51

    I’m surprised the Fairmont isn’t a tranfer partner of UR?

  • PJ

    Did you get the free 2 nights with $1000 spend? LIFE IS GOOD with sign on bonus!! Rock on :)

  • PPJ

    I am happy to point out the Sheraton closeby to Cabo Sanlucas is VERY AVAILABLE with 4000 SPG points and $60 . I came to Cabos on 15,000 Avios to fly round trip on American Airline from LAX. Flights are also very available for award booking with no quick booking fees. My daughter came doem from SFO on Alaska non stop and costed me 20K Avios round trip !

    Also, you can rent very decent resorts on ebay from those timeshare owners; if you are willing to pay their maintenance fees you can be in for a pleasant surprise — a so so nice 2 bedrooms in a very decent resort can come well less than you expect

  • LA Traveler

    The W Vieques def gets my vote for a great resort on an island w a large number of beautiful secluded beaches. We used starwood points and cash.

  • sternkal69

    thanks…this was very helpful.

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